The Space Race

by Mike Selinker
Answer: ELLIS

The Cementbeat Walrus is not describing one race, he's describing NASCAR's entire 2008 Sprint Cup Season. (The year is determinable because in the middle of the report, the Walrus says it's the first full season of The Vehicle of the Future!, a reference to 2008 being the first full year of NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow.)

There are 26 "points races" (ones that count) prior to the Chase for the Cup, a year-end playoff.

  1. Daytona 500, Daytona FL
  2. Auto Club 500, Fontana CA
  3. UAW-Dodge 400, Las Vegas NV
  4. Kobalt Tools 500, Atlanta GA
  5. Food City 500, Bristol TN
  6. Goody’s Cool Orange 500, Martinsville VA
  7. Samsung 500, Dallas TX
  8. Subway Fresh Fit 500, Phoenix AZ
  9. Aaron’s 499, Talladega AL
  10. Crown Royal Presents The Dan Lowry 400, Richmond VA
  11. Dodge Challenger 500, Darlington SC
  12. Coca-Cola 600, Concord NC
  13. Best Buy 400, Dover DE
  14. Pocono 500, Pocono PA
  15. LifeLock 400, Brooklyn MI
  16. Toyota/Save Mart 350, Sonoma CA
  17. Lenox Industrial Tools 301, Loudon NH
  18. Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola, Daytona FL
  19. 400, Joliet IL
  20. Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Indianapolis IN
  21. Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, Pocono PA
  22. Centurion Boats at the Glen, Watkins Glen NY
  23. 3M Performance 400, Brooklyn MI
  24. Sharpie 500, Bristol TN
  25. Pepsi 500, Fontana CA
  26. Chevy Rock & Roll 400, Richmond VA

Each sentence describes an event from a race in that series, but in space terms. (Racers' and companies' initials match their real-life counterparts.) The events described are in the table below.

Race Details Race# Letter
Auto Club 500 NASCAR race on February 24, 2008 2 B
Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 Rumor of Obama sponsorship, Happy Hour washed out 21 U 400 First nighttime race in event’s history 19 S
UAW-Dodge 400 Vegas's Kyle Busch takes pole, after starting 22nd last race 3 C
Subway Fresh Fit 500 FOX shows Yanks-Sox game over start of race 8 H 400 Tony Stewart announces he’s quitting Joe Gibbs racing 19 S
Food City 500 Dale Jarrett’s last points race before going into broadcasting 5 E
Coke Zero 400 Stewart suffers flu and is replaced mid-race by J.J. Yeley 18 R
Aaron’s 499 Dario Franchitti breaks ankle 9 I
Food City 500 Roush Fenway Racing doesn’t appeal loose oil-pan penalty 5 E 400 The Intimidator’s Dale Earnhardt Inc. denies sale possibility 19 S
UAW-Dodge 400 New record for cautions at Las Vegas Motor Speedway 3 C
Subway Fresh Fit 500 Ryan Newman drops out first, due to bad engine 8 H
Daytona 500 Great American Race begins debut of Car of Tomorrow 1 A
Best Buy 400 Greg Biffle leads early, charity for Autism Speaks 13 M
Toyota/Save Mart 350 Road course ringers hired for road course track 16 P
Pocono 500 Kurt Busch goes airborne 14 N
Aaron’s 499 Tony Stewart does lap at 196.009 mph 9 I
UAW-Dodge 400 Carl Edwards wins, will be penalized at race’s end 3 C
Dodge Challenger 500 Last qualifications for Sprint All-Star Race 11 K
Pocono 500 Kyle Busch crashes into wall 14 N
Daytona 500 Kurt Busch gives Ryan Newman “push from heaven” 1 A
Best Buy 400 Eliiott Sadler auctions hood after wreck with Denny Hamlin 13 M
Food City 500 Brian Vickers’ Red Bull car is only one not to finish 5 E
Kobalt Tools 500 Toyota is first winning foreign carmaker since 1954 4 D
Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Goodyear Tires fail due to heat and abrasion 20 T
Food City 500 Jarrett finishes 37th in final race 5 E
Coke Zero 400 Edwards spins Jeff Gordon into infield 18 R
Coke Zero 400 David Reutimann ties record for “lucky dog” passes 18 R
Aaron’s 499 Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts 300th points race 9 I
Auto Club 500 Race is suspended until Monday due to rain 2 B
Coca-Cola 600 Earnhardt loses lead to cut tire, remains winless 12 L
Food City 500 Six laps of Overdrive (green-white-checker rule) 5 E
Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Edwards and Jimmie Johnson jockey to "kiss the bricks" 20 T
LifeLock 400 Patrick Carpentier and Michael Waltrip crash at end 15 O
Best Buy 400 “Black hat” Kyle Busch wins fourth race of year 13 M
Best Buy 400 Race ends in 3 hours, 18 minutes, 4 seconds 13 M
Pepsi 500 Earnhardt, Johnson, and Biffle qualify for Chase 25 Y

Translating the race numbers into alphanumerics spells BUSCH SERIES CHAMP NICKNAMED TERRIBLE TOMMY, which describes 1988 Busch Series champion "Terrible" Tommy ELLIS.