Sunday, May 04, 2008

Feeling it

Anybody who is a fan of any particular driver has had moments when they get very angry at another driver because of something that happened during a race. That feeling is amplified through frustration, when the favorite driver is on the verge of winning and has that opportunity taken away from him by the perceived carelessness of another driver (there's that word "perception" again, because whatever happens on the track is what is perceived by the fans in the stands or in front of the TV). The suddenly dashed feelings of hope and elation at celebrating a drivers' victory when something happens to prevent that victory is a very, very strong emotion.
That is part of being a racing fan.
I remember how emotional I got in 1997 when Jeff Gordon wrecked Dale Earnhardt, when all of us Earnhardt fans were certain that it would be the time for Dale to finally win the Daytona 500. I remember how angry I was when, during a race at Watkins Glen, Gordon ran out of fuel and stopped in the middle of traffic on the last turn, causing mayhem that drastically changed the outcome of the race. But, though I will never be a Jeff Gordon fan, none of his antics on the track have been cause for me to hate him. I find myself cheering Gordon on in some cases, and it is a joy to watch him at the top of his game.
I remember a race last year, when it looked like Tony Stewart had a race won. All he had to do was hold his position and drive for just a few more laps. I was already celebrating. Suddenly, while Smoke was lapping his team mate, Denny Hamlin, Hamlin ran into Stewart, on a straightaway, and both cars wrecked. I was devastated, livid, literally beside myself. But that was just racing, and it happens. I do not hate Denny Hamlin because of it.
At Talladega, a little more than a week ago, Tony Stewart was moving up through the field. Stewart fans were very hopeful that our man would find his way to the front by the closing laps of the race. He obviously had one of the better cars in the race. There were three lines of cars, on the inside, middle, and outside of the track. The middle line was moving faster, so Tony found a hole and moved into it. Up ahead, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. noticed that the middle line was faster, and moved up to join it. Unfortunately, he tried to join the front of the line, and, in moving up got clipped in the rear by the lead car in that line. Cars got checked up behind the incident, and Tony was trapped with no way out. He wrecked, I was mad, but again, I couldn't be mad at Jr, because, again, it was one of those things that happen in racing.
Besides, even though I am not a member of Junior Nation, Dale Earnhardt Jr is one of my favorite drivers. I was cheering for him, and was very happy for him that he was finally going to win a race. I was happy for him, happy for his fans, and happy that I was witnessing history in the making.
And I was shocked and dismayed when the least popular driver drove into the turn too hard, while racing Junior for the lead, and wrecked the most popular driver in racing.
Kyle Busch made a mistake. It was far worse than driving into the corner too hot. It was that he would even have the audacity to try to race Dale Jr for the win. That was a mistake that could pretty well residually end his career.
Because even if we are not part of Junior Nation, Junior Nation is as much a part of racing -- and of ourselves as race fans -- as are the drivers and teams on the tracks. They are the majority of race fans, and their feelings and emotions are felt by all of us. And that, too, is racin'.


Tim Zaegel said...

I was pretty ticked when Gordon took out Rusty for the win in Bristol ... I believe it was '02 or '03, can't remember which.

As for Kyle Busch ... I'm stunned that a driver so good can be so impossible to drive next to.

RevJim said...

Think about Mark Martin when you are talking about racing side by side. If you don't pass him right away, the best thing to do is to lift and fall back behind him, because, if you keep racing beside him, you have two choices--the wall or the infield, depending on if you are on the inside or outside. The reason we don't see a lot of this these days is because he has been around long enough for most of the drivers to realize that you don't race Martin side-by-side, unless you have at least as much car control talent as he does. Maybe in time drivers will realize this about Kyle, as well.
That being said, Randy LaJoie pointed out that what happened Friday and Saturday night was just old fashioned short track racing. I tend to agree with that.

Anonymous said...

I too agree that it was just a racing deal........."BUT" the thing that ticks me off about Kyle Busch is what comes out of his mouth.........and his my s___ doesn't stink attitude. I don't like him. That is my perogative. God Bless, Mike.

Trixie said...

It's racing. Plain and simple. There are times when Kyle Busch seems mature while being interviewed, but then he goes too far and make some smart ass comment and well there you are. I am probalby in the minority when I say I am a fan of Kyle's. This hasn't always been the case. I like drivers who aren't afraide to say what they feel and to be honest he can drive the wheels off his car.

RevJim said...

Funny, Trixie, Kyle has grown on me as well, for much the same reason. Some of the stuff I have been reading reminds me very much of stuff that was being written about Smoke a few years ago. Tony has matured some - as a racer and as a spokesperson - even though he is still a teenager in a grown-up's body, and I think Kyle will mature as well. It's like Mark Martin said on NASCAR now, Kyle is beyond needing a mentor, because he is better than anyone who could fill that role. "His best teacher will be experience."