Racing Comes To A Close – For This Year
The year comes to a close for Nascar’s 2013 racing season. Despite the grumbling and hysterics on Twitter, I think it was an interesting and exciting year. But then I’m a race fan, not a fair weather fan.
I’m not so quick to blame Nascar for the poor attendance and lower TV ratings. People who do this don’t understand how much the Great Recession has hit this country. Many of us are still struggling to recover and we can’t afford our season race tickets. And for many of the races, require cable/dish to view. That too costs money many don’t have. But that’s a different story.
You can’t write about the end of the season without first saying a big Congratulations to the champions of the season.
Congratulations to Matt Crafton the 2013 Camping World Truck Series Champion!
Matt Crafton #88 ThorSport Racing truck wasn’t the best in the final race of the season, he was involved in a multicar wreck on the first attempt of a green-white-checkered finish. But he had the Driver championship title locked up the moment he started the race. What he raced for during the race, was Ownership points. That title was close, but ended in a tie with Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM). The top spot was determined by a tiebreaker for the most wins, which handily went to KBM.
Congratulations to one of our favorites, Austin Dillon the 2013 Nationwide Series Champion. Austin Dillon came into the race with the points lead over Sam Hornish Jr.. It was Austin’s championship to lose for Richard Childress Racing. The night ended in controversy. Austin needed to finish within 6 positions of Sam to claim the title. During the race Sam held the commanding position, while Austin seemed to have struggled all night.
On lap 183 a late race wreck and caution brought the controversy. The final incident involved Regan Smith, Jeremy Clements and Mike Wallace. Two of those cars were on fire and the damage took 25 minutes to clear. With caution laps eating away at the race, fans and race reporters on Twitter were yelling for the Red Flag to halt the race. Each lap took away the chance for Sam to rebound and challenge for the title. Nascar called off the restart three times before going back to the green with only 5 laps left in the 200-lap event. And the anger and dismay grew, especially among those who are notorious for conspiracy theories.
Keep in mind, Austin didn’t have to win to clinch the title. He only had to finish better than or within 6 spots of Hornish and he did that. Austin ended the race in 12th place, while Sam finished 8th. That allowed Austin to claim the title by 3 points. It’s his 2nd Nascar Championship, and his 1st Nationwide Championship. Austin moves on to the Sprint Cup Series for 2014, giving him the chance to claim the Triple Crown – a Truck Championship which he won in 2011, he’s this years Nationwide Champion and that leaves the Sprint Cup title.
And finally Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson, the 2013 Sprint Cup Champion. This is Jimmie’s 6th Championship Title with Hendrick Motorsports. The record of seven titles is shared by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr.. Jimmie came into the race leading the series in points and like Austin, it was his title to lose. In the hunt were Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick. Either had a chance, but it required Jimmie to finish 22nd or worse for that to work out. But it was not to be.
There’s enough written this past week about the season and the races and Jimmie. So I’ll leave the rest of this to those publications who focus on Jimmie’s impact and history making efforts. Frankly I was pulling for Harvick.
While it was an interesting year of racing, it officially ended for me on August 5th, 2013. That was the night my favorite guy, Tony Stewart crash his winged Sprint-Car at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa and broke his leg. The story was reported by Jeff Gluck in USAToday “Tony Stewart suffers broken leg“.
That injury took Tony out of his Nascar Sprint Cup #14 car for the remainder of the 2013 season. The break required 3 surgeries and put Smoke in a wheel chair for several weeks. The bone pushed through the skin and the first surgery was designed to clean the wound and temporarily set the break.
He traveled back to Charlotte and met with specialists who performed the second surgery to set the break permanently. The biggest worry after that, was infection. Which sadly occurred and required the third surgery.
Tony did manage to get back to the track and provide moral support for his 3 Sprint cup teams. Spending most of his efforts coaching Danica Patrick and helping her to improve her shot in Nascar.
He tapped veteran Mark Martin and rookie Austin Dillon to drive his #14 car while he was out. In the meantime, his crew helped out by customizing his hot rod that allowed him to get around while his leg was in a cast.
On the final weekend of the season Tony meet with Marty Smith on ESPN to talk about his Road to Recovery. He talks about what racing means to him, “”I am a racer. I’m not a race car driver. I am a racer. I race. That’s what I do.” and how badly he wants to get back in a race car. And he will. He’s still on schedule to get back into his Sprint Cup car for the 2014 Daytona 500 when Smoke Will Rise!
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