Monday, February 22, 2016

Musings From the Weekend: Chase History

There were two photo finishes at Daytona. One finish set a record. Two manufactures scored their first victories in Daytona races. Daytona is behind us and now the floodgates are starting to break with many motorsports seasons about to begin in the next few weeks. Formula One teams are unveiling their 2016 machinery and IndyCar teams are scrambling to find funding and hire drivers. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

Chase History
Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500. It is a legendary race with a nice payday. A position in the Chase has been pretty much locked up for Hamlin. It's not that hard to finish in the top 30 after 26 races and the chances of more than 16 drivers winning in the first 26 races is slim to none. The next six months or so are just going to be going through the motions for Hamlin, trying to earn another win or two to collect three or six more bonus points for the beginning of the Chase.

Why not try to do something great? Why not try to do something that few have ever done? Why not etch your name in the history and be immortalized as one of the greatest in motorsports history? You have just added the Daytona 500 to the list of accomplishments. Why not go after the Indianapolis 500?

Two drivers have won both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500. They are Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt. Who wouldn't want to be apart of that company? Think about how revered Andretti and Foyt are. They didn't get that way by being one-trick ponies. They were great across the board. Let's not act like there isn't an active driver who could be successful in anything they get behind the wheel of. They are out there but the landscape of motorsports has turned drivers into silent puppets who do not seek greatness but passive, paycheck accepting pawns.

These drivers waste their talent and waste their potential greatness in fear of losing the cushy bubble they have been trapped in for their careers. They don't throw caution to the wind and risk failure. They don't want any blemishes but they don't realize that blemishes make them real. They want to be gods but they are merely humans.

They want it handed them. That is why you always hear them say they want to do it with the "right team" as if there is a magically team that exists that if you join a win is guaranteed. Instead of making an attempt with anybody and feverishly working to succeed regardless of the pieces around them, they would rather sit back and not even attempt to make history. How disappointing.

Don't we want drivers to chase down history? Don't we want drivers to be greater than anything to have come before them? Don't we want drivers to realize the money and material wealthy is temporary but monumental accomplishments stand the test the time and provide future generations with something to strive for?

And this isn't just on Daytona 500 winners. Why wasn't Scott Dixon at Daytona? Where was Juan Pablo Montoya? Ryan Hunter-Reay lives in Fort Lauderdale; it would practically be a home race for him. Tony Kanaan? Hélio Castroneves? There is a financial barrier that stands in the way but what sponsor would turn down a chance to be apart of something so extraordinary? It has only happened twice in the 58 years that both races existed. It's the equivalent to Oscar Robertson averaging a triple-double for an entire season. If it were to happen again, no one would roll their eyes and say "been there, done that." It would have the masses in awe.

Kenny Bräck almost ran the Daytona 500. Imagine if he did and imagine if he won it. He would have a whole different place in motorsports lore. Who wouldn't want that? Hamlin would have the chance to win both in the same year. His name would standout greater than any driver that came before him should he achieve an unfathomable feat.

The five active Indianapolis 500 winners should be dying to be in Daytona come February and Hamlin, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Trevor Bayne and Matt Kenseth should be dying to be Indianapolis come May. A rare place in history is within their grasps.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Denny Hamlin and what happened on Thursday but did you know...

Chase Elliott won the NASCAR Grand National Series race from Daytona.

Johnny Sauter gave Chevrolet its first victory in the Daytona Truck race.

Ken Roczen won the AMA Supercross race from Arlington, his second victory of the season.

Coming Up This Weekend
This week, Formula One begins testing from Barcelona and IndyCar tests at Phoenix.
NASCAR heads north to Atlanta and AMA Supercross will also be in Atlanta.
The World Superbike season opens at Phillip Island.