Trying to Reason with the Season to Date

For Jeff Gordon, so far the last hurrahs haven't been that frequent.(Monte Dutton sketch)

For Jeff Gordon, so far the last hurrahs haven’t been that frequent.(Monte Dutton sketch)

Gotta an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 12:42 p.m.

NASCAR has gotten quite a bit more complicated over the past few weeks.

From the very beginning, the Sprint Cup season has been marked by the unexpected, but not in the ways one might have anticipated.

It hasn't been this close since the Daytona 500, and it probably won't be again till Talladega. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

It hasn’t been this close since the Daytona 500, and it probably won’t be again till Talladega. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

One of the sport’s more talented drivers, Kyle Busch, seriously injured himself in a Daytona Beach crash, and when he will be back is a matter of great conjecture and little disclosure.

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

Kurt Busch, Kyle’s older brother, started the season under suspension for his personal conduct. He is now back, though opinion is still divided somewhat over whether or not he ought to be.

Another driver, Brian Vickers, is in the never-never land that comes with a medical problem that periodically recurs. Blood clots have reappeared. Vickers is back on blood thinners. He can’t race on blood thinners, and it’s starting to look like maybe he should, in the name of health and well-being, just call it quits.

Martin Truex Jr. has the No. 78 on the rise again. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevy Racing)

Martin Truex Jr. has the No. 78 on the rise again. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevy Racing)

Kyle Larson sat out Martinsville after fainting in an autograph session. He’s no longer in the hospital. There’s no race on Easter. Perhaps he’ll be back at the next race in Fort Worth.

The president of a major team, J.D. Gibbs at Joe Gibbs Racing, is at least hindered by mental problems that are as shrouded in mystery as the problems themselves.

The great Kevin Harvick streak – eight consecutive races (last three of 2014, first five of ’15) finishing either first or second – has ended. An impressive and perhaps even more unexpected streak by Martin Truex Jr. – six straight top-10 finishes for a team that had a miserable year in 2014 – continues.

Jimmie Johnson has a win, but, otherwise, he has only rarely flexed his muscles. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson has a win, but, otherwise, he has only rarely flexed his muscles. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

The past two races have greatly broadened the results. There have been no surprise winners, but six races into the season, five different drivers have won: Harvick twice, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Denny Hamlin. Chevys have won three races, Fords two and Toyotas one.

Harvick may still be the championship favorite, but the current format means being the favorite isn’t what it used to be.

Jamie McMurray (left) with teammate Kyle Larson. (HHP/Christa L. Thomas photo for Chevy Racing)

Jamie McMurray (left) with teammate Kyle Larson. (HHP/Christa L. Thomas photo for Chevy Racing)

In conjunction with the festive occasion of Easter, when, inexplicably, eggs are hidden to honor the risen Christ, NASCAR officials excised a massive number (75) of the points that don’t matter that much from the team of driver Ryan Newman and owner Richard Childress. The crew chief, Luke Lambert, has been fined $125,000. This would be a really onerous penalty if NASCAR didn’t allow the team to pay it, and letting the team pay it sort of defeats the punitive effect.

But that, as Walter Cronkite once might have said, is the way it is.

Tony Stewart has been in every race but hasn’t done much racing. Truex is third in points. Jeff Gordon is tied for 16th. Some have been surprisingly reliable. Some have been shockingly erratic. The season is just starting to sort itself out.

Read my books. Please. They’re available here:


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.
This entry was posted in NASCAR and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Trying to Reason with the Season to Date

  1. Ted says:

    You forgot about Passover … LOL … Of course, I’m still waiting for the first Jewish driver to enter the ranks. Don’t think there’s a Jewish mom out there who would allow it.

  2. Ron Olson says:

    Brian France trying to brainwash us into thinking that the fans just love every stupid move that he makes while viewership is drastically down and race fans aren’t showing up at the tracks. Many seats are now reserved for the Tarp family as many sections are now being covered with them.
    Qualifying has been a joke with the new format. The Race For The Chase is equally as stupid.

  3. Anne says:

    The Chase (especially this one) has robbed me and mine the pleasure of knowing your favorite drivers hard work will pay off at the end. My driver is doing well (as they did last year), but it DOES NOT MATTER, as the stick and ball playoff format that Brian is obsessed with robs the season long successes and whittles it down to luck AT ONE RACE! If the fans feel that way, I can only imagine what the owners and drivers feel. Poof, one race (if you LUCKY) to get that far. Because of The Chase (this one is the worst), it just doesn’t make sense to get fan crazy over anything. I don’t understand how the idiots in Castle Daytona can’t see that. Plus this insane micromanaging is driving everybody nuts, and oh yeah their lightening quick bandwagon jumping for any knee jerk cause is making them weak and chained to the PC crowd, not what anybody with a brain and common sense wants to see. So sad.

  4. Roger Miller says:

    It strikes me odd that the #31 car was cheating to gain an advantage , it it does otherwise why do it, but it was rarely near the #4 car in terms of speed and leading laps. Think of the analogy years ago before we found out the truth, Lance Armstrong was dominating the dirtiest sport on earth but he was clean. Out performing all the guys using performing enhancing drugs be it clean which we later learned was not the case. Nascar couldn’t taint the #4 team because that would lead the vast amount of fans to point to a tainted Championship for 2014. The higher ups cringe when the whole chase system gets to be the whipping boy for the long time fans and this would not help if last years title winner was also guilty.

  5. Monte says:

    I think this theory is a bit more difficult to make since there is no ownership connection between the 31 and the 4. What? Harvick’s fast. We’re not touching him, but we’re going to zing some other team at random? I don’t see it working that way.
    Even when someone is cheating to gain advantage, it doesn’t always mean he gets it. Nor is the fastest car automatically cheating just because it’s fast.

  6. Roger Miller says:

    True, but in 2006 Harvick and Jeff Burton were under suspicion for rims that would work like a bleeder valve. In the #4 defense, Kurt Busch has used Kevin’s set up supposedly the last two races and has shown plenty of speed and was actually faster at Fontana. Hhhmmm maybe Kevin is fast because he had to drive the hell out of the RCR cars to keep up with HMS.

  7. Roger Miller says:

    I do think multiple teams were at work with this tire deal otherwise NASCAR would not have thought to address all the crew chiefs last year in Phoenix, so say Denny Hamlin. And I often find it funny when some gets caught outside the rules and we are sometimes sold a story that it just happened when they got caught. I think teams get frustrated when other competitors maybe be doing the same and nobody is enforcing it. Was surprised the 27 wasn’t involved but I believe a deal was struck somehow. I admit it is a little bit of a leap to conclude this.

  8. Ron Olson says:

    As for your last paragraph, yes, Happy is driving a legit race as far as we can tell. He’s learned new lines around the track and changed his driving style which has put him out front.
    Martin Truex Jr’s. team is getting their act together with less parts failures and bad pit stops which so far have been getting him Top 10’s every week. Help from the Hendrick camp haven’t hurt either.
    Jeff Gordon isn’t exactly having a stellar full-time last season. Crashes have put him at the back of the pack.
    Tony should just hang up his firesuit. I thought that last year after the Kevin Ward incident was finally over we saw the old Smoke back to his former self. So far he’s been finishing worse than what’s considered the worst person on the SHR team.

Comments are closed.