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MONTE DUTTON - OUT WHERE THE DESERT SPARKLES

Darlington Raceway is as precious to NASCAR fans as Lambeau Field to connoisseurs of professional football. Indianapolis, though often derided by the stock car faithful, is the most famous place to race cars in the country and likely the world.

Next? Viva … viva … Las Vegassssss!

Sure, fans go to see the race, but they don’t go to Vegas just for the racing. They hit the casinos, not to mention the lavish shows. Once I left the track and headed to the Hoover Dam, then got back in time to see Willie Nelson at the Orleans. Another time a friend and I drove through Death Valley.

TRUEX BETS ON HIMSELF AT VEGAS

 

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 15, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)


The Playoffs have begun with a strong statement from Martin Truex Jr. in the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but with his great, many other playoff drivers hit snags throughout the race. 

 

MONTE DUTTON – THE TIME I MISSED THE PULITZER

 

Race fans do not like to see death. They like to see death defied. People who go to the circus like to see someone shot out of a cannon. Claiming a fan doesn’t like to see wrecks is like saying football fans don’t like hits, or baseball fans home runs, or basketball fans three-pointers.

Twice, in particular, at Bristol Motor Speedway, death was defied.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES RETURNS TO RICHMOND

 

Richmond Raceway (Richmond) and INDYCAR officially announced a multi-year deal for the NTT IndyCar Series to return to America’s Premier Short Track at a press conference. The announcement was made near the historic Start/Finish Line at Richmond. For the first time in 11 years, the NTT IndyCar Series will race at Richmond “under the lights” on Saturday, June 27, 2020. Richmond will host a festival headlined by the NTT IndyCar Series, welcoming fans to engage in a speed-themed weekend event on June 26-27, 2020.

HARVICK KISSES THE BRICKS AS THE PLAYOFFS ARE SET


Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 08, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a crown jewel track that every racecar driver would love to go and win at and put their name in the record books as Kevin Harvick did this Sunday when he won the Big Machine Vodka 400 to capture his third win of the year. But for this year only, Indy became something more than just another race to win for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup drivers to win, it became a moment they had all been racing for all season, the moment the playoffs begin.Kevin Harvick, with no pressure to make the playoffs, got the pole while Paul Menard would surprise by starting second. Harvick got to a strong lead early on as he already had a over three second lead only five laps in. Soon after, the issues began for one driver trying to make the playoffs as Daniel Suarez brought out the caution after he got too high out of the corner and heavily scraped the wall but kept it moving. 

 

ERIK JONES ENDS A LATE NIGHT AT DARLINGTON IN VICTORY

 

Erik Jones, driver of the #20 Sport Clips Throwback Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 02, 2019 in Darlington, South Carolina.
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

This season has been a trying one for Erik Jones in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, while being consistent and keeping himself in playoff contention, his future has been murky at Joe Gibbs Racing due to being the only driver not having a win on the team while Christopher Bell has been very strong in the Xfinity series and has been making a case for a Cup ride. Essentially, Erik Jones needed a win to make his own case as to why he deserves his ride and at the Bojangles’ Southern 500 he got that win; beating his teammate, the strong Kyle Busch, for it.

 

MONTE DUTTON – WHEN A RACE FAN LOVED RACING AND THAT WAS ALL

I wish the Southern 500 was the last race. The season – even when the Let’s Make a Deal playoffs get underway – seems anticlimactic after The Track Too Tough to Tame has, in fact, been tamed. Most of the remaining tracks – notable exception: Martinsville – seem adolescent after The Granddaddy of Them All presides over the remnants of the France Dynasty.

Que sera, sera.

In South Carolina, the only downer is that Clemson has already played. It was Thursday, so by Sunday, the bold, boisterous Tiger fans should be sufficiently rested to watch a race on Sunday night. By Monday, the office doldrums will seem normal after a post-Thursday Clemson hangover of joy.

MONTE DUTTON – WHEN NASCAR HAD ORIGINALS

For about a month in 1993, I disliked Harry Gant.

It was the first year my primary job was writing about NASCAR. I had written about occasional races since 1981. I had attended them as far back as 1965. Lest you say to yourself right now, “My God, is Dutton that old?” let the record note I was seven when Ned Jarrett won that day.

Anyway, I knew the sport and was anxious to make my fortune. It became endlessly frustrating when every time I asked Gant a question, his answer was ridiculous.

MONTE DUTTON – EVERYTHING CHANGES EXCEPT CHANGE ITSELF

We, as NASCAR, or auto racing, or just auto enthusiasts, or citizens of this blue marble of a planet, tend to think it’s never been as good or bad as it is right now.

Right now. This instant.

MONTE DUTTON – THE WILD BLUE YONDER

For what it’s worth, I have never known anyone killed in a commercial airline crash. On the other hand, I’ve had several friends whose lives were lost in private crashes. It may be a coincidence.

At this stage of my life, I don’t much care to fly. I don’t have the slightest bit of fear. With the airlines, I flew a lot of USAir, Delta, American and Continental over the years, and my main misgiving is based on ease of travel. Convenience, comfort, courtesy and timeliness went slowly down the tubes for 20 years. Every single one of them seemed worse than the year before.

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