Monday, October 30, 2017
Bad Blood at Martinsville
At the moment that Chase's car hit the wall, my heart broke. Not that I haven't had my heart broken many times before and I've always lived through it. I'm sure I will this time too. Being a sports fan can often be heartbreaking but this one hurt a little more than usual. At first, I jumped up and yelled and cussed "Dirty Denny". Judging by the boos, a lot of other fans must have felt the same way.
After my initial reaction, I calmed down a little and tried to figure out if I was especially angry because of who was involved. I adore Chase and have never been an especial fan of Denny. Does that make me biased? Would I have felt the same way if, say, Jimmie, had knocked Austin Dillon into the wall? Well, probably not but I can't quite remember Jimmie punting a fellow driver deliberately. Maybe he would if, as in this case, winning meant an automatic entry into the final race? That's not Jimmie's style but a championship trophy is a powerful incentive.
I watched the incident several times and in my mind, it was a purposeful decision on Denny's part. Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think so.
Does Denny care? Probably not very much. Everyone likes to be liked and you don't want to piss off your fans but, on the other hand, NASCAR racing isn't a popularity contest. The goal is to have Champion in front of your name, especially if you don't already have one. It's what your owner wants and your team wants and your sponsor wants. So on the balance scale, I thinking being a Winner weighs way more than a few boos.
If this sounds like I'm giving Denny a bit of a pass, I guess I am.
Over all, Martinsville was a fun race with plenty of bumping and grinding and passes for the lead and drama and a huge melee at the end. I think this is what NASCAR wants and what fans want. Of course, Chase was mad at Denny when it was over and Ryan was mad at Harvick. The media will probably try to play those up as serious feuds.
With Chase and Kyle Larson, I console myself that both of these talented and charismatic young drivers will have plenty of opportunity for wins and championships in their future.
I don't really expect to see Jimmie standing on the big stage this year. He did great coming from the back after starting last but he always seems to get in that 5th to 12th spot and just can't get enough speed out his car to get any farther.
I still think it will come down to Martin and Kyle B. If so, I'll root for Martin because he would be a first time champion but my heart probably wouldn't be in it to any great degree. .