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MONTE DUTTON - ANOTHER GIG FOR KURT BUSCH

In 2004, Kurt Busch became NASCAR’s first Chase champion. He was extraordinarily fortunate. One reason he won it was because the Ford Busch drove for Jack Roush that year had on it the smartest tire in the sport’s history.

The right-front tire flew off at the only place where his title hopes could be preserved. On the 93rd of 267 laps in the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it flew off near the entrance of the pits. Busch was able to limp down pit road as the errant tire rolled down the front straight and into turn one, thus producing the caution flag that saved Busch. Greg Biffle won the race, but Busch managed to finish fifth, and fifth was enough to win the title.

MONTE DUTTON - – THESE PEOPLE MAKE LAS VEGAS BORING

As these words are written, NASCAR is about to celebrate the season recently completed. Realizing that there would be an awards show – I take the absence of the word “banquet” to mean “no pretty food” – I looked into it and discovered it’s still on actual live TV, though on a Thursday, a night normally reserved for the Mid-American Conference and the apparently never-ending World Series of Poker.

ESPN has the Timbers vs. SKC: “The Western Conference championship series shifts to Kansas as SKC and the Timbers meet in leg two.”

MONTE DUTTON – JOEY’S GRADUATION DAY

When Joey Logano was a teen-ager, he raced with full-grown adults, and while many of my colleagues were marveling at Logano’s skills, I was marveling at his age. I couldn’t believe he was older than 14.

Also, Logano spoke indistinctly, as if he had a mouthful of jawbreakers. I found that I couldn’t make out much of what he said unless I could see his lips move. Transcribing interviews from a recorder was difficult.

How could a kid who drove a race car have such a sheltered life? The single-minded obsession of a young racer had left him clueless about everything else.

MONTE DUTTON - THE ONE, THE ONLY SILVER FOX

When David Pearson was a lad, any time a rich kid decided he wanted to drive race cars, his father threatened to disown him.

Pearson didn’t have to worry about being shipped off to boarding school. He grew up on “the mill hill,” Whitney Mill, in Spartanburg, S.C., not too unlike Brandon in Greenville, which gave the world “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, or Lydia in Clinton, from which the great guitarist Arthur Smith sprang.

They all grew up tough and never got above their raising. They were heroes of a working class that knew their struggles and admired them for escaping the ranks of the weavers, the loom fixers and the cloth doffers.

MONTE DUTTON - RULES AND REGULATIONS

 

 

Wouldn’t it be nice just to have a normal week? How about a normal day?

Oh, I’m not just talking about NASCAR, where a driver can establish himself as the favorite for the Monster Energy Cup championship, then have the apple cart (or a Ford Fusion if you want to be a stickler about it) overturned for having an illegal spoiler.

A spoiler spoiled everything.

MONTE DUTTON - THE LOST COLONY

The first time I went to Texas Motor Speedway, it was breaking ground and cutting ribbons. Bruton Smith flew in the NASCAR Media Tour to watch. When we got off the plane, a band was playing something like “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” A few concrete columns had already been buried in the ground at the site. A bus took us to the Fort Worth Stockyards, where we hit the chow line for some barbecue.

Thomas Pope tried to make conversation with the gray-haired lady doling out brisket by telling her about how they buried a pig in the ground back in the Carolinas.

MONTE DUTTON - ITS OWN PECULIAR WAY

 

 

When I think of Martinsville, Va., I imagine shivering and blowing on my hands. It’s bound to rain, most likely a drizzle, sometime during the weekend, whether spring or fall.

I see stern officers of the law, wearing flat-brimmed tan hats, in uniforms more likely to display forest green and brown to set off the tan. Navy is less common in the attire of southern Virginia deputies.

MONTE DUTTON - THEY’VE WORKED THE GROOVE IN

Every time conditions change at a race where engines are restricted, some changes occur that are unexpected. A few years back, no one expected two-car tandems and relentless bump drafting. Everyone went out on the track, and, pretty soon, the action became a highly skilled variety of, “Hey, y’all, watch this!”

Watching at home last Sunday, I found myself chuckling at the broadcasters, who kept saying, breathlessly, “We haven’t seen racing like this at Talladega in 20 years!”

MONTE DUTTON – IT’S UP TO THE KIDS

Oh, I reckon this latest hurricane will have cleared out by the time Sunday rolls around in eastern Alabama. It will have cleared out of here by then, too, based on all those models with capital letters and numbers.

As Randy Travis sang, “The storms of life are washin’ me away.”

MONTE DUTTON - HECK WITH THE RULES OF GRAMMAR

Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t. Almond Joy has nuts. Mounds don’t.

I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.

Apparently I am going into my dotage. Or my anecdotage. Last weekend I watched the races on the “roval.” I don’t think it’s in the dictionary yet. Half road course. Half oval. Roval. As Goober Pyle would have said, “Get it?”

In the short run, I enjoyed the heck out of the races, particularly the Monster Cup one on Sunday. I like everyone who was in position to win. Kyle Larson is Kyle Busch with good taste. He’s sort of Charlie the Tuna. For some reason, Larson doesn’t win that often, or not often enough to suit me because I think he’s got so much talent, he ought to have 10 wins this year. Kyle Busch seems to win most of those races because, as you know if you’re as old as I, Starkist doesn’t want tuna with good taste. Starkist wants tuna that taste good.

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