I didn’t see the kicking and screaming at Richmond after the Nationwide Series race because I was at work, or on my way home from work but I heard all about it. I think this year is all about drivers “not taking it anymore,” like, everyone suddenly remembered NASCAR saying “Boys have at it” but it didn’t sink in until this year.
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I don’t know if you heard but there was a little incident at Phoenix International Raceway yesterday. It was so small that it caused #NASCAR to be a trend nationally on Twitter and for The Today Show to mention it this morning. Just a bunch of dudes getting in to a fist fight in the garage that’s all.
I’m all apologies lately. I feel like I’m continually apologizing to you guys about being late and I hate that. I can say, with complete confidence, that I’m not going to be late anymore and I’ll be back on track posting stuff from here on out.
So Jeff Gordon won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is totally great but he missed his daughter Ella’s first day at school. For some reason, for me, that overshadowed everything else he said in Victory Lane on Tuesday. Don’t get me wrong, winning the race is HUGE and it looks like he’s in a great position to contend for the Championship this year–which I love–but when you think about it from a personal/family perspective a part of me goes “Awww, he didn’t get to take her to school.” He probably would have had the race happened on Sunday when it was supposed to.
Anyway, congrats to the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger team! It was great to see the car that was CLEARLY fast all day win the race in the end.
There are things that I want to say about this next race at Richmond–the last race to determine the 12 drivers in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup–but I’m not going to because I’m afraid I’ll mess it up. I can’t even say/type/think the “J” word because I’m afraid just saying it will have some effect. Just know that there are certain drivers that need to keep themselves and their teams together to keep things good.
Saturday in Fontana started out with Nationwide Series qualifying. Heather and I hung out in the media bull pen area and watched as the cars came through. It was pretty routine so this is a good time to talk about the children I saw in the garage that weekend. There were TONS of them. The new NASCAR rule allowing kids in the garage has made a big impact because I’ve never seen so many little boys and girls getting photos and autographs.
On Saturday morning in Las Vegas the first and only thing I scheduled to do that day was interview Jennifer Jo Cobb. She was great and it was awesome to find out that her favorite word is “Fabulous.” Smart lady!
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)
Saturday morning at Auto Club Speedway found me inside the Nationwide Series garage watching as drivers qualified for the CampingWorld.com 300. Driver after driver made their qualifying run and I stood by in the media bullpen area where they keep the top-3 cars. Cars shuffle in and out (and drive by) as the numbers on the pylon change order.
There weren’t a lot of fans milling around in the garage and only a handful actually stuck around to watch drivers get out of their cars and maybe ask them for an autograph. I noticed David Reutimann, in regular dude clothes, standing with the guys from Michael Waltrip Racing. He had on a hat and sunglasses but I still couldn’t get over the fact that people didn’t notice him. I guess it was good for him to not be bothered, seeing as how he’d just come off the weekend before and his infamous incident with Kyle Busch.
As qualifying progressed I watched as Carl Edwards got out of his car, spoke with various members of the media, signed autographs for fans, met with a large group of employees from his sponsor, Copart, took pictures with them, and then went off to the media center. All of that took place in the space of like 10 minutes. Now that’s multi-tasking.
First, I must address the most amazing “Gentleman, Start Your Engines” ever PERFORMED on national television. That’s right, performed! Actors (and comedians) Kevin James and Adam Sandler were the Grand Marshals for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway and the didn’t fail to deliver what I knew would be the most entertaining command to start engines since I don’t know when. (Off topic right now but this photo, left, is the best photo of Denny Hamlin I’ve seen in quite some time. Just sayin’)
Can we get Kevin James out to every race to do that little dance? Freaking hilarious. If you missed it, video of Sandler and James giving the command is below. They’re promoting their new movie “Grown Ups” which, of course, looks very funny.
My only question about this race is why didn’t Denny Hamlin pick up the giant fake tub of Heluva Good! Sour Cream dip that was sitting on top of his car in Victory Lane? That would of been great, especially if they’d had a giant bag of chips to go with it.
Brian Scott drives the No. 11 AccuDoc Solutions Toyota Camry for Braun Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The 22-year-old Idaho native currently sits 8th in points after last weekend’s crazy-as-usual Talladega race. He’s also leading in the hunt for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year award.
In talking to Brian I was struck by how self-aware and contained he was, just like all of the Nationwide drivers I’ve interviewed recently. They really know who they are and what they want to accomplish. I don’t want to be all cheesy but they’re really driven to succeed, and Brian Scott is no different.
The red flags aside, this Daytona 500 was awesome. Actually I take that back. I didn’t mind the red flags. For one, I was at home sitting on my comfortable couch with snacks, and two, they got to interview the drivers which I always love. We should of been glad it was something fixable and not RAIN. Thank you.
I am so incredibly happy for Jamie McMurray. That was such an amazing ending to a crazy, long race. He leads just two laps and takes his place in history as a Daytona 500 winner in his first race with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing! Talk about redemption. From odd man out to freaking Daytona 500 winner. I love it, those are the best stories. And as if all of that wasn’t good enough, he was emotional in Victory Lane. I’m all for real, true emotion and it didn’t get any better than Jamie’s tears and his hugging of the Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 Trophy.
And then Dale Earnhardt Jr. *sigh* I love that guy. He kicked butt and drove from tenth to finish second. I’m so proud! I know he was disappointed that he came so close but he has nothing to feel bad about, he proved that he’s a racer and that he wants to win just as much as the next guy. BTW, I loved his interview with Marty Smith on ESPN, they showed it during the Nationwide race on Saturday. He doesn’t have to explain or justify himself to anyone!
I think it was in his interview with Jeff Hammond on FOX that he talked about marriage and how maybe it wasn’t for him and he wondered if fans could handle him having children without being married. I would like to go on record as saying that Dale has my permission to procreate with whomever he wants in wedlock or not. Again, he should live his life on his terms and everybody else can suck it.
Photos after the jump!
Before the start of the Dickies 500 on Sunday I was thinking about what had to happen in order for Jimmie Johnson to lose some momentum in The Chase. Of course, I didn’t think any of it would happen. So when Jimmie’s accident occurred I was, uhm, sort of pleasantly surprised.
We needed that to make things a little more interesting. The guy still has a ton of points on Mark Martin but at least it gives hope a chance to shine. And, if I’m being honest, it was pretty cool getting to see the 48 team pull together and get that car back into shape to run in the race again. I’m never against seeing Ron Malec in action. (hehe) I have to give it Chad Knaus though, that guy is one cool customer. He was pissed of course that they ran into trouble, but his voice is always even. He doesn’t freak out, and you can’t afford to freak out in a situation like that, which is why Jimmie and the Lowe’s team are 3-time Sprint Cup Champions.
Watching Kurt Busch do his victory lap around Texas Motor Speedway in reverse with his tongue sticking out made me realize who he reminds me of, and no, it’s not Michael Jordan. No, I was thinking more along the lines of the character Pete Campbell from the awesome TV show Mad Men. Pete, played by Vincent Kartheiser, is kind of a punk. He whines when he doesn’t get his way and always thinks he should be treated better than he perceives he’s being treated. It’s funny. Watch Mad Men, it’s awesome. The latest season is over, but that’s what Netflix is for.
That being said it was cool to see Kurt so excited about winning and all that.
Uhm… There’s this one driver, I think his name is Dale Earnhardt Jr. or something, who doesn’t seem to be able to catch a break this season. I’m at the point, well I’ve been here for some time now, where I want to just say to him “Dale, (yes, in this scenario I know him and we’re BFFs) I think you should just park it and call it a season, this is lame. I know you’re doing your best but you need to tell whatever gods are in charge of luck to kiss your butt.”
He was running really well and then of course something happens and finishes crappy. And his finish has nothing to do with his overall performance. They were kicking butt and then it falls off. Ugh.
And now ladies and gentlemen, a photo bonanza!