Bristol is not Las Vegas, Phoenix, Fort Worth or Charlotte. There are reasons to go to the Virginia-Tennessee border. The country is beautiful. On Sunday, it appears a lot of people were taking in the scenery. They sure in hell were not at the race track.
Talladega was a ratings bust. Talladega. For fans who follow the sport, those four Stewart-Haas cars up front, doing what they had to do all day long, was something to behold. For those who simply tune in to watch incredible action, they had to wait for the final 20 laps for the payoff. However, they had to have tuned in to witness either. They did not even bother. That is troublesome.
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.
With more than a month left in the old year, talk about the new is already starting to dominate. Tony Stewart is now retired, with Clint Bowyer no doubt thrilled at the chance to get back into quality equipment as his replacement.
I hate change. Even good change can take a while to be appreciated. I did not like the Chase when it came out. I do now. I am still perturbed brand names like Firecracker 400 and World 600 were kicked to the curb to make a sponsor happy who obviously had no appreciation for the traditions of the sport. Then again, neither does NASCAR.
“It's no secret that attention spans, especially with the millennial fans, are changing,” or so says NASCAR boss Brian France. Hard to argue with that, but it basically states that today’s fans are idiots who need the keys jangled before their faces much like one does with a bored infant.
In 2015, the Atlanta 500 makes its return. Well, sort of. That was the name of the early season race in Atlanta before they pimped out the brand to the sponsors. In 2010, they lost that date, while what once was the season finale in Cup got moved to where we find it today.
Aric Almirola was not favored to return the iconic 43 that Richard Petty won his 200th win the Independence Day weekend thirty years ago, but he did. The rains that delayed the action for a day, and delayed it again early on Sunday, returned to finally put a wash to the proceedings prior to the three-quarter mark. The man in front was the 30-year old Tampa, Florida native, recording his first Cup victory in 125 starts.
The distance run and the sponsors may have changed, but for thirty years the gateway to summer race at Daytona was known as the Firecracker 400 (250 for its first four runs). It might not be as big as the 500 or have the glamour of the Southern 500, but winning this one means something. Its name should mean something as well.
They might as well go ahead and rename that Kentucky track Kesetucky. That boy dominated Saturday night’s race from start to finish. Sure, he let team mate Joey Logano, a ninth place finisher, run shotgun for a lot of the race, got the lad some camera time to make the sponsors happy.