Jimmie Johnson. Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch. Kevin Harvick. Martin Truex, Jr. Denny Hamlin. Brad Keselowski. Kyle Larson. Chase Elliott. These men are NASCAR. These men, a few women, and so many others made the sport. Were the sport. Are the sport. Brian France is not NASCAR. There is a reason 97 percent of all family businesses do not survive as such into the fourth generation.
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.
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.
Ricky Rudd - Rudd is probably the best overall driver on the ballot. Bobby Labonte comes pretty close, being one of only two drivers to win XFINITY Series and Cup Series championships, but Rudd had more seasons as a competitive driver. Davey Allison also makes a strong argument, but it becomes an argument of being good for twenty years versus being great for five years. I’ll always take being good for twenty years.
Tradition. On Sunday, we learned that tradition means something. We learned it is actually worth waiting for its return, though why it took NASCAR a decade to solve the hot, muggy conditions of a day race in early September by simply moving it to the evening still boggles the mind.