CP MOTORSPORTS – MONTE DUTTON: ‘… AND, OH, WHAT HEIGHTS WE’LL HIT! ON WITH THE SHOW, THIS IS IT!’
At this point, each year, I recall the words of future U.S. Senator John Blutarsky and adapt them to my agenda, just the way that politicians do.
Another year of NASCAR, down the drain. (Unlike Bluto, in an ancient movie called Animal House, I was among the few, the proud, those who didn't take seven years to get out of college.)
I actually spent 20 years chasing the circus, which moved from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey through Winston, Nextel and Sprint over the years. It became a Chase, a Sprint, a Chase for the Sprint and a Sprint for the Chase.
Back in the old days, it was just a championship that came with a cup.
Now, for three years, I've watched from afar, which is easier now than it was for, oh, the captain of a sailing ship, peering through a spyglass, watching for the skull and crossbones on the horizon.
I’ve got high-definition, satellite TV, and a laptop, and an iPhone, and the social media. As Jackson Browne sang: We've got rural scenes and magazines / We've got truckers on CB / We've got Richard Pryor on the video.
Chris Rock. Whatever.
When I drive somewhere, my phone tells me how. Fiddle around with it a little, and it'll tell me what to think, but that's all right, because it works the other way, too.
My perspective has changed, but it would have, anyway, just not the same way. There's age and stuff.
Here's my observation (and, yes, I've made it before): If every race is a classic, then there is no such thing as a classic.
Broadened version, adapted to current events: If every Chase is a classic, then there is no such thing as a classic.
The Ford EcoBoost 400 might not have a Ford driver in the finals, but it will be dramatic. There is no alternative. Four drivers, with varying degrees of success but a great sense of timing, are all even with one race to go, and their biggest problem is the 39 other drivers wandering along, trying to act like they still belong.
So the race wasn’t a classic? Big deal. The Chase is always a classic. It has to be.
At the start, there are 16 titans clashing. Sixteen with a shot at the championship with 10 races to go!
Let me throw you a name: Paul Menard.
From there, through three segments of three races apiece, the field is thinned by performance and luck, good and bad, to 12 and then eight and then four, and, if it works perfectly, as it did this year, at the end, there will be a man of season-long consistency (Kevin Harvick), a rags-to-riches story (Kyle Busch), a Cinderella story (Martin Truex Jr.) and a walk up the 18th green for the longtime and departing great (Jeff Gordon).
What there won't likely be are the four best drivers in the four best cars.
It's designed for excitement. Thus is it exciting.
The three biggest winners -- Joey Logano (six wins), Matt Kenseth (five) and Jimmie Johnson (five) -- were all eliminated from the Pick Four early (Kyle Busch's win at Homestead was his fifth, too). Logano didn't make it because Kenseth wrecked him. Kenseth didn't make it because Logano wrecked him. Harvick made it because he wrecked a bunch of others.
All those little ping-pong balls. Tonight’s winning numbers: 4 … 18 … 24 … 78!
Johnson didn't make it because of natural causes. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won too late. Gordon made the finals because he won just right, and Kyle Busch won the championship because he did, too.
It's just the way the cookie crumbles. Uh, Chase. The way the Chase crumbles.