I Can But Sigh

Always the cool customer, Matt Kenseth (Monte Dutton sketch)

Always the cool customer, Matt Kenseth (Monte Dutton sketch)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

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.

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

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.

The Daytona 500 pole winner, Jeff Gordon. (Monte Dutton sketch)

The Daytona 500 pole winner, Jeff Gordon. (Monte Dutton sketch)

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


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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14 Responses to I Can But Sigh

  1. Robert Johnson says:

    NASCAR needs to learn the difference between “excitement” and straight-ahead racing or they will continue to loose fans.

  2. racefangurl says:

    Excitement is when your heart races or you scream, punch the air, do a happy dance, stuff like that.

  3. Dave Fulton says:

    Rudyard Kipling Kenseth

  4. Roger Miller says:

    They should just draw starting positions for the duels and let that determine the field, not sure how the pole would be award between the two duel winners though?

  5. Walter Charette says:

    Most exciting thing I saw was Ty Dillon going backwards down pit road

  6. Anne says:

    Harvick is not humbled by his gift of the format that afforded him the “Champion” after one race. Hell most did it on 36, other did it on 10, he did it on one (based on the format, winner take all one race) and he hasn’t humbled himself one bit. I guess to Monte’s point, heck they need something to write about, but I bet if some digging was to be had, a treasure trove awaits us hungry fans and not some fluff pieces of Kevin and his imagined rivalries. Seriously, after his post race antics I knew we were in for a long nasty season. Nothing has changed. Congrats Matt.

  7. mrclause says:

    Loved the donkey softball comparison!

  8. Tim says:

    If they want to spice up the qualifying at Daytona and Talladega take the restrictor plates off. Move the fans back to a safe distance and do single cars runs. Any guesses on average speed would it be in 225-230 mph range? The plates would return for the race.

  9. Robert Eastman says:

    I’m sure no one was surprised that for at least the 3rd year in a row the “hottest news-buzz” won the pole. Two years ago it was Danica, last year it was the return of #3. Because this is the “Year of Jeff”… before a wheel turned on Sunday, somehow I just knew that Gordon would get the pole. NASCAR’s PR Hollywood scripts seem to always magically re-appear!

  10. Mike says:

    If Logano doesn’t know why Harvick was mad at him, he’s more stupid than even I think he is, which is nigh impossible. Just a complete idiot. The Waltrips continue to shamelessly shill for NASCAR and NASCAR continues to be run by a combination Ahab and Prince in No Clothes. Oh, well, there’s nothing else to watch. Or is there? By the way, Monte, Steve “Bear” Botkin says, “Hello.”

    Concord, NC

  11. John says:

    Thanks for the re-cap Monte!

    I didn’t watch the Race Pretending To Be The Busch Clash after reading that some smaller, but wiser car owners were “qualified”, but decided to pass in anticipation the eventual carnage.

    After watching the qualifying mess last Fall in Talladega, I also decided to take a pass on the 500 qualifying session. However, I’m relieved to see that Jeff Gordon made the show (he almost missed out at Talladega).

  12. Monte says:

    Please return my regards.

  13. Kelley says:

    Hey Mike from Concord…I am with Joey in the bewilderment department and I always was told and I consider myself with well above average intelligence. I base my bewilderment on the amount of race cars that were torn up and everybody post race interview didn’t say or do a bad thing regarding the “offending” driver. Logano, in a few post race interviews got thumbs up and thanked for his help. Kevin holds up the line with his junk car and makes it to the checkers and yet he is the only one who has a hissy fit. A non points race…had to say it again. I find it funny, as Harvick has dumped more people and wrecked them and has been very unapologetic The only one’s he gives a half assed apology to is the other school yard bullies. Pay attention Mike, you might get some enlightenment. This year I am paying super close attention, so people like you cannot make a statement about another driver in a negative way, when the opposite is true.

  14. Fidel Prique says:

    I’m thinking that donkey is now running NASCAR

Comments are closed.