Parker's Points: Daytona, Kentucky recap, and a personal note on Andy Griffith | Events
CONCORD - The South Rowan Flash, that NASCAR Jack of all Trades and Charlotte Motor Speedway Communications Director Adrian Parker shows a personal side in this edition of Parker's Points. DW: Konquers Kentucky! He was in the hunt all night, then made it happen.
Brad Keselowski has quickly joined the series’ elite and he now leads all drivers in the Sprint Cup Series with a total of three victories during the 2012 campaign. This almost certainly locks him into at least a wildcard position for the Chase. Suffice to say, he’s sitting in the catbird seat.
He had the best car when it counted the most on Saturday and was able to pull away over the final 50 laps. Kasey Kahne had a strong night and was the fastest car at the end of the race, but ran out of time.
Something that still amazes me is how Keselowski wrecked his primary car on Friday and had to pull out his backup, which was from Martinsville last year, and drove it to victory.
That’s something that was a complete foreign concept five years ago, when the old-style cars were so different from short tracks to intermediates to restrictor-plate tracks—you just never used to see that and now, it’s a much more frequent occurrence. The cars are no longer so track specific as they use to be, and that’s probably a good thing.
Another good thing was seeing the No. 3 car back in victory lane. Austin Dillon stomped the field on Friday night for his first career Nationwide Series win. It appears a foregone conclusion that before long we’ll see Dillon, who is car owner Richard Childress’ grandson, driving the No. 3 car in the Cup series
Personally, as someone who grew up rooting for the Intimidator, I can’t wait to see that.
DW: I know a lot was said and written about traffic issues at Kentucky last year. This year it sounds like many of the problems were worked out.
The great thing about being a Speedway Motorsports (SMI) facility is that the executives are never afraid to throw as many resources needed to address a situation. Examples of this are apparent at each one of the eight SMI tracks.
There was an issue last year with the traffic and parking situation around Kentucky Speedway for their inaugural Cup race. It was well chronicled. Some called it “Carmageddon,” it was so bad.
There was an issue that needed to be addressed and it was addressed full on. Bruton Smith, SMI Chairman, traveled to Kentucky frequently, beginning within two weeks of last year’s race, to meet with track management and state officials to make sure the traffic issue would be remedied.
My hat’s off to track GM Mark Simendinger and his staff for drastically improving, not just the traffic and parking situation, but many of the other behind-the-scenes logistics needed to put on a seamless race weekend.
DW: Daytona Saturday night! It's one of the highlights of the season. So what do you think? Dale Earnhardt, Jr., has to be a good pick, but who else can set off some fireworks at Daytona?
Pack racing seems to be back and with it comes the suspense and drama of 43 cars racing in tight groups at speeds in excess of 200 mph.
Something to watch for will be if the two-car tandem will again come into play at the end of the race, just like it did at Talladega when Keselowski and Kyle Busch sprinted ahead of the field on the final restart.
While the teams haven’t been able to use the two-car tandem draft in fear of overheating for any extended length of time during the race, they’ll be quick to throw caution to the wind and do it for a short period of time at the end of the race in order to gain an advantage.
Keselowski won Talladega by employing that strategy and the teams have had another three months to figure out how to cool the engines under the current rules package, which could, in turn mean more two-car tandems, especially toward the end of the race.
As for favorites, I think the Fords will continue to be strong. Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle have two top-five finishes in both plate races this year and I would expect them to be strong again. If the race resembles old school pack racing, I think that does play well for drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, who desperately needs a win to keep wild card hopes alive, and Tony Stewart.
But, this being a plate race and ultimately a crap shoot I’ll go to the trusty ol’ random number generator, which spits out 2, 1, 11, 48 and 22.
While writing this installment of Parker’s Points, I read about the passing of North Carolina icon Andy Griffith.
I never met the man. I never saw him perform live and I’m a bit ashamed to say, I’ve never even visited Mt. Airy, N.C. But, Andy Griffith has always been a part of my life.
I grew up in China Grove, N.C., which could have just as easily been the inspiration for Mayberry as was Mt. Airy.
It was, and still is for the most part, a place where most everyone knew each other’s name. It had a barber shop, a diner (or Gary’s BBQ) and a drug store with tile floors, where my parents would take me to get an Orangeade and look at comic books.
The town rolled up the sidewalks on Sunday because the majority of us went to church and visited relatives. Smoking wasn’t taboo nor was it flaunted. It was just a part of life.
And nearly every evening, for as far back as I can remember, my parents and I watched The Andy Griffith Show. It was something we did as a family. In fact, it was something we enjoyed doing together until I moved out of the house.
Beyond The Andy Griffith Show, I have No Time for Sergeants on VHS, What it Was, Was Football on cassette tape and several Andy Griffith gospel albums on CDs that was, no doubt, given to me by my mother.
Before moving to Mississippi to attend graduate school, I recorded three VHS tapes full of The Andy Griffith Show episodes because I wasn’t sure if it would air in syndication in Hattiesburg, Miss.
I will take solace knowing that Andy Griffith will live on in syndication and I’m very thankful for that. I learned a lot of life lessons from that show and look forward to watching them with my daughter soon so that she can do the same.
Follow Adrian Parker on Twitter at www.twitter.com/yoAdrian_Parker.