I can always gauge how good a race is by the amount of attention my sons pay to it. They, like so many of their age, will forego watching a live event to just catch the highlights later. I call them Sports Center fans.
But when they notice that a race I am watching is intriguing enough, they will put aside the video games, basketball, or whatever they happen to be doing to watch what happens. Over the final 100 laps or so of the action in the NASCAR Cup Series race Bristol Motor Speedway, they were zoned in and were highly entertained as they watched Brad Keselowski essentially steal a victory during the final laps.
It seems as if this interrupted 2020 season has produced more than its share of those kinds of races. And that’s not just in one form of racing. NASCAR and all types of dirt racing have been delivering in a major way this year. And several of those deliveries have occurred in the very important time since the sport reopened following the coronavirus related shutdowns.
For whatever reason, there at least some fans of one form of racing or another that refuse to acknowledge that any other form of racing can produce excitement. Those who are doing so right now are robbing themselves of some great entertainment.
The best races are the ones that produce the best storylines. With that being true, the Food City Presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway last Sunday was a great race. There was a thrilling finish, controversy between two of the sport’s big stars, crashes that played significant roles in the outcome, and strategy plays. Some races are lucky to have one or possibly two of those elements but this first of two races scheduled to be held this season at ‘The Last Great Colosseum’ had all of those coveted ingredients.
But NASCAR isn’t the only form of racing producing great storylines.
Dirt Late Model racing has delivered its share of excitement in 2020. This week’s Dirt Late Model Stream at Eldora Speedway can serve as an excellent example. Thursday night’s action at the Tony Stewart-owned track produced an underdog winner as former Dirt Modified standout Kyle Strickler earned the biggest Super Late Model victory of his career when he sailed to a $10,000 payday against a 50-car invitation only field that included famous names such as Bloomquist, Moyer, Owens, Richards, and Sheppard.
And if it’s tight competition you like, Friday’s Dirt Late Model Stream offering had plenty of that as Brandon Overton took the win but not before three different drivers paced the field in just a 30-lap feature race.
Also on Friday night the Sprint Cars did their part to add to the excitement level.
Brad Sweet ran down and then passed Sheldon Haudenschild as the cars came to the white flag at Beaver Dam Raceway to collect a World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series win. At the same time, the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circle of Champions Sprint Car Series staged an incredible race at Red Dirt Raceway that saw Aaron Reutzel claim the win after a wild, slide job swapping main event that featured Kyle Larson, Cory Eliason, and Danny Dietrich engaged in a fierce battle over the closing laps.
And those races mentioned are just some of the most recent thrillers. To show how good the racing has been in 2020, the results TheAthletic.com writer Jeff Gluck’s(@Jeff_Gluck) ‘Was it a good race poll’ have been overwhelming in favor of the affirmative answer in all but two NASCAR Cup Series races held this year. As a matter of fact, two of those events(Bristol & the second Darlington) rank among the highest in the history of Gluck’s poll with well over 90% of respondents agreeing that those races were good.
Only the Coca-Cola 600 and the Busch Clash failed to reach 75% approval ratings in 2020.
And as was pointed out above, it isn’t just NASCAR that has produced good racing. If you are one of those folks who insists on only watching one form of racing, you are robbing yourself of a lot of entertainment, especially now while racing holds near exclusivity in the sports world.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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