Leaving Daytona and Looking Forward to Atlanta
It is with heavy hearts that Race Fans Forever bids a collective adieu to one of the greatest artists of our time or any other time. Sam Bass, NASCAR’s first “Official Artist”, was called Home to the Lord on February 16, 2019.
Sam was my friend.
That says it all. Rest in peace beautiful soul. I hope you can see now how very much you are missed by so many.
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and our usual cordial ‘Howdy” to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR on this cold, soggy and dreary day in the North Georgia hills. I’m pretty sure everyone reading this knows that the Daytona 500 was run last Sunday… and was even finished by a few… eventually. 21 Warriors were already in the garage or the scrap heap, while 19 actually “finished” the race, though only 14 of those were on the lead lap. Typical restrictor plate carnage otherwise known as idiocy! I truly wish all those that claim to “love” that sort of non-racing could be billed for the damage sustained in every “Big One”. That would serve to cool the ardor in a heartbeat. Denny Hamlin was the first survivor, but as was pointed out to me, didn’t get the gala trip to New York City that has been part of the prize for many years. I haven’t a clue on that one.
Your scribe realizes that you are all anxiously awaiting the dawn of this year’s latest and greatest “new package”, which is almost promised to cure all of the ills NASCAR currently suffers. Yeah, right! It won’t, and when it doesn’t, we’ll be told that there is still “tweaking” to be done, which is NASCAR speak for “we don’t really care what you think. We like it!” I’ve already addressed the great “tapered spacer” debate and other word games in so I won’t bore you with all that another time. Feel free to refresh your memory before moving forward.
Before we leave Daytona behind, there is one part of SpeedWeeks that I’d like to address in clear and unwavering terms.
The Thursday night Twin 150s or Dual Duels have outlived any reason to exist. Not only are they poorly attended, but they have been rendered pointless by the Charter System. That destructive little idea guarantees 36 cars a spot in the field, or to be more precise, 36 sponsors. Starting fields have been lowered to 40 cars for the Cup series. Entered in this year’s race were 42 cars, so six were not guaranteed to race. Among them, two got a spot on their Sunday qualifying time. That means that we ran 2 full races, always with the possibility of major destruction to some or many beautiful pieces of racing machinery, to place the final two back markers of the four cars remaining. That is ludicrous!
Here’s a novel idea NASCAR. Run the Cup qualifying on Thursday evening instead of the previous Sunday… you know, like every other race. The slowest two cars would have gone home and no one was forced to run an extra, meaningless demolition derby. Believe me when I say that those dual races are not looked upon with adoration by car owners. As a fan, I’ve grown extremely weary of waiting for the wrecks while praying they don’t happen, in races that are no longer relevant to the sport. They cannot legitimately abide with the Charter System. It takes away their reason for existence. Now, if the Charter System were to be revoked, then the races could remain and set the entire field, as they used to do. Honestly, if given my “druthers”, I’d be more than happy to keep the dual races and ditch the guaranteed spots in the Great American Race, or anywhere else for that matter.
If we look ahead to Atlanta, there are only 37 cars on the entry list. No one will go home, so why even bother to put them on the track to qualify? Ping-pong ball roulette is just as effective. Fans don’t come to qualifying anymore. The Charters have made placement pretty much useless. Just cut a day off the schedule and set them by points or luck of the draw. That would save the teams some of that money everyone is saying we’re trying to spend less of.
And speaking of Atlanta, or in this case, North Georgia, we are at this moment being treated to a thunder storm… in FEBRUARY! It’s Tuesday afternoon as I type, but like everyone else hereabouts, I’ve checked the forecast for this weekend and the word “bleak” come to mind…
It is now Wednesday morning and the forecast has changed. There is hope for a race on Sunday. No promises for Friday or Saturday, but Sunday looks to be clear and Monday as well. Of course, this is the time of year when the forecast can change every ten-minutes or so. Atlanta is already down to a single race date and scheduling that one remaining race in February reeks of planned obsolescence. Why can’t NASCAR schedule that Western Swing of Las Vegas, ISM (Phoenix) and Auto Club… and maybe Texas while they’re out there, then come back to Atlanta and Martinsville? It’s still not really warm in March, but more doable than February. Methinks they might just want shed of us!
I’ll close this week with , written, I believe by his wife Denise. Godspeed Sam!
Our Classic Country Closeout this week is a single song and one of my all-time favorites done by my absolutely favorite singer. Here then, for Sam, is “Peace in the Valley” by Red Foley. At times YouTube amazes me. Following that beautiful song they are presenting a wonderful collection of Red’s hymns… the perfect send-off for a dear friend.
One last thought… nominations for the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be coming up soon. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that Sam Bass is more than deserving of a spot in that Hall for all the love and beauty he has created for this sport. His talent stands alone and unchallenged, and he did more than many could imagine for NASCAR and so many of the drivers in it, both past and present. To all my Twitter tweeps, let’s get this trending! #NominateSamBass!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!