Friday, May 8, 2015

Reality Checks: Five Questions for Kansas

Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images
Moms are pretty dang awesome.

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, which is one of my favorite holidays. I loved making my mom breakfast and bringing it to her, crafting a stick-figure card, and letting her know how much I appreciate her.

Now, I let her know that as often as possible. Watching her battle cancer made me realize she is a precious gift that God will one day take back. It was the harshest reality check of my life. That will definitely force your lovingness to kick in. We wait until days determined by society to say “Thank you” when we should be saying it every day.

All of us have mothers or mom-like figures who shaped our lives in multiple ways. I wouldn’t be the woman I am without mom’s quick-wittedness and endless strength. She’s always encouraged me, no matter what mountain I decided to climb. These are invaluable lessons and can’t be relearned.

I can’t wait until I can pass on those lessons to my own children, and I hope others do the same. Let’s keep the lessons rolling.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. It’s not an easy job.

Speaking of rolling, let’s get Five Questions started! I’m talking about the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Erik Jones, rumors and more as we head to Kansas.

With Trucks back in action, who can thrill on Friday night? Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by the lack of NCWTS races. The series is finally back after another break, and I’ve been itching to see those beautiful trucks battle under the lights. It happens Friday night. If you’re betting on this race, I suggest picking Matt Crafton due to his awesome record there. His rival may be Travis Kvapil, who also has a great record at Kansas. Another choice would’ve been James Buescher, but he tweeted Thursday he won’t be in the No. 31 truck. Despite his absence, there will be various drivers going for that win. I can’t wait for the show.

How much racing will we actually see? Everyone probably thinks this pertains to the weather (which doesn’t look good this entire weekend), but that isn’t what I’m fired up about this time. If you watched the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, you were probably left confused and disappointed. That doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt. I was appalled these drivers didn’t try and make something happen — like they’re paid to do. This is their job, their livelihood. There’s no reason for single-file racing at Talladega with 15 laps to go. Many drivers blamed it on the unpredictable nature of the track, but that’s not good enough. You don’t want to race for the win and lock yourself in The Chase? There are numerous drivers who would do anything to be in your shoes, but you were chosen instead. Earn that. With the overwhelming backlash, I highly doubt the same thing will happen at Kansas. However, I guess anything can happen if the race gets too unpredictable.

Can Jones impress during his real NSCS debut? My last Five Questions was for Bristol Motor Speedway’s race weekend, and I asked if Erik Jones’ success would push him into Cup too soon. My answer was, “I sure hope not.” Of course, the weekend gave Jones the opportunity to fill in for Denny Hamlin. Kansas will mark the youngster’s “official” Sprint Cup start, as he wheels the No. 18 left vacant by the injured Kyle Busch. It’s one confusing web. Since Jones learned how to bring a car home that night, how will he do this time around? There are fantastic things ahead for him, yet they may take a while to appear. I don’t expect immediate success, and others shouldn’t, either. Who are we to put that pressure on him? The only thing I expect from him is his best effort.

Will the cartoon sponsor draw in youth? Ahoy there! There’s a new race sponsor in town, and it lives in a pineapple under the sea. The Spongebob Squarepants 400 is Saturday night, and it’s obvious the marketing strategy has another purpose. NASCAR has its eyes on a younger audience and tries to ensure their loyalty in the coming years. To me, there’s nothing to ensure; the current generation is doing that on their own. I see kids at races at the time, whether it be at a local short track or a valued venue. Grandparents bring their grandchildren, keeping a tradition alive. Here’s the kicker: they’re never bored. The children I’ve seen are almost always intrigued and having fun. I know my experience doesn’t speak for the entire sport, but it’s something I’ve noticed at the track. With that said, the Spongebob sponsorship is an excellent move. So many drivers have kids who love the talking character, as do fans. It’s a good strategy, and let’s hope it works out.

Is Robin Miller onto something? There’s a new rumor this week, fueled by Robin Miller’s mailbag. In his May 6 edition, he states his “spies” are telling him Danica Patrick is possibly going to Roush Fenway Racing. He also mentions that Clint Bowyer would fill her spot at Stewart-Haas Racing. Miller has a plethora of credibility, and that makes me wonder if he’s really onto something. There’s a level of absurdity that goes with this tidbit; RFR is in no place to expand to four cars. Their performance across the board is lacking and shows no sign of improvement. This move could be the final nail in their coffin, and they need a reality check before this deal comes through (if it actually does.) On the flipside, seeing Bowyer in an SHR ride would be something. Either way, this will be a drastic shift if Miller is right.


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