The first two lines of Act II, Scene ii of William Shakespeare's famous play Romeo and Juliet have Juliet Capulet ask an age old question:
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet"
In other words, a name itself does not hold much value, but rather the person behind the name.
Nicknames, however, are completely different. They are based, usually, on the driver’s personality, driving style and/or a combination of the two. They truly can define a driver or, at least, the body of his work on the racetrack.
The movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby illustrates the point in more modern terms. In the beginning, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are known as a tandem. They call themselves “Shake ‘N Bake.”
Eventually, Reilly becomes disillusioned with never getting the chance to win and breaks off from his comrade. Almost immediately, he creates a new nickname just for himself: “The Magic Man” (now you see him, now you don’t). Ferrell eventually admits that, yes indeed, this is an “awesome” nickname.
Either way, nicknames in racing are important. Some are very good and imply the advanced talents of the Sprint Cup drivers. Tony “Smoke” Stewart and Ryan “Rocket Man” Newman are among the best today.
Other notables are Jimmie “Superman” Johnson and Matt “Special K” Kenseth.
Unfortunately, some nicknames just miss the mark for either a lack of creativity or an unfair character assumption placed upon the driver.
Some were so bad or misused that they were included on this list. Here are some noteworthy members.
Most of the time, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is just referred to as "Junior." Sometimes, however, analysts, especially Brad Daugherty on ESPN, will refer to him as "June Bug."
It sounds like a little kid's nickname.
Carl Edwards just so happens to be the cousin of NASCAR driver Ken Schrader. That is it. That is the reason for the nickname.
Carl is sometimes referred to as "Concrete Carl," which is a bit better. At least it alludes to a racing surface on which he performs well.
Unfortunately, "Cousin" is much more common. Perhaps if he wins the championship this year, he will get a new and improved nickname.
This nickname is simply just uncreative. It adds one letter to his name and implies he hits the wall often.
He finished the regular season 14th in points, so he could not have hit the wall that much in 2011.
Thankfully, he usually gets called "Dinger," which is fairly uncreative also, but it does have a nice ring to it (pun intended).
It is not a secret how Jeff Gordon's pit crew acquired the "Rainbow Warriors" moniker. Just look at the picture. However, they do not really wear those colors anymore.
This one is simply outdated. Some names just stick around and defy time and current circumstances.
I am not sure what it is about Hendrick Motorsports, but three quarters of their team appear on this short list.
I have heard both of these drivers referred to as "Robot." It is totally unfair. As I mentioned in the opening slide, they both have better, alternate nicknames that are much more fitting ("Special K" and "Superman").
Aside from that, neither are in any way robotic. Neither are the most expressive, outgoing individuals in the sport. However, both are very articulate and do not come off as preprogrammed in any way.
Actually, Matt Kenseth has a very sharp sense of humor. It is subtle and a bit dry at times, but some of his Twitter tweets are especially humorous. Jimmie Johnson may loosen up a bit once he is no longer the reigning champion in 2012.
Joey "Sliced Bread" Logano has acquired a nickname that, in and of itself, is not bad. Unfortunately, it always has to be followed up with "as in, the best thing since." Get it? He is the best thing since sliced bread.
If a nickname has to be explained almost every time it is used, then it is not a great nickname. It also does not help that he only has one win in his Sprint Cup career, and that was won without him even crossing the finish line first.
I am not trying to criticize JoLo (much better nickname), but retiring "Sliced Bread" would not be the worst action to take.
This name makes no sense. There really is nothing magic about New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It is a flat oval with an asphalt and granite surface. It is a mile long, but that is about its only distinguishing trait.
I have yet to determine any other feature or historical event that would point to the enchanted nature of the track.
Perhaps someone felt that, because Dover, "The Monster Mile," had a famous nickname, New Hampshire should as well.