Catching up as we pack up to head to Indianapolis:
I talked to Parsons the day he went through his first treatment and he was amazingly upbeat. I talked to Bill Weber over the weekend, too, and he was saying that if good wishes and a good attitude have anything to do with it, nobody’s got a better chance of winning this fight than BP does.
I think that’s about right.
One thing the Chase for the Nextel Cup format has done is that it has changed the NASCAR calendar. If you’re not in the Chase, the 2007 season begins in mid-September at New Hampshire. You get what you can get this year, but once you’ve missed the cut you’re really already working on next year.
But it would not be a simple thing for the Yates team to take Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler out later this year and put next year’s drivers in place to give them a head start on 2007.
For one thing, Leicht and Gilliand have each already run a Cup race this year. Leicht will try to make another race this week at Indianapolis. If they’re going to run for rookie of the year next year, they can’t run more than seven races this season.
There are sponsor issues, too. Remember, UPS is going with Jarrett to Michael Waltrip Racing. UPS wants to be on the track and most likely wants that to happen with Jarrett. It’s entirely possible that Yates could put Leicht in a handful of races in a third team car down at the end of the year, but don’t look for him to drive in Jarrett’s place.
If, as expected, M&M’s stays with Yates and backs Gilliland, it’s possible Sadler could go ahead and go where he’s going to go if the situation with whatever team he’s going to works out as well. But Yates also has a Busch car that can be used to get the new guys some seat time, too.
But I tell fans all the time that they owe it to themselves to see a race there at least once in their lives. If they built Fenway Park today, it’d have wider seats and aisles and about half the seats would be turned a little so they actually point to where you want to be looking. But that’s not the point of seeing a Red Sox game there. If you’re a sports fan, you have to get to Fenway at least once in your life.
That’s the exact same thing about Indy. On race day, the frontstretch is a canyon of humanity.
A racer with any kind of soul has to get goose bumps when he walks out of Gasoline Alley onto pit road for the start.
IndyCars are always going to be better suited to race there than the wider, heavier stock cars.
But NASCAR is richer, far richer, because it goes once each year to one of the true cathedrals of American sport.
It’s a honor to drive through the tunnel, and I look forward to doing that later this week.