this week in nascar

by Monte Dutton

I’ve beenaround (“round,round, get around,I get around”).Officially.On a recentSaturday night,the NationalMotorsportsPress Associationinducted four intoits Hall of Fame, and I know every one ofthem. In the past, there were always thehomages to antiquity, the long-overdueelections of heretofore overlooked icons.Now that Roger Penske, Jack Roush,Rusty Wallace and Robert Yates havejoined the NMPA Hall, I guess it givesme some standing in the antiquity category,too.I don’t have much in the way ofoutlandish anecdotes to pass along inregard to Penske. Alone of the four, myinteraction with Roger has always beensomewhat formal. I like him. I admirehim. But that’s no fun.Roush? When his name comes up, Ioften think of the Busch brothers, bothof whom began racing within his vastdomain and both of whom were “vocabularicallyaffected” by the verbose Roush,who has seldom seen a word of morethan three syllables that he didn’t adopt.The Busch brothers, particularly whenthey were younger, were so impressedby Roush’s “big words” that they tried toemulate him, or that’s always been mytheory.The difference, of course, is that Jacktends to know what those words mean,and neither Kurt nor Kyle generally does.Kurt’s linguistic offenses would rank himsomewhere close to Norm Crosby or BoDietl, as he has been known to “circumferencethe track” and be proud of “howwe’ve been able to solidify the solidity ofour team.” Kyle? Less so, but he has alsocontributed to mild unrest in the tomb ofNoah Webster.Rusty Wallace? The Emperor of Exaggeration. He’s always been a walking,talking racing story in need of fact checking.Rusty doesn’t intentionally stretchthe truth; he just thinks optimistically.The press conference had barely startedwhen Rusty matter-of-factly said he hadbeen in Canada four hours earlier. Prettyfast plane. Possible — but when onefactors in all the time needed before andafter one actually climbs into the plane,even a private plane — unlikely. By theway, I’m fairly sure someone could’vemade a killing in Vegas betting on Rustygiving the evening’s shortest speech.That was a bigger upset than AppalachianState over Michigan.The longest speech was Jeff Hammond’sname-dropping introduction ofRoush, for whom he once worked for, oh,10 minutes or so. I have no idea how thatidea transpired.Penske was all grace and humility.Roush and Yates rambled. Rusty wasprobably the MVP of the evening.Yates requires special attention.Through 2007, when he turned over hisrace team to son Doug, Yates alwaysseemed to be in sync with signals fromouter space. Robert is obviously immenselyintelligent, so much so that ofttimes guys like me just have no idea whathe is talking about. Below are a couple“Yatesisms” from 2005.“So we’ve really, through the years,have cowboyed our teams with that, andcertainly it’s turned into an engineeringmodel anymore.”He also said of rival car owner Roush’steams that they “try to get the beach downevery street available, and whoever getsthere quickest, they can all jump on that.”Yates has never been as uproariouslynutty as Kurt Busch (“We have heavyhearts in the backs of our minds.”). Hespecializes in sentences that are, to thenon-brilliant-mad-scientist set, indecipherable.Which, of course, is why I always enjoyedlistening to him over the years. I’min it for the humor most of the time.Monte Dutton has covered motorsportsfor The Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993.He was named writer of the year by theNational Motorsports Press Associationin 2008. His blog NASCAR ThisWeek ( features allof his reporting on racing, roots musicand life on the road. E-mail Monte (c) 2010King Features Syndicate