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.
Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway was not your typical Southern 500. For starters, it was held on its traditional Labor Day weekend date, something diehard NASCAR fans have been clamoring for since this date was taken away from them after 2003.
Saturday night at Bristol is behind us, so what have we learned? First, I was reminded how much I love the action broadcast from that track. Second, I like pack racing. I do not need 20 or 30 cars all bunched together, but seeing four or five on the screen battling for position is pretty cool. Hell, it is downright exciting.
Darlington Raceway is a rare gem in today’s NASCAR because it is unlike any other track on the circuit. It was built on land that once grew cotton and peanuts and shaped around a minnow pond, giving it a unique design and producing NASCAR’s first paved superspeedway.
“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.
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.
Like many of you, I spent a Friday and Saturday evening in front of a television set watching NASCAR Live On Fox from Darlington International Raceway in South Carolina. After all, any race track with the names "the track too tough to tame" and "the lady in black" was bound to turn up some excitement.
There is a reason we read the entire book, rather than rely totally on the CliffsNotes version. For example, the shortened description of Saturday night’s Southern 500 action at Darlington would read that Kevin Harvick dominated and went on to win his second of the season.