End It Now

The Winston Cup season should end this weekend.

When we started this season, way back in February, every schedule released by the official sanctioning body had the season ending this weekend in Atlanta. But, as we all know, that's not the case now.

Instead, as it stands, five days from Sunday, after Jeff Gordon is expected to hold aloft his champion's check, the series will set up shop in New Hampshire to race on Friday.

Unless something amazing occurs and Gordon doesn't win the title this weekend - he only has to finish 32nd or better at Atlanta to lock up the title - the New Hampshire race will be insignificant and meaningless.

The New Hampshire event was rescheduled from September when NASCAR wisely postponed the race in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York.

While pushing off the race at the time was the right thing to do, rescheduling it for this particular week was wrong.

The race should have been canceled outright. That's been said before, of course, but now, as the weather is turning colder, it's even more a factor.

Certainly, one could argue that holding the race is the right thing to do for the fans, those who shelled out a lot of money for tickets to the event. And, of course, there's also the owners of the track who have spent money to promote the race which never occurred and would surely face some sort of financial hardship because of a total cancellation of the race.

Even with all of those things taken into consideration, the race still shouldn't be held next weekend.

For starters, while NASCAR officials used the NFL as an example of a sport that goes forward on Thanksgiving, we're actually talking about the day after Thanksgiving, which has an entirely different dynamic.

Rather than sitting around at home watching a race on television, viewers, those lucky enough not to work the day after Thanksgiving, may be shopping.

I'm not sure this dawned on anyone, but the day after Thanksgiving is usually the busiest shopping day of the year - not the busiest television day.

Also, dragging the drivers away from their families and into New Hampshire on what should have been an off weekend isn't right either. These guys have been going for weeks now, and adding one more, is not right.

The following week, those fortunate enough to finish atop the standings will be headed to New York for the annual banquet, meaning they won't get a real break until early December. There's not another professional sport where the schedule extends 10 months out of the year.

No doubt, some in the crowd will say these guys make good dough, so let them race again. But that doesn't take into consideration the men who work on the team, whose bankrolls aren't so big, and who have also been going for weeks without a break.

While much has been made about the weather in New Hampshire this time of year, it's actually second or third on the list of reasons why they shouldn't run next week.

According to the Weather Channel, the average high temperature for next Friday is 42 degrees, while the average low is 23 degrees. The record low, for those keeping score at home, was seven degrees in 1972.

Yes, it will be chilly, but that's why they make thermal underwear.

Perhaps the overriding factor for not running on Friday is the symbolism of running at New Hampshire.

In a season that saw the loss of the sport's seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt in February, and the ensuing controversies, it's just bad business to end the season at the track where two drivers - Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin - were killed.

The track itself has also been the subject of controversy as drivers initially complained about the layout and the safety issues involved.

So it is, to end the season at a facility that these days conjures up so many bad emotions, is simply wrong.

Moreover, doing so provides those who must compete, little for which to be thankful.

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