Editor’s Note: Andy Cagle’s weekly column looking at NASCAR premiers today as he introduces himself to readers. He will be presented each Friday and replaces the former NASCAR column by Cathy Elliott.
It is sort of fitting that this column debuts the same week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to California for the road course at Sonoma Raceway.
No, I am not going to spend the next 700 or so words talking about the California wine country. It’s that what you are going to be reading in this space over the coming weeks is not your typical NASCAR or sports fare; kind of like the 12-turn undulating road course.
Where everyone is used to turning left, I’m going to throw a few right-handers in there.
This column will be written from a fan’s perspective. I do manage to make it to a few races every season as a media member or a team public relations representative in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but that access will not show up here.
I am going to be bringing you my perspective from my couch and nearly 30 years as a NASCAR fan. My biases will be out front, like they always have been.
I am a bit of a racing traditionalist. I love old racetracks and old, dirty, loud carbureted racecars. I think Darlington, Martinsville, Rockingham and North Wilkesboro are shrines of speed that should host many, many more races.
Cale Yarborough is my hero and I believe there will never be another driver like David Pearson. I will debate the merits of his career and why he was better than Richard Petty to anyone who will listen. Heresy, I know.
I love the NASCAR trucks, because they are a throwback to racing before cars of tomorrow and Chases for the Cup and $35 million sponsors and $2 million driver buses.
I believe in mechanical grip and wedge adjustments. I believe good drivers should be able to win in bad racecars. I believe in stock cars — if Ford, or Chevy or Toyota want to win, they need to make a better car.
I hate aero pushes and complex aero packages. This tells you what I think about the Cup racing in 2015. I am hopeful that the changes made for Kentucky next month will help.
I believe Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus may be the best driver/crew chief combo in the history of the sport.
I will slip up and call it the Winston Cup or the Busch Series. I may throw a “Grand National” in there when discussing the latter. I will also quote Bull Durham and Days of Thunder and Top Gun. A lot. You’ve been warned.
I have a deep-rooted love of Fords. I blame Bill Elliott, Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison.
If you want to know what else I believe or what else I am for or against, just ask. Or keep reading; I’ll eventually get to it.
Those of you in Richmond County may remember me from a racing column I wrote for the Daily Journal in 2001 and 2002 or from my work at Richmond Community College. Those of you in Scotland County may remember me from my days at Scotland County Schools from 2006-2013. I look forward to meeting readers in Robeson County.
In 2004, I started an eight-year run as a columnist with a paper in Moore County. In 2007, I stated a five-year run with a paper in Cheraw, S.C. During that time, I was also an infrequent contributor to The Charlotte Observer and their racing website, thatsracin.com.
In 2009 I became the public relations director at Rockingham Speedway and held that position until the facility hosted its last event to date in 2013. Since 2011 I have done some PR work with the Ricky Benton Racing (RBR) Enterprises NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team out of Columbus County. I have worked with a number of drivers including Clay Rogers, David Reutimann, David Gilliland, Corey LaJoie and Chad McCumbee in that role.
But again, this isn’t what you will be reading about in this space.
I love a good story and am thankful for the opportunity to tell them in this space. If you have read this far, I hope to make a frequent reader out of you.
We might not always agree — I believe the goal of a newspaperman is to be read, not loved – but I want to hear from you. I want the words here to be the start of a conversation.
I know this area is passionate about racing. I have nearly 15 years in the business in this area that proves that. So, good, bad or indifferent, let me hear from you.
— Andy Cagle can be found on twitter @andy_cagle or you can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.