MONTE DUTTON: OIL ON THE RULES
When NASCAR visited Charlotte Motor Speedway, I was there.
When NASCAR visited Dover International Speedway, I was at my nephew’s house, celebrating my mother’s birthday and watching great-nephews crash into one another.
At Charlotte, I watched 400 laps, interspersed by brief periods of inactivity at the end of what are now stages and used to be called delays. At Dover, I watched roughly the first 10 and last 25 laps on TV.
In other words, two weekends were vastly different, where racing was concerned, and I watched a stock car race as if it was a game in the NBA regular season. In my defense, there were extenuating circumstances. It was a surprise party.
I certainly didn’t get up this morning intending to plunge into statistical analysis. Thus, I’m not. I’ve watched every other race this year on TV. I’m qualified to write “it seems to me,” and I don’t write about racing full-time anymore. I’ll just write my seat-of-the-pants observations and let other, more dedicated journalists disprove them.
Several times I’ve used a phrase that racers take the wrong way.
“The wrong guy won.”
It doesn’t mean the winner doesn’t deserve it. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t make the right move at the right time. It means that the driver who dominates most of the race seems to be the last guy who is actually going to win it.
It all evens out. Sometimes the right guy who doesn’t win one week becomes the wrong guy who does win a week later.
It’s fun when the wrong guy wins sometimes. Not every week, though.
The right guy is most often Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Larson. Both have won. Both should’ve won a more.
The wrong guy is most often Jimmie Johnson, and the fact that he has won three times this year is testimony to wrong guys being right when the race is there for the taking. Johnson’s career is distinguished by being right on days and nights when he appears to be wrong. Another small bit of evidence that Johnson is the greatest of his generation is that he wins when he is right, too, and, for some paradoxical reason, that is rare in today’s NASCAR, and, most likely, tomorrow’s.
In NASCAR, the rules are as fast as the cars. NASCAR races rules. The Chase. No, the playoffs. The points. The bonus points. The playoff bonus points. The stages. The charters. The wave-arounds. The free passes. The overtime line. The restart line.
If only NASCAR had this big machine that could clean up the rules. Maybe call it the Rules Titan.