Saturday, October 13, 2007

Practical Optimism

When it gets to the point in a race where it looks like my favorite driver isn't going to win, it really doesn't matter to me which driver goes to Victory Lane. I just want to see a good race.
So, when the #20 team tried a quicky fuel stop and ended up playing bumper pool trying to get out of the pits, this Tony Stewart fan felt very disappointed and frustrated, but thinking, "it could be worse."
Kevin Harvick was one of the drivers I picked to watch toward the end of the race, but a huge mistake involving a tire going flat and a misdiagnosis in the pit, put him three laps down early in the race. But Harvick still finished the race, and we know that it could be worse.
Early in the Chase, I wondered in print if Matt Kenseth wouldn't be the surprise contender. Since then, he has had some very bad luck. I fear that I may have jinxed the Cool One, but it seems that he was destined for bad luck no matter what anybody wrote. So far in the Chase, Kenseth has started each race with a top notch car. But, that has caused him to be uncharacteristically aggressive at the beginning of the race. Not that he can't handle that, for he is one of the best drivers in the sport, but, to date, it hasn't worked out for him. Bad luck seems to find him very easily when he is running at the front of the pack early in the race. Twice, since the Chase began, his car has developed electrical problems early. This has resulted in putting him deep in traffic, where his car has often become a pinball. That is how his night turned out. Maybe Jack and Robby should think about giving him a car that can be improved during the race, rather than being so good right off the hauler.
It could be worse. There is not one Dodge in the Chase for the Championship this year. The Dodges, however did look very good during the race at Charlotte. Ryan Newman got the pole position in qualifying, and for a large portion of the race, Dodge pilots Bobby Labonte and Scott Riggs were racing very well, with Riggs even leading a lap. Near the very end of the race, with eleven laps to go, Ryan Newman took a very exciting lead after the restart and got everybody up on their feet as he sped around the track--and cut a tire, running into the wall. That was after Scott Riggs got caught up in a wreck with Johnny Paul Montoya, who was also in a Dodge. This was not Dodge's year. It seemed that nearly every Dodge on the track wrecked at one point or another during Saturday's race.
Jeff Gordon's restart tactics at the green flag of the green/white/checkered finish were brilliant, which is what is to be expected of a great driver. He waited until his car was almost on the start/finish line before he began accelerating, robbing second place Clint Bowyer of the chance to get a run on him. I'm not a fan of The Gordon, but I do believe that a Jeff Gordon who races well means a good race. I am happy that the Drive for Five is alive, and I'm looking forward to seeing it stay alive for the remainder of the season, and next season, and every season until The Gordon decides to retire. Mostly because there is nothing that rhymes with "six" that is appropriate.
It could be worse--you could be the rear axle guy in Rusty Wallace's shop.
Or, worse, you could be David Stremme.

"It could be worse," Stremme said. "I could be out digging ditches or doing something else. You can always say, 'This could be better' or 'that could be better' but it could be a lot worse, too. At least I'm able to walk around. I'm healthy. And I feel that I have enough talent to be at this level."

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