Look, I like throwbacks, and I like nods to folk heroes of generations past, but something about Austin Dillon’s subtle tributes have always rubbed me wrong. First there was the Lane Frost wave, then the big hats a’la Richard Petty, then the Earnhardt slide after winning the big race. I can appreciate those nods in themselves but then comes the real Austin Dillon, the dab- two years after elementary school kids stopped dabbing (trickle down fads, y’all),the slide-what’s that, a baseball or soccer thing? Then the years past its prime f*ckboi haircut (that’s more synonymous with Alt-Right than 2010 tumblr hipsters these days). It’s just all too cringy. Austin Dillon is about as self aware as Joe Dirt.
I can’t help but think that Dillon’s persona (or are we talking personae, here?) is a prime example of what French philosopher Guy Debord called “The Society of the Spectacle.” From wikipedia (a decent rundown, but I urge you to read the book, which can be found cheaply online or freely via pdf):
“Debord traces the development of a modern society in which authentic social life has been replaced with its representation: “All that once was directly lived has become mere representation." Debord argues that the history of social life can be understood as "the decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing." This condition, according to Debord, is the "historical moment at which the commodity completes its colonization of social life.”
The spectacle is the inverted image of society in which relations between commodities have supplanted relations between people, in which “passive identification with the spectacle supplants genuine activity”. “The spectacle is not a collection of images,” Debord writes, “rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.”
In his analysis of the spectacular society, Debord notes that the quality of life is impoverished, with such a lack of authenticity that human perceptions are affected, and there’s also a degradation of knowledge, with a hindering of critical thought. Debord analyzes the use of knowledge to assuage reality: the spectacle obfuscates the past, imploding it with the future into an undifferentiated mass, a type of never-ending present; in this way the spectacle prevents individuals from realizing that the society of spectacle is only a moment in history, one that can be overturned through revolution.”
Snow: Kurt Busch
Plow: Ryan Blaney
Locomotive: Matt DiBurrito
Deal: One of them racin’
I get more jacked for the start of NASCAR season every year. Like, I literally count down the days on the calendar once the checkered flag flies at Homestead. And this year’s Daytona 500 was thrilling. But… man, I dunno about that finish…
From my perspective, Austin Dillon dumped Aric Almirola for the win. Sure, it was the last lap. Yeah, it was the Daytona 500. I get all that. I get that when a win is on the line, especially in that race, you do what you gotta do. I get that the No. 3 car winning the Daytona 500 20 years after Dale Earnhardt won the race is a great story.
I also get that Almirola blocked. You know my stance on blocking.
But still… I mean, it’s not like my memories of the No. 3 car bumping people out of the way for wins are especially fond (I could not stand Dale Earnhardt when he was still alive), so the image of that car pulling that stunt yet again… let’s just say the optics were jarring.
I wanted Chase Elliott or Brad Keselowski or Ryan Blaney to win. They didn’t, and it stinks, but hey, they were all really fast and they put on a great show. Sometimes, in racing, shit happens.
And sometimes, shit is done to you.
Look, Dillon’s never been a fan favorite. He’s not the uber-marketable rising star Elliott, Blaney, even Bubba Wallace, are. A lot of that is simple heritage; as Richard Childress’ grandson, Dillon has the reputation of being a silver-spoon driver. Had everything handed to him, never earned it like other drivers, simply because of who he’s related to.
And come on… the guy dabbed after he won. Seriously?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had to deal with the same mentality – even as in the latter part of his career, people wondered why he didn’t just put his nephew, Jeffrey Earnhardt, in one of his Xfinity Series cars.
So I think some of the reaction to today’s finish is simple anti-Dillon bias. Had Almirola done that to Dillon, I don’t think the blowback would be quite as loud.
From one replay, it looked as if Dillon gave Almirola a shot down the backstretch when Almirola blocked. Fine, happens all the time. But then Dillon appeared to give Almirola another shot as they went into Turn 3, which was when Almirola spun and wrecked.
That just looks bad.
I’m not a fan of wrecking for the win. I hated it every time Dale Sr. did it. I hated it when Denny Hamlin did it to Elliott at Martinsville last year (though it helped a little that Hamlin wound up not winning anyway). I don’t like it when drivers I root for do it.
But for me, it’s even worse at Daytona. Dumping a guy at Martinsville or Bristol or Richmond is one thing. But at a plate track? At those speeds? That move could have easily wiped out half the field under different circumstances.
I dunno… like I said, I loved the race, and I love that NASCAR’s back. I can’t wait for Atlanta next week, and every race on the schedule after that. I’m just not sure I loved what Dillon did on the last lap.
NASCAR Photosets: Chip Ganassi Racing + cars for 2018 Daytona 500
I have to admit: I have forgotten about every single race at Daytona Speedweeks, save for the Clash (which I almost forgot about, too). I tuned in for the final 13 laps of today’s race. I figured it was a 10-12 minute commitment. Nope. They wrecked. I gave up. Took my kids to the park to play. Got back in the truck, race still wasn’t over. Drove home (20 minutes), race still wasn’t over. Let the neighbor’s dog out for a potty break, checkered flag. Holy smokes. It took over an hour from 13 laps to go to checkered flag. I would’ve been so freaking done with racing if I were at the track. Talladeaga last fall was similar. The end just would not happen. As always, NASCAR needs to rethink how they do finishes at plate tracks. This method works at dirt tracks because the fields are small, there’s no pit stops, and no TV breaks. Adjustments must be made for the big show.
NASCAR Photosets: Stewart-Haas Racing + cars for 2018 Daytona 500