A Monkey on a Rock

(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 8:57 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Monday was no holiday. People had to work. Here they’re worried about a hurricane. So many footballs were bouncing around — some spiraling, some tumbling end over end, too many bouncing along the ground – that even NASCAR fans didn’t seem too sorrowful at the rain in Indianapolis that washed out an Xfinity Series on Saturday and the Big Machine Brickyard 400 on Sunday.

Big Machine makes music and vodka. What a smooth combination.

Like millions of others, I had to work. I was fortunate, though. I could work at home, so the races, beginning at 10 a.m., were on TV in the background of a mind that was working on a story about a hurricane headed for the coast.

One way or another, Clinton is getting a visit from a hurricane. It’s likely to get here Friday now. Either it will be Florence from the Atlantic Ocean or Wren High School’s football team from Piedmont. It’s likely to be one or the other, more likely the storm.

Vaguely aware that a different rules package has drastically increased the excitement of Xfinity racing at Indy, I tried to get local officials to talk about storm preparations. All of them were in favor of them. One said I could get all I needed from Gov. Henry McMasters’ live, streaming information session, which I watched after the Monster Cup race had already started.

The governor is a folksy man. He reminds me of Foghorn Leghorn.

I say, I say, this storm is gonna be a humdinger, boy!

(Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

A race at Indianapolis requires close attention, and I couldn’t give it that. I was too busy putting together a notes column on Presbyterian College’s fall sports, editing a release about a couple of profs playing a recital there, and another about the county library offering orange or garnet cards so that fans of Clemson and South Carolina could support their favorite schools with their reading.

I had to go the Laurens Commission of Public Works for a board meeting, so I listened to the race on satellite radio and the final 10 laps sitting in the parking lot.

Commissioner Gerald Abercrombie, a NASCAR fan, asked what I’d been doing. I told him watching the races.

He said, “I forgot about that. Who won?”

(Monte Dutton photo)

I, on the other hand, found I had no interest in the two National Football League games that were on back to back once I got home and commenced to write about the CPW. The Jets won the former. I don’t know about the latter. Hang on. (This is what the Internet is for.)

The Rams beat the Raiders. The team the Jets beat was Detroit.

Brad Keselowski won again. The playoffs (I prefer race-offs since they play no games) begin in Las Vegas next. The 2012 champion hadn’t won all year and hadn’t ever won what is rather variably known as “a crown jewel,” a term that has been dug up from the 1970s when it had a specific meaning.

The playoff field, plus Monster Energy girls.(Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Keselowski has won back-to-back at NASCAR’s most historic track and the world’s.

In Darlington, he kicked ass. In Indianapolis, he kissed bricks.

Justin Allgaier (left) won a rousing Xfinity race. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Occasionally, I’d look up from my laptop and fixate sorrowfully on those deserted Indy grandstands.

If the game in College Station, Texas, had been washed out on Saturday night and postponed to, I don’t know, 9 Sunday morning to stay clear of the NFL, someone would have been there. Such was once the case in NASCAR.

Passing, at least in the less restrictive Monster Cup Series, is hard at Indy. It can be fascinating to watch a driver do it. Of course, I was looking up who had been locked up for a probation violation. I was glum at the memory of a time when fans came back on Monday and NASCAR was big enough to employ me.

It must have been tough for the broadcasters, who strained all day to depict how important Indianapolis was while the picture on the screen made the notion absurd. I often chide the would-be gods of NASCAR for their imperfections, but, as David Letterman was once fond of saying (paraphrased), “I wouldn’t give NASCAR’s troubles to a monkey on a rock.”

Then Letterman would say, “Uh, I have no idea.”

Me, neither.


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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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