Kyle Busch won the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Doesn’t that just tick you off?
It used to bother me, but somehow the predictability of who takes the checkers for the Friday and Saturday races has become somewhat intriguing, instead. If I’ve missed the race, I’ll ask, “So, who won?”
If the reply is along the lines of, “Do you have to ask?” I know it’s debatable if I must spend a few hours catching up on cars going in circles. Yet, I still have this curious need to watch Wonder Boy stand up and take a bow, again.
Perhaps, in some odd way, this guaranteed same ol’, same ol’ winner problem might be the key to the mysterious loss of ratings and attendance over the past few years on the NASCAR circuit.
There are many that would attribute the disappearance of fans to poor and boring racing. Well, let’s just face it. Way back when – let’s say in the ’70s and ’80s — the cars still ran 500 miles. The tracks were in the shape of an oval. And the same 10 drivers or so took home the trophies on a regular basis.
In fact, there was one driver in particular who piled up the hardware faster than anybody else. His name was Richard Petty, the King, one of the iconic figures in NASCAR’s illustrious history and now a member of our Hall of Fame.
It’s been said that if Petty was on the entry list, you wouldn’t wonder if he might win, but who would finish second. 200 times he banished his fellow competitors to the “try again next week” list.
Do you honestly think that all the fans in the stands cheered when Petty raced? Was it a good thing for the sport when he spanked the field week after week after week? How many people groaned out of frustration and disappointment for their own chosen hero?
History has painted Petty as a champion and thus those that are just arriving in our sport know only of the legend… the hat, sunglasses and cheesy mustachioed smile. The many afternoons spent chasing the dust of the next lap-down car are forgotten. We’ve dismissed the monotony of foreseeable outcomes and filed them under amazing feats.
When Kyle hit that impressive 50 wins in the top-three series marker last year, the idea of his future status as a Hall of Famer was bandied about at some length. Some argued when you’re the monkey in the well-oiled machine, it shouldn’t count. Others derided his well-documented lack of charm as a definitive black mark against the awarding of any such accolade.
Well, it’s a year later and he’s now the proud owner of an additional 20 trophies. Eight of those have been earned this year alone — two for his start-up truck team.
This has moved from the boredom of watching a kid have too much fun with his dad’s toys to a grudging stunned amazement. Yes, he stomped off in a typical display of Shrub ire on Saturday night after Hamlin did unto him as he has done to others. But, he wouldn’t be winning just about every week if he didn’t want that checkered flag as bad as he does. That anger is indicative of a commitment to go for it all as often as possible.
It’s indicative of a champion. Kyle Busch will earn that title time and time again, as he looks forward to the next decade doing what he does so well.
Behind the smoke and mirrors of fancy television broadcasts, the shiny paintjobs and multi-million dollar racing teams, we have learned to declare such victorious consistency as tedious.
It’s not. It’s history in the making. And that is thrilling.
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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