The need for speed was evident. But the milers kick and the knuckles of a boxer were even greater.
NASCAR is a never ending weekly steady diet of macho posturing and heated schisms. These drivers didn’t obtain their manhood from beer commercials and sitcoms. These dudes are swashbuckling bellicose warriors.
Case in point in Phoenix. On lap 305 Clint Bowyer invaded Jeff Gordon’s space and cost #24 precious time and space. Then on the second to last go around, Gordon being as cool as a air conditioner, doomed Bowyer’s day by launching him into the wall with gunboat diplomacy. The race was concluded on a green-white flag. But the rank duplicity had only begun.
While Gordon limped into his pit area, his crew stood sentry. As soon as he exited his crippled and shredded car the fun began. Words were exchanged between team members and soon pushing and shoving took center stage. But unknown to all except ESPN cameras was Clint Bowyer using Usain Bolt speed to join the mayhem.
The cauldron of intrigue soon turned ambitious and aggressive. Or to put it in NASCAR terms, the ass-kicking was underway. As soon as he arrived at Gordon’s earthen hauler vessel, the fight was on.
Punches, wrestling moves, combative boxing,and some Olympic level cussing ensued. And all uncovered through the watchful eyes and commentary of race mouthpieces Alan Bestwick and Dale Jarrett. It was awesome. Fitful bursts and sinister alliances morphed into a cross wire of chaos. This was no misguided mission.
It was a disquieting essay on real world exercises. And instead of taking the safe and politically correct route, ESPN chose to boat viewers on the river of craziness. And while the sterile and safe NFL was taking its normal Sunday center stage, NASCAR is the top story Monday.
Headlines screaming from coast-to-coast greet TV eyes, radio ears, and readers about the tussle in the desert. NASCAR ignored the usual insult to intelligence of acting as if nothing were happening. They selected the road less traveled and inserted their fans in the middle of the meandering maze of menacing melodrama. They know their patrons and they cater to their wishes. They created a vortex of whirling passions that both delight and bedevil. It was quite a show. And in the end, no one was hurt. No one suffered any bruises or abrasions. It was a good old-fashioned backyard bare-knuckled fistfight.
Even from my perch in a Philadelphia press box where I was forced to watch two horrible football teams scrape it around for three hours, the mood was clearly NASCAR. And I loved it. Loved every minute of it. I applaud the method both ESPN and NASCAR brass interpreted the event. No need to try and exhume the truth. It played out like Ruby shooting Oswald. Live and uncut.
And oh, by the way, Kevin Harvick won the actual contest and Brad Kaeselowski surged ahead in the Spring Cup Chase. But they were minor players in in the main event.
On this Sunday, bulldozer rigidity reigned supreme. Unapologetic toughness is alive and well.
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