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The first time I went to Texas Motor Speedway, it was breaking ground and cutting ribbons. Bruton Smith flew in the NASCAR Media Tour to watch. When we got off the plane, a band was playing something like “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” A few concrete columns had already been buried in the ground at the site. A bus took us to the Fort Worth Stockyards, where we hit the chow line for some barbecue.

Thomas Pope tried to make conversation with the gray-haired lady doling out brisket by telling her about how they buried a pig in the ground back in the Carolinas.

The lady sniffed and said, “Pork is for sausage.”

The dickens, you say.

That day I felt like an extra in the movie Giant.

For the third year in a row, something dramatic happened in Martinsville, Va. The last lap was as much calf wrestling as racing, with Joey Logano being the bulldogger and Martin Truex Jr. the bulldoggee.

Some criticized Logano for his anything-goes tactics. Some thought it was “what racing is all about.” Most everyone watching enjoyed the spectacle.

It really shouldn’t be a surprise that the crowd was OK and the ratings flat. When people made their spectating and programming decisions, they didn’t know what was going to happen. Theoretically, a knock-down, drag-out, ki-yi-yippie-yi-yay ending should make its impact the next week.

It won’t, though. NASCAR faces a long slog on its march back to the prominence of a decade ago. On the good side, its remaining fans are happy. They are pleased with the product.

On the other, many onetime fans have just disappeared. They might as well have been the settlers of Roanoke Island. By the time NASCAR officials got around to checking on them, they had vanished.

They’re out there somewhere. Alleged sightings have been chalked up to dirt tracks, drag races, college football games and Trump rallies. Nothing has been confirmed, though. I thought I saw a fellow from a Charlotte tweet-up at Boo in the Park in Laurens, but I couldn’t tell for sure. He was in costume as one of the Fantastic Four. I asked him if he was a NASCAR fan. He said evil-doers everywhere would rejoice if he divulged his secret identity.

Now NASCAR is off to Texas, where there’s a little bit of everything, even pork barbecue if you know where to look.