Have you noticed that NASCAR drivers rarely get in trouble? In the wake of Josh Hancock’s tragedy, I’ve reminded myself that we rarely, if ever, hear about NASCAR drivers being arrested for unlawful conduct. Are they simply more disciplined in character than other athletes? Or, do they fear reprisal from the very people who write the check?
Perhaps, it’s a combination of these factors, coupled with a distinguishable decorum accustomed of the sport’s participants. I’ve written about NASCAR’S skyrocketing popularity …. it really is a phenomenon. You don’t think this happened by accident, do you? These “hillbillies” didn’t just get lucky; they’re smarter than many think.
NASCAR has been careful to diversify itself, leaving the southern rooted reputation in the rear view mirror. They appeal to all cultures and refrain from anything that would stereotype the sport or it’s participants. They’re also swift and deliberate when dealing with punishment. Do you recall a couple mechanics caught cheating with fuel additives at Daytona – nearly 3 months ago? They’re still suspended …. indefinitely.
Think about it …. even Tank Johnson knows how long he’s in NFL purgatory. Look, the primary reason Tony Stewart doesn’t take part in a “shoot ‘em up” at a strip club when NASCAR visits Las Vegas, is because it’s not in his personal makeup or character. However, a mitigating reason is that the BIG name on the front of his uniform …… yeah, Home Depot, would cut bait real quick. NASCAR drivers and strip clubs – you won’t see it.
In a sport that is 100% reliant on sponsorship, there is no wiggle room for conduct that embarrasses those footing the bill. If Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets caught driving while under the influence, Budweiser is gonna be real upset. In fact, they’d probably cut ties with the sport’s most popular driver. It’s really that serious in this sport.
Here’s the deal …. If you think NASCAR drivers spend their off days at home in a “double wide” while sipping on corn liquor and eating pork rinds …. you’re wrong. There’s nothing wrong with pork rinds !!!! But, these guys are living lives many of us cannot fathom. They’re stinking rich …. and not “Ricky Bobby” rich.
Jeff Gordon lives in Manhattan …. and his neighbor is Sean “P Diddy” Combs. He’s married to a Belgian model and maintains a close personal friendship with Tiger Woods. I wouldn’t necessarily consider him the next coming of Jed Clampett. The same can be said for the rest of the drivers …. they live and walk in different circles, but they stay out of trouble.
So, the next time you hear about a NASCAR driver getting arrested, light me up. It’ll be awhile. As for today and tonight …. bet on “Hardspun” and the Belgian model’s husband.