I try really hard to be gracious in this blog even when none of my drivers win and I'm usually sincere. I've given the kids kudos (Kyle L, Chase, Ryan B, Erik) because I really think they deserve it. They all add a lot of pizazz to today's racing.
I was genuinely happy when Kurt finally won his Daytona 500, knowing it is an achievement all drivers dream of, even champions. I was legitimately glad for Ryan when he broke his long losing streak.That must have felt like finding an oasis after a long thirsty trek through a burning desert. And, of course, I was legitimately thrilled for Kyle Larson. I like Martin Truex, Jr. so I was good with him taking the checkers. I was even okay with Brad's first win. But by the time of his second, I have to admit, it was getting a little harder to be jolly and generous-hearted....considering the kind of start to the season Jimmie was having. He seemed to be permanently trapped somewhere in the middle if the pack, not to mention, his qualifying has been dismal.
I wasn't the only one saying, "what the heck is going on with the 48 team?"
I think it makes Jimmie and Chad a little cranky to be doubted but they've got no one but themselves to blame. They've set a certain standard over the years and their fans expect them to maintain that kind of performance. So when they are 6 races in without a top 5, well, we start to get nervous. Is this the end of one of the longest runs of excellence ever in sports?
Thankfully, no. In his 16th season, Jimmie has never gone a year without a win. He now has 81 trophies altogether, which puts him 7th on the all-time wins list. (He needs two more to tie Cale Yarborough). He's never missed the championship play-offs. He's won 7 championships, tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Arguably, (I'm biased, of course), he's the best of the best.)
So now, he's got his 2017 win and his fans know they have another competitive year to look forward to.
Don't get me wrong with my complaints. Jimmie is my main man and always will be. Wins or no wins. He'll be my driver until he retires. I would never abandon him if he never won another race.
But while I'm griping, I have one more small bitch. I really, really hate the new beard. I think it makes him look old and tired. I like the scruff but I hope when the weather gets warmer, he shaves off the full chin of hair.
As a matter of fact, it was pretty darn warm in Texas and beyond that, Jimmie's drink system quit so he had no hydration in the car in the third segment. He said he was cooked afterwards and after the race, he had to go to the care center for three bags of fluids. This is another thing a champion does....works through the pain.
We now know the format for the 25th anniversary of the All-Star Race. Twenty laps, twenty laps, twenty laps and then ten laps run in four stages. (There were 70 laps in that first All-Star Race too). They also added an interesting new twist. Teams will be offered a set of soft tires in addition to the usual tires, like in Formula 1. As I understand it, the "hard" tires have more grip but the "soft" tires are faster. That will be another twist in strategy crew chiefs will have to figure. It will be fun to see how they decide to use the different tires.
Fifteen drivers are locked in so far. Drivers who have won a points event in either 2016 or 2017 are eligible, as are drivers who have won a previous All-Star Race and compete full time. Drivers who have won a NASCAR Cup Series championship and compete full-time also are eligible for the event.
Three drivers will join the field by winning one of three stages in the Monster Energy Open (held prior to the Monster Energy All-Star Race) and one driver will also be added to the field by winning the Fan Vote.
Next weekend, we're off for Easter. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.