Thursday, July 9, 2015

Of Kings and Flags and Crashes and Rules....and Buddy Baker

                                           Image result for nascar 2015 daytona july                            Image result for nascar 2015 daytona july                     Image result for nascar 2015 daytona july

Some things we know after Daytona.

- Junior is back to being the Restrictor Plate King! Hell, yeah!

- For all the progress NASCAR has made in safety, stock car racing will never be completely safe. Drivers know the risks they willingly take to do what they love to do. Fans should know the risks they willingly take if they want to get up close and personal with the catch fence. The only way to eliminate those risks completely is to race Sherman tanks with the audience so far away, the vehicles look like Match Box cars....but then it wouldn't be stock car racing, would it....and probably not too thrilling either. Having said all that, thank God, Austen Dillon came out of that wreck unscathed. That was a very scary crash. 

- There will continue to be hold-outs, of course, but the era of the Confederate Flag is winding down. Ironically, it was a pro-white supporter of the flag who caused it to happen by perpetrating a massacre in a black church, illustrating that the flag is a racist symbol, at least for some. 

I don't know if it is true or not but I read that after the Civil War, a woman asked General Robert E Lee what she should do with her flag. He told her to fold it up and put it away. And that is what should be done now. That doesn't mean it can't still be a source of pride for those who consider it part of their heritage and their history but there's no place for a public celebration of a symbol that is also a very hurtful part of African-American heritage and history. 

- I'm really looking forward to moving on to Kentucky with a bunch of different changes to the rules package - not only Kentucky, but Michigan, Indianapolis, Charlotte and Darlington. Fans continue to say they want more passing and an end to the leader getting into clean air and taking off. And NASCAR keeps trying to fix that problem. We'll start to see in Kentucky if the changes make a difference....and if so, which teams adapt to those changes the quickest.

- I expect there were a lot of people like me who went into work on Monday morning feeling like a zombie. I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. because Monday is the day of my long commute. I kept telling myself I should go to bed but then I kept on watching. I usually love Mother Nature but I was cussing her as I sat groggily over my keyboard. Was it worth it though? Absolutely. I was amazed at how many of the fans stayed.

- Finally, my best wishes go out to Buddy Baker. I came to NASCAR long after his career as a driver was over but I learned to love him as one of the co-hosts on Sirius radio. Such a great story teller! If you haven't heard, he's retiring because of inoperable lung cancer. He expressed no resentment or self-pity, only appreciation for having lived a charmed life. He asked for no tears but only smiles when we think of him. I will smile but I can't say there won't be a tear or two as well.