MONTE DUTTON - GO TO VEGAS FOR THE WHOLE PACKAGE
When the Monster Energy Cup schedule shifts from regular season to playoffs, it shifts in focus from on the track to off.
The traveling band, more a gigantic marching band in size, wandered from Darlington Raceway, its most historic track, to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which claims that distinction in the world.
Watch the marketing focus shift from “most famous track on earth” to “Viva, Viva, Las Vegaassss!”
This is the 22nd race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I probably covered 10-12. I haven’t been there, or anywhere else except Charlotte, since 2012. Mark Martin won the first, which I kind of remember.
What I remember vividly are shows: the late impressionist Danny Gans, and Willie Nelson & Family after an afternoon road trip and joy ride to Lake Mead and back. And discovering, while waiting for a table at an Italian restaurant, that the late Jerry Lewis was standing right behind me, eavesdropping at me telling a friend who he was. (The menu mentioned that the restaurant was a favorite of his, and I believe it to have been true.)
I remember dancing girls enclosed mostly in feathers. I never found much success gambling in Vegas. Fate rewarded me often at the Dover slots.
During those years, here is the total of what I learned about gambling: (1.) with horses, bet the jockey; (2.) with greyhounds, bet the stable; (3.) in Vegas, the payout is greater out on the edge of town; and (4.), in Dover, play the slots before the NASCAR fans arrive and after they leave.
The above is for amusement purposes only.
Five of the 16 playoff drivers have won there. Jimmie Johnson has won four, which may not mean much this year. The hottest driver in the series, Brad Keselowski, has won twice, as has Kevin Harvick, who won the most recent. Kyle Busch, the Las Vegas native, and Martin Truex Jr. have also had reason to yell the name of another song, “Ooh, Las Vegas!” from victory/winners lane/circle.
In other trivial news, Alex Bowman is in the playoffs. My luck, having written that, he’ll win.
Keselowski, who had never won “a major race,” has now collected two of them – the Bojangles’ Southern 500 and the Big Machine Brickyard 400 – in succession.
Maybe the playoffs begin with a Big 4 instead of a Big 3 (Harvick, Busch, Truex), or maybe Keselowski is replacing Truex, who seems to be languishing in the realization that his team is shutting down at year’s end.
Whatever. I’d bet three of them will be among the four who qualify to settle the title in Homestead, Fla., on Nov. 18. Thanks to all the bonus points bouncing around, setting off bells and whistles, the process isn’t as wide-open as the Chase was.
I’m not against that, by the way.