I'm here to tell you, all may not be right with the world at large -- well, hell, things might not even be that great in the racing end of the world, though we'll find out a lot more in two weeks, when Speedweeks 2009 begins at Daytona.
But at least after this past weekend, when relatively big events were held at opposite ends of the country, the racing's begun again on a high level. For a lot of people, that's cause to rejoice.
The Rolex 24 at Daytona was decided by .167 seconds, which wouldn't be much of a margin after one lap, never mind 2,500 odd miles and 24 hours -- and even better yet, the first four cars were separated by 11 seconds. That was just incredible, and pretty riveting stuff -- especially considering NASCAR driver Juan Montoya was right in the middle of it.
And across the country, outside L.A. of all places, the Toyota All-Star Showdown in Irwindale was decided by the officials in the tower after a melee in the last 200 yards.
Emotions were in wide-open view after both races, with the second-place guy -- Montoya -- in Daytona talking about how finishing second sucked, the injustices of the rules and the intensity of the last two hours of racing.
Peyton Sellers wasn't even lucky enough to get to talk on the live TV broadcast after he was body-slammed from first to 13th by Joey Logano coming through Turn 4 to the checkered flag at Toyota Speedway. But he was seen wriggling away from the safety crews and stalking up the track to where Logano was parked in Turn 4, where the two young men discussed their disagreement on the race track.
By that point, everyone watching already knew that NASCAR had taken the unlikely step of banishing Logano from the victory -- though no one immediately knew he'd be set all the way back to last.
When SPEED's Dick Berggren spoke to Logano, the Connecticut youngster blithely laid out how his trip to Irwindale was an all-or-nothing proposition and whatever NASCAR had done was what it had to do.
That was easy for him to say, considering he has a full-season ride in one of the best cars in the Sprint Cup garage, along with a large chunk of the Nationwide Series schedule for good measure.
You just had to bleed for Sellers, who probably isn't sure where or what he'll be racing this season. There's no telling if winning the Showdown would have made a difference, but it wouldn't have hurt.
The outcomes aside, after both races competitors were talking about their crews, their emotions and the racing -- and after almost two months off all I can say is, it's about time. - www.nascar.com