February 11, 2008
Got a friend who's a football fan? Show ‘em a little love today. It's a long stretch from here to August two-a-days, and at the very moment NASCAR fans are gearing up for their season, football fans are bidding a tearful farewell to theirs.
Now's an ideal time to convert your wayward pal to NASCAR. Think about it--the body's still in the family-dodging, sports-bar-on-Sunday rhythm, and the stomach's still got its protective wing-and-beer calluses. Why waste five months' worth of hard work when they can use those exact same maneuvers to follow NASCAR? And if they don't know a Biffle from a Truex, we've prepared this handy list of drivers to ease them into NASCAR season. After all, it's just as easy to hate Jeff Gordon as the Patriots.
Driver: Jeff Gordon
The skinny: Relentlessly exceptional driver whose tires have more personality than he does. Four-time Winston/Nextel Cup champion, three-time Daytona 500 winner. Well-spoken, polite, handsome--in short, a photo negative of every NASCAR cliché there is.
Most resembles: Tom Brady, also a four-time champi-er, never mind.
Follow him if: You own a closetful of Pats jerseys, none of which is older than 2002
Driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The skinny: One of the few offspring of legends who've done more than just crap on the family name. NASCAR's most recognizable face; he's the kind of good ol' boy that we'd all love to hang with ... until he stole all our girlfriends. Got into an ugly fight with his stepmother over control of his dad's company; unlike in fairy tales, the stepmother won.
Most resembles: Fellow gunslinger/overgrown little kid Brett Favre
Follow him if: You like your rebellion market-tested and neatly packaged.
After the jump, eight more drivers and their NFL equivalents...
Driver: Tony Stewart
The skinny: The most insane professional athlete not currently under indictment. Criticizes everyone from NASCAR to other drivers to his own fans. Will dust you on the track, then punch you in the face on his way back from Victory Lane.
Most resembles: Randy Moss
Follow him if: You're cool with the possibility that your driver might cap off a win by wiping his ass with the checkered flag.
Driver: Jimmie Johnson
The skinny: Reigning Sprint Cup champion and a constant threat; won 10 races last year, including four in a row. In 2006, broke his wrist when he fell off the roof of a moving golf cart. Tends to remain inside his vehicles now. Pictured there at right with Jeff Gordon and a couple other guys.
Most resembles: LaDainian Tomlinson
Follow him if: Dale Jr. and Tony Stewart scare you, but you don't want to get beat up for liking Jeff Gordon.
Driver: Robby Gordon
The skinny: NASCAR's equivalent of a wrestling heel; has a long-standing hate-hate relationship with NASCAR brass. Drives damn near everything in sight, from stock cars to trucks to off-road desert drivers. Once threw his helmet at Michael Waltrip's car--while it was still in the race--when Waltrip spun him.
Most resembles: Terrell Owens
Follow him if: You want to make sure everybody knows you don't give a damn ‘bout no stupid rules.
Driver: Michael Waltrip
The skinny: Declining but still crafty driver who'll knock your ass into the bricks if he can't beat you straight up. Fought with half a dozen fellow drivers over his career. Got hammered at last year's Daytona 500 for using an illegal fuel additive. Apparently keeps a pit crew in his kitchen, if you believe his Domino's commercials.
Most resembles: Ray Lewis, minus the knife
Follow him if: You too have ever had the desire to punch out a fellow driver while he's still belted behind the wheel.
Driver: Mark Martin
The skinny: Crusty old coot who last year pursued the unconventional strategy of taking a lead in Nextel Cup standings, then sitting out races. Finished second in Winston/Nextel Cup standings four times. Could've won the photo-finish Daytona last year if he'd been taking some of that Viagra he pitches.
Most resembles: Oh-so-close Tony Romo
Follow him if: You like the prestige of NASCAR without all that limelight that comes from actually winning a damn race.
Driver: Kevin Harvick
The skinny: Reigning Daytona 500 champ who will let damn near anyone sponsor him. Got into trouble last year when his Shell logo was too large, offending major NASCAR sponsor Sunoco.
Most resembles: Peyton "Cut that meat/Mooo-vers/A minivan, huh?" Manning
Follow him if: You think NASCAR is too sponsor-riddled as you watch Fox while sipping a Budweiser and planning your next trip to Home Depot and AutoZone.
Driver: Kurt Busch
The skinny: Goofy-looking dude who's nonetheless managed huge wins, including a 2004 Cup championship. Fought with several drivers, including Jimmy Spencer and Tony Stewart, yet somehow managed to look less manly as a result.
Most resembles: Eli Manning pre-David Tyree
Follow him if: You too are a dork with dreams of glory.
Driver: Juan Pablo Montoya
The skinny: Absolutely shredded the competition in open-wheel racing before making the jump to NASCAR. Burned pretty much every bridge he could ever cross in open-wheel, then came stateside and won NASCAR's rookie of the year last season.
Most resembles: Reggie Bush
Follow him if: You've got no problem turning over all your friends and business associates every couple years.
So there you have it; feel free to add your own take below. NASCAR kicks off this weekend, and the races won't stop until Thanksgiving. And by then, your football pal will be right back in the thick of the NFL season, and a NASCAR convert to boot. It's flawless.
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