Slip of the tongue costs Earnhardt
October 8, 2004
Since everybody else in the world has weighed in on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s inappropriate language in his post-race Talladega interview, I might as well throw in my two cents worth.
When I watched the interview, the first thought that crossed my mind when the “S” word came out of Junior’s mouth was, “Uh-oh. I wonder if NASCAR will do something about this?” I have to give them credit; they applied the same penalty ($10,000 fine, loss of 25 points) to the Crown Prince of NASCAR as they applied to Johnny Sauter and Ron Hornaday for using the same word in the Busch Series.
Although NASCAR has been perceived to cut Junior more slack than others, it could hardly look the other way on this one. Of course, the anti-swearing policy came about due to the Janet Jackson episode at the Super Bowl and the massive overreaction by the FCC and various Washington politicians in its wake. (It IS an election year, after all).
Personally, I think all the spice is being leached out of the formerly flavorful stew that is NASCAR. The series was built on larger-than-life heroes, but the sanctioning body seems determined to turn its drivers into corporate Stepford Wives clones. There’s a certain amount of truth in the Matt Kenseth “robot” commercials (I got it right this time).
Of course, the larger question is what will the loss of 25 points do to the Race for the Chase? Twent-five points is a much bigger number in the new scoring format than it would have been under the old system. That little slip of the lip could materially affect the Nextel Cup Championship and all the honor, glory, and money that accrue to it. And that, my friends, is b.s. (I hope I don’t get fined for that).
NASCAR is also to be commended for its handling of the last-lap crash at Talladega, letting the cars race back to the checker. Since the accident occurred on the last lap, the checker slowed the cars, accomplishing the same thing a yellow would have, and avoiding the potential horror of a green-white-checker restart on a restrictor-plate track. After some pretty bizarre scoring mishaps and strange officiating decisions this season, NASCAR seemed to have its act together at Talladega.
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Earnhardt Jr. was the most visible offender at Talladega, but other penalties were also meted out after the race. The teams of Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne each received $25,000 in fines and the loss of 25 points for unapproved spoiler modifications.
NASCAR late Wednesday announced severe penalties, including points deductions, against two teams for violations discovered at Talladega. Mark Martin’s crew chief was fined $10,000 for an unapproved air directional device and $5,000 for an unapproved windshield mounting. Kenny WallaceaÄôs crew chief drew a $10,000 levy for unapproved spring mounting plates and bolts.
Turning to local news, T.J. Bell of Sparks has moved to stock cars after giving up open-wheel aspirations. Bell, a former kart racer at Desert Park Raceway in Stead and Fuji Park in Carson, got as far as the Toyota Atlantic series, the last stepping-stone to the CART Champ Cars.
Bell finished a strong sixth in Saturday’s ARCA race at Talladega and got lots of air time on the SPEED channel broadcast. Maybe this run will get him noticed by a Busch or Cup team. It would be nice to have a local boy in the big leagues again.
Thunder Bowl Speedway in Mound House will host a Sunday afternoon motorcycle and quad TT-style race on October 24. The summer Saturday night events have proven successful, but with fall in the air, the decision to move to Sunday afternoon was probably a good one.
And local media personality Monty Wolf, most recently heard on local AM station KPTL, was on the Bonneville Salt Flats last week. Monty was working as an extra in a movie about an old New Zealander named Burt Munroe, who ran over 180 miles per hour on a 1924 Indian motorcycle.
The working title for the movie, starring Anthony Hopkins, is “The World’s Fastest Indian.” Monty is an old racer himself, having driven a car called “The Redhead” to a class land speed record in 1978.
Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.