Friday, April 25, 2014

When life gives you racecars: Five Questions for Richmond

(Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Each of us have a calling. We were placed on Earth to do a specific task; scale Mount Everest, write a novel, and run for Congress are just a few examples. It’s a predetermined destiny that nestles itself in our souls. Once we are on the right track, it begins to rise.

NASCAR drivers who are meant to race know it. It’s in the blood of many, scarce in some. When that blood rushes through their ears as they dip into the corners, they know. Because this is their destiny, we see them as that, veiled by their talents and skills. We forget they have other interests. We forget they are people.

Brad Keselowski began writing a blog for his website this year. This intrigued me; what did the crass, former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion have to say?

I was stunned to read his topic matter. It ranged from the death of a friend to run-ins with other drivers to changes he would make to the sport. Everyone knows Keselowski isn’t afraid of speaking his mind, but what caused him to write? How did he learn to write so well?

Keselowski is smart. Many times he runs his mouth, yet the genius is there. In his latest post, he discussed his dream schedule. He put much thought into his words, and his ideas were refreshing. I would love to raid his brain for one day. In a good way, of course.

I say that everyone has a specific calling, and I believe this to be true. This isn’t grounds for limiting one’s endeavors. When life gives you lemons, you try to squeeze out all the juice. When life gives you racecars, you use that social status to your advantage. Keselowski has managed to follow his calling and expand himself, and that is admirable.

This week’s stop is Richmond International Raceway, one of the schedule’s treasured stops. The Saturday show is bound to be insane, and I have a few questions to provoke the chaos. Let’s head to Virginia and take a look at this week’s Five Questions.

What is going on with Swan Racing? The struggling team announced a “restructuring” within the organization. Ownership of the No. 26 is now a merger between Swan investor Andrew Marlowe and BK Racing. Cole Whitt will wheel the machine this weekend. However, the No. 30 is another story; Xxxtreme Motorsports bought the car and is putting J.J Yeley in the seat. Parker Kligerman is out. Brandon Davis, the owner of the team, made headlines when he decided to go with two young guns to build his fresh-faced team. Did that cause him to dig his own grave? Much of this was due to lack of sponsorship, and drivers with no background fail to draw in consumers. Despite this, I believe that things will work out for the group.

Can Denny Hamlin thrive at home? The driver of the No. 11 has had a difficult year so far. From rough results to getting metal stuck in his eye, Hamlin needs to get in gear. Richmond is a great place to do it; not only does it fit his style, but it’s his home track. A “home court advantage” means a lot in other sports, and NASCAR is no exception. Drivers put much stock into a win at their home track, and that equals pressure. If Hamlin can pull it off, it would not only be an honor but a huge turnaround.

Is it time for a change at Hendrick Motorsports? HMS has been looking strong this year. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has consistency and a win, Jeff Gordon is competitive, Jimmie Johnson is there as well, and . . . well, that’s about it. The fourth car in the stable, Kasey Kahne, hasn’t been in the same zip code as his teammates. His highest finish so far has been two 11th-place results, and the others have been horrible. What has caused this slide downward? The No. 5 team lost Keith Rodden, who went to crew chief fellow Chevrolet driver Jamie McMurray. Guess who’s fast this year? Yeah, Rodden was a huge piece to Kahne’s puzzle. If this performance keeps up, the only logical solution is to find a new crew chief. Kahne has been with Kenny Francis for years, and their success together is notable. I respect Francis, who is a very intelligent man, but his relationship with Kahne maybe ending sooner than expected. Let’s hope they can fix things.

How has the NASCAR season gone so far? Over the first two months of competition, a lot has happened. It’s been a whirlwind, from problems with Mother Nature to 2015 changes being announced to seven different winners. This begs the question: how everything going so far? Not much is going on with the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series due to being off AGAIN, but the NASCAR Nationwide Series is a whole different story. The racing has been great, and strong talent has risen to the top. Chase Elliott’s presence in the racing world has rightfully exploded; the kid is crazy good. Now, to the Cup Series: progress has been up and down. There have been so many storylines. There have been even more disappointments. It all leads back to the idea that nothing is ever perfect. No series in NASCAR is perfect, and each one has its own flaw. Overall, things are going pretty well. Do you agree?

Does the schedule need to be changed? Keselowski’s article made me think about the schedule. What about it makes it impossible to change? It needs a revival, like a dull hairstyle. Can we get a few highlights up in here? If you look at Keselowski’s suggestions, they’re almost perfect. The double-headers shorten the season and keep fans engaged. That leads to not competing with other major sports. I say, listen to Keselowski and copy his dream schedule. It’s a great plan, and nothing can be more complicated than what we have now.

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