Race Weekend Central

No Matter Who Wins the Cup, NASCAR is Going to Lose

Well, you can’t please everyone.

After all the excitement at Martinsville, you’d think that the Texas shootout might have ended up being a little more predictable. But, no. The NASCAR gods are not quite done messing with the fans this year. They seem bound and determined that a goodly section of the grandstand will be making lots of derogatory noises come the end of Homestead. I mean, can you come up with a potential champion for 2015 that will get everyone excited? No, really think about it. If you run down the list of Chasers, can you come up with a compelling reason for any of them to be the poster boy for our sport?

Kyle Busch. Yes, you’ve got to admire his determination—working through the pain of his broken leg suffered at the Daytona 500. He’s had an impressive second half of the season with four wins under his belt. But, it can never be fair to declare a champion for the entire year when that person missed half the season, injured or not. Argue all you want that the Cup actually goes to the team, not the driver, but it isn’t the No. 18 crew that gets to go on the late night talk shows. So, sour apples there.

Kevin Harvick. Can’t you hear the riots in Charlotte now? If the man responsible for taking out half the field at Talladega wins at Homestead, I’m thinking Stewart-Haas Racing headquarters will need to hire extra security. Despite his adorable kid Keelan providing consistent comic relief throughout the year, it’s just not enough to balance out the bone we got stuck down our throats a couple weeks ago.

How about Carl Edwards? Well…what has he done for me lately? I’m just not feeling it for the pilot of the No. 19 this year. He hasn’t thrown any foul balls, and at the same time I can’t come up with an astounding moment, either. Cousin Carl would make a possibly uncontroversial Cup winner. However, in the long run, that can be more detrimental to the sport than having your hero going down in flames.

The Penske boys? How about them? They are actually developing into a team of loud-mouthed brats who are driving a pair of dominant machines. Oh, we are loving to hate them. Which if they sprinkled enough fairy dust around at Phoenix it’s possible they will make the big show. And if you’re in the show, they would have an excellent shot of taking home the hardware. It has even felt like this is Logano’s year. However, when all of Martinsville gave Kenseth a standing ovation for straightening out the No. 22, it’s hard to imagine that the fans would be ecstatic over seeing Joey or Brad’s mug on everything NASCAR for an entire year.

Kurt Busch. Since the inception of the season, he’s been fairly benign. After beating the rap over beating his ex-girlfriend, it seems the elder Busch brother finally listened to his PR reps and worked on keeping his trap shut this year. However, in this particular year of holding sports figures up as examples of a court system and sports clubs gone awry in the moral values category, NASCAR simply doesn’t need even the hint of an unsavory personality taking his bows in Vegas. I can easily imagine a sighting of debris with three to go if Kurt is in the lead at Homestead.

Now, we’ve got the fairy tale stories: Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex, Jr. Ah, the storied veteran takes the gold in his last ever appearance as a Sprint Cup driver. Or, the driver who has driven for an unfortunate team and then was traded down to a nearly second-tier team, his girlfriend is fighting to beat cancer and he has managed to remain at the top of his game all year wins the one race needed to add his name to the record books for all time. Now, they both make the kind of headlines NASCAR desperately needs. You can’t lose with either one. Except for the fact that Gordon and Truex have both had the kind of year that is often dismissed in the grand scheme of things—very ordinary. Should one of them get the medal, the competitors and fans will forever be scratching their heads trying to figure out just what the previous 35 races were all about.

Well, there you have it. Eight drivers. Eight stories. None of them that ends holding up the Cup in Homestead will truly satisfy the public’s need for a fantastic tale to chew over on those long winter nights. How very disappointing.

Sonya’s Scrapbook

2012 Phoenix…The Fight

There comes a time in a veteran’s career where everybody starts to question whether they’ve got “IT” anymore. That they don’t care enough to take the risks to shoot themselves to the top. Well, late in 2012 Jeff Gordon answered the question when he bumped Clint Bowyer late in the Phoenix race, with a classic pit brawl ensuing. Ah, it was a great day.



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