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Pennzoil 400

Dustin Off the Next Race: Pennzoil 400 Presented by Jiffy Lube

To be able to sit here and write anything knowing that just six days ago we were all gasping in shock, disbelief, and fear is unreal.  For hours, all of us sat silent, wondering what was coming at the end of the insanity at Daytona.  Many of us, including yours truly, even had a sinking feeling that the news that was coming later on was not going to be pleasant, and likely would make us all sick.

Just knowing that somehow, whether a guardian angel, safety equipment, a bit of luck, or a combination of all three, Ryan Newman is still here with us is a true miracle.

How can one even fathom coming back from that?  Not speaking about Newman himself, but in reality the other 39 drivers in the Cup Series, and for that matter all the other series.  They have to continue to do their job, knowing the potential for what happened to Newman could easily happen to them at a moment’s notice.  Sure, there’s less speed and handling is even more a factor.  But, that risk is going to be there whether it’s at Daytona, Las Vegas, or even Martinsville.

Every driver in that garage is taking that risk immediately when the helmet goes on, and somehow they all have to get what happened a week ago out of their minds, and do their job.

Appropriately, NASCAR heading west starts a week earlier than in the last several years, appropriately at Las Vegas, where gambling is prevalent anywhere from the casinos, to the airport, and even the local 7-Eleven.  Although the chips may not be cashed in just yet, when NASCAR comes here for their two events, it’s always a party in the neon lights.  Some bet on black, and end up red.  Others roll snake eyes, and some hit the slots in hopes of seeing all sevens.

But in Las Vegas this weekend, the teams take a gamble knowing one of their own is on the sidelines, but doing so not in a hospital bed, but instead at home.

It is true that NASCAR is a family, and on occasion most families will have their disagreements either on the track or in the garage.  We’ve seen that happen at every kind of track, and it likely will happen again, and often.  But, when things like what happened on Monday night actually occur, we all get a reality check and realize what truly does matter.  It didn’t matter at that point who did what to cause the accident, but instead it was about hoping, and giving prayers, to one of their own.

With that in mind, it’s time to see which of these drivers has dealt the best hand, and won’t show their cards until the time is right.  Shuffle up, and deal.

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