Couchie Awards Part 2

The George Steinbrenner Award for a Foolish Roster Change- Is awarded to Joe Gibbs. Gibbs released Mike McLaughlin from the MBNA Busch ride this year despite the fact McLaughlin won a race and finished fourth in the points in 2002. Mike’s replacement was Coy Gibbs, Joe’s son, who had just two top 10 finishes all season and wound up fourteenth in the points, a mere 1424 points out of first place. Kind of gives a whole new meaning to “Dad, can I borrow the car?”, doesn’t it?

The Twilight Zone Award- To turn 11 at Sonoma, the thirteenth turn on the course.

The Bruce Springsteen “Come On Up to the Rising” Award- To Ryan Newman who left Chicago, halfway through the season in sixteenth place in the points, but rallied to rise as high as fourth in the standings. Newman eventually finished sixth in the points after getting planted early in the season finale at Homestead.

The Flight of Icarus Award- To Michael Waltrip who left Chicago, halfway through the season in fifth place in the points, but finished out the year in 15th. Waltrip lost two spots in the final race of the year. The question is, did he fly too close to the sun or too close to Dale’s son?

The Kermit the Frog “It Ain’t Easy Being Green” Award- Jeff Green bounced around between three different teams in 2003, scored just one top 10 finish all season, and wound up 34th in the points. And yet Petty Engineering is so desperate they signed him to a contract for 2004 earning themselves the “Good Help is Hard to Find” award.

The Paul Simon “Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away” Award- To the 4 team which had eight different drivers race, attempt to qualify or test the Kodak car this season and didn’t manage a top 10 finish all season.

The Benny the Human Bomb Award- The Russian judges gave Elliott Sadler more style points for his multi-surface, multi-direction tumble during the second Talladega race but Ryan Newman is this year’s clear winner of the Benny the B award. He started out the season with a nasty roll through the tri-oval grass at Daytona with his Dodge shedding parts the way a dog shaking fresh out of the creek sheds fleas. He managed to include some pyrotechnics while setting off a 27 car wreck early in the first Talladega race and gets style points for launching a tire/wheel assembly clear over the catch fence. And to top it all off at the first Michigan race Newman blew an engine and thoroughly incinerated his Dodge, forcing him to bail out of the car with great speed to avoid injury. If this NASCAR stuff doesn’t work out, there may be a future for Newman in Hollywood as a stunt driver.

The Marx Brothers “Hello, I Must Be Going” Award- To NBC for their “post-race” coverage of the fall Charlotte race which didn’t even include an interview with the winner in their great rush to get off the air on time for the affiliates 11 o’clock News. “Bungling Network Execs Piss off race fans….film at 11!”

The “I Picked a Bad Day to Have A Good Year” Award- To Bill Elliott for his heartbreaking flat tire while leading on the last lap of the season finale race at Homestead.

The “Days Like This I Wish I Was Amish” Award- To Johnny Benson, who found out he was losing his ride by reading a story on Jayski’s page.

The PT Barnum Award For A PR Coup- With rumors circulating concerning his possible retirement Bill Elliott scheduled a press conference and there wasn’t an empty seat in the media center. Elliott used the occasion to announce he was lending his name and likeness to promote a variety of spiced processed pig parts. The thunder you heard across the nation that afternoon was 10,000 media scribes not hollering “Stop the presses.”

The Osoma bin Laden Award For A Treasonous Slip of the Tongue- At the first Martinsville race an announcer cued the fellow who was supposed to say “Gentlemen, start your engines!” with the lead in, “And now for the most infamous words in motorsports.” But the honorary starter just had to improvise and interjected, “Isn’t it great to live in America?” C’mon, dude. Four simple words. How hard is that?

The Corporate Welfare Award- To Roush Racing for using eighteen provisionals to get their four drivers into races this season. Eventual Winston Cup champ Matt Kenseth used seven provisionals and would have missed three of the last four races, and five of the last eight events were it not for a Friday “Mulligan” available to him.

The Dale Earnhardt “First Loser” Award- If second place is first loser, Kurt Busch gets this year’s honors with four second place results in points races and a second at the Winston. Kevin Harvick also had four second place results and gets style points for finishing second in three consecutive races. Hendrick teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson each managed three second place finishes, so those four drivers account for 14 second place finishes in 36 points races run in 2003.

The Coming Apocalypse Award (That Proves South California Doesn’t Deserve a Second Cup date)- Hot Rod magazine, based out of LA and once the official throne room reading material of grease under the fingernails gearheads, recently ran a comparison test between the 2004 Mustang Cobra and the Subaru WRX. And they picked the Subaru as the better car despite the fact it has four doors and picnic table spoiler on the rear deck! They even dared to term it the Hemi Cuda of this decade which is only natural considering HR editor Freiburger could never get his Hemi Super Bee to run worth a lick. Sure, let’s have another Cup race at Fontana next year, with 43 Subaru WRXs competing, each with a Hot Rod magazine staffers lashed to the front bumpers.

That’s it for this year’s edition of the Couchies. We ask you to file out in an orderly fashion through the metal detector at the door. This year those attempting to steal our silverware will be prosecuted. Or prostituted if you’re good looking. For those of you heading to that Grade B awards show at the Waldorf-Hysteria, the direction remain the same. Take 476 South and when you see the I-95 North on ramp, go fast and turn left.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2003

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