Monday, June 16, 2014

Shrinking Bucket List




As a writer myself, I can easily imagine a writer's hopes. First, it would be - "if only I could write a book", then "if only I could find a publisher, followed by "if only some people would buy my book". If you accomplished those things, you'd dream of being on the New York Times best seller list and having your book made into a movie. There wouldn't be too much to wish for if all those things happened, except doing it all again.

It's the same for a NASCAR driver. They want to climb the ranks, then if they reach the Sprint Cup level, they just want to win a race! - then multiple races, then make the Chase, followed by claiming a championship and at some point in the future, being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

When you reach Jimmie Johnson's sphere of success, there aren't many items left on your bucket list. Well, yes, there are, hopefully, championships seven and eight hanging out there to tie or exceed the very best in the sport but that is a few year's down the road, if they happen at all. The more immediate achievement possible is finally conquering the few tracks that have so far defeated you.

And, of course, that's what happened in Michigan. That track has broken team 48's heart several times. They've run out of gas, had mechanical problems, blown tires...all while leading. Afterwards, they simply had to pack up their hopes and go home, disconsolate once again.

To top off Jimmie's triumph, it happened on Father's Day and his wife, Chandra, and daughters, Genevieve and Lydia, were there to celebrate with him.

Now he has four tracks left that he's never won on - Chicagoland, Watkin's Glen, Kentucky and Homestead. It will be fun to see if he can get them all before he hangs up his helmet. Ditto, Jeff Gordon, who only has one more left on his list.

As a writer, I am similar to a mid-packer at a local track. I have had a minor success now and then but I can't even imagine what it must be like to be J. K. Rowling (of Harry Potter fame). Still, I enjoy watching people reach  pinnacles of achievement. It has to be a perfect storm of luck and talent and drive to get there and stay there. I'm not as familiar with the details of J. K. Rowling as I am with Jimmie but I assume her life was partly about being in the right place at the right time, hooking up with the perfect publisher and editor, innate ability and single-minded determination. The qualities are the same, no matter the profession.

I think Kyle Larson may have all those qualities too although time will tell. He made another good showing at Michigan and it probably would have been better if he hadn't had to work his way from the back toward the front twice, thanks to mistakes made - but those are all part of the learning curve of being a rookie.

Congratulations to Bubba Wallace, Jr. on his second Truck win! It's so much more fun to watch the young guns go at it when they aren't overpowered by Cup drivers and Cup teams.

Okay, if I'm Matt Kenseth, or any JGR driver, I'm beginning to get a little disgruntled.

Off of the subject of NASCAR, we can be warily hopeful about Michael Schumacher who is now out of his coma and has been transferred to a rehabilitative facility. Of course, being out of a coma isn't necessarily an indicator of long-term damage but it is at least a step in the right direction.

So, it's onward to the west coast to wine country. Sonoma is one of my favorite tracks. It sometimes mixes up the running order so maybe we'll get another first-time winner in 2014.