As the action returns to Daytona, Florida this weekend, I must admit something. I love the look of the Confederate battle flag. I love the stories of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and James Longstreet. I loved the Dukes of Hazzard, good ole boys, and good ole girls even better. Junior was the name of Mr. Johnson or Hank’s boy. I think Copperhead Road is one hell of a song, and even Lincoln liked the tune of Dixie. Then there is Nathan Bedford Forrest, Jim Crow, and an additional century of institutionalized racism to consider, all equally associated with the rebel banner.
Many years ago, while visiting Florida, I bought a belt buckle bearing that symbol. I cannot wear it for the same reason it should no longer fly at NASCAR tracks. Variations of it flew from 1861-1865 leading the way for Confederate armies into battle in their fight to defend the southern way of life, of which slavery was a main component. Maybe it could have survived that connection, as it has up to this point. Still, you cannot ignore its association since with segregation and the racist policies and actions of the following hundred years since the Civil War, all of which has made it a contemporary political and social lightening rod.
Some will argue that such a ban also treads on the southern way of life, forgetting that southern blacks especially are not newcomers to the party. Their ancestors have also been part of the fabric of the region since the very beginning. As much as its reminds some of bravery on the field or a romanticized lost cause, it is also an insulting, insensitive reminder of a people held in bondage, a denial of civil rights and white supremacy. I cannot see how the two views can be reconciled today. Can you?
The Hot 20 returning to Daytona Sunday night include…
1. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 4 WINS (546 Points)
One darn caution too many spoiled his road tour.
2. KEVIN HARVICK – 2 WINS (616 Points)
Jack car up, take tire off, put tire on…before dropping the damn jack.
3. KURT BUSCH – 2 WINS (469 Points)
He wins one week, his brother wins the next week. See, sharing with siblings can be fun.
4. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 1 WIN (563 Points)
This week, Martin remembers his family, his friends, his country and, no doubt, David Ragan.
5. JOEY LOGANO – 1 WIN (559 Points)
Seemed to do alright the last time he was at Daytona.
6. DALE EARNHARDT JR. – 1 WIN (545 Points)
Sonoma was fun, but Daytona is a family tradition.
7. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 1 WIN (505 Points)
If you call him Joey, that is how he’ll sign the autograph.
8. MATT KENSETH – 1 WIN (479 Points)
Going from one of his worst venues to one of his favorites.
9. DENNY HAMLIN – 1 WIN (438 Points)
Has yet to win at Daytona, but he has come close enough to bear watching.
10. CARL EDWARDS – 1 WIN (405 Points)
Had he done to Ragan what Ragan had done to Martin, all would have been well.
11. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 497 POINTS
Won on only four tracks; once at Indy, twice each at Charlotte, Talladega, and Sunday’s venue.
12. KASEY KAHNE – 483 POINTS
Last two summer races at Daytona resulted in fireworks of the unappreciated kind.
13. JEFF GORDON – 462 POINTS
Memo to crew: Take out spring rubber, walk with spring rubber, gently place it over the wall.
14. PAUL MENARD – 452 POINTS
Being consistently 14th or 15th is okay, but being consistently ninth or 10th would be even better.
15. RYAN NEWMAN – 435 POINTS
If this becomes a horse race to be won by just a neck…
16. ARIC ALMIROLA – 431 POINTS
When he shaves, he sees Clint standing behind him in the mirror.
17. CLINT BOWYER – 430 POINTS
Sixteenth in actual accumulated points…but Carl has the win and he does not.
18. KYLE LARSON – 390 POINTS
To my knowledge, has never posted a yoga video.
19. DANICA PATRICK – 377 POINTS
Okay, her yoga video is hard to ignore, just like her appearances on this list week after week.
20. GREG BIFFLE – 368 POINTS
The Biff needs a win, but few think he has a car that can. That must bug him.