The Frontstretch: Voices From the Heartland: Thank goodness for Shane Hmiel! by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday April 7, 2005

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One of the downfalls of writing a Thursday column, is that being so many days after the previous race, sometimes the very topic I’d planned to write about has already been written about ad nauseam and it would appear that I’m beating a dead horse. Not that actually beating a dead horse is such a bad thing. It can be surprisingly therapeutic, and the horse in question is way past caring anyway.

The upside of a late week column is that I have a few days to gather all my thoughts and information, along with the latest news releases that others may have missed, and actually appear to know what I’m talking about. That’s the plan anyway, but it doesn’t always work out.

So far, this season has been going pretty well for me. The eventual replacement driver (Carl Edwards) that I picked to replace my favorite, Dale Jarrett, has been proving a worthy choice and I’m more confident than ever that Carl will fill DJ’s shoes in both class and ability. In this sport, you gotta have a favorite to root for.

Almost equally important for ones racing enjoyment, in addition to a favorite, you gotta have a ‘haterite’! A ‘haterite’ is the guy you love to hate. Not ‘hate’ as in you wanna see the guy killed or anything ultra psychotic like that, but ‘hate’ as in you are always rooting for the guy behind or beside him to put him into the wall! Don’t give me that innocent look! We all do it and you know it.

For me, it used to be Todd Bodine who could spin faster than a Maytag. Following Todd, I wrote many an article picking on Kurt Busch, Jimmy Spencer and Tony Stewart. For quite awhile, I had plenty to write about! However, over the last year or so, I’ve found I’ve had to sheath my ‘poison pen’ for a variety of circumstances that no one, in their wildest dreams could have thought of.

Jimmy Spencer, after punching Kurt Busch, became (to me) a ‘pretty cool guy’! Kurt Busch, after beating Spencer’s fist with his face, gave up his cocky attitude and, aside from winning a championship, has done little to piss anybody off. Tony Stewart has been flying under the radar for the last year or so with nary a snarl, and what about Todd? Todd has probably become the bane of the local ‘accident investigation officer’ in whatever town he lives in, not to mention his insurance agent. (See! Man I miss writing like that!)

The only driver that I thought might become my whipping boy was ‘Baby Bob’, Bobby Hamilton Jr, but that idea went right out the window on Sunday after an incredible display of responsibility for his own actions. (I still think Quiznos should sponsor his car though!)

Enter Shane Hmiel. A kid with a ride due, in part some say, to his daddy’s connections at DEI. Not unheard of by any means in this sport, but a gift you’d better prove you’re worthy of or face unceasing derision. Some do, some don’t. Shane doesn’t.

Earning a rare, in NASCAR anyway, drug suspension, Hmiel’s career almost hit the wall before the green flag. Not that many fans cared too much I don’t think, as he was just another young kid that some faceless entity said ‘held promise’. Since the suspension, Shane has been trying to rebuild his fan base and his resume with appearances in Truck, Busch and Cup rides. I still never paid much attention to him because, well, let’s face it, it’s Shane Hmiel.

But now, now things are different! He’s still just another wanna be, not even up to Bodine status yet, but now he’s gone and ‘dissed’ Mr. Class (and former Champion) of NASCAR himself, Dale Jarrett!

Not only did Shane punt Dale into the wall, provoking a rare ‘talking to’ by DJ, but he bravely (to DJ’s back) gave him the finger. All that after ‘pushing’ two other cars out of the way to get to DJ in the first place. To top off this grand career performance, he taunts DJ about his age and not having enough time to get even, in a post race interview! What a worthless puke!

So now I rest assured that my racing enjoyment future is secure for many years to come. I got Carl Edwards to root for upon DJ’s eventual retirement and I got Shane Hmiel to ‘whack’ with my keyboard! My only fear is that Hmiel will pull a ‘Bodine’ and disappear! Here’s hoping he gets a ride with DEI!

Stay off the wall, (except for Shane)


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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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04/07/2005 11:55 PM
Well Jeff, its nice to have a refreshing view of a stale topic. Unfortunately you didnt’ bring one. Not that I care who you wanna see wrecked. But maybe Nascar isn’t the series you should be following. If you wanna see wrecks go to a demolition derby. As for the Hmiel and DJ incident, it was racing. Pure and simple. And at least you got a little smashing on a “Bodine” in the same race. Facts are facts and even after a week of reflection you fail to mention the only proveable, absolutely disrespectful and intentional neck-snappin’ activity on the track. You, as well as the announcers of the race and many other so called fans, fail to mention the defending Busch Series Champion’s actions against a “respected veteran.” And then he announced it on his radio. Its amazing to see such hypocrisy. Such two-faced criticism. And you must have taken off more than a few days. Todd won a few NCTS races last year. And is 13th in the points. Last I looked, DJ hadn’t won anything since the second race of ‘03. Hell, he’s only led 75 laps since the beginning of the ‘03 season. And only one pole but failed to lead a lap in that race. That’s 75 races! Seems like Shane was right, as you also alluded to, DJ ain’t got much time left before that “eventual retirement.” One can only wait. Looks to me that DJ is already padding that path to history with attempts at wins in a lower “development series” that even all his money, sponsors and team support can’t buy him. Then again, looking at your perception of the incident again, crossing my eyes a bit, it looks about as twisted as DJ’s car after it stopped rolling and resembles DJ’s evident thought processes, when he pretended to be Hmiel’s dad, after realizing what happens when a faster car moves for position at the end of a Bristol race!
DW Perkins
04/08/2005 07:20 AM
DJ is a hasbeen? You gotta be kidding me! DJ is one of the cleanest and respected drivers in the game. What Hmiel did on the track was a stupid mistake and can be forgiven. What he did after, is a whole other thing. He showed cowardice and a complete disrespect for his sport. I look forward to wishing him the worst racing luck (no injury to him or others) along with Robby Gordon. DJ is great and is in the class of the field with Rusty, Mark Martin, Rudd, JJ, Bobby and Terry Labonte. Hmiel will never achieve that level.
04/08/2005 08:45 AM
Well DW, you did list a whole bunch of wiley vets. With the exception of Bobby, most are on the way out in the next few years. And that “JJ”, is that Junior Johnson or the current points leader? If its the latter, you need to give me a break as I must have missed his respectful apology during the broadcast for spinning an older veteran driver during the Cup race. And wasn’t it Rusty that showed what class Nascar athletes have when he announced that he would like to tell Stewart where to put that finger? And wasn’t it Martin who was whining on his radio like a baby last year fearing someone would touch his car when others were actually “racing” around him toward the end of the season. And Rudd, didn’t he throw a water bottle at his engine builder after provoking a fistfight on TV? The Labonte’s are hard though. There’s not much dirt on them that I can recall at the moment, but I bet its there somewhere. Candid moments of TV coverage have always revealed lack of respect for the sport so lets not just put it all on Hmiel’s back. In fact, wasn’t there that big moment in Nascar history when those three guys fought at the end of that big race back in the ‘70’s? While it propelled the sport into the mainstream consciousness of America, it wasn’t any better than a bench clearing brawl in MLB and for a moment there I thought a hockey game was going to break out. But please tell me why you think Hmiel was the only one that saluted anyone from afar that weekend. And I think you’re mistaking “cowardice” for “common sense.” Like Confucius says: Best not to share your bird with an angry old man when tied to a chair.
DW Perkins
04/08/2005 09:26 AM
Pay attention hmielybug! All those incidents you mentioned, with the exception of referring to Mark Martin as a “baby” were incidents of emotion and aggresion. The key differnece is that they were “face to face” or public, and not “behind the back” Call it common sense if you want, but as a soldier, I can say we refer to it as cowardice. When you wait for someones back to be turned before showing your bird, you obviously are afraid of the person you are flipping.
As for JJ, (the current points leader) he made a mistake, and as I said, Hmiel made a mistake and can be forgiven. It is his behavior after the fact that I find punkish.
As for the fights in the past, they are not disrespectfull of the sport. They were straight up fights. I don’t remember the Allisons or Yarbrough being afraid of each other. I love the emotion and I like the fire. What I see in Hmiel is a lack of maturity and charachter. He could get back in the good graces of many with a public apology. I doubt we will see it, and when he fails to make the grade, and DEI can’t keep sponsors for him, Hmiel will be gone.
Mark Martin a “baby”? You had better re-think that one. He is one of the most respected drivers in the business. He is a favorite of other drivers! You probably have some hidden agenda there and I don’t think you will find many to agree with you on that one.
Richard Irion
04/08/2005 10:13 AM
You thoughts are right on the mark. No one could have said it better. To all you Hmiel fans I say; there will be many more days when we cheer him hitting the wall than there will be days when you cheer him sitting in victory lane.
Very seldom does a selfish hack become a winner!
M. B. Voelker
04/08/2005 10:57 AM
I don’t know how tall Shane Hmiel is, but as you pointed out, this week Bobby Jr. proved to be the bigger man.

Amazing what the simple words, “I messed up,” can do. Bobby Hamilton Jr. didn’t even have to wait most of the week for some scriptwriter to prepare a statement. He walked out of the care center, looked right into a camera, and said it.
04/08/2005 10:59 AM
Well, I think it was a good article. Everyone has had bad days, it’s just how you deal with them that makes you the good guy or the bad guy. And Hmiel is currently on my bad guy list. Anyway, I defintely agreed with the comment about Edwards. He really does remind me of DJ.

-Another CR guy
04/08/2005 01:29 PM
Well guys, we’ve had enough, we give up. Its all a one way street and Hmiel should just be grateful to follow DJ around the track. Maybe it’ll all be cleared when Jarret spins Hmiel, or one after another in the payback line and we can get back to racing. Instead of just focusing on the opinions that some have of what is “really” in the mind of Hmiel and the intentions behind his actions/reactions. Here’s to opinions and reputations. We all have them and either one are rarely the truth. Don’t ya just love Bristol? And if you do, here we go again with Martinsville! Its just kinda anticlimatic to not see DJ and Hmiel meet again so soon. I can just hear his crew chief now: “Step on it Hmiel, that angry old guy is in this race and he said he was gonna get ya!” I’m gone fellahs, I’m sure I’m takin’ up too much room on these pages with my nonsense. See ya on the track. Think of me everytime ya see my boy on the track. Hold your breath every time he gets behind Jarret. Hmiel waited that entire race to show Jarret what he really thought of him, his fans and the sport, but I don’t think he’ll be so patient next time!
04/08/2005 02:02 PM
To hmielybug:
FYI: Jarrett is spelled with two Ts.
04/08/2005 02:11 PM
thanx Dott!
04/08/2005 04:19 PM
As a former flower child of the late sixties and most, no, ALL of the seventies, I can’t help but wonder if Shane is still feeling the lingering effects of his drug of choice or, is he experiencing flashbacks?

Whatever, all I can say is “Groovy and far out!” Hard to find good S hip H igh I n T ransit like that now-a-daze. I reckon Shane is the type to Bogart a joint, rather than pass it over again. Not that that’s a bad thing. Fewer kooties shared that way.

I’m glad you reported what R2-D2, (Bobby Jr.) said after he zigged when he should have zagged. Up until you put pen to paper I thought I had dreamed that. Now, I know it was for real. I’m glad! Little Big Man took the high road and, as a result, I removed him from my Excrement list. Now my Excrement list contains only one name.

Shame on Shane!
A bird in the face—Is worth two in the back.

And he snapped just like a little twig. I think Bob Dylan sang that. Hard to recall.
I DO remember what Aretha Franklin sang though.

Find out what it means to me.
Oh, sock it to me. Sock it to me.

Far Out!

But, I digress…...............

............What I wanted to say was, I enjoyed your article.
04/08/2005 05:07 PM
04/08/2005 06:01 PM
Uh, did this idiot hmiely bug say Hmiel is the reigning Busch Champ? Wow, that stupid statement rates right up there with the most uninformed statements ever.

For the record Hmiel finished 44th in Busch series last year. Not even good enough to make the field.

This article is right on the button. Except for more drivers to hate, because the are what me and my friends call ‘wreckers’:

Anybody named Sauter, especially Johnny

Todd Bodine

Jimmy Spencer

Shane Hmiel

and many others that escape me.

Also fun to rip are the guys who always think its someone else’s fault they didn’t win (like their team, or a faster driver, or….).

Leaders of this category include Rusty and Mike Wallace, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart to name a few.
04/09/2005 06:19 AM
Thank you ALL for reading and responding!
Weather you agree with my opinion or not, remember, we’re here to have fun. It IS just a sport after all. Thanks to all for keeping it ‘clean’.

And stew…I think hmielybug was referring to Truex Jr. getting a penalty for rough driving…..

And Dot!? Is it REALLY you?! You never write me anymore! Been wonderin about you. Hope life is treatin ya good!

Stay off the wall everyone!
04/09/2005 09:00 AM
I didn’t see the incident because I was at work, so I can’t say what I think about the stuff that happened on the track. But what I can say is that Shane Hmiel got caught with his finger up…on tv. That’s disrespectful to any driver as well as to the fans. I don’t care whether they’ve wrecked you or not. He should have taken his frustration, anger, whatever it was away from the tv and talked to DJ like an ADULT. Plain and simple.

Thank you Jeff! Great article!
04/09/2005 05:12 PM
This is one article that I agree with completely. It’s amazing to me that someone can totally share my opinion, I too used to love to hate Kurt, Tony and Spencer, and for the same reasons as you, they don’t bother me anymore. Shane has always annoyed me with his language (if you’ve ever seen NBS 24/7 you will know just what I mean) and his actions in Bristol put the final nail in the coffin, thanks for writing this Jeff.. you made my day.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
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