The bump and run, it just doesn’t get old. It doesn’t much matter if I’m watching street stocks or the Sprint Cup drivers duke it out, a last corner pass using the chrome horn is possibly one of the best moves in auto racing. My enthusiasm for the ending of Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 has little to do with the pair of combatants. We beat up on Kyle Busch and pondered Edwards’ return to success last week. No, the shock of joy I experienced had everything to do with what is good on a paved oval.
If we just set aside the whole Gibbs Glory thing, and ignore the fact that between the No. 18 and the No. 19 cars they led 229 out of 400 laps, it is so satisfying to just sit back and savor a fantastic finish. Who was destined to take the checkers paled beside the fact that a driver hoped he had the car to beat out the leader, and then used all his talent to do it. Hunger, focus, determination, and the crumple factor of sheet metal all combined into that perfect moment. Can we do it again?
Like children, we yearn for the return of oversized elves dressed in red suits. And it seems like 2016 is the year of great finishes. These classic battles will combine into one heck of a highlight reel in November. But is it enough? Is five seconds of guttural thrills enough to keep us tuning in each and every week? From what I’ve been observing of gleaming, empty, aluminum grandstands on the television, passing excitement does not turn into a fan base that is materially invested in their sport.
I heard one of those annoying and uninformative stats on the radio this week. The average American adult now has an average attention span of about eight seconds. Well, that was about how long the Edwards and Busch contest lasted. So, it was enough to make Sportscenter and possibly your nightly news YouTube clip. We might grant the battle another minute of discussion around the water cooler during the week. And as quickly as it came, the thrill is gone.
We’re left with six more days of predictable, un-life-altering moments; a week of groceries, gas stations, Little League games, and prime time television. As soon as we’ve dismissed the giddy popping of the champagne bottles in Victory Lane, we are all ready keying in on what will be coming our way next Sunday.
When you put it that way, perhaps Cousin Carl and Rowdy’s rumble in Richmond is exactly what a NASCAR fan needs. The mere thought that when we take the checkered flag in Talladega this upcoming Sunday, it might be one more chance for our steel gladiators to dazzle us with a few moments of glee and couch thumping entertainment might be just enough to turn the ordinary time we spend in line at the post office into ones of anticipation.
So, we look behind and agree–Carl Edwards gave us one heck of a finish. We look ahead…maybe Talladega will bring us another show worthy of impelling us forward for yet another week.
The answer to our initial question, was that bump and run enough? You know, I think it is.
It wasn’t so much of something new as the return of something we’ve missed. Tony Stewart was fined $35,000 by NASCAR this past week for daring to speak up against the establishment in favor of driver safety, specifically that missing lug nuts will become a hazard sooner or later. It was equally refreshing to see the Drivers Council stand up and pay the fine for Tony, sending a message of solidarity and support to the men in Daytona. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open. It’s even more important that NASCAR realizes that money will not always get you what you want–silent automatons. Anybody care to count down with me to the announcement of the upcoming adjustment to the lug nut rules?
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