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(Photo: Russell LaBounty / NKP)

Happiness Is: Trolling, 4X and Lights

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway solidified the idea that Martin Truex Jr. will be one of the championship drivers at Homestead in a few weeks.  As long as his pit crew doesn’t turn into Matt Kenseth’s or Kyle Busch’s, Truex has enough points in hand and enough speed in his cars that getting to the championship race should actually be somewhat drama free.

Of course that means that he’ll probably go out and wreck the next three races.  Kidding.  He only needs a win at Texas to secure his position.  Why Texas?  Hm, have you seen the No. 78’s stats on the mile-and-a-half tracks this season?  They’re ridiculous.  

Jesting aside, Truex has thus far enjoyed a stellar playoff run to go along with an excellent regular season.  His 52-point margin to the current cut-off line puts him a full race ahead of Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson who are sitting in fourth and fifth.  Right now, things look rosy.  

Let’s get with the happiness.

Happiness Is…Trolling.  Matt Kenseth fell out of this year’s playoffs when he had too many crew members go over the wall to fix his car after wrecking at Kansas.  That Kenseth might not have advanced anyway, hasn’t really mattered as much as the incident has brought to light the rule limiting the number of crewpersons that are allowed to go over the wall to work on the car.  NASCAR retired Kenseth when his team sent one too many to work on the car.  Day over.  Playoffs done.  

Whether or not you may be a Kenseth fan is up to you.  But credit Landon Cassill with having some fun with the situation.  

 

One of the fun aspects of social media can be the interactions that we get to see.  Cassill having some fun at Kenseth’s expense would seem to say that either: a) they have a long-standing beef, or b) they’re buds and that Kenseth, one of the kings of dry wit, probably got a chuckle out of Cassill’s trolling.  

That Cassill is one of the more fun follows on Twitter has been known for a while but getting at Kenseth is a comical torment.  The question will be to see what kind of wry shade Kenseth throws Cassill’s way in the future.  Regardless of what may become, this topic may seem silly as it has nothing to do with the actual racing, but it’s good to see something entertaining during the middle of the week when nothing is going on.  

Happiness Is…4X.  Drivers are often polarizing figures with fans frequently falling on the poles of the love/hate spectrum.  Lewis Hamilton is no exception, and if anything, may be a shining example of this very notion.  With his win last week at the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, Hamilton can pretty much start posting four-time Formula 1 champion on his bio and Wikipedia page.  

There’s a sense from some persons, just read F1 message boards, that Hamilton has lucked his way into his poles (72), race wins (62), and championships (3 going on 4), that he’s always benefitted from having the best car and has merely been a co-pilot on a successful ride to glory.  Such a position is silly and lacks any nuanced thought.

Hamilton may have enjoyed some of the best rides in the series but he’s still had to execute and has still had to eke everything he can from those cars.  Watching his current teammate, Valtteri Bottas, struggle to match pace is all the evidence needed (and actually shows that Nico Rosberg was perhaps a more capable driver than given credit for as he often matched pace with Hamilton).  

So as Hamilton likely seals the proverbial deal this weekend at the Mexican Grand Prix, the result will be worth a solid ‘atta boy.    

Happiness Is…Lights.  Still one of the best tracks on the tour, NASCAR heads to Martinsville Speedway this weekend for a race that over the past few years has been one of the more dramatic.  The mid-afternoon start time for this go-round might bring a whole new element, as the track has installed lights and there’s a good chance they might get used.  

Night racing can be hit or miss, with one car often nailing the set-up and driving away – but how is that really any different than what Truex has been doing during the day at some tracks this year.  What might be enjoyable is the heightened sense of intensity that accompanies being under the bright lights.

The track didn’t install them strictly for decoration, so we should embrace the moment as they likely get to test out their fancy new toy.  There’s gotta be a chance that the series will be looking to tweak things a bit to turn one of the Martinsville races into a full-on nighttime affair.  

 

About Ava Huston Ladner

Promoted to editor this season, Huston works through some of the site’s biggest columns while writing one of his own: Happiness Is… (Fridays). “Stranded” on the islands of Hawaii, the aspiring college professor also helps anchor our IndyCar and Formula One racing coverage while coordinating Pace Laps, our multi-series news update (Mondays) each week.

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