An embarrassing week for NASCAR The Nextel Cup Series could use some time off in order to receive a major image makeover following a couple of ugly incidents over the past week on NASCAR's top racing circuit.
These aren't just a couple of unsightly wrinkles that NASCAR is up against -- they are major cracks that could eventually require surgery.
Outspoken Tony Stewart put a severe dent in NASCAR's credibility at the start of last week when he said the organization's officials threw arbitrary caution flags for debris and manipulated the outcome of races, comparing the sport to professional wrestling.
Then, as Jeff Gordon earned his 77th career victory at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend to pass the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. for career wins, dozens of idiots in the grandstands pelted the racetrack -- and Gordon's car, among others -- with bottles, beer cans and whatever else they could find to heave.
Suddenly, there is little talk about NASCAR's unstoppable train of Fortune 500 companies and what it trumpets as a tremendously loyal fan base of 75 million -- 43 percent of whom NASCAR projects earn more than $50,000 a year in the "fan-friendly sport."
Now, in the wake of the post-race incident in Talladega, Ala., NASCAR fans are again perceived as that drunken redneck in the dirty T-shirt who inevitably appears on re-runs of "Cops" every week in a shouting match with his wife over a missing pack of cigarettes.
NASCAR traveled back in time more than 20 years just as Gordon passed Earnhardt in its record book.
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