If you grew up watching racing during the early to middle 1990s, you likely remember multiple championship chases involving Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s No. 3 and Rusty Wallace’s No. 2 car. It was hard to go close to many racetracks without seeing t-shirts, hats or flags in favor of the two drivers.
When it came to those two drivers, there was little room for middle ground. You were either cheering for Rusty or Dale. In fact, there was even a parody song made about the rivalry between the two drivers, “The Ballad of Rusty and Dale.”
And even if you had another favorite driver, chances were that you cheering against either the No. 2 or the No. 3 car because of a dislike for them. And fans had plenty of chances to do so. During Earnhardt Sr.’s Cup championship seasons of 1993 and 1994, Wallace finished second and third respectively, coming up short of the title despite leading the series in victories each time.
As the 2013 season closes out, it does so with yet another exciting rivalry being stoked by a down-to-the-wire championship battle between Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski.
“Obviously, it's not going to come easy. But anything worth doing in life shouldn't come easy, and I appreciate the efforts of the people that I'm around to make it happen,” Keselowski said recently. “I appreciate the fact that it's difficult, because it brings out the best in everybody.”
You want a contrast of two drivers? That is exactly what you have with these two drivers. One is a multiple-time champion from NASCAR’s most dominant organization sponsored by a home improvement supply chain. The other continues to enjoy a meteoric rise from a shoestring-budget family race team to being on the cusp of his first NASCAR Sprint Cup title, carrying the banner of a beer company.
Johnson carries the reputation of saying ‘all the right things’ while Keselowski is rarely afraid to say what is on his mind, either during post-race interviews or on Twitter.
As a result, the championship battle has split the NASCAR Nation. Even if fans claim to have a favorite driver who is not currently contending for a championship, they’ve been quick by pick a side between Keselowski or Johnson.
In the midst of that, the two have waged an intense championship race. As expected, they’ve raced one another hard, forcing the other to bring their best to the track and preventing either driver from coasting to the championship.
As fans of racing, we love rivalries. It builds up excitement when two adversaries get near one another late in a race when the checkered flag is at stake.
And who knows was 2013 will bring? We could either see these same two drivers racing one another for a championship or perhaps another rivalry come to the forefront of NASCAR!