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GETTING OFF TRACK
Richard O'Brien
December 23, 2010
ALONG WITH the excitement around the oval, it was a season of words, birds and the occasionally absurd
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December 23, 2010

Getting Off Track

ALONG WITH the excitement around the oval, it was a season of words, birds and the occasionally absurd

TWO (REALLY) BIG WINS FOR JUNIOR

FOR AN episode of his ABC series, Shaq vs., Shaquille O'Neal took on Dale Earnhardt Jr. in two match races at Concord. After lowering his 7' 1", 325-pound body into the car through an opening cut into the roof, O'Neal got a one-lap head start in a five-lap race around the half-mile oval. In front of a throng of Junior fans, Earnhardt ran Shaq down on Turn 4 of the final lap and burst ahead to win. In race two, a 10-lap event, the drivers started even, but Earnhardt was required to make two four-tire pit stops. Again Junior swept past on the final lap to win. So what about those sports fans who say that race drivers aren't athletes? Shaq, who counts Diesel among his nicknames said, "They can kiss my ass."

ROOKIES OF THE YEAR

AT TIMES this season it seemed as if there were almost as many diapers being changed on the Sprint Cup circuit as tires. On Feb. 15 Elliott Sadler became a father for the first time when his wife, Amanda, gave birth to a son, Wyatt. Nine days later Carl Edwards joined Sadler in the first-time-dads club when his wife, Kate, gave birth to a daughter, Anne. Jimmie and Chandra Johnson were next; their first child, a girl named Genevieve Marie, was born on July 7. Twelve days after that, Juan Pablo Montoya and his wife, Connie, welcomed their third child, a daughter, Manuela (above). Finally, Jeff Gordon and wife Ingrid Vandebosch had their second child—Leo Benjamin Gordon—on Aug. 9. Boys and girls, start your engines.

HEADED SOUTH

REMEMBER, IT'S only a cartoon. In the Oct. 6 episode of South Park, Eric Cartman wants to be a NASCAR driver but fears he doesn't have what it takes. "Face it," he cries, "I'm not poor and stupid enough." The show insults just about everyone connected with the sport but drivers took it in stride. Said Danica Patrick, who gets dissed by Cartman in a news conference and later run over by him, "Anytime somebody takes the time to make fun of you is a compliment."

TWIN QUALIFIERS

AT 27 sisters Amber (near left) and Angela Cope made their NASCAR debuts in the Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville on Oct. 23, finishing 26th and 30th, respectively. The nieces of 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope began racing go-karts at age nine and have driven ever since. Their glamorous image draws attention, but the twins insist they are serious racers. "We aim to earn everyone's respect," Angela said, "and look great."

FIT CHOICE

IN JUNE, Carl Edwards, he of the Victory Lane acrobatics and magazine-cover abs, was named to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Edwards—whose fellow council members include sports luminaries such as Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees, NBA All-Stars Grant Hill and Chris Paul and Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan—has taken a characteristically active role, attending meetings and making appearances promoting fitness and healthy eating. He's also urging people to sign up for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award at presidentschallenge.org. "It's Michelle Obama's big initiative," Edwards said. "The idea is to get one million people to sign up." Hey, he's already gotten Brad Keselowski doing flips.

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