Race Weekend Central

Happiness Is… Cornucopia, The Draft & Congress

Happiness Is is more than happy to put that lackluster display of racing, aka Talladega, down to memory. While the continued goal here is to find the positive side of motorsports, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so with the superspeedway in Alabama. The fact that the Cup race made sure to end with a debatable finish just adds to the fun. Ugh.

The interesting positive that came from Talladega was qualifying. In fact, some might argue that Cup qualifying was more captivating than the race. Those in charge ofNASCAR are continually ripped for the changes they make to the product, but it seems like this one has turned out pretty well. It still seems like there’s a bit too much dead time during the process, but for knockout qualifying running through its inaugural year, it seems to be doing pretty well — both at the track and on TV.

Here’s some other positives.

Happiness Is…Cornucopia. Last weekend felt like the doldrums. With the unsatisfying race on Sunday there was little place else to go to scratch the sports itch, unless you’re an NBA fan.

Well, that was last weekend. This weekend, get the DVR rolling. To start, the Truck Series awakens from its spring slumber to hit the track at Kansas. Happiness Is would love to spout some fun reasons to watch, like so-and-so is leading the points, or so-and-so did well at Kansas last year, but it’s been so long since they were on track that it’s tough to remember any of that stuff and looking it up would require opening another window and searching and all that nonsense. It doesn’t matter; they’re back!

On Saturday, IndyCar debuts the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Some traditionalists have had problems with the track opening itself to yet another something that isn’t the 500. That’s one perspective. Another is that, at the very least, the race should be interesting just because it’s new. More importantly, how cool will it be to watch the cars race down the frontstretch in the wrong direction? It’s worth giving it a peek for that aspect alone. In other Saturday news, those Cup guys are racing or something on that night.

To fill out the weekend, Formula 1 jumps back to the Europe for its stint of bouncing about that continent. The race in Spain should be the indicator of whether or not anyone will challenge Mercedes, who at this point looks like they could run away with the championship. Looking at you, Red Bull and Ferrari.

Is IndyCar primed to put on a solid show in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis?
Is IndyCar primed to put on a solid show in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis?

Happiness Is… The Draft. Yay, the Houston Texans selected Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick of the NFL draft — that is exactly what Happiness Is predicted. What, you didn’t read that post? So what’s the happiness here? The fact that after two months of draft babble, we can finally move on in the news cycle. Holy moly, it just seems to go on forever. Maybe there’s a chance, that, you know, some racing might actually get featured on the mothership of sports.

Happiness Is… Congress. Oh, that wonderfully functioning cog in the government. Happiness Is tends to stay away from the political arena and the whole sordid mess. There’s only three topics that generate debate without fault: politics, religion, and the Chase. But here’s Congress again sniffing around the National Guard sponsorship and its worthiness.

It seems that they’ve discovered that plastering Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s car has not influenced people to enlist. While there are all kinds of views to take on that (much of it owing to demographics and viewership statistics), there’s a whole other slant to be taken.

Congress is worried about the $8-10 million they spend on Jr. OK, that makes sense as that seems like a fair amount of money. But hey, where’s the congressional oversight on the F-35 fighter plane that has become the very definition of a money sinkhole and has cost billions? Maybe they shouldn’t be looking at that sponsorship as much as looking at some other practices that might put more money into education and other domestic concerns.

Nah, that would make too much sense.

The National Guard-Earnhardt relationship is one that smacks of the organization saying, “Hey, look, we’re doing something,” while they go about doing very little.

Happiness Is… Politics. Happiness Is is happy to stop discussing the dysfunction of government and return to racing.

Happiness Is… Kurt Busch. Have you noticed that Busch has been relatively quiet lately and has even flown (not in an F-35) under the radar? It’s rather surprising. Maybe putting himself in a solid position to make the Chase has calmed him a bit and he’s logging laps and experimenting, though that would smack of overconfidence, as that team hasn’t been running super strong. It doesn’t matter; get ready for the media onslaught.

Kurt Busch has already done his rookie orientation at Indianapolis Motorspeedway. Next weekend, he continues to tackle the double (Indy-Charlotte) by racing the Sprint All-Star race and then attempting to qualifying for the 500 the following day. Expect the hype machine to start making its motor whirr beginning this weekend. Good for Busch. Though he’s not likely to win either race, anyone who attempts the double deserves some respect.

Happiness Is… Keselowski. Brad Keselowski sure is making life difficult for himself these past couple weeks — and we’re all the better for it. First, Keselowski seemingly races better when he’s got his mind bent with some kind of anger or slight. Second, the sport needs some kind of anti-hero, or villain, or someone who isn’t going to get out of the car and give the industry standard Jeff Gordon-Jimmie Johnson interview. Whether or not Keselowski will continue on this path is one to watch, but for right now it makes for compelling entertainment.

About the author

As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.

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