Sunday, May 04, 2008

M&M's, Pedigree, and Weapons of Mass Disgust, Oh My!

Richmond International Raceway - a race track that inspires drivers to claim it is the penultimate racing experience. Fans claim the same, and I must say I would be included in that claim. I visited RIR 4 years ago, and reminisce fondly on the whole experience.
The fans attending the race on May 3rd received a more exciting show than the value of their tickets implied. This race will compare to the most memorable races in the annals of NASCAR history, only because of the quirkiest of events.

First, Kudos to my favorite driver, David Gilliland! While has extended their agreement with Yates, it is widely speculated that the car decorations are 'gratis' until the next big-time sponsor can be found. "Gratis or not, I am grateful for the logo's and I will be wearing purple and black as long as the FCR pirate hat continues to adorn the quarter panels.David had a marvelous run, starting from the 40's (when will the Yates cars start qualifying better?) and ran as high as 14th. Sadly, he was involved in the lap 230 fiasco that sent several cars to the garage. David's car was one of three that never returned to the track. His team mate, Travis Kvapil, finished 16th, and is now 19th in driver points with David sitting 20th. Not bad for two teams that are sorely underfunded! I am sure there are some big dollar sponsors out there who want some exposure! At any rate, this driver will continue to show the promise that came from his Cinderella-like win in the Busch series a few years ago.

Denny Hamlin certainly appeared to be the class of the field. Every restart had the hometown hero charging away from the pack, and he seemed to be unstoppable. Disaster struck for the 11 team when a tire was going down, and Denny stopped the car on the track, forcing a caution. Parked two laps by NASCAR for the infraction, he would certainly have gone down as many laps, if not more, with a green flag stop or a tire blow-out.

Denny's forced caution set the scene for one of the most talked about events of the last two days. Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were racing side by side, when a 'racing deal' caused Jr. to spin, backing into the outside wall. The anger from the fans was evident in single digit gestures, booing, and the traditional "Jr got dumped" rain of beer cans, aka Weapons of Mass Disgust.

A Sunday afternoon spent browsing the internet shows there are three sharply divided camps on the Jr. vs Kyle subject.

  • Group one is made up mostly of media, and a few fans who 'have no dog in that hunt.' The opinion's seem to agree that a racing deal happened. The members of this group are pretty sure that Kyle did not intend for it to happen, and should not be penalized by the Jr. Nation.
  • Group two is the "I hate Jr and will now love Kyle" faction. Any driver that is involved in a battle with the scion of the man called Senior is automatically moved to the top of their list! They dismiss 17 Cup wins as a fluke in their sureness that Jr. is over-rated.
  • And the third group is the one that will cause this event to never, ever be forgotten. Fans of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will not forgive this one easily. Already nicknamed Vile Kyle on more than one message forum, an arrogant attitude will force this driver to endure boo's and catcalls during driver intros for years in the future.
Many fans are already busy writing a plethora of emails and letters to every media venue available, to Gibbs racing, and are busy creating a hate-mail campaign to Mars, Inc., the sponsor of Kyle Busch. The anger directed to Kyle Busch will overflow to Mars being instructed on the sanity of sponsoring such a controversial driver, with threats to never ever purchase any of the products ever.

Kyle's attitude reared it's head in the Richmond Nationwide race on Friday. A post-race scuffle with Steven Wallace caused Kyle to mouth some pretty self-damning statements. Kyle is showing the world his attitude with statements such as
...he's probably not even driving Ritchie Wauter's Super Late Models anymore either.
We've got a lot of things that go on, but this is just a little piece of the pie. I race in the Sprint Cup Series...
The most amusing quote though, was
"That's Rusty Wallace's kid so I'm not sure you're going to be able to talk to him much and get through his head...
One cannot help but reflect "Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle!"

One also wonders if Mars got more than they expected. With the announced intent to acquire Wrigley, they may well have two of the most despised drivers on the NASCAR series driving cars under their banner. Oh my! Kyle Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya as 'mates! Who would have thought! And oh, by the way....congratulations to Clint Bowyer, the forgotten winner!