By Peter M. De Lorenzo
Detroit. Tagged a long, long time ago by Dale Earnhardt Sr. as the real deal and a future star, Kevin Harvick fulfilled that promise on Sunday night when he became the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion. He won the race in convincing fashion - his fifth of the season and third in the Chase - finally capturing his first Sprint Cup Championship in his fourteenth season in NASCAR's top level. Harvick is a no bullshit kind of guy - although an acknowledged shit disturber in the NASCAR garage - and a racer's racer, so it was fitting that of the four drivers eligible for the championship at Homestead, he came through with flying colors.
I don't have much more to add about this, as readers of this column know exactly what I think about NASCAR's never-ending quest to make things interesting. Manufactured excitement has zero appeal to me. But the huzzahs are raining down on NASCARville today, with all of the NASCAR players thrilled with the "Game 7" feel of the last race, something Brian France is taking full credit for. Funny, it didn't have a "Game 7" feel to me at all, only the end of an overly-long season lurching to its inevitable conclusion.
The new format - don't blink, it may change again next year - doesn't address NASCAR's lingering issues. Not even close, in fact. Too many races, too many repeat visits to the same tracks, too much same ol', same ol' in a death march of a schedule that never changes, a repetitive monument to tedium that the powers that be at NASCAR are apparently incapable of changing. I'm still waiting for Brian France to do something - anything - fundamentally positive to move the sport in a new direction, but I won't hold my breath.
That said, congratulations to Kevin Harvick and the entire Stewart-Haas Racing organization for a job well done.
And on another subject... That Bernie Ecclestone has been a carpetbagging mercenary for decades now is no great revelation. But his latest diatribe suggesting that young people don't matter to F1, that they have nothing to do with the participating sponsors because they can't afford to spend money or do anything of consequence anyway, is so wrong-headed and stupid that it defies any rational explanation. We all know that F1 is in deep trouble (despite the global viewing audience numbers that Ecclestone likes to tout at the drop of a hat). And as I've stated many, many times before, it's racing in a vacuum of the highest order, a closed society that runs its races for the edification of a few, at the expense of many, whether they be short-sighted governments looking for a tourist spike, or average fans. If the participating members of Formula 1 care about their precious little nest egg in the least, they will oust Bernie Ecclestone from F1 once and for all. He is simply out of touch with the world, and F1 can't afford to isolate itself from reality any more than it already has.
(Photo by Tom Copeland/HHP for GM/Chevrolet Racing)
Kevin Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion.
(Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for GM/Chevrolet Racing)
Jubilation for Kevin Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team.
(Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for GM/Chevrolet Racing)
Jubilation, Part II.
Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD
(Photo courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Rockingham, North Carolina, October 30, 1966. Ned Jarrett (No. 11 Bondy Long Ford) holds the NASCAR Driver's Championship Trophy for 1965 after finishing third in The American 500 NASCAR Grand National race at the Rockingham Speedway. Fred Lorenzen (No. 28 Holman Moody Ford) won the race that day with Don White (No. 31 Nichels Engineering Dodge) finishing second. Jarrett won the NASCAR Drivers Championship in 1961 and 1965. In 1965 he won 13 races out of 54 starts. Overall, he won 50 out of 352 races from 1953 to 1966.
Publisher's Note: Like these Ford racing photos? Check out www.fordimages.com. Be forewarned, however, because you won't be able to go there and not order something. - PMD