If Ever a Wonderful Wiz There Was …

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Bedlam in the pits following Jimmie Johnson's 10th Dover victory!  (Tim Parks/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Bedlam in the pits following Jimmie Johnson’s 10th Dover victory! (Tim Parks/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 8:21 a.m.

The regular season is halfway done. In the summer, young men’s hearts turn to thoughts of … The Chase. As these next 13 races unfold, desperation will rise. The winless will steel their determination for a breakthrough.

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

That’s the plan. The effect of the season’s first 26 races will be to winnow down the Sprint Cup championship-eligible elite to … 16. Should 16 drivers have a shot at the title? Will there be that many who are worthy?

As Rocky Balboa once said to Adrian Pennino, “You think this smells like a man? I say absolutely not.”

It is the format Brian the Groovy has given us, and there will be excitement because there isn’t any other way.

"So what's gonna stop us? An iceberg?" (David Tullis/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

“So what’s gonna stop us? An iceberg?” (David Tullis/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Jimmie Johnson just won his fourth race of the season, his 10th in Dover, Delaware, and the 74th of his illustrious, and, in some ways, unprecedented career. He seems to be steaming toward a seventh championship.

Unfortunately, he is at the helm of the Titanic.

The season to date has been a common NASCAR battle between Johnson, the irresistible force, and Kevin Harvick, the immovable object. Johnson has won four to Harvick’s two, but Harvick has finished second seven times.

Jeff Gordon is struggling. Tony Stewart is struggling as few drivers of his stature ever have. Matt Kenseth is hanging in there, as he is wont to do. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have lost their pocket knives. Kurt Busch is in one kind of recovery and Kyle another. Greg Biffle is struggling a little less. Carl Edwards, incredibly, has his win in the bank.

Martin Truex, Jr., Goodyear shod and ready for battle.(Alan Marler/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Martin Truex, Jr.: It is to persevere. (Alan Marler/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Surely, Martin Truex Jr. is bound to win a race because he is running out of possible ways not to. Denny Hamlin could win it all if he gets his golf game straightened out. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has taken the second spot in the Hendrick Motorsports pecking order, and there shall he stay. Only in NASCAR could a competitor wind up first in the sport and second on his team.

Two road courses are ahead. God knows who’ll win them.

Variety is in the immediate future. It’s a weekly entertainment trade magazine owned by Penske Media Corporation.

Next is Pocono, one of the world’s great anomalies: the triangular oval. It’s difficult. It’s a bit Indianapolitan, pass the English peas, and bless this food that the race is only 400 miles. Then it’s California in Michigan, whereas, earlier was there Michigan in California. Don’t believe me? Keselowski won.

"When you wish upon a Chase, makes no difference, just win a race!" (Tim Parks/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

“When you wish upon a Chase, makes no difference, just win a race!” (Tim Parks/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

“Up this hill and down, and up this hill again.” That’s Sonoma, and, as Faron Young sang, “I’d like to thank the men who raise the grapes way out in California, and I’m hoping this will be their biggest year.”

Daytona. “In the summertime, when the weather is hot, you can stretch right up and touch the sky.” Carry on, Mungo Jerry. “Have a drink, have a drive, go out and see what you can find.”

Notice how I can get more out of quoting lyrics than the races these days.

Ryan Newman should be smiling. (Harold Hinson/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Ryan Newman should be smiling. (Harold Hinson/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Perhaps it’s just the futile knowledge that, no matter how much Johnson, or anyone else between now and November, dominates, it’s still going to come down to four drivers, dead even, one race. Last year Ryan Newman finished second in the points. Newman is doing just about the same this year so far, making the best of mediocrity. He’s got four top fives. He’s got eight top 10s. He’s 13th in the points.

He’s averaging slightly over one lap led a week.

Nothing against Newman. In his way, by getting the most out of his equipment, he deserves praise.

A championship? Not so much.

It’s just like all the other sports. Really? I’m looking forward to the college football championship game, you know, the one matching Alabama and Wyoming. Or the Final Four of Kentucky, Wichita State, Santa Clara, and Radford. If Radford gets hot at the right time, the Highlanders could win it all. Stranger things have happened.

In NASCAR. That’s where.

My third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, will be published soon. I have a new short story up at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com. My previous books are available 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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10 Responses to If Ever a Wonderful Wiz There Was …

  1. Andy D says:

    Now, you’re either on the bus or off the bus. If you’re on the bus, and you get left behind, then you’ll find it again. If you’re off the bus in the first place — then it won’t make a damn. – Ken Kesey

    A great many of us, possibly including yourself, are still on the bus. The problem is, Brian France has moved over to the short bus and you’d have to be a fool to do that.

  2. Anna says:

    Pretty much everyone has lost their pocket knives this year, as no doubt a particular brand and very large team (lets not kid ourselves) complained loudly that there were others in their sandbox and they were not happy. Well the squeaky wheel in Nascar got the grease and this is one of the worst years so far on record as boring and uninteresting for drivers as well as fans. Nascar will listen give the teams the obligatory hug of “we hear you and understand”, then it is business as usual. Please Ford and Toyo..take your toys to another sandbox!

  3. Bill B says:

    Reading this article made me care even less about the championship and NASCAR in general. I didn’t think that was possible given my current level of apathy.

  4. John says:

    I watched last week’s Dover race in “fish tank mode” (Picture on, Waltrip Brothers off). It proved to be a cure for my recent insomnia.

  5. Al Torney says:

    The shepherds have lost their way and are now asking the sheep for the correct GPS numbers to get back on track. Mr. Mike had a meeting with the drivers for advice. Wow. I know I have read it more then a few times that NASCAR communicates with the stakeholders all of the time before making decisions. Was this utter non-sense they were spouting? Oh, and they said they listened to the fans. Between you and I, I think the empty seats and low tv ratings are a result of them not listening to the right fans. Readers of Monte’s words of wisdom.

    Now for the sake of arguement let’s take Tony Stewart. Only because he happens to be theone in the position currently. Let’s say he continues to run the same way until Richmond and remains in 25th to 30th in points. He pops a win at Richmond. Does anyone really honestly believe he deserves to be in the hunt for a championship? This actually applies to any driver outside the top 25. This was not to pick on Tony but to illustrate the asinine “win and your in” BS blasted over the airwaves by NASCAR minions.

    I have to stop this dialog. I’m getting myself all worked up and at my age I may cause my self to have a nervouse break down, stroke. I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine Brian looking in the mirror and saying to himself “man I’m proud of what I’ve managed to do for NASCAR fans”.

  6. Bill B says:

    I don’t know about that Al, he’s pretty delusional.

  7. russ says:

    Why would anybody think he’s doing anything for the fans? I thought it was for the money.

  8. GinaV24 says:

    funny comments and yes, BZF is delusional, does not listen to the fans & is only in it for the money. Based on observation of his comments and demeanor at the various events where he has to appear, he obviously isn’t interested in NASCAR racing. F1 would probably suit his lifestyle aspirations far more.

  9. Andy D says:

    > F1 would probably suit his lifestyle aspirations far more.

    No, that would be bad. They need that champagne for the victory celebration.

  10. Ron Schwalbe says:

    I STILL can’t help but wonder, -if there is some kind of inheritance tax issue that Brian would benifit from, if the entire empire falls apart and goes bankrupt !
    Why ELSE would EVERY decision he has made since he inherited his “toy” – be aimed at moving a once, THRIVING, expanding exponentially, financial GIANT — that had people paying for NEXT years seats, before they went to THIS years race — in that downard direction, while ignoring FREE FALLING attendance & ratings and – every detrimental change he “imposes” – makes it WORSE ?????
    There has GOT to be a reason why NO ONE in power, has said anything – they’re all just letting the ship sink !!

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