Sunday, May 22, 2016
The Young'uns Are Coming!
Watch out, Veterans, the kids are gaining on you!
I didn't have time to write a blog last week because of my job but what sticks out in my mind about the last two weekends has been how exciting the youngsters have made them. Kyle Larson has been one of my favorites since he first came on the scene. He was the star of the first Eldora Mudsummer Classic, the way he drove practically touching the wall and slung that car around on the dirt, the way he pulled off the most thrilling slide jobs.
Everyone kept saying he would win soon but he fell into a kind of sophomore slump that extended into his junior year. I don't think it was his slump though so much as it was Ganassi's slump. Now he's driving cars his crew chief, Chad Johnson, built and their new-found performance and confidence is beginning to pay off.
I was rooting for him last week at Dover. He put on one hell of a show there but years of experience gave Matt Kenseth just edge enough to out-maneuver him.
Then this weekend, he and Chase Elliott fought door to door to try to get themselves into the All-Star Race. Again, I was cheering Kyle, not because I like Kyle better than Chase, but like Kyle himself, I was sure Chase would get in via the Fan Vote so Kyle needed the win more than Chase did.
I figured it would be a better race with both of them in it and it surely was. They were the ones who added all the pizazz to what was a kind of a confusing mess of a race. Chase made some absolutely stunning passes. Kyle fought Joey down to the wire but again, experience (and I do consider Joey an old hand by now) won out.
Seemingly, just a tick behind Kyle and Chase Elliott is Ryan Blaney, another young driver who seems able to balance the risk of youth with wisdom beyond his years.
I don't think that experience thing is going to work for much longer. These young'uns are coming and they're coming fast. We've lost Jeff and this is Tony's last year. We have a whole group of drivers who are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning - Jimmie, Junior, Matt, Biffle, Kevin - all are in their early 40's. All are still at the top of their game but inevitably age will come into play sooner rather than later.
We miss our favorites, of course, but thankfully, it seems that NASCAR is in good hands with the Sprint Cup kids as well as those coming up through the Truck and Xfinity ranks.
And the All-Star race. I heard lots of people complaining about it. My Grandma used to that anything was was totally screwed up was just a big "mixa-moxa" and I'd have to call this race a big mixa-moxa for sure.
On the other hand, in previous years, I've heard people bitch that it had gotten stale. It is for fun and money, not points, so who cares if NASCAR tries some things, even if some of them work and some don't? Jimmie, for instance, had put himself in perfect position.....if, that is, there hadn't been so few cars on the lead lap that there were only two without fresh tires and they got eaten alive. And who could have predicted just 11 lead lap cars. It is still an interesting concept and might prove interesting in another year.
So, let's just go with the flow and not get worked up about the small stuff.