Did you see that?
Such is the question you often pose to your co-worker around the water cooler. If you’re a NASCAR fan, usually no qualifier is required as in, “Could you believe what Kyle did?” or “What else do you expect from Jimmie?” Those of us who are tuned into our sport already know what the question is, and our response has been prepared.
But an odd thing happened Monday afternoon, besides the workday presentation of our weekly racing fix-we watched a race that resulted in no controversy. As much as we might try to make something out of the many molehills, the fact is we were left with a bunch of post-race interviews where the drivers were a.) smiling or b.) simply accepting of the day’s happenings.
Huh. Well, what do we do about this?
That’s not to say we don’t have a few things to think about after the Samsung Mobile 500. We do. It’s just not the kind of stuff that will leave a sharp tang behind, the sort of battle that truly becomes part of history.
I certainly didn’t expect Denny Hamlin to bring his No. 11 Toyota to victory lane, more specifically after enduring that much talked-about ACL surgery. I rather expected him to be rolling around in agony. But no, this young gun dug deep and came up with the sort of grit and fortitude we only find in racing’s fiercest competitors. However, I doubt many will be discussing this moment in a year’s time.
Why? Because Hamlin certainly hasn’t acted like something significant should be keeping him out of his seat over the past two weeks. It’s been more like just another day at work, rather ho-hum if you ask me. Maybe a little bit of moaning, groaning and a spot of sweat on his forehead might have helped.
Oh, they were both yammering on their in-car radios about who should be giving who room. But when faced with the all-knowing microphone and a camera, both combatants turned into the prep-school boys they so excel at emulating. “No, we will not bash our teammate on-air. We will meet behind closed doors and work it all out.”
How polite… and disappointing. Not that I really expected anything less from the pair. They’ve been well-trained.
But hey! Didn’t we have a massive wreck that looked a bit more like we were running at a plate track, rather than Texas? Uh, yep. We did. It also started in a manner we most likely will see a repeat of next week.
Cautions breed cautions and there’s many a time when three or more drivers vie for the same piece of real estate come the fall of the green flag. It certainly didn’t look hopeful as Gordon, Tony Stewart, Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards all tried to make a move. I cringed when fenders met, cried as they started to slide and grunted as Juan Pablo Montoya’s engine tried to take over his cockpit. The No. 14 and No. 24 came to rest on the apron and it occurred to me this probably wouldn’t be pretty. After all, these guys had been going hell for leather and a disaster not particularly of anybody’s making had just crumpled their afternoon.
I moved to the edge of my seat. Gordon climbed out of his car, and he did appear rather grumpy. He stalked over to the Old Spice machine… oh boy, here we go! Tony dropped his net and started to extract himself. He stopped. Words were exchanged. Tony’s hand raised.
Would we see some emotional hand gestures? Fingers pointing? A little push?
It just wasn’t meant to be. Tony gave Jeff a little thump on the back and even a bit of a friendly squeeze on the shoulder. The two walked off to the infield care center like they just met their best friend after school. How boring.
So, yeah. It really was a good race. I enjoyed watching it. But I remain a bit befuddled.
Maybe I’m being greedy. Besides the door-to-door excitement, enjoying my driver leading the most laps and watching some serious competition among the top 10, after all is said and done, I seem to be wishing for something just a little bit more from Monday’s race.
When I’m standing around that water cooler this week, I have only one response prepared for the eager co-worker ready to tear apart Hamlin’s victory… “Can’t we talk about something else?”
About the author
The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.
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