....'Cause this is Daytona, not Dodge City.

Long before Kevin Costalot started makin' all those 3 hour westerns, Dodges and Hemis and Pettys were
the marshals that kept the "piece" at this track.  (That piece being, of course, the Harley J. Earl Perpetual blah-di-blah Daytona 500 trophy).  Outside of the 'Mach 5', King Richard's Charger was THE race car of the 60's and 70's.  But once OPEC opined that we owed our Oldsmobiles overpriced oil, (...I am oh, so sorry) Chrysler decided to dodge the big car biz and focused all its constipation on building a reliant little K-car to force(ylinder) down America's throat.  Without a V-8, Dodge could only slap its forehead and slowly race off into the sunset.  By the early 80's, not one swatch of rich, Corinthian leather could be found at Daytona.....Happy trails, Hemi-go!

........Ola, Hemi-go!

There's a new sheriff in town (....and it ain't Reggie Hammond.)  Yesterday, Bill Elliott moseyed into Dodge and tied his new Intrepid to the hitchin' post position..er, pole position for the big race.   With "Cookie" Evernham back in the chuckwagon, Awesome Bill put his "old #9" on the point, giving Dodge it's first pole since....well, since they came up with this horseless carriage idea in the first place.  A Chev-alrous effort by Jerry Nadeau-well landed him 'shotgun', until his Monte Carlo failed inspection and was Dairy Queened.  So Stacy Compton starts second in, you guessed it, a Dodge.

Now, I can understand they've had a whole year of testin' to tweak this thing, but c'mon...Weren't the Dodges slowest at Daytona's test session just a month ago?  Not to mention the lousy tests they put in at Talladega after that. Who are these testers?  And just where do they get the test-ees to go from worst to first in a coupla weeks?

And guess what, Festus?  It just gets worse.  It ain't just a buncha sandbaggin' Interpids that's 'Earpin' me.....It's the Neons too.  The FOX neons.  You remember what they did to NHL hockey, don't you?  Stuck that orange nimbus around the puck so that we, the myopic masses, would be able to follow the puck. (....Still can't see it?  How 'bout a comet-tailed swoosh?)   Well, I'm sure those sly dogs got somethin' like that comin'....Along with the standard bumper cams, lug-nut cams, and the whatever-Jimmy-Spencer-tosses-out-his-window cam.

Add to all this, a geometric monstrosity (Pontiac Aztek) for a pace car/SUV, and a pre-fab boy-band crooning out the anthem......No siree, bobcat-tail.  "Dodge City" just ain't what it used to be.  Wonder if they've gotta racetrack out there in Tombstone?

...Tombstone?..Hmm...Why's that ring a bell?  Seems I just saw tha-(gasp!).....MY PIZZA!!!!!!!!

Damn!  Burnt it....Oh well.  Looks like it's Jeno's Pizza Rolls for this race..

I was gonna wait until next week to start addlepatin' my way through another letter (...Got it from a crossword puzzle in the off-season) but after seein' 'em out on the track for the last few days, I've just been too giddy with excitement and couldn't wait to-(.....Whoa!)  I've just been too excited and couldn't wait to tell you 'bout it.  And hell, with the kinda weekly rates I'm havin' to charge ya'll for this subscription, you deserve all the pre-season coverage I can give.

......Everybody's all paid up, aren't they?  Good.  Here we go.

Lots and lots of big changes over the winter;  New cars, new TV contracts, new rules, new teams, old teams, a garage full of silly-seasoning, and a coupla new tracks....Stuff you'll want to know.  Stuff you'll NEED to know.  Lots of imformant importation that you should be aware of before we "addlepate" any further....But what say we skip all that and get right to the Gunfight, okay?....'scuse me, Shootout?

Kim & Paul - Ya know....You both should get some sort of medal if you can make it through this season.  Mark Martin sports his new Viagra duds this year. (Anyone interested in buyin' my shares of Mark Martin T-Shirts, Inc.?)  And he could very well raise some....eyebrows with a win in today's race.  The #6-shooter is loaded, cocked, and aiming to win this Bud Shootout. (....Actually, it's aiming up more towards the clouds.  Anybody know how long this Viagra stuff lasts?)       Mark - 5th 

Stacy - Jeff Gordon?...Again?....(sigh) You poor child.  Ya probably still like that Macarena song too, don't ya?  He's old news, Stace.  Dump him.  Jeff was a flash in the pan.  It's time to move on to bigger and better men......Oh no, keep Gordon.  I'm talkin' bout your husband, Jeff.       Gordon - 7th

Lori & Tony - Rusty took nines poles last year.  For those of you not knowin' about this Shootout format, it's pretty much for drivers who took a pole position last year.  Rusty won 9.  NINE POLES!!! (.......And it's Martin drivin' the Viagra car....HA!)       Rusty - 2nd
Jeff - Light a shuck, mon frere.  Ain't told me who ya want yet.  And don't be givin' me this "Gordon...And Stewart...And Benson, Sadler, Rudd, and Mayfield."   This year, it's one per....Got that, ya low-down yellow-bellied egg-suckin' dawg......Yikes. This gunfightin' stuff is wearin' off on me.

Dave - .....Dave?...Dave?(....Don't ya hate havin' to deal with Tennessee-pians?)....Dave?  I got some info on Sterling, Dave......(They just sit there)...Dave?....Dave?...(And you end up sounding like HAL 9000.)...Dave?...

Ted - Steve Park gets yet another roommate as some kid named Waltrip has convinced the old roper that Three's Company too.  Who'll win first?  Bet ya some Mardi Gras beads it's Michael.....No cameras this time.  Park - 12th.  And next time you and the Stundance Kid meet up at the saloon, tell him I watched Sterling's qualifyin' effort & I see he missed again.

Pam - OK, Corral-a deVil...I know ya' partial to animals....Hmmm....There's a 'Pedigree' sponsored car out there.  There's a Caterpillar car.......There's a Viagra car.  Pick an animal.

Mollie - Graduation day at the Diesel Drivin' Academy.  Ron Hornaday's a craftsman in the truck series, but trades in his gun rack for a pointier nose and hops into the AJ Foyt teams' 14 Conseco car....Foyt team's 14 Conseco car....Rubber baby buggy bumpers...Cool!  No Shootout for the AJ team, today.  At least not at the track.

Paul Parker - He may have snagged a coupla wins last year, but Dale, Jr. earned hardly enough points to hang onto 2nd in the rookie race.  So Dale, Sr. wanted to bring in a veteran to show him how to be consistent.  Enter Michael Waltrip.....Hey, he's a veteran.....And he's..."consistent."       Earnhardt, Jr. - 8th

Doc - Suspecting that Geoffro Bodine is Boothill-bound, Doc has chosen Home Depot's ungracious little snot, Tony Stewart.  Sidebar:  Doc's named after Dodge City's old doctor from Gunsmoke.  Or was it the dwarf?...or Doc Holliday?......Billie Holiday?  Whichever, Tony sings' the blues this afternoon.      Stewart - 6th

And finally, as I 'luded  to earlier, Michael Waltrip has joined the DEI stable and will drive the #15 NAPA Monte Car-slo....for a while.  I'll give him till Richmond.  I mean, once you put Jack's, Janet's, & Chrissy's minds together, it's only a matter of time.  I just hope Michael's ready for it.  I hope he's ready for the big guns.  I hope he's ready to win like a champion and lose like a gentleman.  I hope he's a role model to other drivers.  I hope he's a role model to kids... I hope..he's..a...rol-.....(?)

.....THE PIZZA ROLLS!!!!!! 

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