The Season for Clowns, But They Aren't Funny
Tuesday November 1 2016, 7:27 PM

Last night was Halloween and for the first time in 18 years, I actually stayed home and handed out candy.  I was, of course, in costume.  In fact, I was dressed as Satan with the full head-covering mask, which was very scary.  Some kids would not even come up to the porch where I was seated with the candy.  I actually had to remove the mask for several of them, but they determined my actual face was worse than the mask and insisted I put it back on.  It was fun, I learned a lot about the diversity of kids in my neighborhood, and it was quite a joy to watch their happy little dances as I dropped the candy in their bags.

As is always the case, some kids came dressed as clowns.  Some really good store-bought clown outfits but some homemade were even better.  I couldn't help but think back to when my oldest grandson was two and his mom dressed him as a clown in one of those store-bought outfits with all the makeup and the red rubber nose.  When he came to our house, he came in and walked by the full-length mirror in the hallway.  That was the first time he had seen himself in the costume and he screamed and began crying uncontrollably.  With all the bad publicity clowns are getting these days, Andrew may have had a point even way back then.

I think we have already established, beyond any doubt, that no one on this show, or listening to this show, is a fan of The Chase.  I have expressed my opinion many times and that may be the one thing on which I always get applause.  You would think that with all the emphasis on the importance of "every point counts" NASCAR would be more efficient in handling matters such as the one of the extended caution flag while they tried to figure out which end was up.  To further complicate the issue, NASCAR kept the pits closed an inordinate amount of time when several cars were nearly out of Sunoco Racing Fuel (like that Larry Mac?).

The absurdity of that entire debacle is enough to make one shake one's head in disbelief.  Twenty-nine laps under the caution to set up the field in the proper order and then, they didn't get it right despite their assurances to the contrary.  Kyle Busch, who ended up starting on the front row, was complaining about the lineup.  What did he want?  Perhaps a six lap lead and the number one starting spot?  Even after the race, he was complaining about his teammates holding him up relegating him to a 5th place finish.  This is the same JGR team racing that was so praised by Busch at Talladega.  Kyle, that's what you can expect as long as you're on that team so get used to it.

The NASCAR official at The Historic Columbia Speedway back when I raced, and he also handled Savannah and Augusta, would have had that mess resolved in less than 5 minutes.  Dan Scott was an awesome man.  His private life was just that, private, but I'll guarantee you he was a Marine at some point, probably having handled duties in the Korean War.  He was as fair a man as ever walked, but he took no prisoners.  If there were problems lining up the field after a caution, and believe me that happened often on the speedways mentioned, Dan would throw the red flag, come down out of the flag stand and personally direct each driver where he needed to be.  I saw him in discussion with a driver once who refused to get in his proper place and Dan stood directly in front of his car while he allowed all the other drivers to go around.  He put that driver at the back of the field, but the most memorable part of that show was the driver actually rolling up and putting his bumper against Dan's leg and revving his engine.  Dan never flinched.  That was probably the first "end of the longest line" penalty in NASCAR.  Dan was an awesome guy.

NASCAR spends a lot of time talking about the technology being used, which makes racing better.  Just exactly how did that work for them in Martinsville?  I am thinking "not good" but the way NASCAR has of spinning things, what happened is indeed progress in the sport.  Still, I am embarrassed that the race was not impressive to begin with and the added drama from the clown show did not help.  I also resent the media insinuating that Jimmie Johnson winning a 7th title under these "Chase rules" will put him in the same class as Richard and Dale.  I like Jimmie okay, but adding his name to a 7-time champ under the circumstances is a joke.

Judy Collins had a hit song all those many years ago entitled "Send in the Clowns".  A line from that song says, "Send in the Clowns.  Don't bother, they're here".  I defy anyone to deny that race control in Martinsville was staffed by anyone other than clowns.  Isn't that a Hoot?  (Pun intended David).

We can only hope as the "gang of eight" is reduced to the "Favored Four”, that no such debacle happens in the remaining races.  I want NASCAR to return to the status in the sports world it once enjoyed but that is never, ever, going to happen as long as there is a Chase for the championship.  I do believe NASCAR is listening to us, and people like us because of recent rule changes.  While I do not think they have gone far enough on any of the issues, especially allowing Cup drivers in the lower divisions at all, I'm inclined to believe that once the clown noses come off and the face paint is removed, the sport will begin to move forward.  Don't expect it to happen quickly.  It has taken 12 years to fall to this level and it won't be an overnight cure.

Send in the Clowns?  Don't bother; they're here.

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