Hailie Deegan channels Dale Earnhardt; Bodine nods; Chevy gases Malibu


Well, we’re getting closer.

Incrementalism, they call it.

It’s not much, but it’s… something?

Geoff Bodine, who can’t even be nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, was Grand Marshall in Darlington this weekend. Rather.

For the race on Sunday? No. But for the Saturday downtown parade, it is part of Darlington’s annual ‘Throwback Weekend’. At 75, I guess you don’t dismiss memories, but it would certainly be nice to see him treated as well as so many of his contemporaries.

Bodine won 18 races during his 18 years of full-time racing, including the 1986 Daytona 500, before the occasional whim of plate racing. But before his NASCAR career, he was the Richard Petty of modified racing in the Northeast, and honestly, some NASCAR Hall of Famers are enshrined for little more than such things.

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“How many minor league baseball players are there in Cooperstown?” an knowledgeable Bodine fan recently asked me.

Well, a lot actually, but none of them were committed to what they accomplished before their big league careers.

For whatever reason, Geoff Bodine, like Smokey Yunick, cannot make it past the nominating committee, which is a different group of racing insiders than the final Hall voters.

It would be nice if someone at the north end of the food chain would give these nominations a nod and then let the voters decide.

As for Smokey, he is a well-deserved member of a number of automotive Halls of Fame, although I can see arguments for and against him deserving inclusion in the NASCAR Hall. I could be influenced either way.

But if the abstract argument with Bodine is whether he is as deserving as the weakest link who has already been appointed, that is not even debatable.

A nod to Dale Earnhardt and his… Ford?

I’m not a fan of the so-called “special color scheme” because there are special color schemes every week, dictated by the team sponsor who paid for the right to decorate the Chevy, Ford or Toyota in this particular race.

In the days leading up to the spring throwback at Darlington, you’ll get two or three press releases a day about this or that team’s tribute to a racer of yesteryear. It involves carrying out a somewhat similar color scheme that the driver used during part of his career.

It was cute at first, but it’s over. No lie, I think I saw where an Xfinity team used a Robert Pressley tribute paint scheme. I don’t think Ramo Stott made it. No knock on Pressley by the way… solid guy who did well in the old Busch Series, but never had higher Cup equipment.

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Anyway, where were we…special paint schemes?

Not a big fan, but I found one I liked this weekend: Hailie Deegan’s Dale Earnhardt tribute, and for good reason. She runs the No. 15 in the Xfinity Series, returning to Ironhead’s two years in Bud Moore’s No. 15 Wrangler Ford, complete with a replica yellow and blue paint job.

Of course, there were plenty of haters on “social” media who didn’t like the idea of ​​an Earnhardt tribute on a Ford, given Dale’s long relationship with Chevy.

There aren’t many history majors in the NASCAR bottom docks sometimes.

Besides, during Earnhardt’s formative years, team owner Rod Osterlund loved to trot out an Olds or (gasp!) Buick at Daytona and Talladega.

Chevy stopped the Camaro and is now kicking Malibu to the curb

Earnhardt’s very early NASCAR days also saw him drive a Chevy Malibu, when Cale Yarborough drove one to Victory Lane with stunning regularity. Dave Marcis won a few times in a Malibu in the early ’80s, after the brand went from a muscle car to a Banker’s boxy ride.

Today, the Malibu is becoming a disposable commodity rather than a legacy. General Motors announced this past week that it will no longer make the Malibu, which has evolved from a Chevelle trim to a muscle car, a utility vehicle and a midsize supermarket in its nearly 50 years in Chevy parking lots.

GM had already postponed production of the Camaro until after 2024. It is expected to return soon without a gas tank. In the meantime, the Camaro – or maybe we should say “Camaro” – will remain Chevy’s NASCAR representative, as NASCAR’s constitution allows a brand to remain in the game indefinitely.

However, it will ultimately have to be determined because of the following sentence that may confuse you: the demise of the Malibu makes the Corvette the only Chevy car powered by internal combustion. There’s no question of massaging the Corvette to NASCAR specs, so there’s going to have to be a give – or take.

In a sane world, the next time we see a Camaro, it would be a hybrid, not an EV. Consumer confidence and long-term sanity are slowly shifting from electric cars to hybrids, but the electrification crowd won’t give in without a fight – strangely enough, they never run out of energy.

Reach Ken Willis at [email protected]