Aug 20, 2001
Time on My Hands, Nadeau on the TrackBy JR Nerad
So there I was. It was Friday afternoon of a big week for the Nerad family. On Tuesday at 1:47 am my darling wife Sandi gave birth to our third child, Greta Catherine, and for the next four days, while mother and baby recuperated from their ordeal in St. John's Medical Center, I was in charge of our two older daughters, Maddie and Emma. So understandably, by afternoon on Friday, father was one step away from total exhaustion. Luckily, my in-laws were kind enough to take the older girls off my hands at about noon, so as I gagged down lunch, I did what all males are so good at: I channel-surfed. And after a frenzy of button-pushing, my TV came to rest on qualifying for the Pepsi 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Now I have to admit that I have been drawn in by the drama of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, especially that tense final day when individual drivers on the bubble can be bumped from the field. But after watching several minutes of single cars drone around the lackluster oval of Michigan International (you know, the one in Brooklyn, Michigan) I was silently asking myself, who the hell watches this stuff? The answer, very simply, was mildly comatose guys like me who find NASCAR Winston Cup qualifying to be the least objectionable alternative in the vast satellite TV wasteland that is Friday afternoon. After all, though it places somewhere between watching the Bermuda grass in my backyard get longer and witnessing Tom Sawyer get his fence painted, it was still "sports," and that's what we guys are supposed to be watching, isn't it?
So, like I say, there I was, trying to keep one eye peeled on the TV while munching on slices of salami chased by hunks of Swiss cheese when Jerry Nadeau started his qualifying run. Jerry Nadeau, may God bless him. Because Jerry Nadeau, a high-quality road racer who CNNSI, in its wisdom, has labeled "sometimes erratic," was about to become even more exciting than my hard-earned salami and cheese lunch. In his first qualifying lap he zipped around the track pretty much like everyone else I had watched. (Frankly, if the cars weren't different colors, you might well think it was just one guy doing all the laps.) But on the second lap, Jerry Nadeau had his rear end get loose (more correctly, the rear end of his car), did a tire-burning spin and crashed into the wall! Now that's entertainment, baby!
Jerry didn't hurt himself. (Great!) But he did bang up the expensive Hendrick Motorsports racecar. (I think Rick can afford it.) And best of all, he gave us comatose guys eating our salami in front of the boob tube something to watch that was cooler than standing on the corner watching commuters drive by.
Of course, I thought the crash had ended Jerry's racing weekend. You're not supposed to do that, are you? But, instead, thanks to the vagaries of Winston Cup qualifying, Jerry Nadeau actually qualified 30th in the field of 43. So congratulations, Jerry. It might not have been your favorite qualfying run of all time, but you made my day.
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