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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

No regrets

Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, IL
It isn't often that I regret no longer living in Illinois. I love my home in the Ozarks, living among the hardwoods and enjoying the scenery and watching birds and other wildlife right in my own backyard. Ah, retirement. 

Yet this is one time I'd consider sacrificing it all to be back in Illinois, where I used to live, not far from Chicagoland Speedway. I'd gladly dust off my press badge and would thrill to write about the weekend festivities at the track for the first race of the Chase for the 2015 Championship.  

I watched the Chicagoland Speedway being built. In fact I wrote about it once or twice for the paper I worked for in those days. I even recall a huge controversy about locating that track a few miles further east. I was against it, as were so many other folks; it really was the wrong location. That was the early 1990's, long before I ever watched a race or knew much of anything about NASCAR. My, how times have changed!

If I was still there, I would love to watch the first race of the Chase. I'd be there for practice and qualifying and I'd take lots of pictures. I'd have to put on my reporters' hat, so I'd have to balance coverage for the entire process and to all of the teams. Perhaps I could write a story about how the two Richard Childress teams--#31 Ryan Newman and #27 Paul Menard feel about being eligible for the 10-race Chase by making it in on points rather than conventionally, with a win. Perhaps I could write a first person story about being at the track for the first time. I'd undoubtedly find some way to meet my favorite driver and to interview him. 

Ryan doesn't get interviewed often, but I can guarantee I'd do him proud. After all, I'm a fan. 

But wait, that was my old life. And I don't believe in regrets. So, I will be content to just watch the race on TV, perhaps making a little snack--Race-Day Guacamole--. I always keep an eye on NASCAR's Live Leaderboard and listen to Ryan and Luke on the radio.

I have high hopes that Ryan will get all the resources necessary to make his race car fast enough to compete. If the car is good, there is no doubt Ryan can wheel it right to the front. 

Ryan knows his way around Chicagoland Speedway. He won in 2003 and has had three top-5s and eight top-10 finishes. He's led 182 laps there. 

While he raced his way into the Chase on points, he's proven once again that winning a race isn't the only prescription for success. His consistency has been outstanding, except perhaps for Richmond. Not sure what happened, except that the handling of the car just wasn't there. It was a nail-biter, as I watched his points total stuck failing to add up. But as always, Ryan pulled it off, securing enough points to remain in the Top 16.  This is the second time he's made the Chase without winning a race to get there, but he knows what he has to do. His team is willing to do their part to put the #31 in Victory Lane. 

So, I plan to just enjoy the race. 

I don't mind at all that I don't have to work on the weekend, take notes, photos, and put all the words together to come up with a story. There will be no traffic, no sunburn, no expensive ticket price, no missing aspects of Ryan's race because I'd have to concentrate on the job done by all the drivers. I rather enjoy being a no pressure spectator with a focus on just one driver. And as always, I have very high hopes.  

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