Jeff Gordon is one of the leading veterans in the garage now. So when he says drivers are racing differently than they have in the past, it's worth paying attention.
Here are some of his selected comments on the state of racing and the balance between competition and entertainment:
"I think everybody is racing different. ... When you put double-file restarts in there and three green-white-checkers, all those things make for everybody to push harder and there are chances for making more mistakes. Guys are just going to race everybody hard. That's just the reality of it. I mean, there is no doubt that that has been the case for me in some of the instances, and some of them not. It happens all the time, but I think there is an increase in it and we're seeing it with a lot of people, not just us.
"Honestly at the end of these races, with double-file restarts and five laps to go, or green-white-checkered, it is literally bumper cars at 190 mph. I don't know any other way to put it. That's not what we want to be doing. That's just the way it is today. It is highly entertaining, so it makes for some great stories, some great highlights and a great finish for the fans. I think we all try to weigh out the importance of the show and the entertainment value, as well as the racing. That's where we're at in the sport today.
"Don't mistake what I'm trying to say: When we're out there racing; we're racing. There are some races that we race just as hard, but we don't put on a good show. There are other times that we race the same, and hard, and we put on a great show. I think what I'm saying is that it is important for the people in the stands and people watching at home and for the media to see an exciting race, to see a little action, to see some tempers flare and fenders being dented up. That is a part of the show, but that is also just a part of our sport."
"While (double-file restarts are) extremely entertaining, a lot of us said that we didn't (want) to go through that every week because I'm telling you, it is crazy out there. We also realize that we are a sport that has to compete with other big sports and when the fans like what they see out there on the track, they are going to come back for more.
"I've gotten to the point in my career where I've stopped trying to control some of those things and just go out there and work with the tools that we have and do my job.
"It's hard to really keep respect on your mind when it's a green-white-checker finish on a restrictor plate track or a short track. You know you're going to get bumped and banged around. You just hope that you're in the right lane at the right time, and that things shake out the way you want."