IF POLES WERE CROWNS, RYAN NEWMAN WOULD BE KING. We probably should establish that right now. Qualifying is a very small part NASCAR these days. Nappy will tell you that newspapers used to devote huge stories to whoever won the pole. Now, most relegate qualifying results to notebooks. Qualifying first guarantees you one thing: the opportunity to start first. The finish is up to you, and it is a much greater challenge. Just ask Newman, owner of 49 career poles and 16 Cup wins.
REGARDLESS, DANICA PATRICK WINNING THE POLE FOR THE DAYTONA 500 IS A BIG DEAL. You don’t need me to tell you that. Just flip on your favorite sports talk radio show today and see how long it takes the host to mention NASCAR. I’m guessing not long. ESPN Radio was talking about it this morning. Kornheiser and Wilbon will take their turn tonight (after plenty of cramming, I’m sure). NASCAR must be drooling.
FOR ONE THING, EVERYTHING AT DAYTONA IS BIGGER. Fox devoted three hours of live coverage to the time trials yesterday. That must mean somebody is watching those. I don’t really see the point, given that only two people lock up starting positions and the rest have to get their spots through the Shootouts (which I will watch), but it’s Daytona. They show ‘em.
AND PATRICK GOT IT DONE, becoming the first woman to qualify higher than ninth for any Cup race. For a Cup rookie whose average finish in 10 Cup starts last year was 28th, yesterday’s effort delivers a jolt of credibility. The hype will flow all week, and deservedly so. The rest is up to her.
SPEAKING OF HYPE: Does anybody know how old Michael Jordan is? I’m too lazy to look it up.
LOOKING AHEAD: After falling 93-81 at North Carolina on Saturday, Virginia has another tough trip tomorrow night when it heads to Miami. The Hurricanes stayed unbeaten in the ACC last night by defeating Clemson 45-43. Yep, you read that score right. Halftime score: 18-16, Tha U. Apologies to “over” bettors.
DUKE ON THE WAY: I’m not telling you that you should believe in moral victories; I’m just telling you that I do. Particularly with teams such as the Hokies, who aren’t playing for much the rest of the season. More than anything, I want to see signs of life, and I saw them at N.C. State on Saturday,even though Tech lost in overtime. Seeing them Thursday when Duke comes to Cassell? Well, I’m not counting on it, but I’ll be looking anyway.
NAME THAT TUNE
Ya know Moe, I’ll probably get ten years
So just give me beers till they get here
Yeah I know the sun is coming up
And y’all are probably get ready for closin’ up
But I’m tryin’ to drown my soul
I’m tired of this life on a dirt road
Everything that I love is gone
And I’m tired of hangin’ on…