Cooked! (Confessions Of A Hard-Boiled Fan)
Cheekishly, I have to admit being relieved when Jim (McCoy) said he was a little burned out on the '09 season. I didn't want to be the first to go on record with it, but my friends, I am hard-broiled, well done, deep-fried, sauteed, charcoal-type done. With that, I can honestly look myself in the mirror and say it's not because my driver didn't make the chase. I knew THAT wasn't going to happen about a quarter way through. Also, it's not because the usual suspects performed to their usual high standards. Yet it would be nice to write another name on my winner's board every once in a while at the pub. No longer is it about Toyota winning races. That is a fact I have come to accept as part of the game. What is it that has made my bottom side tired? I am glad you asked!
Bobby LaBonte is a high-caliber driver. He won a championship under the old rules and dominated an entire season. It was more than consistency to me then. More grit was involved. Racing had to be balls to the walls every time you put rubber to track. Now, to watch him struggle is truly heartbreaking. My fear now is that Bobby will be caught up in this latest NASCAR trend of old timers being dropped like greased watermelons in July in lieu of the young studs. It is shameful that we consider him an old timer merely in his early 40's while we watch Mark Martin kick ass and take names at 50. Someone give Bobby a chance, in good equipment, and I believe there is still a lot of fire in the furnace.
Ray Evernham has ESP! How could anyone dispute that the man HAS to be psychic? In some strange way, I believe he saw the sinking ship known as Dodge when the economy first started taking a dump and took on Gillette as a majority partner. In turn, Gillette shot out of the cannon making promises that they had to know they couldn't keep, at least until more research was done on their part. Petty comes in, Ray steps out, cashes in, and is enjoying running his dirt track and even finding his way back to the driver's seat again. He saw the writing on the wall, took his money, and ran. Not to mention the fact he doesn't do a half-bad job in the broadcast booth either! Dodge, which use to be absolutely feared in the NASCAR community, is no more now than a fart in the wind, robbing good drivers of showing their potential.
I also hope that Richard Childress finds "the stuff" during the off-season. Something is amiss there and I don't know if it is in his engineering staff, resources, or just general shop staff that is missing the boat. He gets good stuff, but isn't producing, and the questions that needs to be answered is "why?". Harvick is good, Burton is good, Bowyer is okay, but the "wtf" moment for him is why would he put Casey Mears on the payroll? Proof that a last name doesn't make you a good driver and I think Jack Daniels sent the message by pulling sponsorship. Now there is a question whether RCR will field four teams for 2010. Three or four, I just hope they find their mojo and get back to producing what fans were use to seeing out of this organization.
In the NASCAR Bible, the "Top 35" rule should be referenced in the index as "tool of the devil". Since its implementation, it has been obvious that the quality of racing has gone down, qualifying is more or less a formality, and some very good talent has been sent packing. What happened to racing your way into a race? Makes sense to me and it might self-alleviate the awful "start and park" situation we have going on at every event. Don't get me wrong, I use to root for Joe Nemechek. He was always the underdog, yet always found a way to produce a descent performance. Dave Blaney? Come on, he's from Ohio, so suck or not, I have a special place in my heart for him. Tony Raines I have never figured out, though. What is his deal and how is he still around? In the end, how do any of these guys attract sponsorship potential when they only run 20 laps? These guys need to have a sit down with the powers and instructed in not so nice terms that you either show up and attempt a whole race or don't bother showing up next week. When they park it because of the "transmission" or "brakes", let the inspectors take a look at their cars to verify instead of letting it be an excuse to poop out. No one likes a quitter.
In the end, I beg of NASCAR to shorten the season. We are now getting too much of a good thing and it is more like being force-fed chopped liver in the morning. Could I change the channel? Sure! Yet it's like that bad auto accident you pass on the interstate.. ..you know you shouldn't look, but can't help it. (Trust me, I know all about this) I also, am a fan, and suffer with the rest of you. I'm talking about hacking the schedule, just knock five or six off...breathe a little bit. If they still wanted championship weekend in November at Homestead, issue more off-weekends in between, just don't use up too much water before the well runs dry.
Concur if you wish, disagree by your own right. Racing has been about as eventful as watching paint dry, or grass grow. In my heart, I believe NASCAR has realized this and will find ways to tweak the car, make it right, make it fun again, and dirty up racing just a smidge to get us back in the groove...and the seats. After all, in the end, WE are what make racing go around.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|