Wednesday, November 25, 2009

History in front of our eyes

The very last race of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was a historic one. That word gets tossed around a lot during a season, as drivers are constantly breaking lap records, speed and time records and (almost) all races won in a weekend records. But this time, it truly was historic. In fact, we are a lucky bunch; the history of NASCAR is always around us. How lucky for us to experience something this momentous first hand.

Richard Petty, one of the greatest drivers ever, can still be seen at every race. His unmistakable form reminds us that our history is still very much alive and present. We race at a track that featured races the very first season NASCAR ever waved a green flag. We still race at the first paved oval in the series.

Sure. The drivers all strap into the Car of Tomorrow for every race. And the Cup Banquet has been moved to flashy (and fun) Las Vegas. But the roots of this sport run deep, no matter how many extra layers of concrete are added over them. We should always take a moment to remember the drivers, crew chiefs and people who have made NASCAR what it is today.

So though my focus is on the history of NASCAR’s race tracks, for this column, I wanted to take a moment and congratulate Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knauss, and the entire 48 Team for truly making a mark in the history of NASCAR.  Johnson deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest racers in NASCAR. And, if I’m not mistaken, Knauss deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with a certain ingenious  mechanic and car builder by the name of Smokey Yunick.

3 comments :

I'm not a fan of JJ at all, but even I have to admit that he had an impressive year. Hopefully next year other teams will start catching up and we'll see more excitement and less predictability.

I'm also not a fan of JJ's, and I can't admit that I'm impressed. He has talent, sure! But without Chad Knauss calling the shots in the shop & at the track, where would he honestly be? Where would Jimmie be without Jeff Gordon who picked him out of a pool of talented local short-track drivers and brought him to Rick Hendrick?

I personally adore Cale Yarborough, so to see his record of 3 consecutive championships broken? Is a little upsetting, I'll admit. I can almost guarantee Johnson won't be the last to shatter that record, though.

Congrats to Mark Martin on an AMAZING run in '09, especially for his age!

Great blog - you really put NASCAR's past and present in perspective. I also feel lucky to have witnessed history firsthand. When someone like JJ and the 48 crew reaches this level, it sets the bar higher for everyone. Hopefully the other race teams will be able to step it up next season, and the ideal result will be plenty of good racing for the fans.

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