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.
Yet, the big story was the start of the race. When would that be? The wet cold rainy weather punted both practice and qualifying, thus nobody would have any laps in their car when the green waved. None. Zip.
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.
Texas. That may have been the worst NASCAR race I ever watched. If not, I hope I never remember a worse one. Indianapolis in 2008 might challenge it, but that was due to having to throw out a caution every 10 laps to prevent the damn tires from exploding.
36. Damn, and I was so looking forward to saying nothing but positive things this season. 36. That is the number of entries slated to run at Atlanta on Sunday. 36. The last time we had that small a field, it was 1996 in Martinsville. Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon were the race winners at that venue. 36.
NASCAR can really tick me off, and the use of “tick” was not my first choice. Yet, every year I seem to get that itch, one that I had already scratched raw the year before, and every year I return. Why? Well, there seems to be a few things about NASCAR that I really, really like as well.
For a race that has been around since 1958, it is a damn shame that it does not carry the proper branding to link it over the decades to the time it was claimed by the likes of Speedy Thompson, Cotton Owens, and Joe Weatherly. Let us properly honor it and refer to this Saturday night’s contest in Richmond, Virginia as the Federated Auto Parts Capital City 400.
History and tradition. Often NASCAR sells it out for a corporate buck, but the Southern 500 was a race to win long before they went round and round at Daytona, Talladega, or all those generic races on cookie cutter 1.5-mile tracks across the country. It was the race a driver wanted to win. That legacy continued in Darlington, South Carolina on Sunday night at the track too tough to tame, the famed Lady in Black.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Darlington Raceway this Labor Day weekend for the Bojangles’ Southern 500. This is the third straight year of Darlington’s throwback campaign and this edition will focus on the 1985-89 era. There are 40 drivers on the entry list and 32 will run retro paint schemes to honor the rich history of the sport.