Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, February 23, 2015, 12:23 p.m.
Imagine that you and your wife have enjoyed a nice dinner. You walk out into the Daytona International Speedway trioval grass and tell the kid, who’s wearing cargo shorts, a Bob Marley tee shirt, a backwards cap, and jogging shoes he didn’t get on special, to go fetch your yellow Ford.
He doesn’t leave. You try to be polite, wondering why he’s waiting, and, then, all of a sudden, you and your wife realize, much to your alarm, that the parking lot is coming to you at slightly over two hundred miles per hour.
Ah, dinner at the Daytona 500! More exciting than breakfast at Wimbledon!
Every Daytona 500 – and every race of the season – will leave questions in its wake. Why, for instance, did NASCAR officials throw the caution flag after a crash occurred behind the leaders on the final lap, particularly since, one day earlier, they had done the opposite at the end of the Xfinity Series race? Joey Logano probably had the race won, but whether the lead is several car lengths, or the leaders are side by side, shouldn’t really be the reason for a call. It would be like it only being a strike if someone swung at it.
Trying to make sense of NASCAR’s madness would leave Sherlock Holmes befuddled.
One would think NASCAR would prescribe more caution for the less experienced drivers in the Xfinity Series. One would be wrong. NASCAR’s braintrust evaluates each situation on its merits, which is to say, it’s impossible to anticipate what they might do.
But … it’s a footnote. Logano was a deserving winner. Last year trumpeted his arrival at or near the top of the sport. Now he’s perched on the precipice of superstardom, and just wait till all the talk shows get done with him this week. He might be one of the beautiful people by the time he arrives in Hampton, Georgia. He’ll be making cameo appearances in soap operas in no time.
“I love you, Joey!”
“And I you, my dear. But wait! What’s that sound? Is Heathcliff near?”
Logano is 24, and he’s already got all the merit badges. If NASCAR had Eagle Scouts, he’d be one.
Next Sunday, it starts all over. The Daytona 500 is the biggest race, but it’s not much like most of the others. Someone who ran near the front at Daytona will magically disappear from sight. It happens almost every year.
Logano may win the Sprint Cup championship, but not because he won the Daytona 500. It’s just the take-off point. It’s not much different from the fan vote in the NASCAR Hall of Fame selection process. Millions together count for one vote out of 59.
That’s about the same as the Daytona 500 in relation to the Sprint Cup championship. Logano has a leg up, but it’s not his. It’s a chicken leg on a blue whale, and not much good in the water.
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