Cheryl Walker · Tuesday March 15, 2005
My family and I live in modest surroundings. Our double-wide mobile home sits among older homes in a housing plan, near an old coal mining town in Pennsylvania.
Outside of our living room window we have a large birdfeeder my husband, Geary, constructed, that holds 50 pounds of birdseed. We get lots of Sparrows, Blue Jays, Starlings, Doves, Chickadees, Cardinals, and even an occasional Red-headed Woodpecker or Gray Squirrel. We enjoy watching the wildlife eating and squabbling over the seed very much.
We have a cat, Shawna, who has access to a screened-in porch that provides her a great vantage point to view the birdfeeder, and sits quietly looking at those birds with nothing but her tail twitching.
Now what does all of the above information have to do with racing? And more specifically, nothing being certain in racing?
We had an incident over the weekend that ties it together quite nicely. Shawna, the cat I previously mentioned, was out on the porch my husband screened-in, and was attacked by a Red-tailed Hawk. The hawk actually broke through the screen and tried to make dinner of our much-adored feline. Fortunately the hawk had misjudged the size and age of our cat, and, once on the porch, found himself being chased by her. As it was more difficult to get back through the screen with a cat attacking him than break through it in the first place, he was smashing and crashing wildly trying to find a way out. All of the commotion got my husband out there, rescuing the cat and releasing the grateful bird.
If he had been a bigger, older hawk, and if she had still been but a kitten, she would have been dinner for sure.
The point of all of that is to say that we were fairly certain that Shawna was safe on that screened-in porch. It never occurred to us that a predatory bird would launch himself through the screen to eat her. Unfortunately sometimes you find out that you were too complacent, and too sure of your safety.
Is it not the same in racing? As I was pondering the theme of today’s commentary, my son, Joshua pointed out that many of the drivers you’d hardly expect to be having problems are already within 100 points of those already being scratched off as contenders for the Chase for the Championship.
“What? What did you just say?” was my surprised response.
But Joshua backed it up with racing stats. The likes of Michael Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, and Kasey Kahne are in 35th and lower positions. And Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Matt Kenseth are barely holding on to positions in the low twenties.
I began to stammer that it is only three races into the season, and that it is too early to throwing around gloom and doom like this. That surely these amazing drivers with their great teams and strong sponsors aren’t going to languish back there for long; that they’ll turn things around in no time. That there have been times in NASCAR history when a driver started out with lots of problems, but by the time of the Pepsi 400, had pulled himself and his team together, and was contending for the championship.
But, depending on how you look at it, the seasons are shorter by ten races now. Teams really do need to come out into the new season at warp speed now, with little extra time for turbulence in their orbits.
I reflected on that for a while, as well as my husband’s shopping list, that now includes deer netting to reinforce the strength of the screens outside.
I guess it really is true: you can’t be too sure or too prepared, in many walks of life, racing, or even on your front porch.
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