Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Texas Testing, Kyle Petty is Testy & “Creative Arrangements”

Thanks for the Qs this week, everyone. This is the place for them, be they questions, rants, comments, ideas or tongue-lashings. As always, I’m interested to hear what you have to say. It’s your submissions, after all, that keep this column up and running.

And David, if I fail to mention it later, thanks for not only making the observation, but standing up and saying something.

Q: The Texas race was nap-inducing. Why didn’t NASCAR take (Texas Motor Speedway president) Eddie Gossage up on his offer to let the teams test at the track? When Jeff Gordon and his team are that far off, you know there are other teams really struggling with the Car of Tomorrow on the 1.5-mile tracks. – Jonathan Hembry

A: Time. Money. In the interest of a level playing field (whatever that means) it may have been difficult for lower-budget operations to make the impromptu trip. Mostly, though, I’d say stubbornness. NASCAR allots five tests (excluding the January Daytona dates) at Cup-sanctioned facilities in Las Vegas, California, Phoenix, Pocono and Lowe’s in September, and it seems there is no interest in straying from that schedule.

Judging by the tire issues at Atlanta and the nature of the intermediate track events thus far, opening up an upcoming 1.5-miler, say, Lowe’s, since it’s up next, doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me. Lowe’s would actually be the perfect place to shake some bugs off. It’s right in every team’s backyard so the cost, time, stress and fatigue a test normally involves would basically be eliminated. It’d help Goodyear a ton, as well.

Don’t see it happening, though. Much like the minor tweaks to the CoT that many crew chiefs have lobbied for, NASCAR will hold firm on it’s testing policy.

Q: I don’t root against Petty Enterprises, but I was secretly tickled when Chad McCumbee failed to qualify Kyle Petty‘s car for the race. Serves the brass right for pulling him out of the car. I have to think that Kyle got some satisfaction out of it. My question: Do you believe Kyle was serious when he said he would go elsewhere if he did not fit into Petty Enterprises’ plans? – Betty Crocker

A: Nice touch of irony there, “Betty.” Honestly, I was not standing next to Kyle in the garage when he made his, “If there’s not a place for me here,” speech, so I’m not going to speculate on how serious he was. From what I’ve been led to believe, Kyle had some steam to let off and the first mic that was placed in his grill got cooked.

See also
Voice of Vito: Is Petty Enterprises Circling the Drain?

There are serious issues in the Petty camp and they need Kyle in some capacity to continue with the organization. However, you have to ask, and I say this with the utmost respect, what championship-level team would make on offer? And if it’s not a championship-level race-winning outfit, what’s the point?

There is a point to this next question. A real good one.

Q: Hey Matt. Concerning Amy Henderson’s comment in the “Who, What, Where, When, Why & How” article in the Frontstretch newsletter, this quote was worth mentioning:

“Why, can’t they have a military band perform the National Anthem every week? Well, except for the week the drivers’ children sing, anyways. This week’s rendition was simple, beautiful, and did not feature “creative arrangements;” it was just The Star-Spangled Banner the way it was meant to be heard: sound-moving and unfettered.”

All I can say is, “Hallelujah!!! I’m right there with you sister…”

“Creative arrangements” really, really turn me off. Every time I hear a “creative rendition” my heart gets sad and I leave the room, coming back only in time for the fly-over of military planes. You want to make an impression singing the National Anthem? Sing it PURE. Unadulterated. No B.S. (It’s hard enough to sing it anyways.) Keep up the good work! – David (aka “Racergiant”)

A: Couldn’t agree with you more, David. A Great Uncle of mine who I was very close to passed away recently. Uncle Ray was a proud member of the United States Marine Corps, served as a USMC Active Reserve for over 20 years and was a member of the local VFW. He never let us forget how lucky we were to enjoy the freedoms this great nation provides.

He conveyed his pride and patriotism through action, not guilt-inducing speeches. Uncle Ray even had his granddaughter sing the National Anthem before the horseshoe tournament at our annual family reunion (yes, us Kentucky boys take our shoes as seriously as our basketball). He was also one of the most compassionate, caring and personable men I’d ever met.

While at the visitation and funeral service, I was struck by the outpouring of patriotism. Marines in full regalia. Taps. The folding of the flag. It made and emotional time even more moving.

We often take the National Anthem, performed prior to a sporting event, as routine. It’s just part of the show, right? But it’s not meant to be taken as such and it’d be nice for those performing it to realize that it isn’t about them, their image or how creative they can get with it so we’ll remember their name and face. Uncle Ray never took the playing of the National Anthem for granted because he knew its true meaning.

One other note while we’re on the topic: I’ve always been struck by how, at the track’s media center, the room falls silent when the Anthem is played. Although the rendition is being broadcast through closed-circuit television, much like if you were watching in your living room, the place goes dead quiet, fingers cease typing, small-talk stops and hats come off.

It’s good to feel that sense of pride sometimes, you know? Especially in these confusing and troubled times.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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