When it was announced a few weeks ago that the NASCAR All-Star Race would be held on a Wednesday night at the Bristol Motor Speedway the anticipation level for the event rose dramatically. After having had a somewhat controversial and spirited ending to the points-paying race on that same high-banked track earlier in the season, the belief of many was that a $1 million-to-win exhibition event would produce untold numbers of run-ins combined with angered drivers who would give ill-tempered post-race interviews. However, none of that really materialized in a major way.
Aside from an incident in the All-Star Open between Michael McDowell and Bubba Wallace that provided a highlight or two and a soundbite for the sports re-cap shows, it proved to be a relatively calm event. No punches were thrown, no cool down lap bumping and banging took place, no birds were flipped, and no language had to be bleeped or apologized for by the television network. And those are some of the things fans have come to expect from this race, and with it being held for the first time on a short track, those expectations were raised to an even higher level.
Granted, the victory by popular Chase Elliott was probably enough to leave a good taste in the mouths of many fans, but those who wanted some spice for their Wednesday night viewing pleasure were probably a little disappointed.
But here’s the thing for this writer. While very little of the stuff we have grown accustomed to or were expecting actually came to be, it was still a midweek evening of racing that took my mind off of everything else. Not one time over the course of the three-hour time period that both the All-Star Open and the All-Star Race itself played out did any thoughts of coronavirus, protests, or elections enter my mind. I was completely absorbed in my mind’s own little racing world.
It’s not that I am oblivious to those happenings mentioned above. After all, I am a U.S. Government teacher and am certainly politically aware. But I don’t have to or want to live in that world for long periods of time. Any break from those things is a welcomed one for me, especially if it is for something related to racing.
So no, this might not have been the All-Star Race we all anticipated, but it sure beat the heck out of watching CNN or Fox News(which I never do anyway) and filling our minds with the scary or angry thoughts that accompany such viewing. And for that, I am thankful.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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