Who's Gonna Fill Their Seats?
Author's Note: My articles are based on my thoughts, feelings and observations only. I normally do not offer statistics.
Many years ago George Jones sang a song called "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes". That song has stayed with me and at one time I discussed it with another race fan and how the verses could be applied and used for racing. I still often wonder about who and how someone will fill the shoes/seats of some of the best drivers and racers in NASCAR. I would like to suggest and offer a short list of comparisons. Keep in mind these are my feelings and everyone may not feel the same about my choices.
Richard Petty aka The King
During his last few years of racing and since his retirement, there have been many competitors who can be sort of compared to him. My choice for filling his seat, without offering any numerical statistics for comparison would be Jeff Gordon. Jeff was consistent, very professional; aggressive when he needed to be and smooth when that was called for on the track. He kept very calm under most circumstances and always appeared to be the dedicated consummate racer. Jeff became known as The Golden Boy. But...many years ago there was a driver who was known as NASCAR's Golden Boy. That was Fred Lorenzen.
Fred Lorenzen aka NASCAR's original Golden Boy
Fred came into NASCAR as a smooth, clean cut race competitor and had a very calm demeanor. He did not look as rugged as some of the others competing at the time. He was quiet and unassuming but had a desire to win and win he did. In 1963, Fred was the first driver to top the $100,000 mark in winnings in one season and won many NASCAR races. He was not one of the Good Old Boys from the South so there was a lot of mixed feelings about him competing in "their" sport. I had the pleasure of watching him race at Daytona. He was accepted by most fans who did not mind seeing really good competition regardless of where the driver was from. The driver I feel best fills his race seat is Matt Kenseth. Matt is quiet and unassuming and stands his ground, but not in a brash or overly aggressive way - except for maybe once - or twice.
Darrell Waltrip aka Jaws and “The Mouth”
Darrell came upon the scene as a racer intent on winning and getting what recognition he felt was due only him. A lot of people thought he had a cocky attitude and that he used his mouth and voice to assure himself that they knew he was the only one and the best. He wanted all of the attention. He drove for one of the best innovators that took advantage of crossing the gray line of the rules and DW knew this and went along with it. Darrell was a racer, no doubt about that. He had a way of making sure that others knew that also. That is why so many people called him Jaws. In my opinion, the person I feel who has currently replaced him in his race seat is Kyle Busch. Although there have been times when Kyle does not give proper interviews, he has a lot of the same traits as DW. He is cocky and brags when he wins. He says what he thinks most of the time and he races with aggression when needed. He races for Toyota and Toyota is well known for its innovation in taking advantage of the rules.
Dale Earnhardt aka The Intimidator - among other very well-known pet or special names.
At this point, I feel there has been no one and never will be anyone who can fill Dale's race seat. Others may have opinions or ideas about someone and I hope to see responses debating this one. I am sure someone does have opinions as to whether his seat can be filled. Please don't forget, he could see the air.
Please keep in mind, these are strictly my opinions only and you may agree or disagree. I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings on this subject. Please feel free to comment below or email me. Thank you.
Following in Mama's footsteps, time to enjoy some music!