Monday, March 12, 2018

But I'm not Leaving.....


Oh, man, here we go again. This blog will be mostly negative. That may be colored by my personal life more than NASCAR but nevertheless, it comes out as disgruntlement and that's the way it is.

First, I hate it when one team dominates as Martin Truex, Jr. did last year and Kevin Harvick seems to be on track to do this year. I think I'd get bored with it even if it was Jimmie. (If I'm totally honest, maybe I wouldn't).  I'd prefer to see a different winner every week...or at least every other week. Go, Chase, Bowman, Byron, Blaney, Larson!

Second, I think stage racing contributes to this situation. To me, a race seems disjointed when it is divided up into segments. I'd rather just see them race and may the best man win. By stacking up so many stage points, Truex almost couldn't have lost the 2016 championship. Me, having always been so math-averse, I never can keep up with the points and how they were achieved.

Third, I really, really dislike the way Fox is doing the crawl this year, over to the side rather than on top. And they seem to constantly get to 20 and then start over. If your driver is stuck way back in the pack (which has unfortunately, often been the case with Jimmie this year), you're constantly monitoring the crawl more than watching to race to try to see where he is on the track. Hey, Fox, some of our teams are struggling along toward the back but it doesn't mean we don't still occasionally want to see what's going on with them.

Fourth, I have felt for a long time that NASCAR is too anal about the smallest dimensions. So many cars sent to the back for not passing inspection. Or missing a chunk of practice. Kevin lost points after his win last week. Something about the window not meeting specs. I may not want Kevin to win every week but if he loses, I want it to be fair and square, not because NASCAR took it. I think Phoenix was the first time Jimmie actually got to start where he qualified instead of at the rear of the field. I don't want NASCAR to go all loosey-goosey and let teams get away with murder but geez, a little more leeway please. We're talking about 1000ths of inches here. I wouldn't blame crew chiefs if some of them said, "screw it, they are restricting and regulating us to death, it's not worth it."

At least, Kevin had the satisfaction of knowing he came back and got the win this week after the penalties of last week but those points could prove to be crucial in the end. An encumbered race certainly messed up Joey Logano's 2016 season.

Okay, I'm done. Sorry about that. I don't want to be one of those people who are constantly threatening to leave NASCAR because they are pissed about this or that. I'll vent sometimes but I'm not leaving NASCAR, no matter what they do!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bring The Hook....Again.


It happens this way every year. I'm so excited for NASCAR to return after the long off-season. God, I've missed cars on the track! So then we all pack up and head for Daytona (figuratively, not literally). Yay!

I enjoy the shorter races - the Clash, the Duels - but then comes the endless 500 itself and I remember how much I dislike plate racing. Knowing that skill has less to do with it than luck, I try to pick enough drivers to root for to give myself a decent chance of choosing the winner - Jimmie, Chase, Byron, Bowman, Danica, Larson, Bubba, Jamie Mac, Blaney. Essentially, it comes down to anybody but JGR or Austen Dillon, or Truex or Joey. And I'm only mildly cheering for any of the Stewart-Hass teams.

So the hours drag by, as drivers try to maneuver for position. Try being the keyword. They want to make a new line but no one will go with them so then they attempt to find a hole to dart back in. They try to jump out but get caught in the middle and hung out to dry. No one seems to be able to touch the leader or maybe they just don't want to be the leader. It's not the best place to be in in restrictor plate racing, unlike other types of racing where you go all out to stay up front.

No one really wants to wreck anyone else but it happens because one false move, one wave of air moving past your backside,  and there's a pile of cars caught up in a series of "big ones". A junkyard on the track and in the grass.

One by one, all my favorites get caught up in one of the accidents - Jimmie, Danica, Chase..... At the last, I was rooting for Bubba and Matt DiBenedetto but Matt ended up wrecked too. At least, Bubba finished second.

I don't think plate racing is real competition although I realize it takes talent to be good at it. But I don't like the way you have to go against the grain of racing, like hanging back 'til near the end. I don't like teams linking up together, taking their pit stops together, clinging to one another to push their own guys. Racing should be one on one. I don't like blocking being more important than racing. 

Most of all I don't like fabulous cars turned into nothing more than piles of smoking sheet metal. It's a huge waste and proves nothing.

The Daytona 500 always leaves me with the taste of sour grapes in my mouth. Can't wait to get back to real racing in Atlanta

Monday, February 5, 2018

Being The Best


There was an interesting article on the Hendrick Motorsports website this week (thank you, Lisa Covington!) comparing Jimmie Johnson and Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots. I'm not a huge NFL fan but I do follow it from afar and I do root for Tom Brady for the same reasons I cheer on Jimmie.

There are lots of similarities between the two, like being the old men of their respective sports. Like being handsome (so, sue me, I like good looking men!). Like being accused of cheating because they win too much. Like, probably being the fittest men on their teams.

And that last quality is what I admire most about them. You don't win the number of collective championships they won by cheating. You win them by giving 150 per cent of yourself to your goals and your team. That's what makes champions. We've heard over and over how hard Jimmie drives himself to stay in shape. He bikes, he swims, he runs. Same with Tom.

I respect their passion for getting to the very top in their sport and staying there because I've never felt that way about anything. Tom Brady says football is his religion. I've won a few minor awards for writing but writing is more like a hobby than a religion.

I give my writing my best but my best is not like pushing myself practically every minute of every day. I never expected to win a Pulitzer prize. I did receive the National Presswoman's Annual Award for Commentary once and that was the high point of my writing career such as it was, but I never followed it up with anything spectacular.

For Jimmie and Tom, no trophy or championship is ever "good enough". If they had a championship ring on every finger, they'd still want another....and another.

Even their best isn't good enough. They always want to be better.

And that's why I root for them.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Bored and Bitching


Thank heavens we'll be racing soon! Seems like the drivers are getting kind of cranky Maybe they are just getting restless and bored with too much time off. I can relate. I feel restless and bored myself.

Kyle Busch was snappish with NASCAR because he thinks the sport is featuring the young guns more than the older drivers even though they haven't accomplished enough to be considered top guns yet.

"Hey, what about us?" says Kyle, "we're still here and we're genuine superstars. Give us our due until the kids earn their own."

Brother Kurt more or less agreed with Kyle though he used a somewhat milder tone.

Ryan Blaney came right back at Kyle and said the reason he (they) got so much attention is because they are younger and more eager to do things to help promote the sport. And that's probably always the way it is with generations. The older generation wants to race and then go home and live their lives instead of going to more events and signing more autographs. The boys can't do enough.

Meanwhile, Brad K took Brian France to task for rarely ever coming to the races to show his support. I mean, he is the CEO of the whole damn sport but you'd hardly know it.

Brian says he's just too busy doing administrative work to have time to come to the races. I say baloney on that. All you had to do was watch Brian at the Awards Banquet. He acted like his part couldn't be over fast enough for him to get the hell out of there. I don't think he even likes NASCAR but he and his family own it lock, stock and barrel so don't expect anything to change. Let's just hope he puts in good people beneath him.

As far as NASCAR and the kids are concerned, I'm sticking with "Grandpa Jimmie Johnson" as my Hendrick pick. Not that I don't wish all the young'uns well but Jimmie will always be The Man for me.

I'm looking forward to seeing Danica in Daytona. It is kind of heartwarming that she and and Go Daddy and Tony Eury, Jr. are re-assembling for a last hurrah.

Actually, I'm looking forward to a lot of things!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The NASCAR Moon!


I am trying to hang on until February, the month known to some Indian tribes as the Hunger Moon, and a fitting name it is too. When Native Americans said hunger, that’s probably exactly what they meant. Not too many of us actually starve in the 21st century but that doesn’t mean we aren’t hungry to bid adieu to a monochrome world of black and white and gray and tan. Instead give us a background of lush green dotted with an artist’s palette of pastels – lilac and yellow and rose. And banish that gloomy overcast in favor of a bright blue sky featuring puffy cartoon clouds. And the sun, oh, please, the sun! In my own personal lexicon, I call February the NASCAR Moon since that’s when racing season starts again with its colorful cars and fire-suited drivers, roaring engines, cheers and jeers for the drivers we most love or hate. Daytona!

March, in Indian parlance, had a more hopeful ring. It was the Bird Return Moon. Of course, some birds always jump the gun and don’t wait until humans give them the linguistic go-ahead. Once when I was in my office in Lafayette, approximately 25 Robins bounced around in the limbs of the tree across the street, looking like they were trying to stay warm.  If they thought they were smart early birds trying to get the worm ahead of their brethren, they were sadly mistaken. There is such a thing as being too early to get the worm when the ground is still snow-covered and frozen.

Hungry Native Americans probably didn’t care much, one way or the other about Robins. I expect their Bird Return reference was more likely about birds that would fill a cooking pot, like ducks and geese.

Beyond the Bird Return Moon, we come to the Green Grass Moon of April. What an inviting sound that has because green grass implies sunlight and rising temperatures. We can gripe when it’s cold outside but at least we have furnaces and insulation. I imagine there was a whole new dimension to being thankful for heat when you lived in a teepee or hut that depended on a fire for what little warmth you had.

Next comes the Planting Moon, which is self-explanatory, and after that the Rose Moon. The Rose Moon conjures up visions of young love. People can fall in love in any season, of course, but there weren’t many places to go to exchange tender kisses back in pioneer days. But, a young couple holding hands with spring moonlight glistening on the river and the scent of roses all around, there’s a romantic visual for you.

After the Rose Moon, the Lightning Moon of the month we call July. Shimmering waves of heat broken by thunderheads rearing up into the sky, the crash of thunder and jagged, streaking fireworks of lightning. Ironic that we celebrate the Fourth of July with brilliant light shows in the sky in imitation of Mother Nature.

Next is my birthday month, August, which I’ve always thought was the most boring month of the year. No holidays, nothing much to distinguish itself, mostly mundane weather. Too late to plant, too soon to pick. The Native Americans must have agreed for they labeled it, blandly, the Green Corn Moon.

I like the term Gathering Moon for September better than what we call a Harvest Moon. Harvest is too limiting in that you primarily harvest plants while you can gather anything – firewood and hides and honey. Or you can gather family around a bountiful harvest table. No need to confine that to one designated day in November.

October is the Leaf Falling Moon – a rather melancholy designation. It starts with a jubilant burst of jewel tones spreading across the hillsides but you know that the vibrant scarlets and golds and coppers and clarets will turn dry and float to the ground, leaving only the skeletal bones of the trees behind.

To the Indians, the Hunting Moon was November. I don’t know why. I assume they hunted all year ‘round. Were the weather conditions better during November? Was tracking easier with plant life killed back by frost? Was it a conservation issue with baby animals raised so that a new generation was assured? I’ll have to do some research….but not today.

We’ve just about come full circle with the seasons with December being the Long Night Moon. Hopefully, we used the other Moons to gather and hunt so that we’re prepared to survive those long, cold nights.

Finally, the new year begins with the Snow Moon. January starts our new year, at least although I’m not sure Native Americans considered it the “first” Moon. Probably in terms of bringing hope, the Bird Return Moon would be better or perhaps the Planting Moon or even the Gathering Moon. Snow on more snow doesn’t seem like a very positive renewal of the seasons but I suppose it’s too late to start over now.

On the other hand, NASCAR starts gearing up in January with the Hall of Fame inductions. January 20 if the country’s State of the Union and NASCAR’s Fan Appreciation Days. I actually think the State of NASCAR is a lot better than the State of the Union. So f we can get through the Snow Moon, it’ the NASCAR moon! 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Let's Get To February!


When I got up this morning, the temperature read nine degrees below zero. I wish I could put myself in hibernation for the month of January every year. The month has absolutely nothing of any value to offer. I've never thought it should be the first day of the New Year anyway because there's nothing new about it. It's just more of what was and what will be. The first day of the year should be April 1 because you know you'll see a transition from winter to spring during the month. Or maybe October when the earth turns to flame and then goes to bed for the season.

For me, personally, January is a month of drought. Both NASCAR and Outlander on are hiatus. There's nothing much to watch on television except, mostly depressing, news. Most programs are covering "The Year in Review" stuff. I've never been one to re-read books or re-watch movies and I don't want to see old races either. I don't care about The Year in Review. I lived through all that stuff. Let's move on.

So, I've been plinking around on the NASCAR sites trying to find something interesting but there isn't much. I see that Kevin and DeLana Harvick had their baby girl, Piper Grace. Congrats to them.

I know where all the NASCAR drivers spent their winter vacation and I say thank God, I wasn't born to parents who trundled me up to the mountains in layers of cumbersome clothes like Jimmie Johnson. I'd rather be with Kurt Busch in a swimming pool or Kyle Busch on a beach.

I know that Danica has a book coming out - Pretty Intense. It's about mental exercise, physical exercise and healthy cooking. And I say, "I love ya, Girl" but I won't be buying that book. I probably wouldn't even bother to turn a page if it was sitting on the desk right in front of me. Now if she wrote a book titled How To Make Your Slothfulness Work For You, that might be a different story.

So, anyway, I'm looking forward to February. It may not be a perfect month but things start to pop in February. The Advance Auto Parts Clash is on February 11 and the action goes on from there.

I have lung cancer and I have no idea what my prognosis is (and I don't want to know, I just take it one day at a time). In those circumstances, you look at the future a little differently. You can't help thinking - "gee, I hope I get to see roses blooming again" or "I hope I get to smell lilacs one more time" or "I hope I get to enjoy Jamie's (Outlander) bare derriere" or "I hope I get to watch Jimmie win another race....or even another championship"!

Happy 2018 to you all.