First Peek At 2001

Happy New Year… y’all.

Rather than spendin’ my time doin’ a year in review – which is a nice way of takin’ a week off and just rehashin’ stuff you already know or saw – I figured I’d look forward and let y’all know what you’re about to see in 2001.

Most folks don’t know that NASCAR is scripted – did ya see them speeches they made the drivers read at the banquet? – or that ol’ Bubba is actually big-shot enough now to get his hands on one of them scripts.

So, without further doo doo (I think that’s French for waitin’), here’s the 2001 season in a nutshell (meanin’ only a few highlights from each month).

January….
* -
The Media Tour in Charlotte kicks off and half of the drivers on the circuit say they expect a top-10 finish in points this season.
* - Fords, GMs and Dodges all test down in Daytona, and the other half of the drivers on the circuit say they expect a top-10 finish in points this season.
* - One driver – Hut Stricklin – ends the month by admitting his Junie Donlavey-owned team is gonna really stink up the joint, and he’s immediately fired by the sponsor. Rich Bickle takes over driving duties for the No. 90.

February….
* -
“The Budweiser Shootout,” formerly known as the “Bud Shootout,” changes its name again. It’s now the “Reporters Will Print Anything We Put A Release Out On If We Give Them A Free Lunch Bud Lizards Shootout.” The name change is reported in 300 papers nationwide, along with the phone number for tickets.
* -
The truck series returns to Daytona for a second time and only four drivers need to be taken to a nearby hospital for observation.
* -
Saying, “It’s to honor our loyal fans,” the powers that be at Daytona slash ticket prices for the Daytona 500 by 10 cents just 45 minutes after the race begins.
* -
Mark Martin leads the Daytona 500 until the final pit stop – the hood wouldn’t go down on his Viagra car – leaving the door open for Johnny Benson to earn his first Winston Cup win.
* -
A fight ensues when Martin and Jack Roush sneak into victory lane and begin begging for Valvoline to return to their car.

March….
* -
Any media members that reported on the injuries at Daytona, the fight in victory lane or who didn’t print the NASCAR RE/MAX Challenge Super Dooper Series Circuit Cup schedule in its entirety are not given credentials for the Cup race at Las Vegas.
* -
Jeff Gordon realizes a car nicknamed “Flamer” isn’t such a good thing, and switches back to the rainbow scheme.
* -
Junie Donlavey takes Rich Bickle out of his car and replaces him with Derrike Cope.
* -
Tony Stewart tells the press he thinks fans shouldn’t be allowed to yell so loud during races. A week later at Darlington, the Fan Gag Rule is made law by NASCAR.

April….
* -
NBC, upset that there isn’t enough screen to fit in the name of the next race – the Clevite/Coca-Cola/DuPont/Featherlite/True Value/Goody’s Headache Powders/Goodyear/Lowe’s/McDonalds/Raybestos/Outback Steakhouse/Gatorade/Circuit City 400, sponsored by NAPA – complains to NASCAR’s new President/Chief Operating Officer/Executive Chairman/Managing Partner/Rear Admiral/Grand Pooh Bah/and All-Around Nice Guy Mike Helton. Helton doesn’t see the problem, but agrees to meet with Bill France to find out if anything will be changed.
* -
Robert Pressley is caught up in someone else’s wreck for the ninth-straight week and changes his sponsor from Jasper to Band-Aids.
* -
Defending champion Bobby Labonte finishes 25th or worst for the 10th-straight race and realizes following in his brother’s footsteps might not be as great as it first appeared.
* -
Junie Donlavey replaces Derrike Cope with Morgan Shepherd.

May…
* -
Michael Waltrip comes within 19 positions of winning his first race and feels now might be the time for a Yates, Gibbs or Hendrick to come knocking on his door.
* -
A Dodge driver wins for the 11th-straight week, but top-secret wind-tunnel testing apparently shows they don’t have any advantage over the other makes.
* -
Geoff, Brett and Todd Bodine all qualify for the Coca-Cola 600. They finish a respectable 40th, 41st and 42nd. Morgan Shepherd finishes 43rd, and Junie Donlavey announces Ed Berrier will be in the car next week.

June….
* -
Knowing everyone will soon be writing about the deaths of two drivers last year at New Hampshire, a Featherlite racing hauler is dropped on a soft wall to prove it could withstand the force of a race car. NASCAR determines it could work, but costs too much at this time. Maybe next year.
* -
Southerner Ward Burton – who realizes his crew chief from New England hasn’t understood a word he’s said over the radio in three years - runs at Pocono without a headset. He wins for the first time in five years.
* -
Kyle Petty laps the field at Dover and gets a standing ovation from the world when he climbs from his car.
* -
Jack Sprague clinches the truck series title and Jeff Green clinches the Busch Series title with only five months remaining in the season.

July….
* -
For the 12th time this season, a yellow flag is dropped for debris as Dale Earnhardt is about to get lapped. He goes on to pass 29 cars in the final turn to win at Daytona.
* -
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth decide to sit out the race at Chicagoland Speedway in protest over the press calling them “Super Sophs” more than 300,000 times… so far.
* -
Jeff Burton again wins the restrictor-plate race at New Hampshire after leading every lap. The race runs an incredible 43 laps over the scheduled distance as every fan and official had fallen asleep at about the midway point. The drivers kept working until the wind blew the checkered flag off the stand.
* -
Junie Donlavey fires Ed Berrier and names Gary Bradberry as his new driver.

August….
* -
A.J. Foyt jumps in his car to compete in the Brickyard 400 at Indy and finishes second. His points are taken away, though, for heading into victory lane and smacking the winner.
* -
Despite making every race so far, Wally Dallenbach’s name is mentioned on a television broadcast for the first time this season.
* -
Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart get into a shoving match after the road-course event at Watkins Glen. Both are taken to the infield care center for nasty scratches and sore hair.
* -
Gary Bradberry is released by Junie Donlavey and Dick Trickle is hired to drive.

September….
* -
Goodyear announces it will be using its 30th new tire compound of the season. Every driver and NASCAR official applauds them.
* -
Heading into their 14th-straight week of racing, 100 exhausted and newly-divorced crew members walk out on the sport.
* -
Mike Skinner is replaced by Kevin Harvick in the No. 31 and immediately hired by Junie Donlavey to replace Dick Trickle.
* -
Jeff Gordon announces he’ll be sporting the new “Fight With Tony Stewart” paint scheme at Charlotte next month. Die-casts are already available for $64.95.

October….
* -
Junie Donlavey substitutes Hut Stricklin, Rich Bickle, Gary Bradberry, Morgan Shepherd, Steve Grissom, Dick Trickle, Andy Hillenburg, Billy Standridge, David Green, Mike Skinner and Bobby Hillin in and out of his car and wins at Martinsville.
* -
Dale Jarrett grows his mustache again, and promptly ends his losing streak.
* -
Finally tired of seeing his No. 43 getting wrecked or lapped week-in and week-out, Richard Petty jumps into the car and wins at Phoenix. President George W. Bush just happened to be attending the race.

November….
* -
Rusty Wallace wins his 27th-straight pole of the season, but ends the year 10th in points.
* -
Dave Marcis ends his Farewell Tour by failing to qualify for a record 22 races.
* -
Ricky Rudd, despite not winning a single race or winning a single pole, runs away with the points title because he was able to finish sixth on more occasions than anyone else.

December….
* -
Bill Elliott gets 26 votes (something like 80 percent of the votes tallied) and wins Most Popular Driver for the 35th-straight year.
* -
The 2002 Winston cup schedule is announced. There will be 65 races – all at 1.5-mile tri-ovals soon to be constructed all across this country and in Mexico by ISC – and can be seen on pay-per-view (only $150 a household) by fans who agree to buy a minimum of 25 die-cast cars and promise to never ask anyone for an autograph.
* -
Junie Donlavey announces David Pearson will make a comeback and drive his car for the 2002 season.

Wanna know the scary part folks? A bunch of this stuff will actually happen.

I’ll talk at y’all next week… I reckon.
Burrhead

I shore do like talkin’ with y’all, so please send any questions or comments ya have about racin’ or my columns to BubbaBurr@AOL.com. I promise to answer’m all.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001

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