With apologies to Jennifer Love-Hewitt, International Mother Language Day, and The Battle of Wayna Daga, tonight, we celebrate the birth of NASCAR. The National Association of… **Googles NASCAR** … for Stock Car Auto Racing was officially incorporated on February 21, 1948 by Bill France Sr., the father of Bill France Jr. and the grandfather of NASCAR’s current CEO, Bill France Part III. The original Bill France saw potential in stock car racing after he moved to Daytona Beach to escape the Great Depression, but he knew it would need a formal sanctioning organization to reach its full potential. So Bill France Sr. did what people with great ideas do: he called people with money and connections, met them at a bar (Ebony Bar at Streamline Hotel in this case), and started talking business. Two months later, NASCAR become the governing body of driving in circles.
Today, NASCAR sanctions over 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 39 U.S. states and Canada. The sport has 75 million fans worldwide who purchase over $3 billion annually in licensed products. What started as a dream over a few cocktails in Daytona Beach is now one of the most popular sports in all of Charlotte, North Carolina, and it’s the only reason any of us know about GoDaddy.com, even if we don’t know what GoDaddy.com offers. It’s celebrity porn, right?
When you’re on your way to work or school or McDonald’s Friday morning, leave yourself some extra time and only make left turns to get there. Sure, it’ll take you a lot longer, and you might want to map it out before you go, but it’s the perfect way to pay tribute to the National Association of Speeding Cars and Racing on its 65th birthday.***
To the News and Views…
The biggest game on Kentucky’s schedule is less than two days away and the excitement is high in Big Blue Nation. A win over Missouri and Kentucky likely makes the big dance; a loss means we’ll be rooting for a win over Florida on Senior Day or an SEC Tournament championship. I think we can all agree that Saturday provides the easiest road to a tournament bid.
Of course, College Gameday will be in Lexington all day Saturday to make sure everyone knows how much the game means. It’ll be a long day of hype and anticipation from the time the lights come on for the taping of the morning show in Rupp Arena (when the crowd boos Digger Phelps) all the way up until game time. I guess you can say it’s Kentucky’s Super Bowl.
To loosen the guys up before the big game, Calipari and his staff will play wiffle ball against the players Friday night. Dodgeball seemed to work great before the Vandy game, so it’ll be interesting to see how they come out after goofing off with on the diamond. We’ll preview the game Friday here on KSR.
Bruce Pearl was a guest on Pardon The Interruption Thursday afternoon and, for the second time this week, he blamed ESPN’s All-Access: Kentucky for the Wildcats’ struggles this season.
“This Kentucky team has issues,” Pearl told Tony Kornheiser. “They don’t have very good point guard in Ryan Harrow; they had nobody returning; there is no leadership; and this group of guys let ESPN come in in the preseason and they acted like they won the national championship. I would’ve locked the doors. I would’ve chained them up. I wouldn’t have let them in the same locker room that those champions were in last year, and I would’ve seen if this team can be a good basketball team.”
Pearl said Kentucky wasn’t very good with Nerlens Noel in the lineup, but he likes what John Calipari doing right now with the dodgeball and whiffle ball to get the team to relax a little and gain some confidence. He believes there is a chance, a small chance, the 2012-13 Wildcats will do what last year’s team couldn’t do — win the SEC Tournament.
Note: If you believe Bruce Pearl would’ve turned down ESPN for an all-access show at Tennessee, I have a 2013 NCAA Champion parade float I’d like to sell you in Louisville.
According to RushTheCourt.net, Nerlens Noel could still win SEC Freshman of the Year honors. A lack of impact freshmen in the conference this year means the young man who was once a lock for the award could still take it home without playing the final seven games of the regular season. Rush The Court breaks it down to see which guys could step up and take it from him.
It would be nice for Nerlens to have some hardware to show off in his mansion next year, but we’d much rather see Alex Poythress or Archie Goodwin step up in this five-game stretch and win the award.
If you see a 7-footer in line for ice cream in Rupp Arena on Saturday, it’s probably Dakari Johnson, so you should ask him for a picture or autograph. Johnson will attend Saturday’s game against Missouri as part of his official visit to Kentucky. He committed to the Cats back on January 5 without taking an official, so he’s doing it now so all that free stuff doesn’t go to waste.
Rupp Arena will also host a large group of football recruits on Saturday. Stoops and his staff are bringing in 15-20 prospects from the class of 2014, along with class of 2013 signees Marcus McWilson and Alex Montgomery. McWilson will be tagging along with his little brother on the trip, while Montgomery travels with a younger high school teammate. There will be lots of four-stars and high three-stars in attendance.
Julius Randle made news on Thursday when he told ESPN.com only a few schools remain in consideration. Randle’s list still includes five schools – Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Kansas and NC State – but, mentally, he is “down to three at the most.”
If anyone tells you they know where Julius Randle is going, they are lying to you. No one knows.
On Point Basketball, one of my favorite YouTube video production companies in Canada, is back with Part 2 of Huntington Hopefuls, the internet documentary series following Andrew Wiggins’ senior season.
SPOILER ALERT: He dunks alot.
These videos are very well done and provide a great look into Andrew Wiggins’ life as the best high school basketball player in the country. It’s definitely worth eight minutes of your time.
Mark Stoops and Kentucky football bid adieu to Tevin Lawson this week when the four-star defensive tackle from Louisiana elected to stay closer to home. Lawson announced that he will sign with TCU to play for the Horned Frogs next season, despite speculation he’d eventually sign with the Cats. Lawson was believed to be a UK lean after LSU pulled his offer, but when he left Lexington without committing two weekends ago, things started to go downhill. TCU and nearby Louisiana Tech brought him in late visits and, as we find out on Thursday, TCU won out. The almost 12-hour drive from Lawson’s hometown right outside of Baton Rouge was just too much for Stoops and Co. to recruit around.
50 days until the spring game…
In NBA news, two former Cats were dealt to new teams before the trade deadline Thursday afternoon. Patrick Patterson was sent to join Boogie and Chuck in Sacramento on Wednesday, and on Thursday the Milwaukee Bucks sent Doron Lamb to Orlando. I think both players won out in the deals, as Patrick gets to share the paint with two guys he knows well, and Doron moves from a guard-heavy team to a team that sucks. There’s a lot more playing time to be had in Orlando than in Milwaukee.
That’ll do it for tonight.
** When I wrote this I thought Friday was February 21st. It’s not. So Happy Margarita Day!!!