When Monster Energy took over as the titular sponsor of the Cup series, one of the statements the company made encouraged drivers to show raw emotion and to demonstrate their feelings, sometimes through physicality. After the race at Las Vegas, it appears that Kyle Busch got the message. The only problem – the company that actually pays his bills, Mars Inc., released a statement condemning Busch’s actions.
And that’s the difficulty that Monster faces with trying to get the drivers of the series to show a little more, ahem, spirit. What’s good for Monster is not good for the buttoned-up climate of the boardrooms of many of the companies sponsoring the drivers. Doesn’t mean that the get together between the two yellow colored teams wasn’t great spectacle though.
Happiness Is… 3 Races. The season is but three races old and already drivers are getting cranky. That didn’t take long. How wild is it that Busch lost his mind so quickly into the season? The continued mentions of how Busch has changed, has matured, that he’s no longer the lunatic that he can be at times is all just window-dressing.
Busch, like his brother before him, is a personality that seems to be kept in a pressure cooker with the lid ready to pop off if a careful eye isn’t held on him at all times. Apparently it doesn’t take much. Was the contact between Joey Logano and Busch out of line or a deliberate attempt to wreck Busch? Not really – but that’s how Busch saw it and that’s what matters.
The resulting brouhaha, or whatever you want to call it, was just like so many other NASCAR fights in recent years – more show than blows. Followed by the ready appearance of a NASCAR official to get things back in order. That’s OK though, these type of moments help put the sport at the top of the highlight reels. Bill Lester’s comment on Twitter summed up things quite well:
You can thank Joey and Kyle in advance for the ratings boost for next week's race. #nascar
— Bill Lester (@Bill_Lester) March 12, 2017
Happiness Is… Keselowski. He’s brash. He’s inclined to offer an insightful intelligent comment as he is to throw out something inanely dumb. He’s successful and he carries that with him, a swagger to complement his bravado. He’s also disliked, and sometimes hated. He can race with the best of them and other times disappear on track. The one thing that Brad Keselowski has been, especially when he’s given a competitive car, is entertaining.
It looked as though Keselowski had all but wrapped up the last race at Las Vegas, continuing his dominance at the track and gaining win number two on the year. Then he slowed, Martin Truex eked past him, and then the fun that led to the Busch-Logano dust up. So in many ways we all have the driver of the No. 2 to thank for making the season just a bit more entertaining in the early going.
His winning drive at Atlanta comprised overcoming an early team miscue (loose wheel), a big heaping of fortune (Kevin Harvick speeding on pit road), and his own driving acumen (snookering Kyle Larson). Rather than smoothly winning another race, he petered home to a decent finish but incited the silly drama hovering over the sport this week. In recognition of his efforts for the last two races, we all should be thankful for Keselowski.
Happiness Is… Likes. This past week, one of the lesser stories was that of Dale Earnhardt Jr. giving Facebook honcho Mark Zuckerberg a ride in a two-seater at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Zuckerberg’s visit is part of what is basically a community outreach program for the company, as he plans to visit different communities to obtain a better feel for their users and whatnot. While the whole thing smacks of being more PR than earnest fact-finding, there is a benefit to NASCAR.
Having Zuckerberg live-stream his time at CMS gave the sport another way of being advertised and to who knows what audience. That kind of positive exposure is something the sport needs (and craves) and can do wonders toward better establishing other streams of interest. Having Earnhardt involved made the event that much more of hype-able. Now, if only Zuckerberg would take a little bit of his billions and invest them somewhere in the sport, that’d be wonderful.
Happiness Is…Brackets. The sporting world will likely being doing its lovefest with college basketball this weekend as the NCAA tournament will be happening. As such, this weekend serves as an opportunity to examine just how NASCAR stands against something as mighty as the tournament. While the Cup race bested all sports two weeks ago, being the highest watched sporting event, March Madness is a different animal altogether. While one would expect numbers to be done, if they just hold steady it would have to be viewed as a win. With Busch’s confrontation of Logano, the sport should have enough momentum to make that happen.
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