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NASCAR never has known what to make of Rafe Vincennes. Their driver ideal was Dale Earnhardt, a hardscrabble son of the south who fought his way to the top, stayed there with bull and brass and balls, then went out in a blaze of glory.
Rafe wouldn't know hardscrabble if it smacked him in the face. His story is familiar to everyone by now. Drop-dead handsome, born to vast wealth, graduating a the top of his class at Princeton, becoming a movie star with a cult following that shoots every film he makes to number one, having a relationship and twins with the most beautiful (and beloved) actress in Hollywood.
Wasn't it just the most breathtaking kind of presumption to now expect NASCAR to be handed to him on a silver platter. But that's exactly what happened - voted Rookie of the Year in his first season, a Sprint Cup champion by his third. In his hands, the Number 13 Chevrolet is more like a scalpel slicing surgically through the field than an intimidating instrument of blunt force.
NASCAR, the sport of conservative social values, expects its heroes to be properly reverential of God, the Family and the Flag. Rafe doesn't even pretend to honor these beliefs. It's a bonus for fans when Rhiannon comes to the track with Rafe and those lucky enough to be in front of the autograph line get two for the price of one. But when she's not there, well, Rafe is flagrantly and unrepentantly unfaithful.
And then, there are all those rumors about his penchant for visiting his own brand of unique retribution on those who wrong him. It's all part of Rafe's Rules of Vengeance, with number one being - "whatever anyone does to me, I do back to them times ten".
So, should fans love Rafe or hate him? Should they cheer him or boo him? Rafe doesn't care one way or the other, he thinks how he lives his life is nobody's business but his.