Yesterday’s NASCAR race in Martinsville, Va., which was won by Denny Hamlin (how come the only races Hamlin wins are the ones in Virginia, where he’s a native son?), was interesting to me for three reasons.
Reason No. 1 – Jimmie Johnson has all but wrapped up his fourth straight Sprint Cup championship. He was second in the race yesterday and is now 90 points ahead of second-place Chase contestant Mark Martin (eighth yesterday) and 135 ahead of Jeff Gordon, who was fifth.
There are four races remaining and it’s going to take a miracle for either Martin or Gordon to overhaul Johnson.
Although it’s mathematically possible for Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch or Juan Pablo Montoya (third yesterday) to still win the championship, it’s highly unlikely. Everybody behind Montoya (Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Hamlin and Brian Vickers) are out of it.
Reason No. 2 – It continually baffles me how experienced sports announcers can keep putting their feet into it when they’re on the air. Have none of them learned that you just can’t make personal wisecracks about minorities?
Bob Griese, who used to be a pretty good NFL quarterback, was announcing a U.S. college football game between Ohio State and Minnesota on Saturday when the inevitable plug for yesterday’s NASCAR race came up on the screen.
After noting that Jeff Gordon was in the top five, lead announcer Chris Speilman said, in passing, "Where’s Juan Pablo Montoya?" and Griese, the comedian said, "He’s out having a taco."
At the conclusion of the game, Griese apologized.
People have been forced to resign for gaffes like that so it will be interesting to see what happens to Mr. Griese.
If you’re interested, you can watch all this on You Tube.
Reason No. 3 – More and more, NASCAR races – except for the ones on the road courses – are like watching paint dry. Round and round, round and round. One of the people who corresponds with me regularly, a fellow who goes by the email name Gizzie, had this to say about yesterday’s race:
"I tuned in once in awhile to get the drift of what was happening. It was so reveting, I did so every few hours. I had enough time to paint the house, mulch leaves, wash the car, prep dinner, watch two NFL games and a movie. Then I caught the last debris caution (No. 13 of 14) to see how the thing ended. Same old, same old.
"As ever, Nemecheck, Blaney and Cope parked it early, just to pick up the starting money. Pathetic. The stands were at least 30 per cent empty. No weather excuses this time. It’s getting old, it seems, for more and more of us."
Couldn't agree more, Rick.
Memo to NASCAR: Except for the Daytona 500 and one or two others (Talladega, Indianapolis), cut the races to 200 laps or two hours, whichever comes first. The writing is on the wall. The bloom is off the rose. Pay attention, or perish.