(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)

Happiness Is… Bargain Shopping, Good Times & Monkeying Around

There was a time when some young hotshot got a sweet ride driving for top-tier organization, taking over from a former champion and stalwart of the sport.  That driver faced the challenge of carrying with him exaggerated expectations but also squinted eyes from fans.  That driver, however, found elements of success but eventually wore out his welcome and moved on to another team.  It was there that he ultimately found his place and cemented his status as one of the best.

There’s an interesting duality in play with the paragraph above.  From one perspective, it is easy to think that Kevin Harvick fits the description, having taken over No. 3 but never quite putting together a season that seemed indicative of his talents.  A different point of view might argue that Joey Logano is the driver mentioned above, driving Tony Stewart’s old ride before being ushered out and finding a home at Penske.  But really, they are living the same story and the last race of 2014 and the first of 2015 illustrate this idea.

With Harvick winning the Cup he put together a season that matched his expected promise.  And with Logano making it to the championship race and then winning the Daytona 500 he has begun to live up to the overused and overhyped Sliced Bread moniker.  The better aspect is that they are both excelling at the same time, offering the chance for a continued rivalry.  Which raises the question: Who does wear the firesuit?

Let’s get on with it.

Happiness Is… Bargain Shopping.  The brother to Happiness Is, Angriness Is, sent a few texts this week about the upcoming events at Atlanta.  The first one had to do with the schedule, questioning the fact that the XFINITY and Truck races would be back-to-back and how the network and the fans were dealing with it.  The subsequent message stated that the two races were basically a double header and that one ticket worked for both events – with $65 paying for the best seats in the house.  That’s actually a sweet deal.

The unfortunate aspect to things is the fact that the weather forecast for Saturday, the day of both races, portends a less than favorable fan experience with a high near 50 degrees with mostly cloudy skies – which will probably not feel all that great.  And as the sun dips below the horizon, well, it’s not like the temps are going to go up.  The great minds at NASCAR had to know that the weather in Georgia is a crapshoot and that the likelihood for a miserable weekend is probably more on the probable side than the hopeful beaches in Cancun atmosphere.

Atlanta has been facing issues for years now.  What once was a hallmark track has become one that is willingly ignored, remembered for its history but cast aside in favor of other things.  Saddled with a date that offers no luxuries with regards to weather, NASCAR is asking for a fan turnout on par with that of the Green Bay Packers.  That kind of expectation seems dubious regardless of the track (note Martinsville’s attendance when the weather is sh&^) but even more so of Atlanta.  But hey, if you’re willing to brave the elements and within a quick day’s drive, it’s well worth heading to Hampton, Ga.

Happiness Is… Good Times.  Every now and then there’s something that’s just pretty cool.  Ya know, like the wing on the back of the COT or the Extenze car from a while back.  But this part isn’t about something so wonderfully terrible that it deserves to be a frequent punchline.   No, this is about something that is actually cool.

If you’ve got roughly two-and-a-half minutes, give this a look.

While there’s always been a concern about where the next generation of fans may come from, it may best be answered by this 7-year-old who seems to have a pretty good take on things.  The fact that he also seems to have more NASCAR gear than the NASCAR store itself is something that is altogether bewildering.

Happiness Is… Monkeying Around.  FOX announced recently that it will be moving things around with regards to what race is shown where.  FOX officials have moved the spring race for Martinsville to Fox Sports 1 and put the Richmond race on FOX.  While that may not seem like much, unless you’re one of those people still searching for FS1, there are a couple caveats to be taken.  First, what the heck was the Richmond race, one at night, doing on FS1 to begin with – it seems like a dubious call.  The second aspect portends that FOX will look to play shuffling games with the races for Cup, XFINITY and Trucks, seemingly at will.  If only it’d play some games with switching around its announcing crew.

Happiness Is… Final Tests.  The next few days are the last chance that Formula 1 teams get to shake down their rides for the upcoming season, which begins on March 8 in Melbourne, Australia.  For Force India and McLaren, it’s a chance to, ya know, actually, maybe, perhaps log some laps.  For teams like Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari it’s a chance to determine where the cars are with regards to pace.  Mercedes has led all teams with the number of laps it’s run total from the previous two tests and seems all too ready to resume where it finished last year.  Whether Ferrari or Red Bull have made necessary gains will be the question.

Manor Racing, formerly Marussia, is still planning to be on the grid in Melbourne but how it’s going to pull off that one still seems a wonderment as it’s yet to be at any test.  The little team that could might not be doing so much longer.  One final note: Fernando Alonso will be skipping this test session after being released from the hospital for his wreck at the previous session.

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About Ava Huston Ladner

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As an editor, Ava works through some of the site’s biggest columns while writing one of her own on F1 each week. “Stranded” on the islands of Oahu in Hawaii, the aspiring college professor also helps anchor other coverage while coordinating Pace Laps, our multi-series news update.

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3 comments

  1. Avatar

    The “rivalry” that the media and Harvick wants so desperately to make, seems one of his own making MOST of the time, given the circumstances. I have to always ask, from personal experience and watching this nonsense. Why is it when one person/driver has hissy fits and “issues” all the time, the object of their displeasure is at fault? These “dramas” are more often than not one sided, and I do believe this to be the case with Harvick. I dread what is coming from a good race, and the post race ‘drama” by the few start up.

  2. Avatar

    Those rapping kids are great! You are correct about the Fox announcing crew. Still stale, along with the production
    staff. Still zooming in, B post in car shots, and above all the hated below-ground camera. Why can’t they just
    pan wide and follow the race cars?

  3. Avatar

    There is no real rivalry between Logano and Harvick, they both act stupid at various times IMO and pushing and shoving just doesn’t make a rivalry.

    As far as Fox putting the races on whatever channel, ironic isn’t it, that when the 2001 tv contract was signed, one of the big “selling” points was “you’ll always know where to find the race”. Certainly that was NOT true with the 2nd renewal, not from Fox or from ESPN, who shuffled the races around to whatever channel they had available.

    I don’t chase the races around on TV any longer. Most of the time, the racing isn’t worth it and I dumped myself to a lower tier on my cable carrier to save some $ (not that I saved much – they raise the rates monthly it seems) so I lost FS2 and some of the ESPN channels (ones I seldom watched anyway). I have raceview and use the scanner on that and can follow along well enough. IMO, the PXP and booth on Fox makes it not worth trying to find it.

    I agree with you about the schedule and the weather. Atlanta’s date is really stupid, early March is seldom great weather and the Martinsville spring race, which used to be the week after Easter (when the weather was nice) has also been screwed up by the move to earlier in the year. I guess they are really trying to get both those tracks off the schedule which is a shame because Atlanta put on some good racing & personally I love short track racing. Unfortunately, the expense of buying tickets to a race that I would have to fly to in what is almost always poor weather makes it less likely that I’ll do it as it simply doesn’t make economic sense.