NASCAR Returns to Phoenix, along with Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer
Phoenix is a smaller track, so the two of them being around each other is inevitable. In fact, if you follow Murphy's Law, the two will likely qualify right beside each other. Whether either of them decides to make that side by side racing more than just racing will be anyone's guess.
This week the news that "Petty Blue" will be displayed on the 43 RPM car driven by Aric Almirola was announced. Sponsor, Smithfield Foods, obviously understands the concept of tradition and expressed a desire to continue the Petty tradition. Remember how I say "the more things change, the more they stay the same" after the Daytona 500? In my eyes, this is just another piece of evidence showing that NASCAR and the sponsors are trying to get back to the racing we all loved. Congratulations to Aric, Richard and, specifically, Smithfield Foods for recognizing the importance of this move to the long time fans. For me? As I always seem to do when a moment in the present recalls a moment in the past, I will choke up when I see that car on the track.
As we all know, Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500, again. Of course, many are saying this is just an example of how focused Jimmie and Chad Knaus are to get the "Six Pack", their sixth Sprint Cup Championship. I'm not ready to hand that over just yet. Jimmie, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. utilized that "ride around in the back until the field wrecks" strategy during the 500 and all three were up front in the closing laps. Dale Jr finished second, while Jeff got shuffled back in the last couple of laps, finishing 20th. However, that strategy worked, and it could have been any one of those back runners who won the race.
If you look at some of the early picks on TV or the internet, Kevin Harvick is the favorite for this weekend. He won both the Sprint Unlimited and the first Duel at Daytona, and if it weren't for an early wreck, I believe he would have finished up front. He has said that fatherhood has grounded him. He has also said that he wants to finish his tenure with Richard Childress Racing with a Championship, and it almost seems as if nothing less will do. Will he actually do what is predicted and win at Phoenix? Well, hell yeah!! Didn't he win at Phoenix while Clint and Jeff were scuffling? Yes, he can definitely do it again.
Finally, as we go into the weekend, here are some capsules of information, and my take on the same.
"Danica boosts Daytona 500 TV ratings from last year" - Really?? We are going to put all of that on Danica? I'm sorry, but I believe the wreck the day before, sad to say, had more to do with the boost in ratings than Danica. In fact, I'll go one further to say that three people I personally know told me they watched the race because of the wreck. They didn't know who Danica is. The wreck had made the Saturday evening news and was so horrific, they tuned in the next day. Are they sad individuals because of that? Well, who doesn't slow down to look when they see a wreck on the side of the road.
"Fans injured at Nationwide Race explore legal options" - Honestly, regardless of what the back of the ticket says, any fan injured to the point where they spent a length of time in the hospital, will miss work and not be at home for any length of time would be foolish not to explore their legal options. Will they succeed? That depends on how well the legal stipulations on the ticket are worded, but as a former legal assistant, I can tell you that any kind of legal stipulation would need pages and pages of legal wording, not just what is worded on the back of the ticket to eliminate all recourse for compensation.
"Jeremy Clements suspended by NASCAR for racial comments" - NASCAR takes their Drive for Diversity very seriously, and so they should. Sure, NASCAR is a "good ol' boys" sport, but just the presence of Danica, Johanna Long and Darryl Wallace shows us that anyone regardless of sex, race or religion, deserves the right to drive a race car. That Mr. Clements was surprised at the minimum two race suspension is more telling to me than the act itself. He has not repeated the exact phrasing to anyone, and said the comment was made in passing while describing racing. Unfortunately, if it was said in passing, it is a sentiment that is quite common in his mind, in my opinion. Jeremy expected he might receive a fine. NASCAR thought otherwise. Bravo NASCAR.
As I send this to "press", the Nationwide cars are about to take to the track for practice. By the time the Sprint cup cars take to the track, I'll be working. However, if you are watching and feel the need to fill in the blanks, please do so. I'll check in when i can.