Kudos and some criticism in the racing world
November 30, 2013
I'm going to borrow a device from the Appeal's editorial page and hand out some silver dollars and wooden nickels in the wake of the 2013 racing season.
Silver dollars go to:
Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway for a successful season under new ownership; also to all the champions and race winners throughout the season.
Jimmie Johnson and the entire No. 48 team for their sixth NASCAR championship. Johnson is on track to be considered one of the all-time greats of the sport, and he owes a lot to crew chief Chad Knaus and the entire Hendrick organization.
Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel, who continued their domination of Formula One. Vettel set a single-season record of nine consecutive wins and tied the record for 13 wins in a season. He also won his fourth consecutive driver's championship and scored enough points to secure the constructor's title for Red Bull even without the contributions of teammate Mark Webber.
NASCAR for doing the right thing and reinstating Gordon as the 13th driver in the Chase. Of course, if it had increased Bowyer's point penalty from 50 to 100, it would have bumped him out and Gordon in without adding that extra position.
The DW12 Dallara chassis used by the IndyCar series. The car's safety features saved Dario Franchitti's life in a vicious late-season crash at Houston. Had that accident occurred with the old chassis, Dario very likely would no longer be with us.
Carson City's own Mackena Bell, who had a successful rookie season in the K&N Pro Series East. Look for Mackena to improve even more in 2014.
Wooden nickels go to:
Sports analyst and former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, who recently alienated all of NASCAR Nation with a comment that race car drivers aren't athletes. In response, Jimmie Johnson has invited McNabb out to the track, and not just to ride.
"I want him to turn the wheel, push the pedals, and see what it's like," said Johnson.
David Whitley of Fox Sports, who last week penned a hate-filled diatribe on Danica Patrick's driving ability. His article cherry-picked current NASCAR Sprint Cup front-runners and compared their early seasons to Danica's. Admittedly, she didn't set the world on fire this season, but neither did the other Stewart-Haas teams, and neither do the vast majority of Cup rookies. Whitley is another blowhard who should get out from behind his keyboard and see what it's really like out there.
Michael Waltrip Racing for attempting to manipulate the composition of the Chase. Clint Bowyer deliberately spun and calls for late pit stops skewed the points at Richmond just enough to lock Jeff Gordon out of the Chase.
NASCAR for the domination of Sprint Cup drivers in the Nationwide series. Something needs to be done. I like the proposal to limit the number of points a Cup driver can score in Nationwide; for instance, 500 points and you're done racing in the series for the season.
I'll won't be appearing in this space for the next few weeks while I recuperate from knee replacement surgery. I hope to be back in time for Christmas.