We did have some crashes last week at Bristol, but in recent years it seems to me short track racing on the Monster Energy Cup Series has gotten a lot tamer. There's less contact between the drivers after the green flag flies, which means there are no helmets flying following the checkered flag.

Part of the reason is that most of the drivers are friends, some closer than others, because of the bus lot bringing them together in a way the wives and kids all pal around with each other and the husbands follow suit. That's why I feel like at times the competitors would rather "buddy up" than have to "dummy up" at the end of a race on one of NASCAR's bullrings for doing something aggressive and having to explain what he did to hurt somebody's car and feelings.

The late Dale Earnhardt had a lot of friends inside the garage, but from Friday to Sunday they knew he really didn't want to have anything to do with them.  It's why he almost always parked his motorhome away from the other drivers.  Until they got ready to go home they were the enemy and when times called for it during a race he treated them as such. 

So, I believe familiarity is part of the problem behind the lack of physicality on the short tracks.  Last week at Bristol, Kurt and Kyle Busch brought up two others.

"These cars are just way more fragile than they used to be," Kyle confessed. "We've all tried to lighten up our cars as much as we can and that nose cone as light as possible. Punch that thing in, puncture that thing and it changes your car a lot. So, we all try not to do that, we try to stay relatively unscathed, as much as you can, to have a good car for the end."

According to brother Kurt, there's also another part of the car that can't take on the beating and banging.

"In all honesty if I had a soap box to stand on for a moment and the way that our short track racing has fallen off of the payback mode or that revenge mode it's because the fenders are so close to the tires that if we take one little tire rub, one little fender rub onto the tire we have to pit because it's going to blow out the tire. We need to get the fender wells opened up and have them bigger. The shorter the track, the bigger the openings need to be. That will allow us to race and rub harder and not pay such a consequence with a flat tire."

"It's an evolution that's happened in the way that our cars are designed and the way that they're built. We're scraping for every little bit of downforce that we can find and at a short track aerodynamics aren't as important, but we're still putting the fenders really close to the tires to direct air and get that
downforce. Why not have a rule at the smaller, shorter tracks that you open up the fenders and that will allow us to race a little bit more so side-by-side and bump and have those moments where you slide
up into somebody and not get a flat tire. But the evolution of our sport, this just didn't happen this year. The year before that, the year before that. This is about a five-year process that I've seen, where you can't muscle anybody out of the way. You can't rub them hard or you end up with a fender rub and the next thing you know you're on pit road. Who wants to go onto pit road at a short track under green? Nobody, because you go two laps down and your race is over."

Who knew the Monster Energy Cup Series cars were so dainty? We think of them as capable of taking a lot of punishment, but instead of being a big bulldozer the lightest of touches can make the nose look like a cute, uncompetitive, little bulldog. 

Who realized the fenders have been so over engineered the drivers are so afraid the slightest contact will flatten their tire? That just lets out all the air from our short track expectations.   

As I said in the beginning we witnessed some old-fashioned short track mayhem at Bristol, but I don't' dare to think it's a trend.  It appears to me to get the action back to what it used to be the drivers need to be more willing to mix it up, knock somebody out (on the track) with the cars more able to absorb a blow and hit back.

We need it to be a boxing match…not a chess match.