For a span of five days or so, it seemed that NASCAR was on some sort of crazy suicidal run. It was as if leaders met in a boardroom and said, "Let's see what we can do to really muck things up."
Texas Motor Speedway accepted a sponsorship agreement from the National Rifle Association, a move that was good for business but bad for a sport trying to break away from all the stereotypes associated with the brand.
Then it fined Denny Hamlin $25,000 for his honesty in assessing the new Gen 6 car. It was hardly a tirade, so the fine smacked of obsessive oppression and a juvenile overreaction.
The message seemed clear: NASCAR supports the Second Amendment, but not so much the First.
And then, as a wacky pièce de résistance, golden girl Danica Patrick got hit with a rock while attending a dirt-track race in Las Vegas.
Fortunately, the bad PR spin ended quickly Sunday afternoon when Matt Kenseth won in Vegas.
For all the crazy stuff off the track, NASCAR has been a lucky-dog beneficiary when it comes to its stars taking the checkered flag the first three weeks of the season.
Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500 in his 400th career start.
Carl Edwards broke a 70-race winless streak by taking the checkered at Phoenix.
And then came Kenseth.
He gets unfairly labeled as a boring drone in some circles. That's just plain wrong. One of my favorite moments of Kenseth's deadpan humor was in Charlotte last season. One of the media giveaways for the day featured oversized Cheerios boxes. One scribe, sitting in the front row, took two and placed the boxes in front of him.
As Kenseth sat in the front of the room for his media availability, he looked at the guy and said: "Want some milk with that?"
Kenseth is one of those "topics of interest" in this season of transition for him because he moved to Joe Gibbs Racing after 13 Cup seasons with Jack Roush. It was an unexpected switch, and mostly a matter of team owner Roush looking at the challenging economics of keeping a well-paid star.
It's too early in the game to tell, but perhaps the Mad Hatter will have some regrets.
Kenseth celebrated his 41st birthday on Sunday in Victory Lane, just the kind of feel-good salvo the sport needed.
"I mean, I'm not a huge goal person, but my goal was to win and to win early," he said. "Nobody put any pressure on me except for myself, but I also know that Coach [Joe Gibbs] hired me to come in there and climb in that car and win races. So you certainly want to do that and you don't want to disappoint people.
"I'm glad we got a win, but it's still only Week 3. I feel like this is the beginning."