DEGA NOTES: James plays grand marshal, big guy role to its fullest
by Bran Strickland and Matthew Gruber
Oct 07, 2012 | 5480 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kevin James gives an animated "Start your engines" call for Sunday's Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Kevin James gives an animated "Start your engines" call for Sunday's Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

TALLADEGA --- Many times in television and on the silver screen, one must suspend their connection with reality for the most enjoyment.

Nobody knows that better than actor Kevin James, who served as the grand marshal for Sunday’s Good Sam Road Assistance 500. The disconnection with reality that has followed him through his career was overweight man with an attractive on-screen companion.

James played the role of portly leading man in the sitcom King of Queens; Leah Remini played his wife.

“Ouch, by the way,” James said when the question was posed by an Anniston Star reporter. “I can’t explain it.”

James’ role in the Hollywood equation is not a new one. It has been used in the past in shows like “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, “According to Jim” and even cartoons like “The Simpsons”, “Family Guy” and even all the way back to “The Flintstones.”

While it’s not exactly known where it all started, some think it began with the Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows.

James sticks to the formula with his latest endeavor, “Here Comes the Boom.” By his side is Salma Hayek.

The movie, which opens on Friday, is the story of a high school teacher who turns to mixed martial arts to raise money to save the school’s extra-curricular activities. He called it an “inspirational comedy.”

“We tried to ugly her up,” James said of Hayek, who plays a school nurse. “It didn’t work … if that was my school nurse, I’d be sick every day.”

USUAL END: Kurt Busch made his final start in James Finch’s Phoenix Racing Chevrolet on Sunday at the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500, and as is often the case with the volatile driver, it was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

The No. 51 was strong as usual in restrictor plate races, leading four laps at one point, but Busch ran out of fuel in turn 2 while battling for the lead on lap 98. As Busch dropped back, he was caught by Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray and spun to the bottom of the track, smacking the inside retaining wall.

As safety workers were attempting to tend to Busch’s damaged car, he removed his helmet, and didn’t hear NASCAR’s radioed instructions to stay put. Instead, he sped away – a move which clearly startled safety workers – and drug a worker’s equipment bag with him.  NASCAR immediately ordered Busch to park the car for the day as punishment for leaving the accident without having been cleared.

The disappointing 39th place finish brings an end to the former Cup champion’s relationship with the independently owned team after less than one season. Busch replaced Landon Cassill at Phoenix Racing after parting ways with Penske Racing following last season.

Busch will debut with Furniture Row Racing – his home for 2013 -- this Saturday at Charlotte. Regan Smith, a Cup race winner last year who was dropped from Furniture Row in favor of Busch, is among the candidates to replace him at Phoenix Racing for the balance of 2012.

Smith got the better of Busch on Sunday, posting a season-best fifth place finish despite being collected in the last-lap crash.

Finch has said the team may not return in 2013 unless a major sponsor can be found.



Stewart reels in sponsor: With the announcement that Tony Stewart has found a replacement for departing co-sponsor Office Depot, pieces of the annual Silly Season puzzle continue to fall into place. Stewart will carry Bass Pro Shops as his primary sponsor for 18 races in 2013 alongside returning backer Mobil 1. Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing will now need to find a replacement for Bass Pro Shops on Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 Chevrolet for ‘13. The team hopes that its returning sponsor lineup, which includes McDonald’s and MasterLift, will increase their commitment and purchase the remaining open races, though Bass Pro will stay in a reduced role for select races. The sponsor will also continue as a major backer of Richard Childress Racing’s entries on the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.

 Lame ducks fly high: Matt Kenseth became the fourth driver in the past five years to win the fall race at Talladega Superspeedway in their final restrictor plate race before leaving for another team. Kenseth will leave the No. 17 after 15 years to join Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013.

The others to win on their way out the door were Tony Stewart in 2008, Jamie McMurray in 2009 and Clint Bowyer in 2011.

 Best of the year: Several drivers posted their best finishes of the year in Sunday’s race. They were: David Ragan (fourth); Regan Smith (fifth); Travis Kvapil (eighth) and two-time Cup champ Terry Labonte (16th).


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