NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Chasing Kahne, Talladega Talk & a Return to Richmond

Those of you who are regular readers of this column have heard me mention my wife, Rachel, over the last few months. We’ve been married since Martinsville in the fall and are still in that stage where we’re learning the nuances of one another’s interests, often inquiring to clarify this or explain that. As I wrote a couple of weeks back, she’s a dancer (no, not that kind… she’s a modern dancer and instructor). Anyway, she happened to be in the room during the pre-race show last weekend in Talladega and heard the boys in the booth use the term “dancing partners” a few times.

Of course, us NASCAR guys ‘n’ gals don’t think twice about slang like this… it’s just part of the lexicon. However, after the third usage she looks at me – as sincere as could be and with a touch of naivete – and says, “Why do they keep talking about dancing during your race?”

The second she finished, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and go into an explanation of “drafting” that she could understand, but one that would have made Diandra Leslie-Pelecky cringe. It also struck me as funny that it’s “my” race, not a “NASCAR race” or “the Talladega race.”

I laughed aloud again, 20 minutes later, when she gave me a “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard” look as DW belted out a trio of Boogitys.

Hey, it’s DW; whatd’ya gonna do?

OK, on to your emails. If anyone would like to pass along a copy of NASCAR for Dummies while you’re at it, I would appreciate it.

Q: Whose great idea was it to have these GWS (Green White Starts) at the end of each race? It is nothing more than a number of cars being destroyed and drivers being deprived of winning after being up front for 90% of the entire day. Not only that, but the race is extended for more laps and overtime for the spectators who are now getting bored. Let’s go back to REAL RACING !!!!!! I think if a poll were taken, there would be a majority of fans who will agree. – Lorraine

A: I can’t speak for the majority of fans, but I know for a fact there are many that see the multiple green-white-checkered finishes as contrived excitement. I would tend to agree, too.

I understand NASCAR’s decision to go to this format. The sanctioning body’s line of thinking is that with multiple restarts at the end, the “drama factor” will spike and entice viewership, which, in turn, increases ratings and therefore ad rates. It also seems to be a move that proves they’re serious about this “Boys, have at it” proclamation, which was meant to bring back the old diehard fans they’d lost after nearly a decade of attempting to go white collar.

The problem lies in the fact that, in its effort to get back to a more rough ‘n’ tumble atmosphere, NASCAR once again overreached, the same as when it tried to sanitize the sport and ended up neutering it instead. True fans of stock car racing don’t need the gimmicks, and that’s where multiple GWCs turn them off. It’s manufactured excitement. It’s manipulation. It’s arranged.

And make no mistake, the drivers don’t enjoy circumstances such as these, either – particularly at Talladega and Daytona (and another dirty little secret: they don’t like double-file restarts). A restart at the end of a race was always a free-for-all, but with multiple GWCs and double-file restarts, it’s now a game of roulette… and at Talladega, it’s more of the Russian variety than the Vegas.

As for what I think, one GWC is enough. Let ’em give those in attendance a single, true attempt at a green-flag finish… but three? That negates the legitimacy of the previous 499 miles. And in many ways, the sport as a whole.

I’m sure some of our readers will be so kind as to let us know what they think below.

Moving on, our Bud Boy is in for the third week in a row:

Q: Ha! Looks like Bud might follow my boy after all! Kasey [Kahne] is too much of a sponsor’s dream to not attract the powerhouse sponsors. He’s a pretty darn good driver, too. Any scoop on the Bud and Hendrick talks that were reported at Talladega? – 9 Fan Soon to be a 5 Guy

A: By my count, Budweiser is one of only 11 primary sponsors that don’t split time with another company on the hood of one of these hot rods. That alone makes it a more valuable commodity than anything this side of hair regrowth formula within the No. 48 team. Therefore, every owner with an opening (and some without) are going to talk to them. And Bud, being the last 5’10” blonde without a prom date, is going to let every eligible suitor in the school wine ‘n’ dine ‘em.

In short, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Budweiser follow Kahne – I’d say Kasey’s hood is the leader in the clubhouse – but I wouldn’t be all that surprised if it ended up somewhere else, either. And let me stress: That’s my personal opinion, not a factual nugget.

Q: [Kevin] Harvick comes across as petty when he makes comments like he did in victory lane about Shell leaving. It’s business, Happy; you of all drivers should know! What good does slamming your sponsor do even if they’re leaving? Doesn’t that make finding another one even harder I’m normally not a Harvick hater, but I thought he was out of line this time. – James, Corbin, Ky.

A: You refer to his “Our sponsor’s leaving and the best part is they can leave while we’re winning” quip from Harvick Sunday. I didn’t think it was that austere, considering the source. You could also read into it another way, as in, with our sponsor out the door, this win will help us land another.

Harvick always seems to have a biting comment in the chamber when need be and that, in my opinion, wasn’t one of the classics. The “I’ve got a Common Sense degree” shot at the media a couple days prior is the one that sticks in my craw for the time being. But hey, that’s just Kevin.

And finally, it’s good to know someone enjoys the video links each week. It seems I’m taking requests now.

Q: Loved your Dale/Darrell reference to Richmond last week. With Richmond week on us, could I suggest your video link be of that race ending? It never gets old! Ah, the good old days! – Jacqueline Timmel, Missouri

A: If you’re new to the sport or just don’t date back to 1986, please devote the next eight minutes of your life to watching this clip. You’ll be a better NASCAR fan for it. And if you’re old school and have seen this highlight 700 times already, I won’t have to coax you to do so again.

Thanks for your time once again, folks. Enjoy a good ol’ fashioned short track Saturday night this week.

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