Sometimes I get to thinking, and that within itself may not be good. No, seriously, I sometimes wonder what it is like in other sports from an insider's point of view.
It seems to me that stock car racing has more ups and downs than any other sport. Sometimes I feel like there are more downs than ups. I think that's because stock car racing has so many variables outside a driver's control, things that keep him from winning. I do believe that in all sports, however, true champions are often determined by how well they battle through adversity to accomplish goals.
I hear people in other sports talk about momentum. In football, for example, the announcers refer to momentum shifting in a single quarter. Well, let me tell you something about racing: Often it takes a long time to build momentum, and you can lose it in a few seconds. Then you have to regroup and stay focused. Sometimes that isn't easy.
I remember some years during my driving career when we could take a car and it didn't seem like anything could keep us from winning. Then we would take the same car the very next year and it didn't seem like we could win a single race.
I think every team has doubts at one point or another, and I really believe it is those lean times that test a driver's and a team's commitment. I have experienced both, the good years and the bad. Believe me, you feel better and fare a lot better during those good years.
Anyway, enough preaching. A fan asked a good question the other day. She wanted to know why so many good drivers at the local tracks never make it to Winston Cup. There are a lot of reasons. Perhaps the No. 1 reason is they don't get a chance. It takes a lot of money and sometimes being in the right place at the right time counts.
Somebody said that in Winston Cup a driver never gets fired, he just moves from team to team. I know what that person is talking about. A driver gets fired from one team and he just goes over and joins another team. This doesn't create an opening.
This happens partly because of team owners. A team owner needs a driver. As a general rule, he will select a driver with Winston Cup experience rather than taking a chance on a driver from a Saturday-night track.
Another thought on this matter puts racing in the same ballpark with golf. I don't know much about golf, but a professional told me once that there are a lot of good golfers at every course. But, he said, you take the best golfer at each course and put them on the PGA tour and they will not do as well on the courses they haven't played.
I have heard race team owners say about the same thing. "Oh, Charlie, he's a good driver, but he's never raced on anything but his home track. I'd be afraid to put him in my car until he has experience on a lot of different tracks."
Well, chances are, Charlie would like to gain this experience on various tracks, but how's he going to do that with his limited budget? And, too, there just isn't a good way for drivers to make the transition from the short tracks to the superspeedways. I am totally convinced of this.
I guess you could say the book on superspeedway racing has not been written. There just is not a good way to make the jump from short tracks to superspeedways.
I do think tighter regulations should be implemented for the practice sessions. A driver going out for the first time on a superspeedway should be told what to do and what not to do. I'm all for better inspection of the cars and more meetings with the drivers.