What’s to Bless and What’s to Blame?

Brad Keselowski won a Pocono classic in the Xfinity Series. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, June 11, 2017, 11:35 a.m.

This week’s NASCAR Monster Cup shindig is at Pocono Raceway. Unsurprisingly, it’s in the Poconos of northeastern Pennsylvania. The mountains aren’t very high compared to the Blue Ridge. They are minuscule compared to the Rockies. They are scenic, though. I used to enjoy visiting.

My first visit was in 1989. I had gone to a friend’s wedding in Pittsburgh. I thought, well, the track is in the same state. The drive on Sunday was grueling. It’s a long way from Pittsburgh to Long Pond. It’s a long way back. I nearly fell asleep at dusk in Indiana. Indiana, Pennsylvania. I revived myself looking at the statue of James Stewart. He was from there.

By Monte Dutton

I hope this 400-miler isn’t anticlimactic, but it will be hard not to be. Brad Keselowski brilliantly won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, and it’s not often I use such an adverb to characterize a race in that series. Keselowski, who was the Sprint Cup champion the last year I wrote about it full-time, passed Kyle Larson on the final lap, culminating a stirring comeback. I was glad I got finished mowing the lawn in time to watch it.

The IndyCar race from Texas dragged on until past midnight. The term that comes to mind is “too much of a good thing.” That race was run as if a bunch of fighter pilots decided they wanted to have a dogfight without leaving the ground. It was won by willpower in the form of Will Power.

Some say IndyCars ought to be equipped with canopies in the interest of safety. I think they ought to be run inside laptops because that’s what it looks like. The real race appears to be run using special effects. How do they manage to photoshop the action with only a seven-second delay? It must be the way that a sporting event in my high-definition living room occurs two seconds later than the regular-definition screen in the bedroom.

It would have been a perfect time to go live to Pocono and ask a NASCAR driver if he’d like to “do the double” (Indy-Charlotte) next year.

Hell, no. The Coke 600 is exciting enough for me.

An astronaut would say this. The only man who ought to “do the double” was Evel Knievel, and he’s gone.

It was must-see TV, though the ratings are unlikely to support this view.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges


Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck race was in Texas, in the form of an IndyCar undercard. The winner was Christopher Bell, though the replays seemed to show Chase Briscoe ahead when the track’s flashing yellow lights were activated.

(Getty Images for NASCAR)

It turns out those yellow lights, which have been in use at Texas Motor Speedway for many years, were just a publicity stunt. They weren’t hooked into race control, as the small, non-flashing, lights were. In order to justify the awarding of the race to Bell, not Briscoe, NASCAR officials basically had to reveal that the track’s rolling lights – they make it look as if yellow bands of light are chasing each other around the track’s catch-fence perimeter – were little more than a spectacular hoax.

No one ever disclosed that as long as their accuracy wasn’t an issue. When the high-ranking NASCAR official with his hand on the switch yells “put her (yellow flag) out!” and flips it, the fancy light show doesn’t activate. Apparently, that requires some other fellow to say, “oh, yeah,” and flip another switch as soon as he gets around to it.

This whole, convoluted story is emblematic of the way NASCAR does business. No one ever knows how things work until they don’t work well.

On the one hand, I’d like for today’s race in the Poconos to be without such drama. Other drama, such as the last-lap pass in Keselowski’s Xfinity victory, would be marvelous. Races like that don’t happen at Pocono Raceway often. It’s not a bad place, though. It’s an interesting place. A fan has to pay attention.

Fortunately, the Red Sox aren’t on until tonight.


(Steven Novak design)

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

(Joe Font cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).


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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