NASCAR

SPEED READING: Old School vs. New NASCAR

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Ryan McGee

 
   
 
Now batting for the Old School All-Stars, No. 23, Nace Mattingly, No. 23
Oh, to be in Chicago over this extended weekend. For a racing and baseball junkie like myself, there may be no more perfect trip.

If a sports fan were able to plan it out just right, he could see the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, spend the weekend at the Chicagoland Speedway for Busch and Winston Cup Series racing, go back to Wrigley Sunday night, then head over to Comiskey Park (U.S. Cellular Field, whatever) on Monday and Tuesday for the Major League Baseball's two-day All-Star bonanza.

If only we could work some football in there somewhere...

Anyway, in the spirit of the mid-summer classic, I have compiled competing NASCAR all-star squads -- Old School and Modern Day. Like next week's teams, we'll break it all down by position, meaning each driver can only be eligible for one position at a time.

And like Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli, there are sure to be some glaring omissions from each team, so feel free to let me know who you think got left out in the cold or who was stuck playing the wrong position.

Position: Short Track Specialist (tracks less than one mile)

Old School Starter: Richard Petty
We all know The King won 200 NASCAR Winston Cup races, but 139 of those victories came on tracks less than a mile in length. He won short track races in the dirt, he won short track races on asphalt, and he won in places you've heard of (15 wins at Martinsville, 13 at Richmond) and in places you haven't (two wins in Malta, N.Y. and one in Harris, N.C.) Ninety-seven of his 126 poles also came on the bullrings.
Reserves: , Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett, Tim Flock, Buck Baker, Junior Johnson, Herb Thomas

Modern Day Starter: Rusty Wallace
Twenty-four of Rusty's 54 career wins have come on a short track, as have 14 of his 36 poles. He's the active leader in both categories and also the active champ in wins at all three current short tracks -- Bristol (nine), Martinsville (six) and Richmond (six).
Reserves: Terry Labonte, Tony Stewart, Jimmy Spencer, Ricky Craven

Position: Superspeedway Specialist (2.5-mile or bigger)

Old School Starter: Dale Earnhardt
"Ironhead" noses out Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Petty due to a late surge over the final three years of his career. Earnhardt liked to complain about restrictor plates, but he really only started winning at Daytona and Talladega after they were put on in 1988. After that, he commenced to winning a record 11 plate races. He also won ten consecutive Twin 125 qualifying races at Daytona and one very big non-plate race -- the 1995 Brickyard 400.
Reserves: Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Fireball Roberts, Davey Allison

Modern Day Starter: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Was there ever any doubt? Four wins in a row at Talladega, the 2001 Pepsi 400 at Daytona, one Bud Shootout, one Twin 125 qualifier and three Busch races. All of that has come in less than four seasons.
Reserves: Bill Elliott, Dale Jarrett, Sterling Marlin, Michael Waltrip

Position: Intermediate Track Specialist (1-mile to 2.5-mile)

Old School Starter: David Pearson
Always regarded as a superspeedway man because of his famous duels with The King, Pearson did the most damage on the middle-of-the-road circuits. Forty-three of his 105 career wins came on tracks such as Darlington (ten), Michigan (nine) and Charlotte (14 poles, four wins).
Reserves: Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Fred Lorenzen
Modern Day Starter: Bobby Labonte
Labonte owns 20 career wins, 17 of which have come on tracks between one and 2.5-miles in length. He owns 1.5-mile Atlanta (five wins, two poles), as well as Michigan and Pocono (three wins each). This season alone, six of his 11 top tens have come on the intermediate tracks.
Reserves: Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman

Position: Road Course Specialist

Old School Starter: Dan Gurney
The former Formula One and Sports Car ace made only 16 Winston Cup starts from 1962 to 1980, winning five races, three poles and picking up ten top-ten finishes. All five wins came on the road course at Riverside, driving for either the Wood Brothers or Holman-Moody.
Reserves: Tim Richmond, Parnelli Jones, Marvin Panch, Marshall Teague Modern Day Starter: Jeff Gordon
This was the closest race of them all, with Gordon edging out Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace. Gordon's road record since 1997 is mind-boggling. He owns four wins and a pole at Watkins Glen, along with three of each at Sonoma. He is NASCAR's all-time road king with one more win than Wallace, Rudd, Bobby Allison and The King.
Reserves: Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin, Ron Fellows, Geoffrey Bodine

Racers That Sound Like Baseball Players But Weren't

Leroy DeShields, who started one race in 1956, is not related to journeyman infielder Delino. Jack Clarke, who made one start in 1954, is not Jack Clark, who hit 340 homers with five different teams.

Other noteworthy baseball names in NASCAR have included Gary Matthews, Bobby Thompson (not Thomson), three Pee Wees (Jones, Wentz and Martin), two Mickeys (Rorer and McGreevey), one Mattingly (Nace), along with Whitey Norman, Bucky Sager, Huck Spaulding, Cy Spencer, Ted Pitcher and Smokey Purser.

Two drivers share names with players enshrined in Cooperstown -- Dizzy Dean and Sam Rice.

Glenn "Fireball" Roberts earned his nickname as a semi-pro pitcher in Florida, and Derrike Cope entertained overtures from the Cubs and Orioles before settling on a full ride to Whitman College as a catcher.


Ryan McGee is the managing editor of and on Fox Sports Net. He can be reached at his e-mail address: rmcgee@foxsports.com.
NASCAR on FSN and SPEED
MONDAY - FRIDAY
  • 6 p.m. local: on Fox Sports Net

  • FRIDAY, JULY 18
  • 1:30 p.m. ET: NASCAR Busch Qualifying on SPEED
  • 3 p.m. ET: NASCAR Winston Cup Qualifying on SPEED

  • SATURDAY, JULY 19
  • 9 p.m. ET: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Racing on SPEED

  • SUNDAY, JULY 20
  • 10 a.m. ET: on Fox Sports Net
  • 10:30 a.m. ET: on Fox Sports Net
  • Busch Beat
    After six months of uncertain futures and last-minute financial wizardry, the bottom line has finally caught up with Todd Bodine and Herzog-Jackson Motorsports.

    Sitting fourth in Busch Series points and only 43 markers out of the lead, Bodine and company will not be going to Chicago this weekend due to lack of sponsorship. Bodine, who has held down the points lead for eight of the season's 18 weeks, is now scrambling to find a ride for this weekend.

    Truck Stop
    Minority diversity update: Bill Lester, who became the first African-American to win a pole in the Craftsman Truck Series earlier this year, is marking another first.

    Next week in Atlanta, Honey Nut Cheerios will unveil a box with Lester's picture. It will be the first time that an African-American stock car driver has been featured on a cereal box... or, for that matter, any national product.

    The Why We Call Richard Petty "The King" Fact of the Week
    As baseball salaries began to escalate in the early 1980's, The King was asked about the main differences between a career on the diamond and a career as a driver.

    "That's easy," he said. "Those cats get paid whether they play, don't play, get hurt, whatever. If we get hurt, we still have to drive because if we don't drive, we don't get paid, and if we don't get paid, we don't eat."

    Totally NASCAR Who's Hot, Who's Not
    Who's Hot: stumbled into July last year, finishing 39th at Infineon and 30th at Daytona. This year, he came away with career bests (14th and sixth) at both tracks. He continues to lead the league in points per race (ppr) with 150 and has completed all but one lap this year.

    Who's Not: has peaked at seventh in points two different times but has been in a bit of free fall since wrecking at Richmond. In the seven races since, he has two top tens and three DNF's, including a 43rd-place run at Daytona. He's now 17th in points.

  • The College World Series experience
    For more McGee on baseball, check out this flashback to last month College World Series

    Memo to Shoeless Joe Jackson and Ray Kinsella: I have been to baseball's heaven. And no, it is not in Iowa. It's directly across the river.

    Each June, the good people of Omaha, Neb., allow themselves to take a 10-day break from worrying about who is going to start at quarterback for the Cornhuskers and enjoy a little hardball. For this, the 56th edition of the College World Series, there is even more excitement than usual. The extra buzz is being generated by this weekend's debut of the new best-of-three championship series format.

    That's great and all, but for a true seamhead I can't imagine that even that long-overdue innovation can top the annual excitement of the opening four-day stanza. Fans that make the trip to Rosenblatt Stadium for the first two days are guaranteed to see all eight teams trotting out all eight staff aces. Days three and four start with eight clubs but end with only six left standing.

    In between is an experience that combines college-football-style tailgating and March Madness-style tournament pressure, all taking place in a minor-league baseball setting over Father's Day weekend.

    God Bless America.

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