When we were designing our new living room, there was much discussion over how to make it a NASCAR room without hitting guests over the head with checkered flags and die-cast lining the walls. We agreed upon a subtle track theme–make the walls sky blue, a brown floor and an oval green carpet to represent the track and infield. But what blue is actually sky blue? Or better yet, what is the color of the sky that reminds you of a day at the track. Thus I embarked upon the search for September blue, for the month of September inevitably draws my mind to a week at the track, where the campground is cool and quiet for much of our vacation before NASCAR puts up its tents on Friday. Those are happy memories, making my September blue living room a constant reminder that with the arrival of Fall comes lots of good things.
Things like a killer kick-off race for the Chase.
Who would’ve thunk, right? That Chicagoland–one of NASCAR’s much bemoaned cookie-cutters–was even capable of putting on a show where the up-and-coming rookie would run shoulder to shoulder with not one veteran, but three in the closing laps of the race. We had rim-riding, cars jumping the cushion, a little bit of bumper cars between lovers and a bonzai move down the middle–all in 20 laps. Restarts where nobody kept their car on the straight and narrow, and an engine detonating on the last lap.
The Gibbs cars threatened to shed engine parts throughout the afternoon, but never did. Hamlin finished a very respectable sixth with M&M boy right behind him in seventh. Even the No. 43 appeared in the top 10, bringing a fleeting vicarious thrill while we thought he might just buck the odds and win a Chase race–making his engine failure all the more crushing.
Finally, as Brad K drove the American flag around the frontstretch for his celebratory burnouts, Jeff Gordon climbed out of his second place Chevy and walked straight over to Larson’s slightly battered car. We wondered…did Kyle do something wrong? Did Gordon think that all those crossover maneuvers and pulling the air off his fender by the youngling wasn’t as awesome as those watching did? Were we going to see some fireworks on pit road?
On the contrary. The acknowledged veteran of the garage told Larson how proud he was of the rookie’s efforts–and gave him some tips on how not to let victory slip from his grasp in the future. What an excellent example of sportsmanship!
All in all, that was a very fine day of racing, setting us up for Race No. 2 in the Challenger Round of the Chase. Which means…
I hauled the RV up to New Hampshire Motor Speedway and parked it under a beautiful September blue sky. There are hot dogs on the grill this evening, I am wearing my new Michigan International Speedway hoodie, and the “Iiiiice-man” is cruising the lots. In short, life is good. It’s very good. And come Sunday afternoon, it’ll get even better.
I’ll see you Sitting in the Stands.
2014 Sonya Strictly by the Stats
Top Three Rookies for 2014 Myafibstory.com 400
1.) No. 42 Kyle Larson Started 10th Finished 3rd (1st in RoTY standings)
2.) No. 3 Austin Dillon Started 15th Finished 16th (2nd in RoTY standings)
3.) No. 51 Justin Allgaier Started 26th Finished 27th (3rd in RoTY standings)
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