- Wayne Drehs, ESPN Senior Writer
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Boston native Ben Affleck was all smiles. He was here to drive the pace car for the 46th annual Daytona 500 and had just bumped into Red Sox heroes Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield. Everything seemed right.
Until the question came.
"Ben, your thoughts on A-Rod joining the Yankees?"
Affleck's head fell, his smile disappeared. The ripples of the deal have been felt all the way into NASCAR's garages. Like every other card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation, he was deflated.
"You know, George Steinbrenner is the center of evil in the universe," Affleck said. "There's no question about that."
Affleck then went on to take a more indirect jab at the Yankees.
"Eventually, they might be able to just buy everybody," Affleck said. "Why not?"
Lowe had a bit more of a subdued reaction. The Red Sox pitcher admitted he was disappointed, especially considering that Rodriguez will likely move to third base for the Yankees.
"We had every opportunity to get him -- a number of times -- but we didn't," Lowe said. "And it's even more upsetting to know that he was willing to switch positions and we could have kept Nomar too.
"Everything that I heard, I thought it was going to get done. I thought he was going to play for the Red Sox. All sides seemed to want that to happen. But I guess it wasn't meant to be."
Lowe, who lives in south Florida, has been overwhelmed by his first NASCAR experience. He slept in his car in a hotel parking lot Saturday night after he was unable to obtain a hotel room.
"I called up, figured I'd get a room and the closest thing they had was next to Mickey Mouse," Lowe said. "Stupid me."
At 4 a.m. Sunday morning, Lowe moved his car to a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken parking lot, where he got the last spot. He then headed into the track.
"This doesn't happen in baseball," Lowe said. "It blows that away."
With his offseason vacation about to come to an end, Lowe didn't want to spend much time thinking about the new Yankee lineup. But with names like Jeter, Sheffield, Giambi, Posada, Williams and eventually Rodriguez once the trade is approved, it was difficult to avoid.
"In Texas, no offense to some of their guys, but you could work around him," Lowe said. "You could take your chances with one of the next guys. Now, you can't do that."
Still, he isn't quite ready to concede the American League East quite yet. Lowe noted that the Yankees and Red Sox meet seven times in the first month of the season, a stretch that is sure to set a tone.
"I'll tell you what, this rivalry is at an all-time high," he said. "I don't hate the Yankees. And they don't hate us. But when we step on the field against them, the passion we have to beat them is unlike anything else you can experience. Now it's bumped up another notch."
"But I'm sure they have the same respect for us and some of the changes we made. This rivalry is at an all-time high."
Wayne Drehs is a staff writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.