The Winds of Bristol
An opinion by
Gordon Wrex, Special to TEC
Bristol, TN (Aug. 29, 1999)
Well folks, here it is, half past four in the morning. Being an avid
angler, you'd think I'd be out chasing that early morning Rainbow Trout at the local
creek. Wrong. I woke up with words in my head and decided to share them with all my
compadres at The Earnhardt Connection. Maybe I have more writer's blood pulsing through my
veins than I might even think. Beats me, but I do have something to talk about in regard
to Dale and this most recent win at Bristol.
Every season for the past 20 years, I've looked forward to this race.
Bristol is the true race fan's track. It's exciting, edge of your seat, full contact
NASCAR. Every race is filled with excitement and, more often than not, controversy. This
one was definitely no exception. The controversy stemmed from the way Dale Earnhardt won
the race. Well, that's what the media, the drivers, and most fans would contend. I think
it runs much deeper myself. I think it is just for the simple reason that Dale did it.
Allow me to explain where that comes from.
Here we have a driver, not ordinary by any stretch of the imagination.
He's also a household name and a racing icon. His roots connect with the working man and
maybe that is why his fan base is so large. Or maybe it's his trademark, "Take No
Prisoners" style of racing. Either way, this all makes him a very recognizable
figure. A man under the media microscope, to be sure. Everything he does is thoroughly
scrutinized. If he's winning, why is that? If he's not winning, why is that? No other
driver, outside of Jeff Gordon has the demands for answers to these questions put on him
more than Dale. Why? Because he is a complete racing success story. The media feeds off of
it, you feed off of it, and I feed off of it. We all love to hear anything concerning our
Dale. I'm no exception. Are we starting to see where I'm coming from?
Something else to consider is did Dale take this win from Terry
Labonte? I say no. Terry lost control of his ride. Dale didn't hit him as hard as he hit
Dale a half lap earlier. That's my take on it, but then I'm sure this subject will be
slapped back and forth like the 77 car on any given Sunday. Dale did take the win with his
usual style, stating that this wasn't quite what he had in mind. He meant to hit Terry,
but didn't mean to spin him. In the age of a certain media darling, I find this very
refreshing and very missed. He took full credit for the win, but you could see he didn't
want it to play out the way it did. It really wouldn't have mattered. Those that would
like to see him fall would find something to complain about no matter how he did it, the
media would have the thing under their microscope, and you and I would be just as excited.
Speaking as a fan of course.
To be honest with you all, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am the
type that enjoys the controversy and the stirring of the pot that ensues afterwards on web
boards, chat rooms and the local pub. I find this win special for many reasons, but the
one that stands out is that he did it in the style of "The Intimidator". This is
something fans have not seen and have needed for quite some time. Is he on some sort of
roll? Who's to say? We'll all watch and see. Can he get that 8th Championship that has
eluded him so far? Oh yes, the fire is still there.
One side note. As I watched the post race interview with Dale in
winner's circle, something really caught my attention. He interrupted the interview to
honor his love to his wife Theresa with a kiss. I will admit I found this quite poetic,
but I won't admit why that is. You figure it out for yourselves. I also found it
different. Usually the kiss comes first or last, not in the middle. Leave it to Dale.
They'll probably analyze that too. I just did.