Thursday, November 9, 2017
Youth and Diversity in NASCAR
Congratulations to Kevin Harvick for punching his ticket to Homestead by winning in Texas. We only have one spot left to be decided next week. Texas was a sad race for me, watching Jimmie wallow around toward the back, without the speed to contend. I think his season is over. Other Jimmie fans have told me that is blasphemy. You do not give up until there is absolutely no chance. But I'm a realist. I haven't seen anything from the 48 in the last many races to indicate that he might come alive and win at Phoenix, which is what he'd have to do. Naturally, I'd be positively ecstatic to be proven wrong.
I don't hold out much hope for Chase either although he's had enough really good races that he has a decent shot.
But if those two go out, even though I'll certainly watch Homestead, I'm no great fan of any of the remaining drivers. I'll root for Martin Truex, Jr. mainly because he's had such an impressive year and has never won a championship.
Next season, we will be watching what will practically amount to a different series in terms of drivers. The youth movement will truly take over in 2018. We've lost Tony and Jeff. Junior will be gone after this year and it appears that Matt will no longer be on the track either. Danica will be off the grid (which I, personally, hate). We're not sure yet what is going to happen with Kurt.
You have to wonder how long Jimmie and Kevin will keep driving. They'll practically be the Granddaddies of the sport. I guess in this line up, Kyle B and Brad and Denny and even Joey have to be considered the "middle-agers". We'll be watching lots of newbies like Chase and Kyle L and Ryan and Alex and Eric and William. I hope my elderly brain can make the transition. It will be interesting to see which one or two break out of the pack to become our new superstars.
Stewart-Haas is the only team not to rely on a young'un to carry their banner on to the future. Instead they chose Aric Almirola to replace Danica Patrick. That seems rather strange to me - a mid-pack driver to replace a mid-pack driver but maybe they see something in Aric that I don't. (And maybe it is Smithfield Foods).
Ah, NASCAR and diversity. They try, I admit they try with their Drive for Diversity program and it is slightly better than it used to be. We have a Mexican driver and a half-Japanese driver but now we are losing a female driver and gaining our first African-American driver in decades and that is about as diverse as it gets in NASCAR. Part of the problem is, of course, that it is expensive to get into NASCAR. You can't go to college on a NASCAR scholarship to prove your value. And NASCAR is a legacy sport so the white young men who are children of white old men who are household names in NASCAR have a head start. But hopefully, that will all gradually improve. Gradually is probably the key word.