Sometimes the news is good like it was at Talladega last week. Entertaining races and I loved the Cup guys manning the microphones for the Xfinity race. They were laid back, funny, and in the case of Darrell Wallace, Jr., pretty darn articulate. Michael Waltrip was a pizza delivery boy, and it brought me back to the best NASCAR show ever. I miss Inside Winston Cup, where Waltrip was held in line by Ken Schrader. Allen Bestwick and Johnny Benson tried to keep things moving forward in a loosely sane manner, even as a garbage truck rolled noisily down the alley behind their studio.
Last Saturday, Spencer Gallagher made that announce crew quite giddy as he claimed his first career junior circuit triumph. The 28-year old won it for his team owner, his dad Maury, as the family operation climbed to the top of the mountain. What a wonderful story. So heartwarming. So family orientated. So traditional.
Well, that went for crap in a hurry. Today, young Gallagher is suspended for violating NASCAR’s drug policy. He is now on their quaintly named Road to Recovery Program. Gone is his team’s shot at the Dash 4 Cash money. Gone is his playoff eligibility for this season. It is a good thing dad has rather deep pockets.
On the positive side of things, Amy and Dale Jr. welcomed Isla Rose Earnhardt into the family on Monday. It is way too early to play matchmaker, but His Royal Highness Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge is a fine looking young man. Then again, she is already royalty in our books.
Let us hope Dover brings us another feel-good story, one that might last the week. Dover is no Talladega, but they do have Miles the Monster, in sculpture and trophy form. This is the 50th year the track has hosted a Cup event, starting with Richard Petty’s 1969 win in the inaugural Mason-Dixon 300. The venue marked NASCAR’s return to action after 9-11, a race won by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Track records for practice and race times over all three national series are held by the likes of Brad Keselowski, Mark Martin, Bill Elliott, Erik Jones, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney. Jimmie Johnson has won 11 times on that surface.
You might not remember Jody Ridley, who won there in 1981. He might be the only former winner you might not know. Thirty-five drivers have claimed at least one of the 96 contests at Dover. A pair of Allisons won there. Each Busch brother. A couple of Earnhardts. Two guys named Petty. Forty were won by Hall of Famers, 68 by drivers who have laid claim to the Cup championship.
Dover brings us both Miles the Monster and tradition. You can never have enough of either.
Among our Hot 20 we have…
1. KYLE BUSCH – 3 WINS – 447 Pts
When he’s not happy, he’s not smiling.
2. KEVIN HARVICK – 3 WINS – 366 Pts
Smiles when he is happy, smiles when he is not. Beware of the unhappy smile. It is evil.
3. JOEY LOGANO – 1 WIN – 417 Pts
Spotter T.J. Majors helped Junior to victory at Talladega in 2015, and now Logano in 2018.
4. CLINT BOWYER – 1 WIN – 335 Pts
The Fords are flying, the Mustang is on its way, but the rest of the sedan fleet is DOA?
5. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 1 WIN – 303 Pts
Was winless at Dover last year, but claimed the most points (3rd and 4th).
6. AUSTIN DILLON – 1 WIN – 210 Pts
Did he pee himself last week? You would have to ask team interior mechanic Adam Brown.
7. KURT BUSCH – 320 POINTS
Runner-up at Talladega. “I feel like I left that one out on the table.”
8. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 317 POINTS
He really could have used an ice-cream after Sunday’s wreck.
9. DENNY HAMLIN – 314 POINTS
He meant to get back-to-back speeding penalties. He needed the challenge.
10. RYAN BLANEY – 313 POINTS
Last Saturday he was very good for television but absolutely perfect for radio.
11. KYLE LARSON – 280 POINTS
With NASCAR buying ARCA this week, he can now add to his Cup, Xfinity, and Truck tallies.
12. ARIC ALMIROLA – 278 POINTS
Driving a SHR Ford has been sweet for the entire gang.
13. ALEX BOWMAN – 238 POINTS
When a cashier asked him what he thought about Junior retiring, he said his replacement is lame.
14. ERIK JONES – 234 POINTS
Has some points room, but not that much room to repeat what took place last time out.
15. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 230 POINTS
The kid did not take the air out of his sails, but it sure disappeared around that rear fender.
16. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 217 POINTS
Some think all one needs is more cowbell. Kurt Busch needed a bit more Stenhouse.
17. RYAN NEWMAN – 214 POINTS
Close to a playoff spot, a 594 race career, and Spencer Gallagher gets all the headlines?
18. CHASE ELLIOTT – 209 POINTS
Third place finish the best among three Chevrolets in the Top Ten last Sunday.
19. PAUL MENARD – 206 POINTS
Won the second stage last week, yet finished 30th with some fender bending assistance.
20. WILLIAM BYRON – 202 POINTS
Twenty percent fewer tuned in to watch Byron at Talladega than who watched Gordon and Junior last year. That is shocking, even in these times.