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interview: michael annett digs chick flicks

Michael Annett speaks with the media during NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway on January 15, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images)Michael Annett drives the No. 15 Pilot Travel Centers Toyota Camry for Germain Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. After this Monday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway Michael is ranked 15th in points. With his time in the ARCA series where he racked up two wins, at Talladega and Daytona, he’s proven that he’s an up-and-coming driver that you should keep on your radar for sure.

I spoke to the 23-year-old (he turns 24 in June) former hockey player for the first time last week to chat about what life is like in the Nationwide Series.

I’ll be totally honest with you guys the part of this interview that I LOVE the most is when Michael reveals what his true favorite food is and his affinity for chick flicks. I thought it was really cool that he was willing to admit that fact and I told him so. So ladies, if you’re not already a fan of this guy you will be after you read that. Oh, and did I mention that he’s also adorable?


interview: meet scott lagasse jr.

Scott Lagasse Jr. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)Scott Lagasse Jr. drives the No. 43 Ford Fusion for Baker Curb Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The 29-year-old Florida native is currently 10th in the point standings, one of only three Nationwide Series-only drivers in the top-10. This weekend at Texas Motor Speedway his Ford Fusion will sport the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon in honor of Autism Awareness Month.

I learned about Scott last year and, I’m being completely honest here, I was taken with him because (1) he’s taller than most of the Nationwide Series drivers and (2) he looks like the guy I had a crush on when I was 19. But seriously, he’s a really talented driver that’s risen quickly through to ranks to make his way into the world of NASCAR racing.

I had the opportunity to ask him some questions and he was super nice. Here’s the result!

kyle petty interview: driver marketability and the future of petty enterprises

Driver Kyle Petty speaks to the media to announce the construction of a new Victory Junction camp while his wife Pattie looks on prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV 400 at Kansas Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)Hello! Today has been insane let me tell ya, but the one awesome thing has been writing up this final post of my interview with Kyle Petty. Again, this interview was done last week during Kyle’s promotion of Prostate Cancer Awareness Week.

Me: In regards to Prostate Cancer Awareness, a lot of the readers of my website are women, what’s the most important thing that they can do for their husband or father to help them to go out there and see a doctor about this?

Petty: When had our STAY ON TRACK for Better Prostate Health booth set up at Michigan I was surprised at the amount of women who came through and would bring their husbands, or would say “My father had prostate cancer, it runs in our family and I’m trying to get my brothers to go and I really appreciate you guys speaking up on it.”

I think prostate cancer for so many people and especially guys, guys just are afraid to go be checked. And just like I said before, as my father uses the example of putting together a pit crew for his prostate cancer, I think so many guys will baby their car, change the oil, do everything they can with their car and their lawnmower, and their fishing boat or whatever it may be but they disregard their body.

kyle petty interview: nascar fitness and performing at dale jr.’s concert

Kyle Petty (Getty Images for NASCAR)Here’s more from my interview with Kyle Petty. You should note that we spoke last week and so when he mentions “this week” he’s really talking about last week.

Me: I know that you were on a Fitness TV show talking about your fitness regimen and health being a race car driver. It’s not something that people talk a lot about with NASCAR in terms of being an athlete. So how important is that to a race car driver to be physically fit and healthy and to have strength in the car?

Petty: Incredibly important. I think most people assume that if you play stick and ball sports you’re naturally an athlete, you’re in the best shape that you can be in and that’s the way it is. I think you’ve got to be in shape to drive a car at 180 or 190 miles an hour or to make split second decisions that can almost in some instances be life and death decisions. So when you look at it like that from your mental sharpness to your physical sharpness and that goes hand in hand. You hear so much about exercise and how that stabilizes and what that does to your mental well being and your attitudes, I think exercise is important.

dale jarrett interview: ned jarrett called it

Three-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Jarrett (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)So this the last post in the series dedicated to my interview with Dale Jarrett. It’s my last but probably my favorite because I got to ask him about that awesome Valentine’s Day of 1993 when he won his first Daytona 500 by beating Dale Earnhardt. Ned Jarrett, Dale’s father and a former two-time NASCAR champion, was the racing analyst on duty that day and coached his son home to victory.

It’s one of my all-time favorite NASCAR moments and if you don’t remember check out the video below and then read Dale’s response to my question. So sweet!

dale jarrett interview: nascar rules and the pressure to perform

Former driver and now TV commentator Dale Jarrett chats with driver of the No. 19 Stanley Dodge Elliott Sadler during a Sprint Cup Series practice at Michigan International Speedway earlier this year. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)Me: If you had to pick one rule or change that NASCAR made during your career which one had the biggest impact on your career and on you as a driver?

Jarrett: I think probably the biggest thing that came along as far as a change was whenever they required everyone to wear the HANS device. I look at that as a very positive impact and unfortunately this positive impact came from some negative things that happened. We lost a couple of lives to get to that point, to be able to make that decision and make that happen. To me that’s the best thing that has been done in our sport.

There’s a lot of things that have been changed, a lot of rules, some that would be up for argument whether they were better for the sport or just things that were done from what they felt like was necessity to make changes. The racing back to the caution thing where people could get laps back, that was getting a little bit out of hand and something needed to be done. People will argue they don’t like the idea, that now that it’s changed, that someone gets a free pass to get a lap back but it seems to have all worked out better for the sport.

dale jarrett interview: media coverage and retiring numbers

Dale Jarrett (photo credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)The following is more from my interview with ESPN NASCAR analyst Dale Jarrett, after this there are a couple more posts to come — all good stuff.

Me: Do you think that NASCAR could get bigger in terms of media coverage? It’s huge in its own right, but it still doesn’t quite get the respect, I think, that the NFL does and the NBA. Do you think it could get bigger and that the coverage could expand?

Jarrett: It could expand and it has expanded a lot, but what everyone would need to understand is how different our sport is because we don’t really have home teams. That’s the thing that separates our sport from getting more media coverage is that we don’t have that home team in Los Angeles or New York. The teams are based primarily around the Charlotte/Mooresville area.

dale jarrett interview: talkin’ about joey logano

Dale Jarrett (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)Me: So switching gears a little bit, to Joey Logano. He’s 18 and he’s going to have a full-time Cup ride next year, do you think that’s a case of too much, too soon or is it different for everyone? I mean, do you think there should be an age restriction in racing at the Cup level?

Jarrett: Well, obviously now that there’s the 18-year-old rule to whether it’s the Nationwide or any of the NASCAR events, the Trucks or anything, I think that’s a good thing.

Is it too much, too soon? Well that’s going to be hard to tell, I guess we’re going to have to see. If it’s happened before that an 18-year-old, and I don’t think that it has, has gotten a ride — ya know it’s rare that they get a ride at that age in the Cup Series — but to get a Championship caliber ride that’s what’s so very different this day in time versus things that have happened in the past.

dale jarrett interview: from racer to broadcaster

Dale Jarrett (Photo Credit: ESPN)Okay, so last Tuesday, as if having a great time at the Pepsi 500 in Fontana wasn’t enough, I had the great pleasure of speaking with three-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Jarrett.

It wasn’t just a pleasure, it was a freaking honor to talk to this man. I’ve always liked him and I’ve always respected him as a driver. He’s a legend in NASCAR and if you told me a year ago that I would actually get the chance to talk to him I would have told you that you were crazy, but also that I liked your imagination.

So talking to him was fun and it was great to hear his opinion on the topics I brought up. He isn’t one to be closed up and cocky. He exudes niceness and this sort of regular Joe normalcy that I love. Plus he just talks, ya know? He doesn’t lead you around and give you nothing, he’s real.

So without further hubbub here’s the first of five posts devoted to my interview with the awesome Dale Jarrett.

interview: meeting travis kvapil – part two

Travis Kvapil inside the No. 28 Hitachi Finally, here is part two of my interview with 32-year-old Wisconsin native Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 28 Hitachi Power Tools Ford Fusion for Yates Racing.

I had intended to get this online yesterday but I didn’t get home until late Monday night after driving over 300 miles. Plus Tuesday morning I interviewed retired NASCAR driver and current ESPN racing analyst Dale Jarrett. So when you combine trying to come to terms with the fact that I did indeed speak to THE Dale Jarrett yesterday and the amazing birthday weekend I had at the Auto Club Speedway and the fact that I haven’t been feeling well these past couple of days it has led to me being very late with posting all of this stuff. So bear with me!

I know in part one of this interview I’ve already stated that Travis was super nice but I have to say it again and add that he was honest and forthcoming. I like writing about the Yates Racing guys because I feel like they’re in a very good position to do great things in their careers, their stories are just beginning really, and it’s nice to know that in meeting Travis it didn’t cause me to lose my belief that a win for him and his teammate are just around the corner.

interview: meeting travis kvapil – part one

Travis Kvapil at Pocono earlier this year (photo credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)I had the opportunity to speak with Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 28 Hitachi “Inspire the Next” Ford Fusion, one-on-one before practice and qualifying today at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. I have to add that this is the first time I’ve interviewed a driver in person. The whole morning leading up to it my stomach was in knots and I was so incredibly nervous. In the end though, it went really well.

Travis was really nice and super easy to talk to, definitely a good guy with a realistic understanding of the sport of racing. I should confess that the real reason I’m breaking this interview up into two posts is that I forgot to bring my laptop charger. It never fails; I always forget something when I go on a trip. When I went to Chicagoland I forgot my toothbrush.

And so here’s the first part of my session with Travis. Part two should be posted sometime Tuesday after I get back home. I’ll also have a ton of other posts to share about my Labor Day weekend in general.

interview: chatting with david gilliland – part two

David Gilliland (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images for NASCAR)The following is the second (and final) part of my interview with David Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 DISH Network Ford this weekend at Watkins Glen.

I think you’ll find that what he has to say is truly refreshing. Here is someone who is determined to see his dreams realized and is all about doing the work necessary to make that happen. And frankly I can’t think of a better reason to sponsor the guy.

Oh and as you read this you should know that I am very aware of the fact that I used the word “feel” waaay too much.


Me: How do you feel about Yates Racing as a whole, as an organization? Do you feel like you guys are definitely moving in the right direction in that the base is becoming more and more solid to become a Championship organization?

interview: chatting with david gilliland – part one

David Gilliland (Photo Credit: Mike Doran)What a difference an interview makes.

Today I had the opportunity to speak with NASCAR Sprint Cup and Yates Racing driver David Gilliland. He’s a true class act and a pleasure to talk to, so much so that I’ve decided to break this interview up into two posts. When you listen to him talk about racing you truly get the sense that this is a guy that is dedicated to being the best that he can be and making the most of his career in racing. He also comes across as very realistic and genuine.

In this segment we talked about how he feels about his car for tomorrow’s race at Watkins Glen International plus his thoughts on his chances at landing his first Sprint Cup win this year.

Me: So first let’s talk about Watkins Glen, how do you feel about your car after being in practice today and your chances for tomorrow?

Gilliland: Yeah, I feel like we’re good. We just worked on all race trim stuff obviously because we’re not qualifying or anything like that. So that was the main thing, we just worked on race trim stuff. We’ve got the car to where it feels good and comfortable and consistent on the times. I think we’re starting 26th or 27th tomorrow, so just gotta be there at the end.

Me: How do you feel about going against the so-called road course ringers? I mean, you did really well at Infineon; you had your best finish of the year, and your career in Cup so far, at Infineon, so do you feel like you can give them a run for their money tomorrow?

Gilliland: Yea, I think Infineon, I’ve had some experience there, I’ve raced there before while Watkins Glen I’ve only raced there one time. So it’s definitely a little more challenging for me, Watkins Glen is, but we came a long ways today and I’m definitely much better than I was here last year. I felt good [about the car today]. And a lot of the road course guys they run a lot of the different series that the road course guys race and run Watkins Glen quite a bit so they have a lot of laps on this track. I think that’s definitely an advantage but we’re going to just do our own deal and we feel really good about our race car, it’s the same car we had at Infineon so we’re just going to try and do what we can.

Me: Do you feel like your team is capable of winning this year?

Gilliland: Yes, I do. I think we had a shot last week at Pocono and we ran out of gas, which was a very big disappointment for us, but we had a very fast car, we qualified third, ran well. Infineon I felt like we had a very good car. At Daytona this year we ran very, very well, had a car capable of winning. There have definitely been some cars that have been capable of winning. Our team, we’ve got a lot of new guys and I think that’s where some of the struggle has been this year, but that will come with time. Hopefully we can put everything together and get our first win this year.

Check back tomorrow for more from my interview with David where we cover topics like his connection to Kyle Busch, his Yates Racing teammate Travis Kvapil, and how he feels about his fans.

interview: shedding light on paul menard

Paul Menard (Getty Images for NASCAR)This past week, before the great American tire debacle race at Indianapolis, I had the great opportunity to speak with the driver of the No. 15 Menards Chevrolet, Paul Menard. Paul is in his second full season as a Sprint Cup driver but is in the beginning of his 5th year of driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that this was my very first interview with a driver. Hell, it was my first time talking to a driver longer than just saying “Hi.” So needless to say I was nervous, and I think it went well but there were some hiccups.

After asking my first couple of questions, without incident, I asked if Paul had made up (or talked to, or made peace) with Tony Stewart since the pit road incident they’d shared last year during the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. He just answered “next question.” Yeah, that was awkward. Oh and then later on I asked him, on behalf of all the female fans out there, if he was dating anyone, or had a girlfriend, to which he responded “that’s my business.” Oops. And he was right of course, it is his business, but I wasn’t expecting that.

a nascar wife interview with michelle gilliland

David Gilliland (right) and wife Michelle are all smiles at Daytona International Speedway where Gilliland won the pole for the Daytona 500 in February of 2007. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCARIn June of 2006, David Gilliland stunned the NASCAR nation by winning the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway, becoming one of only two non-Cup drivers to win a Busch (now Nationwide) Series race that year. Gilliland who was just a rookie driver with a part-time deal driving for Clay Andrews Racing was now considering serious opportunities with major NASCAR race teams from owners with last names like Childress, Yates and Roush.

Just a year and half later, Gilliland is driving the No. 38 Ford Fusion for Yates Racing in NASCAR’s top series the Sprint Cup Series. This turn of events changed not only Gilliland’s life but that of his young family that includes wife of 11 years Michelle and their two children, son Todd, age 8 and daughter Taylor, age 5.

Michelle Gilliland is a stay-at-home mom whose feet are firmly planted on the ground. She understands the demands of her husband’s job and tries her best to give her family the love and stability they need. I spoke with Michelle about what it’s like to be a NASCAR wife and how her husband’s success has – and hasn’t – changed their lives. Before I get to that though, I must say that Michelle is totally cool person. She is definitely a woman who understands the reality of this business of NASCAR and it so clear that she adores her kids and her husband.

I’m so glad I got this opportunity to speak to her. If you only read one part of this interview make sure it’s the part where she talks about the day David won the Busch race at Kentucky. The part about her son cheering on his father has got to be the sweetest moment ever!