The Frontstretch: That's History! NASCAR's Checkered (Flag) Past, One Story at a Time: Tomorrow's History Today by Amy Henderson -- Thursday July 14, 2005

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Now that the halfway point of 2005 has come and gone, I’m thinking again of the stories and headlines that are becoming history each week on the track.  Five years form now, ten, fifty years in the future, will I, (or writers like me-face it, in fifty years I’ll be 82), look back on in print as the best, the worst, or the just plain quirky?
 
Here are a few thoughts on 2005 so far.
 
Best Finish (so far):  Atlanta, Golden Corral 500
Rookie Carl Edwards snookered should-be champion Jimmie Johnson off of turn four to take home his first-ever checkered flag in the Nextel Cup Series-exactly one day after winning his first Busch Series race.  And to top it off, the kid does backflips to celebrate, illustrating just how cliché the burnout has become.
 
Worst Crew Swap: NBC
NBC’s announcer switch that sent Allen Bestwick to the pits and Bill Weber to the booth had fans scratching their heads from the day it was announced last fall.  I can’t say I like it any better now.  This one just might take the pressure off the DEI swap.
 
Best Reality TV: NASCAR Drivers 360
Hands down the most fun NASCAR show on television.  And the best line from the show? Twelve-year-old Matt Martin on his dad’s impending retirement: “Yeah, it’ll be OK for a couple weeks, but then he’s gonna have to find something to DO!”
 
Least Likely Event: Jeff Gordon vs. Asphalt-Round Two
At least one part of the Coca-Cola 600 looked like an instant replay of Martinsville last spring.  For the second time in two seasons, a chunk of track broke off, popped up, and punched a big old hole in Jeff Gordon’s front valance.  What are the chances of something like that happening to a driver TWICE?  I’d rather bet on being struck by lightning twice.  Which, by the way is rumored to have happened to Cale Yarborough-but that’s another story for another day.
 
Best Decision by NASCAR:  A very stiff 2nd substance abuse penalty
By banning Shane Hmiel from even applying for a NASCAR license until 2007, NASCAR sent a message in no uncertain terms that violating their substance policy will not be tolerated.  While I feel sorry for a young man who obviously needs to get his life back on track (no pun intended), NASCAR made a safety decision, pure and simple.  Whether the substance was illegal or not is not the issue-any substance that can slow reaction time or alter perception is a danger to 43 competitors, even when taken by just one.
 
Here are just a few of the many stories that 2005 has graced NASCAR fans with so far.  Tune in at season’s end for a full rundown.  In the meantime, feel free to email me your historical moments of the year-after all, I’m probably not going to remember them all-after all, I am just 50 years shy of 82, and they say the memory is the first to go…  But 50 years from now, someone will look back on 2005 and say-That’s History!

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