Home to … This

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Time for a smile from Kevin Harvick. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Time for a smile from Kevin Harvick. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

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.

8:51 p.m.

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.

Jeff Gordon's smarts could win this title. (HHP/Garry Eller photo for Chevy Racing)

Jeff Gordon’s smarts could win this title. (HHP/Garry Eller photo for Chevy Racing)

9:54 p.m.

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.

10:10 p.m.

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.

10:38 p.m.

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.

11:22 p.m.

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.

Mike Helton, NASCAR president (Getty Images for NASCAR).

Mike Helton, NASCAR president (Getty Images for NASCAR).

11:38 a.m.

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.

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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3 Responses to Home to … This

  1. Andy D says:

    Double down on your bet for Junior to win. NASCAR is going to get him into the next round even if they have to throw a two hundred lap debris caution so the team can change the transmission without him going down a lap.

    And I would be in favor of it. Dale’s presence pumps up the excitement and keeps NASCAR in the news. For the good of the sport, you want him in the playoffs as long as possible. Newman and Biffle aren’t going to put butts in the seats. I’m not even sure how effective Harvick and Logano would be.

  2. Monte says:

    In other words, you favor corruption?

  3. Andy D says:

    I’ve backed myself in a corner because I’ve ranted before about the level of gaming that goes on during the NASCAR season with debris cautions and inconsistent penalties. For one race, yes I favor corruption. I’d prefer that Talladega be taken out of the chase because the big wrecks are so frequent and arbitrary. Run a road race instead. Or run it in place of Richmond’s fall race.

    Let’s face it. The Chase is structured and restructured in order to get all of the popular drivers into the playoffs. The most bankable driver is Dale and he hasn’t many years left to get a championship. Nobody was juggling point systems when Mark Martin was in this position. Danica will never be in playoff contention. NASCAR will make every attempt to milk the system until Chase and Austin and Kyle Larson are firmly established.

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