Thursday, September 22, 2016

Yucks and Penalties and Protests

Image result for nascar martin truex jr chicagoland

For me, Chicagoland was a three-yuck race. Yuck isn't actually the word I would prefer to use but in deference to the delicate sensibilities of some of my readers, it's the word I will confine myself to.

The first yuck was Jimmie. Ah, yes, there was my boy - finally....after weeks of mediocrity and mishap - running up front, leading the most laps, dominating in the style his fans have so missed seeing. Yay, Jimmie! And then....a speeding penalty. Damn! The jig's up. In the end, he finished 11th, pretty normal for the 48 lately. Those of us who root for him can only hope the first part of the race signifies what kind of performance the team will have in the rest of the Chase.

The second yuck was Chase. Well, if Jimmie couldn't do it, Chase is the next best thing! Imagine what a great story that would be. A rookie winning not only the first Cup race of his career but the first Chase race of the season. And I think he'd have pulled it off too except for a late-race caution that shuffled up the restart order. Well, crap! He still got a good finish but it wasn't a win.

The third yuck was Kyle Larson. He was showing speed, doing good. It appeared that if he wasn't going to win, he was at least going to hold his own in the point standings....until a tire went down and sent him to the back.

So three huge disappointments for me. Having said that, I like Martin Truex, Jr. a lot and I don't resent his win as much as I would have if it had been some other drivers. Honestly, I've love to see Truex win a championship....if none of my favorites can do it.

So we had lots of penalties and tires and some weird pit road thing that I never did exactly understand except that it ruined Kevin Harvick's day big time. As hard as he tried, he could never get in the free pass position and get his lap back.

And there were lots of penalties afterwards too. Martin and Jimmie both had post-race laser infractions but thankfully, NASCAR decided not to penalize them because a penalty would not have affected Truex, Jr. at all, since he was locked into the next round, but it might have cost Jimmie his Chase hopes.

In fact, NASCAR decided to do away with the most picayune of the post-race misdemeanors altogether and only punish teams for the most egregious transgressions. This makes me happy because I think NASCAR has gotten too nit-picky over all.

Lastly, I'm going to write a little about the Charlotte protests and protests in general although my thoughts probably won't be very popular. The NASCAR Hall of Fame was damaged and I guess looted to some extent by protesters and of course, standing back from a commonsense distance, we can just about all agree that this is wrong.

I worked in a factory once and when our contract was up, they offered us a new one that we thought was insulting. We voted it down. So management boarded up all the cafeteria windows and shipped out some of the machines. They brought people from another plant so we could train them to do our jobs. Foremen carried around pink lay-off slips (they were from other years - a bluff). They told us if we didn't accept the contract, they would close the plant and move it elsewhere. They tried to intimidate through fear and it worked. I still voted no. My contention was: "let them shut the s.o.b. down." Cooler heads prevailed and the next vote passed. But that situation made me aware that when I'm furious about being demeaned, I am perfectly capable of being self-destructive. And if I felt that way about a union contract, how must people feel about seeing their people dead in the street over and over again?

It is all of a piece with not standing for the anthem. "We would never tolerate that in NASCAR," we say. And no we wouldn't because Kaepernick's issues don't really concern us, do they? We don't have to worry every time our child goes out the door that he might be killed because he's black. Still, I see plenty of others on Facebook and elsewhere threatening revolution and promising to take their country back because they feel mistreated so I guess it all depends on whose ox is being gored, doesn't it?

I'm 70 and I remember the good old Sixties. A time of riots in the cities and anti-war protests (geez, we even shot our own kids over that one) and civil rights disobedience and marches for women's rights. Because being nice,  doesn't get you anywhere. You can ask politely to please let us sit in front of the bus or please let us vote or please don't shoot our children or please let us join the military and you will get nowhere. Because to make progress, you have to make an impact. You have to focus attention. Sometimes, you have to be angry and hateful and even violent to make that happen.

So, I feel badly that the Hall of Fame was damaged....but not too bad. Protest in America is as old as the country itself and it is usually the only way improvements get made.

(Incidentally, when our contract in the plant was up again, they shut it down and moved to Mexico).