Clinton, S.C., Saturday, February 22, 2014, 4:49 p.m.
The Daytona 500 is tomorrow. Surely I should blog. For NASCAR fans, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. There’ll be comings and goings and crashes and towings, D.W.’s good cheeeerrrrr … the most wonderful time … of the year!
Take a seat, Christmas.
The carnival atmosphere is still building here in Clinton. I worked on my income taxes. I’ve established how little I made. Now I have to substantiate how much I spent. I visited my mother at work and gave my sister a ride home from her job. She gave me a cold hot dog, which, by the way, was still good. Friday night’s Truck shindig and today’s Nationwide hullabaloo were exactly the same. Only the tailgates were dropped to protect the innocent. The national anthem caused Reagan to turn over in his grave, and, so, naturally, Regan (Smith) won it.
Ultimately, justice was served.
I’ve talked on two radio shows recently. Both asked me to pick the Daytona 500 winner. I told the former Matt Kenseth and the latter Kyle Busch. I was just trying to give each a scoop. I’m no better at picking a stock car race than I am at choosing a toothbrush. In both cases, I’d be better off going with what my dentist says. If either of the names above wins the 500, it will be in spite of me. Nor does it matter what other alleged “experts” think. Half don’t even pick the driver they really think will win, anyway. Some pick Dale Earnhardt Jr. because they think Junior Nation will read their words diligently in mystical adoration in the off chance that it occurs. Some pick a long shot “just in case,” the same way they’d buy Powerball tickets. Me? I’m honest. I’m just wrong.
What interests me about the 56th Daytona 500? Tony Stewart interests me. He’ll be 43 in May. He’s at the age where he’ll be compensating for the ravages of age, not to mention inactivity, with the instinct of experience. Stewart is one of those rare drivers I could never count out. In all those years tramping around tracks, I never saw more magic, that rare and oft misidentified pixie dust, than what Stewart splashed around in 2011. Stewart fights the good fight. He won’t go gently into that good night. He’ll grouse and cuss, and then he’ll charm and seduce, and his eyes will turn both black as coal and sweet as sugar, sometimes within the span of seconds. I expect he’ll still be interesting long after he stops being great. Watching him always amuses me, and it’s a little easier from a distance because he doesn’t piss me off as much.
I’ll watch Danica Patrick, partly because the green car draws eyes the way Sam Bass draws sparks. I’ve always watched her. I like her. I want her to do well. I just don’t expect it, and that’s because I’ve watched her so much.
I’ll watch Jimmie Johnson because I’m interested in how he and Dr. Frankenstein cope with the latest serum designed to chase away his infection from the Chase.
We’ll create a post-season. Johnson wins. We’ll make the field bigger. Johnson wins. We’ll make the field bigger after the final regular-season race even though it’s … unconstitutional or something. Johnson wins.
All right, damn it. You take last year’s results, and run the models, and no matter how gimmicky and strange it is, you find a format where Earnhardt Jr. wins the championship. … Okay, what you got? Hmm. Hey, wait! Junior didn’t win a race last year. What? He still would’ve been champion. In this format! Have you lost your mind? This can’t work. What? It did work.
Let me think. We’ll do it.
I’m not actually implying this is what happened. In fact, Johnson’s won a mere six of the past eight championships, so I’ve taken some liberties. Plus, I think it’s hilarious.
If I could will the exact same thing to happen – Junior wins a championship supposedly based on the all-powerful victory, but does so without winning a single race – I would do so.
Just for the tweets.