My Brain on NASCAR: Times they are a-changin’ in racin’

col-cathyelliottCome gather ’round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin.

– Bob Dylan, “The Times, They Are a-Changin’ ”

I’ve been preaching for a number of years now that our NASCAR, the one we grew up with, the one that broke into the mainstream thanks to the drivers we have watched and supported for years, is in a transition phase. In five or maybe even three years from now, it may be nearly unrecognizable. It pains me to admit it because I’ve never really thought of him as a NASCAR prophet, but it seems that Bob Dylan saw it coming long before I did.

Some people don’t want to think about this. I have friends who get so emotional when the subject of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s impending retirement comes up that they actually get tears in their eyes. My own mother sniffled through all 400 miles of Jeff Gordon’s last race. This season, I find myself pulling for the No. 14 every week until something or someone reminds me that Clint Bowyer, not Tony Stewart, is behind the wheel.

We saw this in action at Michigan International Speedway on June 18, when Kyle Larson, after starting the race from the pole position, held off Chase Elliott to take the checkered flag, his second NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and the third of his career.

Yes, Jimmie Johnson is still dominant and, after signing a three-year contract extension (through the 2020 season) with Hendrick Motorsports, will in all likelihood win that elusive eighth series championship, prompting legions of Earnhardt and Petty fans to take to their beds with a case of the vapors.

Even the series schedule is in a state of what I would call some pretty extreme transition. When I saw it for the first time, I believe I actually squawked out loud from a combination of disbelief and delight. When NASCAR decides to take action, it really gives you something to talk about.

In case you missed it, let’s talk about a few of the changes that will be implemented next year.

We’ll start with the biggest loser, which in my opinion is Chicagoland Speedway. Chicago had a peach of a date – the opening event of the 10-week Chase – but will now move to late June/early July, a lead-in to the popular mid-summer race at Daytona (formerly known as the Firecracker 400. I wish it had stayed that way). Chicagoland is not known for great racing and will lose a lot of momentum since it is no longer part of the Chase. It will likely suffer as a result.

A really cool change for next year is the introduction of an entirely new type of race – the roval. Charlotte Motor Speedway’s fall Chase race will be run not on the 1.5-mile oval, but on a 2.42-mile “roval,” which combines Charlotte’s road course and its traditional track. Please don’t groan; this does add another road race to the schedule, but the plus side is that it will be the final race of Stage 1 of the Chase, so anything could happen.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway went all in this time around by snatching one of New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s two races AND taking the Chase opener away from Chicagoland. Vegas is one of the most popular stops on the circuit for both fans and drivers, and starting the Chase there only ups the ante.

The final race of the regular season will move from Richmond to The Brickyard or, as I like to call it, from beating-and-banging to boring. This is the race that sets the field for the Chase, and in the past it has been a real nail-biter. At the Brickyard, however, you may find yourself snoozing on the sofa rather than sitting on the edge of your seat.

Remember the Winston Million? Well, check this out. Beginning in 2018, the final three races of the regular season will be run at Bristol (the night race), Darlington, and the Brickyard. I saw on the Internet that some folks have already nicknamed it “The Triple.” I haven’t heard of any special marketing plan for these three prestigious events, but we still have the 2017 season to get through, so I’m sure there’s a savvy somebody out there who will come up with something.

At the rate we’re going, I can’t wait to learn what musical entertainment has been booked for the championship banquet. The powers-that-be might want to consider Bob Dylan. That’s one Nobel Laureate who really knows his NASCAR.

Comments

comments

Lady Chiefs sweep season series vs. West Brunswick

Lady Chiefs sweep season series vs. West BrunswickThe North Myrtle Beach High volleyball team made sure that [more]

St. James takes runner-up at Lady Patriot Invitational

St. James takes runner-up at Lady Patriot InvitationalThe St. James High girls golf team went toe-to-toe with [more]

Photos: No TDs but loads of fun at Panthers' debut

Photos: No TDs but loads of fun at Panthers' debutA sellout crowd enjoyed the Carolina Panthers' 2017 home opener [more]

Lady Chants bounce back to claim first Sun Belt win

Lady Chants bounce back to claim first Sun Belt winCoastal Carolina women's soccer team got back in the win [more]

Carolina Forest swimmers win Socastee Invitational

Carolina Forest swimmers win Socastee InvitationalThe Carolina Forest swimming teams continued their successful seasons by [more]

CCU's comeback bid falls short in road loss to UAB

CCU's comeback bid falls short in road loss to UABCoastal Carolina scored 18 second-half points and only allowed 116 [more]

Chants open Sun Belt title defense with loss to GSU

Chants open Sun Belt title defense with loss to GSUCoastal Carolina began defense of its 2016 Sun Belt Championship [more]

NMB shows it's for 'Reel' with blowout of Socastee

NMB shows it's for 'Reel' with blowout of SocasteeIn a highly anticipated showdown between undefeated North Myrtle Beach [more]

Seahawks' D bounces back by pouncing on Panthers

Seahawks' D bounces back by pouncing on PanthersWill the real Myrtle Beach High defense please stand up? [more]

Sharks let one slip away as Bulldogs feast on fumbles

Sharks let one slip away as Bulldogs feast on fumblesOne week after pulling off an amazing comeback win, the [more]

Christian Academy works overtime to earn wild win

Christian Academy works overtime to earn wild winOn a big Friday night for public school football on [more]

Volleyball: MB wins home debut; Panthers sweep SF

Volleyball: MB wins home debut; Panthers sweep SFThe Myrtle Beach High volleyball team finally got the opportunity [more]

Golf: Panthers move to 4-0; Sharks roll past Seahawks

Golf: Panthers move to 4-0; Sharks roll past Seahawks Carolina Forest's Sami Spencer shot a career-best 3-under-par 33 to [more]

Lady Chiefs run away with big win over county rivals

Lady Chiefs run away with big win over county rivalsThe North Myrtle Beach High girls cross country team took [more]

Volleyball: Sharks prevail; Tomlin nets triple-double

Volleyball: Sharks prevail; Tomlin nets triple-doubleNo stranger to triple-doubles on the basketball court, Carolina Forest's [more]

Week 5 Previews & Picks: Local rivalries mark lineup

Week 5 Previews & Picks: Local rivalries mark lineupSo far WPDE TV and sister station CW 21's foray [more]

Saints volleyball gears up for another state title run

Saints volleyball gears up for another state title runFollowing a surprising run to the SCISA Class AA state [more]

Seahawks-Panthers game postponed to Friday night

Seahawks-Panthers game postponed to Friday nightThursday's televised contest between the Myrtle Beach and Carolina Forest [more]

Coastal learns kickoff, TV times for next two games

Coastal learns kickoff, TV times for next two gamesThe Coastal Carolina Department of Athletics announced today its start [more]

CCU's Hardeman retains Sun Belt offensive honor

CCU's Hardeman retains Sun Belt offensive honorSenior outside hitter Leah Hardeman has been named the Sun [more]

Photo Gallery: Ideal starts for Braves, Chiefs, Tigers

Photo Gallery: Ideal starts for Braves, Chiefs, Tigers"Undefeated!" It's something not many high school football teams can [more]

Clemson defense comes to rescue in win over Auburn

Clemson defense comes to rescue in win over AuburnPowered by a defense that sacked Auburn’s quarterback 11 times, [more]

Gamecocks get big boost from Deebo to beat Tigers

Gamecocks get big boost from Deebo to beat TigersDeebo Samuel ran for two touchdowns to help South Carolina [more]

Chants forced to hit road, suffer loss to Highlanders

Chants forced to hit road, suffer loss to HighlandersCoastal Carolina’s soccer team lost a home game due to [more]

Illing's 5 TDs help Socastee flip the script on Seahawks

Illing's 5 TDs help Socastee flip the script on SeahawksIt's safe to say the Socastee Braves had this rivalry [more]

Lady Chiefs sweep season series vs. West Brunswick

Lady Chiefs sweep season series vs. West BrunswickThe North Myrtle Beach High volleyball team made sure that [more]

St. James takes runner-up at Lady Patriot Invitational

St. James takes runner-up at Lady Patriot InvitationalThe St. James High girls golf team went toe-to-toe with [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach