The Charlotte Roval promised to be chaotic, a fantasy design straight out of the old video games that was going to tear cars up and dash hopes. Well, that narrative did not pan out, at least in the early going on Sunday. As for the ending, well, that was another story.
Richmond, the second race of the opening rung of the championship ladder. Only four storylines awaited to be written. Who would win, and would it be Brad Keselowski for a fourth straight contest?
Now it gets real. There is no argument as to whom the contenders are, and who are the pretenders. Say what you will, but even though there might be forty cars on the track, only 16 matter.
Yet, the big story was the start of the race. When would that be? The wet cold rainy weather punted both practice and qualifying, thus nobody would have any laps in their car when the green waved. None. Zip.
Darlington was a day all about time. A time when in 1950 the first Southern 500 was run. A time when some of the great names from the past were brought back to be saluted by their sport in the present. A time when 0.6 seconds can mean everything.
Officially, Saturday night’s race was not billed as the Bristol Busch Brothers 500. Those two boys are almost always front and center at the venue. Even when they do not want to be.
Domination and elimination was the story from Michigan on Sunday afternoon. Kevin Harvick dominated and eliminated everyone else from view. He dominated the opening stage. He overcame another pit road miscue that cost him five spots between stages, but he eliminated the danger to come back to claim that, too.
I believe one certain guy would agree with me “that was awesome, Bill from Dawsonville!” Watkins Glen was damned entertaining right from the start, thanks to the action and thanks to the best broadcast crew in the business.
We all tune in for the potential excitement, but the storylines set up the race. At Pocono, we witnessed Jimmie Johnson make his 600th career start. We wondered if the Big Three would dominate yet again. We also wondered how the bad boys, and maybe a few bad girls back at the shop, would fare after 13 cars failed post-qualifying tech.
Watching Loudon on Sunday was a whole lot like watching Shawshank Redemption. I have seen bits and pieces of that movie, maybe, a couple of dozen times or more. The first half of the New Hampshire race had me watching nothing but our favorites of this year over and over and over.