Race Weekend Central

Fan’s View: Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop, the Hendrick 200th Win Vigil

It’s gonna happen soon. Anytime now. In fact, it should’ve occurred last month, last week, yesterday. But it didn’t. In case you live in the backwoods of no-, never mind, Hendrick Motorsports has not logged their 200th Sprint Cup win – much to the disappointment of our friendly FOX broadcast crew.

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By now we all know about the stack of hats hiding in one of the Hendrick haulers with special embroidery, the potential bonus for whichever driver takes the checkers on the future date and now a montage created by the production TV crew just to celebrate the already legendary racing stable.

I get it. Winning 200 races at the Cup level is a big deal. I’m even fairly excited the hallmark will be achieved by Hendrick. I’m just tired of waiting. Or rather, perhaps I’m frustrated that the possibility has been trotted out for us to think about for at least a third of the broadcasts on Sunday’s races, only for it not to come to be.

Auto racing is a sport of instant gratification. We want everything to happen right now. We get a winner for each practice session, qualifying … even non-points events offer up bonuses for winning portions of a race. Only the points system is designed to stretch the average fan’s attention span out over the entire season. Otherwise, we tune in to see who will win today, not if a particular team will win.

Surprise and shock are key to this illusion of “anything can happen” feeling that is largely associated with NASCAR. Yes, there’s some predictability on watching a cookie-cutter event. There’s even a good chance we can pick a winner from the list of entrants. Or at least we like to think so.

However, the odds are actually against any particular driver on race day crossing the finish line ahead of his fellow competitors. It’s a one in 43 shot, if you want to count in even the teams that have no intention of running the whole race. One in 20 when we only count those teams that can actually execute a believable pass at any particular venue. That’s not too good. Even so, Hendrick has padded his end as much as allowable by the sanctioning body.

Thus, the fact we are all staring at each other wondering what could possibly be wrong with Hendrick, since they haven’t won in 14 races, is actually slightly out of kilter. Yes, Rick and his boys have pretty much owned the trophy room for the last 15 years, but we all know the good times can’t last forever. There’s going to be a drought at some point in a driver’s career.

Who knew it would hit the Nos. 24 and 48 at the same time? Counting on the No. 5 or the No. 88 to snare that celebratory victory is really pushing the odds. And it’s clear fate is not interested in bucking the odds right now.

Thus we’re stuck; no farther forward and incapable of stepping back. One-hundred ninety-nine blinks like neon with each NASCAR show we listen to or watch. The pain of repetition has been our constant companion for about a month, now. The destiny of the chosen sons is preordained! They will have 200 wins! Oh, the agony of it all.

I’ve decided to use a tried and true Boston Red Sox approach to the problem. The best way for me to enjoy the inevitable – for the bicentennial mark will happen – is to deny the possibility. For 86 years, we (Boston) watched our team fail to win a World Series and thus a fatalistic attitude was adopted by the locals: Don’t believe it can happen.

We didn’t believe. We really didn’t, not until the end of Game 7 against the Yankees. Whenever the local news station would trot out their analysts and tell us this was the year, we’d turn off the TV. It hurt too much to have any hope dashed again.

And so I shall. No more thoughts or excitement will be generated for the impending celebration. I’m not buying into it. There’s gonna be a race this Saturday night at Richmond! Great track. Usually great racing. Forty-three teams will parade before the green flag flies and there’s a good shot an MWR or Roush car will take the trophy.

I might even turn off the volume so I won’t hear DW harp on the topic of this column a few times more. And I’ll enjoy every minute of the silence.

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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