If this had been any other sport, Jamie McMurray would have been accused of running up the score.
With only the final 10-lap segment remaining at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, 15 of the 22 drivers that started the race were still in it.
But to win the thing, a driver has to be close to the lead. Carl Edwards, who began the race on the pole, had the lead. McMurray was in second.
For a few laps, the race was a thrill. This was a two-man show, Edwards and McMurray. McMurray went after him and Edwards fought him off.
This was old school racing, side by side, Ford versus Chevrolet, trading paint and taking names. McMurray was relentless.
He stayed high and finally slipped by Edwards. And once he passed him, this race ended. It was as if McMurray was in Concord and the other 14 drivers were in Charlotte, and not even suburban Charlotte. They were in Dilworth and Plaza-Midwood and SouthPark and even Ballantyne.
“As a kid, that’s what you grow up wanting to do,” McMurray said about the competition.
Yet once the competition ended, this race, like the last two all-star races, was a blowout.
There had been potential. Kyle Busch gave the race an early jolt when he essentially crashed himself on lap 25, bumping Clint Bowyer and getting nudged by Bowyer as he moved past. He went sideways and was hammered by Joey Logano, who had to instantly decide whether to go up or down and made the wrong choice. He smacked Busch and Busch climbed out and walked down the track.
“The night is over for Kyle Busch,” the public address announcer said.
No tears were shed. Somebody must have looked sad but outside the folks in the M&M outfits I couldn’t find him or her.
The night ended for Logano, too. The carnage continued, collecting famous drivers such as Jeff Gordon as well as drivers that would like to be. By lap 60, six drivers were out and 16 remained.
The crowd appeared markedly bigger than it was a year ago. Fans had fun with the introductions, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team wearing Superman capes. (Earnhardt finished fourth, not coming on until the end, and Jimmie Johnson, the winner the last two years, finishing sixth.)
McMurray is a good guy, unpretentious, and his competitors sounded happy for him.
But wouldn’t you love to see a last-lap, let’s-see-what-you-got, no quit, no surrender finish?
You know the drivers want to win. You know that they and their teams and their employers are trying. But something, some facet of this all-star race, simply doesn’t work.
The winner collects $1 million. The premise is: What will drivers do for $1 million? But the winner already is a millionaire.
Some of us aren’t.
Maybe the solution is to run a warm-up race in which NASCAR picks 22 of us non-millionaires and says, “Go. Just go. Race 90 laps and if you finish first you receive $1 million. Oh, and you have to drive your car. And you can’t ask Junior Johnson or Ray Evernham to make it faster.”
Where’s the $1 million come from? There could be a money-making reality show, cameras following the amateurs through their preparations, warm-up laps and blatant attempts to cheat. (I just copyrighted it, incidentally.)
If I were chosen, I might win, but I might not. I tell you who would lose, though – our insurance companies.
If NASCAR doesn’t like my idea, maybe it can come up with one of its own.