Betty White vs. NASCAR
The Lady In Black did her level best to leave no one unscathed at last night’s Southern 500 at Darlington. Jimmie Johnson was swept up in her hateful arms on lap 180 by the intrepid A.J. Allmendinger whose brake rotor exploded. That was good to see. It kept the deal interesting. The race roared to a thrilling finish with Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon duking it out, 10-12 laps to go…..but WAIT!! Betty Freaking White is hosting Saturday Night Live and she’s so gosh-darned cute these days at 88 years of age….so the end of the Southern 500 vanished into “LIVE from New Y0rk, it’s Saturday night!” The ultimate clash of cultures!! Betty White vs. NASCAR. No doubt about the outcome of that, sorry to say. Sorry Denny Hamlin, Betty White takes that checkered flag.
But it was all good in the end, I suppose. Denny Hamlin, the stealth driver of NASCAR….so good and consistent that you tend to forget he’s even there, Denny Hamlin, scored an impressive and hard fought win. It was his third win of the season…and the fact that he’s recovering from ACL surgery on his left knee makes his accomplishments all that more remarkable. Last season, I didn’t even realize he made the Chase until he finish 5th in the points. This year, I’m definitely keeping him on my radar and in my peripheral vision. He tends to be overshadowed by his more extroverted and jovial teammate Kyle Busch. But as the season moves along, Hamlin will definitely be a man to watch. He is currently in 6th, 14 points back of Matt Kenseth.
Truth to tell, I would like to see the NASCAR season play itself out with epic storylines worthy of great German cinema. Bring on the Wim Wenders and Werner Herzogs! I want passion and turmoil and beauty. Time and its terrifying wonder and mystery. I want the unexpected and poignant. And if NASCAR plays out the rest of the reel like it did last night at Darlington, I’ve got a good feeling that I’ll get what I want.
Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton, if they spoke German, would sum up the Southern 500 thusly: “In Wieter Ferne, So Nah!” ((Faraway, So Close.)) It’s probably better to say that, than the English expletives their respective situations truly deserve. They share that fate with a few other prominent sportsmen this weekend as well whose fate was to finish close, but naught close enough.
Chelsea 8 Wigan Athletic 0
Manchester United 4 Stoke City 0
Faraway, so close. Wayne Rooney and Sir Alex Ferguson and company fall 1 point short of the Premier League Championship. And thus, my Chelsea Blues take home the trophy in a smashing win over Wigan. Carlo Ancelotti admonished his Blues ahead of the match that all they needed was a 1-0 win….they didn’t need to worry about setting a record for goals scores….didn’t need to exceed the 100 goals mark.
Well…the boys blasted through that w/o a second thought. They went into halftime with a 2 goal lead on goals by Flaurent Malouda and penalty kick by Frank Lampard. After halftime, Chelsea went on a tear and smacked in 6 more goals. Didier Drogba got a hat trick and when all was done, John Terry and company hoisted the Premier League Championship Trophy. Didier Drogba wins the Golden Boot Award; Peter Cech wins the Golden Glove Award. A Championship well deserved and a season well played.
Mark Webber wins Spanish Gran Prix
After weeks of being faraway, so close, ((except for the Malaysian Grand Prix, of course)) The Red Bull Renault team smashed through and sealed the deal. Mark Webber went wire to wire to take top spot on the podium. Teammate Sebastian Vettel, despite brake problems (hmmm…sort of like they were racing at Darlington instead of Barcelona) benefitted from Lewis Hamilton’s blown tyre on lap 64 to take the third podium spot.
Red Bull Renault has been scary fast all season so far. Maybe they’re mixing Red Bull in fuel. But something has made them the class of F1 in terms of speed. Their biggest problem has been reliability. Except for the Malaysian Grand Prix, they haven’t been able to capitalize on their speed until this Sunday. If they could put their mechanical issues aside, they’d be on top of the podium every week. It would be almost, a bit, like great German cinema, especially if you throw Schumacher’s (alleged) comeback into the mix. Not quite the metaphorical NASCAR slugfest since Europe, at times, seems a bit too precious for that sort of bloodbath. But it wouldn’t be too much to ask if Vettel could lap the field by say, lap 41, and never look back, would it? That would be mighty mighty funny. Here’s to him doing that in Monaco!!
So Columbo and Gobachev, and Lou Reed and my highschool classmate Wilem Dafoe and Damiel and Cassiel and all the others fallen angels, ASSEMBLE!! Victory might be faraway, but it’s never felt so close. We’re ALL going to race to the sweet and bitter end.