Tom Sorensen

This Panthers practice came with a bonus. ... It’s time for NASCAR to go short.

Standing in the rain and watching Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton throw hard passes into a receiver’s hands is not a bad way to start a day. On Tuesday, there was a bonus.
Standing in the rain and watching Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton throw hard passes into a receiver’s hands is not a bad way to start a day. On Tuesday, there was a bonus. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Standing in the rain and watching Cam Newton throw hard passes into a receiver’s hands is not a bad way to start a Tuesday.

As I walked into practice, a rookie sprinted so hard in my direction I braced for contact. He stopped and almost skidded. He was looking for directions to the bathroom.

Panthers’ coach Ron Rivera was offered a golf cart ride to the stadium from the practice field, but despite the thick humidity, turned it down. After the official end to his post-practice Q&A, he stayed to answer a few more questions. That’s a good man.

A bonus to Tuesday’s practice – organized team activity if you must – was the presence of Dan Henning. He was the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator from 2002-06. They’ve never had a better one. …

▪  The NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was so entertaining. The Coca-Cola 600, the main event at the speedway during race weeks, was less a race than a coronation. Kyle Busch is coming. Bow your head and step aside. I’m a fan of sustained excellence, and Busch offered it. But there was more passing and more drama Tuesday on Johnson Road.

The 600 is NASCAR’s longest race, and length is the quality that distinguishes it. But if the folks at Charlotte Motor Speedway went the other way and promoted NASCAR’s shortest race, everybody would win. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Coca-Cola 200.

Think about it. Many Coca-Cola bottles are smaller than the old ones. Many drivers are short. Our attention spans are short. A millennial has so many options, and not enough time to exploit them. They are the future, and NASCAR has struggled to reach them.

Shrink the race, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and you’ll grow the TV ratings and the crowd. I promise. …

▪  I like the Golden State Warriors to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games. LeBron James is outnumbered, and the Warriors are one of the best teams in NBA history. …

▪  I don’t follow the NHL, but I like the glitz of the Vegas Golden Knights. So Las Vegas has the NHL and soon the NFL. Who gets there next, the NBA or Major League Baseball? Las Vegas, like gambling, once carried a stigma. That stigma is gone. Y’all come.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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