Flat Spot On: 6-Time, The Intimidator and The King
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Top Ten “Tweets” from Homestead-Miami Speedway’s NASCAR championship finale.
1. Let the battle begin in earnest – if Jimmie Johnson gets one more title and wins a seventh championship does that mean he’s the equal of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt? (His status as one of the all-time greats is the only thing secure in this debate.)
2. On Saturday, did NASCAR officials choose not to drop a needed red flag in the closing laps of the Nationwide race to avoid a conflict with the Alabama game scheduled next on ESPN? (Not endorsing this peculiar decision, but worse than Donovan McNabb’s “Jimmie Johnson’s not an athlete” mumbo jumbo would have been a major outbreak of anti-NASCAR invective from Alabama fans anxious to see the game against Mississippi State.)
3. NASCAR used to have feuds, now it has flaps. (Flaps disappear overnight, feuds sustain some seriously passionate rivalries.)
4. Some nabob asked Rick Hendrick why he doesn’t like his team, which has now won 11 championships, being compared to the New York Yankees. (When was the last time, besides never, did anybody who grew up on a farm in Virginia want to be identified with Yankees?)
5. Goodyear is being asked to perform another miracle with its tires – and imitate Pirelli in F1 – despite the fact the Sprint Cup cars weigh twice as much as an F1 chassis. (The consensus is that if tires have more “give up” on intermediate tracks during a stint, there will be more overtaking and lead changes.)
6. While Kyle Busch is directing the 60-plus employees of Kyle Busch Motorsports en route to the team owner’s championship in the Camping World Truck Series, what is Jimmie Johnson doing? (Probably working on winning yet another Sprint Cup championship.)
7. Hard luck Sam Hornish Jr., with no ride next year despite almost winning the Nationwide title captured by Austin Dillon, appears to be the latest Indy car driver to not make a successful transition to the Sprint Cup. (One suspects Hornish turned down an opportunity to replace retiring Dario Franchitti on Chip Ganassi’s Indy car team next year because he prefers ovals to road racing.)
8. Whatever happened to those comparisons of the old “Latford” points system versus the current Chase system? (You know – “if the season ended now” but 11 years ago…)
9. Races at Homestead present a unique visual of speed during in-car camera shots thanks to the patterns dancing on the wall. (The marine green wall at Homestead gets an abstract of black rubber smudge marks during the witching hour at sunset when drivers in the high groove are flying semi-blind.)
10. So long to Mark Martin, who is riding off into the sunset again after driving his cars on the edge for 40 years. (Until, maybe, a front-line team needs a pinch driver, at which time it will be nice to see NASCAR’s little iron man working that steering wheel so close to the chest.
11. (Bonus) Kenny Schrader vows the Ford EcoBoost 400 was his last Cup event. (But will definitely continue racing more than 70 short track events a year.)
12. (Bonus) It was good to see a full house at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which seats 55,000, for Sunday’s finale. (If Daytona is subtracting 40,000 seats during “Daytona Rising,” don’t look for Homestead to add new seats any time soon.)
12. (Championship Bonus) “About the only thing I see that might (lose) it would be one of these sink holes they have down here.” (Prior to the race, only “The King,” Richard Petty, could put this colorful forecast to Jimmie Johnson’s chances of clinching a sixth championship.)
– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at email@example.com Comments