CONCORD, N.C. — Stop complaining about being raced too hard and drive your damn car.
That’s what I’ve got to say to drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series who complain about being raced too hard. It’s happened a lot lately — or perhaps we’re just hearing about it more often — and quite frankly I’m sick of it.
The most recent instance of this rather odd phenomenon occurred during the Nov. 4 AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Aric Almirola was racing Joey Logano for position following a late-race restart when Almirola got loose and lost several positions.
Almirola quickly came over the radio with a few choice words, asking why Logano was racing him so hard. You see Logano had already clinched a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway later in the month by virtue of his victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway the previous weekend and Almirola and Logano both drive Fords.
“We were a third-place car and that restart there where we finally were in position we fought all day from the back and started at the tail and worked diligently all day to get up to the front and finally got ourselves in position to at least have a shot and race with those guys,” Almirola explained after the race. “The 22 (Logano) just went down in turn three and put it right on my door and about wrecked us both. I am not sure. I will have to talk to him.
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“He just continues to make things harder on himself,” Almirola continued. “If that is the way he wants to race me when he is already locked into Homestead and we are out here fighting for our lives, that is fine. When Homestead comes around if I am not in, he will know it.”
What exactly did Almirola expect Logano to do? Roll over and play dead for the final two races leading into the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Here’s the thing, Logano didn’t do anything wrong. He was racing side by side with Almirola and gave the Stewart-Haas Racing driver plenty of space. Almirola simply got loose and washed up the track. It happens … even to the best drivers.
On top of that, why on Earth would Logano change the way he races simply because he knows he’ll have a shot to race for a championship? That seems like an odd thing to do since it’s how he has raced up to that point that earned him a spot in the championship round.
Every driver will tell you there are times to go easy on the track and there are times to get up on the wheel and go after it. It was late in the race. Logano’s Team Penske No. 22 was capable of winning. He needed to make a move on that restart in order to position himslef to win. He raced Almirola hard for position and it cost Almirola.
Guess what? It happens all the time.
I want to be clear that I’m not trying to single out Almirola as the only guilty party. There are plenty of other drivers who have had the same complaint.
Chase Elliott showed his displeasure with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for blocking him late in a race at Kansas Speedway in May. Kurt Busch voiced his displeasure on his radio with teammate Kevin Harvick for racing him hard for a stage point at Chicagoland Speedway.
Instead of being upset about how they’re being raced, perhaps these drivers need to rethink what they’re really mad about. They’re mad they lost positions, which is understandable. But being mad because you’ve been raced hard? Hogwash.
Hard racing is part of what has made NASCAR a spectacle since its founding days. Fans filled tiny bullrings all across the Southeast — and later the entire United States — to watch NASCAR’s best duke it out lap after lap.
That style of racing is what made NASCAR so damn entertaining. Perhaps we need a little bit more of that in today’s NASCAR. It would sure make the races a lot more fun to watch.
So please drivers, don’t complain about how you’re being raced and just drive your race cars. In fact, race as hard as you can. The fans in the stands and at home would greatly appreciate it.