Chase of Fools

Jimmie Johnson coolly captured the race of No Limits. No one else was cool, let alone calm. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Jimmie Johnson coolly captured the race of No Limits. No one else was cool, let alone calm. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, November 3, 2014, 10:18 a.m. Okay, first things first. As to the sordid affair that occurred last night after the race in No Limits, Texas, let’s make a few points

A number of observers believe a typical short-track race is what occurs when NASCAR drivers who know nothing about dirt, race at Eldora, and for some of the observers, this is true because it’s the only dirt track where they have ever been.

It wasn’t typical of local short tracks, as my friend Rick Minter pointed out this morning. “There’s one big difference,” Rick said. “If you act like that at a local track, you spend the night in jail.”

The Silver Fox, David Pearson, circa 1977. He wasn't a fighter. He was a lover.

The Silver Fox, David Pearson, circa 1977. He wasn’t a fighter. He was a lover.

It wasn’t typical of the good, old days, either. If you think Petty, Pearson, Cale, Bobby, Fireball, and D.W. behaved like that three nights a week for two decades, you are sadly mistaken. That was an age in which drivers often had to fix what they tore up and, one way or another, pay for it.

The biggest reason was that they were working-class heroes, not rich punks. The reason the brawl at the 1979 Daytona 500 is remembered so vividly is that it happened infrequently, unlike the present wrestling circuit, where it happens twice in three weeks.

However, if the Etch a Sketch format had been in place, it would have happened more often “back in the day.” What is happening now is similar to the difference between Let’s Make a Deal and a video game. The championship that used to be behind Door Number Three is now a matter of avoiding the banana peels in Super Mario Karts. In other words, NASCAR’s Imperial Hierarchy is experiencing a great example of the old saying, “Watch what you ask for. You might just get it.” They didn’t know “have at it, boys” had a nuclear option, right up until they legislated it with the Etch a Sketch.

Brad Keselowski is under fire for shaking the Etch a Sketch too vigorously. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Brad Keselowski is under fire for shaking the Etch a Sketch too vigorously. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Really, no one in the competing class is wrong, and no one is right. Everyone is out of his mind. Brad Keselowski, who must win in order to advance, did everything he possibly could to do so. He tried to bust through a hole that closed. When he said, “There was a hole, and I went for. It closed up, and we bounced off each other, and [I] kept going. It was just a battle for a win,” he was telling the truth. “I came here to race, not to fight. I raced as hard as I could, and these guys just didn’t like it.” Of course, they didn’t. That’s the plan.

Kevin Harvick has been known to stir things up. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kevin Harvick has been known to stir things up. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

“It’s being played rough,” said Kevin Harvick, who despite finishing second, is eighth going to Phoenix. “It’s one of those deals where everybody is trying to get everything they can. You just do everything you can do to do the best for your team.” Gordon’s hope of advancing is suddenly precarious. “I had to show my displeasure,” he said. “It got ugly down there, obviously, and, you know, that is all right. A lot of things are going to happen in the next couple of weeks.

Were you aware this man sometimes cusses? (Garry Eller/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Were you aware this man sometimes cusses? (Garry Eller/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

“It’s emotion that is a part of this Chase and this format, as well as towards people that make dumb decisions. He (KeselowskI) has been making a lot of them lately. That’s why people have been running after him and chasing him down. It’s why his team has got to defend him over there because of what he does on the race track.

“I am so proud of my team, and I’m proud of Jimmie Johnson for winning that race and not letting that little you-know-what win that race.”

“You know what” apparently translates as “dipshit” because that’s the word Gordon used on TV before he cooled down. “To them (NASCAR), I’m sure it’s a ‘racing incident,’ but, to me, it’s just a bunch of crap,” he also said, so he hadn’t cooled down that much, just enough not to say “shit” again.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Martinsville. Guess what? He no longer gets to shake the Etch a Sketch. Johnson won at No Limits. He’s out of contention, too. It works pretty well for them, other than, oh, the championship part. They’ve got no pressure, and most all the etchers and the sketchers are pissed off at one another.

Just what is NASCAR to do? Its customized Frankenstein is aliiiiiive. Someone at NASCAR should have watched Bridge on the River Kwai. It’s too late to say, as Colonel Nicholson did, “My God. What have I done?”

The chief influence on the Etch a Sketch apparently was Days of Thunder and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which was named for a track where there are no races at night and doesn’t have a ballad. Oh, I like them, but, as movies, not real life. I don’t really want to see Keselowski dancing around naked on imaginary fire. Most of the time, it ticks me off when every shoving match involving a couple overheated NASCAR drivers is ridiculed on all the shows, Today, Nightly News, Fox & Friends, Good Morning America, Letterman, Fallon, Kimmel, et al., that wouldn’t normally give either NASCAR or an NBA clash of elbows a decent mention.

But this! By God, they looked like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street just happened to schedule marches in opposite directions on the Gettysburg battlefield. Or the main drag in Ferguson. It’s a good thing they hadn’t unlocked the rifles in No Limits Victory Lane yet. It wasn’t tough. It was infantile. They’d better be glad it wasn’t the checkout lane at Walmart, or else they’d really have had a rumble on their hands.

I think I’m going to fiction because this is too strange. If you get a chance, take an occasional look at or shop for my books, fiction and non, at:

About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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15 Responses to Chase of Fools

  1. Carol Dahlberg says:

    Oh, yes, Jeff Gordon does cuss; I listen to him most weekends.

    This is exactly what the big shots at NASCAR wanted. Any publicity is good publicity to them. I just hope Jeff didn’t hurt his back in that tussle.

  2. bobi says:

    The silliness of this format is outweighed only by the silliness of the competitors. It’s sad that NASCAR’s plan to regain whatever relevancy they once enjoyed seems to be backfiring dangerously on them. On the other hand, I’m enjoying the weekly comedy the sport has become (in a purely cynical way, of course.)

  3. Fidel Prique says:

    I wish they would schedule the fights before the race. That way I could go ahead and take my three-hour nap. The way it is, I have to make sure I wake up in time for the fracas.

    I love the savagery….. Kinda like watching kindergarteners on crack playing patty cake.

    If it came to real fighting, half these guys would be afraid and the other half would be glad.

  4. Kent says:

    All nascar cares about is all of those empty seats and stagnant TV ratings. They have run out of ideas on how to remedy those problems and this is the result of their constant tinkering. We now have the equivalent of the WWE.

  5. Nancy says:

    How in their right minds can Nascar be happy with this. Most people can’t tell you who won the race, and I am surprised poor Johnson didn’t get out of his car and go home, they all but forgot about him. Nope Kez did nothing wrong, and it is a bad trend that the idiocy of a few this weekend is making Kez look like the bad guy and the uniformed are running with that story. Kez handled things extremely well all around..the same could not be said for that “grown man” instigator Harvick or Jeffery who let his true colors slip again..glad some people are finally noticing after being in a Kool Aid induced Hendrick slumber for years.

  6. R Rohrer says:

    It was a good race at the end. Loved seeing Brad K go for it all

    The good finish was ruined by the “infantile” behavior on pit road.

  7. Bill B says:

    NASCAR has turned into a reality television show. I am questioning why I should watch a 3+ hour race when only the last 30 minutes matter. There were 14 guys on the lead lap at the half-way point. Many were more than 1 lap down. By the last 20 laps there are 28 on the lead lap and then two GWC restarts guarantees that the finishing positions are going to be a crapshoot that doesn’t reflect anything that happened in the first 300 laps. What a joke and what a waste of my time.
    I think it’s about time that I just tune in for the last half-hour (or read about it on the internet the next morning) and do something more worthwhile with my Sunday afternoons (like watch football).

  8. Mike Henle says:

    Great blog and while the idea may sell tickets for the Phoenix race, I specifically have questions with regards to Keselowski and Harvick considering their past behavior. Then, too, I have continued to question Keselowski for showing up for the post-race press conference half looped after winning the national title in 2012 since it simply showed his bad judgment big-time. Truth be known, some bystander is going to get hurt during a post-race melee one of these days and when that happens, NASCAR will be forced to deal with the situation.

  9. Russ says:

    Quite a statement about the sport when some, (not Monte), are basing their analysis of the race on the fight not the on track action.
    Even so I doubt if, other than the faithful, many people cared.

  10. Jay Pees says:

    I still think that fixing the quality of the racing might help fill the seats. Gimmicks obviously aren’t working.

    Slow them down and driving rather than aiming might work. How? Take away all the aero crap, run showroom bodies. That is how NASCAR started. I’d be in favor of running Strictly Stock. Wouldn’t that be novel?

  11. Sue Rarick says:

    I’m at the point now that I just check for the last few laps. The reason for even that is that my boyfriend and I usually bet on what lap Nascar is going to call the mystery caution.

    The sad part of this is that Nashville is usually one of the top TV rating cities and it’s just not me that has lost interest in NASCAR here in town. It’s gotten to the point I try and work in some studio time on Sunday’s so I have free time during the week.

  12. Butch Capuano says:

    The whole thing is garbage. To get right down to it, the Chase did not cure what really ails NASCAR, and that is that the racing stinks! Brian France forgot that each race is an entity unto itself, and good racing is what puts people in the seats and eyes on the television. The Chase does not garner any additional publicity in the traditional stick and ball media, except when the fighting and post race crashing take place. As far as I am concerned, it has done none of the things that NASCAR really needed it to do. Here are two more points I need to make. Driving into a guy to move him out of the way is NOT racing! My mother could do that. The object is to out drive the guy in front of you, that is what racing is all about. Finally, to say that the Chase puts more emphasis on winning is hogwash. Any driver that goes to the races to “have a good points day” in NOT a race car driver, he is just driving a race car (Get the difference?). A pretty good old race car driver, who who a champion ship or two once told me, “Just win races, and the points will take care of themselves” That came from Richie Evans, and you don’t get much better than that.
    It makes me very sad to see the state of racing today, and even my beloved modifieds are not immune to the downturn. I think the column by Bones Boucier in the latest Speedway Illustrated just about sums it up. Oh well………

  13. John says:

    The New Chase is working out swimmingly for BZF and his minions. You doubters need to get just with the program!

    According to the Nielsen ratings, the Texas race metered a whole 0.2 ratings point higher than the same race in 2013. NASCAR/ESPN celebrated another major victory when their race easily beat NBC’s 0.7 overall rating posted by those pesky F1 communists, who dared to run their only American race of the season in Austin, directly opposite NASCAR’s Texas Chase race. TMS’ ever positive, Eddie Gossage crowed that those gaps of empty seats we saw on TV (and Tweeted about) were just illusions. According to Eddie, “officially” there were actually “148,000” fans at the track, which was “up” from “138,000” last season.

    And with the New Chase, for the first time in the “modern era”, the Cup champion has an opportunity to win the title without winning a race. I can imagine the remainder of the mass media will have a field day when the 2014 Sprint Cup Champion, Ryan Newman is universally feted for his historic achievement in the annals of motor racing.

    Ah, and those awesome post-race fights among the remaining Chase combatants! All they need are breakaway chairs and fake blood packets to add more attractive gore, which should be good for another 0.2 ratings bump, or more.

    The hits just keep on coming!

  14. Monte says:

    No NASCAR Cup champion has ever failed to win a race, modern era or not.

  15. Steven says:

    My fantasy fight is Jeff Gordon and Buddy Baker. I’d like to see little Jeffy flattened like a pancake. What an enormous ego.

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