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Friday, September 4, 2015


It is time to say something nice about NASCAR. I haven't done that in a while.
I know, I've been a bad blogger; I haven't written a thing here in several weeks. Thing is, as a retired journalist, I relish the fact that I no longer have to meet deadlines, so I write when I am inspired. I just haven't felt like it lately, but there was something I wanted to say after watching some of this afternoon's practice at Darlington.

I think #NASCAR did a good thing, by getting NBC to cover the sport. Adding Jeff Burton as an analyst has been a real plus. I enjoy his coverage of the races. Burton is intelligent, experienced, and he explains what is going on from a drivers' perspective. 
Ryan Newman - Quicken Loans Racing
Burton is fair in his treatment of all the drivers, not singling out any one of them. He is honest about them and isn't so syrupy that it is nauseating. I'm especially impressed at how Burton has spoken honestly about Ryan Newman's performance, specifically citing Newman's potential to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship this year. Burton has been there; in fact he used to drive Newman's car, prior to Newman's joining Richard Childress Racing. Other commentators have avoided coverage of Newman as if he is contagious; especially those from FOX and ABC. I think they are intimidated by Ryan's intellect and skittish about what he might say. Ryan speaks his mind and isn't going to be controlled by NASCAR or anyone. I don't think they get his dry sense of humor either. 

I have seen more interviews of Newman in recent weeks on NBC, which is heartening, since he does have a fascinating story to tell. He is a championship-caliber driver who makes the most out of what every situation. Whether it be a crash not of his doing, a poor performing race car, or even making a mistake himself, which he has no problem owning up to, Newman does the best he can with what he's got. His performance last year, finishing less than a second behind Kevin Harvick for the championship, should have shown the kind of stuff he is made of. Yet it was so often ignored. Instead, so much was made of his not winning a race last year, or this year either, for that matter, that what he has done has been ignored. Burton gets it, however. He understands the challenges of race car drivers, because he's done it for years. 

Burton respects Newman recognizes that Newman is not reckless, nor does he retaliate against other drivers. He has his own race to run and doesn't let pettiness get in his way. When he is wronged on the track, he doesn't focus on retaliation as some drivers have done. He has better things to do. Newman can think his way out of a situation and now seems to have the team to back him up. He and Crew Chief Luke Lambert seem to work very well together--in fact as well as Newman and Matt Borland from those early days when he drove for Roger Penske. 

With the Chase for the Championship nearly upon us, I have no doubt that Newman will participate. I'm hoping for nearly as much excitement as last year, which was a nail biter. 

So, way to go NASCAR, you finally did something I can agree with.

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