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Drivers were asked this weekend at Kansas what’s happened to all the action, and opinions were split.

“I’m surprised there’s not more wrecks,” Johnson admitted last week.

Then came Sunday’s race at Kansas, and it was yet another polite affair. There were three cautions for 18 laps, and two of the yellow flags were for debris. The other was for Clint Bowyer’s early spin, and the race ended with a 75-lap green-flag run.

Now, there was some excitement as Martin Truex Jr., who dominated the race, tried in vain to chase down eventual winner Denny Hamlin over the closing laps. But it’s not clear if that’s enough to hold the interest of an audience faced with an enormous selection of entertainment options.

Fans were livid after the ho-hum March 18 race at Bristol, where the crowd was a fraction of what it used to be and the customers were vocal that the racin’ just ain’t what it used to be in Thunder Valley. Track owner Bruton Smith felt sick on race day when he saw the half-empty crowd, and it didn’t get any better when the feedback solicited by Speedway Motorsports Inc. was almost unanimously negative.

Smith has promised to tear up the track if fans believe it will improve the racing, and he’ll announce his plans for the Tennessee track on Wednesday.

Drivers seem divided on what’s causing this clean racing. Kevin Harvick thinks the stakes are so high right now, with drivers vying for one of the 12 spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field, that no one can take any chances.

“I’m sure everyone is trying to get off on the right foot and trying to get themselves positioned as teams and organizations to get into the Chase,” he said. “Everyone is trying to win races, so you need as few enemies as possible at this point.”

But Brad Keselowski, winner at Bristol, believes the current racing is a product of aerodynamics.

“We can’t get close enough to each other to wreck each other,” Keselowski said. “That’s the reality of it. When you can’t get close to someone because of aerodynamic effects of the cars, the potential to wreck is a lot less no matter what the situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re angry or not angry, you can’t get (there) to do anything.”

Next up for NASCAR is a Saturday night showdown at Richmond, where the action is typically intense. Of the combined 23 cautions in the two races last year at Richmond, 16 were for accidents and five others were for a spinning car.

Like it or not, that’s what fans expect to see at a NASCAR race. That doesn’t make it right, and it’s certainly not fair to the drivers and teams who prefer pure racing without any gimmicks. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appeal to a broad enough audience, at least not for an extended period of time.

There’s a nice stretch of racing coming up over the next month for the Sprint Cup Series, which goes from Richmond to Talladega to Darlington to the $1 million All-Star race. Maybe _ hopefully _ as the calendar turns toward the summer months, the on-track product will heat up accordingly.