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 November 6 "" November 13, 2005:
The Palace Praise:
- To NBC, for securing live interviews on “Countdown to Green” with most of the key players in the Kurt Busch saga – including team owners Jack Roush and Roger Penske – and Busch himself.
- To Allen Bestwick, for his very tactful questioning of Busch in what was surely a tense and awkward situation.
- To Jack Roush, for pointing out that in NASCAR, “We have got a higher standard,” – a fact that continues to attract fans to the sport.
- To Tony Stewart, for not mincing words despite having undergone an attitude makeover at the end of the 2004 season. Asked whether NASCAR, “in this day and age,” is lacking the true driver rivalries of the past, Stewart replied, “We’re missing fist fighting in this day and age.”
- To Ricky Rudd, for making his 787th consecutive Cup Series start, during which time he has not taken a single sick day or vacation day. In a sport as dangerous as stock-car racing, that’s a remarkable feat.
- To Dale Earnhardt, Jr., for the Junior-ism of the week. Describing his 19th-place qualifying run, Junior reported, “The car was a little faster than I was.”
- To Avondale, Arizona, and Phoenix International Raceway, for a gorgeous day and a breathtaking setting in which to hold a NASCAR race.
- To Denny Hamlin and team, for starting on the pole in only his 6th career Cup start – and for three top-10 finishes to boot.
- To Mark Martin, for running an “old school” retro paint scheme.
- To Kenny Wallace, for admitting that he was afraid to answer the phone when NASCAR’s John Darby called, thinking that he was going to be reprimanded for something – and, for taking the call, jumping into Kurt Busch’s car on a moment’s notice, and finishing a respectable 16th, earning him another opportunity in the ride this weekend.
- To Greg Biffle, for having the guts – and the sense of humor – to radio his team that he had a loose wheel "¦ only to advise them after several anxious seconds that he was just kidding.
The Official Inquiries:
- No matter what you think of Kurt Busch, did you feel just a little twinge of sympathy when he started crying, as he discussed letting down Jimmy Fennig and crew?
- Did you do a double take when Kenny Wallace emerged during driver introductions in one of Greg Biffle’s National Guard fire suits?
- What was Tony Stewart explaining to Jimmie Johnson before the race, requiring the use of effusive hand gestures?
- Did you notice the grim faces of Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman during Carl Edwards’ pre-race interview? The three had been chatting and Edwards was asked whether they were telling him any good jokes. He chuckled and replied, “Look at them – look how serious they are!” The camera panned to Kenseth and Newman and, for a brief moment, they looked just like the subjects of Grant Woods’ “American Gothic” painting.
- Did you realize that with his victory on Sunday, rookie Kyle Busch has more wins this season than Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeremy Mayfield, Elliott Sadler, and many other experienced Cup drivers?
The Dictator’s Decrees:
- I would advise Kurt Busch to stop using the word “unfortunate” to describe his predicament, as though it was simply the result of bad luck.
- I would ban this overused phrase from the Homestead-Miami race: Several times on Sunday, when a driver exited pit road in the same position as when he went in, the boys in the booth reported that he “held serve” on his pit stop.
The Royal Reprimands:
- To Bill Weber, for reporting that there were “three guys still racing for the championship” at the start of Sunday’s race. Actually, six drivers were still within a one-race striking distance of 1st heading into Phoenix.
Magic 8-Ball Question of the Week:
- Question: Will NASCAR’s new 2006 testing rules have a big impact on some teams next year?
- The Magic 8-Ball says: Yes – definitely.
“Lucky Dork” Award of the Week: To Kyle Busch, for attempting to use Victory Lane as the bully pulpit – and failing miserably. That was neither the time nor the place for his vituperative remarks.
And finally "¦ When an incident like the one involving Kurt Busch occurs, I suppose it is human nature to read about it, talk about it, and begin to form an opinion based on what we know – or think we know – of the situation. But it is vital to remember that the only people who really know what happened that night are those who were directly involved – and even they will have vastly different recollections and interpretations of the event. Since Friday night, a steady stream of new and often conflicting information has trickled out – and no doubt will continue to do so for quite some time. If you have already dug your heels in on the issue – whether in the “Kurt Busch is a punk” camp or the “He’s being railroaded” camp – my advice is to hold all bets. I predict that many facets of this story have not yet come to light, and when they do, they will be quite surprising. Remember, you read it here first.
Until next week, I remain your Benevolent Dictator "¦ Rebecca
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