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NASCAR fans should listen to their Uncle Bruton (Smith)

An Opinion

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November 6, 2012

By Doug Demmons

Doug Demmons

Bruton Smith doesn’t hold news conferences. He holds court.

Three or four times a year the chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc. will stroll into the media center when NASCAR visits one of SMI’s tracks and he’ll hold forth on what the sport needs to change.

Some of his ideas are straight out of left field -- like mandatory cautions -- and the vast majority are ignored by the folks in Daytona Beach.

But Bruton didn’t make all that money by being stupid and the sport would do well to at least listen to his suggestions.

At Texas Motor Speedway, Smith strolled into the media center and dropped a few notes in NASCAR’s suggestion box.

He’d like to slow the cars down to make things more competitive and encourage contact. And he’d really like to do something about fuel-mileage racing, which he told reporters is “boring, boring, boring.”

But what he’d really like to see are drivers with more personality, shorter tempers and a “mean streak.”

“We need more helmet throwing,” Smith was quoted as saying.

In other words, NASCAR needs to be more like Dodge City than New York City.

Of course, the odds that NASCAR will implement a “Helmets Have At It” rule are somewhere between slim and none. But the sport could certainly use a bit of a personality transplant.

The sport doesn’t need to go back to the days when hotheads went looking for each other after the race armed with a pry bar. But it could use some smack talk, some disrespect, some attitude. It could use a few villains not named Busch.

Fortunately, there are plenty of possibilities currently in the Nationwide and Truck Series, just waiting for a chance to rub someone the wrong way in Cup.

Here are some suggestions:

Todd Bodine -- Anyone nicknamed after a pungent vegetable is bound to spice up the stew. The Onion has no qualms about roughing up someone, but after all, he does race in the Truck Series.

Kenny Wallace -- The Mouth That Roared could use a restrictor plate on his steady stream of comments about any topic whatsoever. But then he wouldn’t be Kenny, or Herm, or the Herminator, or whatever. He didn’t amass a gazillion followers on Twitter by being politically correct.

Nelson Piquet Jr. -- What a great villain he’d make. He’s a former Formula One driver, which already makes him suspect to half of NASCAR Nation. Plus, he waves the flag of his native Brazil when he wins. Do that at Talladega and more than beer cans will come flying out of the grandstands.

Johanna Long -- When Danica gets to Cup next year she is going to need some female competition to keep things interesting since it will be a while before Danica wins a Cup race. Long is the anti-Danica, the girl least likely to strut around in a GoDaddy commercial. She’s all business. Put her in Hendrick equipment and she’d beat Danica to Victory Lane.

Trevor Bayne -- The Daytona 500 winner is the guy you want your daughter to marry. He’s so clean cut he makes Opie Taylor look like a meth dealer. If you ever pick up a newspaper and see that Bayne has been arrested, you will know that the end times are upon us. Squeaky clean might seem to go against the image Bruton is calling for, but every villain needs a Dudley Do-Right. It’s a matter/anti-matter thing.

Johnny Sauter -- The Sprint Cup Series could use more drivers like Brad Keselowski and Sauter is made to order. He’s got swagger. He’s got attitude. He isn’t afraid to not play nice. And he’s got a chip on his shoulder -- which makes him perfect.

Helio Castroneves -- Yes, he’s an IndyCar driver and he’d probably fare no better in the beginning than other open-wheel refugees. But he has too much personality for his own good. This is a guy who once tried to pick a fight with IndyCar’s really large security chief, a guy who went door-to-door with the IRS and put the tax collectors in the wall. Besides, is there anyone in the NASCAR garage that you can imagine seeing on Dancing With The Stars?

Doug Demmons is a writer and editor for the Birmingham News ~ he writes daily and weekly auto racing columns ranging from NASCAR to open wheel to Formula One, local tracks and more... you can read Doug's columns online at ALABAMA MOTORSPORTS

Follow Doug on Twitter: @dougdemmons

You can contact Doug Demmons at .... Birmingham News

You Can Read Other Articles By Doug Demmons

The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.

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