AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - After covering NASCAR for over 22 years, I get a lot of questions from readers about my favorite driver. Of course NASCAR reporters are supposed to be neutral on that subject but, we all have our favorites.
The majority of reporters are truly neutral when it comes to having a favorite driver from a fan's perspective. When a reporter has favorite drivers, it's normally for other reasons.
Some writers have a go to driver that they reach out to when they needing a quick answer or opinion. Others favor one driver over another because of the quality of content that they provide when answering questions.
In my case, I have had some favorites over the years because they were easy to talk to and treated you as equals and not nosey reporters.
Let me talk about a few of my favorites.
Richard Petty has always been on the top of my list. He understands the importance of media coverage and has always been accommodating to me over the years. I remember in Rockingham that the driver accessibility was unusually limited for some reason that race.
I had been waiting on an interview outside one of the haulers when I heard some rustling behind me that resembled a potato chip bag. I heard a voice say, "looking for someone to talk to?". When I turned around, there was "The King" sitting calmly on a stack of tires. He could have just been quiet or passed behind me without stopping but, that was just the way he was.
Sterling Marlin was one of my most favorite drivers in the garage. He didn't give great interviews or offer deep insight into NASCAR issues. However, he had the best stories of any driver that I have met.
I remember the time that I was standing in his hauler with a few other members. Sterling was telling about the food fight that he started at a local restaurant with Terry Labonte the night before. His favorite memory of the event was when he flipped a spoon of mash potatoes that hit Labonte in the middle of the forehead. You just can't get that type of story anymore.
Finally, my all time favorite driver is Bobby Labonte. He has never turned down an interview and has always given great responses to my questions. However, Bobby is my favorite for another reason.
My daughter was always a big Bobby fan. She had all his hats and jackets when she was little. One day I took her to the Joe Gibbs shop so she could see his car. While there, Bobby came walking through. I rushed my daughter outside to meet him as he entered his helicopter to leave. Fortunately for her, the helicopter didn't start.
While the pilot tried to figure out the problem, Bobby came over and spent some time with my daughter for about a half hour. It was the highlight of her day. That's what a real driver does for his fans and that's why he's my favorite.
There are others but, these are my favorite three. I know they are all old school drivers but, the drivers of today could take a few notes on how to conduct themselves in this politically correct world.