Four races in, a fifth waiting to be run, the first “off-weekend” looming, and there is much to be enjoyed in NASCAR. The Gen-6 car is getting a lot of positive feedback, the racing has offered some dazzle, and familiar names populate the top-10 in points. But there still isn’t a big story to write about.
Sure, Denny Hamlin got fined after his comments uttered in a post-race interview at Phoenix and a crush of opinions followed from fans and folks far and wide. But that sort of dissolved.
Then Hamlin was in the news again for his actions on the track with former teammate Joey Logano. The post-race melee that ensued was quick and action-less, but gave a quote that reverberated across social media. Hamlin responded to the question of what Logano said to him when he leaned into Hamlin’s car with, “He said he was coming for me. I usually don’t see him, so it’s usually not a factor.”
Cutting words, but certainly not devastating from Hamlin who sits sixth in points to Logano’s 12th currently.
Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) cars are doing well. Three out of the four team drivers are in the top-10 with Dale Jr. leading the way in second place, with Jimmie Johnson in third and Kasey Kahne in seventh. Only Jeff Gordon is missing as he sits in 21st place as of this writing. California is a great track for Gordon, though, so his luck could change.
But besides the sport’s most popular driver doing well in the points, there isn’t much drama there.
The fact that three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart is in 24th place at this point of the season could be a bit of a story, but unless he verbally slams ninth in points Paul Menard like he did in 2007, there isn’t one.
Danica Patrick is having another lackluster start to her NASCAR season, she’s in 28th place, and reigning champion Brad Keselowski currently sits atop the points.
So where is the big story, the huge rivalry, the earth-shattering news that we can sink our teeth into this season?
We return to Hamlin and Logano and their “biting” words. Here is a sampling:
Logano tweeted post-race on March 17, 2013, “Hey @dennyhamlin great job protecting that genius brain of yours by keeping your helmet on.”
Hamlin replied, “Why is that What would u do?”
Logano tweeted, “Show you some love and appreciation.”
Prompting Hamlin to retort, “Last time I checked he had my cell and direct message button to choose from if he’s got a problem.. Otherwise hush little child.”
Social media has made some wonderful changes for NASCAR fans. The real-time news, more access to drivers, and community that exists has, for the most part, been positive.
But playing out a “rivalry” or “spat” via Twitter is lame. I long for the days that action occurred at the heat of the moment. I’m thinking about a time when drivers who were perturbed with one another handled it personally, swiftly, and deftly, not through typing on a phone for millions to read.
Call me old-fashioned but I want to really see these drivers show more passion and emotion. It’s something the likes of Tony Stewart, Kurt and Kyle Busch, and even Hamlin have been slammed for in recent times, but it seems that with all the changes NASCAR is making to its sport, reigniting passion should be high on the list.
It’s not that I condone physical fights or brainless rants, but there’s something about tweeting one’s unhappiness with another driver that leaves me, well, cold.
Like the rest of you, I am waiting to see what California has to offer and then we’ll take a break on the off weekend to re-examine where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.
In the meantime, I’m rooting for something outrageous to happen so there is more to write about than Twitter Wars of Words.