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Tom Talks: This isn’t my first rodeo

The 2016 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, from left, Bruton Smith, Terry Labonte, Curtis Turner, Jerry Cook, and Bobby Isaac, is shown during an announcement at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, Wednesday, May 20, 2015.
The 2016 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, from left, Bruton Smith, Terry Labonte, Curtis Turner, Jerry Cook, and Bobby Isaac, is shown during an announcement at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. AP

Welcome to Tom Talks. It’s a sports talk show without microphones. I’d say we’re coming to you live from The Speedway Club. But I left my shirt on the clothesline and they wouldn’t me let in.

Tom, Norman from Rockwell.

There’s a Rockwell, N.C.?

It was established in 1895. I noticed that only one of the five NASCAR Hall of Fame candidates you recommended got in. Way to go.

Only three of the candidates for which Richard Petty voted made it, and he is and always will be the King. Petty says champions should be in. So he voted for Red Byron and Benny Parsons, both former champions. He says Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner, who have not won championships, deserve to be in – but not this year.

I was shocked that Rick Hendrick, who was one of my five, failed to get in. I know that some voters (I don’t have a vote) didn’t consider him because he’s active (Petty among them). But so is Smith, the Speedway Motorsports CEO, and he received more votes than anybody. It’s true that NASCAR CEO Brian France campaigned for Smith. But certainly the voters went into this with their own values and philosophies.

Tom, Mark from Mount Gilead. Don’t you think it was ludicrous to suggest last week that the Charlotte Hornets blow up what they have and start over?

I’ve heard that a lot. Next time I’ll write more slowly. I didn’t say that the Hornets should immediately blow up what they have. But the onus is on them to demonstrate that they are more than a team that perpetually plays for eighth place. I’d like to see the Hornets win. My job is more interesting when they win. Charlotte is more interesting when they win. They have an owner who is willing to spend and a coach who knows how to manage a team and a game. But the Hornets have to offer hope. If they’re in this position a year from now, they have to consider trading assets for draft picks and becoming worse to become better. They have to.

Tom, Kari from Kill Devil Hills. Who are you picking in the Coca Cola 600?

Jeff Gordon.

Aw, look at you trying to pretend you’re nice.

I’m picking Gordon because he’s one of the greatest drivers to sit behind a steering wheel. He can win this.

Mick from Momeyer.

Momeyer must be a great place to be on Mother’s Day.

Why?

OK.

Were you embarrassed that people in your profession complained because Riley Curry, the 2-year-old daughter of Stephen, took over his postgame news conference?

I was disappointed. In their defense, West Coast deadlines are a pain. You’re trying to grab a decent quote and hammer out a story before editors attack.

Editors Attack sounds like a movie.

Yeah, I won’t see you there. I could envision reporters squirming. But if I had been there I hope I would have resorted to a tactic that’s served me well. That’s to step back and remember that before I was a columnist I was a human being. As a human being I would have found Riley hilarious.

Tom, Syl(via) from Rock Hill. Who do you like in the NHL playoffs?

I don’t follow hockey.

You’re a joke.

I’d rather be a joke than a liar.

You should follow every sport. What else don’t you follow?

I don’t follow: Pro wrestling since Ric Flair left; soccer except for the World Cup; collegiate baseball (although I loved going to the College World Series); badminton; arm wrestling; bass fishing (although the sport was pretty cool when it came to Lake Wylie); lacrosse; fencing; and rodeo. You know what’s cool?

What?

If I went to a rodeo, I could say: This is my first rodeo.

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