With its nuts, bolts and gears, there isn't much room for mystery in NASCAR. Perhaps more than any other sport, it is an enterprise that fans can touch and feel and see and hear.
There are no offensive or defensive
And yet, for the casual fan of today's NASCAR (like me), there are some things that remain unknowable. The big mystery to me is and always has been,
The conundrum has only been made worse by the Car of Tomorrow and its extremely tight template, a fact which is exacerbated every time I'm sent out to report on a team that has made a dramatic turnaround. In my first season on the beat, when the new car was used for just a fraction of the schedule, drivers and crew chiefs had firm answers to questions like,
It's just another way that individuality is bleeding out of racing. The cars look the same. The drivers look the same. The races look the same. And when the standings look different, nobody can quite put their finger on the reason why.
Just listen to
The sad thing is, he's right. For my part, I think he's not giving enough credit to the new Penske engines. According to former Penske driver
There can be little doubt that, whatever the reason, Busch is a championship contender again -- and seemingly in a way he wasn't two years ago when he made the Chase. He won two races that year, but for the most part seemed to be driving cars that were worthy of the top-10 on most days, but not Victory Lane. But after his dominant win at Atlanta two weeks ago, Busch looks like he's going to be behind the wheel of a top-three car more often than not. He's third in the Cup standings, with three top-10 finishes in four starts.
So the short answer to the resurgence of Kurt Busch is his engine. But the real answer is something much more complex, knowable only to a few. As exciting as it must be for the folks at Penske, it's something I'm having trouble wrapping my arms around.
I was going to offer this -- a clip of
My big observation: I don't think it would have been too much to ask for them to reshoot the scene so it wouldn't seem like the actor who introduces Burton forgets who he is for a second. (And let's be honest: in the real world, he has no idea who Burton is.)
As for Burton's performance, yes it's wooden. But frankly, considering the amount of ham thrown in by the show's two regulars, I think its ligneous quality gives the script some much-needed dignity.