What Mystery Awaits in Sin City?

Why are these men laughing? (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevrolet)

Why are these men laughing? (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevrolet)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, March 7, 2015, 8:45 p.m.

Furman, which is where I went to college, just pulled off its second straight upset in the Southern Conference men’s basketball tournament. A part of me wants to take off for Asheville tomorrow to watch the Paladins play the winner of VMI-Mercer (yet to be played when I wrote this).

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

Fortunately, a part of me also realizes there is a Sprint Cup race in Las Vegas tomorrow, and a two-hour drive will require another Furman upset.

I watched Austin Dillon dominate all but the final few laps of the Xfinity Series race, and win it, anyway. Once again, NASCAR provided us with five spine-tingling laps to compensate for a race that was otherwise moribund.

It is my understanding that the pole winner of Sunday’s Kobalt 400 will start in the rear because of a practice crash begun by Danica Patrick. Jeff Gordon’s Chevy, as it turns out, is attracted by more than just concrete walls.

It occurs to me that another link to my Bleacher Report column on Patrick is in order, particularly as it benefits struggling writers to have their stories clicked as often as possible: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2362005-no-end-in-sight-for-danica-patricks-search-for-sprint-cup-success

Danica Patrick seeks the counsel of Tony Stewart. (John Clark photo)

Danica Patrick seeks the counsel of Tony Stewart. (John Clark photo)

The Xfinity Series race had no particular mystery attached to it because that series hasn’t revamped its technical specifications as Sprint Cup has. It was a similar race to last year and last week and probably the next time it visits an intermediate track.

I was just thinking today (which, as we all know, is dangerous). In all the material I read about the Cup changes – less horsepower and less downforce, in the interest of more racing – I never heard anyone suggest that the cars would go faster, yet that is exactly what has happened. Speeds were up at Atlanta and are at a record rate in Las Vegas.

In other words, I don’t recall anyone saying, “The first thing we want to do is speed the cars up.” I’m pretty sure I did hear, “The first thing we need to do is slow the cars down.”

Not even a veteran NASCAR skeptic expected the speeds to be higher. Not even he expected NASCAR to screw that up.

Kyle Larson is fast. If only he can last. (HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Kyle Larson is fast. If only he can last. (HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

I think I heard someone say, “What this is going to do is make the driver more important.” That, I think, may have happened. One effect could be that the best drivers will win even more often than they already did.

Since so many observant fans have been certain for approximately a decade that Jimmie Johnson is nothing special as a driver, and practically anyone could win six championships in that car, with that crew chief, they must have been shocked, appalled and crestfallen by Johnson’s victory last week.

Oh, I forgot. That Chad Knaus must be cheating again.

Joey Logano works on a little advanced algebra and trigonometry. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Joey Logano works on a little advanced algebra and trigonometry. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

The new rules are literally new, as Larry McReynolds might say, just as once he might have said they would change the whole complexity of Sunday’s race. If Johnson and Knaus, the NASCAR equivalents of Stanley and Livingstone, discovered the source of the Nile first, then it still must be conceded that other explorers will get there soon.

In other words, I think it entirely possible that someone other than Johnson or Joey Logano will plant a flag in Sin City. Perhaps someone other than Kevin Harvick will finish second.

What remains to be seen is if this year’s racing actually gets better. I’d hate for NASCAR officials to mandate that the teams save even more money by starting over from scratch again next winter.

It’s early yet. Real early. That is a good thing.

If you’re interested in my various books, most of which are about racing but fiction reared its ugly head in the past two, here most of them are in exchange for some form of money, though not much: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1


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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6 Responses to What Mystery Awaits in Sin City?

  1. Andy D says:

    Hendrick has the 5/25 team and maybe that will be Danica’s role at SHR.

  2. Dave Fulton says:

    I clicked on the Bleacher Report link to your “Danica” story there and will gladly volunteer for the new Danica jury when the judge finally throws out the hung one.

    Having signed a fellow named Dale Earnhardt to his first ever personal services contract back in 1980 and cheered for Ray Hendrick, the winningest driver in NASCAR history, I am a strong proponent of placing RACERS in good rides rather than models.

  3. bobi says:

    Gotta admit I never heard of Furman until I started reading your blog. Recently I read about the controversy being caused by the Yik Yak app on college campuses and discovered it was created by some of your Furman alums. Based on what I read, this app is perfect for NASCAR fans.

  4. Monte says:

    Now you know something I don’t.

  5. Al Torney says:

    Only three races into the season and it appears that nothing has changed. The cars are not slower and there are still very few green flag passes for the lead. If Atlanta and Vegas are any indication it’s going to be a long season for anyone not driving a Hendrick or Penske car.

    In a sense Danica got a raw deal believe it, or not. Why the supposed experts thought that she was going to set NASCAR on fire is beyond me. She had an average finish of 10th place in open wheel. Keep in mind that in open wheel they only start 20+ cars a race, save for Indy, and very seldom have more then 15 running at the end. If the open wheel champions couldn’t do it in NASCAR why did these guys hype her like they did. The real joke is this new breed of motorsports writers we are stuck with who write pure dribble about her. I’ve forgotten more then these clowns will ever bother to learn. Do they honestly think that Tony is going to say anything bad about her. It’s her last year of her contract so she has to perform. Pure bullshit. If the sponsor is there she will be there. Just like Paul Menard.

    I think one of the biggest stories I. NASCAR is the fall of the Childress and Roush racing teams. Save for Ryan Newman these teams are in bad shape. And no one asks why. What ever happened to investigative reporting?

    I have to ask this question. Robin Miller lost his job at the Indy paper because of pressure from Tony George and the speedway. Robin tended to call things as he saw them which at times were not favorable to the IRL. It seems that the only writers that have lost jobs at newspapers that cover NASCAR are the ones that wrote things as the saw them. You, Ed Hinton, Mike Mulhern and others. Now we are stuck with writers that tow the line. I know newspapers have financial problems and I can understand budget cuts, outdoor writers have run into similar job losses but you guys lost jobs in the heart of NASCAR country. Has it ever crossed your mind that Daytona may have played at least a small role in your job loss?

  6. Monte says:

    Oh, I don’t believe it’s proper to speculate on conspiracy theories unless there is hard evidence. I think it’s a matter of clearing up space for young writers who will work for less.
    I just think lots of young writers don’t know enough yet.
    I don’t think NASCAR is unhappy I’m gone, but I doubt they threw a party.

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