BOBBY BENNETT: DRAG RACING FELL FOR IT AGAIN
I am a journalist who is also a drag racing fan.
I'm reminded that I must keep emotion out of my presentation, but I just cannot help it when it comes to the latest banana-in-the-tailpipe trick by ESPN regarding their ESPY award for Best Driver.
Every year drag racing fans get hyped for at least one NHRA driver in one category (it's all the sport seems to be eligible for), only to feel what it's like to be in a small state when the Presidential election comes along. Yes, your vote counts, but only so much,
Let me call out a few egregious ESPY campaigns which showed so much promise yet failed miserably at the polls.
Four times Tony Schumacher, the winningest driver in the quickest and fastest race cars in the world, was nominated and lost.
Twice Erica Enders was nominated for the ESPY awards, twice she lost.
Mind you, Enders' 58 round-wins in 2015 led all NHRA professional drivers and ranked 11th all-time for a single season. Once again Kyle Busch's five race wins trumped Enders nine race wins.
Unfortunately, the perception by many is that drag racing is easy, especially Pro Stock ... but don't take my word for it - just ask Kyle's brother Kurt, who lost in his only NHRA Pro Stock appearance to ... wait for it ... Enders.
Let's get beyond the wins and losses. ESPN, which broadcast NHRA Championship Drag racing for over a decade by their actions don't seem to consider driving a 12,000-horsepower, nitro-burning race car or shifting a 200-mile-per-hour race car five times in 6.5-seconds, while gathering a reaction time in under .01 of a second to be an action sport.
For God's sake, shouldn't the experts understand drag racing is the original extreme sport? ESPY Select Nominating Committee, really?
It's high time someone called the ESPY Awards for what they are ... a high profile popularity contest. At least in the Best Driver category, the only criteria which matters are votes and not the actual stats which made the nominees part of the program.
I'm not saying Kyle Busch isn't a great driver, because he is one of NASCAR's most best and significant pure drivers.
News flash, so is Steve Torrence.
Last year, Torrence amassed 58 round wins in winning 11 events. The 58 include a 36-round streak to sweep the six race Countdown to the Championship.
For his part, Busch won eight races, finished in the top five 22 times and the top ten 28 times. He won just two of 10 Chase events.
I fondly remember an iconic drag racer asking, "Why do we have to go to this when we are never going to win?"
I agree, Mr. Icon, why even bother?
It's apples to oranges, but one cannot consume apples 100-percent of the time. Oranges have value, too.
ESPN can do with the ESPYs whatever they chose; it's their sandbox.
However, if ESPY officials would like their awards to be viewed as legitimate, at least in this arena, it's high time you implement judges (who must attend these events), select worthy winners based on accomplishment and not the click of a mouse.