Thursday was decidedly less cab filled than Wednesday. I walked next door to the Bellagio for the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon. My table, number 31 (my fave number because it’s my birthday), was the designated NASCAR Citizen Journalists Media Corps table. We were a couple tables behind the Joe Gibbs Racing table where JD Gibbs and Kyle Busch were seated.
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I woke up ridiculously early Wednesday morning to catch my 6am flight to Las Vegas. I received media credentials to attend the 2011 Motorsports Marketing Forum presented by Sports Business Journal/Daily. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get see the entire program for that day, but I wanted to get in as much as possible.
And he kept fighting ’til the end!
What a race. The Ford 400 was pretty ah-mazing considering there wasn’t serious wreckage. It was all about Tony Stewart driving it like he freaking stole it to the win. Not only winning the race but his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. I’ve never seen anything like that, and it makes me wish we could have a race that looked like that one every weekend. I dunno but Tony certainly put on a show, his restarts were pitch perfect.
I’m oh so very happy for the Office Depot team, and I’m not just talking about the pit crew and Tony, I mean the PR peeps from Office Depot. They’re genuinely some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and have been so good to me over the past few years. All of my awesome moments & interviews with Tony have been because of them and I am so grateful. They totally deserved this win and I can’t wait to see ‘em all in Las Vegas!
Hats off to Carl Edwards for being his usual classy self. I know losing this Championship had to hurt, but he’s gotta be proud in knowing that he’s an elite driver in NASCAR. He’s come so far in following his dream, and like the awesome song “It’s Amazing” by Jem says, “Nothing can compare to deserving your dreams.”
Obviously Tony winning the Championship means that Jimmie Johnson didn’t, and of course leading up to Sunday’s race everybody was talking about how amazing Jimmie’s 5-peat was, and it is, but the thing that annoys the hell out of me is when people say that no one will ever be able to do that again. I just don’t like it when people rule things out. It’s possible. Anything’s possible. It’s also ridiculous to say that Jimmie will never win another Championship (insane that anyone even thought that). I feel like people say stuff just to say things because they have to fill in air time. Whatever.
And to all the douchebags that booed First Lady Michelle Obama you should be ashamed of yourselves. Regardless of your political beliefs she and Dr. Jill Biden were there in support of our troops and their families, show some respect. Idiots.
Anyway… I’m just going to put this out there: I really think that Tony winning this year’s Hottest Driver Tournament was a good omen for him. I might be slightly biased in that opinion, though. The 2012 Hottest NASCAR Driver Tournament will begin right after New Year’s on January 2, 2012. So stay tuned!
Up next… Champion’s Week in Las Vegas!
Sunday morning I got up super early so that I could get to Starbucks (a ‘real’ one that I scouted the night before) and beat any race day traffic that might rear it’s ugly head. I was delighted to find that there was no such traffic to fight and I even had time to take a couple pictures of the road I was on so you guys could see what I saw every morning. I did see a dead dear on the side of the road but I didn’t take a picture of that because it was sad (and gross).
Saturday morning, with my iPod blasting The Civil Wars (don’t get me started, their song “To Whom It May Concern” perfectly explains the state of my love life right now), I headed to the track. Well, I should say that I was headed to Starbucks. Now here’s the weird thing about that area around Kansas Speedway which has everything from a full on mall to Target, Hooters, a movie theater, Chipotle, Red Lobster, the LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, a baseball field, and a bunch of other restaurants — there’s no standalone Starbucks. The only Starbucks is tucked inside Target and we all know that the Starbucks inside of any other store is not a REAL Starbucks. If I can’t use my Starbucks card there it’s not a real Starbucks.
‘Cause he won the race, you guys. I don’t miss playing Red Rover in elementary school, although Steal The Bacon was my absolute LEAST favorite game. I’m more of a Hopscotch/4 Square girl, no annoying boys yelling at you if you do something “wrong.”
Anyway, Kurt Busch’s win of the AAA 400 at Dover International Raceway was one big piece in the changed up Chase standings. I love that everything is still up in the air and we have no idea who will ultimately walk away with this year’s trophy. I hope Brad Keseolowski is right, he posted the following tweet last night:
After today’s race. It’s obvious the chase winner will be decided on the last lap at homestead. Every one is so close.
Did you see all of the babies on pit road during the pre-race coverage on ESPN? Adorableness times a million.
The best quote of the day (in my opinion) came from Jimmie Johnson. I like Sassy Jimmie
Q. You both (Carl Edwards) talked about essentially mistakes that you made today that prevented you from winning. How do you get over that? How long does that take? What’s that process in moving forward?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: If I was Carl, I wouldn’t get over that mistake.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I maybe wouldn’t show up next week.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: (Laughing). Not sure we answered your question.
“Who’s That Girl?,” starring one of my heroes, Madonna, stuck in their brain. Louden was the uptight husband, that needed to loosen up, of the insanely rich chick in the movie that Madonna’s bad girl, Nikki, (but she’s really nice) character ends up with. Anyway, they said his name about a million times, so I guess it makes sense that I’d remember it. Loudon, New Hampshire is where New Hampshire Motor Speedway is located and it was the home of the 2nd race in the The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the Sylvania 300, on Sunday.
Tony Stewart claimed the first win in The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup yesterday. I have to say that was a pretty satisfying race. I’m not going to lie I watched it from home and kind of dozed off halfway through it but the ending was great. I, mean, hello, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 4th. How can you not love that? Now the points standings are all jumbled up and it makes going to New Hampshire this week all the more thrilling. I feel like I’ve mentioned this a ton already (on Twitter for sure) but I’ll be at New Hampshire this week, I leave on Thursday, and I’m beyond excited. It’s so early on in The Chase and the Championship is still up on the air, I can’t wait to get there and see what happens next. Although, I’ve been checking the weather forecast and there’s supposed to be rain on Saturday but not on Sunday. So let’s hope it stays that way.
During the rain delay coverage on Sunday I left the house to do something and I was listening to Claire B. Lang on SiriusXM’s NASCAR channel. She mentioned how people had been asking her what was going to happen in The Chase, who was going to win, etc. I wondered why people do that? Like, what’s the point? Have you ever watched the Super Bowl and thought “I’m SO glad I knew that the Packers were going to win because Terry Bradshaw said so.” No one EVER thinks that. (I have no idea what Terry Bradshaw’s actual prediction was, it’s just an example) So why should I say that I think this person or that person is going to win? I’m not psychic and I don’t want to be. I like not knowing and watching it unfold. Of course there are people that I’d rather see win than other people but that’s a given. Maybe it’s just because I don’t like counting people out because people constantly count me out and I don’t like that.
In other news…
Regarding the Camping World Truck Series race:
– How do you feel about Austin Dillon’s new celebration practice of sliding on the infield grass? I’m not really a fan because it doesn’t look that fun. It looks like it kind of hurts.
– Actor/singer Tyrese Gibson’s performance of the National Anthem was WONDERFUL. It was subdued but totally on point. The fact that I’m mentioning it at all is saying something.
Regarding the Nationwide Series race:
– Uh, I got nothin’
Regarding the Sprint Cup Series race:
– I feel bad that the Geico Caveman had to wear all that makeup and stuff for a SECOND day just to give the command to start engines.
– Loved the exchange over the radio between Carl Edwards and his crew chief, Bob Osborne, when Carl said that the sun was coming out and Bob sang back to Carl “Here comes the sun!! bababa!” So funny.
Monday night Clint Bowyer was in one of my dreams. I have no idea why he would be but there he was confiding in me about his contract talks with Richard Childress Racing. I distinctly remember him being upset at not being able to seal the deal on a new contract and the number 4 was mentioned (don’t know what that means). I was telling him not to worry, that there were plenty of other teams that wanted him and would snap him up. I remember in the dream asking myself “Why are you telling him that?? You don’t know anything!” LOL
And then Tuesday morning there’s a report saying that Richard Petty Motorsports, who was reportedly interested in him if RCR wasn’t, is now reportedly NOT interested in him anymore. (That sentence alone is why silly season is so freakin’ silly). I remembered my dream and I felt bad that I gave the Clint Bowyer in my dream such bad advice.
I’m sure you guys have gone to sleep and had NASCAR drivers invade your dreams, please feel free to share what’s happened in yours so that I don’t feel like such a geek about mine (keep it PG!).
In other news…
– The top-12 drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, AKA The Chase drivers, were a bunch of busy little bees this week promoting themselves, NASCAR and The Chase for the Sprint Cup everywhere. I figured it was worthy of a photo spread. My favorites are the ones of Jimmie Johnson at the high school pep rally (Jimmie has to take that girl to the prom!) and Carl Edwards with the lobster (because he finally shaved off that goatee thingy, but now that it’s gone I kinda miss it).
I don’t even know if people call Brad Keselowski “Bad Brad” but I needed “B” words and it sounded about right, so there ya go.
How did you feel about his reaction to winning the Bristol night race? I thought it was great. Except for the jumping off the car part, because his ankle is still HURT. I don’t know why I have such a complex about him not using crutches or sitting down when he doesn’t need to stand. It’s CLEARLY working alright for him. I wasn’t expecting him to be such a big winner this year. It’s pretty amazing stuff and this is just his second year in Cup.
If you follow me on Twitter then you already know the fabulous news that I’ll be going to at least TWO more races this year FOR SURE. It’s all thanks to Sylvania and Hunt Brothers Pizza. Sylvania is the title sponsor of the New Hampshire Cup Series race in September (the second race in The Chase for the Sprint Cup) and they’ve got some fun activities planned around that weekend that I will be attending & covering. Can’t wait to write about it all. I’ll also be at Kansas, where I will be hanging with the Hunt Bros. Pizza group for the Nationwide Series race. Be on the lookout for a great interview to come out of that!
On a very personal note… It’s my birthday tomorrow. I turn the big 3-1 and the greatest birthday present you could ever give me, besides just being yourself and reading this blog (which I totally appreciate), would be to donate to My NASCAR Year 2012 project (or get your company to do it!). Read all about it and donate here. You can give anonymously or not, it’s up to you. Even $5 helps me get to my goal of $125,000!
I am firm believer that honesty is the best policy. It’s gotta be one of the reasons why you guys like this site–because I tell you the truth about what happened to me at the track, even if I look like a dork. So, I felt the need to give you an update on the My NASCAR Year 2012 project. We’re still at $5,419 raised out of the $125,000 goal.
I’ve been contacting potential corporate sponsors and so far have received some interest, but nothing concrete yet. If any of these said potential corporate sponsors are reading this please call me and let’s discuss how we can work together next year. It’s incredibly hard to get across all of the possibilities in an email and hope that my passion and determination for this blog come through. I know that The Fast and the Fabulous is on to something good, and with a solid schedule of races in front of it, it will be GREAT.
You, the reader, can still help get me to my goal by donating money. Just $5 helps close the gap. Have no idea what I’m talking about? Read this.
In other news…
– I’ve extended the deadline to take the 2011 ‘Fabulous’ Reader Survey to this Sunday. You can also enter to win the awesome Goo Gone prize package.
– The number one question I get asked is “When is your next race?” Well, this year it’s going to be sporadic at best. I know FOR SURE that I’m going to be at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway the end of this month (August 26-28) for IndyCar action. As for NASCAR, the next race for me is tentatively Kansas in October. And I’m planning on attending Champion’s Week in Vegas in December.
– As the headline says, Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t really interested in getting married, but if you’re a Junior fan you already knew that. Apparently he was on SPEED’s Race Hub show this week and restated his ambivalence towards marriage but he’s still open to having children. I guess the formula for a successful relationship with Dale is to find a woman who is down for that arrangement. Well, not “arrangement” but ya know what I mean, someone who doesn’t care about getting married. It’s totally possible, I mean, look at Brad and Angelina — they’re making it work. I’d be totally open to that as long as I could still have a big party where we invite all our friends and family, I get to wear an amazing dress and we profess our commitment to each other in front of them and then he gives me a (tastefully) ginormous ring. I don’t need to be “legally” married to the guy. Ha!
– Brad Keselowski was on ESPN this week. Does anyone else get annoyed when they see Brad walking around on his broken ankle that he’s trying to heal? It bugs the hell out of me because he doesn’t need to stand on it. I saw him today during qualifying and I’m like, “Dude! Crutches!! You don’t have to be tough all the time.” Ugh.
– Kevin Harvick threw out the first pitch before the start of the New York Yankees-Los Angeles Angels game in New York this past week.
Here’s Harvick’s take on his pitching skills:
“It was okay. I didn’t throw it in the dirt so that was my only objective. I had a lot of fun and go to see Geno and Joe and just kind of hang out for a couple of hours. So, that was fun.”
How much did you LOVE the racing between Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch? And how much did you ADORE their post-race face-to-face (with respectful distance) argument? Probably not as much as me! It was brilliant and just added to an already excellent race finish. Why don’t they turn up the mics and let them hover close to those guys when they’re arguing like that? I know there’s potential for foul language, but can’t they just risk it? I was straining to try and hear something.
Congratulations to Brad Keselowski! Maybe everybody should get injured more often? I mean, he won the race with one properly working ankle and Denny Hamlin won races after his knee issues. Crazy, but very cool.
Did you see Carl Edwards‘ finish line crash with Ricky Stenhouse in Iowa during the Nationwide Series race? More craziness. Never seen anything like that before, but it seemed like a fitting end to a race that saw those two getting into each other and Ricky didn’t appreciate it at all. The two had history from ORP last week and now this new wrinkle. During the post-race coverage they showed Carl talking to Ricky’s crew chief, Mike Kelly. You could clearly hear Mike say to Carl “Well, you tell him that. He thinks you hate him.” Finally some actual truthful feelings. Whenever the guys talk on camera you don’t always feel like you’re getting to true thoughts, and this time we got some via Ricky’s crew chief.
– Take the 2011 ‘Fabulous’ Reader Survey and enter for your chance to win an awesome Goo Gone prize package. Contest & survey ends on August 10th, 2011. More info
– Help me raise money for My NASCAR Year 2012. More info
What a letdown. The racing was boring and tons of fans couldn’t even get to the track to see the boring race.
Kentucky Speedway apologized today and announced a ticket exchange offer. Meanwhile other tracks have offered up rants and comments about the weekend’s traffic debacle giving Kentucky Speedway crap for not figuring out how to deal with the traffic issue ahead of time. Just check out what Michigan International Speedway president Roger Curtis wrote today.
Here’s the statement NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France released yesterday:
“While NASCAR was thrilled by the incredible response to our inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Kentucky, we also are extremely disappointed by the traffic problems and inconveniences endured by fans who wanted to be part of our races at Kentucky Speedway. NASCAR will be in close communications with Kentucky Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc. to see that they work to resolve the issues. This situation cannot happen again.”
And now Indianapolis Motor Speedway has created a special offer for fans that had tickets to Kentucky’s inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race:
Fans who present a ticket from the Kentucky Sprint Cup race at the IMS gate will receive one free admission to Brickyard 400 practice Friday, July 29 or will be admitted to Brickyard 400 qualifying Saturday, July 30 for just $5.
Fans holding tickets from the July 9 race at Kentucky also can park for free Friday and Saturday at IMS Lots 1, 2 and 3, conveniently located on the south, west and north sides of the iconic facility. The regular price is $10 per day to park in those lots.
“As an urban track, we offer a fan experience inside a vibrant city that provides restaurants, nightlife, cultural activities and top-rated hotels in addition to the history and tradition of 100 years of racing at Indianapolis,” said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and CEO. “We have easy, efficient access to and from the track that allows our fans to participate in activities at the track and, in just a matter of minutes, enjoy all that the city of Indianapolis has to offer or be well on the road toward home or the hotel.”
I woke up at 5am in order to get to Infineon Raceway by 7am (with a quick stop at Starbucks along the way) at the latest. I wanted to make sure I got a ride around the track in the pace car with NASCAR’s Brett Bodine. You think because you’re going in the pace car it wouldn’t be intense, but you’re WRONG. I sat in the back seat and proceeded to be bounced around the my seat and fellow passenger next to me.
“Shift. Shifting now. Lots of shifting. Why do I have to keep shifting? Shifting is fun! I hate shifting this much!”
I am so over shifting!! I hate that word and I never want to hear it again. Some drivers hated it and some were totally okay with it because they would have been bored otherwise. That’s all fine and well, I’m just glad it’s over.
My favorite part of the race was the in-car cockpit view of the drivers in action. I loved that so much because you get to see what these guys are actually doing. This is how they do it and it’s fun to see the different techniques. So I appreciated that a lot. TNT’s coverage is off to a great start.
Now that Conan O’Brien is on TBS, which is a sister channel to TNT, I fully expect a Team Coco integration to at least ONE of the TNT Summer Series races. We need Conan at a race or at least a bunch of the drivers on his show. This needs to happen.
The image I created in my head of Richard Childress getting Kyle Busch in a headlock and beating him up far surpasses any actual image of the incident that you could show me (if one even exists). I can’t help but laugh at the whole thing. It’s just too much. Childress was fined $150,000 for the incident and put on probation by NASCAR. When they give fines I think they should be the same number as the person’s car number, so Childress should of been fined $180,000 for Kyle’s #18 truck. NASCAR should maintain a NASCAR theme at all times.
Ya know what’s annoying? Yesterday’s race was Brad Keselowski’s second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, his first with Penske, and the commentators didn’t bring that up until he crossed the finish line. I find that annoying because I would like that information up front–with laps to go–so that I can get all emotional and worried for the guy. They do it for Dale Earnhardt Jr. ALL the time. They’ve got that “Races since last win” graphic queued up, always ready to go.
I feel like we didn’t get to really appreciate the fullness of the moment for Brad because nobody talked about the significance of it all that much. Kinda lame.
While I certainly don’t dislike the Fox broadcast team, I am REALLY excited about TNT’s coverage because I’m looking for a change of pace. It’ll be good to get a different perspective, until we get another perspective when ESPN/ABC takes over later this year.
My only question right now is: Can it be time for Infineon’s race now?? Please! I’ll be there and I cannot wait for that race weekend. I know it’s going to be superfun, but let’s hope this ridiculously cold & rainy weather we’ve been having doesn’t last through that weekend. I’m ordering perfect weather; not too hot, not too cold, but just right.
Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya failed to bring what Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch delivered.
O. M. G.
The SHOWTIME® Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway was the greatest NASCAR race I have seen in quite some time. It was Ah-mazing!
First, congratulations to Regan Smith on winning his first Sprint Cup Series race (and congrats to Furniture Row Racing for winning their first race as an organization). He was emotional and his team was ridiculously happy. It was the perfect finish and I LOVED it. A first-time winner is the greatest thing. It was great to see him be congratulated by Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Brad Keselowski.
But of course before all of that you had the driver’s moms, as usual, giving the command to start engines. How adorable was Jimmie & Chandra Johnson’s baby daughter, Genevieve, clapping during the National Anthem? That was too cute.
Then there was the race with David Ragan peeling back Brian Vickers car like it was a can of sardines, poor Clint Bowyer crashing out, and the most amazing series of events with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
I think that Kevin Harvick should walk around with a speaker hanging out of his pocket playing the song “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty on a loop. It’s his theme song. He is no joke.
I know that fighting is frowned upon and all that but I loved it. When Kevin punched Kyle’s helmet/face and then Kyle pushed his car into his Kevin’s it was all TOO much for my brain to process. It was wonderful. I felt like a high school kid in the quad yelling “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
Does NASCAR really need to take action? I’m in a “Ah, whatever, let it gooo” kind of mood. They’re adults, they know what they did was wrong. Let’s not forget that sports are entertainment, they serve no other purpose than that (Yes, they can be inspiring and all that but still), and Saturday night’s race was PURE entertainment from beginning to end. So, NASCAR should send Harvick and Busch a “Thank You” card, some flowers & maybe some candy.
Here’s video of the last laps:
There was a point during the last 30 laps of the Aaron’s 499 where I told myself to just let go of whatever outcome I was hoping to see and just let it happen. Is it funny or sad that I get so wrapped up in these races that I need to tell myself something like that? I have absolutely nothing at stake but I still get so caught up in wanting a certain person, or persons, to win that I’ll stress myself out over it.
Anyway, I couldn’t believe Jimmie Johnson pulled off that win; I was sure it was going to go to one of the Richard Childress Racing guys. Clint Bowyer had been running up front all day and Kevin Harvick has been, well, winning.
When I saw Jimmie trying to give the checkered flag to Dale Earnhardt Jr. I knew Dale wasn’t going to want it. It was a really classy move by Jimmie, I must say. As much as I would have been ridiculously thrilled for Dale Jr. to have come away with the win I’m still insanely excited that he’s 3rd in points right now. That’s just fantastic. O! And another fantastic thing: Huge congrats to David Gilliland and the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford team for walking away with a 9th place finish!
Every week when the latest points standings are published I read through them and then create my own “fantasy” top-12, it’s the list of drivers that I think would make for a super entertaining Champion’s Week. So it’s not a “Who do you think WILL make The Chase?” list, it’s a “Who do you WANT to see in the Chase because you know they’ll be superfun to interview during Champion’s Week?” It’s really early to be thinking about Champion’s Week but I can’t help it, it’s my favorite time of the year.
My current list is as follows (in no particular order):
1.) Tony Stewart – He has to host his annual “Stewie Awards” from Vegas, it wouldn’t be the same with him.
2.) Clint Bowyer – He needs his own talk show to host during Champion’s Week. I’m just sayin’.
3.) Kasey Kahne – He’s adorable
4.) Dale Earnhardt Jr. – People will lose their minds
5.) Kevin Harvick – Another guy with personality
6.) Denny Hamlin – Denny adds a layer of honesty and he likes to instigate drama (or at least he did at last year’s After the Lap event)
7.) Brian Vickers – Because he had some good stories to tell about Jimmie Johnson, and I’m sure there has to be more right??
8.) Jimmie Johnson – I’m including Jimmie because he’s a good sport, not because I want him to win a 6th straight championship.
9.) Brad Keselowski – I think he’d have a ridiculously good time to Vegas and would be very entertaining at the various events.
10.) Jeff Gordon – Jeff has that honesty vibe too, and he’s also very chatty. Chatty & honest are two ingredients for good times.
11) AJ Allmendinger – He’s someone that can definitely bring a lot of comedy relief.
12) Kyle Busch – Another honest guy with a personality that lends itself perfectly to the Champion’s Week festivities. Plus he’s the hometown guy.
Friday morning in Las Vegas started with me arriving at the track just in time to interview J.J. Yeley at his hauler. But I found out that he had been asked to drive the No. 27 car for Baker Curb Racing in the Nationwide Series race. So he was participating in their practice session and wouldn’t be available till later in the day (We did end up connecting later in the day and I got some great answers from him).
I’m sad I missed the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour in Charlotte this week. But, if I’m being honest, it’s only because I just read this article about all the swag the media received, that I missed out on. There were cupcakes and cookies and wine!
Anyway, here are photos from the week. It’s one of my favorite things to post photos of the teams wearing those annoying long sleeve shirts. I don’t know why I hate them so much but they just look wrong. I say this every year and no one listens to me.
It’s just like bridesmaid dresses: it’s really hard to pick on dress type that works on every body type. Which is why brides have started letting their maids pick a fit that suits them individually and then just going with the same color and/or print for the group. I think NASCAR teams should adopt this same principle. Some teams have, but definitely not the majority.
NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Elliott Sadler, (second from left) speaks with the media, as drivers (left to right) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jason Leffler, and Aric Almirola look on, during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Hilton University on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Michael Waltrip’s familiar No. 15 NAPA car is on display during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Hilton University on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C. (Credit: Harold Hinson/HHP)
(Left to right) Bobby Hutchens, director of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing; Tony Gibson, crew chief of the No. 39 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car; Ryan Newman, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver; Tony Stewart, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner and driver; and Darian Grubb, crew chief of the No. 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car, pose for a picture during the 2011 Sprint Cup Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway on Monday at Stewart-Haas Racing in Kannapolis, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Regan Smith stands in front of his No. 78 Furniture Row ride during the Sprint Media Tour hosted byCharlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(center) NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty stands between his two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers AJ Allmendinger (left) and the newest addition to Richard Petty Motorsports Marcos Ambrose during the Sprint Media Tour hosted byCharlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Team owner Jack Roush (center) poses with drivers (left to right) Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and David Ragan, during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at the Roush-Fenway hanger of Concord Regional Airport, on Thursday in Concord, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, speaks with Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Hilton University on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) Richard Childress, team owner; Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 33 Cheerios Chevrolet; Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet; Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Chevrolet, and Paul Menard, driver of the No. 27 Menard’s Chevrolet, pose for the media during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Richard Childress Racing on Tuesday in Welcome, N.C.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, owner Rick Hendrick and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. pose for a team picture Wednesday at Hendrick Motorsports Media Day during the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, speaks to the media as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teammates Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, and Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, look on during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Penske Racing on Monday in Mooresville, N.C.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Team owner Joe Gibbs (third from right) poses with J.D. Gibbs (third from left), Joe Gibbs Racing President, Joey Logano (left), driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, Kyle Busch (second from left), driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota, Denny Hamlin (second from right), driver of the No. FedEx Toyota, and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brian Scott (right), during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Joe Gibbs Racing, on Thursday in Huntersville, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, on hiring Tony Stewart: “For 1997, we wanted to form a second team. We asked all the guys to write down the name of the driver they wanted the most and put it in a hat. There was one name on every piece of paper. That was Tony Stewart.”
Team owner Joe Gibbs (center) speaks about the 20th anniversary of Joe Gibbs Racing, as (left to right) JGR President J.D. Gibbs, former JGR drivers Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte, JGR senior vice president of racing operations Jimmy Makar and Interstate Batteries CEO Norm Miller look on during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Joe Gibbs Racing, on Thursday in Huntersville, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The No. 21 Motorcraft Ford proudly displays the new American Ethanol sponsorship around the fuel hole during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at the Roush-Fenway hanger of Concord Regional Airport, on Thursday in Concord, N.C. (Credit: Harold Hinson/HHP)
(Left to right) Juan Pablo Montoya, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, team owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates and Jamie McMurray, defending Daytona 500 champion, pose for a picture during the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing stop on the 2011 Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway on Monday at the Hilton Charlotte University Place in Charlotte, N.C.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)