Yes, in many ways it is.
Brad becomes only the third driver to win the NASCAR title by his third full season of racing on the premier circuit. (Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon, the others). Brad becomes the second driver ever to win the top two Stock Car titles (the Cup and Nationwide Series). Brad becomes Dodges only fifth drive to drive the Detroit brand to a championship, and there are a long list of other uniques to Brad’s title win but the one that makes us take notice is you have to go back to find a true stock car racer that has come up via the short track stock car ranks to be champion.
Jimmie Johnson was an off road racer turned stock car pilot, while Tony Stewart started on the dirt sprint car side of things; Brad grew up in a stock car. He grew up with a dad who piloted Stock Cars for years on the ARCA circuit. Brad’s been blue collar stock car racer all his life.
And that gives reason for the 1,000’s of racers a little faith again after years of the premier stock car racing series being championed by non-stock car racing graduates. Brad’s restored the hope for the masses who hit the local race tracks on weekends.
Some are already making the direct comparisons to Dale Earnhardt Sr. Brad can be intimidating behind the wheel, sons of respected racers, grew up wanting to be a racer. Brad’s popularity has just started. Once racing fans figure out who he is, where he came from, and how he got to the top, he’s the hero they’ve been searching for.
But for now. He’s a northerner. And the southern born sport is still trying to get used to all those years of California boy Jimmie Johnson being their champ. The sport borne from running from the law with moonshine on red Georgia clay still hasn’t ever really recovered from the last northerner that was champion Alan Kulwicki. Kulwicki was killed in a plane crash shortly after winning his championship so the sport never got to know him or accept his northern flair. With Brad that getting to know you part of his relationship with us should come fast and furious. He’ll be accepted pretty quickly.
But back to the short track aspect. Brad’s title gives hope to the local racers that race the quarter-miles, the third-miles, the half-miles be it asphalt or dirt. The feeder system is back in business. It goes in cycles. The sport will look for its next superstar from wherever the last one came from. Tony Stewart started a trend of Indy/Sprint car attention. Now the spotlight will shift back to grass roots, round and round, door slamming, fender bumping, true to the heart racers of America’s short tracks.
Brad’s championship is big for guys racing at Western Kentucky Speedway, Cedar Ridge Raceway, Kentucky Motor Speedway, Highland Rim Speedway, and Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. The thought that any one of the drivers racing there could go to the top of the ladder and become racing’s premier series champion is alive again.
Speaking of short track racing, the last event of note for the 2012 season goes green next weekend with what is considered now to be the granddaddy of all short track races, the Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Florida. It’s a career changing win if you can take the checkers in the annual event. It’s the kind of win that can jump you up to the NASCAR three premier series be it the Cup, Nationwide or Truck Series. Johanna Long’s recent win in 2010 helped gain her credibility in the upper circles. It’s the most prestigious win for true, blue collar, hard core racers there is today. When the races go green on Sunday December 2nd it will be the 45th time a racer gets a chance at a Snowball trophy. Drivers, crews, and fans from all over the nation will converge on the gulf coast city to race one last time before the official off season of a couple of weeks for the Christmas holiday. Our plan is to follow the weekend adventures of one of those Northerners there for their first Snowball experience, crewing on one of the entries we hope to see the weekend thru their eyes to share the last race of the year and experience all that is the Snowball Derby.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday.
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