Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, September 28, 2014, 2:20 p.m.
The Sprint Cup race – What was it? The Oscar’s Back Rub 400 or something? — at Dover (Delaware) International Speedway has begun. I didn’t watch much of the advance coverage. I was making sure the Carolina Panthers were doomed. Now I’m anxious to see what unexpected developments take place before the Etch a Sketch shakes.
Sixteen drivers with a chance at the championship! It’s outrageous. Something must be done, and with every misstep in this race, it will. Four more will be irrelevant next week. NASCAR officials, who obviously ended last season worried about nothing happening, set up a method of selecting a championship that supposedly makes nothing impossible. Someone today may not have enough gas in his (or Danica Patrick’s) tank. The Chase, however, will have staying power. There is no other way.
Now it’s just a matter of watching the race and seeing what happens.
Otherwise, it’s all become so soulless.
“Points as they run.” I’m not a big fan, but I understand the interest.
Just don’t make it ridiculous. Don’t make it a forum of empty hype.
For instance, perhaps it’s not appropriate to proclaim that three drivers are even for the final Chase spot on lap 100. The race has to reach lap 200 before it could even be official, and there are no points until the race is over, and it can’t be over until the halfway point.
The extreme examples are, say, when one driver is leading, pits and briefly falls to, oh, twelfth position. When announcers first say, “He has fallen out of the Chase!” and, then, when everyone else pits, say he has “charged back into position to advance,” there are many appropriate words to describe it, some of which are “stupid,” “misleading,” “insincere,” and “stupid.”
To paraphrase Blazing Saddles:
“You said ‘stupid’ twice.”
“I like stupid.”
Little things I don’t propose to change but could do without:
The mismatched rear panel of Matt Kenseth’s Toyotas. I know it’s deemed clever by the marketers – slapping those associate-sponsor colors on – but it makes the No. 20 look like the NASCAR equivalent of a pink-butted hyena. The Toyota Hyena has a wide variety of butts in various hues.
Misspelled words that are brand names: Dover used to have a Heluva Good! 400. The worst one ever was Talladega’s Humminbird Fishfinders 500K. I couldn’t cut it down because then it would really look like I couldn’t spell. I suppose I should’ve called it the Fishfinders 500.
There aren’t as many fishfinders out there now as there were in the old days.
Little things I miss:
The gorgeous, metallic blue of Brad Keselowski’s car. Sometimes it’s red. Sometimes it’s yellow. Sometimes it’s white. It’s never as pretty. It seems like, now, every team is Oregon.
Benny Parsons, more and more now since I started watching on TV. Bob Jenkins, too.
Bill Brodrick, the Hat Guy. Bob Latford, providing facts in the press box. The calming presence of Dick Thompson at Martinsville and Herman Hickman at Rockingham.
When did fun go out of style? Maybe it didn’t, and I got old and forgot what it was.
This race is like a guy saying, “Hey, this is funny” and then telling a joke. If it’s funny, he doesn’t have to say so. He also doesn’t have to use “emojis,” or “emoticons,” or “LOLs and ROFLMAOs,” either.
Announcers keep telling me how exciting this is, or, otherwise, I’d never know.
I’ve been pondering this ever since I saw what I thought was impossible: a bad race at Richmond. I’d never seen one until the regular-season finale.
They’re racing so carefully at Dover, it seems like arthroscopic surgery instead of car racing.
This may liven up at the end, but, right now, it looks like they all shun intimacy. No one wants to touch anyone.
I don’t think I’m alone here. I talk about races often with a close friend. Most every one we’ve discussed lately has involved him falling asleep at some point and either awakening just in time for the end or missing it.
When I was coming along, racing wasn’t something one watched while lying in a hammock.
Jeff Gordon likes to win. He wins a lot. He gets a lot of money and a trophy. Perhaps some of that money will help him win the championship.
It means nothing tangible.
As Yogi Berra said, “That place is so crowded nobody goes there anymore.”
I apologize for criticizing the endless “points as they run” babble. If they hadn’t talked about it, there’d have been no need for audio.
Greg Biffle didn’t make it. Neither did Aric Almirola. Nor A.J. Allmendinger. Kurt Busch is out.
No surprises. There, either.
Gordon (Hendrick) won, followed by Brad Keselowski (Penske), Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick) and Joey Logano (Penske).
The opening round probably wasn’t intended to be pure survival of the fittest, but it was.
The Chase may improve the mathematical skills of fans. So far, that’s the plus.
I think my novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope, are better than today’s race, but then again, I would. If I hadn’t written them, I might have read them during that race. You can probably get one, or both, in time for next week’s race, at amazon.com.