NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fan’s View: Raking Up the Remains of the Season

Well, golly….

The conclusion to the 2009 Sprint Cup season was… expected. I’ve tried really hard for the past 24 hours to come up with something clever and insightful to describe Jimmie Johnson’s historical year – but it simply isn’t there. Much like the remains of my flower garden, all that lingers of his accomplishments in my mind are pictures of Johnson doing what he does best.

A flower garden? Yeah… try and follow along.

When I first purchased my home years ago, we were pleased to discover mature flowering shrubs throughout the property. The first spring, neighbors flocked to our yard to snap photos of their kids in front of the incredible forsythia. The yellow herald of the growing season was big back then. Now, it’s a massive hedge wrapping around the corner of the house where groundhogs and sparrows live. However, with time it no longer draws the attention it did then. We’ve become accustomed to its explosion of buds and the perfection of its wild mass.

Much like the No. 48’s fourth championship.

The first time Jimmie hoisted that Cup over his head, I joined in the chorus of, “It’s about time!” He clearly demonstrated everything physically and personally that NASCAR demanded in a spokesman. That easy smile charmed the cameras, and his killer focus on the track just blew away the competition. However, four years down the line, and it seems Jimmie’s perfection just isn’t making the dent in our attention span that it once did.

But… all things are not meant to be permanent.

It’s November, the month of my discontent. Most years, I find myself staring out the window at the leaden skies and a yard carpeted in way too many brown leaves. The flowers have long since faded into a tangled web of decaying vegetation. I direct my husband to have at it with the weed-whacker. We rake and compost, neaten and string the lights for the upcoming season. We shed the lingering effects of summer.

In Charlotte, the racing shops have emptied, too. Their inhabitants now escape to even warmer climates, clearing their heads in an effort to recoup. Before you know it, they’ll be back as part of a new year, a new set of races, even a few new teams. So despite a season highlighted by more negative stories than inspirational ones, we are left with the reality that we inhabit an ever-changing world. Beneath the dry, crackling leftovers of Johnson’s reign of perfection lurks the promise of tender, green drivers just waiting for the warm rays of spring to arrive.

But right now… winter is here. The glitter and noise of the track is gone, and both our televisions and our sofas will get a well-earned respite. The time has come for all of us to step back, hug our families and reconnect with those things in life that are truly important. The anger, frustration and disinterest in the 2009 year need to be dismissed, as they should be.

For soon enough, we’ll yearn for the roar of the engine and the pomp of pit road, just as I’ll be looking for those first crocuses popping through the snow. It’s a trio of expected changes – ones I feel will come with an unexpected turning of the tide in NASCAR competition.

You may not agree, especially right now… but there will be. For all things, good or bad, must come to an end; and for each ending, there is a new beginning. That gives me great hope.

So from my humongous pile of leaves, I bid you adieu. Have a happy holiday season, and I will return with the first green flag of the new and, hopefully, improved 2010 NASCAR year.

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