Friday, March 13, 2015

Driving in the desert: Five Questions for Phoenix

(Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The desert is associated with heat, dry air and dying. Unless NASCAR is in town.

After hitting it big in Las Vegas, the sport now turns to Phoenix, Arizona. The track holds much value, and it’s not just a win for which drivers are yearning. With the one-mile track also being the second-to-last stop on the schedule, whoever does well this weekend will also perform well in November. That could make or break the championship hopes of many.

This weekend isn’t a matter of surviving. It’s a matter of learning and – most importantly — winning. That’s what gives the desert life.

Five Questions is here, and I’m asking about Kevin Harvick, NASCAR Xfinity Series regulars, domestic violence and more. Let’s see what I got into this week.

Can Kevin Harvick keep the momentum going? The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is at it again. Harvick won last weekend’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and he’s bound to perform at Phoenix International Raceway. The one-mile venue is Harvick’s best track; six of his 29 wins happened there. Can he back up his Vegas win with another in Arizona? Nothing is impossible for this No. 4 team. The chemistry between driver and crew chief is so strong, it’s insane. Whoever’s strong at Phoenix is bound to be championship material, and we already know Harvick is.

Which NXS regular will win next? With Kyle Busch out for the immediate future (get well soon!), there’s a chance for NASCAR Xfinity Series regulars to shine. Out of the various bright stars in the second tier, there’s one that stands out to me. Chris Buescher has been giving Roush Fenway Racing something to hold on to for quite a while. With things on the Cup side being iffy, Buescher is the saving grace. The young driver won last year at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and he’s been a constant threat ever since. He was once a dark horse, but now he’s a legitimate contender.

How will Kasey Kahne fair in his 400th start? The Hendrick Motorsports driver makes the milestone start at Phoenix this coming weekend, and time has flown. Can you believe it’s been ten years since Kahne made his first start? Not only is the number a big deal but the Washington native is also off to a good start this season. His past three performance were great, showing his power during the events. It’s interesting that the monumental start comes when he’s visiting a track where he’s found victory. This season is already going better than 2014, so it’s not out of the questions. Either way, this is a huge accomplishment. Congrats, Kahne!

Are sports becoming the mirror of society? If you’re astounded by the presence of domestic violence in the sports world, you’re not alone. Athletes are famous figures, sculpted out of team owners, coaches, and a set number of expectations. They are held to standards that are almost always out of reach. However, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s abuse present; it happens every single minute of every single day. According to a fact-filled list on The Huffington Post, “every minute, 20 people are victims of intimate partner violence.” The post details that one in four women will experience some form of abuse in their lifetime. For men, the statistic is one in seven. I can preach numbers and percentages to you all day, but the fact of the matter is we need sports to highlight these issues. These causes gain more attention once they’re on a public forum. We – as the human race — have to work on teaching morals and magnifying their existence. If we don’t, the issue of domestic violence won’t be resolved.

Was reinstating Kurt Busch a smart move? Based on my previous answer, many may conclude that I’m not a fan of Busch’s reinstatement. My feelings are the complete opposite, and here’s why. The Delaware Attorney General announced there would be no criminal charges filed in the case between the NASCAR driver and his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. If there are no criminal charges, then I don’t see the point in having him suspended. I do praise NASCAR, however, for making Busch go through a reinstatement program and procedures to evaluate his mental health. His issues must be addressed before he can move forward in his personal and professional life. Rather than forcing him to sit out, they’re going to let him race. That’s the best choice.

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