3—Ryan Newman vs. Rusty Wallace. Wins, poles, and respect—Ryan has it all over Rusty. Except the hair.
--Jeremy Mayfield vs. Rusty Wallace. Hated each other, refused to share equipment, and broke up in the middle of the season. Way to work that charm, Rusty!
IRL Fans vs. Rusty Wallace (in 6 months). Once they realize that a Nascar driver is commenting on IRL.
4—Jeff Gordon on open-wheel racing. Jeff had trouble securing a ride in the old IndyCar series, so he went Cup Racing. Since then, he’s taken the sport to a whole new level, while IndyCar split up, fell apart, and is only starting to rebound. You don’t think they’d stayed together if Jeff Gordon was their marquee driver?
--The brewing Sauter vs. Sauter battle. More surprising because Johnny’s not involved.
--Bobby Hamilton Jr. (Busch Series, circa 2003) on “Cup Drivers”. It was his excuse for everything. Bad wreck? Cup Drivers. Sponsorship woes? Cup Drivers. Blown engine in the Cup race? Cup Drivers.
5—Terry Labonte vs. Dale Earnhardt at Bristol. Sure, Dale won the race. But it was Terry who cemented his position as the Iceman with his classic line: “Dale never means to wreck you.”
Rusty Wallace vs. Jeff Gordon at Bristol. This was when just about everybody (including yours truly) was getting pretty tired of seeing the 24 win every week. True story—my dad, a longtime Rusty hater, considered putting a “Thanks Rusty” sign outside his store after this race.
Ward Burton vs. Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Bristol. Ward literally threatens to shoot Junior with his shotgun. In the NBA, this would’ve been a 60-game suspension, plus a record deal.
6—Curse of the Cubs on Jeff Gordon. Jeff screws up royal on the seventh-inning stretch, and has never been the same since.
--Tony Stewart on Darrell Waltrip. Ol’ DW tried to fool us with his Terry Bradshaw impersonation on TV, but we all remembered what a jerk he was for most of his career. Once Smoke heard DW’s criticisms of him, he fired back, on air, with something to the effect of, “Well, if it wasn’t for the champions provisional, DW would’ve been out of the sport years ago.” Truer words have never been spoken.
--Kyle Petty on Darlington. After another wreck at the track too tough to maim, Kyle got out of his car, and was asked by a pit reporter what he thought of Darlington. His response? "I can't stand this track. I think they should just fill this place up to the retaining wall with water and hold bass fishing tournaments here.”Part III Tomorrow