Mid-Ohio Challenge a soaked bust
Last Saturday’s rain-soaked Mid-Ohio Challenge NASCAR Xfinity Series road-course race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington has received mixed reviews in the days since, as we gradually turn our heads away from Mid-Ohio to Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway. I have to admit, while I’ve grown to love road-course racing in the last few years, Saturday’s race just wasn’t my proverbial cup of tea.
That’s nothing against road-course racing in general or the competitors who were in that race. And not to take away from Justin Marks’ first-career Xfinity Series trip to victory lane, but that race just isn’t what I want from my NASCAR racing.
Prior to Saturday, I really hadn’t taken a hard position one way or the other on NASCAR racing in the rain. after all, I’d seen a couple of Xfinity Series races in the race, one not so great and one that made for exciting racing. As for the exciting one, the thing that kept me on the edge of my seat was strategy. Part of the track was wet and part dry, leaving teams with the hard decision of rain tires or slicks.
Saturday, though, to me, seemed more like a competition of who could stay on-track the longest. Guess there was too much unintentional off-roading to suit my fancy.
Maybe there’s some kind of happy medium, like racing on a slightly damp track but not a soaked one.
Reasoning from those who gave positive reviews of Saturday’s race at Mid-Ohio includes “it was different.” Well, remember a Brickyard 400 several years ago in which a competition caution was thrown about every 10 laps or so because of tire issues? That was different, but I sure didn’t like it and I’m sure most of you didn’t either.
I’ve also heard that it separated the talented from the not-as-talented — a “cream rises to the top” argument, so-to-speak? Really?!? I think it was more a matter of drivers being more used to racing in the rain having an advantage, and quite frankly, it’s not something NASCAR’s finest are used to doing. Granted the argument could be flipped in support of road-course ringers. Series regulars are, after all, more used to the cars than the ringers who come in and run a couple or so races a year. But this is NASCAR and the ringers sign-on for that disadvantage by entering a NASCAR race.
Besides, I think Saturday’s race showed what maybe we kind of already knew, these cars just aren’t designed for wet-weather racing. We’re not talking about sports cars that do this regularly, folks. Maybe that’s why about half that race ran under the yellow flag. Personally, I prefer more green-flag racing, but that’s just me.
I’m guessing some of the rave reviews from what we saw out of Mid-Ohio this time around was relief that Joe Gibbs Racing entries weren’t running away from the competition. That was a refreshing change, I guess. But I don’t think that should determine whether not a race is a good one.