Thursday, January 14, 2010

On the most wonderful time of the year, adding laps, and the passing of Mike Addington

Generally when people think about "the most wonderful time of the year," they recall the classic Christmas carol. Not me. While I love the holidays, even more so now there are little ones to watch tear into their mound of presents on Christmas morning, the most wonderful time of the year is now - when the racing season is starting to kick into gear. It starts this weekend with the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, then continues next week with the Toyota All-Star Showdown in Irwindale, and then we really get a head of steam going with the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the kickoff of SpeedWeeks 2010.

A note to David Newton and any other media member who is critical of Phoenix International Raceway's decision to lengthen the Spring race at the 1-mile oval in the desert: not everyone things long races are boring. Some people actually think extra laps and miles is a good thing, particularly if you're a fan that only has one chance to see a race each season. Can 600 miles at Charlotte drag on too long? Sure. Can 400 miles at Michigan seem long? Sure. But you know what? That's okay. Not every race is a barn burner. Experienced media people should know that. They are entitled to their opinion just like everyone else, but I often wonder to myself why some of these media members chose to follow the sport? Was it just because that's the assignment they drew when they were hired in? Because many of them rarely have anything good to say about the sport. Maybe 375 miles is too many at Phoenix. Why not wait and see before condemning the decision? It's possible that all it will do is add to the laps led total of the winner, as Newton theorizes. It's also possible that someone will dominate the first 312 laps of the race (the traditional race distance at PIR) and then have engine problems or crash out in the final 63 laps. How many times has someone won the Coca-Cola 500, but not been around to see the checkered flag in the race that is the Coca-Cola 600?

Sad news from the Camping World Truck Series world as former team owner Mike Addington passed away last week. Addington's team was always solid on the track, scoring a win with Andy Houston during his rookie season in 1998 and several more the next three years. He also put Travis Kvapil in victory lane a few times before Kvapil left the team to become a champion with Xpress Motorsports. Addington Racing is where Rick Ren came to the forefront as one of the best crew chiefs in the garage, always having trucks that were top-five material and if they were involved in any kind of smash-up on the track Ren and crew got them back out and in contention. Mike Addington was just 50 years old.

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