Gosh, been 14 years since I read this group.
I think the Old vs. New Age argument could go on forever. I think NASCAR
can present all the stats it wants, but for me the true measure of how great
an era was is how many "legends" it has produced. NASCAR may think that the
Golden Age is now, and trumpet more "competition" as the reason, but all
that means to me is you have some real good drivers (who generally clog the
top 10 each race), and then 33 mediocre drivers. An earlier poster made a
good point about things being watered down now with the lucky dog, chase
format, etc. You can't even compare old vs. new anymore.
Honestly, aside from J Gordon, can anyone make a legitimate case for which
of today's 'crop' of NASCAR drivers will be revered as "legendary" 30 years
from now, like David Pearson, Richard Petty, Cale Yaborough, Bobby Allison,
Dale Sr. (started his first race in 1975 I think), and Darrell Waltrip are?
I mean, come on. Bottom line is today you have a lot of polished haircuts
who look good on TV and say all the right things, but I defy anyone to name
another 6 drivers from this "era" who will mean anything to the sport 3
decades from now.
As I type this, another thing occurs to me. How many drivers from today
will be driving competitively even 5 years from now? They may be driving,
but with today's very fluid and superficial sponsorship system (i.e,
sponsors who want looks over talent), I think it will be very difficult for
a lot of drivers to either stay with the same good team for years, or bounce
from good team to good team every couple seasons. Look at DW, he bounced
from good team to good team and was a winner the whole time, even when he
formed his own team. Think something like this could happen these days?
Mark Martin is the closest thing to this. And we'll have to see how Dale
Jr. does in a Hendrick car next year. But by and large, I'd make the case
that any driver who leaves a good team does a nosedive within 2 years. It
will happen to Kurt Busch, mark my words. This guy was a champion 3 years
ago, but let's see where he is in 2009.
Be honest - and this isn't meant to be flamebait (is that even a term
anymore? It was 14 years ago), does anyone here think that names like Kyle
or Kurt Busch, Kenseth, or even Johnson will be legendary figures 30 years
from now? They may be good right now (so was Sterling Marlin once upon a
time), but in today's watered down,
mediocre-level-of-competition-what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport, these
guys will be remembered for being good but not great. The system will churn
them out in 4-5 years, they might stick around as journeymen, but there
won't be any lasting legacy, unfortunately.
So this leads me to the conclusion that another benchmark of how good an era
imight be is how many drivers can last through several eras and still make a
And NASCAR would probably also point out that they have rarely had a repeat
champion in the last decade or so as more proof that there is "competition."
I think that's just an indicator that things have gone basically "mediocre."
The purse money and sponsorship money might be up, and this of course means
nothing but good things for NASCAR corporate, but the prestige of being a
cup driver these days is way DOWN, IMHO.
So I don't think this a golden age at all.
And since I can't resisit trivia, and others can correct me if I'm wrong,
but I think the last driver to win the race and lap the field was Geoff
Bodine at North Wilkesboro in 1994. Terry Labonte finished 2nd that day,
and it was because GBodine did it on one less pit stop than everyone else
because of his Hoosier Tires. Anyone else remember differently?