Some Facts Are Indisputable and Some Folks Enjoy Being Unhappy
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and this is one of those times when I wish this column ran on Monday, not on Friday. However, after thinking that over, Monday was filled with a few hundred of journalism’s finest (?) stating their self-proclaimed infallible statements of how things went on the weekend. Most fell far short of the mark, in this journalist’s humble opinion, and this attempt no doubt will leave something unsaid and some readers wanting as well. So be it. “Pobody’s nerfect!” (Ron Felix, if you’re reading, it reads exactly as I intend it to read.J)… Ron was my “Boss” and editor at Insider Racing News many years ago. I tease him that the only thing he ever edited for me was that phrase… Pobody’s nerfect, and killed the whole joke.
Let’s start it off with some indisputable facts. Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500. Deal with it and get over it! When the winning car crosses that start/finish line, the race is over, and all of the “ifs, ands or buts” in the world will not change the outcome. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Move on to Atlanta and cheer your favorite there, but for now zip those lips. Daytona is in the history books.
Next indisputable fact… NASCAR racing, at all 3 levels, has some new rules. They were tested this past weekend at all 3 levels and everyone survived. The only problem this scribe found, and it seemed to permeate through all 3 races, was the unseen and therefore untrusted 5-minute clock. In our ideal sport (so I’m told), the NFL, they show both time clock and play clock. NASCAR, it’s not too much to ask that you do the same. Our races are not timed, but repairs now are. Show the clock and play fair.
The most prevalent fan complaint by far was exactly “When” that clock does or should start. I’m on the side of those asking that it start when the car enters its pit on pit road. In a few instances… and none of the races this past weekend lacked for instances for testing the new rules… it seemed that the clock started and pit road remained closed for a lap or two after we were told a car was on the timer. That does not compute. Give it a tweak on that point and make a lot of fans happier campers.
There is one point in the damaged car rule that your scribe doesn’t understand. That is the inability of a team to add new “sheet metal” to a damaged car. In my last offering, we discussed the fact that a car that damages a splitter is automatically out of the running, as it cannot be replaced in 5 minutes. Upon further review, that may not be the case. The rule, as explained several times over the weekend, only says you have 5 minutes on pit road to get it back up to minimum speed… which doesn’t equate to race speed. Then, you can come back to pit road without further recriminations and stay the afternoon if so desired. OK, if you say so…
Even so, it’s illegal to weld or pop-rivet a replacement part on the car… so under that part of what almost seems self-contradictory, you can’t replace that splitter… or a hood that’s lost its pins… or a fender torn off by another car… or anything else. You can rebend or remold with a sledge hammer to your heart’s content, but you cannot put a working and/or serviceable part on the car instead. Which type of repair is more likely to keep debris off the track? Your call; I know what my answer is.
I read an interesting fact this morning. Two long red flags, one in the Xfinity race and another in the Cup race, were caused when splitters became embedded in the SAFER barrier. It seems to this scribe those now well-hidden but still present little buggers are causing far more trouble than they’re worth. Why not just scrap the splitters altogether? While we’re at it, why not raise up those front ends and lose the fender skirts as well? Get the cars up off the track and watch the aero-push grow less or even disappear. That gentle readers, is yet another indisputable fact.
The one “rule” that wasn’t tested over the three days of racing is the one I questioned last week because of the severity of the punishment… that little almost hidden bit about too many men over the wall and you can pack up and go home. That one still seems to me to be more punishment than the offense calls for. Laps down, I’m OK with. We get the idea… don’t do that or you’ll regret it… but out of the race? Nope, there is still some ‘splainin’ to do on that one.
Now then, because it’s what I don’t get paid a plug nickel to do, I’d like to share some of my observations of things your scribe found disturbing over Speedweeks at Daytona, and right there is the first thing. It is SPEEDWEEKS! Take “Daytona Day” and bury it wherever you dug it up! Boardrooms don’t make sports better and have no business attempting to name things in any sport. Our sport is older than anyone in those boardrooms, and folks in New York City (!?!) don’t have a clue what to call something that has deep roots in the Deep South. Most folks down here would rather watch the Green fly over Daytona than the Ball drop in Times Square, and that’s the truth! We have parties and gatherings where bunches of us get together to watch the Daytona 500, but it’s about that Daytona 500 and never once have we called it “Daytona Day.” We know what it’s about; don’t try to educate us or change our way of celebrating. We are race fans… not “Day” fans. The race is the Daytona 500; always has been; always will be… “The Great American Race!”
My biggest disappointment of the entire weekend was the attitude(s) of some supposed “fans.” The atmosphere was far too negative throughout the weekend, but really crowned during the Daytona 500. Complaints were rampant about dislike for the 5-minute clock, the damage rules… all parts of it, the segments or “Stages” as we’re supposed to call ‘em, and probably a Mother-in-law or two tossed in as well… all the fault of NASCAR’s new rules, which most times went undefined. “I just don’t like ‘em!”
Once again, here are the facts… on all three days, what caused the delays or the fact that your favorite driver wasn’t out there wrecking again was not the new rules… it was the carelessness or outright stupidity of some of the nuts behind the steering wheels. On Sunday, one driver, whom I’ve always been fond of, was the cause of not one, but two long delays, and no, he shall not remain nameless. Jamie McMurray, I’m looking at you and asking, WHAT were you thinking? One would have thought you’d learn after the first time just how wide your car is and how small a space you cannot put it into. One would have been wrong!
None of the rules caused the long cautions or far too abundant red flags. Every time, the cause was driver error. Every fan, as mentioned, was mad, disgusted or distraught by something different, but the mood of the day seemed to be complain, complain, and complain. At one point, I told a couple of my gentle readers to write to Brian France, as I don’t get to make the rules… nor does he pay much attention to what I suggest. One of the ultimate statements came from someone I really don’t know, that wrote to suggest that it “Wasn’t fair to the fans to have a favorite driver removed from the race.” FAIR TO THE FANS? Is that why they race… to be fair to the fans? Sometimes, some folks jut confound me with such convoluted thinking… fair to the fans? Which fans would that be? Every one of them seemed to want something different! No one… not me, not Brian France… hell, not even God can please them all, all the time… because they all want something different.
And then Monday morning, came the perfect closer for this article. Someone posted how stupid the new rules are… and then went on to brag about how he never turned the TV on all weekend and didn’t watch a minute of any of the three races. So… oh gentle readers, that shot would be SO easy to take, but I’ll just let it hang there. There are times when I feel sorry for anyone named Brian France. There are times when I even feel sorry for anyone named PattyKay Lilley… because some people are just never happy unless they are unhappy, and neither of us can fix that.
Time now for out Classic Country Closeout and this week your scribe has chosen to entertain you with the distaff side of the Grand Ole Opry. This is a DVD simply titled “Queens of Country.” I do hope you enjoy the wonderful music and memories these Grand Ladies of the Grand Ole Opry bring you today.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!