MONTE DUTTON – THE TOYOTA MENACE
Martin Truex Jr.’s Monster Energy win in Richmond, Va., is the latest rage in NASCAR because the feeding-frenzy form of journalism dictates that rages must tumble down with the other dominoes on a fairly regular basis.
What’s more, Truex led a 1-2-3-4 parade of Joe Gibbs-owned Toyota, which set off a countervailing rage of its own.
Grab the Chevys and Fords, Ma. Take cover. The Gibbs boys just showed up outside, and I’m satisfied they’re heavily armed!
Tiddly winks is more complicated than that. For the other manufacturers, it’s not as bad as it seemed Saturday night. It seemed like Custer’s Last Stand, and when the fans of Chevys, Fords and their drivers awakened on Sunday morning, to borrow from Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash, there was “no way to hold [their] heads that didn’t hurt.”
Not being a partisan, I had an omelet and a bagel for breakfast instead of a beer. Nothing quells the partisan urge like having to write about it either way.
I remember when a Jimmie Johnson championship was a foregone conclusion. Hell, I’m getting old. I remember when a Richard Petty championship was a foregone conclusion.
Richmond, of course, is what is officially known as a short track, which is officially a track that is less than a mile around. Truex won both Richmond races this year. Toyotas have won four out of five. Only one, Martinsville (Va.), is left. That track is the only one where a Camry hasn’t won this year. Brad Keselowski won that one in a Ford.
It’s been a great season for Toyota, almost completely because it’s been a great year for Gibbs, owner of the Toyotas that matter. Whether the current state of the sport is a result of Toyota dominance or Gibbs dominance is a worthwhile topic of debate, though, for practical purposes, they are one and the same.
Toyota/Gibbs, or if you prefer the alphabetical, Gibbs/Toyota, have not won 80 percent of all the races, just the short tracks. As a matter of fact, in races on tracks a mile or over, Gibbs/Toyota has won 47.8 percent of them. Overall, it’s 53.5. Of the remaining eight races, at tracks where a race was run earlier this season, Toyotas have won three, Fords two and Chevrolets one. The only race in Homestead, Fla., is the grand finale, and while the Cup cars earlier visited Charlotte, they raced on the oval, not the “roval,” and the word and track “roval” has only existed for a year in the dictionary and the schedule.
Most new words these days are derived from prescription drugs, I suspect. It would make sense to name it the Xeralto Roval, which would, in turn, make a fine name for a James Bond villain.
It could be that Truex’s victories in the first two playoff races – I prefer to call them race-offs because, as we all well know, they don’t play – is symptomatic of a great rolling out of superior machinery, a sporting equivalent of Panzers massing at the border. It could also be that there’s still time for it all to even out.
Carry on, lads. I’ll still be watching.