GIVING SOME NASCAR THANKS

In 2010, I am thankful for…

Jamie McMurray’s wins in the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400, and Charlotte’s 500. In a day and age where The Chase is shoved down our throats this team showed that winning races still means something. The Earnhardt-Ganassi group just happened to pick three of the biggest ones of the year to bag.

A Tight Championship Battle. I am not a fan of The Chase. But taking the system for what it is and accepting that this is how the crown is decided, it did make for an exciting title showdown. Three teams had a legitimate shot at the Cup when Homestead went green.

Jimmie Johnson’s five straight Cups. As I write this today and you read it, Johnson fails to move the needle. Very few racers have embraced the Chase system. But I cannot help but wonder if generations from now, Johnson might be revered instead of criticized? I am thankful I have witnessed five straight. I was not alive when Richard Petty won 27 races in 1967, but I’ll bet it was something to see. Now that is a big part of NASCAR history. In its day, he must have had his detractors too.


Richard Childress Racing’s resurgence. In particular Kevin Harvick’s number 29 car. This was the former number three of Dale Earnhardt, a team steeped in Championship tradition. It was good for racing in general to have this team in title contention.

Have At It Boys. I got tired of too much regulation about bump drafting and nit picking driving. Dirty driving lines still exist and racing is not a Wild West lawless routine. But the group of men whom we are told are the best stock car drivers in the world should be able to drive without some NASCAR person in khaki pants and a logoed golf shirt sitting in an air-conditioned booth making judgement calls on bumping. Let men be men.

Internet Media Outlets. There is a platform for the more-common man to state his case to the masses. The down side is, as a society, are we developing a generation of blogging complainers or leaders with fresh ideas?

The Car of Today’s safety aspects. The new chassis and latest equipment has unquestionably made racing safer. As harsh as fans are on the body appearance, the drivers deserve the safest construction around them.

A Nationwide Series Car of Today. The safety aspects come to the second-tier division. Bravo. And the best part is some sense of brand identification comes along with the car. A quality that has long been missing from NASCAR’s upper classes.

Indycar’s resurgence. NASCAR’s rise timed with Indycar’s decline. Not being the biggest show in town gave the Cup tour something to strive for. Once taking the Amercian motorsports lead, that forward vision seems to have been taken for granted. With Indycar reorganizing and resurging, that could again make Daytona Beach decision-makers look over their shoulders. And ensure they make good choices.

Juan Pablo Montoya’s Watkins Glen win and David Reutimann’s Chicago win. Montoya knocked off his second career Cup victory and can now check off both road course tracks as visited Victory Lanes. Reutimann’s strong summertime Windy City score silenced the critics of his rain-shortened 600 win in 2009. Both were names that veered from the norm in Cup winning photos. Variety is always nice in sports.

Tony Stewart winning brings back the owner/driver genre. Stewart had a slower start than he did in 2009 but finally claimed a trophy at Atlanta over Labor Day weekend. He followed that up with an autumn Fontana win. Multi-car team conglomerates dominate the landscape. Granted Stewart didn’t build the operation from scratch but he brought back a twinkle of Alan Kulwicki, Ricky Rudd, and Geoff Bodine. A bygone era that is missed by fans.

My own employment in racing and NOT with a team. I miss the competitive racing side of the sport but certainly not the overpowering politics and who-you-are-buddies-with-lately business models. Competitive motorsports is a cutthroat unstable industry and no place for a person who has others depending on him. Decisions are made with no regard for the human side of the sport. I enjoy being involved more on my own terms.

(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR team mechanic who hosts "Motorweek Live" Thursdays at 9pm ET. Listen at www.racersreunionradio.com)

Related links:
November 15, 1992
Earnhardt’s First Championship
Wave the Checkered under Green
Old School and New School Interviews
Richie Evans Gone 25 years
How would NO Chase look?
Nervous Season For NASCAR Crewmembers
The Chase? No Thanks.
Stock Car and Drag Crews Work Hard
Better to be Bowyer or McMurray?
Weeknight Cup Racing
Nationwide or Late Model Sportsman?
Racing In Night and Day
5 Bristol Dream Races
Mass Engine Confiscations
2010 Chase Drivers Will Be…
Start and Parkers Race at The Glen
Road Course In The Chase?
Track Position Beats 4 Tires
Rubbin’ is NOT Racing
Look For Jamie And Chip When The $ Is Big
Young Guns? No Thanks.
Superstar By Day, Dad At Night
Stock Cars That Look Like Street Cars
Reutimann has TWO legit Cup wins