Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, April 22, 11:15 a.m.
Kyle Busch may be a flawed hero, but, at the moment, he’s the only hope.
That may be a consequence of immediacy, which seems to be all that matters anymore. In the Age of Technology, there is no past, no future, only present. Busch has won three races in a row. Kevin Harvick won three straight earlier in this very season, but no matter. Even before Busch increased the relevance of the title, Toyota Owners 400, the marketing engine was cranking. He and Dale Earnhardt Jr. publicly buried an old, rusty hatchet. The sudden Man of the People climbed into the grandstands to mingle with the fans.
Richmond Raceway’s return to the springtime night was a good, not great, race, but if a classic is run every week, it ceases to be a classic. Five days earlier, in the gloom of a Monday afternoon, Busch won a marvelous Bristol race in front of a crowd that rounded down to zero. Saturday night’s was merely disappointing, in spite of lovely weather.
At the moment, there isn’t much else out there, and Busch is basically it. His Toyota advertised three flavors of M&Ms. None was vanilla. He’s got that going for him.
Busch started 32nd. It’s not the disadvantage it once was, what with all the bells and whistles, but it’s good for the sport to see a fast car slicing and dicing its way through the field.
“I kept my head down, kept myself focused all night long, trying to bring home a win,” Busch said.
Perhaps the excursion into the stands was a good test of how fans are finally getting accustomed to Busch’s contrary ways. Those who lingered were happy to see him. Those who didn’t were either in their personal vehicles, trying to get out of there, or stomping toward them with invective on their breaths.
Aw, what the hell.
“Don’t worry,” Busch said. “I was definitely eyeing it out, like, who’s there, who’s there, who’s there. Saw a lot of ‘18’ stuff, so I just decided to go up there, give some guys and some kids some high fives, what’s ups. Fortunately, I got back out of there. They held onto me for a second, then my brute strength ripped me out of their arms and brought me back to civilization on the race track.”
The masses may not be fully acclimated, but they’ve lost their interest in fistfights. It’s called progress. As Virginia’s Statler Brothers almost sang, “Junior’s gone, and Disney’s dead, and the screen is filled with sex.”
Harvick still lurks. Chase Elliott still runs second. Jimmie Johnson is starting to rustle. The other kids are removing the training wheels from their bikes.
It’s natural to play the hot hand.
If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.
If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.
Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.
Just out is my eighth novel, a political crime thriller called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
My writing on local sports, writing, books, and other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.