The Frontstretch: Hope Springs Eternal For This "Casual Fan" by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday February 14, 2008

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Hope Springs Eternal For This "Casual Fan"

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday February 14, 2008


When I started this writing gig a few years back, I made it clear to all who took the time to read that I consider myself a fan first and a journalist second. I was just an average schmuck sitting in a tavern, watching the races, and arguing with my buddies over who started the most recent crash and, more importantly, who was going to pay the tab. A lot of readers seemed to identify with that image, and while my “I agree with Jeff” t-shirts never did quite sell out, the popularity of this column seems to have grown.

It has grown to the point that, in recent years, my Editors have insisted that I come across more as journalist and not the beverage swilling, NASCAR redneck that I used to be. Since they are “Editors,” I usually try to allow them their delusional fantasies and let them believe that they have, in fact, reformed me.

The Bud Shootout has given the ‘casual fan’ renewed hope for the 2008 season.

I say "NASCAR redneck I used to be" because when I started this gig, I "had it bad." Do you remember when you "had it bad"? When you couldn't bear the thought of missing a Sunday broadcast? When you secretly, until recent years, were upset with your mom because it was Mother’s Day and there was no race that weekend? Those were the days!

However, for the last couple of years, I, like so many others that have taken the time to comment on the fine articles here on The Frontstretch, have lost a certain zeal for the sport we so dearly loved. We became the “casual fan” that Brian France so dearly coveted. Granted, we weren't the casual fan Brian had in mind… but that is what we had become.

To be brutally honest — something that I am apt to do after a few beverages — I was actually dreading the start of the racing season this year. Once again, I would be facing weekly deadlines, screaming Editors, and all the apathy that comes with such things. Now, however, I find myself in a state of excitement that I can honestly say I haven't felt for quite some time.

Why the sudden change? I watched the Bud Shootout.

I didn't watch it because I had great expectations going in; I watched it more out of obligation because I figured that I might have to write something about it which, of course, I do! Imagine my surprise!

As I watched the Shootout, I found myself in a quandary. I really wanted Junior to win because A.) I wanted him to show what he can do in primo equipment and, B.) I really am not too fond of Jimmie Johnson. On the other hand, I found myself cheering for Tony Stewart, because I really want to see the Toyotas do well this year.

There are a couple of reasons why I am not on the "I hate Toyota" bandwagon like so many other newly formed “casual fans.” First and foremost is because I am a Dale Jarrett fan. The second is that, other than a nose, an engine, and a decal — as Robby Gordon so recently has proved — there is no difference between the ‘spec' cars that are now raced in the top series. Why a hate a manufacturer when you can’t tell the difference between them?

To my delight, not only did Junior and the Toyotas do well, but in my opinion, the racing was almost spectacular. There was no single car “parade,” as is often the case at Daytona. In fact, as much as it might pain me to say so, the new “car,” as NASCAR's CEO so eloquently called it, seemed to race extremely well. So well, in fact, I recently surprised myself by actually saying that Kurt Busch did an awesome job of driving while being spun late in the race. I hope that these characteristics of the new "car” carry on throughout the year.

When you add it all up, I find that I have a new enthusiasm for the upcoming season. Couple that with what can only be construed as the closest thing we new “casual fans” will ever get to an apology for being shunned by France in the past—his remarks about getting back to basics last month — and 2008 may just be the year we all start to "catch it" again.

Make no mistake about it though, while you may see a newly optimistic approach in this column throughout the year, I will NEVER give up pointing out the ineptness of the "Big BF," as I so fondly like to call him. There are some things that even I can't fake!

Stay off the wall, and enjoy the season!

Jeff Meyer

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Today on the Frontstretch:
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©2000 - 2008 Jeff Meyer and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

02/14/2008 12:05 PM

Well you seem to have lost something in your travel to the “casual” fan that you now claim to be. that is sense! root for a toyota in any way shape or form should be a mortal sin!! After 49 years of supporting nascar, I am less than the “casual” fan. Have given up the 6 races a year that I attended and spending that went with it. Now when I even bother to watch it is just to root against toyota and believe me the hondas are soon to come. No wonder this country is going to hell in a handbag!!

Lunar Tunes
02/14/2008 01:00 PM

Fords made in Mexico….
Dodge owned by the Germans…..
Toyotas made in America…
Whats the difference?
Like he said, they are all spec cars anyway. Thats what the ‘S’ in NASCAR stands for…SPEC

02/14/2008 01:02 PM

It’s narrow-minded stupidity from people like john-boy that is sending the country to hell in a hand bag.

02/14/2008 01:38 PM

Great Article! I too am actually really looking forward to this season! Cold Beer and BBQ on Sunday….

02/14/2008 11:50 PM

Why do fans complain about Toyota so much? As you say in your column Jeff, the cars are all pretty much the same. I believe Dodge will be out of racing soon in light of their financial issues. Then what? There would only be two makes on the track if Toyota wasn’t there. To me, it’s all about the driver. Who cares what he drives.
By the way, I like the Big BF comment. You can make the initials stand for alot of things. lol
Go DJ on Sunday!!


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.