Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Faith on the Frontstretch: Drivers Worry Talladega Could Crush Chase Hopes

The NASCAR Sprint Cup race on May, 4, 2014.
Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”   ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Kansas and Charlotte may be the next races on the schedule, but Chase teams are already stressing about Talladega. In their post-race remarks at Dover, lots of drivers zeroed in on the mid-October race, their smiles fading into grimaces. Not only is it the next cut-off race, but it’s also a venue where drivers oftentimes lose control of their own destinies.

“You know, I might not watch Talladega,” said Rick Hendrick, whose four cars make up one-third of the Chase field. “I might go to the next two (races) and let them tell me when (Talladega) is over.”

Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon both talked about Talladega after Sunday’s Dover event. Both expressed a desire to overcome the menacing possibilities of the Alabama track by winning one of the next two races.

Even those who have conquered Talladega in the past feel the nerves. Although he won this year’s spring race at the track, Denny Hamlin says old stats don’t give him an edge. He thinks the strategy for grabbing an advantage is staying out front to avoid wrecks.

“A big wreck is going to happen – you just hope you’re not part of it,” he said.

The 2.66-mile tri-oval might be the scariest place in NASCAR, according to Brad Keselowski.

“'Surviving Talladega’ is its own horror film title, but it’s also a reality,” he said. “That place is gonna be a crazy place to finish that bracket out and certainly there are gonna be a lot of guys on the bubble and it’s probably all gonna change on the last lap and the last corner.”

Any regular race at Talladega looms large, creating a chest-squeezing anxiety for drivers. But this season, as the cut-off for making it into the Eliminator Round, it’s going to be terrifying chaos on a whole new level for 12 drivers and their teams.

Even though the "race of life" isn’t run at Talladega, sometimes it rushes forward with superspeedway ferocity. How do you handle the stress of approaching events that are days or weeks in your future?

Worry is a normal human emotion. But we don’t have to succumb to it. There’s a place in the Bible where Jesus tells us not to fret about tomorrow.

To paraphrase, the verses say: Don’t worry about everyday life – food, clothes and what will happen to you. Your heavenly Father takes care of birds and flowers, and you’re far more valuable to Him than they are. (Matthew 6:25-30)

Even though life is like Talladega, with much of our destinies outside of our control, God knows our needs and will take care of us.

In the passage above, Jesus asks, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

Nope, they sure can’t. Worries are like thieves; they only steal, never giving anything back. Pondering potential problems around the next turn distracts us from the precious joys and opportunities of today.

Instead of just “getting through” life, with our focus on possible trouble down the track, let’s throw a red flag on worry. Instead, let’s go full throttle -- being mindfully present in the moment -- to experience the God-given gift of this day.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. ~ Matthew 6:34 (NLT)
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“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Follow on twitter at @bbreinke.

Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for NASCAR fans. Or you can purchase the book in paperback & ebook here.

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