Pennsylvania 500 Edition
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 July 24 – July 30, 2005:
- I would summon Matt Kenseth to the royal palace to ask about his surprising pre-race comments regarding Jamie McMurray. Seems Kenseth was upset that he first learned about McMurray joining Roush Racing when he read it on the internet. Ouch. Did Kenseth mean to imply that he might leave Roush after 2006 to avoid being teammates with McMurray? And did the perceived slight have anything to do with the incident between the two drivers at New Hampshire?
- In my kingdom, it would be unacceptable to avoid a competitor's phone calls for more than a day or two after the race, even if you were unceremoniously dumped by that person on Lap 27. C'mon Jamie, be a man. Answer the phone.
- I would put a strict limit on the number of companies that can exploit Tony Stewart's fence climbing in their ads. As Stewart's sponsor, Home Depot has an excuse for its new "Hey, Tony, we've got ladders!" slogan. But did Bank of America also have to showcase Tony's climb as its "Higher Standards" moment of the week?
- I would offer all the palace riches to see Richard Petty do the "Wally's World" segment every week. How cool was it to see the King back on track for the first time since 1993?
- I would dispatch the royal camera crew to film the action when Richard and Kyle try to keep Mama away from the TV when their pre-race segment airs ... not to mention her reaction when she finally does see it.
- I would command Carl Edwards to win a race, just to see him do his new back flip with a twist.
- I would chastise Marty Snider for being way too hard on Elliott Sadler in a feeble attempt at an M&Ms reference. No driver should be told that his season is "melting away" when he's still in the top 10, even if he has struggled for a few races. Besides, M&Ms melt in your mouth.
- I would emblazon this classic Rusty Wallace quote on the dashboard of all racecars: "I'm approaching every single race like it's the last one."
- But I would have to ask Rusty what he meant when he said he was driving in a "conservatively-aggressive?" style. How's that again?
- In view of the many driver complaints, I would instruct the track execs at Pocono to fix the tunnel turn. But it was wonderful to hear Mark Martin's old-school theory about the excessively bumpy road: "It's not that big a deal. It's a bump. Whoop-de-doo."
- Chevy tells us in its latest truck commercial that "there's no word in Japanese for pick-up truck." I would ask Chevy what the word is in Japanese for Silverado?
- While I know what he was getting at, I would still have to tease Allen Bestwick for reporting, "A little bit of pre-race good fortune (for Tony Stewart): Moments ago, on pit road, this is his crew changing a flat left rear tire on the Home Depot car." Wow, how lucky can a guy get? Maybe next week he can have two or three flats before the race.
- It was reported that Doug Richert's strategy was to have a fast qualifying lap in order to keep Greg Biffle out of early traffic. Biffle started 7th and finished 17th, losing a spot in the points. Given that this was an impound race, I would ask Richert, in the words of Dr. Phil, "How's that workin' for ya'?"
- I would advise the TNT crew that they were unnecessarily harsh on poor Jamie McMurray Sunday. First, they kindly pointed out that although McMurray has four career Cup poles, he has never led the first lap of the race. Then, after Kurt Busch led the first lap from the outside pole, they mentioned that McMurray's "record" was still intact. Moreover, Bill Weber added that "Jamie McMurray has led only one lap all season - and that was under caution." Geez.
- This week's Commissioner Appointment: A Commissioner of Canvas, to create a giant mural on the palace wall of the 6 and the 2 racing side-by-side in the closing laps at Pocono - just so no one forgets what good racing looked like.
- I would rebuke Dave Burns for his statement that Casey Mears' car was "rear-endy," adding that Mears had used a different word to describe the problem - yeah, like maybe, loose?
- I would issue a royal reprimand to the marketing firm behind the TV ad for Watkins Glen. The commercial, which ran several times Sunday, featured an ugly white rodent running in a squeaky wheel, with a voiceover asking, "Tired of watching things go 'round and 'round?" Hey guys, if you're trying to entice NASCAR fans to come to your track, it might be better not to insult them and their preferred style of racing. Tired of watching things go 'round and 'round? Nope.
- I would thank Mark Martin for voicing the exasperation we all felt: "We were sitting so good on strategy, then the had to have 50 cautions at the end (of the race)." Well, not really 50, but it sure felt like it.
- I would ask Kurt Busch the question on everyone's mind - was he trying for a burnout in the shape of a 97? And more importantly, is every race winner now going to try and top the previous one with newer, more creative celebrations? Please say it isn't so.
- On the other hand, I would present Busch with the royal "Kindness to Animals" medal for kissing his dog in Victory Lane.
- For curiosity's sake, I would instruct the palace pollster to gather statistics on this question: Who else besides me gets a real Eddie Haskell vibe from Busch during his interviews?
- I would strongly admonish Busch's sponsor Irwin for having a gigantic box cutter on display in Victory Lane behind Busch. With 9/11 still relatively recent, is it necessary to even mention how strangely inappropriate that was? What's wrong with a nice vice grip, anyway?
- And finally … drivers and crews have argued for years against the scanners that pick up their every word on in-car radios. No doubt comments are made in the heat of the moment that would otherwise never even be thought. It was painful to hear Mark Martin call the driver behind him - which clearly appeared to be teammate Carl Edwards - an "idiot" in the closing laps at Pocono. Even the guys in the booth were momentarily speechless. My royal decree for the week is to institute a long-enough delay so that these embarrassing moments are prevented in the future.
Until next week, I remain your Benevolent Dictator … Becca
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