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MONTE DUTTON: THE REAL REASON THE RACING IS BETTER

Let me tell you what I love about NASCAR that I didn’t 25 years ago.

It’s safer.

In the 1990s, writing about races at Talladega Superspeedway used to scare me. A writer hates dealing with tragedy more than anything else. The job is distasteful, but it has to be done. He sees track workers covering the wreck with tarpaulin and carting it off. He knows the signs that something is terribly wrong. He prays his instincts are wrong, but he knows they aren’t. That’s the way it was the day Dale Earnhardt died on the final lap of the Daytona 500.

MONTE DUTTON: I WISH RACING WAS FOR REAL AGAIN

Football games seem so real, and NASCAR races seem so artificial.

This occurred to me as I was watching the college bowl games.

South Carolina was storming back from a 19-3 deficit to defeat Michigan. The Gamecocks did it the old-fashioned way.

MONTE DUTTON: NASCAR NEEDS CARS THAT ARE COOL

This is a time to accentuate the positive. NASCAR will have plenty of time to disappoint us later.

Chevrolet is running a Camaro. It won’t look as much like a Camaro as the one Tiny Lund drove in the Grand American Division in 1971, but it’s going to be better than the winged Car of Tomorrow (hah!).

We’ll go by our eyes and ears, of course. When the COT was unveiled, NASCAR propaganda ministers passed out press kits and, while the media was squatting down, scratching heads, rubbing eyes, and wondering if hallucinogens had been blended into our sweet teas, informed us – with straight faces! – that the different makes were vastly different.

MONTE DUTTON: THINGS WILL GET BETTER

There really isn’t that much to write about this time of year, and that’s the way it should be. Kids are out of school. The ones in college are already complaining about how “there’s nothing to do” at home.

So we make mountains out of molehills and molehills out of anthills.

“The law firm of Scotch & Waters has announced it is extending its associate sponsorship of Loosy Goosy Motorsports from 18 to 19 races. To celebrate its increased investment, one lucky fan will get a frivolous lawsuit for absolutely free!”

MONTE DUTTON: A FEW THINGS I’VE LEARNED

In the absence of NASCAR races actually going on, it’s natural to daydream and reminisce.

Talking to Cotton Owens about David Pearson was like reading a Superman comic. Talking to Dale Earnhardt when he was in a bad mood was like pulling teeth. Talking to Richard Petty any time was, and most likely still is, a pleasure.

The wisest sentence about NASCAR I ever heard was from Bobby Allison: “Every year the tracks get more alike, the cars get more alike, and the drivers get more alike. Then they wonder why can’t nobody pass one another.”

A textbook illustration of the Law of Generations, often credited to the author Pearl S. Buck, is the France family. As demonstrated in the novel The Good Earth, the first generation lifts a family up by its bootstraps, the second generation takes it beyond its wildest dreams, and the third generation squanders the empire.

CP MOTORSPORTS - FIELD SET FOR ‘THE CLASH’ AT DAYTONA


NASCAR.COM Jerry Markland | Getty Images

NASCAR fans get a double-dose of racing action to open the 2018 season on Sunday, February 11, with The Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway capping a day that starts with Coors Light Pole Award qualifying for the 60th Annual Daytona 500.

A star-studded lineup of elite drivers will battle in the 75-lap event which airs live on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 3 pm ET. The annual preseason race will be run in two segments, with a competition caution at lap 25 separating the segments.

MONTE DUTTON: LEAVE BAD ENOUGH ALONE

It’s holiday season, which means that stock car racing fans, confronted by a period when engines are not firing nor checkered flags waving, ask themselves, when bored by yet another ballgame:

How can they fix it?

It’s not how can they fix it. They can’t fix it. The Lords of Daytona Beach think they can fix it by showing up or watching on TV, but NASCAR’s problems are no simple matter. To paraphrase from a baseball love story, if they fix it, we will come. If we merely come – perhaps, to quell the multitude of dirty minds, if we go, as to the track – that will not fix it.

MONTE DUTTON: A LONG TIME FORGOTTEN

The death of Walter “Bud” Moore led me to reminisce about other stock car racing heroes I knew during my time traveling with the gypsy troupe that follows NASCAR from coast to coast.

A “troupe,” as opposed to a “troop,” refers to a group of entertainers. I found our troupe wildly entertaining.

In the 1990s fulltime and part-time for many years afterwards, I worked for Hal Hamrick at FasTrack, a weekly tabloid. Hal and I made many long trips together, and a lot of what I know about the heroes of my youth came from stories relayed by Hal while we were driving to and from Daytona Beach, or a trade show in Syracuse, N.Y., or just sitting around FasTrack’s Gastonia, N.C., office. I know the stories well because I heard most of them more than once.

Hal broadcast races for the old Performance Racing Network. A prized possession of his was a wooden Coca-Cola crate he sat on while bringing a race from Martinsville to radio listeners. Hal worked in public relations for Chrysler, on both the NASCAR circuit and the NHRA. He ran tracks in Atlanta, Hickory, Bristol and a wildly successful dirt bullring in Woodstock, Ga., at various times, and broadcast the first Daytona 500 in 1959. Hal died in 2008 at age 79. His was a friendship I cherished. I learned from him information about Fred Lorenzen, Fireball Roberts, David Pearson, Bobby Isaac and Junior Johnson, among many others, that I never could have gotten elsewhere.

CP MOTORSPORTS -WALTER "BUD" MOORE PASSES AWAY

 

Credit: 348527NASCAR

Walter "Bud" Moore Jr., a decorated member of America’s "Greatest Generation" who went on to win NASCAR championships as car owner and crew chief, has died at the age of 92.

Moore, a Spartanburg, S.C., native who won the NASCAR premier series title in 1957 as crew chief for Buck Baker and car owner titles in 1962-63 with Joe Weatherly, had been the oldest living member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2011.

 

MONTE DUTTON: THE DELIGHTFUL SURPRISE

 

It now seems as if Martin Truex Jr.’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship was a foregone conclusion. A system that was designed not to work, worked. NASCAR officials drew up their latest title format like a concept album. They put in phases, stages, circles, cycles, and a few other miscellaneous words from Willie Nelson songs, and, miracle of miracles, the guy with eight victories and 2,253 laps led actually won the championship.

I just surfed the Internet, looking at preseason predictions. No one I could find predicted Truex to be the champion. I found one seer who predicted he would make the final four. Much more common were such prognostications as:

“I think this is Joey Logano’s year.”

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