NASCAR Gets-R-Dun!
by Billy Weaver

Thank God for NASCAR! Without the "good ole boys", I would be forced into sports hibernation for the next three weeks.

This is the time of year when it's a little too early to get really excited about football, March Madness seems like a year ago and mid-season baseball games bore me to tears. And just think, the slow season would have gotten here even earlier had the Carolina Hurricanes not pulled off an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Championship to get the entire state hockey crazy.

Sure, there are some other sports going on right now but as hard as I've tried I just can't bring myself to watch a World Cup soccer game from start to finish. After about five minutes I need a shot of Mountain Dew and a bag of Skittles just to stay awake. For years I've been hearing how soccer is about to take this country by storm. I just think it's a false alarm. I have nothing against people who love the game, I just refuse to waste three or four hours of my day to watch a 1-0 game. I'm getting sleepy just thinking about soccer.

As for the Tour de France, The only reason most Americans were even remotely interested in this event was the fact that Lance Armstrong was a freak of nature. Watching Lance Armstrong ride a bicycle through France was like watching an endless Energizer battery commercial. He just kept going and going and going... and winning and winning and winning!

Don't even get me started on Wimbledon. For the first time in nearly 100 years no American advanced to the quarterfinals. That's not really that big of a deal as long as I can turn on the TV from time to time to watch Maria Sharapova in action. But, of course, instead of a second trip to the final match in three years, Sharapova gets ousted in the semis by some dude with long hair... oops, I was just told "that dude" is actually Amelie Mauresmo.

Even the local sports scene is dead. Taking in a Kinston Indians game on Thirsty Thursday isn't half bad but I wouldn't pass up a night at the movies for it. And while I'm sure the action is fast and furious at many local baseball diamonds, there's something a little weird about a guy without a kid actually participating in a game just showing up at a little league park to "watch the boys."

So once again thank God for NASCAR. I perch myself in front of the television set on Friday afternoons to watch qualifying. Busch Series racing never used to tickle my fancy but now that almost half the field of Nextel Cup drivers also race in the Busch Series (see Busch Wackers) I find myself tuning in for that as well. Of course, the Sunday (or Saturday night in some cases) race is "must see TV." For nearly four hours on raceday I'm absolutely glued to the set. Unlike soccer, cycling, tennis and countless other "Olympic Sports" it's something I can really get excited about. Sure, die-hard fans of the other summer sports think NASCAR fans are just dumb rednecks and I accept that. But there's a good reason that television ratings rival that of the NFL and fan attendance is at or near capacity every week. I have yet to see 200,000 fans pack Centre Court at the All England Club, even to see Maria Sharapova.

NASCAR. It's what gets me through the slow season before the real fun begins at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in the fall.

Billy Weaver