The Byron Bet

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I wish I had gone to a university that sponsored a NASCAR team.

After Jeff Gordon departed from NASCAR, the number 24 car was left open in the Rick Hendrick stable. While Chase Elliott was chosen to fill that seat immediately, everyone knew Chase would go on to pilot the 9, like his dad, so everyone wondered who would eventually take the wheel of the 24. When the dust settled and the ink dried, William Byron, at the age of 20, was going to be driving the iconic number 24 Chevrolet Camaro.

Now, after 2 years, he has no wins, only 22 top 10 finishes, and 5 poles. Sadly, he has not been all that successful even though he has Chad Knaus as his crew chief. Chad helped another driver at Hendrick, Jimmie Johnson, win seven championships. William has the best racing equipment money can buy with one of the best crew chiefs and yet he can’t seem to put it all together to get the car to victory lane.

William reminds me of the third Cars movie. He is very good at virtual racing and training on simulators. We saw during the hiatus that he is clearly good at iRacing. He won twice during the break for the pandemic. But, he isn’t quite like the Cars movie in regard to the digital talent translating to the real-life track. Maybe he should simply stick to virtual racing? NASCAR might be branching off in that direction someday sooner rather than later, and he could be a star that transitions from real life to virtual.

I don’t want to speak ill of him though. He might simply be in a situation like Joey Lagano was. Even though Joey had top tier equipment at JGR in his first few years, he certainly wasn’t showing the results of having it. Once he moved to Penske, he has won numerous times and even has a championship to his name. Could Byron still be getting his legs in the sport, and need to move to a different team to experience success? Only time will tell with that. but I do think that this might be the case. I think he still needs time and potentially a new team or manufacturer in order to start experiencing success. That is what I am betting on. The real question will be if he will ever leave Hendrick?

Lastly, but more of a side note. Byron attends Liberty University, that also sponsors him. I wonder if he pays tuition? I am also somewhat jealous because I went to Regent University, a rival to Liberty. Regent is not anywhere near Liberty in regard to campus size, student population, sports, or anything else, except maybe the televangelists that founded each of them, and they are both in Virginia. I would have loved to have gone to a school that sponsored a NASCAR team, even if it was a non-winning driver.

What was Hot Wheels Nationals like?

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When the Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals was announced that it would be hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina, I was super excited. I would finally get a chance to go to one of the biggest gatherings regarding ever for my Hot Wheels collecting hobby! I had heard plenty of stories and watched many videos about the event and since joining the RLC club for the first time ever, I was interested in taking my hobby to the next level.

While Charlotte is only a few hours from where I live, I was hesitant to actually buy a ticket. I don’t know why, I just went back and forth about the price, logistics, and if it was an overall wise thing to do. I ended up missing the window to buy a ticket. While I was bummed, I accepted the fact that I was indecisive (I do that a lot). Yes, I was a bit sulky around the house but I thought it was for the best. Then, while at a local meet up with some other collectors, one of them told me they had a friend who had a ticket available. A few emails later and I was on the list to attend the 20th Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 1st through 5th, 2020.

I still had no idea where I would stay, how long I would go, or what I was going to do. As the even came closer, about a month out, I started thinking I would do the room to room and hunt for cars, but I was also thinking about going to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and going to Joe Gibbs Racing, as well as any other automotive site I could find.

Then, a few weeks out, mid March, the virus struck. Cancelling event after event, isolating countries, cities, people into their homes and reducing any hope of large gatherings for the foreseeable future.

While I was not able to actually go to what would have been my first Hot Wheels Nationals, I hold out hope that someday, maybe I will be able to go to one. And even though it didn’t take place, the amazing hosts who organize the event still were able to mail out all the merchandise and cars associated with attending the event. I am very thankful for that.