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 15 "" October 22, 2005:
The Dictator’s Decrees:
- I would command that the nerve-wracking, tire-blowing trauma that passed for this weekend’s Cup race never happens again.
The Palace Praise:
- To Jimmie Johnson, not just for surviving the crashfest, but for coming from 41st place to do so. Johnson also dealt with a flat tire and electrical problems that rendered his in-car cooling and drink systems useless for most of the race. At times over the weekend, I thought Johnson a little cocky with his constant references to the Lowe’s track as “his house” – but now, having won 5 of the last 6 races there, he may have a point.
- To Mark Martin, for labeling Lowe’s “the new Talladega” – a reference to the fact that everyone’s nerves were frayed as they waited for the next wreck to happen.
- To Kevin Harvick, for having the guts to say what everyone else was thinking Saturday night. Asked if anything could be done to improve the race, Harvick snapped, “Yeah – throw the checkered flag and get the hell out of here.”
- To Denny Hamlin, for starting 38th and finishing in the top 10 in only his second career Cup start.
- To Rusty Wallace and the #2 team, for being the only team in the Chase that has not suffered a DNF this year.
- To Greg Biffle, for closing the gap on 1st to just 11 points behind Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson.
- To Dale Earnhardt, Jr., for summing up what it’s like to have a high-speed tire failure in just one word: “BAM!”
- To Sterling Marlin, for the understatement of the evening: “These track owners – I wish they’d contact somebody before they do anything to the racetrack.”
The Official Inquiries:
- What steps will NASCAR take to insure that the perilous racing conditions we saw Saturday night never happen again?
- Why didn’t anyone realize before the Cup race that the track was almost 5 miles per hour faster than it was at the same race last year, and that this would adversely affect tire wear?
- How ironic was it that just six laps after Benny Parsons said, ”(Jeff) Gordon’s lookin’ real racy tonight,” he ended up in the wall and out of the race?
- Wasn’t it exciting to see Bobby Labonte running in the top 5 for a while, even though his finish didn’t reflect it?
- What magazine do you think Tony Stewart picks up en route to the Porta-John in that Home Depot commercial? We learned in Dale Junior’s “60 Minutes” interview that he has “Dating for Dummies” in his bathroom.
- I wonder if someone tuning into their first-ever NASCAR race might have misunderstood this Michael Waltrip comment: “I’ve got a blister on my right rear.”
- Rusty Wallace, the beneficiary of three Lucky Dog awards, limped past the finish line in 24th place and fell 3 places in the Chase standings – where would he be if not for the Lucky Dog?
The Royal Reprimands:
- To track conditions so un-raceable that when Greg Biffle, with only 48 laps left in the race, asked, “Can I go now?” the answer was still no.
- To Ryan Newman and the #12 team, for a pit-stop miscue that caused Newman to leave pit road with the gas can hanging out of his car.
- To NBC, for an unfortunate choice of drivers to highlight in its “Chevy Drivers to Watch” graphic on Lap 87. By then, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, both on the list, were out of the race in 41st and 42nd place, respectively.
- This week’s Commissioner Appointment:* A Commissioner of Conditions, who would approve any future grinding or track resurfacing projects well in advance of upcoming events, and only after a thorough investigation of how the proposed changes would affect driver safety in the future. The Commissioner would coordinate such projects with Goodyear and NASCAR, and would ultimately report to me, your humble ruler, for final authorization before proceeding with major track changes – especially resurfacing.
This week’s Magic 8-Ball Question:
- Question: Now that Jimmie Johnson has won Lowe’s, will he be able to repeat his remarkable 2004 streak of 4 wins and 6 top-10’s in the last 6 Chase races, which started with his Charlotte win last year?
- The Magic 8-Ball says: My sources say no.
This week’s Lucky Dork award: To Lowe’s Motor Speedway President Humpy Wheeler, for levigating the drivers and the fans into four hours of high-stress misery on Saturday.
And finally "¦ News broke this week that NBC would not be extending its contract with NASCAR after the 2006 season. Not surprisingly, race fans responded with a giddy mixture of joy and relief. NBC has not been popular with NASCAR fans for a number of reasons, and the network did little to ingratiate itself with viewers on Saturday by scheduling a major college football game and an important NASCAR race back-to-back. When the game ran long, the pre-race show was eliminated and the green flag delayed several times. A few weeks ago, Bill Weber boasted that NBC was “proud to be the exclusive home for the final eight races” in the Chase, but many NASCAR fans felt like second-class citizens after the timing issue this weekend. No one would have expected NBC to pull away from the game, but there should have been a built-in cushion of time between the two events so that the conflict would not have occurred in the first place. Here’s hoping that ABC/ESPN, the apparent heirs to NBC’s portion of the broadcast contract, give race fans the respect they deserve.
Until next week, I remain your Benevolent Dictator "¦ Rebecca
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