The Daytona 500 is coming up this Sunday, a time for new beginnings and a time for bringing things to an end. After 15 years and over a thousand columns of various incarnations, this edition represents my final regular contribution to this site.
Legends are rare. Many get an honorary title, no doubt stars in their own right at one time long ago or a pioneer of some description. However, to be a true legend, an icon, it takes a lot to make the grade. In NASCAR, David Pearson was an undisputed legendary driver, one of the best all-time, a true giant of the sport.
When Furniture Row Racing announced that they would cease operations Tuesday, my first reaction was shock. But as the news sunk in I realized that it should not have come as a surprise but rather another indicator that NASCAR’s efforts to reduce the cost of operating a team at the premier Cup Series level are failing miserably.
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.
NASCAR fans are always looking for one thing; side by side racing, and passing for the lead a hundred times a race. That is what the fans say they want to see. But that just isn’t the reality, and it never has been.
Another weekend. Another race. Another track that does not excite me. Welcome to NASCAR. Michigan International Speedway, located in the lush, rolling Irish Hills, is about 40 miles southwest of Ann Arbor. The fact it is considered a sister track of Texas, and the basis of the facility in Fontana does not exactly thrill anyone, but they do go fast there.
Jeff Gordon. Four-time NASCAR champion. Three-time Daytona 500 champion. Four-time Brickyard 400 winner. Six-time Southern 500 victor. Three-time World 600 champion. Three-time All-Star race winner. Winner of 93 Cup races. He probably was the most automatic inductee into the Hall of Fame since Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.