With the Southern 500 coming our way from Darlington this weekend, it seems like a good time to talk about tradition. The first one in the books was back in 1950, making it the oldest of the sport’s iconic events. Most of the time, it goes to someone who is in or will be in, the Hall of Fame. That number will only grow once Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson get in, along with a few other contenders I can think of.
While we continue to yearn for announcers who captivate us with their voices, delivery, dialogue, banter, information, or entertainment value, it does not matter this Saturday night. This time, the track will take care of all that itself.
Loudon, New Hampshire is where they hand out a lobster to the winner. Okay, it is not as cool as Dover's Miles the Monster trophy, with a diecast of the winning car held aloft in its mighty hand. No grandfather clock like they award at Martinsville, or the six-shooters of Texas, and that sweet Les Paul guitar for races in Nashville. On the positive side, you can not eat any of those other awards.
Change. Sometimes change is good, like when you win a few million dollars. That is good. You get married to your sweetheart. Good. Your children start arriving. If you are a mature adult, and not some self-serving narcissist, that is very good. New talented drivers emerge on the scene. That is also a good thing.
The stars would come out at Charlotte on Saturday night. Well, some of them. Twenty drivers would make up the field, but we knew that the Top 20 on the season would be missing at least a couple of performers.
NASCAR can drive its fans crazy. I say its fans, as those not already invested could not care less what the sport does. For those of us who still do, another damned on the fly rule change is not what we were hoping for. The World 600, as it should be known unless you are devoted to Coca-Cola, will have not two but now three stages to pick up participation or pity points before the finish. Hallelujah!
Kansas was a scheduled 400-mile contest but, truth be told, the highlight of this one arrived with 50 to go. It came in the form of a busted brake rotor, three destroyed cars, and a driver being airlifted to a local hospital. The event itself was just another 1.5-mile track, cars spread out hither and yon, and a generic sponsor non-iconic name attached. However, as they reached the 200th lap, we witnessed what could happen on this track, any track, to jerk us back to reality.
NASCAR is losing steam. Surprise! It is not exactly news, but this week comments made by the top brass yet again reminded us of what has been going on for about a decade now. NASCAR got its big TV contract in 2001 to bring the action nationwide. It lost one of its legends in that opening race, then his son became part of a very compelling and riveting story line, and a fad was born.
Ever since 1987, Charlotte has hosted the all-star race. Some, including Kevin Harvick, figure it should be rotated to other venues like those other sports do. I would agree, only if I had a veto as to what tracks it went to. Even then, I am not sure I would ever agree to the change.
Sixteen started the Chase with some hope. That is now down to 12 as they pull into Charlotte. If we relied strictly on the season tally to award the trophy, it would already be down to Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Just two points would be separating them. Both could have sat out Saturday night’s race and still have been one-two in the standings come Monday. Hence, the Chase.