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by Monte Dutton

I liked your answer to Kathy Rhudy concerning Jimmie Johnson. I say if a person has talent they deserve the rewards. Jimmie Johnson is a good driver. I say hooray for him. Some people don’t like Kyle Busch, but I say he is a good driver. Give him his due. — Norma Lee, Shoals, Ind.

NASCAR is concerned about the declining attendance, and declining sales. Could the possibility of a recession have anything to do with it? — John J. Johnson Jr., Liberty Center, Ohio DEAR JOHN: Hardly anyone has discussed the decline without citing the recession. There are other factors, as well.

Here are some reasons why the NASCAR “bubble” has burst:

1. The Chase… silly and a waste of time.

Why run 36 races and then have a 10-race champion crowned? Asinine. The most consistent driver should win the championship.

2. Thirty-six races are waaaaay too much.

Run 25, crown a champ and leave the people with real anticipation for the next year.

3. Eliminate the cookie-cutter tracks. Boring races.

4. Go back to NASCAR’S roots. Run two races at Darlington. Revamp North Wilkesboro and run there again. Return to the Rock — Rockingham.

5. Qualify 40 cars per race at 1-mile-plus tracks. Thirty-six cars at 3/4-mile-and-under tracks. No locked-in positions. Qualify on speed or go home.

I grew up a NASCAR fan. My family was going to Dover and Richmond (old half-mile track) when they only had grandstands on the front stretch. Ten years ago I was sure NAS- CAR was going to go down the tubes. It is not a stick-and-ball sport. Don’t try [to] make it that. All your yuppie fans left after three years. — Harold Sultzbaugh, Hanover, Pa.

Two reasons (for the sport’s slump) are that NASCAR fans like me are tired of “NASCAR.” Two examples: mystery cautions or cautions for the slightest little thing, and only enforcing the rules it wants to enforce. (Kyle) Busch went below the line and improved his position (Talladega) and was not forced below the line. He did not win that truck race by the rules that NASCAR itself makes.

Those are two quick reasons why NASCAR is less than it was. I will add a third, but it is more of a personal one. Rick Hendricks is the worst thing that ever happened to NASCAR. He has my sympathy for his personal loss, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but the fact is he’s a convicted felon — although he did buy a pardon — and should have been thrown out of NASCAR. When an organization allows crooks to be team owners, it tells you a lot about the organization. The same thing for (Gene) Haas also.

Owners should be limited to two teams, and all affiliations to other teams should be tightly scrutinized and very limited. — Ron Bean, Pachuta, Miss.

DEAR RON: Arbitrary rules enforcement was a part of NASCAR long before the slump. Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008. His blog NASCAR This Week (nascar.rbma.com) features all of his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at nascar_thisweek@yahoo.com. ‘© 2010 King Features Syndicate

Race attendance is declining. Attendance at the 2010 Brickyard 500 was about half that of 2007. (Associated Press photo)

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