Sights and Sounds from NASCAR Championship Weekend at Homestead
Christmas mignth have come and gone, but in the spirit of delayed package deliveries and clerical issues — sorry Mom, but that necklace should be coming any day now — there are still gifts to be given.
As we all know, it’s not really about what gift you give someone, but more the thought behind it. That you cared enough to ponder, “What would make this person happy?” and then sought it out.
And that doesn’t mean spending exorbitant gobs of cash, either. It just means understanding the people on your holiday gift list and what they truly would appreciate most.
That’s easy for your siblings or parents or children, but what about, say, celebrities? Like NASCAR drivers, for instance? Well, consider that list taken care of, too. Behold, the ultimate (somewhat fantastical) holiday gift guide for a few of NASCAR’s top drivers:
For Jimmie Johnson, another win: The 7-time Cup Series champ had won a race in every full-time season of his career ... until last year. Johnson had previously called 2017, when he won three races but failed to advance to NASCAR’s championship race, the worst season of his career. Then he really had his worst season.
Like many other Chevy drivers, Johnson struggled adjusting to the new Camaro, and while his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman somewhat picked things up toward the end of the year, you couldn’t really say the same for Johnson. You could see how desperately Johnson wanted a victory when he crashed himself and Martin Truex Jr. on the last lap at the Charlotte Roval — really, there’s no better gift for Johnson as his career winds down.
For Kyle Larson, thank you cards: Not to slight Jamie McMurray at all, but adding Kurt Busch to Chip Ganassi Racing instead is already a pretty substantial present for Larson. For years now, Larson has been the No. 1 driver on CGR’s “team” ... just, well, without teammates to really help him.
Speaking strictly in terms of racing, Busch is far more accomplished than McMurray, and for the first time in his young career, we’ll get to see what Larson can do with someone to push him internally. That means competitively, of course, but also at times on the track — where Team Penske or Hendrick or several of NASCAR’s other more lucrative operations have been able to work together in drafting or other maneuvers, Larson is sometimes left to fend for himself.
Let’s give Larson some thank you cards to pen to Kurt, Chip, and the rest of the CGR team, and see if Busch can be the missing ingredient to get Larson back on track toward becoming a NASCAR superstar.
For Martin Truex Jr., interior decorators: Based on the absolutely lovely charity events Truex and longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex have thrown, this certainly isn’t a knock on either of their design skills. Rather, this is about settling into Truex’s new digs at Joe Gibbs Racing, which he joined this offseason when his former team, Furniture Row Racing, closed shop for good.
Truex now pairs with Kyle Busch in the most formidable 1-2 lineup of drivers for any team, but the question is how the two will get along, and how Truex fits in with JGR’s equipment and staff.
Given his professionalism and success, neither of those should be an issue, but interior decorators (or should we just call them movers?) would help the entire team get going more quickly as the 2019 season fast approaches.
For Kyle Busch, a time machine: In speaking to Kyle Busch before this season’s championship race, he said, “You’re here for four years in a row and you’ve only won it once? You kind of look like an idiot.” Welp. Unfortunately for Busch, that became reality in November when Joey Logano edged him and the other two championship contenders for his first Cup title.
That, going back to Busch’s math, means the No. 18 has only won the title only once in four trips to the Championship 4. Busch has had his shot in each of those races, probably none more so than in 2017, but still only has one trophy to show for it.
A time machine — he surely would have better uses for it than just racing, but still — would give Busch a chance to correct some of those mistakes and re-take another championship or two.
For Joey Logano, a new trophy case: Of course Logano needs a new case to accommodate his first Cup Series championship trophy, but really, this gift is a little more forward-thinking.
Logano has 21 Cup victories now, and 18 of those have come in the past five years since he joined Penske. Still just 28 years old and not turning 29 until midway through the 2019 season, Logano has at least another decade of Cup racing ahead of him (if he wants). And if the first few seasons of his career are any indication, you know what’s probably going to come over time? More wins, more trophies, and hopefully, more championships.
This case wouldn’t just be a purchase for the now — it’d be a much-needed investment for the future.