CP MOTORSPORTS: MONTE DUTTON – THE SEASON’S SHINING MOMENT
Lots of people tell me, "I don't even watch the races anymore," or, "I just watch the last 30 minutes."
I never thought, back in the early 1990s, when I started making most of a living writing about stock car races, that what people said about NASCAR would ever be what, at the time, they were saying about the NBA.
I guess part of it is that people have changed to the point where they'd rather watch their phone than their television set. One reason folks think the racing is boring is that they don't really watch it anymore.
I try to resist overkill. If I had two different TV sets, two phones, and timing and scoring on the laptop, there's no way I would be able to keep up. Besides, sports to me is about experiencing it viscerally, not statistically. Some writers look at the numbers, then describe them. I watch what happens, draw conclusions and see if I can use numbers to explain what my eyes tell me. I use numbers as a last, not a first, resort.
That method used to be common. Now it leaves me out in the wilderness, or maybe the infield, all alone.
Sunday's 5-Hour Energy 301 had one moment to commend it, but that was a minute that made it worthwhile. It wasn't a lead change. The race had only 10. Many were on pit road. It was, in the short run, a means for Kyle Busch to get his Toyota back on the lead lap. It was also a moment that should be replayed over and over, for years and years.
Needing desperately to get back on the lead lap, Busch took advantage of NASCAR's strange reluctance to throw a caution flag while dozens of drivers were screaming, via their “electronic devices,” that the track was coated in oil. He threw caution to the wind -- Busch needs only a mild ruffle of the leaves to go all bold and aggressive -- and, when Kevin Harvick's Chevy and Brad Keselowski's Ford slowed to avoid lapped cars, Busch's Toyota swooped across the front of Keselowski's car and stayed inside to overtake Harvick's.
In Race Control, someone apparently threw a bucket of water in the officials' faces, they ordered a yellow flag and a pot of coffee, all the leaders pitted, Busch didn't need to, he went from a lap behind to the lead, and made sure that nothing else mattered for the final 49 laps.
I haven't seen anything like it since they stopped racing back to the yellow flag.
Busch may self-destruct next week. He may finally win a Sprint Cup championship. When his career is over, he will be remembered more for brilliance than efficiency.
People don't remember efficiency. Ask Jimmie Johnson, who has more efficiency than this laptop and the championships to prove it.
One never knows when, all of a sudden, amid a humdrum race watched by an embarrassingly sparse crowd, the damndest thing will happen.
I'll remember that move by Kyle Busch for as long as I remember at all.