A Voice for the Fans ~ And the Fans Need to Be Heard!
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and the usual warm welcome goes out as well to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR-related. Today’s article serves a dual purpose. I almost scrapped this one after reading Steve O’Donnell’s scripted response before the wave of rejection hit. Since then, I’ve spent much of my day doing research, reading the thoughts of others and listening to one of my favorite radio hosts, Patrick Reynolds, all of whom shared my thoughts. Words have meanings, and when someone uses something as strong as “100%”, that definitely has a meaning and one with which there can be no arguments and no “buts.”
Everyone reading here knows the topic of today’s conversation… the elephant in the living room after Talladega is that pesky little rule that sprang from the last time a team tried to weight the scales in their favor… and got caught. Don’t be fooled. The teams are all out there to win, but what’s a win to one team might be different than what is a win to another.
Every comment I’ve read mentions Toyota in some context, and none of them are complimentary. Who has all four teams still in the running for most money at the banquet? Joe Gibbs Racing, which is of course, “THE” Toyota team. That’s fact. Anything else is mere conjecture. This scribe has held fast from the outset that this “Chase” thing is unnatural and contrived. It has no place in racing, but it is here, and there is only one man to thank for that… Brian Z. France.
The first point I’d like to make is that this is not a “Toyota thing.” It’s merely a result of the Chase rules. “Win and you’re in” doesn’t go a long way when we get near the end. Every third race, four cars are “eliminated”, but don’t leave. All that elimination amounts to in today’s NASCAR is monkeying with the points to make it impossible for those 4 cars to catch the anointed 12, 8 or 4 that go on to race for… for what? You’ll never hear it called a Championship here. That would be insulting to anyone that won a full-season Championship before 2004. What they race for now is money; lots and lots of money. For the most part, with a few possible exceptions, the “love of racing” has been lost and has taken a seat far to the back of the bus, while “love of money” rides up front, next to the driver.
It’s important to remember, gentle readers, another Toyota team was the cause of the rule that fell into question before the Talladega race even started. I watched 3 of the 4 JGR cars pull out of line before the green flag waved, and I could have written this at that moment, without changing any thoughts. I knew what was happening and why. Those three teams were “in”, not with wins, as none of them had any, but with points. It’s never been necessary to win to be in or even win all the money. For the first three segments, all you have to be is 5th worst and you move on to the next round. Nice try Brian, but that is fact, not something conjured up because someone thinks it makes racing more exciting.
In that last segment, you don’t have to win either. All that is required is to finish ahead of 3 cars out of the other 39 in the field. That shouldn’t be too hard to do. Remember, everyone has teammates and some teams know how to use them.
I’ve heard and read folks damning each of the three JGR drivers, and I’d suggest that your anger and wrath is being wasted in the wrong direction. Kyle Busch evidently had enough “hate mail” on Monday to prompt a very simple tweet on Twitter. “Don’t hate the player… hate the game.” Still, some are misinterpreting the meaning of seven clear words. What he’s telling you is that the fault is not his… he is an employee, not a boss. I’ve explained that sequence to you many times. Although he gets all the glory when the team wins, the driver also catches all the flack whenever anything goes wrong. In this instance, Kyle (and Matt and Carl as well) is the “player.” The game is that accursed “Chase.” Does everyone understand those seven words now? Those drivers did what they were told to do because none of the three would be eliminated for riding and finishing in the back, but by doing so, they took away 3 positions that teammate Denny Hamlin didn’t have to worry about in his quest to be the 4th JGR car in the eight that would carry on at Martinsville.
Now then, let’s get down to discussing that elephant… the one sitting over there on the sofa. Shortly after the Richmond race in 2013, all manner of stuff hit the NASCAR fan, as I’m sure you’ll recall. The press conference pertinent to our discussion today was held on September 14, 2013… one day after the press conference explaining in NASCAR speak why Jeff Gordon would be the 13th Chaser in a field of what at that time was 12. I guess the biggest thing to come from that presser was that now infamous quote, “Because I can.”
The following is only a short excerpt from the second press conference, and the speaker here is Mike Helton.
"NASCAR requires its competitors to race at 100 percent of their ability with the goal of achieving their best possible finishing position in an event. Any competitor who takes action with the intent to artificially alter the finishing positions of the event or encourages, persuades or induces others to artificially alter the finishing position of the event shall be subject to a penalty from NASCAR.”
"Artificially altered shall be defined as actions by any competitor that show or suggest that the competitor did not race at 100 percent of their ability for the purpose of changing finishing positions in the event at NASCAR's sole discretion."
Gentle readers, that couldn’t be more clear if it were made of Steuben Glass, except of course for the obligatory CYA of the final three words, “NASCAR’s sole discretion.” That translates loosely to, “It’s our circus and we get to pick the clowns.” Upon reading that for the first time, three years ago, this scribe just laughed and laughed. Have you ever seen a bigger loophole written into anything? If it were a sink-hole instead, it would easily hold the contents of Lake Superior!
What happened on Sunday was also crystal clear. JGR has 4 cars still chasing. Ho hum! Did anyone but me notice that 3 of the top 5 finishers were FORDS? (First On Race Day) The dominant car in the race, driven by Brad Keselowski, the guy that led by far the most laps… blew a motor or it would likely have been 4 out of 5. In second place was rookie Brian Scott, driving for the remnants of Petty Enterprises, RPM. Stunning race young man. Congratulations! That’s one of those wins I mentioned earlier. In many cases, one doesn’t have to finish first to win. Congratulations also to another FORD driver, Ryan Reed, who made his Cup debut on Sunday driving the #99 Roush-Fenway FORD. Before anyone asks, I drive a Chevy Cobalt…
Anyone care to guess what one of the first headlines I saw this morning might have been? “Ford hasn’t won at Martinsville since Kurt Busch won driving for Roush-Fenway in 2002.” Keep spinning and maybe one day someone will think to spin some new clothes for that naked little emperor… or not.
For those that have the stomach for such things, this link will take you to the entire transcript from that press conference:
Oh, and that’s not all. This scribe comes to a gunfight fully loaded. This link will take you to a video of the same press conference, where you can hear for yourself what all parties had to say on the subject of giving 100%. It’s always good to have the truth on one’s side. It makes the argument so much shorter.
Finally, this link delivers the reader to the comments made by NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell on SiriusXM radio Monday morning.
“Ride a painted pony, let the spinning wheel spin…”
And now, as I told you in the beginning, today’s article serves a dual purpose. This final part pertains only to my followers on Twitter that receive my weekly links. I’m sad to say that I cannot… or will not be sending any more after this final one. The reason is that Twitter makes their rules to suit some, but not others.
For months, I’ve thought that someone out there really had it in for me. Why else would I be harassed by pictures of naked ladies? I’ve complained over and over to Twitter. It seems that if these extremely explicit suggestions are tweeted directly to me or if they follow me, then Twitter will accept a “report.” However, if they merely “Like” one of my tweets, then Twitter says they are within their rules and they can do nothing. It took me some time to figure out why these “ladies of the evening” were singling me out, but it finally dawned on me… I send tweets to multiple people at one time. Each of my tweets goes to between 7-10 people, depending on the number of characters.
What these little trollops… or their “handlers” are doing is using me to advertise for them. Within each “like” one finds lewd pictures, offers to do things I won’t mention here, but VERY explicit, and in a couple of cases, actual videos of sexual behavior. That might be fine with Twitter, but it’s not fine with me. I hope that each of you will take the time to bookmark my website:
Once there, please check out all that we offer on a weekly basis. All the race information we can think to give you is there on the Home Page. We have several great writers on site, not just boring old me. We have a Forum for discussing anything about racing… or swapping recipes or planting gardens… anything you’d like to talk about. No cussing please; that’s reserved for me. ~LOL
I will of course post my articles in the good old-fashioned way, giving title and link, but sent to no one in particular. Hopefully, that won’t make me so attractive to whomever seeks to use me as an advertising vehicle. The articles generally come out on Thursday, but occasionally, one will wait until Friday. Just check my time-line. I’m not leaving; I’m just getting smarter. For anyone that was annoyed, surprised or shocked to find any of that garbage from someone claiming to “Like” my post, I apologize. It’s none of my doing. I block each one I find, but that only makes it invisible to me. You, the target audience, can still see them. Sometimes, I hate technology!
That cute little banjo means it’s time now for our Classic Country Closeout, and no one is more classic to me than that Tennessee Plowboy, Eddy Arnold. When that man sings “I’ll Hold You in My Heart” this lady cries… every time. Here is a collection of someone’s idea of Eddy’s best. It has a lot of them, but it’s not perfect.
Here’s one that never gets the credit it should. It’s from the movie “The Kentuckian” and was the B-side of Eddy’s huge hit, “Cattle Call.” This is “The Kentuckian Song.”
Finally, this is the song that won me a bet with Dr. Matthew Gillian, 33-year evening D.J. on WSM Nashville, now retired. Matthew told me this song was recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford. After perusing all of my files, I told him that I did indeed have one recording of the song purporting to be Ernie, but it was from shared music and sometimes folks don’t get things quite right. Upon playing it, it was the same recording I had a couple of times over by the guy that made it a hit, Eddy Arnold. Neither of us ever found a recording done by Ernie Ford, but here is Eddy doing another big hit that was left off the “biggest hits” album, “Tennessee Stud.” The original hit for this song was done by Doc Watson and is a bit different than Eddy’s smooth voice and presentation. Me? I love them both.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!