Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, February 16, 2015, 10:20 a.m.
NASCAR snuck up on me. I was busy enough that I sort of watched the weekend’s activities fresh. I went out to watch Presbyterian College’s opening baseball game – the Blue Hose beat Delaware State, 13-6, and, subsequently, three more times while I was otherwise occupied – on Friday, and covered a minor league hockey game in Greenville on Saturday afternoon. The Road Warriors won, too, 6-3 over the Evansville IceMen.
The Road Warriors won at home, a harbinger of things to come.
I missed the ARCA race – I’ve been sort of looking for a replay somewhere, and the next opportunity is Tuesday at 9 p.m. on FoxSports2 – and got home with just enough time to prepare two pastrami sandwiches for a race that was allegedly Unlimited. In retrospect, it seems to make more sense for it to be titled the Unlimited Sprint, for that is possible, unlike the Sprint Unlimited, which implied an unlimited field that was, in fact, tightly limited, though not as much as the year before.
What occurred was, like its title, anarchic.
Matt Kenseth won it, and it wasn’t the first race he captured by keeping his wits while, all about him, others were losing theirs.
Kevin Harvick, who once succeeded The Intimidator, should not be nicknamed “Happy.” He is The Instigator, like him for it or not. I rather do, but that’s skewed a bit by the love of any writer for things that help him write.
Daytona 500 pole qualifying? When I was sixteen years old, I played in a donkey softball game that made more sense.
NASCAR claims it wanted to make it more exciting for the fans. I suspect the truth was it wanted to make it more exciting for TV, there not being many fans, at least as classified as wandering about the grounds and sitting in the grandstands. Undoubtedly, some in NASCAR believe the two, fans and TV, are the same. Great transfers of cash contribute to this belief.
Steve O’Donnell, who is Executive Vice President & Chief Racing Development Officer (unless, like Mike Helton, he has been “elevated”), said later that the new format put it back in the drivers’ hands.
Qualifying. At Daytona. So that two drivers, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, can know exactly where they will line up, while dozens of others know they will line up somewhere, and a few others know they are in big trouble.
Just another jolly good TV show, old chaps. Watching it made me think of what Sir Winston Churchill famously said of the Royal Air Force: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” Pole qualifying was a related, imprecise antithesis: Never was so little accomplished by so many for so little reason.
It took skill, though. Skill to get a good parking spot while all the smart guys mapped strategy. Skill to drive at full speed while weaving between a forest of others independently slowing as if under a yellow flag. The rarest skill was being able to control one’s emotions and toe the NASCAR line in good humor.
Amazingly, the dual winners, and occupiers of the front row next Sunday, Gordon and Johnson, were able to assess the day’s events with good humor, Gordon with his trademark affability and Johnson with knee jerking involuntarily. Such moments do not endear him to his detractors.
Now for a few days to get the bad taste out of our mouths and prepare for the Gatorade Twins, check that, Budweiser Duel, which is actually two duels on Thursday, making them dual.
Yes, Lord, it is what it is.
Take a break from this truth stranger than fiction and read some actual fiction of mine at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, and take a look at my books, which are priced reasonably here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1