It Was Worth a Shot, and the Bull’s Eye Was Close Enough

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 2:08 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

Before the great experiment in NASCAR cross-breeding and language invention, I said on a radio show that the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (revised) would either be won by a great adaptive talent or by a cool-headed driver of great judgment.

This view of mine would have been correct had it, in my estimation, been won by Brad Keselowski or Kyle Larson, who seemed destined to settle it between them or run out of gas trying, or by Kyle Busch, whom I picked, or by Jimmie Johnson, who ended up losing it because he wanted it too much in the final spring-loaded corner.

Ryan Blaney, bound for glory. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

All the while I was watching this human drama of athletic competition unfold, I was thinking of the words once told me by the late, great, larger than life Bud Moore.

“By God, your ass has got something to write about now.”

I wished I was there, but there is little market for my presence, and I could watch it in my living room without spending money I didn’t have to go.

It kept my interest. I was oblivious to professional football. I never even switched over during commercials. I knew that’s when the lead changes and wrecks would be.

Let the good times roll. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

It was great. I enjoyed it. I’m almost inclined to call it “a roval,” though it’s really just the kind of infield road course snaking through the infield that is attached to the high-banked oval (that really isn’t) on its perimeter. Lots of tracks have them. Many don’t use them anymore. Many will probably rethink that view.

I get it. Branding. In May, it’s Charlotte Motor Speedway. On the last day of September (previously early October), it’s Charlotte Motor Roval. Get a capital letter on that silly name. For God’s sake, don’t claim all those races are on the same track. Let’s not call it Charlotte Motor Property.

The TV ratings and the crowd were up a little. It’s a start. Now don’t squander it. This race was a rousing success. NASCAR shouldn’t do what it is prone to do, which is to take anything that works and order up a dozen just like it. The fall race has a niche to call its own, and that’s rare nowadays.

Ruh-roh. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney wasn’t the driver I had in mind when I thought of cool judgment and appropriate caution in the face of the unknown, but that’s who he was. He played it smart all day and made the best of the car he had and the conditions in which he raced. In a mere 52 weeks, he can try to do it again.

Blaney seized the day. He carped the diem.

Terry Labonte must have approved. I’m sure Dave Blaney, a favorite of mine, did.

All hell broke loose at the end. Next year, at least part of hell will. Next year, when they climb into their cars, they won’t be staring into the unknown, but the view will still be murky.

 

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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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