Hot 20 over the past 10 – California, not one of your daddy’s NASCAR traditionsBy Ron Thornton
This week, back in 1933, there was no NASCAR. Moonshiners, for sure, and probably a few in Saskatchewan. My dad was born there 80 years ago this week, and along with mom we got together recently with his six children, their spouses, seven grandchildren, and even one great-grandchild still a few months away from making his or her debut. I bring this up to illustrate how important it is to remember our roots, to celebrate those who are responsible for where you are, where you have been, and maybe even get an idea as to where you are going.
With this Sunday’s race coming up in Fontana, California, we are reminded that sometimes NASCAR has taken an axe to its roots. They have been seen as being too busy trying to break out of its southeast United States homeland in seeking out greener pastures that they forgot who “brung ‘em.” They started racing at the Auto Club Speedway in 1997 and the racing there has been, well, rather lousy over the years. Then in 2004, as part of a legal settlement, NASCAR rejigged its schedule. After 55 years as one of the sport’s crown jewel events, the traditional Labor Day date of Darlington’s Southern 500 was sent to California.
Let me repeat that. NASCAR sold out 55 years of tradition at the Lady in Black for a bucket of warm spit in the sunshine as they sought more fans and big money. Well, at least they got the sunshine. The date proved so popular on the west coast that it got moved to Atlanta in 2009, to become that venue’s only race date after the spring race there was awarded to Kentucky. Anyone remember the nightmare that turned out to be?
Here’s hoping that come Sunday I can tell you how surprised I was, how great the racing proved to be, how much it was like the first four contests of the season. Our champion Brad Keselowski continues with his hot hand as of late, with Clint Bowyer making some noise by moving up four spots from last week. Still, our biggest mover was Kurt Busch, who replaces a 39th place finish last fall at Talladega with a fourth place result last Sunday. The biggest drop belonged to Jeff Gordon, who may have lost a tire but gained a wall and Matt Kenseth. He was 2nd at Talladega, but that result is replaced by his 34th place outcome in Bristol.
We may be leaving a traditional track behind as our attention focuses westward, but tradition dictates that hope springs eternal from week to week. Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Ryan Newman hope California is the place they got to be, so they’ve loaded up their trucks and… Well, if you are older than 50 you know how that classic goes.
|Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||274||14||17||0||2||6|
|Martin Truex, Jr.||264||17||16||0||1||4|