Monday, August 21, 2006

Good God, Margaret, They're Booing Junior!

What’s next, Santa Claus getting busted for DUI?

Barbara Bush seen entering a Crack House?

Christina Aguilera quitting showbiz to join the Sisters of Holy Charity?

None of that would be nearly as shocking as hearing Dale Earnhardt, Jr. get booed – BOOED -- by fans at Michigan International Raceway Saturday, after punting Carl Edwards out of the lead within sight of the checkered flag in the NASCAR Busch Series CARFAX 200.

Earnhardt jacked-up the rear of Edwards’ Ford with a lap and a half remaining Saturday, sending Edwards spinning out of contention, and nearly taking third-place runner Robby Gordon with him. Earnhardt took the checkered and yellow flags together, but not until after Edwards had expressed his feelings by parking briefly in Earnhardt's pit stall, then returning to the track to rumple the side of Earnhardt's Chevrolet.

As Earnhardt wheeled his bright red Menards Chevy to Victory Lane, it became apparent that this was not going to be your average Dale Earnhardt, Jr., post-race celebration. Instead of the tidal wave of adoration that usually greets his every move, NASCAR’s favorite son stood in Victory Lane at MIS awash in catcalls, as fans expressed their unhappiness with his late-race tactics. Edwards showed up for a brief chat, as well, and while neither gent appeared inclined to fisticuffs, there was clearly no exchange of dinner invitations, either.

"I didn't mean to spin him out,” said Earnhardt, appearing puzzled by the tsunami of disapproval pouring from the grandstands. “I don't go around wrecking people. I wouldn't have waited two years to get back at him for wrecking me in Atlanta in 2004 pretty much the same way. We got a run off that corner, and Carl just got sideways and he wasn't in the gas. I guess he’s pretty mad at me, but there wasn't much I could do."

Edwards summarized the incident differently, saying simply, "He wrecked me off Turn Two. I just wanted to make sure he knew I was mad that he wrecked me. It's racing."

Of Edwards’ retaliatory sideswipe, Earnhardt said, "I had my hand out the window. He could have taken my hand off. But he didn't. That was just rude."

In the aftermath of Saturday’s race, some have suggested that a sea change may be underway in NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” Derby; with fans beginning to abandon Earnhardt in favor of Edwards’ strapping, square-jawed, six-pack abbed, back-flipping, All-American appeal.

Maybe. But I doubt it.

Remember, they booed Junior’s old man once, after he “rattled Terry Labonte’s cage” on the final lap at Bristol in August of 1999. And while they might have hated `Big E’ for a minute or two, by the time the next Sunday rolled around, he was back atop his perch as the greatest driver ever to strap on a stock car. It’ll be that way for Junior, too.

I must admit, though, that it was interesting to see NASCAR’s Court of Public Opinion hand down such an unexpected verdict, just once.

Kind of makes you wonder what might be next.

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:36 PM

    That was definately a wild finish, and yes I am a Jr. fan but my God people, This is no different than what you saw with Kenseth and Gordon. All the NBC anouncers said that day was "It is racing and the 2nd place runner and the guy in 1st knows what going to happen if he can get to his bumper". You would think Jr. just ate someones first born! The reason it is such a big deal is that Jr. is such a gentleman on the track. Always apologizing if he even touches someone thru his spotter and crew. Carl needs learn how to control his temper and remember how many times he has used his bumper in his career or he will be watching from the cheap seats at a Nextel Cup race, and wished he had just paused and taken a deep breath and realized it is just racing!

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  2. Tony in Elmira, NY8:16 PM

    Hey Dave,

    Listened to you on Monday. Actually, I'm listening now. You said a lot of things right to open the show, but you made poor SuzyQ clam up when she was right. You're convinced Carl didn't check up and you pointed out Robby Gordon's position relative to Carl's as the proof. Thanks for doing that because looking at it over and over again, it's clear to me that Robby was gaining on Carl at that moment. He went from even with the decal on the quarter panel to even with the rear tire. Ain't much, but it does show Carl slowed.

    Hope the booing isn't one more sign of the Apocalypse.

    One more thing. Great interview with Donnie on Friday!

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  3. Lance from PA9:00 AM

    hey jr, in case you forgot, there are three pedals in the car. step on the middle one next time.

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  4. If you can see a replay of Wind Tunnel from Sunday night, then please do it! I just love the love-drunk or just drunk drunk women calling up and scolding the rest of the world for taking Jr. to task for dumping on the next to last lap! It was hysterical! I thought this one woman was going to have an stroke while yelling at Despain and Robin Miller! It's true, tho, isn't it Dave? I remember once on your very own show on Sirius when you guys were ridiculing the Back in the Day show with Jr. and some woman gets on the phone, possibly 3 sheets to the wind, and starts dressing you all down. Like most of these people calling in to defend Jr., she had absolutely NO idea what the heck she was talking about and misconstrued the entire argument. It was hilarious. Sober up, Jr. fans! As Robin said, put down the JD, drink some coffee, take a hot shower, and realize that he just isn't quite on the level of Jesus Christ and the second coming. It's okay, he's human. Most people still like him. We can criticize him when he makes a mistake. Simmer down, Redneck Nation!

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  5. If you have the chance check out Gerry Fraley's column in todays (8/23) Dallas Morning News. I think he sums up what alot of people are thinking about Jr. these days.

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  6. I'll bet that just thrills you

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