Random Thoughts on Throwback Darlington and the 2015 Sprint Cup Season from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Rusty Norman

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Well, I’ve finally made it back to health and I’ve caught up enough on things I’ve had planned for a while to get back into the swing of talking about NASCAR from this fan’s view. I could have probably started back into this routine a little sooner but I just haven’t had that much to say one way or the other about the Sprint Cup season this year. With all of the rule changes and racing that has at times bordered on boring, this has probably been a year I could have missed (but would have probably never forgiven myself if I did.)

For some reason (and part of it could be due to my heart attack in February), it just hasn’t held the same interest for me as past years. I’m sure I’ll get over it and I do look forward to the Chase getting started but seriously, if it hadn’t been for some of those late race cautions, the outcomes to many races would have been completely predictable.

I know you’ve been paying attention to the Throwback theme for Darlington this weekend and it has been interesting to see how some of the teams have celebrated their sport and its heritage over the last sixty-five years. We’ve had a glimpse of cars looking like ones from years ago and some drivers having fun and celebrating by trying to look like the legends and heroes from days gone by.

Although I admire them for their success to reach this point in their careers, some of them are a long way from being anything like the legends they try to portray and many will never make the impact their successors made in the sport.

Admittedly there are those that I’ve made snap judgments on in the past and I have had to change my mind or at least my impression of them. For others, my first impression was absolutely correct and I may tolerate them and somewhat appreciate their talent but, will probably never be even close to what could be considered as a fan. Some of those I just mentioned have been around for several years and even though they are talented drivers, their actions on and off the track have failed to change my mind.

One thing I have noticed over the last several years; when I started writing regularly about the Cup series, my viewpoint changed in how I look at the drivers and their performance on and off the track. I’ve tried hard not to show favoritism toward any particular driver even though I do have several favorites (and one of them is retiring after this year.)

Some of them like to talk smack about their competition and blame everyone but themselves for their poor performance at times. Most of them do mature over time but some just never understand people’s impression of them is based not only on the talent they exhibit on the track but on how they handle adversities they face in the course of this, their chosen career.

Probably the one thing that disappoints me most in any driver is when they begin to whine about every little setback they have in the course of a season. They refuse to take any responsibility for their lack of progress or success and always have a tendency to blame other drivers, crew members or the owners. If they have a bad race it is because someone back at the shop didn’t do their job or the owner isn’t putting enough money into their part of the operation and several other reasons but it is never their fault.

I won’t mention any names here because I don’t want to start an unnecessary argument with anyone but most of us readily spot the whiners. Legitimate complaints I have no problem with and every team goes through growing pains even if they’ve been together for a while. Sometimes a driver has to make it known that he’s doing everything possible to work with what he has and improvement needs to happen but when the pre and post race interviews begin to sound like whining, well… that’s where I have to draw the line and I do.

There hasn’t been too much of that this season but there has been enough of it in the past from the drivers I’m thinking of to last me for a good long time. Believe me when I tell you, I am not impressed with anyone that refuses to take at least partial responsibility for the inability of a ‘team’ to perform (and I emphasize the word “team” because this is still a team sport and that includes the drivers and they are not only part of the success but the problems when they are encountered along the way, too.)

Oh well, enough of my ranting (even though it has been a long time coming.)

The race at Darlington tonight is one of two last chances for some to “win” their way into the Chase. Twelve are in according to wins and points and four are on the top side of the bubble. One of those is Jeff Gordon and he could win tonight and lock himself into the Chase but he wouldn’t even have to worry about winning tonight if he hadn’t twice beat himself when he had two races fairly well locked up this season. It’s unfortunate that his final season has almost come down to a have to win situation but in reality, he can only blame himself this year. Of course, in this fan’s opinion, his crew chief hasn’t been all that impressive this season either.

I really do believe tonight’s race will be an interesting one and, with the reduced down force in the cars, staying away from hard contact with the wall could make the difference in winning or losing and having a chance to be in the Chase. For at least eight drivers tonight it is all about winning and their chances to do so and make the Chase are down to the slimmest of margins. I’m expecting fireworks but not the kind that light up the night sky…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 6, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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