I watched the 2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Awards Banquet after the fact because I was trying to put off the end of the season No matter how long you wait though, you finally have to let it go. I always enjoy the red carpet as much as anything - the dresses and the hair styles. All the gals looking so sleek and chic and the men so suave.
It was okay with me that the banquet was cut down to a more manageable size. I always thought most of the comedians were pretty lame and I don't much care for singing. I just want to see the NASCAR stuff.
I have to admit, although I'm not a particularly sentimental person, I shed a few tears when Dale Jr. introduced Martin. It was very moving to see both Sherry and Martin tearing up too. I have said before this championship was a feel good story and the banquet highlighted that. Not just the driver himself but the crew and the owner as well. They didn't exactly come out of nowhere and, even though they improved steadily year by year, I doubt if anyone thought they'd ever be championship material. But, by gosh, Barney and the Colorado Gang proved everyone wrong. Hurray for them!
And not only did they win the championship but they won the Rookie of the Year with Erik Jones - who becomes the first driver to win Rookie of the Year in all three NASCAR series in three consecutive seasons.
To no one's surprise, Dale Junior won the Most Popular Driver of the Year for the 15th consecutive season. Who do you suppose will take his place in 2018? I'm kind of betting on Chase Elliott but it is possible that Junior Nation will remain with Alex Bowman in the 88 car.
I felt so sorry for Matt Kenseth. He looked pretty grim all night, like he was just trying to grit his teeth and get through the evening. Dale Jr. was all smiles but there is a big difference between retiring voluntarily and getting booted out.
I'm sorry, even though a realize that businessmen have to think like businessmen, I have never been a Joe Gibbs fan and his decision about Matt didn't help me warm up to him.
And what was the deal with Brian France? Was he sick or something. He flew off the stage like a scared pup.
So, let's see, next year, we will have a ton of changes and newbies to watch out for. I'm hoping Bubba Wallace has a great year. RPM may have a little catching up to do since they are switching from Ford to Chevy but forming an alliance with Richard Childress is bound to help - and changing manufacturers didn't seem to hurt Stewart-Haas too much.
Chevrolet drivers will be driving Camaros next year which is great. Camaro actually is a sports car. (Incidentally, I love Jimmie's new black paint scheme and can't wait to cheer it on!) Brad says Ford will behind the eight ball if they don't retool as Toyota and Chevy have done and I think he's probably right.
We still don't know for sure about Kurt Busch but he seems to indicate that he'll remain at Stewart-Haas. That is kind of a weird deal. I always though Kurt was Gene Haas' pet driver so I was surprised when his contract wasn't automatically renewed.
Tony Stewart is finally engaged and we have lots of babies coming. I don't know if I can remember them all - Dale, Kevin, Matt. I know I'm forgetting at least one.
So, I guess it is time to settle in to an off-season holding pattern. Come on, Daytona!