Humpy said it best when we sat down to talk, "endings are never good."
After 33 years at Lowe's Motor Speedway, highlighted by a decades long run as track president, Wheeler told me he has not been invited back for the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600. So the man who brought NASCAR into the mainstream; the man who put NASCAR under the lights in prime time; the man who helped foster and promote exactly the kind of driver the sport now misses, won't be at LMS on May 24th.
Wheeler only told me because I asked. He admits that Bruton Smith's decision to leave him off the guest list stings, but he also seems like he's ready to move on.
Humpy has too many projects to count - a driver development program called Humpy's Heroes, a new book due later this year, and several other TV projects. He loves working with his son and daughter and he loves consulting with NASCAR. But there's a touch of sadness when his departure and separation from LMS comes up.
Wheeler says he had no choice but to leave. His version is simple: Bruton Smith didn't tell Humpy about possibly moving his speedway. And he didn't tell Humpy about his new drag strip project. As the Chief Operating Officer Wheeler needed to know. He didn't, so it was time to go.
Far too often this is what happens when ego, power and emotions get into the mix. We see it all the time in pro sports. Just ask the Denver Broncos and their former quarterback, Jay Cutler.
You can see Humpy talk about his departure from LMS at the link provided. And you can see more of his interview on Sports Extra this Sunday. We'll touch everything from what's missing in racing to the search for the next Dale Earnhardt. Humpy has ideas to improve the sport he helped build and he'll share them all with his trademark honesty.