The Norman Transcript

National Sports

November 6, 2012

Final finish saved sluggish race for Johnson

(Continued)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

It wouldn’t have been right, but it sure would have been controversial, and that’s something else Smith had called for more of the day before Sunday’s race. The track owner argued today’s drivers lack the “mean streak” of NASCAR’s blue-collar pioneers, and said interest in the sport would spike with more off-track contact.

“It would add a great deal to what we do, and we would have more drama if maybe some driver got out at the end of the race and hit somebody,” Smith said. “I think that’s what’s missing. We used to have a lot of that.”

That creates post-race fireworks, but doesn’t do anything to fill the dearth of action Texas suffered through for the first 400-plus miles.

NASCAR has two races left in this Chase and heads next to Phoenix, where Johnson is decidedly more experienced than Keselowski. He could pounce on Sunday and potentially turn the Nov. 18 finale at Homestead into a coronation of his sixth championship.

It would be a nightmare situation for NASCAR, which is working feverishly behind the scenes on its 2013 car. The hope is the new model will improve the racing on the intermediate tracks, where passing has become so difficult.

But NASCAR chairman Brian France recognized some time ago there was a problem with the product, and that big finishes and debris cautions and controversial restarts and even post-race fisticuffs can’t eclipse a bad show forever.

We’ll see what the next two weeks bring for this championship race. And then the slate is wiped clean for NASCAR, which gets a fresh start next season at proving the show can be exciting before the grand finale.

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