The Frontstretch: If I Ruled the World : Brickyard 400 by Becca Gladden -- Wednesday August 10, 2005

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If I Ruled the World : Brickyard 400

Becca Gladden · Wednesday August 10, 2005


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 August 7 "" August 13, 2005:

The Dictator’s Decrees:

  • Every driver should memorize Rusty Wallace’s answer when asked what he would consider a good finish, starting from 41st after crashing in qualifying. Rusty: “I came here to win. Every time I come, I come to win.”
  • With all the talk of Tony Stewart’s close friendship with the folks at his hometown Dairy Queen, it’s obvious who Joe Gibbs should tap as an Associate Sponsor for the 20 car. Tony Stewart and Dairy Queen – a match made in heaven.
  • My “Understatement of the Week” award goes to Stewart’s crew chief Greg Zippadelli for his late race statement, “The Home Depot Chevrolet has been pretty good all day.” Ya’ think?
  • This week’s Commissioner Appointment: A Commissioner of Commercials to put an immediate end to those horrid Coq Roq (how is that pronounced, anyway?) ads from Burger King ( The annoying spots feature a heavy metal band with musicians wearing bizarre poultry-like headdresses (think Slipknot in chicken suits) and a frontman named Fowl Mouth. All this to sell chicken strips. You can even download their song “Bob Your Head” as a ring tone for your cell phone. Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

The Palace Praise:

  • To Elliott Sadler for an honest and humorous appraisal of his pre-race emotions: “I’m excited because I think I’ve got a car that can win the Brickyard 400. And I’m nervous, because I know I’ve got a car that can win the Brickyard 400.”
  • To Jimmie Johnson for bypassing the opportunity to criticize his team after they failed to pass inspection before qualifying. Johnson took the high road in his pre-race interview. That kind of infighting, especially on live TV, always does more harm than good.
  • To NBC/TNT for its pre-race feature in which they accompany one driver on a visit to his hometown. It is so enjoyable to see the guys away from the track, back with the folks who ‘knew them when.’
  • To Diamond Rio for a nicely-paced, clean version of the National Anthem. Lovely harmony, too.
  • To Bonnie Blair for being the first girl not to scream during “Wally’s World.” Now that’s the way to enjoy a hot lap.
  • To 250,000 fans in the stands for a stock-car race "¦ more than three times the number of people attending this year’s Superbowl.
  • To Ricky Rudd for making his 773rd consecutive Cup series start. Reminds me of those kids in school who always got the Perfect Attendance awards. I never understood how they did that.
  • To NBC for showing a graphic of Tony Stewart’s brake and throttle as he hit 203 miles per hour down the straightaway.
  • And to Stewart himself for his accomplishments as listed on the “Welcome to Columbus” sign when you enter his hometown: 1995 USAC Triple Crown Winner, 1996 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, 1997 Indy Racing League Champion, 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year, 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion. Guess they will be adding another plank for the 2005 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner.

The Official Inquiries:

  • Exactly what transpired between Jimmie Johnson and the EMS personnel after his hard lick on Lap 145? Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus complained about a slow response from medical personnel, while NASCAR said that EMT’s were there almost immediately and that Johnson refused care. This is too important an issue to just gloss over.
  • Where do all those tens of thousands of balloon pieces go when that massive swarm of balloons released before the race start to pop?
  • Has the whole concept of impound races lived up to its billing? It seems to create a lot of havoc for certain teams, particularly the smaller teams trying to qualify, which are the ones that were supposed to benefit the most.

The Royal Reprimands:

  • To Bill Weber, for claiming, “The biggest word in racing has just four letters – INDY.” Bet the folks down at D-A-Y-T-O-N-A would propose an alternate choice.
  • To Tony Stewart, for owning a hearse and driving it around in his hometown just for fun. Sorry, Tony, that’s creepy.
  • To the pastor who read the pre-race invocation off note cards. It just seems like a minister should be able to pray extemporaneously.
  • To Wally Dallenbach, for reporting, “This isn’t a points race today.” Okay, I know what you were getting at, but even Bill and Benny looked perplexed after hearing that little revelation. As Benny quickly clarified, for the drivers trying to make the Chase, “They will think about points before the victory.”
  • To Allen Bestwick, for telling the world what one crew chief said to him off the air in the middle of the race: “Man, I hate races like this.” Bet that’s music to NASCAR’s ears.

And finally "¦ Conspiracy theories are multiplying exponentially after Dale Earnhardt Jr’s. dismal last-place Brickyard finish. Things couldn’t get much worse for Junior, who didn’t have a competitive car at Indy, but was taken out from behind on a Lap 64 restart. Bouncing hard off the wall, Earnhardt’s car ricocheted back up the track and right into the side of teammate Martin Truex, wrecking his day as well. A dejected Junior left the track early, stating, “That’s life. You gotta deal with it, good or bad.” The Chase will go on this year without one of the sport’s marquee drivers, and that has people speculating about what, if anything, NASCAR might do to rectify the situation. To his credit, Earnhardt is adamant that nothing be done to help his team make the Chase: “It takes a lot away from the credibility of the sport if you’re giving somebody a helping hand to make it more exciting. I just don’t feel like it would be fair to the other drivers. I don’t think it would be fair to my team. In a sense, it would take a lot away from them. It wouldn’t be cool if that happened. I wouldn’t be too comfortable with it.” Earnhardt realizes that NASCAR will survive without him in the Chase, and as Ruler, I would make absolutely sure that the folks at NASCAR do, too.

Until next week, I remain your Benevolent Dictator "¦ Becca

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Becca Gladden is no longer a contributor to the Frontstretch, but you can see all her past articles on herbiography and archive page.