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“Do you think it’s possible that somebody Mark Martin’s age can win a Sprint Cup?”
“Is it probable that someone as young as Joey Logano could compete at the sport’s top level?”
“Does your age give you an advantage over the younger racers?”
“Are you willing to work with somebody much younger than you?”
“Does your age give you an advantage over the older racers?”
Good grief! Have you ever heard so much discussion about how many candles are on NASCAR drivers’ birthday cakes? This is nuts!
I suppose since I passed the big 4-0 a couple years ago, I have begun to notice that more often than not, I fall into the “old fogey” category around many of my co-workers. But hey! I haven’t checked into any retirement community. My brain is still functional, and in this day of enlightenment, I believe I have something to learn from those who can text fifty words a minute.
So I’m not really sure why the populace, or at least the media, is seemingly convinced that age actually plays any kind of factor in racing. Tony Stewart has proven over the past few years that physical fitness is something you’ve got to work at, no matter if they call you a Young Gun or not. Back at Bristol, more than one driver said Austin Dillon’s maneuver of cutting down across the track in front of traffic was “stupid”… yet not one of them determined it was a direct result of his teenager status. Being a rookie? Oh yeah, that was agreed upon. But NASCAR doesn’t put that yellow sticker on your bumper because you haven’t passed the 30-year-old mark.
On the other end of the spectrum, NASCAR doesn’t issue license renewal tests to those drivers who have entered middle age. Nor are there bonuses paid out for every decade you’ve lived on the planet when the winnings are dispersed (Morgan Shepherd wouldn’t be selling off his assets if that were the case…)
The fact is, almost any question that centers around age — in regards to the ability to work with someone, compete against, and even win — is moot.
Cars are passed through inspection, seeing that they meet the required physical specifications to gain entry to the event. Drivers hop behind the wheel, and if they want to keep their job for any period of time, they have got to win. It’s a simple deal.
Now, would I choose to go roller skating for six hours, three times a week at my “advanced age,” as I once did in my teenage years? Probably not. But that has little to do with my ability to do so. I don’t want to.
Mark Martin, Ron Hornaday, and Morgan Shepherd want to race. Joey Logano, Austin Dillon and even young upstart Kyle Busch want to race — and all of them want to win.
Through varying levels of experience, ability, and social networking, they meet with different levels of success.
So let’s just put the whole thing to bed. Stop asking the question that has nothing to do with winning a championship.
The teams that have earned their way into the Chase all have awesome drivers behind the wheel. Maybe the one hoisting that silvery trophy over their head will be celebrating their fifth or their first visit to the head table come November. Whoever it is, they will be there because…
Their car was the fastest.
Their team made the fewest mistakes.
Lady Luck smiled on them over a 10-month span.
That driver is one of the best on the planet. Period.
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