NASCAR needs to take a different
approach to fights
Photo by Andrew Carbone / TheRacingExperts.com
How should NASCAR handle the Ambrose-Mears altercation?
By Brandon Caldwell
April 29, 2014
After the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday Night, there was an altercation that took place between Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears.
As the television coverage on FOX was wrapping up, fans saw Marcos Ambrose punch fellow driver, Casey Mears in the face, leaving Mears with a black eye.
Following the altercation, NASCAR fans went crazy on Twitter and Facebook all having different opinions on the way that they think NASCAR should handle the situation between the two drivers.
The most popular opinion among many fans is to suspend Marcos Ambrose. Even MRN radio’s Doug Rice thought that Ambrose was out of line for waling Mears in the face.
So how should NASCAR police this? Should NASCAR suspend Ambrose and fine Mears? Should they suspend both drivers? Should they let it be?
This fight between Ambrose and Mears got a lot of publicity for the sport. It showed the fire and passion that the two drivers have for the sport.
But NASCAR needs to handle this situation the complete opposite way that they handled the last big story that they had, which was SpinGate.
During SpinGate, NASCAR waited to see how the fans reacted to the situation. And fans were furious with Clint Bowyer, so NASCAR Came down hard on Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing.
Then the next move proved that NASCAR cares very much about what fans think, and pays a lot of attention to what fans put up on social media sites.
So Brian France’s next decision was to add a thirteenth chaser, and put Jeff Gordon into the 2013 NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Non-Gordon fans were outraged with how they described as NASCAR “picking and choosing” who they want in the chase, and who they do not want in the chase. They was NASCAR handled the situation was to not do what may have been in the best interest of the sport, but to do what the majority of the fan base thought needed to be done.
If NASCAR handles this situation in the same way that they handled Spin Gate, then that’s a mistake, and there’s a lot of reasons why for that.
Since the death of Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR fans have been looking for the brash personality to replace Earnhardt—a driver who isn’t afraid to speak his mind and one who isn’t as “vanilla” as Jimmie Johnson. Yet, NASCAR fans hate Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Busch? How do drivers get brasher than Kyle and Brad? They say how they feel and they speak their minds. They’re not vanilla, they’re exactly what race fans want, and yet, they still don’t like them.
That goes with fighting too. Jimmie Johnson doesn’t get into fist fights with other drivers. He goes about his business. He’s too “vanilla” for fans. But then Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears show a little bit of passion, a little bit of desire, and anger towards one another, and fans go berserk and want Ambrose’s head on a stick.
These fans flip-flop back and forth about what they want in a race car driver, and then NASCAR does exactly what it is that they think they want, rather than what is best for the sport.
Television ratings have tumbled in 2014, attendance has been at an all-time low. NASCAR is fading in the sports microscope, as sport is growing bigger and bigger by the year with more and more TV and radio stations starting up dedicated to just sports.
Is it possible that NASCAR irritated many fans by the gimmick of adding a 13th chaser in 2013? They possibly drove many fans away. And this new points system just made fans question NASCAR’s integrity even more.
NASCAR made a knee jerk reaction to SpinGate first. They penalized Michael Waltrip Racing and knocked them out of the chase. The point penalty was significant enough to knock the 56 car out make NASCAR still look legitimate.
It was the adding Gordon thing that had many fans irate, and after nearly a decade under the Brian France regime, fans have been more and more disappointed with the direction the sport is heading, and SpinGate was just another phase of that.
So let’s go back to the Marcos Ambrose vs. Casey Mears situation. NASCAR needs to handle this complete opposite way that they handled SpinGate. Instead of worrying about what the fans, who can’t make up their minds, and instead NASCAR needs to do what they think is in the best interest for the sport.
NASCAR needs to decide whether the publicity of the fight was good publicity, and not suspend Ambrose and Mears in that case. If they feel that Ambrose crossed the line with the punch, they need to take into consideration that Mears didn’t remove his hands from Ambrose until the punch occurred, which was long after Ambrose started to run away.
But most importantly NASCAR can’t penalize one more than the other. That will just be another head scratching penalty that’ll leave NASCAR fans with more questions and more wonder, and after a decade of that, fans have just had enough.