Why I Love NASCAR: Breaking News

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR
There has been much written about the events taking place in the NASCAR garages of late. From championship crew chief Darian Grubb popping out of his championship team with Tony Stewart at the Stewart-Haas camp and sliding into the Joe Gibb’s No. 11 of Denny Hamlin to Kurt Busch’s “mutual” departure from Penske at the end of the season, there has been no shortage of news or surprises. Breaking news, shocking at times, expected at others, is a huge part of the drama of NASCAR.

In the past I recall news stories that broke that were shocking in their day. When Joe Gibbs switched from Chevy to Toyota the Earth moved. It was breaking news that led to heated exchanges, an abandoning of some fans from the team, and a detail that may well have pushed Tony Stewart to finally strike out on his own as an owner driver so he could strap a Chevy on again. This season, at the end, the breaking news was Tony Stewart’s team winning five Chase races and winning the Sprint Cup! Well, not so much “breaking” news, but it seemed like it in those last weeks when his championship run solidified!

I distinctly remember the breaking news that Dale Earnhardt Jr. would cease driving for Dale Earnhardt Incorporated (DEI) because he could no longer, in good conscience drive for a team that he did not believe was run fittingly. He drew out his selection process and had an audience at rapt attention when he set up a press conference to announce where he’d be going. Many jaws dropped when Hendrick’s name was announced. Some embraced the idea while many others shuddered that Junior was going there!

Of course, some breaking news is devastating to our sport. Whether it’s the death of Neil Bonnet, Adam Petty, Alan Kulwicki, or Dale Earnhardt, the moment of the report meeting us is etched indelibly into our psyche. We inhale sharply, shocked by the announcement. We stare wide-eyed at file footage of our hero, our sportsman, our driver. Shock turns to sorrow and grieving sets in and then turns to quiet, painful acceptance. We steal ourselves to continue watching as we are NASCAR fans and we cannot turn our back on the sport. We choose a new driver to follow, root for, and support. We never forget but we learn to move on in the meantime.

Breaking news, however, usually makes our sport more fantastical, interesting, and dramatic. Changed alliances, new sponsors, and restructured teams add to the electricity in NASCAR. Without a few bad boys to berate, what would we feel so morally superior? Without driver transfers and sponsor changes, when would we ever get to ask for and buy new gear? Without breaking news, what would my fellow NASCAR writers and I have to wax poetic? Breaking news is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.

Why I Love NASCAR: Breaking News Why I Love NASCAR:  Breaking News Reviewed by Chief 187 on Monday, December 12, 2011 Rating: 5