It all came down to one night, one race. The final race for the Chase. The Chevy Rock N Roll 400 at Richmond International Speedway. It was a mighty and terrible race with the blood of giants coursing through the veins of some of the drivers while from others the blood of giants spilled across raceway as the checkered flag fell and hushed the terrible roar.
And it was over almost as suddenly as it began. 26 races all came down to one mighty earthshaking night. There was an encore for Denny Hamlin who won, at last, on his home track. For him, it was better than if he’d won the Daytona 500. He’s been hard to pin down this season so far…it wasn’t until just before his win at Pocono that I even realized he was solidly in the Chase. If the blood of giants has been coursing through his veins this season, it has been, for the most part, the micronized kind.
Another driver however, who’s had the blood of giants running through his veins his entire career, ended the race in a pool of that blood.
If music could save the world, mankind, the universe….well that would be nice. The right song, at the right moment could lift the hearts of souls of both good and evil alike. But sadly, only in the world of Macross does that ever happen. Rock N Roll will not save mankind.
The terrible and mighty sounds of the racetrack are a very different music and the song that begins with a bang can oftimes end with a dissonant whimper. This is what happened, finally, to Matt Kenseth at Richmond last night. The blood of giants that’s been running through his veins his entire career finally, inexorably, spilled out of him.
I’ve been hating the thought of having to write this. Matt’s 2009 season began with a mighty roar. He won the Daytona 500 and followed it up with an equally thrilling win at California. Everything was in tune, it seemed, and his music was a powerful and potent force, it seemed. There was hope and magic in the universe…just as Nekki Basara and Mylene Jenius and their band, Firebomber, helped defeat the evil alien Protodeviln…there was hope that Matt Kenseth and his crew would defeat NASCAR’s evil aliens: (Hendrick Motorsports) (Kyle Busch) (David Gilliland). Just kidding about David Gillilland.
But then, at the 3rd race of the season, in Las Vegas, he blew an engine on the first lap and finished last, and the rest of his season has been a constant struggle, despite the blood giants that has been running through his veins since his 2000 rookie season where edged out Junior for Rookie of the Year. He rose to the top in 2003 winning the final Winston Cup with such an overpowering consistency, even though he only won one race, that the following season NASCAR instituted the current Chase for the Championship. Matt is the only driver other than Jimmie Johnson to have made the Chase every season, until now.
His 25th place finish at Richmond dropped him to 14th in the standings and out of the Chase for the first time ever. Two of his Roush teammates, Edwards and Biffle, both made the Chase, but barely…and neither of them has won so far in 2009.
If it’s any consolation, and I know it’s not, the aforementioned Kyle Busch, like him or not, also missed the Chase, finishing 13th in the points, despite being tied with Mark Martin with 4 wins. Kyle, like Matt, despite also aving the blood of giants (or something very similar to that) running through him, was just as inconsistent. Both Matt and Kyle had only 9 top 10’s all season to this point. Kyle took his final bow out of it as he finished 5th at the Rock N Roll 400.
The jet dryers were brought out to clean up all the blood. The Chase begins next week at Loudon NH with the old man, Mark Martin leading way. 4 wins this season and like many, I’ll be pulling for him to win it all. I hope you will too. After all, he IS one of the Giants whose blood courses through the veins of Matt Kenseth.
But show must go. And it will. Matt will be there at Loudon next trying to win. So will Kyle Busch.
Just because the blood of giants has been spilled, there is a deep well of that blood in Matt that will carry him forward and onward. Like the power of music, which I actually do believe in, he will rise above. And all will eventually be well and right and good with the world.
Respectfully submitted, as always.