Every time this particular weekend comes around for NASCAR, my emotions and memories each begin coming out. It really is the greatest weekend in motorsports because three major events happen over the course of morning, afternoon, and night.
Technically one happens in the afternoon on-location, but when the Grand Prix of Monaco goes down in Europe, the green flag is out in the early morning hours here in America.
After that, the Indianapolis 500, quite frankly the most celebrated racing event in the country.
The night ends with the longest NASCAR event of the year, a 600-mile endurance race that tests every aspect of the sport. The green flag waves in daylight, after 100 laps the sun begins to set beyond the grandstands, just as the lights begin to turn on. After the halfway point, the skies are a darker blue, and the lights begin to shine ever brighter. By the time the last 25 percent of the race gets rolling, the lights are on as bright as ever, stars are in the skies, and in the end, fireworks are set off to the delight of many.
For many, that is what the racing weekend entails. But in reality, the reason for the weekend is not about racing, barbecues, or being off work for an extended weekend.
The reality is, this weekend is about honoring the ones that allow us to enjoy such moments as racing, barbecues, and extended weekends off. It’s about the men, women, sons, daughters, fathers and mothers that don’t get a weekend off, but instead have to spend every day and night fighting for the right, the honor, and the dignity to give us these freedoms.
More specifically, it’s about honoring the ones that sadly never came home to be with family, and when they did, they were already lost.
Thousands upon thousands gave their lives to allow us as Americans to enjoy the freedoms of this great country, including the right to go to a race track for many hours in order to see whether one’s favorite driver ends up in victory lane. Unfortunately, the reality is, freedom isn’t free. Many gave their lives defending America, and no one wrote it better than Johnny Cash in 1975…
I walked through a county courthouse square, and on a park bench an old man was sitting there. I said, “Your old courthouse is kinda run down.” He said, “Nah, it’ll do for our little town.”
I said “Your old flag pole’s kinda leaned a little bit, and that’s a ragged old flag you got hanging on it.” He said, “Have a seat,” and I sat down. “Is this the first time you’ve come to our little town?” I said, “I think it is,” and he said, “I don’t like to brag, but we’re kinda proud of that ragged old flag.
You see we got a little hole in that flag, there, when Washington took it across the Delaware. And it got powder burned the night Francis Scott Key stayed up watching it writing, ‘Oh say can you see.’ It got a little rip in New Orleans, with Packingham and Jackson tugging at its seams. It almost fell at the Alamo beside the Texas flag, but she waved on, though. It got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville; it got cut again at Shiloh Hill. There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard and Brag, and the south wind blew hard on that ragged old flag.
On Flander’s Field, in WWI, she took a bad hit from a Bertha gun. She turned blood red in WWII; she hung limp, and low, when that one was through. She was in Korea, Vietnam; she went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam. The Native American Indians, blacks, yellows, whites, they all shed red blood for the stars and stripes. And in our own good land here, she’s been abused. She’s been burned, dishonored, denied, refused, and the very government for which she stands is scandalized throughout the land.
She’s getting threadbare. She’s wearing kinda thin. But she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in. Cause she’s been through the fire before, and she can take a whole lot more. So, we raise her up every morning; we bring her down slowly every night. We don’t let her touch the ground, and we fold her up right.
On second thought, I do like to brag. Because I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag.
Happy Memorial Day everyone.
STAGE 1: Kyle Busch
STAGE 2: Kyle Busch
STAGE 3: Kyle Busch
RESULTS: 1-Kyle Busch 2-Truex Jr. 3-Hamlin 4-Keselowski 5-Johnson 6-McMurray 7-Larson 8-Kurt Busch 9-Bowman 10-Stenhouse Jr.
NOTABLE FINISHES: 22-Logano 34-Dillon 40-Harvick
CAUTIONS: 11 for 54 laps. Laps 38-43 (#3 Incident-T2); 85-88 (#4 Incident-T3); 102-107 (Stage 1 Conclusion); 116-119 (#24 Incident-T1); 121-123 (#48, 22,11, 20 Incident-T4); 202-207 (Stage 2 Conclusion); 227-230 (#23 Spin-T4); 260-264 (#37 Incident -T4); 274-277 (#42 Spin-T1); 280-285 (Oil on track from #12); 302-307 (Stage 3 Conclusion).
LEAD CHANGES: 9 among 4 drivers. Kyle Busch POLE; J. Logano 1-4; Kyle Busch 5-85; B. Keselowski 86-87; Kyle Busch 88-158; D. Hamlin 159-165; J. Logano 166-173; Kyle Busch 174-352; D. Hamlin 353-354; Kyle Busch 355-400.
TIME OF RACE: 4 Hrs, 23 Mins, 22 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 136.692 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 3.823 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS (Earned/Behind Leader [Playoff Points]): 1. Kyle Busch, 415 ; 2. Logano, -67 ; 3. Harvick, -88 ; 4. Keselowski, -136 ; 5. Truex Jr, -143 ; 6. Kurt Busch, -144 ; 7. Hamlin, -144 ; 8. Bowyer, -152 ; 9. Larson, -191; 10. Almirola, -197; 11. Blaney, -198 ; 17. Menard, -310 ; 19. Dillon, -329 .