The Frontstretch: That's History! NASCAR's Checkered (Flag) Past, One Story at a Time: Chase-ing Useless by Amy Henderson -- Friday September 16, 2005

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Let's face it.  In NASCAR's long and storied history, the Chase for the Nextel Cup is a relatively new item.  By virtue of entering only its second year of existence, it's barely a blip on the radar yet.  Many of the ten drivers in the Chase are barely old enough to remember the era of real Petty and Pearson, let alone the early days.  But that doesn't mean they don't have stories.  No siree, Bob.  Stories they have.  If you're like me, and like a bit of useless trivia from time to time, then these particular stories are for you.  Here's the latest version of useless, starring the top ten.  Did you know:

That Ryan Newman and his buddies had a unique pastime while in college?  Seems Ryan had an old Plymouth that would backfire if treated right.  Put on a racecar header, so the exhaust comes out the side, drive up alongside some unsuspecting person, and BOOM! Instant hilarity!

That Matt Kenseth's cat, Lars, had to be suspended indefinitely from the motorcoach lot by his owner after beating up other drivers' pets, including Buddy Love Earnhardt?

That Carl Edwards spends part of the off-season as a sheriff's deputy?  He has participated in a raid on a meth lab, among other things.  Apparently, substitute teaching doesn't hold the allure it once did.

That a young Jeremy Mayfield earned money to race as a sign painter?  In addition to the signs and notice boards at his local track, Mayfield's handiwork also appeared on his competitors' racecars-Mayfield painted their numbers on.

That Mark Martin, back in his dirt track days, had a beef with fellow racer Rusty Wallace?  Seems that Wallace had a tendency to be late for Friday night practice a lot of the time, due to having to wait for his mechanic (and little brother) Kenny to get out of a day at school, and then challenge for the feature win anyway.  Martin, detail oriented to the last minutia, did not take happily to the tardiness of his longtime rival.

That Kurt Busch's first contract with Roush Racing netted the driver roughly $40,000 a year?

That Jimmie Johnson made the move to race off-road trucks because it was safer?  Johnson raced motocross bikes from age four and suffered his share of injuries before switching to trucks at the age of 15.  Besides being the youngest competitors ever in one series, Johnson won six off-road titles before making the switch to stockcars.

That Rusty Wallace, age eight, disassembled the radio in his father's race shop one day?  The radio wasn't working at the time anyway, and it kept young Rusty occupied.  At the end of the day, the radio was put back together, with the addition of one small detail: it now worked.

That Greg Biffle once won 27 of 43 races in a season in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series?  For you math aficionados, that's a .628 winning percentage.

That Tony Stewart once had his go-kart revoked for skipping his household chores?  A young Tony skipped mowing the lawn one day, and the result was not one he liked.  The go-kart was relinquished, with tears to another young racer.  Stewart went on to win three USAC championships, one IRL title, and one Nextel Cup.  No word on what the other kid is doing these days.

Which of these drivers will take home the hardware this year has yet to be written.  However, all of them have in common a story to tell.  Future aside for now, that's history.

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