Hello race fans. There is no NASCAR Sprint Cup race this weekend. So I will not be posting a Race Review. But I’d like to share with you what I like about NASCAR and why I started following the Sport.
I’m not very athletic. I can’t hit a ball to save my life. I can ski, but only do well on the good beginner/easy intermediate trails. When faced with moguls I tend to get down the hill on my behind! It’s only fun when you can get down the hill. I never was someone to watch sports, either. Something better was always on, in my opinion.
But in 1996, my now husband took me to a friend’s house (Gary) to watch a Winston Cup race. I don’t remember which race it was. I was captivated. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I was told I had to pick a driver in order to watch the race. I had heard about the Indy 500, but that was Indy cars, not NASCAR. I had heard about Richard Petty and the famous #43 STP car, but he was no longer racing. So, who to pick?
I saw a beautiful red, white and blue #88 car and picked that. (8 is my favorite number) It turned out to be Dale Jarrett. Everyone said that was a good pick. As I watched, I fell in love with racing. And I also fell in love with my pick. The most popular driver was, of course, Dale Earnhardt. He was aggressive and many times crashed cars out to get by. I didn’t like that. I liked to see racing, not crashing.
As I watched more and more races, I decided to stick with my first pick, Dale Jarrett. He raced. He passed cars to get by. And NASCAR became my Passion. And Dale Jarrett my driver. He won that first race, by the way. He’s now retired and I have to find a new favorite. His style of racing was what drew me to him. And kept me chearing him on.
Through the years, I’ve liked several other drivers. Not because they make daring, aggressive moves, but because they race well. I watched Dale Jr. race with Matt Kenseth in the old Busch Series. That was fun to watch. I never liked Jr.’s father because he let it be known that if you didn’t get out of the way, he was going to make you get out of the way. And that, to me was not racing. I liked Jeff Burton in the #99 Exide. Again, because he raced instead of crashing someone else out. I liked Matt and Jr., but I collected Matt as one of my favorites.
I watched ASA and had favorites there. I watched Hooters Pro Series and had favorites there. I also watched This Week In Dirt on TV and noticed the name Kasey Kahne. He always finished in the top three! And I watched the Busch North Series and had favorites there.
My husband Ray and I compete in every race we watch. His favorites against my favorites. When I first started watching, Gary with Earnhardt, and Ray with Ken Schrader had a bet going with each other. Who’s ever driver finished better won the bet. $5. Ray usually lost. They wouldn’t let me get in because I was new. The next year I also couldn’t get in. They didn’t think I’d stick with Jarrett. But I did and he won seven races in 1997. In 1998, they let me in on the bet. The winner got $5 from the other two. I, with Dale Jarrett won over $300 competing with Dale Earnhardt and Ken Schrader. In 1999, DJ won the Championship. And there was no more betting!
I loved Winston Cup racing. It was the best. Brian France, Jr. took a Southern Sport, and with RJ Reynolds’ Winston brand made NASCAR what it is today. Beautiful racing. Then along comes son Brian. Winston was replaced with Nextel. Nextel signed a ten year contract, but after only a few years Sprint bought Nextel, and it is now Sprint Cup. And after the 2003 season, Brian decided NASCAR needed a play-off to keep the fans watching while football was going on.
I hated it. Play-offs were for sports with divisions. NASCAR has 43 cars competing every week. How does a play-off fit into NASCAR? But they shortened the season to 26 races, instead of 36 and made the last ten races the Chase for the Championship. The media loved it. They start talking about the Chase contenders with the first race of the year! However, the fans don’t care for it. So it isn’t doing what NASCAR wanted it to do-get more fans to watch during football.
And now the media darling is Kyle Busch. He’s touted as having so much talent and can win in anything he gets into. I personally, don’t see the talent. For him, it’s Checkers or wreckers. And in my opinion, that’s not talent. He also is a sore looser. And blames everyone else when he doesn’t win. Not a very good racer. The fans don’t care for him, or the way the media shoves him down our throats. He doesn’t race. He crashes out the competition. Thankfully, he also crashes himself out.
NASCAR will always be something I will watch. Because it is beautiful. I just wish it could go back to when there was no Chase. And the best driver that year won the Championship. Instead of the driver that was best in the last ten races.
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley