Friday, March 21, 2014

Fuel the Fire: Five Questions for Auto Club

 (Credit: Justin Edmonds/NASCAR via Getty Images)
There’s no way around the fact that I was an overweight child. Sure, toddlers and youngsters are usually chubby, and they grow into their bodies. That never happened to me. For years, doctors berated my parents for “feeding me the wrong things.” I still believe they weren’t at fault. They changed my diet, yet the weight stayed.

As the years went by, life became more uncomfortable. Old friends turned into enemies, and my weight was the first thing brought up in a disagreement. I moved from shaking it off to getting upset to contemplating a switch in schools. My self-esteem was shot. Looking in the mirror, let alone at my body, was a struggle. I used humor and sarcasm to battle rough days. In the end, nothing was solved.

I experienced an epiphany near the end of my junior year. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what made everything click, but I’m thankful it did. Ultimately, I realized that I'd been dealing with the horrible comments with the wrong attitude. Things needed to be more proactive than reactive. My attitude needed to abandon its defensive nature.

In May 2013, I started working out and watching my diet. Slowly but surely, I saw changes. A loose shirt, a single “Are you losing weight?” and an inch off my waist. The smallest difference was fuel, and I burned it up.

I think all of us have memories that are hard to remember —not because of a hazy mind, but because of a specific level of pain. If you think about the path you’ve taken to get to the present, is it clear with a lack of obstacles? If yes, then you aren’t thinking hard enough.

Life is all about what we use to push ourselves. For me, it was the insults I heard growing up; those insults spurred me to lose 35 pounds. A change in someone’s thinking can result in crazy things. Sometimes, realizing you need a change is the first step.

This week, I’m talking about the aftermath of Sunday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, last year’s race at Auto Club Speedway, and this season's schedule. What fiery things will I get into this weekend?

What is it about Mother Nature’s presence that encourages dramatic racing? Listen, I like the rain, I really do. But it’s a different story when it interferes with race day (which I’ve been quite vocal about). Despite my feelings, I have to respect the precipitation for creating an electrifying atmosphere. Mash that with a short track, and you have intensity personified. Crew chiefs freak out, drivers feel the pressure, and everything comes down to the wire. If that’s the result of impending weather, then Mother Nature can attend a few races. Well, maybe not attend; how about if she hovers a few miles from the track?

How does someone accidentally lean on a button? The end of last Sunday’s (unexpected) night race was insane for a bizarre reason; the caution lights flicked on, and the flagman waved the yellow, but nobody knew why. It turns out someone bumped the button and triggered the event. Oops. How exactly does someone do that? I’m blaming it on the track, solely because I doubt this would happen anywhere else.

Why is the schedule jumbled? NASCAR’s annual West Coast Swing began three weeks ago, during which time teams head to Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada after the beginning of the season. After those two stops, teams flew to Tennessee. Now they’re headed back to the West Coast ... ? Look, I understand that it’s been this way for a while, and it has to do with transport of equipment. If they switched the race at Bristol with Auto Club’s date, then fans on that side of the country could benefit. The western side has five races a year, while the East Coast has ... a lot. The least NASCAR could do is treat them to three consecutive races. I bet hotels and tracks out there could create special hotel and ticket packages, too. Hmm.

Will Roush-Yates engines capitalize on their strong Bristol showing? Of the 24 races held at Auto Club, 10 resulted in the Blue Oval Gang heading to Victory Lane. That’s about 42 percent (I’m obsessed with race stats, FYI). To me, that means the Fords could be a threat. However, it must be noted that the last Ford won in 2009 — five years ago. It’s been a while, but there can be a comeback. After winning the race and making up four of the top-five spots, Roush-Yates engines have a chance to return to dominance.

Can Joey Logano put the past behind him and flourish? This Sunday is the one-year anniversary of the incident that resulted in Denny Hamlin’s back injury. There’s no doubt that people will bring this up. I don’t see a story there anymore; the two have somewhat come to terms, and nothing has happened since. Because Logano is younger, I always worried that it had an impact on his mindset. The driver has two wins at the track, which should make him feel a bit more comfortable. All of us have pieces of our pasts we’d rather forget. It’s either that or using it to fuel the fire. Maybe Logano has figured out a way to do both.

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