Super Bowl over, on to NASCAR!

The Super Bowl was actually was a decent game – after many years growing up in which the game itself was a blowout, we’ve had nearly a decade of actual, competitive games (with a few outliers, but still).  The food at my party was pretty decent, too.  After trying (and failing) to find any kind of outstanding (or even non-mediocre/bad) Mexican restaurants in the Boston area, I’ve been really wanting a quality Mexican food meal lately.  So, I braved the 30-degree weather & grilled one myself outside.  (My buddy Steve was a good sport & came outside with me).  Sure, it was on a propane grill rather than charcoal, but I was pleased with the results.  (Seriously, New Englanders, stop being so goddamn snotty about grilling and grilling technology.  When you can tell me the differences in complexity between fajitas and a burger — or even how to come remotely close to making a decent fajita — then you can justifiably get indignant over my fuel source.  Until then, kindly cram it).  I wasn’t in mid-season form, since grilling in Winter is something I’ve never done before, but it was good nonetheless.

Several of my friends are rather despondent about sports now, because they either don’t give a crap about much other than football.  Granted, those people are mostly from Texas, and that’s not a very uncommon position there — football is first, and everything else is a distant second.  New Englanders are less than enthusiastic about the Red Sox and seem to have fallen back into the belief that nobody can stop the Yankees.  (A century of beatdowns is bound to leave some psychological scars, no matter how good your team finally gets).

I, however, am excited for the start of NASCAR season.  I like that the Daytona 500 is the first race of the season.  The field is wide open — there’s nobody with a runaway points lead (read:  Jimmie Johnson).  It doesn’t really have any analog.  You’ll hear people say “what if the NFL had the Super Bowl on the first week of the season?”, but that doesn’t make any sense.  Yes, they’re both the biggest event in their sport, but the Daytona 500 is still just one race.  It’s a big race that makes for great competition, but I like that the season isn’t over after it.  Rather, it’s only just begun.  (And no, the Bud Shootout doesn’t count — it’s not an official Cup-series race).  To me, the story surrounding Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the most interesting in sports right now.  He had an awful season last year and never really looked competitive, even after now having 2 years with Hendrick Motorsports.  If he has another year like that, it’s conceivable that he retires (or at least makes suggestions that he might).  It’s hard to understate the damage that would do to NASCAR as a sport and as a business.  NASCAR desperately needs Dale Earnhardt Jr. to show some signs of life this year.  (And hell, I want him to do well — the sport’s just more interesting when he’s performing well).  And, here’s hoping that Tony Stewart puts Kyle Busch in the wall at Daytona — again.

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