Charlotte Rear View Mirror
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on May 27, 2013 | 12:23 A.M. EST
Kevin Harvick scored his 21st career victory. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
It’s inevitable for fans to compare the two biggest events of the Memorial Day weekend racing calendar. The Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 take the spotlight every Sunday of the summer’s first holiday weekend so naturally contrasting the two takes up a great deal of conversation.
But I think it’s a futile argument.
Each is a unique race on its own and should be viewed as such.
I prefer to simply sit back and enjoy 1,100 miles of motorsports competition.
From the drop of the green flag at Indianapolis to the checkered flag waving Sunday night in Charlotte, the Memorial Day weekend tradition featuring two of the biggest races of the season on the same day is always a highlight of the motorsports calendar.
It capped off any race fan's Nirvana, Christmas in May or any other analogy you'd like to use. It's one thing to have a day of racing to sit back and enjoy - it's quite another to watch two of the most prestigious events of the season go green back-to-back. And I guess you could really include the morning’s Grand Prix of Monaco in as a triple play for those true die-hard fans.
Would I like to see drivers able to attempt the double? Of course! It would greatly benefit the sport and I’d actually like to see the Charlotte schedule get a complete makeover to run the 600 on Saturday night with the Indy 500 Sunday afternoon. It would ensure drivers able to compete in both events as well as giving each a bigger stage of their own.
I'll restate my belief that any driver pulling off that accomplishment would go down in the annals of sports history as maybe the biggest achievement ever, akin to a golfer winning the British Open and then flying back to take The Masters later that day or on the same weekend.
But really it doesn't take the spectacle of watching someone try to win both events to hammer home how special the day really is. For me, it's enough to just have these two special events scheduled back to back.
And in 364 days we get to do it all over again.
- Put yet another page in the NASCAR bizarre world file after a FOX television cable broke and landed in the grandstands and on the racetrack. In addition to sending three fans to a local hospital, several cars ran over another part of the apparatus on the track including Kyle Busch, Marcos Ambrose and Mark Martin. Those cars sustained damage and the incident caused a red flag, adding to an already long night. NASCAR did the best it could dealing with the situation, which will go right next to Juan Pablo Montoya’s Daytona 500 jet dryer incident as one of the weirdest in the sport’s history.
- I’m an advocate of cutting down some 500-mile races on the Sprint Cup Series schedule but NASCAR’s longest race should still have a place on the slate. I certainly wouldn’t want to race 600 miles every week, but the unique race at Charlotte once a year is an interesting twist to the season. That said, Sunday’s race wasn’t one of the best with too many long stretches of single file racing and not enough side-by-side competition to keep fans’ attention. The challenge of creating a better 1.5-mile product remains a test for NASCAR.
- Kyle Busch continues to rewrite the Nationwide Series record book, dominate the season and generate controversy. Busch scored his sixth win of the year Saturday afternoon at Charlotte and shows no signs of slowing down his assault on NASCAR’s number two division. He has every right to compete in the series and the performance is truly staggering, but Busch’s run is hurting the series. Any Cup driver running in a Sprint Cup organization’s equipment as Busch is doing with Joe Gibbs Racing, just doesn’t go over well with most fans. When Busch drove for his own team last year, he didn’t have anywhere near the success he’s enjoying this year. Fans seemed more open to having him drive a Kyle Busch Motorsports entry than they do this year in a JGR machine. I understand the argument on both sides for having Cup drivers compete regularly in the Nationwide division, but there seems to be a growing unrest among the fan base this year that does not bode well for the series.
- Speedway Motorsports Inc. honcho Bruton Smith’s threat to move the October Charlotte race to Las Vegas did not go over very well with most fans or NASCAR CEO Brian France for that matter. France said during his weekend state of the sport address he’d prefer two points races a year held in the sport’s hub. Many believe Smith was just bluffing but after a soft All-Star Race turnout and less than sold out Coca-Cola 600, the track entrepreneur has every right to explore any option that makes better business sense at the box office. Perhaps the day has arrived that the Charlotte area simply cannot support three NASCAR weekends a year.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.