"He'll die before he fails," worries his father. "But the fields of reality seldom bloom with the flowers of our imagination."
Stanton's guard comes down. Tears well in his eyes. The words, for once, come fast. "My brother, my dad, my grandfather and people in the sport tell me that this is crazy, that you can't win doing it this way. It's like building a ship with hand tools. I drive everyone crazy. I've been told all my life, 'You try to do too much. You can't do more than one thing well.' Screw that. I want to conquer the world. I make the most of what I have. I live. I'm going to live.
"I'll go where you're not supposed to go and do what you're not supposed to do. It's my job to test my limits, so I have to keep building the mental strength to do that. I do it everywhere.
"That makes some people think I'm not serious about NASCAR. Not serious? What I go through to do this, all the stress—don't tell me I'm not serious. I've spent more time under cars than any driver out there. I've given everything I know, everything I make, and all my heart and soul."
THE WIND'S savage. The rain's worse. It's crazy that they're up here, a 65-year-old man and his 35-year-old son, skidding around a Montreal track at 110 mph in the 2008 NAPA Auto Parts 200. Dad's old injuries are killing him. Every car in front of them is rooster-tailing spray, and neither of them has windshield wipers, his crew never dreaming that NASCAR would mandate treaded rain tires for the first time in a points event and keep the Nationwide race going through a deluge.
Stanton's multitasking again. He's sharing another wonderful adventure with his father ... and letting him see how much harder NASCAR has become, so that maybe, the next time Stanton finishes 25th, Dad won't say, "Gee, I could finish that good." Dad hits his brakes and lurches into a wall, tearing up his right front, but keeps going. Stanton hits a puddle and does a 360. Dad hydroplanes and does one too. Stanton's far off the pace, but with each 2.7-mile lap around the road course he's adding another 10 seconds to his lead over Dad. It's a loop, of course, so even as he's pulling away from his father, he's chasing his father. Again.
Dad drops out, after seven laps, with brake trouble. Stanton keeps going. It's getting dark. "I can't f---in' see where the corners are!" he screams on the radio. Finally NASCAR halts the fiasco on the 48th of 74 laps. Stanton finishes 25th. Stan, 39th.
"It was embarrassing," says his father. "I'll never be critical again. I never dreamed of what he went through. I worry about his sanity. What I saw is just the tip of the iceberg, but the tip of the iceberg sunk the Titanic."
Eight weeks later Stanton issues an announcement. He's jumping to IndyCar with Team 3G next year, running all 18 races, and still planning to enter 19 to 21 Nationwide events with Rick Ware Racing. Indy cars are faster. They're more dangerous. Stanton has never driven one. No man has tried to drive that many races in both circuits in one season. The odds against him are enormous. No one will understand. His love will blaze anew. His life will make sense again. Isn't that a hero?