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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Conflicted about NASCAR season drawing to a close

Watching NASCAR
My essential tools for watching NASCAR
As I look around the room, I notice my laptop still sitting on the coffee table. The AC cord is wrapped up and secured with a Velcro strap. My wireless mouse sits on top, its switch in the off position to conserve its batteries. I usually put my laptop in a roll-top desk in the living room. But this week I left it right where it was.

The only time I even use my laptop these days is on NASCAR Race Day. It is an essential tool for watching a race.

Shortly before the green flag waves, I have to get it ready to go, so I always start early. I want to get all the pesky updates--Windows, virus protection, and any necessary software--out of the way before the opening pace laps. I want no interruptions once the race begins.

Once the computer is ready to go, I sign onto NASCAR.com. The first thing I look for is the Live Leaderboard. Lap times and of course track position are necessary information for enjoying a race.

Ryan Newmans #12 after finishing 2008s Daytona...
I would love to see a repeat of this!Ryan Newmans #12 after finishing 2008s
Daytona 500 at the first position.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Because the only driver I pay attention to is Ryan Newman, I use the information to focus on his stats. I watch his speed and distance from the driver in front of  him. When he closes that gap I know he is about to pass. That coincides with what is probably the most essential part of my race experience--NASCAR's Race View Scanner. Listening to Newman's radio communication with spotter and crew chief, coincides with what I see on the leaderboard.

I usually tune into Race Buddy as well, although Newman is rarely featured there. When he is, it is a thrill, like being a passenger in his race car. I love watching him drive, seeing him pass other cars in real time. When Newman isn't features on Race Buddy, which is most of the time, I look for a driver that is featured that is near him on the field. That way I can watch him drive in traffic. When he talks about a loose race car, I can see it.

I usually keep up with Twitter as well. If I have a question about what is happening on the track, it is generally cleared up by tweets from Krissie Newman or Stewart-Haas Racing.

To me, these tools make for a satisfactory race experience. It is the next best thing to being there. Without them, I don't know how I would follow Newman's race. Unless Newman is leading the race or running in the top two or three spots, commentators rarely talk about him. Cameras seldom follow him on the track. During most races, I barely get a glimpse of his car, until perhaps the second half of the race. By that time the crew has gotten the car's handling more to Newman's liking which usually results in a late race charge toward the front.

It makes me laugh sometimes when I think about how I used to watch racing. I usually had a sewing project or was crocheting something at the same time. No more! I'm much too busy for that these days. My mouse rarely leaves my hand. I have the television remote in the other hand so I can mute it during the plethora of commercials. I would much rather hear Ryan's spotter tell him about the cars around him than hear one more commercial.

I think the fact that I didn't put away my laptop is probably symbolic. While I have been trying to tell myself I'll be glad when this season is over, the truth is that I look forward to each and every race. I'm going to miss my Sunday afternoon or Saturday night races.

This year has been pretty rough for Ryan Newman fans. We felt the uncertainty. We felt the sting of rejection. But we also feel the hope for a new beginning.

So despite the small hiatus, I'm really looking forward to the 2014 season when Ryan Newman drives the #31 car for Richard Childress Racing. And let's face it, it is pretty exciting that we are only 108 days away from the Daytona 500.


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