Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, October 11, 2014, 8:16 p.m.
The day has already been long. I tailgated with friends at the Coastal Carolina-Presbyterian game, won by the No. 3-ranked Chanticleers, 40-28. I got up early to finish seasoning the chili I took to the tailgate. I was over at Bailey Memorial Stadium at about noon. The game was at two. I stayed afterwards. Some of the PC players stopped by our party. It was dusk when I left. I saw the end of Baylor’s come-from-behind win over TCU and Mississippi State’s win over Auburn. The former game ran long, so the Bank of America 500 was about thirty laps old when TV switched to it.
I watched the first half of the game in the stands. I watched the second half from just outside the gates with, among others, Presbyterian basketball coach Gregg Nibert, his wife Peggy, ex-Blue Hose football players Robbie Strickland and John Cann. Then, when it was over, I walked back to the tailgate site, under a shade tree about fifty yards from the stadium.
I doubt I’d have been that close in Waco or Starkville, and if I had, I still wouldn’t have been able to see into the stadium. That’s one advantage of FCS football in the hometown.
Food was plentiful. So was beer. There were Jell-O shots. Lots of food, much of which I never got around to sampling. I brought the rest of the chili home. That will probably get me through Sunday.
Plus, after covering a 71-16 high school game on Friday night, 40-28 seemed really close.
I’m having a hard time getting acclimated. The race is on (and here comes pride up the backstretch …), and I’m still surfing channels looking for football scores and perusing the Twitter feed to catch up on, well, everything. I was fairly oblivious to the outside world while at the Presbyterian game. Come to think of it, I was oblivious to the game I was allegedly watching for part of it.
I’ve always liked the yellow walls at Charlotte Motor Speedway, though. I’m not sure I’ve ever acknowledged that. They give it a distinctive look.
Last night on South Carolina SportsTalk, I predicted Dale Earnhardt. Jr. to win. How silly of me to think his car had a gear shifter that would last.
Talladega is bound to be controversial. Someone is going to wreck someone else, and that someone is going to be the teammate of someone who is desperate to get in the next Chase round, and it won’t matter whether or not it was intentional. That’s how it’s going to look.
Or something else along those lines.
It is an unavoidable consequence of this format, and it will be even more so in the third round.
Doesn’t Kevin Harvick have to win again somewhere? Las Vegas should take bets on how he’s going to manage to lose each week.
Tire trouble? Five to one. Pit road speeding? Four to one. Broken shifter? Twenty-five to one. Ran over a terrapin? Five hundred to one.
Harvick closed the deal. He stayed out after Brian Vickers’ engine failure, which, in retrospect, seems like a no-brainer. Good for them. He should’ve won so many more races this year, but, yet, stands a great chance of winning the championship. He’s a guy who should win a championship.
And now for what everyone who normally makes no mention of NASCAR will be all obsessed about tomorrow. It’s going to read like a plot synopsis of an old-time potboiler.
The Old Neighborhood (2014), action, drama, comedy. Charlotte Motor Speedway isn’t big enough for Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski. When Keselowski takes the law into his own hands, Hamlin enlists the help of Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth to teach Keselowski a lesson. Violence, language.
I expect, sometime soon, we’re going to see Mike Helton in his best Mafia suit, lowering his head dramatically and looking somber.
Thanks for reading my observations about the race. I’d like to invite you to read the blogs at my other site, www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, and don’t forget my novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope.