[cb_profit_poster sponsor1]Clinton, S.C., Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 5:31 p.m.
I’m going to make a few random observations about NASCAR, the reason being that, at this point of the year, I don’t have many opinions that are fully formed.
The baseball stats guru Bill James once said that if then-Red Sox manager John McNamara ever wrote a book on strategy, it would be called Let Them Play and See What Happens.
We could argue all night about whether or not Jimmie Johnson is going win yet another Sprint Cup championship, or whether Dale Earnhardt Jr. can win one, or whether Tony Stewart can come back from injury, or Brad Keselowski get back in the Chase, or Kyle Busch can defeat himself, or Jack Roush can get his team back up to speed, or a plethora of other potential happenings, but we really don’t know.
Let Them Race and See What Happens.
I’m not making any predictions. It’s premature. My former colleagues are getting busy. Some are going to testing in Daytona Beach. Most all will be at the upcoming media tour. At this time a year ago, I was informing the sanctioners of such activities that I no longer had any practical reason to attend. I guess I haven’t missed it since a year ago, so, since I just thought of it, I guess I’ll start missing it a little now.
But just a little.
Herewith are my trivial, unformed and uninformed thoughts:
No worries about Daytona. The lead-up will be most sanguine. Danica Patrick will be written about, once again, as if she is a contender, but all will be sweetness and light for virtually everyone else, too. This year I’m expecting a white sale on long features celebrating the underappreciated majesty of Johnson. They’ve probably been written in the past less than 100,000 times.
NASCAR itself will be lavishly praised, not having besmirched the clean slate with any wildly improbable screw-ups … yet.
Everyone will go to the beach at the height of their powers, having bolstered their forces over the winter. The form may vary, but I expect Speedweeks will provide a progression of exciting races. It’s hard to run a race there that isn’t interesting, at least. Some will, as always, grouse that “it’s not real racing.” That’s why NASCAR excels at it.
It’s the only time of the season when all is truly optimistic. Something may dampen it. Yes, I remember that horrible day in 2001. It’s unlikely that such a disaster will occur again, but so was it then. There may be gruesome crashes, but as long as everyone walks away, the effect will be positive, not negative. A few hands will be figuratively wrung, but that’s about it.
Part of what makes Daytona so invigorating is that, practically every year, a team performs spectacularly and is never heard from again. It may even be the winner, as in Trevor Bayne’s case in 2011. It may even be Danica Patrick doing well, as it was last year.
Ultimately, the Daytona 500 will have no more to do with this, or any season, than an exhibition between the Boston Red Sox and Boston College presages the outcome of the World Series.
If the Daytona 500 winner wins the Sprint Cup championship, as he did last year, it will be a coincidence, not a portent of things to come.
Back at home, I’ll hope for the best, but I’ve been around too long to expect it.
I’m not making any predictions, but I’ll be rooting for David Ragan.