I was going to post something today in the NASCAR blog about how Tony Stewart is still barking at Goodyear, or how this Sunday will be Dale Jarrett's final points race. Both topics worthy of discussion. But instead, thought I'd change things up a bit and write about what's most on my mind and heart these days.

I'm not certain when I first heard from her. Four years ago, I believe. She sent me an e-mail in response to something I wrote in the blog, saying how good it was to find a fellow Jeff Gordon fan who didn't mind saying so. (I was much more vocal about my favorite driver back then.) I wrote back, and so began an exchange of e-mails. We talked about our mutual fandom, and gradually about other things: how she and her husband were relocating from New Jersey to North Carolina, her job, her daughter. Nothing more. Just two people becoming friends. A nice thing; a rewarding thing. It's always good to make new friends.

In 2006 we talked about her battle with lymphoma, the treatments, how it looked like she was in the clear. We commiserated during last year's Chase, stating our hope that 2008 would finally be the year when the drive for five would come to fruition.

Then the damn lymphoma came back.

I don't hear from her as often these days, which is understandable given how she's needing all her strength to fight this battle once more. Every now and then she drops me a line, saying there's legitimate hope but there have been some rough spots. Still, she's hanging in there. And yes, together we both still root for Jeff every Sunday. A continent apart. But still together.

That's what being a fan is about, isn't it. Or at least it ought to be. It's about finding that common connection bringing people together who otherwise never would have been aware of each other's existence, let alone become friends; cohorts in a group of merry pranksters chugging their way through life, held together by a common bond which to the world at large is a source of at best bemusement and usually derision. But inside your happy band, you don't care if they get it or not. You're fans. That's what matters. And to each other, you matter. It's something worth cherishing; something worth nurturing and growing.

It's why although I try to write the NASCAR blog with as even-handed an approach as I can, inside I'm still yelling for the #24 to move to the front and stay there every single lap. I want my driver to win. Isn't that what we all want? To see our driver win so we can celebrate their victory not by ourselves but with our fellow fans, especially those who are also our friends? Yes, it is. But even more than that, I want something more.

I want my friend to get better for her sake and that of her family.

And for mine, too.

I don't want to lose my friend rooting with me for Jeff.

I don't want to lose my friend period.

That's all I have to say tonight.