NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Happiness Is…: Moving On from the Best Day in Motorsport

This past Sunday marked a wonderful day in motorsport with Formula 1, IndyCar, and NASCAR all putting on varied shows.  In many ways, the culmination of all three races and 1200+ miles of racing showed that everything can happen, from the seemingly mundane to the incredibly fortunate.  The race leading the day turned out to be the most tame as overtaking proved impossible in Monaco and Ferrari won the grand prix rather handily.

Then the Indianapolis 500 showed how cars pacing at 220 mph are still fraught with danger and problems with reliability, showcased by Scott Dixon somehow walking away from a wreck that would have killed most mortals, while Honda struggled with some of their engines, having three go down.  The Coca-Cola 600 provided the longest and varied contest of them all with mandatory cautions, a rain break, and a changing track.  

That should have meant that there was something for everyone.  And if there wasn’t – what is it that you’re looking for?

Happiness Is…Winners.  Two of the three victors of the races on Sunday had little to no experience crossing the finish line first.  When Takuma Sato won the Indy 500, it marked just the second IndyCar win of his career.  That can be seen in a couple different ways.  One view may be that he lucked into the win and that statistically he is a less-than-average racer.  But perhaps he finally put it all together.  Sato is a F1 veteran, which meant he must have had some talent at some point, even if his career there could be considered a mess, at best.  His jump to IndyCar didn’t leave his racing demons behind and he has often wrecked, frequently angered other drivers, and sometimes just been considered an on-track nuisance.  

He’s also been in so-so equipment and just seemed a bit too wound behind the wheel.  Watching the joy pour from Sato as he climbed from his car after winning should be seen as nothing other than infectious.  That just seems rare all too often and having what is such a green winner celebrating should remind everyone pursuing a dream that it sometimes it can happen.

Austin Dillon exhibited a similar sense of elation by taking the 600.  His unusual celebration, held over from racing in Trucks and XFINITY, or sliding stomach-first in the infield may be goofy or whatever, but it is different and unique and at least interesting as compared to watching Jimmie Johnson do yet another tire-smoking donut as he adds another victory to his accomplished career.  

Having fresh faces in victory lanes is good for sports.  Change is good.  

2017 Las Vegas CUP Kyle Busch John HArrelson NKP
The lightning rod himself, Kyle Busch (Photo: John Harrelson / NKP)

Happiness Is…InterWebNet.  Online lives and social media have served as forums and spaces that allow for a sense of equality, offering anyone an opportunity and platform to express themselves.  In looking at the public sphere, Jurgen Habermas pushed the notion that hegemonies try to overwhelm the masses into believing in their power and in contemporary concepts, the internet is a challenge to that system. Yeah, so?

Well, the good thing is that everyone is allowed to voice themselves on anything.  So Kyle Busch’s mic-drop moment after the 600 has become analyzed, discussed, criticized, vilified, and even supported.  Brad Keselowski took issue with the moment.  Dale Jr. saw it as funny, and even used it to plug Busch’s own sponsor, Snickers.  Natch, the fans ran wild with the discussion.

This kind of interaction is a great thing.  Has trolling become an art form?  Yep, and is sometimes a problematic and frustrating aspect of online relations.  But trolls aside, fan interaction is something that has never been easier and has become entertainment in and of itself.  For all the political correctness and corporate-speak that accompany the drivers in interviews or when the cameras are on, social media has become the place to find them as their unguarded selves.  Let’s hope that continues.  

Happiness Is…Favorites.  After the Monaco GP, most people would be willing to concede that Ferrari have taken on the role of title favorites for the F1 season.  They might not be overwhelming favorites, but they’re holding the position and seem to be getting stronger.  But stateside, NASCAR is showing that there’s no one firmly pulling away from the field.

Take Martin Truex Jr. for example.  He and his team have been downright dominant at the 1.5 milers this season and yet mistakes and misfortune continue to keep them riding with the rest of the pack.  For much of the first 14 races, Ford has looked to be the overall leaders but the 600 seemed to be an indication that they are no longer pacing the field.  In fact, Toyota (or Joe Gibbs Racing, depending on your perspective) seemed to find their form in the 600, returning to the pace they showed last year and has been surprisingly missing this year.  

There’s still Jimmie Johnson, though, doing what JJ does, hanging about and setting himself up for the playoffs.  

But all of this is to say that through 14 races there have been 9 winners.  More than half the playoff field is set, two of those drivers are first-time winners, and there seems to be more parity than usual at this point.  This news is good as the Playoffs may be controversial, having entry into them be all the more competitive is a boon.  

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Bill B

That one sentence should read…

“…as compared to watching Jimmie Johnson do yet another tire-smoking donut and smacking into the wall to hide any transgressions as he adds another victory to his accomplished career. :)

Could it be that the stages are creating additional parity. More double file restarts and more pit stops means there are more chances for the guy that’s dominating to screw up or be beaten by 0.5 seconds on a pit stop. Much less chance of screwing up with the dominant car when you’re in the lead and just logging in more green flag laps.

russ

While Ferrari certainly showed the race pace in Monaco to be called the favorites one has to wonder. It was predicted that the longer wheelbase of the Mercedes would be a handicap at Monaco. Yet, Bottas showed surprising pace in Q3 and, on a different track, may have been more competitive. In short, until Ferrari actually win it I cant call them the favorites.

paltex

After watching the Indy RACE, watching nascar was ho hum boring. They(nascar) have problems and they don’t know what to do, using gimmicks to improve their show.

Tom B

Has any of the F1 crowd claimed Sato as another F1 driver winning the Indy 500? That’s what I like about sport fans, if it is more than 3-4 years old than it doesn’t mean anything.

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