Well, what were you expecting in the Clash? Drivers tip-toeing around a track that would make Martinsville jealous? Checking up along with some give-and-take?
This isn’t last year at a new track, with a new car, and new rules.
Last year, there was good racing, bumping, spins and incidents. It’s to be expected, since despite testing, the car was unproven. Drivers did not know how to race with it, teams still did not know how to set it up to run. Certainly no one knew how it would react in a wreck. Add in a track that was built in a matter of months, on a makeshift surface in a venue that has seen more gold medals and touchdowns instead of checkered flags, and it’s a race where no one wanted to take any risks.
Were you expecting the same kind of action in year two, with teams now familiar with the limits, rules, and capabilities of a new car? Were you expecting the same kind of racing on a track that is exactly the same design as it was the year prior?
It was a perfect storm of being exactly what short track racing is: bump, bang, bash and crash.
Sure, drivers were not happy with the lack of give-and-take in the first race of the season, even if it wasn’t for points. That’s understandable, since there’s some anxiety with this car from last season. We saw that on Saturday when a rookie went up in flames, an inferno that was inside the driver’s compartment, an incident eerily similar to many last season.
Everyone was on pins and needles leading into Sunday, and yet, they were complaining that there was more taking than giving?
That’s expected at a track that would make Martinsville blush. Sure, no one was going to try a banzai move like the “Hail Melon,” not because it was outlawed, but instead because it was impossible. The design of the track, the amount of cars, even the idea would not work.
No one seems to ever be happy with the Clash no matter how it’s laid out. Doesn’t matter if it’s the LA Coliseum, the 2.5-mile track that is Daytona, or even the road course that was utilized in 2021.
So, why are people saying the race on Sunday was bad?
Would you all rather have a race where everyone is timid, and afraid to race due to what could happen, or has happened in the past? No, because every driver that suits up and climbs into that compartment, locks the steering wheel in place and flips a switch to ignite over 700 horsepower.
Have we learned a lot from last year? Certainly, because the car has gone under changes since last season. It’s not as rigid, and now can take some of the impacts into the wall without actually hurting the driver. By hurting, we don’t mean the injuries we usually see with our eyes, but the injuries to the head that we may not notice, or know about, till after it happens.
To say that this year’s race was worse that last year, overall, could be a bit harsh, and yet also may be justified.
But, in reality, would you really expect anything less at a short track? No; what we saw is exactly what a Clash at the Coliseum would be, should be, and ultimately was.