Clinton, S.C., Monday, July 1, 2013, 11:16 a.m.
I just thought of some Elton John/Bernie Taupin lines: I’m back on dry land once again / Opportunity awaits me like a rat in a drain …
Okay. It’s not all that pertinent. The song is named “Sweet Painted Lady,” and the narrator is a sailor, not an author who just got back from a rainy, nine-day tour of the Mid-Atlantic states.
I didn’t write it was profound. I just wrote that the lines occurred to me. Veteran readers of this blog know that happens a lot.
I digress, which happens a lot, too.
The eastern half of the country is mostly lush and green. The western half is mostly dry and parched. These aren’t supposed to be absolutes. At the moment, the West is burning up, and the East is filling up … with water.
For the present, weather stereotypes are extremely valid. I got rained on for most of a week in various parts of Pennsylvania. Now I’m home. Rain is forecast all week. A man’s got to cut his grass sometime.
I just opened the front door. I could hear the grass growing.
On Sunday, my plan was to watch the NASCAR race from Kentucky from a motel room. It had been raining all during the drive to Pittsburgh. The race got rained out. I drove all the way home Sunday, maniacally trying to find the race on the radio as it faded in and out. I spent the first hour of the race listening to “Prairie Home Companion” on NPR, which was quite enjoyable. Siri, my electronic navigator, got me out of a bad spot in southern Virginia when I-77 was hopelessly backed up and I boldly exited for a 15-mile drive through narrow, mountainous roads. Siri got me back on track. Bless her heart. I told her that, but she didn’t seem to understand me. It rained very little till I hit the Charlotte area. It doesn’t take a storm to get the highway backed up around Mooresville, so I stopped at Arby’s and used a coupon. I really enjoyed being off my diet for a week, succumbing to the difficulties of eating right on the road.
Now I’m back on track. Really. It’s not a joke.
One thing doesn’t seem to change in NASCAR right now. Forgive the stereotype, and the exception here and there, but it seems as if every week, Jimmie Johnson drives the fastest car. Only strategy or mistakes beats him. That being the case, I think I would be very proud if I were Matt Kenseth right now. He won the only way he could have won, which was to pass up tires for track position and hope everyone behind him would start squabbling enough for him to get away.
There’s this saying. “The race does not always go the swift, but that’s still the way to bet.” Johnson is still the way to bet, but things change. Right now, it looks as if Five Time is going to become Six Time. After Johnson won every championship from 2006 through 2010, I said he’d have to lose two titles before I picked anyone else. He did, so this year, when asked, I picked Kyle Busch. Any similarity between me and Nostradamus seems merely coincidental right now.
But, of course, the Chase changes everything.
While driving down the highway, maniacally tuning the radio to keep in contact with what was happening in Kentucky, I thought about Kyle Petty’s remarks of last week. Petty cited an old saying of his father, The King, who said that some drivers can go fast and others are really race drivers. Richard’s son said that Danica Patrick could go fast but wasn’t a race driver yet and quite possibly never will be. I think he’s right, but if Patrick proves me wrong, I’ll be happy about it and admit I was wrong. Kyle will, too. I think his view is the way to bet.
The whole kerfuffle – I borrowed that word from a Nate Ryan tweet, so he owes me one – was pretty amusing. Many of those who unleashed an artillery barrage against Kyle (that’s Petty, not Busch) somehow centered their fire on the career of Petty, not Patrick, which was basically changing the subject. By the way, I arrived on the NASCAR beat when Kyle Petty was a contender. He won eight career Cup races and came reasonably close to winning a championship in 1992. Kyle, by virtue of being the grandson of a three-time champion and son of the most influential figure in the history of the sport, has more perspective on the sport than almost anyone else. I don’t always agree with Kyle, but it’s absurd to suggest that he lacks standing.
I thought it kind of laugh-out-loud funny that many fans, who have never even driven a race car, thought Kyle had no business expressing his view on the career prospects of Danica Patrick.
Kyle Petty is the most honest guy on television, at least where NASCAR is concerned. He puts himself in the line of fire every single week, and I admire him for that. It reminds me of how any politician who sticks his (or her) neck out has to fight like hell to stay in office, but the guy who just sits up there in Washington like a knot on a log gets reelected time after time.
Kyle’s way is not the norm, but it’s refreshing, and I’m glad he’s willing to put up with being perpetually in the Twitter crosshairs. His is not the path of least resistance.
Mine isn’t, either, but I can look at myself in the mirror, and I think Kyle can, too.