By KFFL Staff on May 19, 2011
With the All-Star Race just a few days away, I decided to take the opportunity to get on my soapbox and promote the sport I love. That's right. I am going to be that diehard NASCAR fan that defends the sport against all those people that think it is just a bunch of rednecks making left-hand turns and tell everyone why they need to tune into this weekend's race. In fact, I firmly believe that NASCAR's version of an All-Star game is the best in professional sports.
Quite frankly, I don't even think it is a contest. I mean, nobody wants to play in the Pro Bowl, defense was apparently banned in the NBA All-Star game several years ago, and the MLB All-Star game is more about trying to get everyone playing time rather than trying to win. This isn't Little League. Not every player on the team has to get in the game. At least the MLB All-Star game determines home field advantage in the World Series. The NFL and NBA don't have anything worthwhile on the line.
Meanwhile, the All-Star Race is shootout-style, winner-take-all event with $1 million up for grabs. Since the race doesn't count for the championship, the money is the only thing drivers have to worry about. Needless to say, racing conservatively isn't exactly a priority in the All-Star Race. With a million bucks on the line, drivers will bump, block and do whatever else it takes to get their car in Victory Lane to collect the check.
Best of all, NASCAR even offers fans an appetizer before the main course during All-Star night. Drivers not already in the All-Star Race get a chance to race their way in. The top two drivers from the qualifying race get to transfer to the main event, and the action is every bit as fierce. After all, the only thing more exciting than watching drivers go head-to-head for $1 million is watching them go head-to-head for the chance to race for $1 million.
There are no unwritten rules about taking it easy so that no one gets hurt because it is just an All-Star event. Ask Davey Allison. In 1992, he found out that he had won the All-Star Race from his hospital bed after he regained consciousness. Allison was blocking Kyle Petty on the final lap of the race when Petty put him in the wall. Allison's damaged car still managed to cross the finish line first. He just wasn't awake to remember it.
The beauty of NASCAR's All-Star Race is that drivers still covet a win in the event. I love other professional sports as well, but let's be real: Half the players invited to other All-Star games try to find a way out of showing up. Whether it is plantar fasciitis, turf toe or a tired arm, stars are always acting like an All-Star selection is a burden instead of a privilege. Meanwhile, any driver eligible and with a ride is going to be at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Denny Hamlin isn't backing out of Saturday's race to rest his surgically repaired knee, and Jeff Gordon isn't stepping aside to give his aching back a rest, either.
I'll admit that I am biased, but my points remain valid. Is it more exciting to watch Kobe Bryant dribble down the lane for an uncontested dunk past a bunch of defenders that can't even muster enough energy to reach out a hand or to watch two drivers bounce off each other coming to the checkered flag? Whether you like NASCAR or not, there is no question that the most drama and excitement you will see in an All-Star event this year will take place this weekend.