A Tale of Two Weekends
I bid you welcome gentle readers. We’ve come to that part in the NASCAR schedule that the drivers and teams are very fond of… a two-week stint in racing’s hometown, Charlotte, North Carolina. NASCAR’s CEO aka the clown that runs the traveling circus, has all manner of diversions planned for the fans this year. We’ll be “treated” to a new/old racing format in the All-Star race as it is said to mimic the one used on “One Hot Night”, the night the lights went on at Charlotte… and went out for Davey Allison as he won and crashed, only to find out he won upon waking in the hospital.
So… how much does this year resemble that year? I’d say the 20-20-20-10 thing is the beginning and end of any likeness… and Davey isn’t with us anymore. I absolutely could not find the actual format and rules on nascar.com, which sadly is a common occurrence. The following is borrowed from Jayski.com with thanks to Jay Adamczyk for all he does for all of us.
The race format is as follows:
- The race will feature four stages (20 laps / 20 laps / 20 laps / 10 laps), totaling 70 laps… an ode to the 1992 edition of the same distance.
- The goal for all competitors: Earn a spot in the final 10-lap, 10-car stage.
- The winner of each of the first three stages will lock up a spot in the final stage, as long as they remain on the lead lap after the third stage.
- The cars with the best average finish in the first three stages will make up the remaining spots needed to fill the 10-car final stage.
- The remaining 10 cars will be lined up by average finish of the first three stages and given the option to pit. Exit off pit road determines starting order for final stage.
- The winner will be awarded $1,000,000.
The Monster Energy Open will occur Saturday evening prior to the Monster Energy All-Star Race and will include three stages (20 laps / 20 Laps / 10 laps). The winner of each stage will earn a spot in the all-star race.
Got all that? Don’t forget that all-important “Fan Vote”, which runs by Chicago rules… vote early and often… and alive or dead doesn’t matter.
Forgive me, but this scribe fails to be excited, enhanced or even entertained by excess after excess of gimmickry piled up like manure behind the horse barn. All of that is even too hokey for the kiddies it’s meant to attract, and we grown-ups just sigh and go out to the garden or out to walk the dog… or just out.
All of that hoopla and horse doo-doo is on Saturday night. Come Sunday, when most are used to hunting down a stock car race, you’ll find Global RallyCross at 1:00 PM EDT on NBC. At 2:00 you’ll find NHRA Finals at Topeka Kansas on FS1 and at 5:00 you’ll find an ARCA race from Toledo, Ohio also on FS1. All three will present honest racing… the kind where the guy that gets to the checkers first is the winner… every time.
Sorry folks, but that’s what’s in store for this weekend. I look forward most to the NHRA Final Eliminations. I’ll leave that All-Star stuff to whomever might enjoy it.
Moving right along, on Wednesday May 24th, we’re to learn the names of the next 5… yes, that’s F-I-V-E inductees in waiting for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. 2018 will mark 70 years of NASCAR racing and in all that time apparently we’ve only had 45 “Famous” folks… better start another pile out back of the barn. The top of that one’s too high to reach.
Sometime during our stay in the Queen’s City, I’m told there is to be some sort of “Summit” meeting, the participants of which are unknown, as is the purpose. That might just be the best show of the week. If I had to guess, I’d give odds of that happening on Wednesday also, since a whole lot of brass will already be at the Hall of Fame.
Besides, Thursday will be fairly full up with Xfinity and Cup practice and Cup qualifying. Then we come to Friday. Well gentle readers, it’s Charlotte and as has been the policy for almost as long as I can remember, there IS no Friday. Everything stops dead in its tracks and remains in suspended motion until Saturday morning, when normality returns. Remember, this is the same outfit that wants to make races a one-day affair. Ahem!
Friday is not a total loss however. If you skip over to NBCSN at 11:00 AM you’ll find Indy Carburetion Day, which can be either interesting or a cure for insomnia, depending on your point of view. In the middle, around 12:30 to 1:30, you’ll see an Indy Lights race, which is kind of the open-wheel version of our K&N Series. Then it’s back to Carb Day, which in reality is just a final practice for the Indy 500 on Sunday.
Saturday will bring more Cup practice, Xfinity qualifying and an Xfinity race. And finally, it’s Sunday. It’s Memorial Day Weekend and all of the class races are lined up like ducks in a row. Overdose as much or as little as suits your appetite. At 8:00 AM EDT, NBC will take us to Monaco, where we can see all the beautiful people of the world gathered in one spot. We can drool over their private jets and their yachts anchored in the harbor, and we can watch an F1 Grand Prix as they traverse the streets of Monaco.
At 11:00 one can switch to ABC and spend an hour and 20 minutes listening to the build up to “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, the Indianapolis 500, and then of course, comes the big race itself. When that’s over it will be time to turn to FOX for the running of the Coca-Cola 600, or the World 600 as it was known before commercialization reared its ugly head in sports. Again, more gimmicks added here. It seems that three “Stages” (Stooges?) wasn’t enough, so the head clown has added a 4th to the already too long race that closes out the weekend before the Monday holiday.
What more can I say? Monaco will always be Monaco… dripping in wealth, splendor and fast cars. Only the names change. The Indianapolis 500 is the same race it was in 1911. Track surface has changed from bricks to asphalt, but the race remains the same. Only the names change. The World 600 is no more… its birthright having been sold to Coca-Cola Inc. Instead of standing as the endurance test it was designed to be, it is now divided into four sections… length unknown as yet, but it doesn’t matter. The race is already far too long for today’s “Edgy” kids with ADD and ADHD problems seemingly inborn, so why not add a bunch of long, built-in competition cautions and make it even longer? The names of the drivers change like all the rest, but sadly the names of the fans will soon be countable on your fingers.
Monaco seems to have no problem attracting people, money and anything else needed to provide a most enjoyable weekend of racing. Indy has cut its “Month of May” celebrations drastically over the past few years, so as to accommodate the “Edginess” of the millennial generation. Indy was a sell-out last year, attracting somewhere over 350,000 fans to celebrate its 100th running. Conversely, Charlotte will be covered in gimmickry for two weekends running. Tradition? We don’t need no stinkin’ tradition! We’re NASCAR! We have loud music and kooky food all weekend long because our CEO knows what the fans want. He’s had studies done on it in New York City! “NEW YORK CITY?” There’s no racetrack in New York City! There is however, that growing pile of horse dung out behind the barn!
Prediction: There will be no sell-out crowd at any event in Charlotte on either weekend… and the circus will leave town with little notice.
As always, the little guitar signals it’s time for our Classic Country Closeout. This week, I’ll share two whole programs with you because next week will bring us to the Memorial Day Weekend and the same story I tell each year since this site has existed… the story of how our National Anthem came to be. Be sure you bring your kids in to read that one. It’s interesting enough to hold their attention… I promise!
For today, we’ll start off with a Grand Ole Opry program hosted by Ernest Tubb featuring a host of stars including Johnny & Jack, Minnie Pearl, Faron Young and more.
Another from the same Opry series, this time featuring Webb Pierce, Red Sovine and many more. Please enjoy…
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!