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We were the first loser in bowling, but we sure had fun

by Brendan Gaughan

Last week, I set the scene for the Garage Bowling Association tournament in Pocono, in collaboration with Joe Piette, but I left off as it was about to begin. You now have a little understanding as to the participants and, as you can tell, we have a great time getting to kick back and let off some of the pressure that is involved in this sport.

Our heroes (a.k.a. Penske Racing) were off to a stellar start as the first frame began with the entire squad throwing strikes. The whole team had a good game – strike after strike after strike. We were on fire. One lane over were the NASCAR officials. They bowled a consecutive game as well, but at the end of the first game, Penske Racing was up by 15 pins.

To prepare for my game, I turned my hat around backwards and threw a strike. Of course, everyone thought the position of the hat was the key to success. After a few open frames, which were not so hot, I threw the hat, so they all decided to give it a try.

First, some of the NBC announcers wore it, but it didn’t seem to provide them with much help, so they passed it on. Next, Tony Stewart gave it a try. Stewart wore it sideways, backwards, every which way, but it didn’t give him much luck, either. It seemed as though the hat became the bad luck token across the lanes, and it became airborne more times than we could count as it was passed around.

In game No. 2, Penske Racing dominated the bowling alley. Although it wasn’t a personal-best game, we still finished 50 pins ahead of the NASCAR officials. We thought we were definitely going to win the tournament. Confidence is always the key.

Game No. 3 was weak, I mean, really weak. Piette, of the No. 12 team, continued to be consecutive and bowled great. Earl Barban, who’s been with the No. 2 team for at least a decade, was pretty much on his game, too. Johnny "Cheeseburger" Kaufman – my best friend and motorcoach driver – Matt Borland, crew chief on the No. 12 team, and I had low games, unfortunately. Coach Larry Robinette, of the No. 77 team, had us really focus on the game. We started out so strong that we were now trying to slow down and pace ourselves.

I won’t say we let the NASCAR officials win, but we ended up in second place. As it turns out, being the sponsor-loyal team that we are, the first-place trophy was provided by a competitor – none other than Sterling Marlin’s sponsor. (Sorry, I won’t even write the name.) The second-place trophy we took home was right up our alley (no pun intended), as it was provided by one of our team sponsors, Miller Lite.

In the end, it was for the best that we finished second. It really helps make for a more pleasant time in the garage when the NASCAR officials are happy. (Just kidding, guys.) Yes, I know, that still makes us the first loser, but we will not hold back next time.

After reviewing my game and obtaining various scouting reports, I think I now realize exactly where I hurt the team: I did not bring my Scooby Doo ball. Lesson learned.

The next time the GBA sets ’em up, Penske Racing will be there to knock ’em down in style. We just need to make some space in our trophy room back at the shop.

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