MONTE DUTTON – BAD TIMES AND GREAT OLDIES
They’re off. For a short period of time, only NASCAR is in the playoffs. Baseball will arrive shortly. Football is a long way off. This should be stock car racing’s time to shine.
But it’s not. Four drivers have had superlative seasons. In the unlikely event that the playoffs actually wind down fairly, those drivers – Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex and Brad Keselowski – will decided the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship between them.
Not that NASCAR or anything else is fair, by the way.
In Las Vegas, Keselowski became the third driver this season to win three races in a row. It’s never happened before. With victories in the final two regular-season races, Darlington and Indianapolis, and the first one in the playoffs (Vegas), Keselowski has added another dimension to the races down the stretch to the grand finale in Homestead, Fla.
I’m excited. I assume you’re excited because you’re reading my words. In general, though, America is not excited. Las Vegas is such a vibrant city of high rollers, I’m surprised more people didn’t just wander into Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
There are those who have this week suggested that Keselowski has won because, to borrow a term understood well in Sin City, “he played his cards right.” That happens to be a major part of why Harvick, Busch and Truex dominated the season right up to the sudden rise by Keselowski.
Others have been fast. Kyle Larson has been fast. Chase Elliott has been fast. Denny Hamlin has been fast.
All season long, fans have been waiting for someone else to emerge. Keselowski answered that call. I think he’s in it to stay. Then again, I can’t figure out why Larson doesn’t win with regularity.
Next up is Richmond, another track that has provided quality short-track racing for so long that many fans have stopped noticing.
The traditional base of stock car racing has grown into a cynical, surly lot. NASCAR officials took them for granted when, under Brian France’s direction, it decided to grab the sport and beam it into the 21st Century.
In the wake of modernity, the fans have grown into antagonistic, warring camps. On the one hand are the few, the proud, the ones still there. On the other are those who believe the sport has betrayed them and left them in the wilderness. Some of the most loyal have become the least loyal.
It seems baffling, but, then again, so does the whole country. It seems as if everyone is mad about something.