As the 2017 Season Draws to a Close
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and as always a warm and cordial “Hi there” to our assigned reader from NASCAR today. So… what’s new in the racing world this week? When you look around, the answer is “Not much!” NASCAR has but two races left in 2017. IndyCar’s short season ended weeks ago. Formula 1 has a single race left after this week, ARCA is done for the year and NHRA winds it up at Pomona this week to end their season.
As soon as all that is done, it will be Thanksgiving and a month later, Christmas, though decorations and music relating to the latter have been in stores since before Halloween. Can you say “Overkill?” Then it’s New Year’s Eve and Day, and then… then comes J-a-n-u-a-r-y… the only month on the calendar with 90 days, or so it seems if you’re a race fan.
Keeping that aspect in the forefront, it makes me appreciate these last two races a bit more than most of the rest. The Martinsville race was probably the best race of the year, and had the possibility of giving this year a storybook ending, but that was snatched away on the front bumper of the #11. I gave up attending movies many years ago because someone decreed that they should all ended badly. I’m a dreamer that always wants to hear, “And they lived happily ever after.”
Then we had Texas, where the best thing I can say is that I was happy when it ended. Of course, I’m a bit puzzled as to where Happy Harvick found the horsepower to motor past Martin Truex Jr., the Master of the Mile-and-a-half tracks. I was quite confident that Kevin would make the “Show”, but thought it would be at Phoenix this week. Now we are all expected to be on the edge of our seats and breathing rapidly as the suspense builds as to who will accompany Kyle and Kevin to the Combat Arena Supreme known as Homestead-Miami. Count me out!
C’mon! Is anyone out there excited in the least by any of the contrived, controlled and manufactured bunch of BS we now are to call “Playoffs” because “Chase” didn’t work out so well? Nothing changed… but Brian’s mind. Those super brainy folks that test words for response told him that folks related better to Playoffs than Chase in a test sampling. Seriously, that’s the way it’s done… and our dictionary is to change, by decree! Looking back, I’d say the Lady in Black nailed it in 2004 when she started calling it “The Chase for No Sponsorship!”
Funny, I never thought I could be looking forward to Phoenix, but I am; the reason being that it’s NOT a 1.5-mile track. Homestead of course, is, and the fact that they call it graduated banking doesn’t save it from being as boring as watching grass grow, paint dry or cement harden. I guess by mid-to-late-November, the one thing it has going for it is that snow is at least very unlikely. Never say “Never.”
The 2018 schedule was released this week and really makes January look more inviting. As promised, there will be more “Enhanced” race weekends, another of Brian’s buzz words. In this case, it seems to drip of sarcasm, as a day has been taken away and nothing added. It defies logic and shows a lack of understanding the definition of the word to use it in this instance, but that’s never stopped NASCAR before. Actually, another buzz word would better describe the shortened weekends… “Encumbered.”
Being a denizen of the Eastern Time Zone, the 2:30 starts, which are the earliest on the new schedule, just mean that I’ll have to fix and eat supper during the race or dine “Fashionably late”, which is not on the agenda of this soon to be octogenarian. Who wants to eat supper at bed time? Thanks again Brian!
Your scribe is not at all sure what this means to us, if anything, but I’m reading that FOX is in talks, looking to sell a major portion of itself to Disney. Kind of makes me wonder what took them so long. We’ve had Mickey Mouse running the “Show” for years now.
The Texas overnight ratings are out and the 1.6 is UP from last year, which sounds hopeful until one reads that the race last year had 6 hours of rain delay before getting the cars on the track. That might have a bearing on why this year’s ratings were better.
Now then, something is bothering me… I mean really bothering me! In a sport that demands parity in all things, it surely does not practice what it preaches! Please, don’t anyone take this the wrong way. I like BOTH drivers and have no real favorite, but this is just so lopsided it hurts to watch.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is retiring after this season and he’s enjoyed a farewell tour that even King Richard couldn’t match. He’s been feted and featured at track after track and received gifts of great value throughout the season. A lot has been made of the fact that he’s “leaving on his own terms.”
Matt Kenseth is “stepping away” after this season, but didn’t find that out until late summer, when he was told he wouldn’t be returning to JGR. No parties, no fanfare, no farewells and no gifts for Matt. These two came into the Cup series together and have had parallel careers. Now they are leaving at the same time, but it’s very different being Matt as opposed to being NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” 15 times or so.
Over the years, Matt has enjoyed 38 wins to Dale’s 26. Top 5s and 10s… Matt – 180 & 325. Dale – 149 & 259. Matt has 20 poles to Dale’s 15. Oh yes, and Matt is a past Champion… the last Winston Cup Champion in 2003. Dale never won a Championship. His best ranking was 3rd in that same 2003 season, finishing behind Matt and Jimmie Johnson.
So… NASCAR, where’s the parity when it comes to drivers? All the love that’s being showered on Junior, but nothing for past Champion Matt? Blame it on the fans; I know you will… but the fans aren’t throwing the parties and buying the gifts… the tracks are, and many of them are owned by the same family that runs NASCAR. The guy running the show has gone out of his way to disparage Matt ever since he came to power in 2004 when Matt was the reigning Champion. He claimed that Matt’s Championship was “boring” and used that as an excuse to launch a system so badly twisted now that if it died, would have to be screwed into the ground for burial.
Another factor in this lack of parity comes from team owners. Rick Hendrick has stood behind Junior and allowed him to make the decisions as to when and how he’d retire. Joe Gibbs just told Matt his contract would not be renewed, and waited until the 11th hour to do it. I guess that explains Cousin Carl’s unexpected departure before this season even got underway. He must have peeked behind the curtain and saw what was coming.
Time now for our Classic Country Closeout and I’m sad to tell you that I guess royalties got in the way of the series, Stars of the 1950s, which we’ve been enjoying together. Sad, but this one won’t disappoint. If this isn’t the same show, it’s one heck of a good imitation, and listed stars are Ernest Tubb and Marty Robbins. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!