Did you miss me? If the answer is no, how dare you! Back from my one-week sabbatical, I return with some possibly controversial opinions. The great thing about auto racing fans is that you can seldom get 20 of us to agree on anything, including whether the weather was awesome at the track. But one thing that is constant is that if people don’t like your opinion, they will let you know right away.
Road Rage Idiocy
When did the racers get so soft that any attempt to race hard for position became a big deal? It would be hilarious to see what would happen if the second coming of NASCAR Jesus occurred today. Dale Earnhardt was only the most visible of the intimidators. Long before Earnhardt came along, other tough guys ruled the NASCAR world with their bumpers. If you ran them too rough, you could expect the same thing in return. If you raced them cleanly, they would return the favor.
Nobody whined much after the fact, although a few good fights did occur now and then if the lines were really crossed. But after the payback, those two guys would usually go on to coexisting in the rough and tough world of NASCAR because they had to put up with each other every week.
Now, if Driver X makes the least bit of contact with Driver Z, the NASCAR media and fan outrage is nonstop. Will Driver Z ever be welcome in Driver X’s million-dollar home again? Will their kids no longer play together at MRO events in the infield at races? How will roughing up Driver Z affect Driver X’s longterm NASCAR career? Film at 11!
There are several things that you can count on in life: taxes rising instead of a government budget ever dropping and NASCAR fans and media overreacting when there is contact at the racetrack. Fans love beating and banging, but what we saw at Watkins Glen International was child’s play compared to the good old days. Road rage is inevitable with this rules package and road rage idiocy is inevitable, too.
Mud Summer Classic Losing Luster
A few years ago, NASCAR and Eldora Speedway were threatened with a lawsuit for using the Mud Summer Classic name, but that is the only name that will ever fit that event for me. I’m not sure why, but the last two seasons, this dirt race event at Eldora has lacked the excitement it had the first few years. Maybe it’s the change of format or maybe it’s a change to the rules for the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
It is possible it is just getting to be less of a novelty now that we have seen it for a few years. This year, it didn’t help that NASCAR put this race up against the first preseason football game for the NFL. Despite great weather, this event wasn’t overflowing with fans like it had been in the past. Judging by social media postings, it also didn’t seem to get NASCAR fans excited like it has in the past. Hopefully, this will end the talk of adding dirt racing events to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule in the future. There is a reason that NASCAR left the dirt many years ago. While I hope the Truck Series will continue to have a race on dirt for many years to come, it does seem that the Eldora Truck race is losing some of its luster.
Fantasy Insight: Michigan 2
Leave it to the folks at Michigan International Speedway to change the track surface by adding grip to another part of the track. There is nothing more annoying for a race handicapper than a change to the conditions. This is similar to a horse-racing handicapper trying to compare a sloppy track to a fast track at the same racetrack. How the drivers attack this new surface will be a mystery. We did see a very even track among the manufacturers earlier this year with Ford, Chevy and Toyota sharing the top-three finishing positions. Ford managed to have six of the top-nine finishers at a track that used to be dominated by Ford.
Win: Martin Truex Jr. – Should be in the running for his first-career win at Michigan.
Place: Kyle Busch – Always bounces back well after a rough outing.
Show: Brad Keselowski – His teammate won here earlier in the year.
Long Shot: Jimmie Johnson (40-to-1 odds) – Too nice of a price on seven-time to pass here.