If I ruled the NASCAR world, I would be a benevolent dictator, issuing edicts for the good of all who reside in my racing realm.
These would be my decrees for the week of October 2 – October 9, 2005:
The Dictator's Decrees:
- I would tell the marketing folks for Old Spice cologne that Talladega is probably not the best race to air a commercial featuring the song, "The more we get together, the happier we'll be."
- I want to see the look on Rusty Wallace's face when they tell him that one of the "characters" referred to in his statement, "I don't know what two characters got into it at the start-finish line, but it ruined our day," was none other than Penske teammate Ryan Newman.
The Palace Praise:
- To Mark Martin, for inspiring the kind of praise heaped on him in the pre-race show by Rusty Wallace, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson. Said Martin of the televised tribute, "I can sure sleep good after watching that." And deservedly so.
- To Elliott Sadler and Dale Jarrett of Robert Yates Racing, for new crew chiefs, new engines, and side-by-side starting spots on the front row.
- ·To Elliott Sadler for his helpful offer to Jimmie Johnson for next week's race. After Johnson bump-drafted the 38 into the wall on Lap 20, Sadler kindly remarked: "We have three pedals in the car. The middle one's the brake. Maybe I'll give him a diagram for next week."
The Official Inquiries:
- Does anyone understand the words to the song that Lisa Marie Presley sings during her NASCAR commercials? The tune is catchy enough, but no matter how many times I hear it, I have no idea what she is saying.
- Why is it that NASCAR frequently throws the yellow for debris that nobody ever sees, yet at Dover, they let Matt Kenseth run over a piece of something that could have been spotted from a nearby helicopter, without binoculars?
- Was it a just bad luck or poor planning when Allen Bestwick and Carl Edwards went to visit the Carl Edwards' fan bus from his home state, only to find that the bus's owners were nowhere to be found?
- Did anyone catch Bo Brice's minor error in the lyrics to the National Anthem: "For the ramparts we watched …?"
- I wonder if Rusty Wallace knows that Kevin Harvick, starting at the rear of the field with Wallace, referred to him during the pre-race show as "my drafting partner Rusty?"
The Royal Reprimands:
- To Bill Weber, whose attempts at humor often fall flat. In a pre-race segment about Dale Earnhardt Jr., Weber asserted that Junior's "best finish (this season) has been in that commercial with the Clydesdales." Apparently Weber forgot about the Chicago race, broadcast on NBC, which Earnhardt won. Despite not making the Chase this year, Earnhardt has actually had 11 top-10 finishes.
- Weber also showed his age when he stated that Junior's performance this season has given his fans "bitter race face." I wonder how many people watching on Sunday understood that reference?
- To Dave Burns, for mixing his metaphors in telling Dale Jr., "The championship wagon has already sailed this year without you on it." Huh?
This week's Commissioner Appointment: A Commissioner of Criticism, to investigate the whole concept of restrictor plate racing and it's place in NASCAR's future. Many drivers had harsh words for plate racing this weekend; Mark Martin said that the fans are the only ones who can "do anything" about the races, while Jeff Gordon argued that the situation is "in the driver's hands." A number of competitors were unusually outspoken about racing conditions on Sunday, and many fans expressed dissatisfaction as well.
This week's Magic 8-Ball Question:
- Question: Does Kurt Busch, 10th in the standings since New Hampshire, still have a realistic chance of winning the championship?
- The Magic 8-Ball says: My reply is no.
This week's Lucky Dork award: To Bill Weber, for his really unfortunate slip-up, explaining that Mark Martin beat Dale Earnhardt in a previous Talladega race. If you caught his mistake, you know exactly what I mean; if you didn't, I'm afraid I can't repeat it here.
And finally … I understand that emotions run high when a driver is interviewed right after a big wreck, and that he might say things out of anger or frustration that he later regrets. Let's hope that was the case with Jimmie Johnson's regrettable comments about race fans, because if not, Johnson's true colors peaked through a crack in his otherwise perfectly-polished veneer. First, Johnson firmly denied responsibility for a Lap 20 wreck that the video clearly showed he caused, erroneously claiming that he had been "bump-drafted from behind." Johnson then stated that the fans have no right to comment on racing incidents: "It's real easy to sit on your couch and point fingers and say, 'so and so did something wrong,' but until you are out here in these cars, at these speeds, and seeing all the near-misses and what is really going on, it is not worth forming an opinion." On Tuesday, Johnson accepted blame for the wreck, stating that after he saw the video, he realized he was at fault. But Johnson owes an apology to the fans - especially since, in this case, they were right and he was wrong. Sometimes it is easier to view a situation objectively when you are not in the midst of it; Johnson was apparently unable to see the forest for the trees on Sunday, while the fans had a clear view of it all. His comments demonstrated a lack of respect for the fans who, after all, make it possible for him to have a career in racing.
Until next week, I remain your Benevolent Dictator … Rebecca
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