Tradition, Frustration, and Seduction: Kenseth Wins at Darlington

Tradition is important. It’s why we hang up certain ornaments at Christmastime, take vacations to sacred cabins in the woods, tap that poster of your driver before the race. There’s something about holding on to a pattern created so long ago that makes you feel close to the past.

That’s Darlington.

Racing illuminated my TV screen tonight. If it were in black and white, I could’ve been watching a race from the 1970s. The beginning half was a perfect example; at one point, only ten cars were on the lead lap. That screams old school to me. If you don’t enjoy a taste of that, then you need to sit in a corner and think for a while. Trust me.

Without many cautions, people began to talk. Like any other woman, The Lady in Black doesn’t like when people talk behind her back. So she came back with a vengeance at the end.

Caution after caution after caution. People were happy. Carnage, wrecking, oooooh, aaaaaah.

Kyle Busch was putting a clinic on everyone until the last restart, where Matt Kenseth caught him in his grip and tossed him aside (not literally). As soon as Kenseth passed him for the lead, Busch’s car went to Hell. In the closing laps, his machine succumbed to a cut right rear, and he fell to sixth.

Kenseth captured another win, with his teammate Denny Hamlin finishing second in his first start since March. Jeff Gordon got third, his 300th top five on the night of his 700th start. That’s pretty dang cool, if you ask me.

Busch left the scene without comment, which isn’t a surprise but a shame. Kyle seemed like he was transforming for a while, yet tonight showed how he can take two steps back after jumping up one. It’s understandable, his frustration; he was fixing to win, and a misfortune smacked him.

However, it could’ve been a lot worse. He could’ve hit the wall. He could’ve spun and collected others. He should be happy with the sixth-place finish. Heck, he jumped two spots in points, and he storms off.

Kyle isn’t the only one who’s candor is disturbing. Another example is his elder brother.

Early on in this race, Kurt Busch, who started on the pole, was flying. As soon as Mother Nature shut the lights off, though, his car went south. All you heard from the no. 78’s radio were swears and anger. Standing out to me was the statement, “I don’t even know why I drive.”

It makes me sick that drivers act so ungrateful and disrespectful when something goes wrong. With what Kurt has been through the past two seasons, it’s hard to believe he has a right. But he does, and that’s how he treats his team as soon as something goes wrong.

Both Busch brothers, and countless other drivers, need to find the positivity in races like this. Then again, it seems like society is lacking that essential optimism these days. Sad.

In the end, it was a race that sent you back in time, a serving of time traveling delight that NASCAR is in desperate need of this season. If you think that lapping 33 cars during a long green-flag run isn’t old school, then you should invest some time searching YouTube.

Winning thrice has set Kenseth up to be a championship contender this week, even after that whole penalty snafu. That’s resilience and the true form of a champ. Seducing The Lady in Black isn’t easy, but Kenseth made it seem that way.

Point Standings after Darlington

1. Jimmie Johnson (–)
2. Carl Edwards (-44)
3. Matt Kenseth (-59)
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-64(
5. Clint Bowyer (-74)
6. Kasey Kahne (-97)
6. Brad Keselowski (-97)
8. Kyle Busch (-98)
9. Aric Almirola (-106)
10.Kevin Harvick (-108)
10. Paul Menard (-108)
12. Jeff Gordon (-112)


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