Friday, May 31, 2013

That Shattering Impact: Five Questions before Dover

 John Harrelson/NASCAR via Getty Images
Here at Skirts and Scuffs, our leader has brought together an amazing league of women who continue to impress. Fluidity, sarcasm and candor are our fortes, and we are proud of such attributes. We are strong.

However, as medieval as it seems, the strength hasn’t always been celebrated. Or easy to cultivate.

As I mentioned on my personal blog earlier this month (you can read it here), being a female writer covering a male-dominated sport isn’t the scent of roses. Rather, it is an entire bed of the flower; beautiful and enticing, yet thorny and fickle. As much as you desire to succeed, there will always be someone stabbing a comment into your side.

You may work your fingers to the bone, typing all night and running on caffeine-laced drinks that are capable of burning through steel and your stomach. Despite all that, someone will bring your gender into play, the comments reflected from a glass ceiling.

Why this is, I have no idea, and to be perfectly honest, it’s unnerving. I don’t write because I am a female and want that sort of publicity; I write to live. I write to alleviate my mind. I write to help my soul breathe.

The sport is now being catapulted into the limelight because of Danica Patrick and the equalizer she plays in the field. Although that is inspiring to young girls everywhere, you have to wonder why the obsession with someone’s sex looms large. The answer isn’t set, nor is it easy to discover. That’s just how it is.

The women at Skirts and Scuffs and Patrick have more than the shadow of the gender card in common. We are all setting to prove people wrong.

Patrick wants to show everyone - fans, drivers and media alike - that her femininity doesn’t define how she races.

I’m confident in saying that we at Skirts and Scuffs are here to disprove stereotypes. Not every female loves NASCAR because of hot men in firesuits. The passion has depth, a depth so deep that caverns of it have yet to be explored. We are a solid, intelligent fan base.

It is an honor to be featured on this website, and the little time I’ve been here has taught me something very important.

The prejudice may never cease, but, if you’re a monstrous wordsmith, you will soon make an impact. That shattering impact. And that is what gives you strength.

Speaking of monsters, Miles is hungry. Miles is impatient. Miles is a demon that throbs underneath an arena, sheltered by concrete. Today, as we begin the unpredictable weekend at Dover, I tackle questions revolving around Jimmie Johnson, the R-word everyone in racing HATES to hear, and safety.

How large will Jimmie Johnson’s margin of victory be? Yes, this is meant to be a bit snarky; Johnson is definitely the favorite to win on Sunday. Although a few - Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne all come to mind - will put up a decent fight, it’s hard to believe that anyone can dethrone the legacy Five-Time has built at Dover. The real question is how the finish will play out. With this new car, it’s hard to predict how close second place will be to the No. 48’s bumper. We have to wait and see, but it’s certain that unless something happens, Johnson will be out front.

As Kyle Busch dips toes in smaller ponds, does it mean trouble for everyone else? Uproar has risen after a recent set of wins in the Truck and Nationwide series, and it’s Busch who’s holding the trophies. The Cup driver is notorious for winning in the lower series, and the fans’ upset is now being noticed. Many can argue for and against the practice, but it seems like many are angered. Nevertheless, Busch is entered in all three races this weekend, and you can bet that he’ll be in contention Friday and Saturday.

Will our parade be rained on, Mother Nature? NASCAR has terrible weather luck, and it may continue this weekend. Large lines of storms will be entering Ohio and Pennsylvania on Saturday, and they keep flaring up in the central part of the country. Friday’s Truck race may be OK, but Saturday and Sunday could be at risk. NASCAR needs to work on charming Ms. Nature before the Friend Zone floods our next venue.

Does resurrecting the SAFER Barrier debate finally spark change? Wrecks are a part of racing. That’s a given, and it’s an aspect that is - disturbingly - glorified through commercials and highlight reels. The reality of it all became apparent when Jeff Gordon had a hard hit Saturday night. Where he hit wasn’t lined with a SAFER Barrier, and he tweeted about how ridiculous that fact is after he was cleared. Most agree that safety should always be the No. 1 priority, but tracks fail to install these walls because of the cost. So, who will cave first: tracks or NASCAR’s pricing strategies?

Are race and gender really that important behind the wheel? Touching on what I said earlier, gender has also been a talking point because of the recent NASCAR Hall of Fame inductions. Wendell Scott, a notable African-American driver, was close to getting in, yet no cigar was given. As the debate got louder, some compared it to Patrick getting inducted because she was the first woman to earn a Cup pole. The bottom line is this: gender, nor race, have a place in racing. It doesn’t matter. Out on the track, everyone is equal. The cars are the same weight, on same tires, same surface. It’s how the driver’s ability breaks that conformity and stands out that matters. I am a stickler for stats. Stats are irrefutable, certain, set in stone. That’s what matters. If Patrick goes out there and racks up wins, poles, top finishes, that are comparable to those who are already enshrined, put her in. She’s earned it. Talent is the monster that rests in every driver’s hands, toes, head, heart. Race or gender doesn’t overrule that, and it never will.


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