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The Final Word – Change is inevitable whether we like it or not

I hate change. I do not care for it. I like things just as they are or, probably more truthfully, as they were.

I remember coaching two little boys who are not so little anymore. Those were the days when I was Superman, not just the Old Man. I miss my mother and all the grandparents I was blessed with when I was born. I miss cousins who left us far too soon. I miss my youth. Damn it, I miss my hair.

I loved watching Cale Yarborough in the No. 11 and Richard Petty piloting the No. 43. How I miss seeing Dale Earnhardt in that black No. 3. I wish I could see Rusty Wallace again in that blue deuce though my reasoning is that him driving means there was no way in hell he would be announcing.

No Jeff Gordon this year, other than up in the booth. Tony Stewart is gone no matter what after this season. One day, sooner than later, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will hang up those skeleton gloves.

Sure, I guess there is room for some change. Did you notice the NHL All-Star game? It was its best presentation in 30 years, with a minor league enforcer named as its MVP to prove that Cinderella does indeed wear glass skates. Same day, the NFL had its Pro-Bowl, and it was about as riveting as watching soccer. Trust me, that is not a good thing. Change it or kill it would be my thought.

Cars are safer now. The tracks are moving that way. Daytona, Talladega, and Bristol pretty much guarantee something worth watching. Too bad we cannot be so sure about a few of the other venues. It would be nice if that could somehow change. They say the racing will be better after their latest tinkering with the cars, but we have heard that before. If those changes prove to be the real deal, that would be a change we could all live with.

This year, Bill’s son Chase Elliott goes full-time in Cup, joining other recent arrivals Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon. Still, they have fans to earn and accolades to accumulate. Once again, we will be cheering on our favorites. Kyle Busch returns as a champion to join brother Kurt as NASCAR royalty. Kevin Harvick looks to retake his trophy while Jimmie Johnson might be tired of loaning out what once was his and his alone. Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, and the insufferable Joey Logano remain among the top tier of stars in NASCAR’s constellation. You cannot go wrong rooting for the likes of a Matt Kenseth or a Greg Biffle, or admire the efforts put into the team led by Martin Truex Jr.

Unless you are a big fan of Johnson, a change in champion is acceptable, even though I do love dynasties. I like the cars to look like something I might drive, so we give thanks for the demise of the splitter. I once liked Michael Waltrip, but sometimes things change, and I think Clint Bowyer should be the beneficiary of that.

As much as I dislike change, it is inevitable. Drivers age, retire and are replaced by a new generation. Faces are now encased in helmets and races are won by a matter of seconds, not laps, these days. Since 2001, most weekends television delivers the races to homes in most places. Once we were asked, “How bad have you got it?” Wouldn’t it be nice if we were asked that once again?

It all returns in less than a couple of weeks, with the Sprint Unlimited featured on February 13, Duel Qualifiers on February 18 and the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 21. Boogity, boogity, boogity!

Okay, some things do need to change.

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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