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 30 "" November 5, 2005:
The Dictator’s Decrees:
- I would order the broadcast team at NBC to stop salivating at the very thought of a prolonged Stewart-Johnson rivalry. Unfortunately, it takes two dynamic personalities to sustain a good rivalry, and Johnson’s public persona is much too milquetoast to make this one interesting.
- I would command that for the remaining three races, Lady Luck smiles on Rusty Wallace just enough so that we don’t have to see that heartbroken look on his face, standing beside a crumpled racecar, shaking his head and muttering, “It’s just hard to believe.”
The Palace Praise:
- To a very impressive B52 flyover.
- To the Nextel Fan of the Week, who clearly has his priorities in order. He chose to miss his first Florida State football game at their home stadium (where he works) in six years, rather than pass up the opportunity to attend the Cup race at Atlanta.
- To Dale Earnhardt Jr. for mentioning the birth of his niece one day earlier – obviously a proud uncle!
- To Mark Martin, for agreeing to spend another year in the car for no other reason than loyalty to Jack Roush. It was reported Sunday that Martin will definitely be ba ck in the 6 in ‘06, with AAA as a sponsor.
- To something we haven’t heard in quite a long time: “That Budweiser car is really flying right now!” Junior led 142 laps on Sunday after leading only 27 for the entire season before Atlanta.
- To Frank of Ball Park Franks fame, for this little pearl of wisdom regarding teen body piercing: “A wallet chain is for your pants, not for connecting your lip to your ear.”
- To Jeff Burton, for finishing 7th in the race from a 41st-place starting spot.
The Official Inquiries:
- Do you think the drivers’ sponsors (besides Dale Jr.) get a little squeamish seeing them wear that red Bud Pole Award hat around the track on race day?
- Did Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson trade personalities before the race? The normally optimistic Johnson was uncharacteristically dour in his interview, stating, “We’re in Atlanta. New week, new set of problems.” Meanwhile the often curmudgeonly Martin was chipper, describing his car as “spectacular!” Interestingly, Johnson finished the race in 16th, while Martin came in 3rd.
- Speaking of Johnson, did you notice the nickname that was given to him on the make-believe fight card announcing a title match between Johnson and Tony Stewart? I’ll bet he’s praying that the nickname – Jimmie “J. Lowe” Johnson – doesn’t catch on.
- Does Tony Stewart lay in bed at night dreaming up things to say when he’s angry, like this set of one-liners aimed at Greg Biffle after the two traded paint last week? Can’t you hear this with a Dangerfieldesque delivery, rim shots after each line? “He’s an idiot. It’s no wonder Kevin Harvick has wanted to kill him so many times. They name streets after guys like that – one way and dead end. He’s a nice guy but right now, if he came over, I’m afraid I’d have to strangle him.”
- Were you surprised that there was almost no mention of the new right front tire air pressure rule that debuted in Atlanta, and how it might affect various teams?
- Did you find it at all odd to hear that NASCAR threw a caution for “smoke” in turn 4?
- Do you think there should’ve been more of a reaction to the fact that Dale Earnhardt Jr. let Tony Stewart pass him for the 5 bonus points?
The Royal Reprimands:
- To the NBC Broadcast Crew, for numerous misstatements made during the race.
- Example 1: Bill Weber reported that the title quests of both Rusty Wallace and Jeremy Mayfield were over when they had early race problems. Though practically speaking he may have been correct, Benny Parsons quickly admonished, “Mathematically, they aren’t eliminated yet.”
- Example 2: Midway through the race it was reported that Ryan Newman had been battling a “tight car in early laps,” though earlier Newman was quoted as saying that his car was “loose, loose.”
- Example 3: Weber also stated that at the end of the race, Tony Stewart “did what he had to do” while Greg Biffle “struggled.” Actually, Biffle finished 7th, two places ahead of Stewart.
Magic 8-Ball Question of the Week:
Question: Any chance the Championship will be decided before Homestead-Miami?
The Magic 8-Ball says: Don’t count on it.
“Lucky Dork” Award of the Week: Kurt Busch (see below).
And finally "¦ Since his arrival at the Cup racing level, Kurt Busch has battled a reputation as a smug, temperamental young man whom many fans find unlikable. After winning the championship last season, Busch made a promise to the fans and to NASCAR at the Awards Banquet in December. “I’m going to do my best to be the kind of champion this year that everyone will be proud of,” he assured us. This promise was apparently forgotten on Sunday, when Busch blew a tire and finished the race 36th. He snubbed all requests for interviews after the race and blew off a scheduled appearance on Wind Tunnel a few hours later. Busch sent his brother Kyle to replace him on Wind Tunnel, catching host Dave Despain completely off guard and creating one of the most uncomfortable Speed TV moments in recent memory. Rusty Wallace’s fans are nervous enough about the mercurial Busch taking over the 2 ride next year without this sort of childishness, and it is simply unworthy of the reigning Nextel Cup Champion. It’s easy to make promises when the waters are calm, but it is as the seas get rough that one’s mettle is truly tested. On Sunday, Champion Busch failed to live up to his word.
Until next week, I remain your Benevolent Dictator "¦ Rebecca
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