cover image Once Around the Track

Once Around the Track

Sharyn McCrumb, . . Kensington, $25 (309pp) ISBN 978-0-7582-0778-4

B estseller McCrumb (St. Dale ; Ghost Riders ) returns to the world of NASCAR in this middling tale of modern celebrity. Badger Jenkins, a shy, good old boy from Marengo, Ga., whose days of racing stardom have come and gone, is recruited by a syndicate of women investors to drive their new car. The car’s primary sponsor is Vagenya (sounds like Virginia), a Viagra-like product for women, and the team will field an all-female crew. Besides the inscrutable but lovable Badger, there’s Grace Tuggle, the gruff crew chief; Melodie Albigre, Jenkins’s predatory agent; and Melanie Sark, a duplicitous publicist who’s secretly planning to write an exposé of NASCAR. Add the competing agendas to an inexperienced pit crew, and Team Vagenya seems to be headed for a pileup long before it gets to victory lane. NASCAR fans will enjoy the time spent at the track, but the pedestrian plotting and unsurprising outcome hinder the novel like sugar in a gas tank. (June)