All posts tagged David Gilliland

71 Posts

talladega is off my xmas card list!

Tony Stewart celebrates his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the 2008 season on Sunday in Talladega Superspeedway's Victory Lane after winning the AMP Energy 500. Stewart moved up to seventh in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)I don’t know if it’s possible to love and hate a racetrack at the same time but that’s how I feel about Talladega. I love it because it’s a restrictor-plate race and it’s so exciting and nerve wracking to watch the cars go three or four-wide. However, I hate it for exactly the same reasons and because of “The Big One” which I don’t know why we call it that when there’s usually more than one.

For the majority of the race things were going relatively well for me and the guys I was rooting for in the AMP Energy 500 on Sunday. Of course it was a big let down when David Gilliland was involved in a crash, but then things got really sad when Carl Edwards’ mistake took out his teammates, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and all of my highest hopes for Travis Kvapil. I was pretty much done at that point. If you follow me on Twitter you’d know that already.

So done that I didn’t care about the whole last lap controversy involving Tony Stewart and Regan Smith. While I think it’s great that Tony got a win after such a long winless streak, he did deserve it and it was so sweet to see his crew chief Greg Zipadelli get so emotional — something doesn’t smell right.

I guess my irritation lies with NASCAR and I don’t understand why Regan would quote what NASCAR said in the drivers meeting about being able to pass under the yellow line on the last lap, if it wasn’t true. It seems silly to draw that distinction anyway, that you can pass when you’re pushed under the yellow line when you can see the finish line on the last lap but not at any other time during the race. So someone obviously said it was ok to do it. And NASCAR’s official statement on the matter didn’t say that they never said it, it only stated that from now on they’ll never be able to pass under the yellow line ever again at the restrictor-plate races no matter what lap it is.

So whatever. Something that I loved about the race coverage was in the pre-race show, when Dale Jarrett interviewed Dale Jr. I looooved it and I really, really wish DJ could interview a driver before every single race. It was fun and I honestly think that they should try to inject some of that E:60 type stuff into every pre-race show, but that’s just me.

knocked over with a feather: travis kvapil is on the pole!

Travis Kvapil celebrates his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala. He'll start first in Sunday's AMP Energy 500 after turning the fastest lap at 187.364 mph. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)This afternoon I was driving to my local Starbucks for my regular Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte hit and I turned on Sirius’ NASCAR channel. On the channel display it listed the top 5 car numbers for the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega. I freaked out for a moment and thought that maybe I was missing the race that it had somehow slipped my mind that the race was tonight and not tomorrow. Of course I was right, the race is in fact tomorrow and that line up of car numbers was just for today’s qualifying session.

The top car on the list was Travis Kvapil’s No. 28 Academy Sports + Outdoors Ford Fusion. Which is probably why I thought the race was on and maybe he was leading, but to find out that Kvapil is on the pole for the AMP Energy 500 is just so awesome! I can’t believe he’s on the pole. It’s so cool. I am so happy for him and his team. I really, truly hope that he and David Gilliland get a good finish out of the race tomorrow. No, not a good finish, a great one!

Talladega is going to be crazy tomorrow and I cannot wait to see what happens!

In other news…

– This has nothing to do with racing but I feel the need to share. You must, I repeat, you must buy the following two CDs: “Only By The Night” by Kings of Leon and “New Surrender” by Anberlin. These bands rock my world in the most wonderful way. I cannot live without music, it’s probably my second most favorite thing in the world behind writing and these guys are amazing. If you’ve never heard Kings of Leon before they’re this sort of modern southern rock band, and Anberlin is indie/alternative rock. Both have great lead singers with beautiful and unique voices. Check them out, you will not be sorry!

expressing gratitude & support at walter reed

So I’ve been meaning to post these photos for the past couple of weeks and now I finally have the time to put ‘em up. NASCAR drivers and team owners visited with soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C.

It’s no secret that NASCAR has a deep respect for those that serve our country, you can see evidence of that at the racetrack each weekend, but I think it means so much that NASCAR takes the time to bring themselves to the people that have given up so much for all of us as Americans.


(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch and former NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip visit a soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Military Advance Training Center in Washington, D.C. NASCAR made its annual visit to the facility to salute the troops on Thursday. (Photo Credit: Larry French/Getty Images for NASCAR)

(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch and former NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip visit a soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Military Advance Training Center in Washington, D.C. NASCAR made its annual visit to the facility to salute the troops on Thursday. (Photo Credit: Larry French/Getty Images for NASCAR)

(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Scott Riggs visits a soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. NASCAR made its annual visit to the facility to salute the troops on Thursday. (Photo Credit: Larry French/Getty Images for NASCAR)

(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Scott Riggs visits a soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. NASCAR made its annual visit to the facility to salute the troops on Thursday. (Photo Credit: Larry French/Getty Images for NASCAR)

A soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Military Advance Training Center in Washington, D.C welcomes, from left to right, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Travis Kvapil, NASCAR President Mike Helton, Yates Racing GM Max Jones and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland. NASCAR made its annual visit to the facility to salute the troops on Thursday. (Photo Credit: Larry French/Getty Images for NASCAR)

A soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Military Advance Training Center in Washington, D.C welcomes, from left to right, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Travis Kvapil, NASCAR President Mike Helton, Yates Racing GM Max Jones and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland. NASCAR made its annual visit to the facility to salute the troops on Thursday. (Photo Credit: Larry French/Getty Images for NASCAR)

(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle signs an autograph for a soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Military Advance Training Center in Washington, D.C. NASCAR made its annual visit to the facility to salute the troops on Thursday. (Photo Credit: Larry French/Getty Images for NASCAR)

(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle signs an autograph for a soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Military Advance Training Center in Washington, D.C. NASCAR made its annual visit to the facility to salute the troops on Thursday. (Photo Credit: Larry French/Getty Images for NASCAR)

menard to yates?? what?!

This is the exact reaction I had after reading the AP headline of Paul Menard to leave DEI for Yates Racing.” While I can’t say I didn’t see this coming, rumors of this have been around for a long time, it’s still a big thing to read. I mean, really? Seriously??

This better not affect David Gilliland and Travis Kvapil negatively. I’m just sayin’. I don’t put anything past anyone these days. With the economy being what it is, I would not be surprised if the field of cars for each race next year is down to only 13 teams. Wow, I just thought about that. That would really suck.

this time carl bumps but doesn’t run

Cars lined up for Cup Series practice on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)On Saturday on my drive into the track from my sister’s house in Encino, I stopped by a Jamba Juice in Upland and bought a sixteen ounce Razzmatazz. I also decided to put the top down my on my car. It was 90-something degrees outside but I was wearing a hat and if you can’t put your top down when it’s hot what’s the point?

The day was about getting photos of anything and everything. During the Nationwide Series qualifying session I stood in the garage and watched as the top qualifiers came in and were interviewed by the crew from the SPEED channel.

After that I wandered the garage and spied Dancing with the Stars professional dancer Cheryl Burke with her new partner, Olympic sprinter and gold medalist Maurice Greene shooting some sort of video thing next to the pace car. Cheryl got to wave the green flag for the Camping World RV Service 300 presented by Coleman later that evening.

I made sure to keep close to the conference room in the middle of the garage where they hold all of the driver’s meetings and major press conferences. The Nationwide Series drivers meeting was set to start and I wanted to be in a good position to try and get good photos, but for some reason I got nothing of people going in, and then when they came out everybody was grouped together and they rushed out, so I didn’t get much.

One cool thing that happened was just a little bit later when the Cup Series guys got ready to go out for their final practice session of the day. Cars started to pull out from the far side of the Cup garage and made a long line out to pit road. They were all stopped and a second line formed right in front of me starting with Jeff Burton. He was so close that I could have easily walked up and touched the car and then poked my head in beside the window flap. Of course I didn’t, but there were photographers that did. They pushed their lenses right on inside the car to get close up shots of the drivers. I wondered what that must be like to have people basically shoving their cameras in Carl Edwards' No. 99 gets up close and personal with Jeff Burton's No. 31 at the Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, August 30, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)your face to get a shot, right when you’re about to go out on the track.

But moving on, while I’m standing there Carl Edwards drives his car up behind Burton and rolls to a stop, and then starts to roll again and bumps into the back of Burton. I took a photo before Carl backed up. I’m assuming he meant to do that. They must like each other right?

So I’m standing there taking a couple photos and I’m like, I dunno, five feet away from his car and Carl waves at me. So I waved back, smiled, laughed and said “Hiii!” It was too funny.

After the Cup practice was the Nationwide Series race and oh how I love a Nationwide Series race. I love the fact that there’s way less security and structure to the driver intros, at least behind the stage, you get way better photos and experiences because of it. I got some great photos of drivers looking right at me as I took their photo, like the one below of David Ragan.

Okay, so I have to put in one more “Awww, Carl” story. There were these two teenage girls who kept calling to Carl to come over and sign their stuff. He eventually came over, talked to them and signed whatever it was they had. To hear their reaction was so cute, they were all “We got Carl! We got Carl! Omigosh!” I love that.

Nothing too noteworthy happened after all of that. I think some dude named Kyle Busch went on to win the race, but I’m not sure.

:)


Cheryl Burke and Maurice Greene

Dancing with the Stars professional dancer Cheryl Burke and her new partner gold medalist Maurice Greene hang out before the start of the Nationwide Series race on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

David Gilliland

David Gilliland chats with his crew after qualifying for the Nationwide Series race on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Carl Edwards

Look closely and you can see his eyes peeking out through the window net!

Carl Edwards sits in his car, waiting to start practice on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Stanton Barrett

Stanton Barrett signs an autograph for a fan before driver introductions on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

David Ragan, Joey Logano and Carl Edwards

David Ragan (center) chats with Carl Edwards (right) and Joey Logano (left) before driver introductions for the Nationwide Series race on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

interview: meeting travis kvapil – part two

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

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

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

edwards sweeps up michigan

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford, celebrates after winning Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 3M Performance 400 Presented by Bondo at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

no such thing as a nascar secret

So apparently Ryan Newman is set to be announced as the second driver for Stewart Haas Racing. The official announcement is supposed to happen tomorrow. This is yet another one of NASCAR’s worst kept secrets. I really want someone to send me a NASCAR secret so that I can blab it to everyone.

In other news…

– I’m going to the Pepsi 500!!! I’ve got media credentials again and I’m super excited about attending this Labor Day race weekend at the Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. The Sprint Cup race falls on my birthday (August 31st) and do you know what the greatest present would be? Well, besides winning the lottery, the best present would be if one of my guys would win the race. So I’m putting David Gilliland, Travis Kvapil, Clint Bowyer, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. on notice.

– And now for some random photos that I haven’t had the chance to post before today:


Oakland A's pitcher Brad Ziegler gets a ride to his game on Wednesday from former IndyCar driver Davey Hamilton in a two-seat IndyCar (photo credit: Chucke Walkden)

Oakland A’s pitcher Brad Ziegler gets a ride to his game on Wednesday from former IndyCar driver Davey Hamilton in a two-seat IndyCar. Hamilton drove the pair to the Oakland Coliseum from downtown Oakland, the drive was a promotional event in advance of the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County at Infineon Raceway, August 22-24, 2008.

(photo credit: Chucke Walkden)

Travis Pastrana in Pocono, June '08, (c) David Vaughn (Courtesy of Red Bull Racing Team)

Motocross star Travis Pastrana took in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono back in June of this year. He recently won the gold medal for Rally Car racing at the Summer X Games in Los Angeles.

Travis Pastrana in Pocono, June ’08, (c) David Vaughn (Courtesy of Red Bull Racing Team)

the watkins glen craptacular spectacular

Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Centurion Boats at the Glen at the Watkins Glen International on August 10, 2008 in Watkins Glen, NY. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)For some reason it has been so hard to write this post today. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what I want to say about yesterday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen.

I was confused by Tony Eury Jr.’s decision to leave Dale Earnhardt Jr. out on the track long after everyone else had already pitted. And then I was even more confused when I watched NASCAR Now hours after the race ended to find Dale Jr. sitting down giving an interview looking all worn out and sounding all lame and weary. I can’t even wrap my brain around all that right now. All I know is that I hope they get stuff figured out before Michigan.

And as if watching Dale Jr. lose two spots in the points standings and having to suffer through another Kyle Busch win wasn’t enough, there was the big wreck to process.

Here’s how I feel about the big wreck:

1.) I’m glad Bobby Labonte seems to be ok; they took him to a local hospital where he was checked and then released.

2.) In the post-wreck interview David Gilliland had with ESPN’s Marty Smith he made it seem like he felt that it was Michael McDowell’s fault and from what I saw of the video that’s what it looked like to me. McDowell said that he didn’t see Gilliland. So there ya go. This doesn’t do much for McDowell’s reputation. He’s a rookie and hopefully he’ll be able to keep himself out of trouble in the future.

NASCAR is one of those sports where if you make a mistake it has the potential to hurt other people who had nothing to do with it at all, in a way that is so different from any other team sport. For example, if you’re in a relay team and you’re the weakest leg of the team, your team might lose because of you, but at least you didn’t take out 5 other teams in the process. But situations like that — everything that happened at Watkins Glen — are what make NASCAR races so dramatic and interesting to watch.

3.) So in the end the crash, and it’s subsequent red flag clean-up, sucked.

4.) Max Papis sounds a lot like The Count from Sesame Street. He seems like a really nice guy who just wanted to finish the race but I kept waiting for him to say “One! One crash!” I’m just sayin’. Oh and here’s a little trivia, yesterday after the race was over Papis was #6 on Google Trends — a daily list of the hottest search terms.

In other news…

– On the bright side for Gilliland fans, he gained one spot in the points standings. Mostly because Mark Martin wasn’t in yesterday’s race, but hey I’ll take it.

– Congratulations to Marcos “Kangaroo Meat” Ambrose and his first ever NASCAR win in the Nationwide Series on Saturday.

Mike Wallace and his daughter Chrissy are heading to New York today tomorrow to ring the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange. I post this because Germain Racing is trying to build a full-time team for Chrissy so that she can run for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next year and they’re looking for sponsors. Check out GermainRacing.com

– Red Bull Racing driver Scott Speed won his fourth ARCA RE/MAX Series race this weekend at Nashville. He leads the points standings by 140 over Matt Carter. I wonder where Speed will be racing next year… hmmm


Marcos Ambros driver of the #59 STP Ford celebrates winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 at the Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2008 in Watkins Glen, NY. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Marcos Ambros driver of the #59 STP Ford celebrates winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 at the Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2008 in Watkins Glen, NY. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet (L) greets grand marshal and former Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett prior to the NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 at the Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2008 in Watkins Glen, N.Y. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet (L) greets grand marshal and former Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett prior to the NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 at the Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2008 in Watkins Glen, N.Y. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The #43 Cheerios Dodge driven by Bobby LaBonte sits on Pit road after a multi car incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Centurion Boats at the Glen at the Watkins Glen International on August 10, 2008 in Watkins Glen, NY. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The #43 Cheerios Dodge driven by Bobby LaBonte sits on Pit road after a multi car incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Centurion Boats at the Glen at the Watkins Glen International on August 10, 2008 in Watkins Glen, NY. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

interview: chatting with david gilliland – part two

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

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

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

:)

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

interview: chatting with david gilliland – part one

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

the pocono no-no

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford, in Victory Lane as the winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday at Pocono Raceway. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority about this but I do enjoy a good rain delay. Why? Well I like it when the drivers get out of their cars and are interviewed by the pit reporters, you get to hear about what’s been going on so far in the race and what they think (or hope) will happen next. I dig it.

I’m still irked by the post race coverage, of which there has been little. Maybe it was the rain delay which made it impossible for them to have more than two post-race interviews, but still I want more. Maybe it’s just me being a serious NASCAR fan that can’t get enough, but I want more. And by more I mean more of the drivers. I don’t want to hear from analysts and commentators, nooooooo, I want to hear from the drivers or the crew chiefs or the crew members, anyone who is actually doing something during the race.

And so I must acknowledge David Gilliland’s disappointing finish. Things were going so well before the red flag happened, he was running as high as second, and then he ended up finishing 34th. How that happened I’m not sure about as I don’t recall being told during the race what was going on with David’s car. If they did talk about it and I’m wrong please correct me, but I totally doubt it. You would think they’d talk about it as the dude was running up front and then is shuffled to the back. And I guess for that reason I should hate rain delays, because maybe if that hadn’t happened he wouldn’t have gotten stuck in the pack without clean air.

I will say this about that race I’ve never been so emotionally involved, which I love. Between Dale and David I was all over the place. But I have to say to a certain degree I’m more emotionally invested in how David finishes than I am when it comes to Dale Earnhardt Jr. It’s going to be so freaking cool when Gilliland finally wins his first Cup race, I just hope it happens this year. I’d love to be there for it. It’d be sick if he got his first win at the upcoming Auto Club Speedway race in Fontana, California. I’m hoping to be at that one, which is on my birthday this year, so yea, Yates Racing should totally focus on that one. I’m just sayin’.

:)

Oh, and what was up with Carl Edwards after race in victory lane? My mom stopped by right after the race restarted from the red flag and she stayed until the race was over. When Carl grabbed the big fake Sprint cell phone they put on top of his car and shook it, my mom looked at me like “What was that??” to which I smiled and said “That’s the euphoria of winning.” I like Carl but I don’t know what that was.


David Gilliland drives the #38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 500 at the Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2008 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

David Gilliland drives the #38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 500 at the Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2008 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford and winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, received congratulations from third-place finisher Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford and winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, received congratulations from third-place finisher Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

These fans of the No. 20 Home Depot were probably pretty happy with driver Tony Stewart's second-place finish in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The cuteness.

These fans of the No. 20 Home Depot were probably pretty happy with driver Tony Stewart’s second-place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

J.J. Yeley (L), driver of the #96 DLP HDTV Toyota, shows actor Kiefer Sutherland (R) a car spring and the inside of the hauler during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at the Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2008 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

J.J. Yeley (L), driver of the #96 DLP HDTV Toyota, shows actor Kiefer Sutherland (R) a car spring and the inside of the hauler during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at the Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2008 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

jimmie’s on the pole but look who’s third

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, celebrates winning the pole for Sunday's Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with a speed of 168.215 mph. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)I caught the majority of qualifying today and Jimmie Johnson walked away with the pole for Sunday’s race at Pocono, but the really cool thing is that David Gilliland qualified third! You could have knocked me over with a feather. I’m sure the Gilly Gang is super stoked about this development!

It’s truly great for him; I hope he can turn it into something awesome. I don’t want to say exactly what I want him to turn it into but ya know what I mean. Everyone would freak out and I seriously can’t wait for that day to come. Momentum my friend, momentum!

So here are a few other things I learned while watching the ESPN qualifying session telecast today:

1.) Clint Bowyer doesn’t know much about the Olympics (summer or winter).

2.) Kasey Kahne is a dude and he likes watching chicks in bathing suits. Shocker, I know.

3.) Jimmie Johnson proposed to his wife Chandra on the side of a mountain while they were snowboarding, when she least expected it.

In other news…

Just found this video of Michael McDowell driving on a precision course that cops use for training. He, uh, does some damage.

petty tribute: who was missing?

NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers pay tribute to Richard Petty and his 50 years in NASCAR at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)The difference between the crowd gathered for the Nationwide Series drivers meeting and the one assembled for the Sprint Cup Series was like night and day. Friday it was me standing with the security guards but on Saturday I had to contend with a big crowd, a fence and those damn TV crews.

I made sure I was there early, like half an hour before it was all supposed to begin. Matt Kenseth arrived first with a Sirius satellite radio DJ in tow. Matt was very punctual on Saturday, he was also first at driver intros. So as per usual I tried to take as many photos as possible. My attempts at getting shots of guys and their shoes were foiled by guys from TNT filming people right in front of me.

In the drivers meeting they go over what’s going to happen before, during and after the race and what the rules are, or if there’s going to be a competition caution, etc. There’s a lot of stating the obvious, but it’s something you have to do. I couldn’t help but wonder though what it would be like if someone raised their hand at the end and said “So, what do I do if I win the race? Where do I go?” That’d be fun.

Kurt Busch walked into the drivers meeting with none other than pop singer Gavin DeGraw. I didn’t know who was singing the anthem until I saw him arrive. I have lukewarm feelings about Mr. DeGraw. I want to like him, he has a nice voice, but his music always leaves me wanting something more. Anywho, I ended up seeing him a lot after that. I almost bumped into him coming out of the bathroom in the media center; he was pacing around warming up his vocal cords.

After the drivers meeting came driver intros. I trekked out onto the grass and proceeded to get my socks and shoes totally soaked by the soggy field. I decided to stake out the opposite side of the stage that no one was on because it was the best angle to get great photos. Of course security had to come over and rain on my parade and told me I had to go to either the front of the stage or the other side. They had to keep that area clear. Dagnabit!

Okay, so let’s talk about that tribute to Richard Petty and his 50 years of NASCAR racing. It’s amazing it’s been that long. I thought it was such a great idea to have all the drivers wear, what has become his signature accessory, the cowboy hat. However, it was clear that he should be the only person wearing those suckers. The King is the only person who looks good in them as far as I’m concerned.

Check out the photo below. Who’s missing from it? In spite of what they were saying at the time all 43 drivers weren’t there to take this photo. Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards all showed up later just in time for the actual driver introductions. Oh and someone else is missing from the photo too but I can’t remember who it is. Any guesses?


The 43 drivers starting the LifeLock.com 400 pose with Richard Petty, who was celebrating his 50th anniversary in NASCAR. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The 43 drivers starting the LifeLock.com 400 pose with Richard Petty, who was celebrating his 50th anniversary in NASCAR. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Richard Petty (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

He’s always got a smile on his face!

Richard Petty stands behind the stage before his tribute begins at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Robby Gordon and Richard Childress (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous

Robby Gordon walks with Richard Childress to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Singer Gavin DeGraw (left) walks to the drivers meeting with Kurt Busch at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Singer Gavin DeGraw (left) walks to the drivers meeting with Kurt Busch at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

David Gilliland walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

David Gilliland walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Jeff Gordon walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Jeff Gordon walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Martin Truex Jr. walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Martin Truex Jr. walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

behind the scenes: fast times at espn

These go where? ESPN production trailer shows off it's insidesAwhile ago I was contacted by ESPN and invited to take a tour of their production facilities while I was at Chicagoland. I of course was delighted by the offer and immediately accepted. On Friday Andy Hall, one of the communications managers for ESPN, took me and Geoffrey Miller from AOL Fanhouse over to their production trailers on the other side of the track, way off behind the grandstands.

I know this is a really silly thing to point out but that was my first time on one of those go-karts everybody drives around during the race weekends. I was extremely happy about it, for one it’s a lot nicer to get a ride around the track (and not walk) and two, it kind of made me feel like I was “in” on things.

Once we arrived at the trailers, which were this little TV production town complete with a big catering tent, we entered the ESPN Tech Center. Qualifying for the Nationwide Series race was going on at the same time and so right as we stepped in there’s Tim Brewer watching the telecast. He said hello and apologized for not being able to talk to us because he had to concentrate on the action on the track and what his counterparts in the booth were saying in case they cut to him. Of course I completely understood, although I was afraid at some point they would cut to him while we were there and we’d have to duck out of his way with only seconds to spare. Luckily that didn’t happen, but then again it would have been to cool to see him in action.

It’s amazing how much stuff they have to put together and pull apart every week. The technology it takes just to make something that can look amazing, function but then collapse into a mobile size is mind blowing all on its own. I’m still surprised at how many moving parts and pieces there are to put these shows on, it’s amazing more things don’t go wrong. I mean, just imagine having to move your home every week, but add in 250 people and over 78,000 pounds of stuff. Crazy.

After saying goodbye to Tim we went into the production trailer where they were directing the qualifying session broadcast. There were a million screens and a million little buttons. It’s like a video game on steroids. Everybody had headsets on that connected them to about a dozen different people in various locations throughout the track.

I know fans get upset when they’re watching a race, a caution comes up, and they cut to commercial and come back after the green flag has flown. If you could see what goes into making a broadcast happen you might not get so upset the next time it happens. The people that work behind the scenes are striving for excellence and they work hard so that you don’t miss anything. I have a deep respect for their work. I don’t think a person takes that kind of job without having a serious passion for what they do. I know that I have no desire to have that much pressure sitting on my head every week.

Oh! On the ride over to the studios we were all talking and I asked if there were any plans for the NASCAR broadcasts to have the same side-by-side race view that the IndyCar broadcasts use. With side-by-side you get to still watch the race in the left hand side of the screen while commercials play on the right hand side. It’s similar to what TNT did for the Coke Zero race last week. Apparently NASCAR won’t allow ESPN to do this. Note to NASCAR: Uhm, what’s the problem here? Would you please make this happen? We all know we have to live with commercials but the side-by-side thing makes it seem less obvious and really you wouldn’t have to worry about getting back to those green flags as much.

So the tour was awesome and I’m so grateful that I got a chance to go behind the scenes and see how a race broadcast is created.


Tim Brewer watches and waits for the call to explain the technical details of racing (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Tim Brewer watches and waits for the call to explain the technical details of racing

(photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

(photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

So there’s a cool story behind this tire. It came off of David Gilliland’s car at Indianapolis last year. He was doing his practice run and his car spun out. Thinking quickly Tim Brewer immediately got on the phone with a contact of his from Goodyear and within minutes they got the tire over to him in the ESPN Tech Center so that he could show it on air. What a great way to show off the Tech Center in its debut!

(photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

(photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

So I’m total girl and I was curious about the clothes! The pit road reporters don’t have to wear the firesuits, it’s totally voluntary.

(photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

forty-three drivers and he has to win?

Race winner Kyle Busch (18) and runner-up Carl Edwards (99) race side-by-side on the last lap of the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)Yes, the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway was a good race. It was intriguing and crazy right down to the last lap, but of course I hated how it ended.

Why, why, why did he have to win again?? WHY?? If the rest of the season plays out like this I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s sooo boring if the same person keeps winning. Yes, he’s talented and all that, yes, I get it. I can appreciate that fact but it’s so freaking boring to watch. I don’t want to hear the same person in victory lane each week. Even if it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. I promise you I would be bored with that too. It wouldn’t be painful to watch of course but it would be boring.

The coolest thing was seeing David Gilliland running up front. That was truly awesome; I only wonder what could have happened had his pit stop not gone so bad. And see that’s what I’m looking for people, I’m not just out to see Dale Jr. win I wanna see a variety of drivers win. It helps to keep things interesting. If it ever comes to a time when NASCAR only has 4 major teams running several cars, shutting out all of the small teams, then I don’t know if I could watch anymore.


Kevin Harvick (R), driver of the #29 Reese's Chevrolet, stands with wife, DeLana (L), prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2008 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kevin Harvick (R), driver of the #29 Reese’s Chevrolet, stands with wife, DeLana (L), prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2008 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tony Eury Jr., crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr., #88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet reacts to race action during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2008 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Uh, yea, my thoughts exactly.

Tony Eury Jr., crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr., #88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet reacts to race action during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2008 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Sprint Cup driver Paul Menard earned his first pole Friday at Daytona International Speedway for Saturday's Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Does he smile like ever?

Sprint Cup driver Paul Menard earned his first pole Friday at Daytona International Speedway for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Martin Truex Jr. chats with Kevin Costner, who performed a pre-race concert with his band Modern West. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Martin Truex Jr. chats with Kevin Costner, who performed a pre-race concert with his band Modern West. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

reason number fifty to attend a track walk event

There were a bunch of great photos from the NASCAR race at New Hampshire this past weekend that I didn’t want to put them all in one post. So the rest of the best are below. My comments are in bold as usual.

In other news…

Karah-Leigh wrote an awesome article about NASCAR blogs over at SpeedwayMedia.com. She included The Fast and the Fabulous in her list of the top blogs on the web right now. Yay! :)


Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland play at a Guitar Hero: Aerosmith demonstration at the Target Chip Ganassi Racing hospitality tent at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday night (Photo Credit: Chris McGrath / Getty Images for NASCAR)

Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland play at a Guitar Hero: Aerosmith demonstration at the Target Chip Ganassi Racing hospitality tent at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday night (Photo Credit: Chris McGrath / Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kurt Busch hugs wife Eva after the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was declared official on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Kurt Busch hugs wife Eva after the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was declared official on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

On Friday in the New Hampshire Motor Speedway media center, Jimmie and Chandra Johnson turn the first screws in a project for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation that will provide a home to a family in need. Johnson was second-fastest in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

On Friday in the New Hampshire Motor Speedway media center, Jimmie and Chandra Johnson turn the first screws in a project for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation that will provide a home to a family in need. Johnson was second-fastest in Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Carl Edwards picks up a fan during Saturday's NASCAR Foundation Track Walk following the NASCAR Nationwide Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

This is the cutest photo ever!

Carl Edwards picks up a fan during Saturday’s NASCAR Foundation Track Walk following the NASCAR Nationwide Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Adam Cristman, Brad Knighton, and Wells Thompson of Major League Soccer's New England Revolution walk the grid prior to the start of qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 27, 2008 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

I really need to watch more soccer, seriously.

Adam Cristman, Brad Knighton, and Wells Thompson of Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution walk the grid prior to the start of qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 27, 2008 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

gilliland is the story

David Gilliland in the No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)The final laps of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 were literally killing me. I haven’t been that engaged in a race in quite some time. The fact that David Gilliland was running up front, realistically in contention for the win was seriously blowing my mind. In the end though he didn’t come up with the win but I feel like 2nd place is just as good.

I Tivo’d the race while I was at the track and I just watched it today. David’s smile in his post race interview was priceless. He was so happy and rightly so. He proved that he could contend with the likes of Jeff Gordon and come out on top.

On Sunday during the post-race press conference with the media his happiness still shone through, albeit subdued. I’m not one for chopping up quotes so here are some of my favorite parts from the Q&A with the media.

David on what he thought when he saw Jeff behind him in his rearview mirror:

GILLILAND: It’s not a comfortable feeling, I’ll tell you that. I grew up coming here, and so I wasn’t really surprised about having him back there for sure.

GORDON: You didn’t have anything to worry about, trust me.

GILLILAND: Our car was pretty good. On the restart before the last one, I got away from Jeff a little bit going up the hill, and so that made me a little more comfortable on the second one. But it was super slick the last lap as far as challenging for the lead. It was everything I could do just to stay on the racetrack. It was wild back there. It was incredible.

GORDON: You were up there.

GILLILAND: Yeah, up there; back there. (Laughter).

David responds to a reporter asking him if he feels his team is making progress towards becoming really competitive at the “bread and butter tracks:”

GILLILAND: Absolutely. That’s why we go to the racetrack each week. We’re working hard at it. It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that. It’s a challenge each and every week, but definitely, I mean, you know, I feel like we definitely made an improvement on the mile and a half stuff. Our short track stuff has been much better than it was last year. Richmond we had the best car we had and were in the Top 10 and got involved in an accident.

Had a bit of bad luck, but definitely I feel like our performance has improved 90 percent from what it was last year. Our cars are much better and you talk to people and they say, you know, you’re just learning, experience, but you don’t really learn anything driving a car that shouldn’t even be on the racetrack.

So I’m having to relearn a lot of things this year and running up in the front with guys like Jeff Gordon, you know, you’ve got to earn that respect and that goes a long ways.

It’s just a steady process that we are chipping away at.


Jeff Gordon speaks with the press after the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway

Jeff Gordon speaks with the press after the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway

David Gilliland speaks with the press after the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway

David Gilliland speaks with the press after the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway

Chad Knaus walks the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet through inspection at Infineon Raceway

Crew chief Chad Knaus walks the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet through inspection at Infineon Raceway

Clint Bowyer sits on pit road before teh start of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway

Clint Bowyer sits on pit road before the start of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway

Boris Said takes a call at Infineon Raceway before the start of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway

Boris Said takes a call at Infineon Raceway before the start of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway

Rear Tire Carrier and Car Chief Ron Malec steers the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet through inspection

Rear Tire Carrier and Car Chief Ron Malec steers the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet through inspection

crew members need to feel the love too

The No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford Fusion gets pushed through inspection at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)On Sunday before the race I walked pit road taking the usual pictures and I found the pit boxes for the No. 28 and No. 38 Yates Racing teams.

I have to say that I’ve been thinking about the guys on pit crews a lot lately, mostly because you don’t hear much about them individually or even as a group. Drivers constantly talk about how it’s a team sport and they couldn’t do it without their guys but how much do we really know about the men on these teams? And how much do they know about their fans? Unless you’re on the crew for the most popular drivers it’s hard to know who’s rooting for you or if they are at all.

On television in pre-race shows they sometimes do profiles of this crew member or that one for some special or unique story, but it’s never a consistent study of who these guys are and how they feel about their teams chances each week. I suppose it would be really hard from a PR standpoint to control all of those voices but it would be refreshing to hear them.

So with that being said I took the chance to talk to the pit crew guys — that were there — from Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland’s teams. I asked them if they ever went online to their team website to see what their fans were saying. They all said that they don’t go online and some guessed that maybe the comments were negative.

I told them that they had a bunch of fans out there that supported them 100%. So the comments from these guys surprised me and got me thinking. Since these guys don’t have time to spend online searching for what people are saying, I think that if you’re a Gilliland, Kvapil or Yates Racing fan you should send a letter to the crew members. Don’t send it to Travis or David — send it to the guys on the team. Just to be clear I’m not saying you shouldn’t write to the drivers too, you totally should, but don’t forget about the other guys that make up the team.


Crew members from the No. 28 California Highway Patrol Ford Fusion team (from left to right): Tire Runner John Horn, Catchcan Bobby Grant, and Front Tire Changer Cory DeMarco.

Crew members from the No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford Fusion team

Crew members from the No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford Fusion team

testing the limits (of fun) at infineon

Haulers during a testing session at Infineon Raceway (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Yesterday I went to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma for the NASCAR Sprint Cup testing sessions. Let me tell you it was really cool!

First of all, it was free and you can’t beat free.

Second, everything was open. By open I mean seriously open. I parked my car in the garage area, literally next to the haulers. The garage stalls were right across from my car. When it’s a race weekend, everything is blocked off and you have to have a garage pass. There was none of that yesterday. There were no Hot or Cold garage warnings. If I had the balls to do it I totally could have walked right into someone’s garage and been like “Hey, what’s up? How’s the car handling today?”

That being said you really had to watch yourself ’cause the guys were coming in and out of the garage left and right and there was no one around with a whistle to tell you to get out of the way. Case in point a man with two kids was walking towards me in the grandstand/victory lane area completely oblivious to the grumbling race car right behind them.

I always wonder how drivers feel about having the fans right there looking at them, getting in their way, etc. It’s not like I can walk into the Chicago Bears locker room and stare at Brian Urlacher before a game, although if the NFL decides to start doing that sign me up! Just kidding. Sort of. Ok I’m not kidding.

Anyway, back to yesterday. I stood in the victory lane above pit road and realized that this was exactly where I wanted to be at that exact moment. It was so awesome to just be there, taking pictures and watching the cars drive by. There weren’t a lot of people on hand, although more started to come in as I was leaving, but all in all I probably saw less than 15 people all told — lots of grandparents, fathers and sons.

Travis Kvapil, David Ragan, J.J. Yeley, Marcos Ambrose, Sam Hornish Jr. and David Gilliland were all there to test cars in anticipation of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. J.J., David Ragan, Marcos and Travis tested in GT America stock cars provided by Pioneer Motorsports from Lake Oroville, California (outside Sacramento). David Gilliland drove a NASCAR Camping World Series West car. I seriously couldn’t tell who was who ’cause the paint schemes were not their own, except for Sam’s.

Of the drivers that were present I only saw J.J., David Gilliland and Sam outside of their cars. I got a photo of Sam on his cell phone. It was so odd trying to take a photo them. I felt like a paparazzo. You feel like you should be able to say something but you can’t.

I took some very, very bad video of a couple cars on the track. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of video taping live action events, so forgive me. :)

Here’s a quote from David Gilliland talking about the importance of Infineon:

“People used to think, ‘This is Sonoma, a road race. I’m not good at road races.’ But now, with the points so close, you can’t give up on one race,” said Gilliland. “You can’t have a bad race anymore and expect to be up front. It’s too competitive now, so people are starting to take it more seriously.”


Sam Hornish Jr. chatting on his cell phone during a testing session at Infineon Raceway (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Sam Hornish Jr. chatting on his cell phone during the testing session at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

J.J. Yeley during the testing session at Infineon Raceway (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

This is the back of J.J. Yeley discussing stuff with his crew at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

David Gilliland talks with a crew member during the testing session at Infineon Raceway (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

And now the back of David Gilliland talking one of his crew members at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

More photos of the cars in my Flickr account!