The Frontstretch: Champions Don’t Need to be Told to “Fall in Love” by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday September 27, 2012

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Champions Don’t Need to be Told to “Fall in Love”

Voices from the Cheapseats · Jeff Meyer · Thursday September 27, 2012


Before we get started, here’s a bit from the “It’s about freakin’ time, life beyond NASCAR” file.

THE REAL REFS ARE BACK!!!! After last Monday nights total farce of a Monday Night Football game, which, by NASCAR terms, was akin to the infamous Indy Tire Debacle Race a few years back, I vowed never to watch another NFL game until the league settled its dispute with the REAL referees. Well thank goodness, my Sundays are now saved!

As you may or may not know, the dispute was over something like…the refs wanting the stripes on their shirts to run horizontally…or something like that. Whatever the case, the dispute is settled and I can safely continue my routine of watching football live, recording the race and watching it later in an hour, sans the commercials. Yeah, there are commercials in football too but they very rarely miss a restart! Not only that, unlike the race, if one game is boring or a blowout, I can always find another one to watch. Despite Brian France’s best efforts, NASCAR ‘playoffs’ will never supplant regular football.

I’m good enough, I’m strong enough, and doggone it, I love this track!

OK, enough about that…now back to ‘falling in love’.

I touched on this subject a few years ago, back when Denny Hamlin had a chance, right through the final race at Homestead, to win his first Championship but now it seems it needs to be re-visited. I’m talking about seeing a ‘sports psychologist’ in an effort to get your mind right. This bit from USA Today says a mouthful.

Forgive Hamlin if he has that far-away gaze this weekend. He’s falling in love. Well, he’s trying to fall in love. His affections, though, aren’t toward a person but a place — Dover International Speedway. Hamlin, who has won three of the last five NASCAR Sprint Cup races, has openly admitted that Dover is his worst track in the 10-race title Chase. Complicating Hamlin’s situation is that Dover is likely the best track for points leader Jimmie Johnson, who has won four of the last seven races there, including the June race. Hamlin is third in the standings, trailing Johnson by seven points. It is for such mental hurdles that Hamlin first consulted Bob Rotella, a sports psychologist, last year.

As he sought advice on Dover this week, Hamlin challenged Rotella to give him something extra meaningful. Hamlin revealed a text-message exchange he had with Rotella to a handful of reporters Tuesday during a NASCAR Hall of Fame appearance. Hamlin first texted Rotella: “I need some positive influence on the week coming up. It’s my worst track.” Rotella responded: “Let your challenge for the week be to fall in love with this track. From the moment you arrive look at things to love about it and reasons to love it. All week look for things great and special to happen to you. Embrace the challenge of having your best attitude that you’ve ever had this week. Take pride in showing yourself how strong your mind is. Own your mind and own the race track that you race. Control your attitude and let your emotions own the world. Have fun.” Simple enough, yet so hard to do for any driver, let alone one like Hamlin who has had two top-10 finishes in his last 10 starts there and an average finish of 24.2 during that stretch. (USA Today)(9-26-2012)


I said it before and I will say it again. If you need to be told to fall in love with anything to do with what you do AS A HIGHLY PAID PROFESSIONAL, especially a venue you ‘play’ at, you just don’t have what it takes to get it done.

I’m all for trying to improve yourself and striving to be better and all that but don’t you think that a more practical approach might be in order? Maybe something like, oh I dunno, something like going over and over all the little things that may have hurt you the last umpteen times you raced there?

The Good Lord knows that I’m no Jimmy Johnson/Chad Knaus fan but do you think for one minute that JJ and Chad have enjoyed the success they have by having to be told to ‘fall in love’ with anything? No, they already love what they are doing and they work meticulously at perfecting it until they seemingly have it down to a science.

I doubt any ‘sport psychologist’ ever got a call from Richard Petty, Dale Sr. or even Jeff Gordon. No, they just went out there and did it.

Real champions don’t need to ‘fall in love’ with something they already do for a living. No, real champions just bump you out of the way and go get it.

Good luck Denny Hamlin. I hope you find the love you are searching for.

Stay off the wall, (and off the ‘couch’)

Jeff Meyer

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Bill Groves
09/28/2012 05:14 PM

My sentiments exactly concerning both the former (NFL refs) and the later (Denny’s need to “fall in love”). I cannot for the life of me figure why a contending NASCAR Sprint Cup driver wouldn’t be able find it within themselves to accomplish the task at hand. Denny is basically admitting he can’t “Git-‘er-Done!


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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