No major sport has a greater cultural divide between fans and non-fans than stock car racing, a gap that is even more sensitive than usual around the Daytona 500.
Double that if the subject is Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
So when former Newsday sportswriter Tony Kornheiser suggested on ESPN that NASCAR had rigged qualifying to place Earnhardt on the pole 10 years after his father’s death, it was like igniting a blowtorch during a refueling stop.
Take Fox analyst Darrell Waltrip: “Kornheiser needs to learn to keep his mouth shut and people maybe wouldn’t question how smart he is. He just blurted something out that shows how little he knows about this sport.’’
And ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett.: “It wouldn’t matter who said it or what network it might have been on, but it ---- me off that somebody thinks that.’’