The Kid, The Old Man,
and The Athlete
The sport has seen some surprises thus far.
In the first three weeks of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, three drivers have won that seem a little farfetched. Well, on the other hand, Edwards’ win was probably expected.
At 80:1, Trevor Bayne, I’m sure,
made a few people happy and rich at some Las Vegas casinos during the Daytona
500. Turning 20 the day before, how ‘bout that for a nice birthday present!?
At Phoenix, the Big One happened at
a small track. With 12 cars out early, many drivers that were in contention to
win had those goals dashed. That set the stage for Jeff Gordon to
lead over 100 laps. Almost two years without victory, Gordon passed Kyle
Busch with eight circuits to go to win the Subway Fresh Fit 500. (Sorry;
we weren’t able to find any odds on Jeff Gordon winning heading into Phoenix.)
Now, this past weekend, Carl Edwards and his notorious back flip would end up in the limelight. With his Las Vegas win on Sunday, Carl Edwards, like anyone that wins, snapped a losing streak. How much, you ask? A whole two races! Edwards has won the last three out of five races. However, it had been over three months since he sipped the champagne in victory circle, dating back to November 2010. Poor Carl. He had to endure two races without a win, but is now victorious three races in. What a long time to wait.
As Larry McReynolds said Sunday, “this year could be the year for a lot of drivers to end [long] losing streaks.” Indeed your right, my friend—to a point.
What you have seen the past two weeks, in my opinion, is rare, and shouldn’t be taken for granted. You had a rookie, in his second EVER start, win the Daytona 500. Then the following week, Jeff Gordon won, dropping a streak of 66 races — the longest of his career. (Ironic? Gordon won in a state where the historic Route 66 runs through. Just a thought…)
What you have seen though, is not a dime a dozen. With the majority of the tracks being the cookie-cutters similar to Las Vegas, you will now see what the competition is like. Sure, it’s nice to see surprises in Chase contention, and surprise winners, but now lies the true test the next few weeks.
With NASCAR taking its first off-week for the Sprint Cup Series this weekend, momentum will wear off since the next race is 14 days away. In the next few weeks, you will see new drivers in the top-10—the ones that belong there because of constancy. The points in a few weeks will look more stable and give you look of what the competition is like come September. You’ll see.
The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer.
Mark Ellis and Chris Barker 2011
Chris Baker 2011