Clinton, S.C., Sunday, April 27, 2014, 9:25 a.m.
Baseball players refer to the big leagues as “the show.” Old men look back warmly to “having a cup of coffee in the bigs,” which means they made it but not for very long.
When I was a kid, “going to the show” meant going to the movies, quite often on Saturday afternoons with bike racks out front full.
What exactly is “the show” in NASCAR now?
Is it a feverish battle between four equally matched cars and drivers as the final laps wind down at Richmond International Raceway? Or is it the foolishness that occurs afterwards? Is it a pass for the lead or a hop on the hood? Is it “bump and run” or “shove and punch”? Is it “wow, just wow” or “ooh, ooh, ooh, Brad’s mad”?
I just checked Youtube: “Marcos Ambrose Punches Casey Mears” has 43,369 views; “Joey Logano Wins in Chaotic Finish” has 4,439. My God. “Dale Earnhardt Jr. Comments …” has 627.
“Michael Waltrip’s Grid Walk at Richmond” has 38, so there is some justice.
This isn’t my first expression of concern about this gossipy world into which we are descending. Has the actual sporting event become secondary, or even tertiary, behind “who hit whom?” and “how’s this affect the [absurdly distant] Chase?”
It’s lonely out here among the few, the proud, those of us who tune in because we’d sort of like to see a stock car race.
Right now, it doesn’t matter to me that Logano “cemented” his place in the Chase. Previously, it was just a cedar post packed with mud. I don’t care who’s in, who’s out, who’s desperate, who’s relaxed, who’s anything about the godforsaken Chase. It will arrive soon enough, and that is nearly five months away. I’ll start thinking about Talladega about Wednesday. At the moment, I’m still ecstatic about what I perceived to be yet another high-quality race. I didn’t have that perception as much the past few years.
I’m trading in my nostalgia and sort of enjoying what’s going on now.
I was amused at the post-race tantrums, but I was exhilarated by the race, and I’ll take exhilaration over amusement most of the time.
How good was that race? Kyle Busch called it “crazy.” Kyle Busch knows crazy. He also called it “insane.” It’s a little more hazardous tiptoeing out there.
I’m calling it exciting. I’m admiring Matt Kenseth for fighting the good fight and doing what he thought he had to do to win. I’m no less pleased that Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon didn’t much care for Kenseth’s tactics. I loved watching Logano take advantage of all that rapacity by displaying his own at the opportune moment.
Ambrose popping Mears? Aw, that’s just gravy.