Friday, March 8, 2013

Supernovas and Glitz: Five Questions for Las Vegas




Las Vegas is the land of glitz and glam, where the streets are lined with neon lights, and the nights are as thunderous and blinding as a supernova. The thunder continues into daytime this week as NASCAR rolls into town, and the lightning must be the storylines that shoot from its depths. Driver backtalk, broken parts, and sponsor debacles crack into Twitter timelines and blog posts.

As tourists risk their money at casinos along The Strip, the drivers will risk their cars for a win this weekend, and there are a few questions pouring onto this document, like gold coins cascading from a slot machine’s mouth

Will NASCAR listen to Denny Hamlin? The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Camry was fined Thursday for his comments about the Gen-6 car after the Phoenix race. He didn’t really say anything offensive; all he muttered was that it was hard to pass in the new car, and he also compared it to the way the Car of Tomorrow raced. Fans have noticed this, and they’re all pushing for a change. It is unknown if NASCAR will crack under that pressure, and that is something to keep an eye on.

Does TRD get their stuff together? Joe Gibbs has even more important things to fret about than Hamlin’s comments: his cars keep blowing up. Kyle Busch has been the victim of the overheating trend, and it brings back flashes of last summer. Remember when he took that car behind the wall every weekend for a month with motor problems? His recent issues may foreshadow another rough stretch, yet that can be prevented if the TRD crew found the faulty whatever it is and fixed it ASAP.

How long will the NRA debate go on? When it was announced that the NRA would be the title sponsor for the Texas race in April, many fans were relieved that the sport is still bringing in big financing. However, this has brought national attention, and it isn’t all good. Senators have came out and talked about how NASCAR needs to “drop the NRA.” Those also opposing are a margin of the fans, claiming that this makes our sport come off as more redneck and hypocritical, since Michael Waltrip drove a Sandy Hook Elementary School car in the Daytona 500. There is a section of the racing fandom that just wants the controversy to go away and let the racing be; that slice of fanatics is probably the most sane of them all.

Can some drivers start climbing out of the hole they’ve dug? After Daytona, noteworthy drivers like Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. were behind in the points. They were on the wall on their hole, attempting to scale and conquer it, when Phoenix ripped them mid-climb. Las Vegas is where they can roll the dice in hopes of getting a break. Of course, there is plenty of time left until The Chase, but it’s good to get a head start on things, right? No pressure, guys. None at all.

Will Brad Keselowski’s new sense of maturity help him repeat? With other issues going on surrounding the racing, the sport, and the cars, it’s surprising to focus on the change in our champion. It seems as though he has grown and matured, being somewhat more restrained than he was a year ago. Whether the title of champion did that to him, nobody knows for sure, but it is something that can propel him to a second championship . . . If he can keep it up.

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