Sunday, November 18, 2007

On the end of many things

As we head into the final NASCAR race of 2007, we get a true sense of finality. The qualifying, for instance produced the final Bud Pole Award, because next year, drivers will be trying for the Coors Light Pole.The image of a light pole as the goal for qualifying hasn't escaped me. Light poles are part of the lighting rig used in theatre and concerts to hold the spotlights and other lighting effects.
And, if that doesn't screw up my image of racing, there will be an insurence company replacing Busch as the sponsor of the Sportsman Series. I'm inclined to quote Lauren Wallace here, to say that while we're watching the race, all we'll "be thinking about is saving money on car insurence."
That being said, Nationwide is the company that has the "life comes at you fast," advertising theme, which does fit racing somewhat.
So, watching history become history, we watched the farewell NASCAR Busch Series event, which, thoough it was average, as races in that series go, did manage to show us a somewhat bright future. Kyle Keselowski, who now has a two year contract to drive the #88 Jr Motorsports car full time for the next two years, sowed up admirably throughout the race, showing us that he has the potential to become the first non-Cup driver since Martin Truex, Jr. to win a championship in the Sportsman Series.
The learning process for Sam Hornish, Jr., Patrick Carpentier, and Dario Franchitti continued, a tough learning process, indeed, as these future Cup series drivers learned what not to do. Another rising star, Jeremy Clements, managed to get television coverage by racing Matt Kenseth admirably in equipment that was inferior to Kenseth's Roush machine. That is what Clements needed to do, because sponsors take notice of the relatively unknowns who can get on camera when it doesn't involve a wreck. Clements is also in a learning process, but he is already known in the garage area as one who has a bright future in the sport.
Richard Childress won the Owners Championship in the series, for the #29 Holiday Inn car, after co-drivers Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer accumilated more points in that car than any other team, including that of series champion Carl Edwards. Congratulations are due to RCR and the drivers of the #29 car.
Today we'll be seeing the final Nextel Cup Series race, not only for the season, but forever, as the corporate name of the series sponsor is changed to Sprint. Under a court ruling earlier this year, Sprint will be allowed to continue sponsorship through 2009. No, wait a minute, that's AT&T, which used to be Cingular, the sponsor of the RCR #31 car. Sprint will continue the sponsorship of the series. We will be seeing the last race for the conventional car in the Sprint series today, as the entire series switches to the so-called Car of Tomorrow, otherwise known as the Formula NASCAR car. Spec cars have been in the works for over ten years for the series, and we have finally reached that point, for better or worse.
This will also be the final race for Ricky Rudd, who will end his 32 year Cup career as one of NASCAR's fifty greatest drivers. It is always sad for us to see the great ones leave the sport, especially when it is a name we have seen for much of the time we have been following NASCAR through the years.
JJ Yeley and Dale Earnhardt, Jr will be seeing their last race for Joe Gibbs Racing, and Dale Earnhardt Inc., respectively, as they go to Hall of Fame Racing and Hendrick Motor Sports. Racing whiz-kid Kyle Busch will take a bow from HMS as he will be racing for JGR next year.
There will still be drama to watch in today's Ford 400, as Jimmie Johnson does not quite have the Cup in the bag. We know that things can happen, and if certain things happen, Jeff Gordon could win his fifth championship. By the same token, Jimmie Johnson could not only win the championship, but could be the first driver since Richard Petty to win five races in a row.
Or, knowing Johnson, something could happen while he is trying to win five races in a row that would give Jeff Gordon the Championship.
So, it ain't over yet.
There are forty-one other drivers in the race today, and most of them will be trying to end the season on a winning note. Tony Stewart has set two goals for the Ford 400 that likely reflect the goals of the other drivers, according to this article on That's Racin'.com: 1 Win the race, and 2 Don't screw things up for Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon.
So, there will be plenty of excitement in the Ford 400, and no reason to miss it.
After that, we only have less than ninety days to wait for the next race.
On a personal note, ninety days could be a long time for me, because the Broncos really suck this year.


charlie said...

Nice post Jim. With all of the storylines that you point out, you would think people would be complaining less about the Hendrick's guys domination. I'm going to enjoy the race. It's getting cold up here and Florida looks good.

RevJim said...

The strangest thing happened. this was posted on the Nevada Appeal web site two minutes before I posted mine. Diaz gets paid for what he writes, I don't.
I'm not accusing anybody, it is obviously that it is a coincidence since they were both posted at the same time. Perhaps it isn't only great minds that think alike?

Racefan57 said...

Bon Voyage '07

Anonymous said...

I like that Clements kid....I didn't find the race that compelling although it did have that potential..I had to giggle at Smokes remark on the radio after he crashed though.....bring on 08