Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sprint Cup Off-Weeks Can Be Fun (Corrected)

It's almost like being in the off-season without the angst. Instead of three months, over which withdrawal symptoms set in, it is, after all, only one week.

The activity on most of the NASCAR fans forums has died down a bit, without a Cup race about which to speculate. What talk there is, is about the Mayfield Saga, great soap opera material if there ever was any. It pits conspiracy theorists against rationalists, and leaves the rest of us wondering how it got to be this way. Monte Dutton wrote a very concise and clear assessment of the situation on NASCAR This Week, entitled "Stinking Contest." Dutton points out what the whole thing boils down to in very few words:

It seems like middle ground is impossible now. Either Mayfield is an addict in denial, or he's the target of a vast conspiracy. Either he's Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Basketball Diaries" or he's Cary Grant in "North by Northwest." Now it's in the lawyer's hands, and they're going to hurl words like haymakers.

Personally, I wonder if Mayfield had accepted NASCAR's terms first, then began his quest to clear his name later, it might have been easier on both him and NASCAR. But, if you know anything about Mayfield's history, that is not the way he rolls.

While we are on the NASCAR This Week page, let me draw your attention to the Guest Column, written by yours truly. While I don't think I really deserve to be on the same page as Monte Dutton, I can't help but to feel honored by being there. An opportunity for shameless self-promotion never escapes me, however.

Can you believe that Kyle Busch has done nothing to piss anybody off this week? Wait, the Nationwide race hasn't been run yet. It will be run at one of my favorite tracks, Gateway. This is a 1.25 mile track similar in shape to the beloved Darlington Raceway. Though Gateway is similar in shape, the banking is flatter, and turns one and two,at the narrow end are more like turn three and at Pocono than turns three and four at Darlington. It should make for an interesting race, with Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, and Reed Sorenson being the only Cup drivers in the mix. For those who can't wait for Kyle Busch to do something to send them off in a fit of rage, it is a must see.

The Truck Series is always fun. It is also easy to lose track of, since it doesn't run every week. Kentucky Motor Speedway is the venue, and the local fans are very loyal. This is probably the largest stand alone crowd the series will see on its schedule, and the drivers will certainly put on a good show.

Kevin Harvick has let it be known that he wants out of the final year of his contract with Richard Childress Racing. The common feeling among sports writers is that he is looking for a seat with Stewart Haas Racing. That is not too far-fetched, as Tony Stewart and the Harvicks (aka Kevlana) have a long and tightly knit friendship. With GM pulling support from Kevin Harvick Incorporated, an association with SHR would give KHI better resources through their own association with Hendrick Motor Sports.

However, Stewart himself, though saying that SHR could field a third team, has not definitively said that they would field one in 2010. Childress has said that he will hold Harvick to his contract, and that Harvick's sponsor, Shell Pennzoil, is staying with RCR. Though this sounds similar to what J.D. Gibbs said about Stewart leaving last year, we are going to stick our neck out and say that Harvick going to SHR in 2010 ain't gonna happen. If we are wrong, then we are two for two on "important" silly season stuff, and we prove that we never learn.

Maybe, this weekend has given us a chance to get our writing chops back, and we can come out of our slump. There is always something to write about concerning NASCAR, and,though we usually like to find something about which nobody else is writing, we are sure to find many fun topics.

But whether we find something new to write about or not, we are going to have fun this weekend, and we hope that all our friends have fun as well. Even if Kyle doesn't piss us off.

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