Friday, May 10, 2013

Painting the World Black and White: Five Questions before Darlington



[ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images]
Painting the world black and white is my favorite thing to do. When the color disappears, the underlying structure is visible. It is beautiful. So beautiful that it must be taken in.

And if you haven’t done that, then you’ve never lived.

I like to think of taking that time to peer into the past as time traveling. When you allow it, you can go anywhere you may please. It’s leaving and going on a mental vacation. We all need those sometimes.

What you let teleport you is a personal preference. I, myself, take solace in songs filled with twang and heart. It places me at a corner, smack dab in the middle of The Great Depression, surrounded by humbling images. Or maybe it puts me in Georgia, where a man and The Devil are in a fiddle-wielding duel. Whatever the melody, my mind become a drive-in.

My passion may touch country music, yet it throbs in the center of NASCAR.

Darlington is a melody, one that crescendos under the blanket of night. Whenever the name is mentioned, the first thing mentioned is an incredible finish. Busch and Craven.

Ten years past. If only it were those times.

That’s what time traveling does to you. It gives you the urge to dip into the easier periods of history. It makes you wonder why times have changed.

It pushes you to paint things black and white.

There is a musty, old-coat feel to this weekend’s race. That’s Darlington for you. Who will wear that ancient coat with glory and pride after Saturday night is unknown, but other questions can be answered. I have written them below.

Will the racing live up to the old school standards? As much as everyone loves the beating and banging (not to mention the fighting brought on by flaring tempers), it’s unrealistic to expect it at every race. Yet, it’s common to see such racing at the track that is apparently Too Tough To Tame. It’s highly likely that Saturday night will be the stage for a good ol’ brawl. That’s something to get excited about.

What sorts of penalties will come after Saturday night? However, such racing as described above may not even happen. We are at a state in the sport where the drivers are truly scared, scared if NASCAR will or will not reprimand them on certain incidents. The authority is much more strict than it use to be, and whether that is a good thing or not is up in the air. Maybe the answer will come after Saturday night.

Who will flame up under the heat of the summer? Some drivers are famous for getting hot when the weather does the same. That sort of magic is unexplainable. So, who are the Weather Wizards? One is Tony Stewart, who truly needs a stretch of good finishes. Although I reiterate this weekly, it’s go time. If he doesn’t start walking the straight and narrow, he’ll go from Smoke to Nothing.

Who will smolder and die out? As some flourish, some shrivel up. It isn’t the season that will throw Jimmie Johnson off his game, it’s the inevitable. The past two years, Johnson and Chad Knaus run into an obstacle. It ranges from illegal parts to a strained relationship to just not getting it right. Five-Time has been dominating the series as of late, but it’s so easy to wonder what may go wrong because of past seasons.

Can taming The Lady in Black ever be done? We go to Darlington once a year, and it’s an excitable slot on the schedule. The tire-hungry pavement, the wall eager to hand out signature stripes, the fever it catches as the sky dims into a velvet canopy. Suitors line up at the chance to charm the infamous femme fatale into their corner. Some achieve, and then she lashes out the next time they meet. There is nothing worse than a woman scorned, and comforting this woman seems nearly impossible. Maybe one day, a lone victor can make The Lady in Black settle and bow down. Maybe.

2 comments :

Jeff Gordon's tamed the Lady seven times, most of all active drivers. The last time was in 2007. He makes his 700th career start this weekend. Maybe 7 will be his lucky number.

Wow- I loved this article, got goose bumps a bit before reading your five questions.
I'd like to see a first time winner - whether vet Smoke, Kasey, DaleJr- or underdog Aric Almirola or Martin Truex Jr.- it's just awesome to see a first time winner. Especially at a track with so much rich history.

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