Pop quiz! Who won on Sunday? Quick.
Did it take you more than a few seconds to draw up the proper answer? Well, don’t worry. It happens every year, at least for as long as I can remember. In fact, with or without a Chase, we always run into this failure to retain facts wall in the final races of the extended Sprint Cup season. It becomes incredibly hard to focus on the reason we head out to the track every week. The cameras stray away, chat rooms are clogged with holiday recipes and Twitter is filled with mention of vacation destinations. Everything else is about who will sit at the head table in Las Vegas.
So, somehow we lose track of the latest weekly winner. That was Carl Edwards, in case you had forgotten in the blitz of all the flashbulbs exploding in the final three’s faces.
In fact, had this been the middle of May, we’d all be talking about what a momentum builder Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500k was for the No. 99 Aflac Ford. Cousin Carl didn’t just win, flip out on the start/finish line and hug a few hundred fans in his enthusiasm; he took Avondale for everything it was worth and cashed in the chips, leaving the rest of the field looking at pocket lint.
How good was he this week? First practice, he won that. Pole position, added another trophy to his display case. Happy Hour, oh yeah, nothing could catch him. And then, just to warm up for Sunday, rode off into the sunset on Saturday and stole another win from the Nationwide Series regulars. Of course, all this followed last week’s true momentum-setting Nationwide victory at Texas.
Seems like a couple weeks of racing that’s worth talking about, doesn’t it? If so, then why is it so difficult to remember the end of Edwards’s 70-race winning drought?
The problem is, like the fans climbing over the ones hugging Carl, we’re all heading for the exit and aren’t really interested in savoring the remarkable at this instant. We’re tired. The hum of the engines has turned into white noise and we’re ready for that winter nap.
This isn’t a result of a racing series that continues to struggle with ratings, or a playoff system designed to create advertising dollars, or even the lack of a new face in the top-15 competitors. The real problem lies in the fact we’ve been tracking our teams for 10 months. We’re promised a great big party at the end of the marathon, but let’s face it, we’ll be grateful just to cross the finish line.
What the No. 99 team accomplished should not be dismissed, although it unfortunately will be. Edwards should have the chance to wallow in that rare feeling racers get just before their wings touch the sun. But he won’t. Already, they are ironing the linens and polishing the place settings on the Vegas Strip. Homestead has painted the walls, filled the confetti cannons and summoned all members of the media to the crowning of the next Sprint Cup champion. I can hear the band warming up in the wings.
I can also picture a Sunday without a race. And right now, that is holding more appeal than anything that’s happened in the last 10 days in NASCAR or could possibly happen in the next week.
A true indication 2010 has worn out its welcome and it’s time to pack up the scanners. Here’s hoping 2011 will manage to build and hold our interest until the final checkered flag drops.
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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