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 why I always feel this way when Jimmie Johnson wins a race. It’s like watching Survivor and getting pissed off when the idiots have the upper hand and they don’t take the opportunity to vote off the obviously stronger player when they have the chance. It’s silly. That’s how I feel when I see Jimmie Johnson leading a race.
Carl Edwards, who is sponsored by Subway, won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway yesterday which is wraps up his 70-race losing streak nicely.
All I can say about Jimmie Johnson winning yesterday at Martinsville is this: No. Just, nooooo.
We’ve seen this movie before and I don’t want to see it again. We’ve seen the 4 sequels, too. I’m over it and I want to see something new.
I watched the start of the SYLVANIA 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at my boyfriend’s apartment. He doesn’t have cable (I know, insane!) but I do. Because I had my handy dandy iPhone, the Watch ESPN app I’d downloaded the day before and Apple TV, I was able to watch NASCAR Countdown and the first handful of laps on my boyfriend’s television. Technology is WONDERFUL and I highly recommend it.
I think pretty much everyone in agreement that the finish to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen International was crazy, right? I scrolled through my Twitter feed and all it showed were a series of tweets that said “Wow.”
Over 600 votes were cast and now we’re ready to reveal the drivers that have made it in to Round Two of the 2012 Hottest NASCAR Driver Tournament. Brian Vickers & Jeff Gordon were randomly seeded in to Round Two when the brackets were created, so that’s why they’re in. One of the closest results from the first round were between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton. Burton snuck past Dale Jr by just 2%. David Gilliland did the same thing in getting past Juan Pablo Montoya.
Where the hell have I been?? It feels like forever ago since I’ve written anything but there’s a totally awesome reason why: I met a guy! Yep, I went on a coffee date and the guy, his name is Jack, turned out to be pretty amazing, so amazing that we spent the next four days together. So, needless to say, I like him A LOT and he likes me A LOT. I wasn’t expecting it and it’s been the best thing ever. However, it’s totally thrown my whole schedule out of whack. I always had a ton of time to myself, pretty much any time I wasn’t working was my time to work on this site or do whatever. But now that I’m with Jack that’s pretty much all I want to do–be with him–so I’ve been prepping the 2012 Hottest NASCAR Driver tournament in bits and pieces, in small chunks of time, over the last few days and now I’m FINALLY ready to launch it.
It was a fun race to watch because it eventually became a sophisticated 400-lap game of bumper cars, with Brian Vickers racking up the most points. What was that all about? Thought it was interesting that Brian’s friend (and former teammate) Jimmie Johnson even called him out on it during his post-race interview. Said Jimmie, “After a fourth, fifth time with the same car in the crash, you start thinking about maybe you’re the problem. Something is going on. You’re having a bad day. You need to stop crashing for whatever reason.”
With this win at Martinsville Tony Stewart now has 3 wins in The Chase and it’s totally possible that might not win the Championship. Isn’t that kind of weird? I guess consistency is key. No matter, I’ll be happy with whoever wins this thing as long as it comes down to Homestead. I adore the new points system.
I was shocked — just a smidge — by Tony’s post-race victory lane comments about how Carl Edwards needs to be worried and that Carl isn’t going to sleep for the next 3 weeks. Ha! I loved that. In general, drivers & crew chiefs need to talk more trash during this Chase. It’s fun, right?
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.
“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.
Lots of caution flags made the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway very interesting. I dug it.
I was happy to see Ryan Newman score his first win of the season, even if it was just to see his adorable daughter, Brooklyn, celebrate with him in Victory Lane. How cute is she??! Were you as surprised as I was to see him get choked up like he did? People should not cry, because it just makes me cry! It was a great moment though. Love to see a physical reaction in response to what a win means to a person.
But enough about the race, here’s some news I JUST received: I’ll be a guest on the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show “Manifold Destiny with Mojo Nixon” tonight! If you’ve got SiriusXM it’s channel 90 and I’ll be on at 8:30pm PST / 11:30 EST. Read that twice to make sure you’ve got it right. I met Mojo for the first time during the NASCAR race weekend at Infineon Raceway. He’s a riot, so it’ll be really interesting to see what goes down on the show tonight. If you’ve got a subscription I hope you’ll tune in!!
On Saturday I forgot my cell phone at home, and my camera’s battery died, like, 15 minutes after I arrived at Infineon Raceway.
It was really weird to not have my cell phone or camera on me all day. It was annoying that I couldn’t take any photos or tweet out updates on the fly. I realized that those devices also served as security blankets. They were these things that proved I had “something to do” while I was in the garage. I wasn’t just wandering. I had to take pictures and constantly check my phone for updates–that gave me purpose. So without a purpose I felt like a nerd, just standing around. And I was worried that without the photos that I usually snapped throughout the day I wouldn’t have anything to remind me of what happened.
I know I REALLY need to write-up my weekend at Infineon, and I will, but I had to write about the NASCAR-themed episode of The Glades that aired yesterday on A&E. It included appearances from NASCAR drivers Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart and Joey Logano.
While I loved that NASCAR got some primetime attention, I’m not happy with how female fans were depicted (that and all the bad acting). First, why were there tons of women milling around the garage wearing the same outfit, all the same age and dress size? What’s up with the girls behind the fence jumping up and down, screaming incessantly, in tank tops being called “wafflebellies” with the hopes of being “wife’d”? (that’s an actual term people use??)
This whole thing drives me NUTS. The show made it seem like ALL of the female fans were groupies. And it wasn’t even necessary for the plot! Of course I know that there are many pit lizards out there (saw an inspired group of them at Infineon) but there are more women who purchase hot passes because they’re fans, and only that, not because they want to troll the garage for a husband. A woman shouldn’t have to walk into the garage with a guy to be considered a legitimate fan of the sport. We shouldn’t have to wear a burka to be taken seriously.
I’ll give them the storyline with the little girl who wants to be a racer when she grows up, but other than that all the episode did was create a false stereotype of female racing fans. Like I said before it wasn’t even integral to the plot, so why bother?
The whole episode is here, if you’re interested in watching.
(photo credit: A&E)
“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.
– This might be old news to some, but I just realized I’d never posted it here. David Stremme is poised to return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with the newly formed Inception Motorsports, but he’s also embarking on a new adventure as a husband! David proposed to his girlfriend, Ashley Deihl, during Thanksgiving last year and the couple plan to wed later this year.
– Do you love Kasey Kahne? I mean, really, who doesn’t? Do you adore Brian Vickers? Well put your face on their cars for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29th. Well, not your face-face, but an image of your face. In fact you can put any–or as many–photos as you want on the No. 4 or the No. 83. Just send your pictures to [email protected] or upload them at www.redbullracingusa.com/shutterspeed by May 22nd.
– It’s time again for the “Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot” sweepstakes. It’s my favorite NASCAR contest and if you’re a small business owner you simply MUST participate! The national FREE advertising you’d receive as a result of just being a finalist is priceless in my mind, but there’s also the small matter of $1 million that could be yours too!
Office Depot (NYSE: ODP), celebrating 25 years as a leading global provider of office supplies and services, is teaming up with 3M® and NASCAR® stars Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, and Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford, to offer the exciting possibility of a $1 million payday for one small business owner through the “Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot” sweepstakes.
The sweepstakes runs from now through May 28 and small business owners can enter online and – new this year – via their SmartPhone at OfficeDepotRacing.com. Two small business owners will be randomly selected as finalists, earning them a $10,000 small business makeover from Office Depot* and a VIP race weekend experience for two – not to mention a chance at the $1 million prize! Plus, as an extra reward to small business owners who participate, Office Depot is giving away one $1,000 Office Depot gift card every day during the sweepstakes entry period.
(credit: Action Sports Photography)
Get all of the deets, and info on all of the other goodies you can win even if you’re not the ultimate winner, at OfficeDepotRacing.com.
– Dale Earnhardt Jr. unveiled the world’s largest HD TV screen today, which happens to live at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He tested out the ginormous screen with an iRacing.com simulator.
(Photo Credit: Credit: HHP/Harold Hinson)
For its operational debut, Smith and Earnhardt Jr. used an oversized remote to power on the 200 foot-wide, 80 foot-tall HDTV, created by Panasonic, to reveal a highlight video of past racing action
at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“Charlotte sets the standard for the rest of the tracks,” said Earnhardt Jr. “They always do things first and do things the biggest and look, here we are today with another first from them. Charlotte holds a special place in a lot of drivers’ hearts, mine included and the big TV makes this place even more special.
“The Coca-Cola 600 is one of the best events we have all year long. Now fans can get a ticket to the race and have the experience of the live event with the comfort of their own TV at home with this big TV,” Earnhardt Jr. continued. “This place just keeps getting better.”
– INDYCAR had an unveiling of their own today. The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series concept cars–one model for ovals and another for road/street courses–made their debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where they will be on display throughout the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 on May 29th. These cars look… different, so it’ll be really interesting to see what the manufacturers come up with in terms of changes to the body kits. These mockups look like something out of a “Batman” or “Transformers” movie.
(Credit: INDYCAR/Ron McQueeny)
A rolling chassis – dubbed the IndyCar Safety Cell – will be the universal feature of the next generation car, with bodywork open to development and sale by any approved manufacturer. Three engine companies–Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus–committed for 2012 will augment the IndyCar Safety Cell and aero kit programs, creating its own buzz.
“The idea behind these is to show two totally different-looking vehicles that underneath are the same chassis,” Cotman said. “There is a lot of room for aerodynamic kit development and that’s what this platform is about – allowing people the freedom to design as they wish, dream as they wish and come up with a superior product than others. That’s what drives competition.
“So will these be exactly what Dallara’s kits are going to look like on road courses and ovals next year? No.”
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.
What would have made Jeff Gordon’s win at Phoenix better? Ella and Leo, of course! Sucked they weren’t in Victory Lane with their papa but the win itself was great. I always love seeing a driver get emotional after a win. I’m always looking for something real, and by that I mean just something genuine to remind me that these guys really love what it is that they do and that it means more to them than just fame and money.
To me it’s easier to see the lows and the highs in this sport, than it is in others. A basketball team might lose one night and then win on another, or maybe go 5 games without a win but eventually a win comes up in that same season. But in NASCAR these guys can go YEARS without a win. It just makes it so much sweeter when it happens.
I cannot wait to get to Las Vegas this week. I’m driving down there on Wednesday, it’s my first race of the season and it feels like I’m going to summer camp or something. On Thursday I’ll be at Tony Stewart’s autograph session at Office Depot (1435 West Craig Road, North Las Vegas) at 12:30pm. If you want to get something signed ya gotta get a wristband first (one per person), which they’re distributing to the first 600 people starting at 8am the day of the event. Then you have to get on line for the autograph sesh no later than 1:30pm. This is all local/Las Vegas time.
Before Tony signs stuff for fans I’m presenting him with the 2011 Hottest Driver Tourney “trophy” and I sincerely hope he likes it. I already have anxiety about that whole thing. I’m sure it’ll be fine, though.
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)
The 2011 NASCAR racing season is fast approaching and that means I’ve finally got new photos to share with you guys from the Preseason Thunder testing that occurred last week at Daytona International Speedway. It was our first chance to catch some drivers wearing their new sponsor’s firesuits, a time to welcome back Brian Vickers (yay!) and an opportunity to see new driver/crew chief pairings (Gustafson & Gordon = Too much hotness for one team, I’m just sayin’).
I’m excited about the year to come, as I always am, and I know that I have at least ONE very cool, super awesome, off-line deal coming up that involves you guys! So stay tuned for that announcement.
Remember to check out ‘Fabulous’ News for press releases and random photos throughout the week. I’ll have a wrap-up of the media tour taking place now posted later on in the week.
But for now enjoy these photos!
Brad Keselowski recorded the fastest lap of the day at 45.316 seconds Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. during Preseason Thunder testing.(Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Red Bull Racing teammates Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers talk as they sign autographs for fans in the garage area during Preseason Thunder testing on Friday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. laughs during a Preseason Thunder Fan Fest Q&A Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Truex turned the second-fastest lap of the first day of testing with a 195.776 mph circuit. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Marcos Ambrose smiles in the garage Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. during Preseason Thunder testing.(Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Edwards signs autographs for young fans during the Preseason Thunder Fan Fest following testing Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brian Vickers signs autographs in the Sprint FanZone Thursday during Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. smiles during a break on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach Fla. (Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart looks on as his crew makes adjustments to the No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. during Preseason Thunder testing.(Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
A new look Kevin Harvick participates in testing Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jeff Gordon works with Ormond Beach, Fla. native Alan Gustafson in the Garage Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Joey Logano who was third fastest with a lap time of 45.757 seconds signs autographs for fans during Preseason Thunder Fan Fest on Friday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.(Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Clint Bowyer signs autographs for fans during Preseason Thunder on Friday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Who is the hottest, cutest, most-handsome driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series? I know who I think is the hottest, most-adorable driver in the series but if I just tell you what I think it’s boring and the fun only lasts for a few hours, or a day, tops. So instead I thought it would be way more fun if everyone voted!
I’ve randomly seeded 38 drivers into a single-elimination tournament. There will be six rounds of action before we crown a winner and each round will last at least one week.
The second round will go on for two weeks because there are so many match-ups I want to make sure there’s enough time to get as many votes in as possible. You can vote as many times as you want and I strongly encourage you to do so every day. And as the rounds wind down be on the lookout for the opportunity to win a prize!
Download a copy of the 2011 Hottest Driver Tournament brackets!
Without further adieu here are the match-ups for Round One!
|Kyle Busch||Jeff Burton|
|Brian Vickers||Juan Pablo Montoya|
|David Reutimann||Tony Stewart|
|David Ragan||Casey Mears|
|Paul Menard||Jimmie Johnson|
|Kevin Conway||Regan Smith|
Round One Voting Has Ended! Vote in Round Two! CLICK HERE
I’m not going to lie, watching the 48 Lowe’s team experience failure in real time was fun. No, I don’t wish them ill and, really, really, who cares if I do? Dude, they’ve won the Championship 4 times in a row, they’ve got their place in history sealed for-ev-er. A little schadenfreude never hurt anyone.
It was clear that the 48′s cage was rattled with that pit crew swap happening in the middle of the race and watching Chad Knaus’ post-race interview was amazing. We got to find out what he looks, and sounds, like when he doesn’t have to pretend that the Championship isn’t a lock yet, because it really isn’t this time! (Ok, ok, so it’s not that different from when he’s on top, but there was a difference!)
Ya know what really irks me though? It’s when I think about what could have been had Clint Bowyer’s team not received that 150 point fine. Things would be so different, it’s so frustrating! Would I prefer that Kevin Harvick won the Championship over Denny Hamlin? Yes, but I’ll take what I can get. I so wish I was going to Phoenix this week, and hell, Miami too. Just promise me that when I do get to go to every NASCAR race the Championship is as close then as it is now.
Uhm, Denny? What are you doing? What is that face?
Denny Hamlin, driver of the FedEx Office Toyota, shoots a Turnbull Revolvers in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I guess I was the only person who wasn’t surprised to see Joey Logano sticking up for himself on pit road this weekend at Pocono. He had a similar, albeit less obviously confrontational, show of anger last year at Infineon in the Camping World West Series race when he sideswiped Patrick Long with his car on his way to the garage.
So if I had to pick a theme song for Joey it would be Britney Spears’ classic “Oops, I Did it Again,” because he’s “not that innocent.” Don’t let the big, cheesy “aw shucks” grin fool ya. The kid knows how to be pissed off.
Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the day of the Nationwide Series race, the TECH-NET Auto Service 300 powered by CARQUEST. It was also the day that I forgot to put my sunscreen on and got a nice little tan.
The two days that hold the Sprint Cup Series qualifying and Nationwide Series races are always my favorite days during any race weekend. It’s because there’s always, like, 50% less people running around the garage. I know it’s silly but I love feeling like I have the garage all to myself. And practice is always the best time to get pictures of the cars as they exit and enter the track.
On this particular day I witnessed something that has been going on forever but I only discovered it last weekend. I’m not sure what the process is but some cars come off the track and before going to their garage stall to make adjustments they stop at some designated area near or in the garage and the guys from Goodyear check out their tires. There’s also a crew member from their team checking stuff and taking notes.
To promote their upcoming Aaron’s Dream Weekend Talladega Superspeedway sent Brian Vickers to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama to try his hand at becoming an astronaut.
Good times, good times. In the end he got his wiiiiiiiiings. Get it? Red Bull gives you wings! Whatever, I love it. Enjoy the photos. This all reminds me of the 80′s movie Space Camp with Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan and Joaquin Phoenix. Love that movie, it’s a classic.
Brian Vickers listens to Al Whitaker of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. Behind Vickers is a replica of the Lunar Lander.
Brian Vickers gears up in his personalized flight suit at the U.S .Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Brian Vickers goes for a spin in an Astronaut Trainer at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Settling into a cockpit that looks a little different than his race car, Brian Brian Vickers listens to instructions as he prepares to try his luck at the landing the Space Shuttle simulator at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Looks like Red Bull really does give you wings. Here Brian Vickers receives his honorary astronaut wings from Aviation Challenge manager Ruth Marie Oliver (call sign: Red Bull) at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
(all photos courtesy of Talladega Superspeedway)
On Sunday, I was watching a bit of the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals that took place in Houston, Texas. Melanie Troxel, whom I totally dig because she’s kick ass and we have the same birthday (August 31st), is sponsored by In-N-Out Burger in both Funny Car and Pro Mod. She’s leading the points standings in Pro Mod, by the way.
Anyway… The In-N-Out Burger connection got me thinking. First about how yummy their burgers are and then about how every time the NASCAR drivers are in California or Nevada they can’t NOT talk about how they all have to stop by In-N-Out at least once during their stay in the West. So I was thinking why isn’t In-N-Out Burger sponsoring like, ANYTHING in NASCAR? At least for the races at Infineon, Auto Club Speedway, Las Vegas and Phoenix?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers wax on and on about how they love In-N-Out.
And then I started thinking that maybe all those NASCAR groupies should forget about trying to dress all sexy in the garage & pits and just bring a bunch of In-N-Out burgers and fries (animal style, of course) with them instead. They do say that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, well there ya go. Nobody said you had to be the one doing the cooking.
In other news…
– ‘Fabulous’ reader Leila emailed me today and was all, “Wouldn’t Ron Malec be perfect for ABC’s next Bachelor? I would love to see it!” and I was like, “You’re totally right!” Ron would make an excellent Bachelor (as would Michael Waltrip) but I do know that as of the Sprint Cup Championship banquet last year he had a girlfriend. But still ABC should direct their attention to the world of NASCAR to look for their next Bachelor, for sure.
One of the benefits of being unemployed is the ability to do anything anytime you want, and in my case it means that I can attend media events that occur during the day at a time when I’d normally be working. This Friday I’ll be at Infineon Raceway for Two-Wheel Thunder, a test session for motorcycle riders in the AMA Pro Road Racing Series.
It all begins at 9am and is completely free to the public. So if your schedule is open that day you should come out to Sonoma and check it out. There will also be riders from Supermoto USA and TTXGP electric motorcycle demonstrations.
This is all in advance of the West Coast Moto Jam taking place at Infineon on May 14-16. If you purchase a ticket for the West Coast Moto Jam during Two-Wheel Thunder you’ll get to take a lap around the the raceway’s road course on your motorcycle. For more info go to infineonraceway.com
In other news…
– ESPN’s Jamie Little became engaged to Cody Selman, Kyle Busch’s former go-to guy. Congrats to Jamie & Cody! Check out her ring, it’s spectacular! I saw her interviewing Danica Patrick with it on over the weekend and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Good job, Cody!
– Brian Vickers participated in a special NASCAR Tweetup at Martinsville where he competed against fans in an simulated racing challenge at the Sprint Experience.
Brian Vickers races Miss Sprint Cup and six fans from Twitter during a pre-race tweet-up at the Sprint Experience. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brian Vickers congratulates Matt Dettelbach (@mdbach on Twitter) for beating him in the simulator race at the Sprint Experience. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
– JR Motorsports has joined forces with Lifetime Television for this weekend’s Nationwide Series race at Nashville. Be on the lookout for Scott Wimmer in the No. 7 car wrapped in a special Army Wives paint scheme.
I have to applaud this effort by Lifetime to recognize NASCAR’s huge female audience and the benefit of sponsorship. I WISH more brands and companies would realize the untapped power of female racing fans. Just email NASCAR, they’ve got all the stats (or ask for a ‘Fabulous’ media kit).
Oh and one request I have for Lifetime… Why not a Project Runway car? OMG! I would LOVE that… I would buy every piece of merchandise that existed, and Michael Kors could design the car and the firesuit! Heidi Klum could be the Grand Marshal for the race. Dude, it’d be so amazingly awesome on about a million different levels. Seriously, think about it.
More details, including info on a special sweepstakes where you can win an all-expenses paid trip for four people to a NASCAR race, from the press release:
It was while I was watching Bridget Jones’ Diary for the 500th time that I realized that Mark Darcy, a character played by the Oscar nominated actor Colin Firth, looks a lot like NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The eyes, the lips, the general skin tone and coloring are all very similar. See for yourself.
Dale Earnhardt Jr (left) and Colin Firth (right)
And then when I was watching the Oscars on Sunday night I thought that Jake Gyllenhaal, who is starring in the upcoming Prince of Persia film and whom I really, really hope will be at a race that I am at sometime this year, looks kinda similar to Red Bull Racing driver Brian Vickers.
Maybe it’s the beard and the eyebrows?
Brian Vickers (left) and Jake Gyllenhaal (right)
Oh! I would like to take this moment to say that I am loving Clint Bowyer’s hair these days. It seems, to me at least, to be reminiscent of Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s look circa 1991 on the TV show Saved by the Bell. Clint, please don’t cut your hair.
I’m not joking, I really like it.
(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Clint Bowyer and Marcos Ambrose answer questions in the James H. Hunter Media Center Tuesday during a Goodyear Tire test at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C. (Credit: MotorRacingNetwork.com)
Here’s my comparison of Kasey Kahne to Twilight hottie Robert Pattinson, again, because who wouldn’t want to look at these two guys?
Kasey Kahne (left) and Robert Pattinson (right)
So I know everybody is putting a lot of thought into Carl Edwards actions this weekend at Atlanta. Was he justified in bumping Brad “I Have No Friends” Keselowski into flight or should he have found him after the race and gently slapped him across the face with a white glove?
I’m in two minds about it, but I know for sure that it was fun to watch. I’m glad Brad was OK after the wreck (and we should never take the strides they’ve made in keeping the drivers safe for granted), but we know that Carl didn’t intend for him to flip around like that.
Now let’s talk about the other disaster in this race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets the pole and then proceeds to lead not a single lap in the ENTIRE race. How is this possible? Holy crap, I love you Dale. I really, really, really do, but what the heck?
Big shout out and congrats to David Gilliland for putting on a great show on Sunday! He led laps and ran up front a whole heck of a lot. Good things are coming for that No. 38 Charter Air Transport / Taco Bell team! It’s so nice when you support a driver and they do good things to remind you why you pull for them in the first place. Seriously, I cannot WAIT till David wins a Sprint Cup race. It’s going to be AH-MAY-ZING.
Fellow Toyota drivers Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers talk in the garage during Friday’s practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.(Credit: Tom Whitmore/Getty Images for NASCAR)
43 different drivers started the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Shelby American in Las Vegas, but for some reason the same guy that won the race the weekend before won again.
How is this possible? What are the 42 other drivers, and their teams, doing?? I mean, really? This cannot keep happening. It’s not like it’s 5 dudes out there running around. There are FORTY-THREE cars!! Nobody should be winning anything in a row!
Grrr… Step it up please! Frankly, I was very sad that Jeff Gordon couldn’t get the win over Jimmie Johnson. Not because I wanted Jimmie to lose, so much as I just wanted Jeff to win.
Anyway, I have to talk about Amy of Amy’s Bad Groove. She got the chance to interview Tony Stewart, her favorite driver, in person over the Las Vegas race weekend. I am sooooo excited that she got the opportunity, and I cannot WAIT to read her interview with Tony. I have to put you guys on notice that she’s working on it so you should subscribe to her RSS feed so you can get it as soon as she posts it. I’m sure it’ll be awesome. This would be equivalent to me getting the chance to interview Dale Earnhardt Jr. one-on-one, so the fact that she didn’t pass out or forget all of her questions (which could totally happen if I was confronted with Dale Jr.) is awesome. Congrats Amy!
Fans watch Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series practice action from above in Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Neon Garage. (Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
After the Myers Brothers Awards Ceremony, I left the Venetian and headed back to my room so that I could change out of my “business casual” dress and into clothes that were much warmer. It was so cold in Vegas. I wished it would get into the 70s but it never got close. Friday night, the night of the awards ceremony it was in the low 50s with freeze warnings in effect.
So I changed my clothes and tried to walk quickly to the monorail at Harrah’s/Imperial Palace station so that I could get to the MGM Grand as fast as possible because that’s where the start/finish line was for the Victory Lap. I wanted to see the top-12 drivers doing burnouts, but it wasn’t to be. I missed the whole thing. What I did see, from the windows of the monorail, was the traffic that was backed up for at least a mile next to the Strip. That was kinda neat.
Thursday, December 3rd was a big day full of events. However, my first event of the day had nothing to do with NASCAR but everything to do with moving from my $40 room at Harrah’s to my awesome not that much more expensive room at the Mirage. I loved my room at the Mirage so much that I took pictures of it. Which, I think, is saying something. For one, it had an iPod docking station & player so I could listen to my playlists while I got ready. The overall room design was modern & contemporary cool, complete with large flat screen TV with HD channels.
Anyway, after I got all checked in at the Mirage and waded through all of the authentic cowboys in town for the 2009 Wrangler National Rodeo Finals, I made my way over to the Venetian across the street for the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Ceremony.
Before the ceremony the top-12 drivers were available in an adjacent ballroom for Q&A sessions with media. I only had one question that I had any interest in asking any of the drivers and that was “Do you have any big plans for the off-season?”
Everyone was already engaged with media from various outlets: print, online, and TV. So I did a quick lap around taking pictures, and then chatted with ESPN PR.
Instead of starting from the beginning, I’m going to start with the end and work my way backwards.
Friday was of course the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony at the Wynn in Las Vegas. I woke up that morning with a slight hangover from the previous night’s festivities. I spent the majority of the morning willing myself to feel normal and to not vomit even though vomiting probably would have made me feel better, but whatever. I went down to Carnegie Deli and got their chicken soup, which helped tremendously.
That morning I had to go over to the Wynn (I stayed at the Mirage Thursday and Friday, and Harrah’s on Wednesday) to pick up my ticket to the banquet. Passing through the lobby I caught sight of Ron Malec, car chief of the no. 48 Lowe’s team, taking pictures with his girlfriend.
Along with the ticket to the event that told me my table number for the night, I also got to pick up the wristband to get me into the after party and a mini replica of the Sprint Cup Championship trophy. It’s as cute and cool as you’d expect, and it also doubles as a paper weight.
Finally, I’m sitting down to write the first of many posts about my weekend at the Auto Club Speedway for the Pepsi 500.
Friday was the usual routine of top-12 drivers press conferences. I was in a majority of them and some seriously interesting stuff went down. Okay, so it was only during Juan Pablo Montoya’s session that I had one of those Southwest commercial “Wanna Get Away??” moments. And I wasn’t even the one who caused the weirdness.
DirecTV has some serious splainin’ to do. It all seemed to start on Saturday morning. I was watching TV and every now and again the screen would go black for a second and then the picture would come back. I didn’t think that much of it until Sunday when I was home all day and was all set to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods that I noticed this problem hadn’t gone away.
The problem, which could get worse and then clear up just as suddenly, seemed to only affect local channels, and after I spoke to DirecTV I found out that it was only happening to people in the San Francisco Bay Area (including fellow NASCAR blogger Amy!). So I could watch ESPN and another cable & premium channels just fine, but ABC was not behaving. I tried to watch the race with the one of the HotPass channels but that was annoying because I wasn’t in the mood to have to listen to MRN.
So I dealt with it even though it gave me a headache from all the skipping and flickering of the screen.
It is my duty as a sports blogger to have an opinion on everything and to make bold predictions. Normally I’m against this, everything doesn’t need to be said, but I thought it could be fun to make predictions about the outcome of The Chase, predictions that even I don’t take that seriously. Enjoy!
(in the order of the current points standings)
|1.) Mark Martin – I have believe that Mark Martin will win the Championship, unless something happens that makes it so that he doesn’t.|
|2.) Jimmie Johnson – Jimmie will definitely not win the Championship for a 4th straight year, because that would just be greedy and show-offy.|
|3.) Denny Hamlin – Denny will continue to be my sentimental fave for the year, and also my favorite Cribs episode featuring a NASCAR driver. Oh! He’ll also continue to get on people’s nerves.|
|4.) Juan Pablo Montoya – JPM will be frustrated.|
|5.) Kurt Busch – Hmm… Kurt will be all “Whatever” and I’ll be all “Whatever” and then he’ll be all, “Yeah, whatever.” He’s also writing for the Chicago Tribune’s Players Only blog on a weekly basis for the remainder of the season.|
|6.) Tony Stewart – Tony will get close to the Championship but won’t be able to seal the deal. He’ll continue to “mentor” young female drivers.|
|7.) Ryan Newman – He’s in the Chase? Oh, right, right. Ryan will win at least one race before the year is over.|
|8.) Brian Vickers – Bri Bri will be a threat for the Championship. He’ll continue to be supercute and will write a diary for Maxim.com. No really, he’s supposed to do that.|
|9.) Greg Biffle – Biffle’s eyes will pierce through you like lasers. They really do. His stare is intense. Yeah, he’s not winning this thing.|
|10.) Jeff Gordon – Jeff will hopefully *fingers crossed* impregnate his wife a second time and make the second cutest kid ever! I’d like to think he’d win the Sprint Cup but that’d mean I’d have to be mean to Mark Martin.|
|11.) Carl Edwards – Oh, Carly. Well, his Frisbee foot will heal just in time for him to not win the Championship. He’ll continue to confound female NASCAR fans everywhere with his supreme polite gorgeousness.|
|12.) Kasey Kahne – Kasey will pick himself up and dust himself off and start all over again tomorrow at Dover. He’ll improve his position. Kasey will also continue to confound me with his ability to be absolutely adorable without even trying. Look at that photo, c’mon!|
Congratulations to the twelve men that made it into the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup. It’s an interesting little group. I can’t believe the entirety of Stewart-Haas Racing made it in especially since I didn’t think they’d win a single race this year. Brian Vickers proved it really isn’t over til it’s over and made the Chase for the first time. I’m so excited for the No. 83 team.
I think it’s going to be a very fun Chase, at least I hope it is. It better be crazy at New Hampshire next weekend.
Wasn’t it nice to have a NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday for once? Just kidding. Although, I was this close to losing it when they stopped the race because of rain. I don’t think I could of handled another race being postponed. I’m putting Mother Nature on notice, if she messes up another race this year I’m never speaking to her again.
I was happy for Brian Vickers and his first win of the season. It was nice to see a new face in Victory Lane this year. Leading up to this race it seemed like momentum was on his side for a victory. I would like to thank Jimmie Johnson for pointing out during his post-race interview the fact that Brian’s first career win a few years ago at Talladega, was kinda tarnished since he spun out Jimmie and Dale Jr. in the process. But whatever, this win was clean and totally deserved. (I swear I’m turning into a driver because I don’t forget stuff that went down like years ago!)
I really, really, really wish I was in Daytona right now. I just had to get that out of my head for the record. I just realized that I haven’t written anything about win at New Hampshire. Hmm. It’s not entirely on purpse. I don’t dislike the kid, I just didn’t want the race to end that way. It was just boring and annoying. I’m not blaming anyone, obviously it was the weather. It was a good race until it had to end. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was doing so well, right? He’s making great progress but then, for whatever reason, something happens and he doesn’t get the chance to let it show.
In other news…
– Office Depot has launched a new photo contest for fans of Tony Stewart and the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet. From now until my birthday, August 31st (which is a total coincidence, most contests end of my birthday), you can upload photos of the creative ways you’ve incorporated the No. 14 into your life. I have a feeling they’re going to receive some verrrrry interesting entries.
Here’s a little known fact about me. I get seriously nervous driving to the racetrack on the first day of a NASCAR race weekend. I mean, I get butterflies and super anxious. I’ve learned that this is a good thing, because if I wasn’t worried about it then it means it’s no big deal and it doesn’t mean anything to me. If I’m nervous about it I’m doing something right.
So that was me on Friday morning driving the super short 30 minutes to Infineon Raceway from my new home in Sonoma County. I moved to the city of Cotati just to be closer to my day job and cut down on my commute expenses but in the process I received the huge bonus of saving my sanity by not having to sit in excruciating traffic leaving the track each day. It’s a beautiful thing.
When I arrived at the track I picked up my credentials and then headed straight to the media center to grab the necessary schedules. I had to park up top next to the helipad and I made the wrong decision to just walk down the hills to the garage instead of waiting for the shuttle. Luckily for me this super nice man offered me a ride in his golf cart. It was great to not have to walk the whole way, but that ride down the hill in a super open vehicle was frightening. The entire time I was mentally and physically bracing myself for the possibility of being catapulted out of it at any moment. Super fun.
The NASCAR All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway is tonight and I am prepared for the occasion because I bought Creamsicles. What does ice cream have to do with the All-Star race you ask? Absolutely nothing. I just like sweet stuff.
I should like AJ Allmendinger more than I do because he’s a local guy, well to me. Both he and Scott Speed grew up here in the Bay Area, and yet I’m not that intrigued by either of them. What’s wrong with me? I’m not saying that I dislike them; I just don’t feel “it” for them yet. I know that probably makes absolutely no sense but I don’t know another way to describe it.
I bring this up because it seems like everybody is voting for AJ to make it into the All-Star Race on the fan vote. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Until then, check out these photos from the All-Star week that was:
In the shadows of the Charlotte skyline, NASCAR fans gather for NASCAR Rev’d Up in Uptown Charlotte to kick off NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race week on Wednesday. (Photo Credit: Chris Keane/Getty Images for Sprint)
O.A.R. thanks for the fans for coming out Wednesday in Uptown Charlotte for NASCAR Rev’d Up, kicking off NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race week. (Photo Credit: Chris Keane/Getty Images for Sprint)
Sprint welcomes NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Casey Mears to the stage Wednesday in Uptown Charlotte at NASCAR Rev’d Up, kicking off NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race week. (Photo Credit: Chris Keane/Getty Images for Sprint)
Everfine/Atlantic recording group O.A.R. learn how to perform a pit stop from the defending champions of the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Presented by Craftsman, the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota team, on Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip celebrate winning the Media Pit Crew Challenge after pushing their car across the finish line Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The winning Media Pit Crew Challenge team celebrates its victory on Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. (Top, left to right) SPEED’s Rick Allen, FOX’s Tony George, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brian Vickers, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio’s Claire B. Lang, SPEED’s Phil Parsons, Lugnut, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Michael Waltrip and Miss Sprint Cup Monica Palumbo; (Bottom left to right) O.A.R. drummer Chris Culos and SPEED’s Ray Dunlap. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Left to right) The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Caterpillar team defeats the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Air Force team in the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Presented by Craftsman Final Thursday at Time Warner Cable in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Caterpillar team, including Jeff Burton’s wife, Kim (right), who drove the car, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Presented by Craftsman Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. at the Time Warner Cable Arena. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
That subject line has absolutely nothing to do with this post but it’s been running through my head for the past 5 days so I had to use it. Thanks a lot Kelly Clarkson!
I watched Crown Royal presents the Russ Friedman 400 from the guest bedroom of my sister’s house in Los Angeles.
Saturday day was her baby shower and Saturday night was the fight party to watch Ricky Hatton get his head knocked off his shoulders by Manny Pacquiao. Anyway, everybody was camped out in the living room watching the Celtics beat the Bulls while I was having a grand old time watching the race by myself, with occasional visits from my nephews who asked questions like “You’re still watching this?”
Anywhoo, Kyle Busch won the Russ Friedman 400 in a car sponsored by Combos. I’m not a big fan of the Combos snack. I think they’re gross because they remind me of the dog treat Snausages. Ech. So it figures Kyle would win.
All in all though, it was a great race. There was suspense and intrigue and those are two attributes I dig most in a race. Obviously I would have loved it more had anyone else won, but what can ya do? Is it lame that I didn’t really want Jeff Gordon to win ’cause I knew that his daughter Ella wasn’t there? I didn’t want him to have another win without her being there to greet him in Victory Lane. Yea, this is the type of stuff that goes through my head. Jeff can’t win a race unless Ella is there, that’s my new rule.
Pole-sitter Brian Vickers and Darrell Waltrip joke with fans during “Trackside Live” on SPEED. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
David Poole was an excellent writer and I will miss his insight and perspective.
The No. 16 Ford of Greg Biffle is one of several cars to carry a decal honoring the late Charlotte Observer reporter David Poole who passed away earlier in the week. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
The crew members of Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota celebrate winning the Lipton Tea 250 at Richmond International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Contest winner Russ Friedman poses in front of the logo for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CROWN ROYAL presents The Russ Friedman 400 at Richmond International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Congratulations to Jeff Gordon for winning the Samsung 500 last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway!
It was exactly what I was waiting for and I’m so glad he’s got a win under him to break that insanely long losing streak he was on. The curious thing is that I think Jeff’s daughter Ella, who will turn two this June, is more popular than he is these days. What did all the fans (okay, maybe it was just the women) want to see when he got into victory lane? Ella of course. What did we get? No Ella! What is up with that? So now Jeff has to win again with Ella on hand so that we’ll all get to see her in victory lane with her daddy. I might collapse from the insane cuteness of it all but it’d be worth it.
During the race I listened to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s radio using NASCAR.com’s TrackPass RaceView. I have to admit that I did doze off at one point, and then awoke to hear Dale saying something about how the orange Gatorade gets really sweet as the race wears on and he thinks they should add more water to it. To which I said to myself “What?”
In other news…
– My guest post on the NASCAR This Week site is up and you should definitely check it out. They chose a bunch of NASCAR bloggers to fill in for Monte Dutton while he was off this week on furlough.
NASCAR driver Ryan Newman (left) fishes with country music artist Josh Turner during Aaron’s Fish & Fun at the Races at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brian Vickers talks about his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota with New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush before Sunday’s Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The complete Foreigner set list from someone who was actually there:
Cold As Ice
Feels Like The First Time
Juke Box Hero
I Want To Know What Love Is
Lead vocalist Kelly Hansen of the band Foreigner performs during the AMDRO Fire Ant Bait Pre-Race Show prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
I’m surprised Jimmie Johnson didn’t come over with one of his Kobalt tools and try to finish the job for Jeff.
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, adds his name to the Wall of Champions after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch (R), driver of the #18 Snickers Toyota, poses with his girlfriend Samantha Sarcinella in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O’Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Red Bull Racing!
The only other time I’ve ever talked about media kits was when I wrote about how much I dug the one Red Bull made back in 2007. The material they gave out to the media with all of the most pertinent facts about their teams and drivers was unique and cool, and in 2009 they’ve made it even cooler.
There aren’t that many memorable media kits out there (although the photos of Kurt Busch in hunting gear were interesting), so the competition isn’t that stiff, but even if it was I still think Red Bull would always win hands down. It’s something that catches your attention and even if you weren’t planning on writing something about Brian Vickers or Scott Speed you might stop to rethink it.
I dig design that’s creative, fun and so very contemporary. When you match that with awesome photography you’ve got a winner. The photos of Vickers are particularly fetching if I do say so myself, he should walk around the garage in a suit jacket. It’s a good look.
(all photos credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
I like to talk about things in chronological order but somehow I went a little out of order in my account of my Las Vegas weekend.
For example I have yet to talk about sitting on pit road during qualifying. I’ve been to a lot of races but I’ve never stayed out on pit road for qualifying. I usually hang out in the garage and try to snap photos of drivers jumping out of their car after they’ve finished their laps.
It’s just as good trackside, if not better, because the drivers are just sitting on the wall waiting for their turn to come around. If they’re not sitting, they’re standing next to their car just a few feet away from people like me.
When I think of that I can’t help but marvel at all of the access NASCAR fans have to their favorite drivers. I’ve always told people that it’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when and where you’ll run into your guy. I think it’s crazy to ask these guys to do more in terms of reaching out to the fans. I mean, Sam Hornish Jr. was standing on pit road for like an hour all by himself, not many people were talking to him. Some fans eventually went up to him to take a photo with him, but for the most part he was just there completely available. That just doesn’t happen in the NFL, NBA or in MLB. If I could walk out on to the field at AT&T Park during practice Barry Zito would be mine, or at the very least I’d have enough photos with him to use for my Christmas card for the next 5 years. The San Francisco Giants should make that happen. Think about it Giants, just think about it.
So that was Friday. On Saturday I staked out the garage for photos like wrote about in my last post. For the Nationwide race I went out on to the track for driver introductions and then down to pit road for the anthem. I stood in between David Ragan and Brendan Gaughan’s cars. During the race I watched it from my seat in the media center.
At one point, I went out to the Neon Garage to get something to eat. I sat out there and watched the race on one of the two big screens that sit opposite each other inside the huge courtyard-like area. I ordered the yummiest $9 BBQ pulled pork nachos I’d ever tasted. They could easily cut that portion in half and sell it for $4 and it’d be just as good. Overall though, I highly recommend them!
At the end of the Sam’s Town 300, the top-3 finishers were brought into the media center to field questions, as per usual. Pit road speed seemed to be a problem for a lot of drivers that day and Brian Vickers and Carl Edwards seemed to think that the pace car hadn’t set the right speed before the race start, and that is what caused a lot of drivers to speed on pit road.
And that was Friday and Saturday. Next up: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!
Tony Stewart prepares to qualify for the Shelby 527 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday, February 27, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
(from left to right) Jason Keller, Mike Bliss and Steve Wallace chat before driver introductions for the Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, February 28, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Scott Speed chat before driver introductions for the Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, February 28, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
The No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino team lineup for the National Anthem Dale before the start of the Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, February 28, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
It seriously hurts my heart when I write something and then in a moment of complete insanity I lose everything I’ve just written because my computer crashes. That’s just what happened to me, so I apologize if this post sucks.
I finally have some time to write up my thoughts from last weekend’s races at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
Saturday was pretty uneventful, so I’m skipping that and getting into Sunday.
I hovered outside the drivers meeting room to get photos. While doing that I spotted Cody, the PR guy for Kyle Busch. I introduced myself to him not to ask him if I could interview Kyle, but to ask him if he knew that he had fans. Now you’re probably wondering how a PR guy can have his own set of fans but it’s totally possible. Anytime you see Kyle on TV walking through the garage to things like driver intros or to his appearances Cody is always by his side. Plus he’s a young guy who happens to be pretty good looking. So it’s understandable that there would be people out there, people who asked me to ask him if he has a Twitter page. Cody said that he didn’t know that he had fans and that he doesn’t have an account with Twitter (at least as of Sunday).
Later on I headed out to the grass area for driver introductions. The red carpet was rolled out once again for all of the drivers and it was a complete mob scene with fans jockeying for position along the roped off area. At that point I realized that trying to get any kind of photo would be futile so I stood back from it all.
Earlier in the day during one of my cupcake trips over to the FanZone I caught a portion of a performance by the hard rock band Rev Theory. I watched them do a couple songs and I thought they were great. While I was waiting for driver introductions to begin I spied the guys from Rev Theory walking through the grass. I told them that I’d seen them earlier and that they were really good. Introductions were made and I chatted with the drummer Dave and their personal assistant/handler guy Nice (that’s his nickname) about the virtues of Twitter. They were really nice guys and were super fun to talk to. I love band dudes.
After driver intros I played the pit road version of musical chairs. What you do is you start walking and then stop when you hear the PA announcer say “Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise…” I ended up standing behind the pit crew for the #88.
When I turned around after the flyover, which I love to death by the way, I realized I had been standing in front and to the left of Carl Edwards, his wife Kate and all of the guys from Band From TV.
My race day ritual, which I don’t think I’ve ever talked about before, is to stand behind the pits with a perfect view of the start/finish line for the race start, and
then at the end of the race with about 10 laps to go. It’s a compromise between actuallyseeing the race right in front of me and then going back to the media center to watch it through a TV screen.
So the sweetest, most adorable moment of the day was during the post-race press conference with the top-3 race finishers. Before Jeff Gordon arrived (he finished second) his wife Ingrid walked in carrying their daughter Ella. I think I’ve said it like a million times but I’ll say it again she is so freaking cute! When Jeff walked in he went over to Ella, picked her up and gave her a kiss. So cute! Then when Jeff went up to the stage and sat down Ella kept saying “da da” and pointed at him. Cute overload!
I was sad that Jeff didn’t win the race; he was so close to ending his losing streak. But I believe he will be in victory lane very soon because in that press conference he exuded passion, excitement and positivity about his race team. He said that they were head and shoulders above where they were last year. I truly hope that all of that optimism will pay off for him.
I love this photo.
Kasey Kahne’s #9 Budweiser Dodge on pit road before the start of the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Sunday, February 22, 2009. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Brian Vickers waits to be interviewed by SPEED at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Sunday, February 22, 2009. (Photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Billy Ray Cyrus at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Saturday, February 21, 2009. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
OK, this is Michael Waltrip. I took this photo because I saw the big purple stain on his back pocket and thought it was curious. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
The band Rev Theory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Sunday, February 22, 2009. (Photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
I think this UPS Truck golf cart is the coolest thing. I wanted to drive it! (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
All day the amount of media that gathered for the individual driver press conferences had been small to say the least. I think almost every driver who walked in commented on the lack of butts in the seats. The audio from each meeting was being broadcast over to the deadline media room, and the reporters there could ask questions if they wanted, so people didn’t have to show up in-person if they didn’t want to.
The only driver to have an insane grouping of everyone and their mother was Dale Earnhardt Jr. who was asked every kind of variation of the same question regarding the incident between him and Brian Vickers at Daytona. The gist of what he had to say was that he didn’t mean to do it, he’s sorry about it, and yes, he’s talked to Brian. Blah, blah, blah.
While the vast majority of media was hanging onto every word uttered from Dale’s lips, Carl Edwards was left sitting in the driver’s meeting room with only 3 writers in front of him. I was kicking myself for not ditching Dale and sitting in on Carl’s session instead.
When it comes to these Q&A shindigs with drivers I’ve never asked a question and I usually try to stay towards the back and to the side. But when you’re in a situation where you’re one of like 5 or 6 people in a big empty room it’s hard to blend in. I don’t prepare questions for these things, or at least I haven’t in the past.
These guys are always asked the same questions and if I did dare to say something I’d want it to be interesting and somewhat thoughtful. After about 3 drivers came in it was Casey Mears turn to take the stage and field questions.
I don’t know what I was thinking but I raised my hand to ask a question. I was curious if becoming a father last year has changed his outlook on racing at all. I was sort of afraid to ask because I didn’t want to pry into his personal life and I didn’t want him to give me a Paul Menard answer of “I’m not going to answer that.”
Casey was very nice and smiled throughout his entire response. Smiling is the international symbol for “Your question wasn’t horrible.”
Here’s Casey’s full response: “I’ve discussed this a little bit before and in Daytona as well. It’s funny because I think being one of the younger guys looking at some of the guys that have children and have a little bit more of a family thing, ‘Man, they’re probably slowing down a little bit.’ Ya know, they’re going to be a little more conservative because of that situation and in a lot of ways I think it’s completely the opposite now, being in that situation. It makes you want to try that much harder. It makes you want to be that much more successful. It makes you want to be able to provide for that family now and that child. And I think that it definitely brings a whole new light in my mind of the situation because I feel like you think about it at night a little bit more, ‘hey we wanna make something happen. I want to prove myself, I want to do well.’ So I think from that perspective things have changed. I’ve always had a huge drive to do well and be successful but it’s definitely affected my life probably, and my racing career, in a different way than I thought it was going to. It’s not slowing me down it’s making me work harder.”
From that and subsequent questioning of other drivers I quickly realized that these guys remember everything they’re asked and if you want to stand out and not sound like a schmo you need to come up with something different.
Unfortunately for me I didn’t have the time to think of something fabulous and witty when Elliott Sadler walked into the room. I was the ONLY media member sitting in front of him. As Elliott walked by me he was like “So it’s just you and me today?”, and I was all “I guess so!”
Inside I was freaking out, what am I going to say? I have nothing! Nothing! So I offered up the only thing I could which was the standard how do you feel about your car question. After that I followed up by asking him if ever gets the opportunity to sit down with The King, Richard Petty, or does it happen more in passing which is what Kasey Kahne and Reed Sorenson had said earlier that day. He was nice and answered them both well, but I could tell that I hadn’t wowed him with my journalistic skills. Luckily, a few reporters trickled in during his response to my second question and I was off the hook.
The best part of my day, in which I had to pat myself on the back, was when I asked David Ragan if he ever Googled himself. I think his answer speaks for itself, in it’s pure awesomeness:
“I have Googled myself and, trust me, I wasn’t just like sitting in a room and it was just me. It was probably with a group of friends or at a racetrack trying to kill some time, but yeah I read a little bit.
I think probably my aunts and uncles, and family members they read a lot more than what I do. I read a couple magazines and papers and kind of see what everyone’s talking about, but I don’t get overly caught up in what everyone is writing. And every now and then I’ll see something that ‘Hey that’s not right, or that’s not spelled out right.’ And I think that for a second I’m like ‘Man I wonder if they’re just confused or they don’t have the facts right’ and I’ll try to round ‘em up or if I see one of the writers at the next racetrack I’ll try to grab them or something like that. I do pay attention a little bit to what’s going on but I think my family probably keeps me up to date more than anybody.
That was a good question. I like questions like that, other than ‘How was your car?’ or ‘Are you excited to be here this weekend?’ and stuff like that. I like odd questions.”
Kasey Kahne (left) and Reed Sorenson (right) took on their press conferences together at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Friday, February 20, 2009. (credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. mulls over a question at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Friday, February 20, 2009. (credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
The Brian Vickers/Dale Earnhardt Jr. incident has been and will continue to be well documented by others so I’m not even going to get into it. Well I will say this; I don’t think that Dale intended to spin Brian out. I think it was an accident and I’m not just saying that because I like Dale. I actually like both of them. I just don’t think Dale would do that knowing there’s an entire field of cars behind him that could be involved. He’s always been pretty honest about his on-track exploits so whatevah.
My Daytona highlights:
– FOX NASCAR racing analysts Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip laugh every time the Digger graphic comes up. I find it funny that they find it so funny.
– All of the NASCAR kids and babies on pit road during the invocation and National Anthem made my entire reproductive system want to explode from their cuteness. How adorable was Macey Waltrip helping her dad get settled into his car?
– Julianne Hough was supposed to sing the National Anthem but she came down with the flu and couldn’t travel. In her place they were able to secure singer/songwriter Gavin DeGraw who gave the most pitiful anthem performance ever. I like Gavin DeGraw in general but this was definitely not one of his best performances.
– Keith Urban performed a lot on Sunday. He performed acoustically at a press conference for the media (lucky nerds!) and then for everyone else with his full band behind him before the start of the race. Apparently Keith brought his wife, a little known Australian actress named Nicole Kidman, with him. If that doesn’t blow your mind enough Nicole’s ex-husband Tom Cruise was on hand to lead the field to the green flag in the pace car. I guess we should just call it a Days of Thunder reunion party. Side note: I have yet to watch Days of Thunder all the way through, but I have been on the ride at Great America.
Overall the Daytona 500 was a big ol’ anticlimactic mess for me. I mean, Matt Kenseth is cool and all but races that end with a red flag are just no good. It left me feeling gypped and bored with leftover 5-layer dip.
Oh, one more thing, speaking of Mr. Kenseth he’ll be in San Francisco this Wednesday for all of you Bay Area NASCAR fans:
Fans can see the winner of Sunday’s Daytona 500 this Wednesday at Willie Mays Plaza at AT&T Park at 12:30 p.m. during a fan rally and press conference. Matt Kenseth will be on-hand after taking a Victory Tour through the Streets of San Francisco on a motorized cable car. This marks the first time a Daytona 500 winner has visited SF. The day signals the Official Countdown to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR race at Infineon Raceway in June.
Photo fun time!
Some might say Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, may have had a couple of good luck charms Thursday at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Gatorade Duel 1. Wife Ingrid Vandebosch and daughter Ella Sophia hang out with the four-time NASCAR champion the grid prior to the race at Daytona International Speedway that he won. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Don’t tap on the glass, they hate that.
Three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon signs autographs for fans during the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Saturday for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Country star Keith Urban performs a pre-race concert prior to the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth celebrates winning the 51st running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Kenseth became the 33rd different driver to win “The Great American Race.” (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Steve and Christine Deuker meet NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman (center) on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. The Deukers honored Newman and their son, who passed away in 2001, by buying a brick from the NASCAR Hall of Fame. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tom Cruise climbs into the pace car for some practice laps around Daytona International Speedway. Cruise led the Daytona 500 to the green flag in the pace car. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart reads a Valentine’s Day card before getting into his car for the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice for the Daytona 500 on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Last Thursday night NASCAR drivers, a smattering of celebrities and regular people gathered at Marquee, a super hot nightclub in New York City, to celebrate NASCAR Sprint Cup Champions Week.
My only note about this soiree is that I think that NASCAR should seriously ponder moving the Champions Week festivities to different locations each year, preferably Las Vegas, San Francisco or Los Angeles as I am close to all of those areas.
The celebs in attendance ranged from Rikki Lake to that one guy who was on Ally McBeal who loved women with “wattles” to Samantha Ronson and non-lesbian-lesbian Lindsay Lohan.
Ingrid Vandebosch (Jeff Gordon’s wife)
Miss Sprint Cup Monica Palumbo (left) and Miss Sprint Cup Anne-Marie Rhodes (right)
Kyle Busch and his girlfriend Samantha Sarcinella
Jimmie and Chandra Johnson
Greg and Nicole Biffle
I guess I am.
It’s time to take a break. It’s time to take a breath and get ready for next year, for fans, teams and drivers alike. We have three months to familiarize ourselves with all of the new teams and driver changes that happened this year. Someone should make a cheat sheet ’cause I can’t seem to wrap my head around all the changes that’ll be in place next year.
The DEI / Ganassi merger that was announced this week is not helping things. When I read about it all my first thought was what happens to Regan Smith? And why does Aric Almirola have a ride for sure and Regan doesn’t? That’s not a knock against Aric but I’m really curious about how that determination was made. Regan is still in the running for that fourth team along with Scott Riggs and AJ Allmendinger. It’s gonna be interesting to see how this all plays out. I don’t expect the new Earnhardt Ganassi Racing organization to start kicking butt and take names next year, all of this is just an attempt to stop the bleeding.
In other news…
– Have you seen Sporting News’ special collectors issue “60 Most Beautiful People in NASCAR”? I just flipped through it today, haven’t read it completely yet but it’s got some in depth interviews with drivers like Brian Vickers, Kasey Kahne, Casey Mears and Clint Bowyer, plus drivers wives like Krissie Newman, Chandra Johnson and Katie Kenseth. I find it odd that Kyle Busch didn’t make the list, I really do.
– One thing I must state, yet again, Ingrid Vandebosch was not/is not a supermodel. She’s referred to as one in the Sporting News special NASCAR issue. To be a supermodel I have to be able to know who you are by just hearing your first name. Think about it, if we’re sitting around talking about models and I say Tyra or Cindy or Gisele to you, you already know whom I’m talking about. If I said Ingrid you’d be like “Who??” I’m not knocking the woman; I’m just knocking the people who throw the supermodel moniker around like it’s nothing. It’s my personal pet peeve. To be called a supermodel you have to have done many things in your career to take you above and beyond the average working model. OK, I’m officially off the soapbox and I’m never talking about this again.
– Tony Stewart was named the Grand Marshall of this year’s Fiesta Bowl. The announcement took place last Friday in Phoenix and I had to share this photo of Tony at the press conference. I just think it’s funny/cute. He looks awkward in that coat. It’s not a good look; actually I don’t think that jacket is a good look for anybody.
Tony Stewart (center) is introduced as the Grand Marshall of the upcoming Fiesta Bowl by Chairman of the Board Dave Tilson (left) and Executive Director John Junker (right). (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Here’s some stuff you should know about, if you don’t already:
– Jamie McMurray’s paint scheme for this weekend’s Dickies 500 serves as a reminder to all NASCAR fans that they need to get crackin’ if they want to be the latest winner of the Crown Royal ‘Your Name Here 400′ Contest. Just think, your name could be title sponsor of the May 2009 Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway:
Before Nov. 21, fans 21 years old and over can visit www.CrownRoyal.com to enter the contest by describing an accomplishment or honorable act worthy of toasting with Crown Royal. Selected finalists will enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip in February to the Daytona 500 where they will participate in an unveiling ceremony to announce the ‘Your Name Here 400′ grand prize winner.
In addition to having their name officially incorporated into the race, the grand prize winner will serve as the Grand Marshal in Richmond — allowing them to do everything from delivering the trophy in Victory Lane to yelling the most famous words in racing, “Gentlemen, start your engines!”
– A man bid over $15,000 to take three high-speed laps around Lowe’s Motor Speedway with Dale Earnhardt Jr. proving that men love Dale Jr. just as much as women do:
When the auctions closed Oct. 3, Thomas Mendiburu from New Jersey had won the ride-of-a-lifetime with Dale Jr. for three warp-speed laps around Lowe’s Motor Speedway with a winning bid of more than $15,000! Wrangler® flew the generous high bidder to Charlotte for two days of unforgettable NASCAR experiences. Not only did he strap in for the 170-mph ride with Dale Jr. – Wrangler® also gave Mendiburu a glimpse of life in the driver’s seat when experts from the Richard Petty Driving Experience taught him to drive a racecar before letting him cruise around the track once again…this time as the driver!
The cool thing about all of this is that the entire Dale Jr./Wrangler auction raised $17, 475 for the Victory Junction Gang camp. Niice.
– Brian Vickers showed off his new digs in SoHo to the New York Times. Apparently the Big Apple bug bit him after former teammate Jeff Gordon extolled its awesomeness. Check out the accompanying photo gallery of his zen, modern bachelor pad!
– Interested in watching more funny videos from the Americans for a Gunk-Free Nation campaign? Check out the debate and a very interesting interview with Gunk. Yes, I said they’ve got an interview with Gunk.
Since the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway is this weekend it only made sense to post photos from the Lowe’s testing session that occurred a couple weeks ago.
I’ve been following the presidential election coverage a lot and everybody is looking for a “game-changer” from the debates and in terms of NASCAR I think this weekend’s race might bring just that for the drivers embroiled in the The Chase. At least I hope this race produces a game-changer because I think it’ll be far more interesting if the points lead changes hands again.
Oh and I have something to say about NASCAR’s judgment on the whole Regan Smith/Tony Stewart Talladega finish. So yes they got the call right but they really need to work on being clear on the rules in the first place. This isn’t the first time the rules have been foggy. Even the announcers calling the race heard different things about the rules for the last lap of the race. So the bottom line is they still f’ed up. Thank you.
Today’s race sucked. I’m happy for Carl Edwards and his team for beating Kyle Busch, of course. I think that goes without saying, but it was still kinda lame. Maybe I’m being too picky and hard to please but I just want someone to win who hasn’t won this year, or if that’s not possible then someone who’s only won once so far.
Has anyone started printing up “Anybody but Busch” shirts yet?? ‘Cause I can’t believe that I’m actually sad Jeff Gordon hasn’t won a race this year. I find that fact seriously disturbing and I’ve already started wondering when the four horsemen are going to show up. Watching him in his post-race interview I was happy to see that he was going to use his drop in points as a reason to take things up a notch. That team has got to get it together.
I’m not even going to talk about Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ugh.
I’m sure next week’s race at Bristol will be far more interesting.
On the bright side, don’t think I didn’t notice that ESPN’s cameras paid attention to the adorable Gilliland family during pre-race festivities for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series events. That was great.
Pole sitter for the 3M Performance 400 Presented by Bondo and driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Brian Vickers stands next to his car during pre-race activities Sunday. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Former driver and now TV commentator Dale Jarrett chats with driver of the No. 19 Stanley Dodge Elliott Sadler during Friday’s Sprint Cup Series practice at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Fans crowd around Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet, during qualifying Friday at Michigan International Speedway (Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 60 Planters Ford, celebrates a win in his typical manner — a backflip — but this time kept his helmet on. Edwards, who also was the polesitter, won the NASCAR Nationwide CARFAX 250 on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images for NASCAR)
After the fun ESPN tour I headed into the Sprint Cup garage. I walked down one row and then another and stopped at the stall for the No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota. I took photos and then noticed Michael Waltrip walking towards me. As he passed by he smiled and said “Hello” to me and the guy taking photos next to me. He got into the car and strapped himself in.
Here’s the thing, I knew that the practice sessions were set to start soon, but I didn’t realize exactly how soon. So here I am walking down the garage right in front of the car stalls stopping at each one to take a photo. I started to see a pattern that all of the drivers seemed to be in their cars with their helmets on all at the same time. It didn’t dawn on me that they were minutes from racing out of the garage and onto the track until I got to the end of the row and noticed that nobody else was as close to the stalls as I was and drivers were looking at me as I took their photos like “What are you doing? Who are you? Don’t you know I’m about to run you over?!” It wasn’t that serious, but it was really, really, eerie.
I mean, really eerie. It’s this extreme calm before the storm. They were all just sitting there waiting for the go ahead. As soon as I caught on that they would be racing out at any moment I decided to walk faster and get to a corner where I could get a good view of the cars as they pulled out and stay well out of everyone’s way.
Once practice was over it was time for the drivers & crew chiefs meeting before the start of the Nationwide Series race. First I must say that I love the way the infield area of Chicagoland is laid out. The media center is smack dab in the center of everything and it’s closed off so the fans, even those with pit passes, are kept well away from it. The Sprint Cup garage is to the left and the Nationwide garage is to the right, and the tent for the drivers meeting was behind it.
So back to the drivers meeting, I went to tent area and stood with the security stationed outside of it to keep the fans at bay. Since it was the Nationwide race after all there weren’t that many people waiting with me, maybe like 3 or 4? If that, I’m not entirely sure but I know it wasn’t anything near all of the people that were there the next day for the Sprint Cup drivers meeting. They had to put up steel barriers for that one. But I digress. So I’m standing there and drivers start to trickle in. I snapped Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers and Matt Kenseth.
And then there was Clint.
Clint Bowyer walks up, all alone and I hold up my camera to take a photo and he looks in my direction. Now, I had no idea if he was actually looking at me or just in my general vicinity. I had no idea what expression he was making and honestly I didn’t want to know. I feel totally fine about taking pictures of people if they’re not looking at me while I’m doing it. Plus he’s seen me directly taking shots of him at Las Vegas and Infineon and now Chicagoland. So I didn’t dare look up from my camera for fear that he might be frowning or something. I don’t know. He went into the tent and that was that.
Later on I looked at the photo in its full size and I cracked up because he is in fact staring straight at me with this weird expression that looks kinda like he’s pissed. But I love this photo. It’s my most favorite photo to date. The look on his face is priceless; he’s like “What??” Hmm. Note to self: No more photos of Clint Bowyer, at least for the next race. Or at least not when he’s looking.
Sprint Cup cars roll out to the track for a practice session at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, July 11, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Tony Stewart heads into the drivers meeting before the Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, July 11, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
David Ragan (far left), Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth leave the drivers meeting before the Dollar General 300 on Friday, July 11, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
And so begins the television coverage of NASCAR from the fine folks at TNT. I really wish NASCAR could just be on one channel. One. Uno. But what can ya do right?
So TNT excitedly announced their new RaceBuddy feature on NASCAR.com, I didn’t bother to check it out — at least not yet — but the image that kept jumping to mind every time they mentioned it during Sunday’s race was the doll My Buddy from the 80s. I keep singing the theme song to myself “My Buddy, My Buddy, My Buddy, My Buddy and Meeeeeee!” and then I followed it up with “Kid Sister, Kid Sister, Kid Sister, Kid Sister and Meeeeeeee!” Bonus points to you if you remember My Buddy and Kid Sister and triple quadruple points if you actually had one!
Brad Keselowski, how can you not be happy for this guy? He raced his butt off and got his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win ever and I couldn’t be more excited for him and the Navy team. You could see the genuine relief and happiness in his eyes after the race. It was just so cool that his mom and dad were there. Those are my absolutely favorite moments in sports in general. Getting to see the family that has been with these guys from the beginning and getting to see them sharing that moment when they have their first taste of success, that’s pretty awesome. It’s another one of the million reasons why I’m so anxious for the Olympics to start.
Furthermore, didn’t it suck that Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t there to be with his team for their first win? He didn’t even get to see it live on TV. DirecTV had a blackout and so for the last ten laps he had a friend relay the information to him online. Crazy.
Ok, so the Cup race at Pocono. Speaking of Dale Jr. what was up with him during his post race interview? I know that he’s not a super talkative guy after the races in general but that was less that usual. I’m sure it had to do with the heat, and it seems like all of the guys were feeling the affects of it after the race, except for Jimmie Johson who said he was totally fine. Right.
Kasey Kahne won another race and that’s great for him. I’m still miffed about the lack of attention that the Yates Racing guys have received. I want them to get a friggin’ top 5 finish so bad just so the media will have to talk about them for longer than 10 seconds.
In other news…
– Speaking of Yates Racing, both of their drivers will be here in the Bay Area tomorrow for testing at Infineon. I will be there too, taking pictures of whatever I can see. Hopefully something will be going on while I’m there, I won’t be able to stay the whole day.
– David Ragan will be on an episode of “Lawrence of America” on the Travel Channel tomorrow (June 10th) at 11pm EST. Check your local listings. “It was fun filming the show with Lawrence last fall,” said Ragan. “I think he learned a lot and it will be a great way to hopefully introduce the sport to some new fans to the sport. We had a good time at the go-kart track, but next time we’ll go the big track and see how he does.”
– There’s still plenty of time to enter the contest for a free copy of the NASCAR Full Throttle Adrenaline DVD set.
– I don’t know what it is about Brian Vickers but every time I hear him speak I’m surprised by his southern accent. It’s like I forget that he has one every time I see him. It’s cute though, I like accents. There’s no big point to this, I’m just over sharing.
Brian Vickers finished second in the Pocono 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, moving up two spots to 17th in driver standings (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Mark Martin qualified third-fastest for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, where he’s finished second six times. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Fellow Ford drivers, Jamie McMurray and David Gilliland, talk about their cars during a break in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Elliott Sadler share a laugh in the garage during Friday’s practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I still don’t have the SPEED channel and therefore won’t be able to watch the NASCAR All-Star event. Yes, I know it’s shameful and sad but for as many reasons that I have to justify the cost of having the channel I really don’t want to pay all that extra dough to move up to the channel plan I would need just to get one extra channel. I say bring on a la carte pricing!
Anyway, as soon as I move I’ll be sure to get DirecTV and I can avoid using those price gougers at Comcast.
So, yeah no All-Star festivities for me this weekend but I did vote for the drivers I want to see in the All-Star race on Sunday night. The All-Star Fan Vote has been going on since April and you have until this Saturday at 7pm to submit your vote. You can do it online by going to NASCAR.com or by texting the word “NASCAR” to 7777 on your Sprint phone. I highly recommend voting for Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland, Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip or J.J. Yeley. Since these guys are amongst the drivers that don’t have a spot locked in, they’ll have to either race their way in from the Sprint Showdown or be voted in by the Fan Vote.
In other All-Star news…
– Dale Jarrett will be at Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the last All-Star race of his career. They’re making the occasion extra special by introducing Dale last during driver introductions and instead of sitting in the back of a Toyota Tundra, like the other drivers, to wave to the fans around the track he’ll be driving (finally!) the UPS Big Brown Truck. Sounds like it’ll be a really cool send off.
– The first ever NASCAR Day telethon is set for tomorrow at the Sam Bass Gallery in Concord, North Carolina. Various Sprint Cup drivers including Casey Mears and Brian Vickers will be on hand to field calls for donations. Call 1-888-MAY16TH (1-888-629-1684). SIRIUS Satellite Radio will be broadcasting from the telethon all day starting at 7 a.m. and SPEED will be cutting in and out throughout the day as well.
– On Sunday the rear panel for Carl Edwards’ No. 99 Office Depot Ford will carry a super cool message from the winner of the Harlequin & Office Depot “Say Yes to a Winning Proposal” contest. I’m soooo excited to find out who the lucky couple is and I hope someone produces some kick butt reaction photos of the soon-to-be bride. They’re unveiling the winning proposal tomorrow, so I’ll see what I can see, but be on the lookout for Carl’s car on Saturday.
– Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle spent some quality time together this week while helping to build a KaBOOM! playground (in one day!) for Elon Homes for Children in Charlotte. Think they talked about swapping rides next year??
Tony Stewart, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the #20 Home Depot Racing car & two-time Series Champion and Greg Biffle, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the #16 3M Racing car help build a build a racing-themed playground in just one day at Elon Homes for Children (Photo Credit: CIA for KaBOOM)
It was a super sweet moment seeing the group of NASCAR moms standing the track telling their son’s to start their engines.
With that said though it sucks that Kurt and Kyle Busch’s mom had to take on the fans booing her son. It’s one thing to boo Kyle but not when his mom is being honored for Mother’s Day. That’s really lame.
Kurt (left) and Kyle (right) help their mother Gaye (center) off of the stage before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brian and Ramona Vickers leave the stage before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ryan Newman and his mother Diane take part in driver introductions before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Everytime I see Kasey’s mom, Tammy, I’m always in awe of the fact that she looks like she could be his sister and I don’t mean that in an Eddie Haskell kind of way either. She looks great.
Tammy Kahne and her son Kasey wave to the Darlington Raceway crowd before the Dodge Challenger 500 (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Elliott Sadler follows his mother Bell off of the stage before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Reed and mother Becky Sorenson salute the crowd before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tony Stewart and his mother, Pam Boas, wave to the Darlington Raceway crowd during driver introductions for the Dodge Challenger 500 (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Jr’s mom, Brenda, wins for best outfit, I would totally go out and buy this entire ensemble. And I’m not just saying that ’cause she’s the mother of my favorite driver. Seriously, it’s a great look.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. follows his mother, Brenda Jackson, off of the stage before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carol Mears follows her son Casey off of the stage before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carol Bickford and her son, Jeff Gordon, waves at the crowd at Darlington Raceway, where Gordon has won seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The winner of the Wave the Green Flag contest, Betty Easley, received an all-expense-paid travel package to the Dodge Challenger 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway over Mother’s Day weekend (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
And so here are a lot of the things I’ve been meaning to post this week.
– Jeff Gordon escorted his wife, Ingrid Vandebosch to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala on Monday night. The theme of the night was “Superheroes” and I think Ingrid was trying to channel Zorro with her flamenco inspired dress. It was good enough to make the “good” part of Jezebel’s “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” list for the night.
– In case you hadn’t heard this Sunday is Mother’s Day and as is customary some of the NASCAR drivers’ moms will be in attendance at the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway on Saturday. The mothers will be introduced with their sons during driver introductions and will also give the guys the go ahead to start their engines.
Casey Mears’ mom, Carol, will be there this weekend and he had this to say about her: “My mom is a great lady. She has been there for me and my racing career since the beginning. She still does a lot for me and my company, Casey Mears Inc. She’s just always there and is honestly one of the best people I know.
“It’s cool what Darlington does for all of the mothers on Mother’s Day weekend. I know that it gives my mom a good perspective of what I do each weekend with walking across the stage and waving to the fans — what I see and hear every race day. I know that every year she wears heels and every year she is so nervous and worried that she’s going to fall. She doesn’t really like the steps much.”
– Brian Vickers’ mom Ramona will also be at Darlington tomorrow and she had this to say about Brian:
“All you want is for your child to be successful, and every mother wants their child to be happy,” Ramona Vickers said. “I’m so proud of Brian — his actions, what he says, how he drives. I supported him in whatever he chose to do, and he chose NASCAR.”
There have been times where a mother’s instinct kicks in.
“He’s made us nervous a little bit,” she said, “but as you progress in your career, there’s a little more protection as far as safety. I’m more worried about who’s around him (in traffic), but I think he’s sometimes safer in the race car as he is out on the streets. I feel confident that the team is on its game with safety.”
– Kurt Busch is set it unveil the new Kurt Busch Superdome at the Victory Junction Gang Camp on Tuesday, May 20th at 2 p.m.:
The project was announced in May 2006, with Kurt announcing the donation of the initial $1 million in support of the project. The facility will provide opportunities for indoor sports in a climate-controlled environment. “It’ll be like seeing a dream come true to finally get the doors open and see all the kids enjoying themselves,” said Kurt. “It’s been a labor of love for all of the people involved and I’m so proud and grateful to have the opportunity to make a contribution in this manner to the Petty camp.” Officials are still ironing out all the final details. Several entertainment and sports figures are expected to attend including members of the Carolina Panthers and Ryan Newman, 2008 Daytona 500 Champion, Kurt’s teammate at Penske Racing.
– And since we’re on the subject of Penske Racing, wanna meet Ryan Newman? He will be at the Alltel Store in Concord, North Carolina (6140 Bayfield Parkway) from 6-8 p.m. on May 14th, 2008. There will be a chance to get autographs from Ryan and win prizes too!
Newman will be part of a webcast from the store at 7:30 p.m. ET, which will be broadcast on www.alltelracing.com. Fans can submit questions for Newman through the Alltel Racing web site.
Jeff Burton’s win at Bristol last weekend was awesome. I’m sorry that Tony Stewart was spun out by Kevin Harvick in those last laps but that was a cool ending. It just makes for great TV. Even though I was so pissed when Brian Vickers spun out Dale Jr. and Jimmie Johnson at Talladega in 2006 it was generally entertaining — things can still be entertaining even when they break your heart.
I think the overall theme for the day was how great it was to see David Gilliland and Aric Almirola finish in the top ten. I was so happy for them. Let’s hope that this helps Yates Racing in their search for permanent sponsors for both of their cars. And I can’t help but wonder why anyone wouldn’t want to sponsor a NASCAR race team. Especially drivers like Gilliland and Travis Kvapil. Your company would get to be a part of their story, for better or worse, but you’re still apart of it and people will remember that. Even if the guy finishes 30th each week he’s still out there and there’s always the possibility that he could win.
In other news…
– Guys, there is still time to enter the “Say Yes To A Winning Proposal Contest” and ladies — there’s still time to print this out and put it under your boyfriend’s nose. He’s got until March 31st to write out his profession of love for you (in 50 words or less). So get crackin’.
Looking to declare your love in a memorable way?
Thanks to Office Depot and Harlequin, one lucky couple will have a chance to do just that – and at speeds of more than 180 mph.
Harlequin, a leading publisher of women’s fiction worldwide, and Office Depot® (NYSE: ODP), the official office products partner of NASCAR, are offering one lucky couple the ultimate NASCAR wedding proposal or the chance to renew their vows with the “Say Yes To A Winning Proposal” national contest. Individuals can submit their proposals online, and the winning wordsmith will have his or her declaration of love featured on the back of Carl Edwards’s No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion during the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race in May and will win a VIP prize package worth more than $10,000.
From now until March 31, anyone can enter by submitting their proposal at www.GetYourHeartRacing.com in 50 words or less.
In addition to having their proposal highlighted on the back of Edwards’ car, the contest winner will also receive a diamond ring, customized stationery provided by the Office Depot Design, Print & Ship DepotTM and a trip for two to Sedona, Arizona.
I’m only posting this photo because professional hockey player Jeff Carter is friggin’ hot! Seriously.
Philadelphia Flyers center Jeff Carter (left) shows off his new Shell/Pennzoil jacket while Kevin Harvick displays his personalized #29 Philadelphia Flyers jersey. (Photo Credit: Richmond International Raceway)
Richmond International Raceway president Doug Fritz (left) looks on as NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick tastes a fresh-off-the-line Diet Coke at the Richmond Coca-Cola bottling facility. (Photo Credit: Richmond International Raceway)
Dale Jarrett gets a ride around the track from father Ned before his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carl Edwards admires a paper that was printed before he was penalized 100 points and knocked from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point lead. (Photo Credit: CIA Stock Photo)
Carl Edwards follows through as he seeks a strike while bowling with media in Johnson City, Tenn. (Photo Credit: CIA Stock Photo)
Race winner Clint Bowyer awaits word on the conclusion of the race. It was eventually called due to inclement weather after 171 laps (Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
What follows are audio interviews with A.J. Allmendinger and Brian Vickers of Red Bull Racing. They talk about about how they’re spending the off season and then preparing for the 2008 Cup season. Enjoy!
WARNING: Check your computer’s volume level before playing.
Bull Chat with A.J. Allmendinger:
Bull Chat with Brian Vickers:
Are you shocked? I’m not. There are worse things he could do.
And now I give you some things that you might want to know:
– If you’re a San Francisco Bay Area IndyCar fan you’ll be happy to know that Fior d’Italia Restaurant is giving $25 gift certificates to the first 40,000 fans that enter Infineon Raceway for the Motorola Indy 300, presented by Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel on Sunday, August 26. So make sure you get there early!
– NASCAR driver Ryan Newman will be a guest on the “Best Damn Sports Show Period” live from Lowe’s Motor Speedway on August 7th to announce the finalist for Kodak’s “Ink Ryan’s Ride” contest.
– Walk the track with Kurt & Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Ernie Irvan at Pocono Raceway on Saturday:
Kurt will join brother Kyle and four-time Cup champ Jeff Gordon in Saturday’s LAPS Walk with Ernie Irvan at Pocono Raceway. Irvan, Gordon and the Busch Brothers will unite with NASCAR fans, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) survivors, and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard for a walk on the racetrack to raise awareness and needed funding to conquer TBI in America. The LAPS Walk festivities will kick off at 2:15 with a Q&A session and presentation to the top fundraiser of a signed helmet to recognize his/her outstanding effort for TBI awareness and prevention. Following the Q&A session, all participants, including Irvan and Kurt & Eva, will move down to the track where they will be joined by members of the National Guard for the opening ceremonies and a walk on the racetrack. For more information, please visit www.lapswalk.org or call the Brain Injury Association at 800.772.4323.
– I find this quote from Jimmie Johnson to be very interesting indeed. It’s about the resetting of the points once the Chase kicks in for the final ten races of the season.
It certainly looks like I’ll be a big beneficiary of it (resetting the points) and with the way that it is, I’ll take that forgiveness the way the point system is structured right now and try to capitalize on it. But when you look at Jeff’s (Gordon) point situation and how strong he has been, deep down inside there is still a part of me that says, ‘Man, the guy’s had a great year and deserves to be the champion and have it re-racked with everybody on top of him again probably isn’t fair.’ But it’s the way it is. The Chase does a lot of positive things for our sport. I’m in a position where I could capitalize on a tough summer. So you deal with the situation, as it exists. Just falling back on the way racing has always been and the way we’ve all raced through the season and had every point add up to equal a champion, if Jeff doesn’t win the championship I’m sure he’ll have a lot of heartburn over it. And I think us racers, deep down inside, might not think that it’s exactly right. But it’s different racing today than it was years back.
– Greg Biffle will be running a special “Dog the Bounty Hunter” paint scheme on his No. 16 Ford Fusion at Pocono. Uhm, yea, I’ve got nothing.
– All I can say about this is that I hope either A.J. Allmendinger or Brian Vickers can make it into this race or else this visit will be kinda awkward and embarrassing. I got my fingers crossed for ‘em!
Two members of the New York Red Bulls, the MLS team that plays its home matches at Giants Stadium, will make the 90-mile journey from East Rutherford, N.J., to Pocono Raceway to absorb the sights and sounds of NASCAR racing.
Midfielder Joe Vide and midfielder/forward Clint Mathis will get a true taste of what stock-car racing is all about. They’ll hang out on the grid and in the pits, and the fleet-footed duo will meet Red Bull Racing’s two drivers for lunch Sunday morning.
This is my long overdue follow-up post to my initial comments about the Coca-Cola 600 last weekend. I am still so excited that Casey Mears has finally won his first Nextel Cup series race even though he’s apart of Hendrick “We Win Everything, Suckers!” Motorsports.
So there are couple things I must point out… first off, in this photo of Casey, in victory lane with his teammate Jimmie Johnson, he looks to be on the verge of tears. It’s gotta be one of THE best photos this year.
The photo below proves how much of an emotional win this was for the #25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet team; one guy (on the far right) is actually doing a cartwheel! A cartwheel people, I haven’t done one of those since I was in elementary school and I’m a girl. Anyway, it’s still cute… in a way.
(Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
It’s amazing to me what a difference one race can make. People make it seem like Casey Mears didn’t exist before this race. You can have all the potential in the world but until you deliver on it you’re not really anybody. I’m not saying I agree with this but I know that evidence speaks volumes and that’s what some people focus on.
I always knew that Casey had it in him; it was just a matter of time. The same goes for Clint Bowyer, J.J. Yeley and Martin Truex Jr. They need to figure out a winning recipe ASAP.
Ya know how some people can go so long without doing “it” that they feel like they’ve become a virgin again? Well I think that might be happening to my guy Dale Earnhardt Jr. I’m just sayin’. He hasn’t won a race in what feels like FOREVER (Actually it was last year at Richmond in May).
So besides the whole awesomeness that was Mears’ win at Charlotte I was very happy for Team Red Bull. They managed to pull out a top-5 finish after it seemed like everybody and Jesus was out to get them. I wouldn’t even want to drive my regular street car without power steering, but Brian Vickers managed to do it at over 180 mph.
It was crappy that AJ Allmendinger was taken out of the race so early in that crash with Jeff Gordon, but at least Brian was able to pull something together. This is great for Toyota. Vickers was able to lead more laps in that one race than all of the Toyota teams put together so far this season.
And now for the fun stuff, photos of hot dudes:
Actor Chris Evans races fellow “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” cast members in a race simulator at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
WWE star Jon Cena (left) meets with NASCAR Busch Series Director Joe Balash. (Photo Credit: David Griffin/NASCAR Scene)
I am invested in the success of Toyota’s NASCAR race teams.
Why you ask?
Well I own a Toyota (a cool and fun Toyota Matrix XR named “Trinity” my homage to the lead female character in “The Matrix” film franchise) and I like the company. So if Toyota isn’t a winner I’m not a winner! Well, sort-of. I don’t take it that seriously but you get my point.
My first car in high school was a 1970-something Toyota Corolla named Betsy (right) that every member of my family drove before it got handed down to me in the late 1990′s. I loved that car, it was old but it lasted for a long time. Toyota knows how to make great cars that last, that are reliable. But now they need to make some race cars that can win, heck, just qualifying would be nice.
While Dave Blaney is currently ranked 3rd (David Reutimann of Michael Waltrip Racing is in 4th) in the points standings for the Busch series — which is really awesome — his teammates at Bill Davis Racing and the other Toyota teams are seriously lagging.
As much as I was annoyed with Brian Vickers for stupidly spinning out Dale Earnhardt Jr. last year (I have a hard time letting things go, can’t ya tell?) at Talladega I’m starting to root for him again. Part of that is because I dig Red Bull (eventhough I’ve never drunk a Red Bull in my life, I appreciate great marketing) and of course Toyota in general.
I feel bad because AJ Allmendinger is completely new to this NASCAR thing and he’s not getting the opportunity to really prove himself, show us all what he can do. Jeremy Mayfield is back but you can hardly tell because he’s only been in 3 races so far this season. I’m looking forward to him racing — competitively — against his ex-Evernham teammates.
Then there’s Michael Waltrip. Only one race under his belt this year and the rest of his race teams are seriously struggling. Dale Jarrett is out of provisionals, so if he doesn’t qualify on time for Richmond he’s not going to be in a Nextel Cup race for the first time after 424 previous starts. Maybe there’s an early retirement ahead for Dale? He’s really good at analyzing the Busch races on ESPN.
In other news…
At least someone at Red Bull Racing is winning… Today they announced that 20-year-old mechanical engineering student Matthew Marchiando from the University of California-Davis won the first-ever Red Bull Velocity Lab internship. He’ll be spending his summer at the Red Bull Racing race shop in Mooresville, N.C. I post this because he’s local to me (Davis, Calif is an hour north of me in the San Francisco Bay Area). Marchiando’s internship application included a plan on how to perfect “how the front splitter limits front-end travel” on the Car of Tomorrow. Good luck Matthew!
Casey Mears was so totally robbed today. I know that it was an accident but he was in position to make a run for the win at Talladega, and finally winning his first NEXTEL Cup series race.
His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson accidentally him out when Casey tried to come down Pit Road. Apparently there was some miscommunication between the teams regarding their pit strategies.
This was all very reminiscent of last year’s fall race at Talladega where then Hendrick driver Brian Vickers spun out Jimmie on the last lap for the win.
And then today, not long after that crash involving Mears and Johnson, Kyle Busch crashed out from a chain reaction accident that also involved Johnson.
All I have to say is with teammates like these who needs enemies?
A couple weeks ago I attended a press conference at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. In attendance was Scott Pruett (who didn’t know it at the time but would later be screwed by his own teammate at the Busch race in Mexico), NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Rider Angelle Sampey, IndyCar Series driver Marco — Grandson of Mario — Andretti (sporting some interestingly decorated & detailed jeans) and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie A.J. Allmendinger, a native of Los Gatos, Calif.
Poor A.J. He has yet to qualify his #84 Red Bull Toyota Camry for any of the Cup series races this year. I sincerely hope that his team can pull it together, at least in time for the race at Infineon in June. Since he is from the Bay Area it would be nice to qualify and run in front of his hometown crowd.
I’m really bringing up A.J. for another reason. At the press conference there were media materials laid out representing all of the drivers in attendance. If you watched the special they ran before the Daytona 500 this year about Toyota’s entry into Cup racing you would have seen the photo shoot for this booklet. The results are great. They made ‘em look tall! The Team Red Bull booklet stood out and is by far the best piece of marketing for a race team that I have seen in quite some time.
I’m sure Brian Vickers is much happier now hawking an energy drink instead of womens shampoo. Bye Bye Garnier Fructis!
See for yourself in the photos below…
These are little cards that you can take out of the booklet and do with as you please. Nice touch!
Dear Juan Pablo,
Congratulations on winning your first NASCAR Busch Series race! Today’s race in Mexico meant a lot to you and Latinos everywhere. I know that you were really excited and anxious to get a win under your belt, but did you really need to take out your own teammate, Scott Pruett, to do it? Frankly this type of behavior is inexcusable. You just don’t do that type of thing. You had the better car, we all knew it, why couldn’t you have held off and passed him cleanly in another area of the track?
This taints your win and even though you said you didn’t mean to, this is going to follow you around for a while. Don’t you remember just last year when Brian Vickers made that bonehead move at Talladega that took out his teammate Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Yea, many people weren’t very happy with him after that.
Your own Crew Chief, Brad Parrott, was crying after the race because he felt so bad that you screwed over someone on your team. That alone speaks volumes, as it is something that I have never seen in NASCAR before today. You should feel bad, very, very bad! You made a grown man cry!
Ok, ok, so I’m sure this will all blow over in a couple weeks, but don’t think people are going to forget about this. Make sure the next time you win you don’t step on someone else to get there.
Poor Brian Vickers, Nobody had any reason to dislike him at all before yesterday. I was pretty much indifferent. He hadn’t done anything yet one way or the other in his Cup career. He was completely under the radar.
Not so much anymore. All the juicy bits are coming out now. Ever since Vickers asked to leave Hendrick Motorsports at the end of this season he’s been kept out of the team meetings. Which makes sense; I mean you wouldn’t want him to take the team secrets to his ride with Toyota next year. But now that he’s messed up big time, will he ever be able to be friends with ANYONE at Hendrick? I’m sure they’ll forgive and forget, or at least say that they have.
NASCAR drivers are great at that kind of thing, being all PC and making nice-nice. I’m sure Saturday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway they’ll be downplaying the entire situation in the pre-race interviews. But you know once they get on that race track Vickers had better stay out of trouble or he may find himself in the middle of an “accident.”
Not that I think anyone should do that to him. After all, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have a championship to think about and that’s way more important than Vickers’ incredibly lame lapse in judgment.
Oh. My. God.
I cannot believe it. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was leading on the last lap of the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway today but got wrecked, along with Jimmie Johnson, because of Brian Vickers. Vickers ended up winning the race.
I am so mad. I can’t believe that nut job wrecked his own teammate! What was he thinking??? Oh I know what he was thinking; he was thinking he would get his first win by being an impatient little punk.
I’m sorry; Brian Vickers has officially added his name to my crap list. Junior led the most laps of the race, he dominated, and his car was obviously the best. He even came back from being a lap down!! This is so incredibly not fair. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m crazy because I was screaming at the TV, cursing up a storm.
The last lap people! There was less than a lap left! UGH!!! It just hurts in points the most. Had Junior finished first, and because Jeff Burton was way back in the field, he would of gained three spots in the Championship and only been 26 points behind with 7 races left to go.
I’m not sure where he’ll end up now, as I type NASCAR is still figuring out the official race results.
Vickers was booed by the Talladega fans, as is customary when you ruin a perfect day for the most popular driver of NASCAR. Of course he said he was sorry to Jimmie Johnson, his teammate until the end of the season, but he didn’t say sorry to Junior! He actually insinuated that it was Junior’s fault that he got hit. Are you kidding me??
Yea, I’m just kinda mad.