Above all other sports, NASCAR drivers are reliant upon their equipment. Right, Eddie?

"Well, if your car is 100 horsepower behind another car or your crew is giving you 18-second pit stops when the leader's getting 11, then no amount of conditioning is going to help you," Gossage admits.

I think that's it. The maximum mechanical element ruins it for me. Fans pass down like heirlooms the family rooting rights based on car companies. Some at Sunday's race will cheer for every driver in a Ford; others will pull in general for Chevy. Me? I just can't justify clapping for cars. And I envision how ridiculous it would be for NFL fans to pick their favorite quarterback—or even team—based on what brand of shoe he/it wears.

So Ricky Bobby was a jock? Please.
So Ricky Bobby was a jock? Please.

Go Nike!?

I remember asking Edwards about his strategy at a past TMS race.

"My team makes my job easy," he explained. "When I turn the key and step on the gas, the car goes fast."

Athlete? Nope.

Feels like the NASCAR craze has peaked. Last weekend in the metroplex, more TV viewers watched Nowitzki get humiliated in Cleveland than Johnson win in Martinsville. Like professional wrestling, poker, women's basketball and those annoyingly smug "reporters" on TMZ, I predict NASCAR's fad is headed toward an exclusive cult following on ESPN4.

Unless...OK, I'll give Gossage one more shot. If—let's pretend for a moment—I agree that NASCAR drivers are indeed athletes, where should I rank them on the 1-10 scale?

"No doubt, 10," he says. "Golfers? Well, I used to ride motorcycles with Davis Love III, and it's an amazing skill. But athletic? About a five. Bowling and darts? Anything where you can drink beer isn't really a sport, is it? Seriously, I'd put our guys up against any elite athletes."

Any? How about soccer players?

"Drivers are a 10," Gossage says, "and soccer players are about a seven. They do a lot of standing around."

Who's the fool now?

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