The Final Word – A Racing Junky’s Sunday, from Monaco to Indianapolis to Charlotte

It is the greatest day on the motorsports calender. We begin in southern Europe, head over to the Midwest United States, then back to stock car’s heartland in the southeast. Using my vast wealth, I guess I could have dropped by to visit Prince Albert before firing up my Star Trek transporter to take in the action in the New World, but I could not help but notice that I have a fair sized television screen, a nice comfy couch, with a refrigerator and a washroom just feet away. I did not even have to wear pants…though I did. Welcome to how I spent my Sunday.

The first stop on the world tour was Monaco, where they have been racing on the two-mile layout in Monte Carlo since 1929. My first impression was that they must be out of their damn minds. No room, lots of turns and elevation changes. The next thing that strikes you is the opulence to remind us of all those things some have that most of us do not. Anyone else notice the yachts? Then there were the sponsors, and as I watched I wondered what products I might be able to afford or want. I did notice Johnnie Walker.

Visually it was stunning, but as for racing, it was more like stunt driving. It was all Mercedes as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton led from the very start, with Rosberg taking his second straight Monaco victory as Hamilton held off a late charging Daniel Ricciardo with Red Bull. It was not my kind of racing, but it sure was one hell of a ride. If NASCAR could only put forth that kind of stimulating visual spectacular each and every week, they would never again have to worry about television ratings.

An even older tradition continued as the Indianapolis 500 continued a competition that began in 1911. Twenty-seven-year-old Marco Andretti, still winless after eight attempts on this track, was considered the favorite going in, ahead of three-time winner Helio Castroneves. Former NASCAR full-timer Juan Pablo Montoya was also given a shot, at 8-to-1, but most fender fans were wondering how 30-to-1 driver Kurt Busch would do as he attempted the double, running both Indianapolis and Charlotte. Two hundred thousand were in the stands to watch 83-year old Jim Nabors who returned to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” for the final time, and somewhere a bottle of milk was being chilled for the winner of the world’s biggest single day sports event. That turned out to be Florida’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, who passed Castroneves for the victory, with Andretti settling for third. Montoya brought it home in fifth, while Busch finished sixth.

Oh, but Busch was not finished, not on this day. He was off to Charlotte, North Carolina and the Coca Cola 600 as the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champ had not even completed half of his on-track work just yet. Well, according to his engine, he actually was. It only lasted 400 miles before going up in smoke, same as that of teammate Danica Patrick. The trio who dominated much of the event finished on top, with Jimmie Johnson claiming his first of the season and 67th of his Cup career, ahead of Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth. It was an interesting race, an enjoyable race, but no surprises loomed at the end of the night. So concluded a memorable Memorial Day for televised racing.

As they reset for next Sunday’s action in Dover, Joey Logano and Harvick continue to lead the way atop the Cup standings with a couple of wins apiece. 12 races in and still more than 30 drivers have a shot at the Chase, and all it would take is a visit to Victory Lane this upcoming weekend.

1 Joey Logano – 2 WINS – 378 Pts
2 Kevin Harvick – 2 WINS – 345
3 Jeff Gordon – 1 WIN – 432
4 Kyle Busch -1 WIN – 408
5 Carl Edwards – 1 WIN –  408
6 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 1 WIN – 394
7 Jimmie Johnson – 1 WIN – 388
8 Brad Keselowski – 1 WIN – 361
9 Denny Hamlin – 1 WIN – 340
10 Kurt Busch – 1 WIN – 215
11 Matt Kenseth – 421 POINTS
12 Brian Vickers – 365
13 Ryan Newman – 361
14 Greg Biffle – 351
15 Kyle Larson – 344
16 Austin Dillon – 334

17 Paul Menard – 328
18 Kasey Kahne – 324
19 A.J. Allmendinger – 314
20 Aric Almirola – 312
21 Clint Bowyer – 309
22 Marcos Ambrose – 303
23 Tony Stewart – 299
24 Jamie McMurray – 286
25 Casey Mears – 282
26 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. – 258
27 Martin Truex, Jr. – 251
28 Danica Patrick – 218
29 Justin Allgaier – 205
30 Michael Annett – 179

31 Cole Whitt – 164
32 David Gilliland – 160
33 Alex Bowman – 152
34 David Ragan – 150
35 Reed Sorenson – 145
36 Josh Wise – 133


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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