Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Put Lorenzen In The Hall

Dear NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel:

One last time.  Please, please, please, when you meet Wednesday to decide which five people from among the 20 nominees will be elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame this year, please do the right thing.  Elect Fred Lorenzen.

I’m already on record as urging votes for Curtis Turner, Bobby Issac, Ray Fox and Jerry Cook, in addition to Lorenzen.   But Lorenzen is the important one.

Please, HOF voters, resist the temptation to vote Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte into the Hall on their first ballot.  Certainly Elliott, and probably Labonte, deserved to be first ballot shoo-ins – that is before NASCAR decided to treat Hall requirements like a speedway aero package and change the rules.  It’s been only two years since Elliott ran his last Cup race and of course Labonte ran in the Daytona 500 earlier this year. 

This isn’t about Elliott (or Labonte).  I'm a big Bill Elliott fan, as I wrote when the ballot for the HOF Class of 2015 was first announced.  He would have been an absolute first ballot no brainer.   This is about changes in the Hall’s procedure that allowed Elliott to jump to the head of the line and possibly delay Lorenzen’s entry yet again, especially as the panel seems reluctant to vote more than one or two Cup drivers into the Hall each year.

Trouble is, there may not be another year for Lorenzen.  His family has been open about the fact Lorenzen suffers from dementia.  He has good days and bad.  Let's give him another good day while he can still appreciate it.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Busch Is The Top Indy Story

Busch photo by Eric Anderson
There was a moment on Saturday when Kurt Busch was at the center of the racing world.  And it was for something he did on the track.

In 12th place after 32 drivers made their initial qualifying run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Busch was ready for a second 4-lap try.  It was 2:03 p.m. and as he would have to depart soon in order to make the NASCAR All-Star race in Charlotte.  So this would likely be his last shot at making the Fast Nine, which would allow him to return on Sunday and be part of the pole qualifying party.

Hardly anyone noticed in the press room as Busch took to the track.  Qualifying was already three hours old and there were nearly four more hours to go.  It was going to be a long day.

Then it happened.

“Hey look at that that, Busch is P1,” someone said.  Busch had just run a lap of 230.388 mph, the fastest lap so far in qualifying.   There was silence in the press room as all eyes focused on the television screens, some showing Busch on the track, and others the time and speed chart.  For the first time you could hear a cheer from the crowd outside.  Ok, it wasn’t exactly a crowd, but you could hear some fans making noise.

“Now we got a story,” someone said.

But alas, the moment lasted only about 40 seconds, the time it took to run a second lap.  He slipped only slightly, back to P2 after four laps, but the moment had been lost.

“Would have been a good story,” someone said, turning away from the screens.  The press room reverted to its practiced indifference.

Eventually Busch would be bumped out of the Fast Nine entirely.  Perhaps he should have stayed in Indianapolis as he battled a poor handling car and a loose lug nut in Charlotte, finishing 11th.

"My thought process was to give respect to the NASCAR side and come back for the drivers’ meeting,” Busch said Saturday night in Charlotte.  “I guess I should have stayed up there to make a third run and see if we had a shot at the Top Nine."

Back in Indianapolis on Sunday, there was no doubt about it.

“I don’t want to dwell on it, but I should have stayed,” Busch said after qualifying 14th for the Indy 500.  “I should have stayed and tried to make it into the Top Nine."

Busch remains one of the top stories – probably the top story – for the upcoming 500.  When asked on the ABC qualifying broadcast what they were looking forward to in the race, two 500 winners, Eddie Cheever and Dario Franchitti, both said Kurt Busch.

And when the Indy car drivers head out to various cities across the country on Tuesday to help promote the race, Busch is headed for the country’s biggest media market, New York City. 

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter?  He’s going to Milwaukee.