My question is this. Is he really going to not show up and just hand Hodnett the title and 20 grand?? I find that hard to believe.
Fred has certainly earned the right to walk away whenever and however he chooses to do it. Doing so now would be like Michael Jordan calling it quits after sinking the buzer-beater to win the final game of his last NBA final. It would be poetic, and a wonderful memory.
Even so, I hope he doesn't do it, if only for two people - Greg Hodnett and John Trone. If Fred is honest with himself, he knows that if Greg and the Trone team are going to win the track Championship this year, they'd rather do it on the track, not because the leader packed it up and handed it to them with two races to go. If Fred were injured or otherwise unable to compete, that's one thing. It would be sad, but luck is still a part of racing. But no competitor wants to be "The Champion" by any way other than by beating "The Champion", or at least by beating the top competition in that season or that moment. Yes, the title and the money are nice regardless, but competitors want to earn them.
Will winning the Williams Grove title one more time make any difference at all to Fred's legacy, even if it's to have him go out on top at both Lincoln and The Grove in his final season? Not much. The win at the Open and maybe his amazing consistency this year with all those Top Ten finishes will be what people remember one way or the other. But if he doesn't win the title, I hope it's because he, Moon, Little Fred, the Sells, and everybody else took it down to the last lap of the last race of Fred's last season, but that Hodnett and the Trone team won it on the track in the end.
As I said, though, it's Fred's choice, along with his team. And in my opinion, he's earned the right to have me and everybody else who might disagree with his choice respect his decision, whatever it is.