The self-appointed Super Bowl of stock car racing just finished, and it finished in controversy. Matt Kenseth won his first Daytona 500 when the race was called off because of a rain delay in central Florida. As far as we’re concerned, its the “race was called because of a rain delay” that marks the most important part of that sentence.
(Congratulations, dude. Now get back in your car and finish the race!)
How can NASCAR possibly justify awarding it’s biggest single event title before the race has actually finished? Would they call off the Super Bowl with 9 minutes on the clock in the fourth quarter because of horrible field conditions? No way. Would they award a win for a rain-shortened World Series game? No, they wouldn’t. In fact, we now know that empirically, thanks to last year’s weather-elongated theatrics between the Phillies and Rays.
Put it all together, and the concept of calling off a seminal event because of rain completely invalidates the idea that auto racing is a sport. Yes, we understand the concept of oil slicks and the idea that a wet track makes the entire event more dangerous. We got plenty of visuals of that today, when rain before the race meant it started in delay, and then clearly contributed to some of the eight cautions that were declared during the subsequent 500 miles.
That doesn’t mean NASCAR can call off its race before it reaches 500 miles. It’s called the Daytona 500 for a reason; it’s not the Daytona 476. Finish the race, wait out the rain. Who cares, they could start giving fans free hot dogs if they want to stick around (given the clientele, we doubt it would take much more).
All we know is that Matt Kenseth didn’t just win his first Daytona 500. He won the Daytona 450+. He simultaneously won one Super Bowl of stock car races and one rain-shortened joke of a “big event.” If we wanted to watch a competitive mockery, we would have just stuck to the NBA All-Star Game.
Speaking of which, shouldn’t that be getting going out in Phoenix right about now?