Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Yay! Yay! Yay! At the end, I was rooting for both Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott. My biggest fear was that one of the "old guys", like Brad Keselowski or Kevin Harvick, would slip in and slick it away from them. I'm so happy that didn't happen!
Actually, I was hoping a little more for Kyle than Chase. Not because I like Kyle better but because a) he's waited longer and b) he didn't start out with every advantage like Chase. Ganassi is a good team but they're no Hendrick Motorsports and they've struggled for the last few years, gradually improving their program. And Kyle has worked so hard to take advantage of every gain they've made until finally, voila, they put it all together and made it to Victory Lane....and the Chase!
I know every win is a thrill for every driver, even those with many victories under their belt, but it is a special pleasure to see the joyful emotion on display when a young driver gets his first Cup win. Kyle was almost overcome in Victory Lane. And with this win, he broke a 99-race losing streak for his team. That has to be a huge source of pride too.
I'm sure it broke Chase's heart for this one to slip away but his time is definitely coming and so is Ryan Blaney's. Besides that, right now, it looks as if Chase is going to get in on points even if he doesn't win either of the last two races. How's that? Kyle Larson, Chris Buescher and Chase Elliott all in the run for the championship. Way to go, Kids!
You get the feeling that Chase is more critical of himself than he deserves. He's having a successful year as a rookie but even some of the driver's have recommended that he needs to lower the intensity level just a notch and let himself have more fun and appreciate how well he is doing.
There will be lots of retro paint schemes at Darlington so it is fitting that Jeff will be back in the 88. I will be glad to see Junior return though I suppose he can write off the 2016 championship. There is always next year but the seasons are slipping away.
And speaking of slipping away, that may be what is happening to Kasey Kahne. He simply hasn't performed at the level expected of a Hendrick driver. It seems there is always one car in the team that doesn't. And it's not because the drivers haven't been good drivers. I mean, for Pete's sake, Kyle Busch once drove the 5 car. It is a strange situation and evidently no one can figure it out.
Last but not least, our sympathy to the France family in the death of Betty Jane France, the First Lady of NASCAR. She certainly died knowing she brought a tremendous amount of good to her world.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
NASCAR fans had to be dedicated to take in all of the Bristol night/day/night race thanks to Mother Nature's contrary bitchiness but seeing the ending was worth it. Kudos to Kevin for inviting Tony to join him in a victory burnout. Tony may not have prevailed as a driver but his team won the Bristol night race for the first time in his final year on track and that had to be a thrill. The sight of Tony and Kevin turning dual smoke-filled circles was very cool.
As I write this on early Wednesday morning, I couldn't find any updates on Junior although we will supposedly learn the latest prognosis about his possible return today. I hope it is this week. I'm sure Michigan is one of the tracks he'd choose since it is one of his best. If he comes back this week, he'll be 21st in the point standings so a win at Michigan would be just what the doctor ordered to get him back in the competition.
My heart just aches for Kyle Larson. I so badly want to see him get that "first win" monkey off his back. It has seemed so close so many times but something always happens to screw it up. Oftentimes, it is a wreck that nails him. Maybe part of that is his own fault for being such a risk-taker but that's also what makes him exciting to watch.
I keep asking myself what is wrong with Hendrick. They aren't awful but they aren't great either. I guess you'd have to call them somewhat mediocre right now and I don't know why. Obviously, they don't know either or they would fix it. Jimmie is 9th in points; Chase is 12th; Kasey is 17th and Junior is 21st (although that's not a fair stat, it is what it is). So, they have only one driver in the top ten and he's there by the skin of his teeth. That's way under-performing for this bunch.
Meanwhile, the rest of the top ten are spread out pretty evenly with both Penske drivers, two Stewart-Haas teams and all of the Gibbs cars. Martin Truex, Jr. is in there also but Furniture Row is a virtually another Gibbs team.
There are only three more chances to get in with a win so I imagine winless teams are getting anxious. The two highest in points without a win right now are Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon.
Kyle Busch called Brad Keselowski a "dirty driver" after the Xfinity race this week but I don't expect much to come of it. There haven't been any major feuds this year and I doubt if there will be. All the teams seem to have conformed to the tightness of the box NASCAR has put them in in recent years, whether that is staying in their car until the officials get there, getting called for speeding for a second over the limit, being penalized for being a thousandth off in inspection.
I hate all that. The problem is that the racing is done by people. People build the cars and pit the cars and drive the cars. People aren't automatons who can be programmed to seconds or thousandths. But the officiating is done by machines and they are precise and unforgiving. People are emotional and passionate. Machines are neutral robots. I like the people better than the machines.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
I'm sorry to have been so negligent about keeping this blog up-to-date but this is how I felt after my dog tripped me and I took a face first dive down my stairs, breaking two ribs. I've never had broken ribs before but I'm hear to tell you, they are painful. It hurts to stand up, lie down, sit, bend, type, laugh or breathe. It is excruciating to cough or sneeze. I'm glad I live alone because, for two weeks after it happened, anyone in the house with me would have heard a non-stop series of grunts, groans and whimpers.
In the meantime, I look like a bag lady because I cannot roll my hair or wear anything not held together by velcro or elastic. My house looks like a sty because I cannot run the sweeper, fold clothes, wash dishes or put a fitted sheet on a bed.
It is amazing how agony reduces your life to the elemental you. For that horrible period of time, I only cared about myself. I was no longer interested in who makes the Chase or wins the presidential election.
I tried to watch the races but as the cars went round and round, I found myself falling into a pain-pill induced semi-coma and sleeping through much of them.
So, here's what I know about that lost period in time: For all that we have been praising Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott to the skies, how ironic is it that Chris Buescher was the first of the young'uns to win a Cup race. I know it was rain-shortened. I don't care. A win is a win is a win and I couldn't have been happier for him - I love underdog triumphs. I have my fingers crossed that he gets into the top 30 in points and makes the Chase.
Junior, of course, has been off the track due to "concussion-like" symptoms. I don't know exactly how serious those are but they sound scary, like something that could have long-term consequences. I've seen Junior catch hell from some NASCAR fans but I say good for him for understanding and helping the rest of us understand, particularly young drivers, that you have to guard your health long before any race.
My drivers continue on their losing streak and I mean ALL my drivers. Once Jimmie goes out, I switch to Junior/Jeff. Once they get knocked out, I switch to Chase. When Chase falls by the wayside, I switch to Danica. When Danica is gone, I switch to Kyle Larson, then to Ryan Blaney, then to Tony - (not necessarily in that order except for Jimmie). So, it is not like I insist on being unhappy if my first choice doesn't win but geez, although the last 3 weeks have been mostly a blur, I seem to remember being left with absolutely no one I especially wanted to root for by lap 200. I feel like the kiss of death for my favorites this year. Maybe I should start supporting one of the JGR guys. No, I can't!
I do have to say though that they look primed to take the championship this year, seeming to be about a half-step ahead of everyone else. Of course, the way the championship is decided now makes luck more important than it used to be.
I'm happy to see Tony come from a horrible first part of the season to have made the Chase and performing well. I want him to go out on a good note.
My sympathy to the friends and family of Bryan Clauson. How sad it is to lose such a promising young driver as well as a fine person. Knowing these guys choose a life of risk and danger doesn't make it any easier to accept.
I will try to do a better job here. By the time, the Cup cars return to the track, I think I will return to normal too. I'm off the pills and the intensity level of the pain is way down from what it was.
Onward and upward - it's Bristol, Baby!