• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

GREATNESS

Scott Dixon is my Driver of the Year for 2013. But Chad Knaus is my MVP.

If Knaus isn't a first-ballot NASCAR Hall of Famer, there should be a Congressional investigation.

I'm not interested in any complaining about Jimmie Johnson's sixth Sprint Cup championship in eight years being "boring." I say enjoy GREATNESS while fortunate enough to be around to see it first-hand. I know I wish I could have seen Babe Ruth becoming Babe Ruth.

My feeling upon hearing the news of Dario Franchitti's retirement was the same as when the great Emerson Fittipaldi's career ended due to a crash at Michigan in 1996: I find it sad when athletes of this elite level are not able to go out on their own terms. But I cheer Dario for doing the right thing -- what doctors believe is medically necessary. I'm one of those who passionately believes that when a driver feels he must stop, that should be the end of it, no comebacks. The risk is not worth the reward, certainly in the case of Franchitti, with his many IndyCar and sports car successes. I've known Dario since he first came into CART and have always considered him one of the real Good Guys. Thanks, Dario, for your great professionalism. Congratulations on a great career.

The harsh Business of Racing reality for the IndyCar series is Franchitti's retirement means one less "name" driver to promote, one less media-friendly interview, and a subtraction of one of the precious few drivers actually capable of selling tickets.

Franchitti would be an instant upgrade in the ABC TV booth.

Last week's chatter by the chatroom "experts" only proves -- again -- what a short attention span people have these days. In response to a question during a Phoenix International Raceway news conference about its 50th anniversary season (I was there), track President Bryan Sperber gave his standard answer about an IndyCar return to the Avondale oval. Absolutely nothing new. (I had broken actual new "news" earlier in the week with my report that IndyCar's Mark Miles had never even called Sperber about a 2014 race.) But Sperber's words generated a few "news" stories. Anyone interested should Google the detailed stories I've written for two years on this subject in the Arizona Republic, including financial numbers and date issues. Too many of these "experts" still don't even know the correct facts about the track since it was repaved/reconfigured two years ago! And then there's the "breaking news" that Sam Hornish Jr. isn't interested in returning to open-wheel racing. He's been saying the same thing for five years!

I've been a patient in the Mayo Clinic system for over a decade. The customer service has often not been what one would expect, especially given the high fees charged for services. Last week I called to make a routine appointment, only to be told the first availability wasn't until MARCH. Those of you still not certain of the ripple effects of ObamaCare, take note.

[ more next Monday . . . ]