My interview with David Ragan was a bit of a guerrilla deal. I didn’t schedule it ahead of time. At Sonoma this year, after I confronted Kasey Kahne about his Hottest Driver Tournament wins, we went in search of a another driver that I could interview.
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When I got to the Cup garage at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday the inspections process was in full-swing for qualifying.
Kristen attempted to explain to me how NASCAR started using lasers this year at one of the inspection stations to measure the car. It’s kinda neat how it’s able to find the center of the car. It’s all completely computerized.
I haven’t posted anything in a really long time and I apologize. My day job has taken over my life to the point where I’m working weekends and not getting home until late during the week.
I haven’t missed a Fontana race in 5 years, so it really sucked when I realized I wouldn’t be able to go this year. All the action & drama that happened on Sunday made it that much worse, but then again there’s no guarantee that it would have happened had I gone so I’m using that to make me feel better about the whole thing.
David Ragan married his longtime girlfriend, Jacquelyn Butler, on Saturday, December 15th in Charlotte, NC.
Good job, Clint Boywer, good job.
There are five races left in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series Championship and I’m wondering exactly how much can change in that time.
First, let me apologize for my serious delay in writing about Sonoma. The Monday following the race I came down with a cold and subsequently felt like crap ever since and didn’t feel like doing anything at all except breathing.
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.
David Ragan confirmed via Twitter today that he is indeed engaged to his girlfriend, Jacquelyn Butler. You’ll remember that Jacquelyn won the first ever Better Half Dash earlier this year at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The wedding is set for December 15, 2012 in Charlotte, NC. Congratulations to David & Jacquelyn!
Congratulations to the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 team for their victory at Texas. Tony Stewart and crew are definitely making things anxious for Carl Edwards. But because I’m greedy, I really wish that Matt Kenseth & Kevin Harvick could get in the mix somehow and stir things up so that everything will be nice and crazy for Homestead. That would be fun, no?
Of course, there was that whole Kyle Busch situation that was covered AT LENGTH over the weekend, so I’m not going to go into it very much only to say that I hated it when they would recount what happened on Friday with Kyle and Ron Hornaday. They made it seem like it wasn’t OBVIOUS that Hornaday got into Kyle on accident, he got loose and it was plain as day. I’m probably nitpicking about this but saying “they tried going 3-wide and it didn’t work” doesn’t quite explain the situation accurately enough for me. Oh and one more thing, did you think it was interesting that in KyBu’s apology letter he didn’t name Kevin Harvick Inc. by name? I thought that was interesting. Douchey and interesting.
I’m so happy I got to go to New Hampshire and Kansas over the past month or so. Getting to attend those races reminded me why I love writing this blog so much and how awesome it is to interact with you and hear your thoughts on my experiences. Your feedback means a lot to me so don’t hold back. Let’s just hope that someone reads this site, believes in what I’m doing and steps up to help it grow. I might create a quick link for you to click to Tweet brands that tells them to sponsor me. Ha! I seriously just thought of that while writing this and now I need to make it happen.
In other news…
– Today was the first ever Better Half Dash at Charlotte Motor Speedway, featuring the wives and girlfriends of NASCAR drivers, crew guys and personalities. The inaugural winner was Jacquelyn Butler, the girlfriend of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan.
“That was crazy,” Butler said from the frontstretch victory celebration, which was complete with a trophy presentation, interviews and a champagne shower. “That was fun. I’m ready to go out and do it again next week.”
Better Half Dash Finishing Order
1. Jacquelyn Butler (David Ragan)
2. Trisha Mears (Casey Mears)
3. Ashley Allgaier (Justin Allgaier)
4. Patricia Driscoll (Kurt Busch)
5. Wendy Venturini (Speed Network)
6. Beth Baldwin (Tommy Baldwin)
7. Sabrina Simpson (Joey Logano)
8. Jami McDowell (Michael McDowell)
9. Michelle Gilliland (David Gilliland)
10. Kristen Yeley (J.J. Yeley)
11. Nan Zipadelli (Greg Zipadelli)
12. Angie Skinner (Mike Skinner)
13. Shannon Koch (Blake Koch)
14. Melanie Self (Motor Racing Outreach)
– Better Half Dash Honorary Starter Kelley Earnhardt is expecting her third child. It’s her first child with her husband & race car driver, L.W. Miller III (who you can see in that Richard Petty energy drink commercial). Kelley has two daughters, Karsyn & Kennedy, from her previous marriage to NASCAR crew chief, Jimmy Elledge.
“Obviously as a former race car driver, I would love to be participating with the other ladies in this event,” said Earnhardt, co-owner and general manager of JR Motorsports. “But with a baby on the way, I am thankful they found a home for me as the honorary starter to be a part of the fun.
“It is fulfilling to be doing something positive while raising awareness and funds for Motor Racing Outreach (MRO) and Speedway Children’s Charities. MRO is a staple to our sport and NASCAR family and SCC has done so much for our community.”
– Montgomery Lee, daughter of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Petty (and granddaughter of NASCAR legend Richard Petty) announced this week via Twitter that she and her country music artist husband, Randy Montana, are expecting their first child. The couple are expecting a daughter on February 29th of next year.
Congratulations to David Ragan and the No. 6 UPS team on winning the COKE ZERO 400 at Daytona! It’s been a long time coming! And if there was ever a driver that NEEDED to win right now it was David Ragan. I loved his post-race interview where the TNT reporter (can’t remember who it was, Matt Yocum?) tried EVERYTHING to try and get some sort emotional reaction from David and nothing happened. It was kind of anti-climactic. We love an emotional winner, and you’d think a first-timer would have brought something to the party.
Oh welly, David doesn’t need to cry for me to know that it means a lot. I’m happy for the guy.
Must talk about the sight of Andy Lally driving all by his lonesome during the race. Having a “partner” is the only way you’re going to do anything at Daytona these days and Andy didn’t have anybody for a while there. It brought me right back to junior high school P.E. class and dreading having to be picked for someone’s team (for some dumb activity that all the boys always took WAY too seriously). Ugh, it made me sad for him. I understand why guys didn’t want to work with him because they didn’t know what he was capable of, but still it was hard to watch. It’s the nature of the beast, though.
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:
I feel so incredibly late with this post, and I apologize for that. There’s something about Sunday that makes me really not want to do anything that I “should” do.
And to make matters worse I didn’t even write anything about the race at Martinsville. Ya know, the one where Dale Earnhardt Jr. made me mental. When he took the lead I muted the television and began yelling my TV screen. Of course it didn’t work because Kevin Harvick had to be all good and everything and win the race. Despite not making my life and winning that race I’m so incredibly PROUD of Mr. Dale Jr. because he’s in the Top 12 in points, which is just awesome all by itself. One last thing about Martinsville, Harvick shouldn’t have said anything about “being the bad guy.” He did what he was supposed to do–anything and everything he could to win that race. He’s not supposed to worry about the feelings of JR Nation. Just race, that’s all we ask.
Soo, on to this past weekend at Texas. Congratulations to Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 Crown Royal Black team! That was a great win and I’m always stoked for someone to win a race when it’s been a REEEEEALLLLLLY long time since they last had one.
Here’s one housekeeping note: I recently launched The Fast and the Fabulous mobile application. Now you can receive alerts and stuff on your cell phone, if it uses the Android operating system. Look for it in the Android Market on your cell phone. Just search for “The Fast and the Fabulous” or “NASCAR.” There’s a solution coming soon for iPhones so stay tuned for that.
Repaved Daytona International Speedway = Racing INSANITY!
It was nerve-wracking to watch but still superfun!
Congratulations to Trevor Bayne and Wood Brothers Racing. What an amazing finish! I was flabbergasted at that finish, but NOT because of Trevor Bayne. I’m happy for the kid and all that, and for the Wood Brothers, but I’m going to be honest, I was more stoked for David Gilliland. When I saw Carl Edwards had hooked up with David I start screaming at the television. I really, really, really wanted David to get up there and contend for the win, but I was totally satisfied with his 3rd place finish. He’s 2nd in points right now, and I know that’s only after one race but it’s a really great start!
I know it’s not Festivus, but I’d like to air some grievances. Ok, there’s really only one and it’s about the post-race coverage from Fox Sports. They didn’t interview David Gilliland post-race, but they did interview David Ragan who finished 14th. I understand why they talked to Ragan ’cause he made a small mistake that ended up possibly costing him the race (I say possibly because there’s no way to know for sure that had he not been black flagged he would of won), BUT if you only have limited time wouldn’t you automatically go to the top-3?! Ugh.
Anyway, I understand that directing and coordinating a live broadcast is hard and for the most part they get it right but it’s still really annoying when they mess up.
I’m EXTRA excited for Phoenix. I’ve decided not to attend that race, I’m still really looking forward to watching what happens. I’m still going to Las Vegas for sure and I CANNOT wait to get there.
Back to Trevor Bayne really quick, he’ll be at Ghiradelli Square tomorrow (Tuesday, February 22) in San Francisco at 5:30pm to create the “Trevor Bayne Sundae, Sundae, Sundae” and then he’ll be in Los Angeles on Wednesday at a free fan event at L.A. Live in Downtown Los Angeles (800 W. Olympic Blvd.) at noon.
I LOVE the expression on this girl’s face. It is priceless. I can just imagine what she’s thinking!
Kasey Kahne signs autographs for fans in the garage Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Michael Waltrip celebrates in victory lane with his No.15 crew after winning the 2011 NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tony Stewart celebrates with his crew in victory lane after winning the Drive4COPD 300 Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Danica Patrick talks to Dale Earnhardt Jr. about the No.7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in the Garage during practice at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Paisley entertains the crowd during the pre-race show before the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Not a very good command at all. But I love the Transformers race cars.
Honorary Grand Marshals Michael Bay, Josh Duhamel and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley give the command to start the engines for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Brandon Goodman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The Baltimore Raven’s Ray Rice visits the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage and takes a look in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Motorsports Images and Archives)
National Anthem singer Patty Loveless shows her support for Drive4COPD Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Martina McBride sings the National Anthem before the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: ISC Archives/Getty Images)
Dierks Bentley performs during the Daytona 500 pre-race show Sunday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Great moment–I held up 3 fingers too even though I wasn’t there!
The fans salute Dale Earnhardt on lap 3 by holding up three fingers during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway at Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carl Edwards and David Ragan congratulate Trevor Bayne in victory lane after the 53rd Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
It was that time again on Saturday to reacquaint ourselves with the folks at Fox Sports and their brand of NASCAR coverage for another year. I have a secret wish that one of those animated robot football players they use for the NFL will walk onto the screen and bash Digger and his friends about the head until they run away forever. Did I just write that? Yes, yes I did.
Anyway, loved seeing drivers back in action. There’s nothing better than seeing cars driving at full speed, racing for something, anything, even if there aren’t any points involved. Congratulations to Kurt Busch and the “Double Deuce” team on winning the Budweiser Shootout.
Sunday was qualifying for the Daytona 500, but really just for the front row. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon locked up the front row for Hendrick Motorsports. And that was great and all but a bigger story, in my eyes at least, was Larry McReynolds dropping relationship news about Tony Stewart dating sprint car driver Jessica Zemken, who races for Tony Stewart Racing.
In other news…
– The winner of this year’s Daytona 500 will be honored in San Francisco on February 22nd (6pm) at Ghiradelli Square with an ice cream social. The lucky dude will have a sundae named in his honor and all fans in attendance will be treated to a complimentary sundae courtesy of the Ghiradelli® Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. I’m going to be there FOR SURE, because I have first hand knowledge of how delicious everything is that they make at Ghiradelli. Chocolate covered strawberries are calling my name, and it’ll be cool to see the Daytona 500 winner fresh off their win.
– There’s more than just a win, and a starting position in the Daytona 500, at stake for Tony Stewart in the The Duels at Daytona on Thursday–there’s money too!:
“The Duels at Daytona are always exciting because the higher you finish, the better your starting spot is for the Daytona 500. But for this year’s Duel, I have a little added incentive knowing that the Tony Stewart Foundation could receive some extra funding if I win,” said Stewart, who has awarded almost $4 million to assist charitable initiatives through his foundation since 2003. “I am so proud to partner with companies like Office Depot and Lexmark that believe in Taking Care of Business by giving back to their communities and to those in need. As for the wager, the new Lexmark Genesis S815 printer is really fast, and in our business, speed counts.”
More details over at ‘Fabulous’ News
– Celebrities have made their predictions on who they think will win the Daytona 500, check ‘em out over at SI.com. I’m partial to Joe Namath & Janet Evanovich’s picks, but you should read them all. There’s some interesting little tidbits of info in there. Like Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers (aka Super Bowl XLV losers), went to college with JD Gibbs.
– Scott Speed will drive the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc. in the Nationwide Series for two races this year: Iowa Speedway on August 6 and at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on August 20.
Photo fun time from this weekend below!
Jeff Gordon’s wife Ingrid Vandebosch and his son Leo in victory lane after Jeff Gordon secured a front row start for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon share a laugh together during Budweiser Shootout practice at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon discuss practice at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Chirs Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. draws the pole for the Budweiser Shootout as Kenny Wallace reacts Friday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
2010 Daytona 500 Champion Jamie McMurray and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya share information during Budweiser Shootout practice at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
I’m diggin’ Kasey’s new firesuit. Cool design.
Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch discuss practice Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne talk during Daytona 500 practice at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kurt Busch in victory lane celebrating his 2011 Budweiser Shootout win at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
David Ragan signs a fans jacket during Daytona 500 Qualifying at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carl Edwards signs autographs for fans after his qualifying lap Sunday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
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)
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
People always love to talk about NASCAR needs, ‘cause NASCAR always needs something, I guess. I never like writing or talking about stuff like that because I don’t think NASCAR is in a dire situation for anything. So what’s the point of talking about what would help it if I don’t think it needs help?
With that being said, if NASCAR does need something right now it would be what happened last night. David Reutimann won the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway and while the race as a whole was kinda boring, it was pure awesomeness to see David win a race without the help of weather issues for the first time. He and his No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine team won the race fair and square. I loved seeing the emotion in his face and that of his crew chief Rodney Childers. Rodney apologized for all of his emotion while talking to the TNT crew, but he shouldn’t have. He earned that win and he should let those feelings roll, he earned it.
And don’t forget to re-read my Inside the Actor’s Studio interview with David. hehe.
In other news…
– At race time yesterday Jimmie and Chandra Johnson had yet to announce the name of their new baby girl, but today they finally shared her name, Genevieve Marie Johnson, along with a picture of the cutie pahtootie newborn. Raise your hand if you have the same middle name as Genevieve. I do! I do!
– 20-year-old Austin Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress, won his first career NASCAR race today in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 200 at Iowa Speedway. Congratulations Austin! Who doesn’t love a first-time winner?
They’re hugging like this because they’re friends in real life.
Actor Angie Harmon greets Jimmie Johnson, driver of the Lowe’s Chevrolet during driver introductions for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 10, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
“Big Mac”, love that.
Jamie McMurray waits for the race action to begin for the LifeLock.com 400 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.
Austin Dillon, driver of the Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet poses with his little brother Ty Dillon, driver of the Karl Chevrolet Arca car after both of them won the pole awards at Iowa Speedway on July 10, 2010 in Newton, Iowa. Austin won the pole award after qualifying first for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 200 and Ty won the pole award for the ARCA Prairie 200. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards and his mother, Nancy Sterlin, during pre-race ceremonies for the Dollar General 300 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.
David Ragan (6) during practice for the LifeLock.com 400 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the Jimmy John’s Chevrolet and his wife DeLana stand for the National Anthem during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 Powered by Coca-Cola at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Reed Sorenson, driver of the Red Bull Toyota looks on from the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the Cheerios Chevrolet looks on from the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Duncan Keith of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks gives the command for the drivers to start their engines during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 10, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The Coke Zero Fan 400 is the first-ever race-within-a-race that allows fans to help their favorite Coca-Cola Racing Family drivers win by simply “liking” them on CokeZero.com. As drivers accumulate “votes” online they move up in the race standings.
Fans who vote for the driver who wins the Coke Zero Fan 400 earn a chance to receive a free 20-ounce Coke Zero to celebrate the win. In addition, Coke Zero will donate $10,000 to the NASCAR Foundation on behalf of the winner of the online race.
Each member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family competing in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3 also will participate in the Fan 400. Fans can begin voting for their favorite drivers on CokeZero.com today. Voting ends following the finish of the Coke Zero 400.
Now, here’s the fun part. Drivers like Denny Hamlin, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton made videos imploring fans to vote for them. I’ve found Jeff Burton’s to be the most LOL inducing. See for yourself after the jump!
Tomorrow is day one of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway. I’m super excited because I’ve got some cool stuff lined up and I can’t wait to write about ‘em and share it all with you guys.
Today I attend the press luncheon (photo evidence at left) where Clint Bowyer, David Ragan and Scott Speed were in attendance. They held a short press conference and answered questions. Afterwards I happened to be sharing an elevator with Scott and his PR person and I introduced myself. Scott was very nice, I think he dug the name of this blog.
In other news…
– Dale Earnhardt Jr. really enjoys the soccer. Check out this video of him prepping for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This also serves as my friendly reminder to vote for Dale EVERYDAY (put a sticky note on your computer if you have to), over at facebook.com/adidasSoccer (click on the World Cup Fans tab) so that Dwight Howard, Reggie Bush and BJ Upton will have to wear Dale Jr’s gear. We’re almost there!
The facts as I knew them before I arrived at AT&T Park last night:
1.) There was to be a group media session with Kurt Busch and David Ragan an hour before the game started.
2.) Kurt and David were going to take a lap around the field at some point in between innings with the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota showcar rumbling behind them.
3.) David and Kurt were going to lead the crowd in “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch.
4.) It was NASCAR Night at the San Francisco Giants vs Baltimore Orioles game
I parked at one of the piers just down from the ballpark and walked superfast to the place where my credentials were waiting. This was my first time attending a Major League Baseball game as a credentialed member of the media. I got to go because of Infineon Raceway and the fact that it was “NASCAR Night.”
To answer Melody’s question from my previous post, I was in Tony Stewart’s hauler for all of 5 minutes. It was luxuriously air conditioned and I didn’t see the back lounge area. Plus Tony wasn’t there he was out practicing but it was very cool to be inside a hauler for any reason and any amount of time.
Sunday was of course the Coca-Cola 600 and on my drive in to the track I couldn’t get over the amount of tailgating that was going on seemingly EVERYWHERE. Every blade of grass surrounding the track was filled with trucks, tents and people with barbecues. Even the parking lots of commercial office buildings had groups of people crowded together. It was so neat to see. There’s tailgating at the California races but nothing to the degree of what I saw outside of Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’s something that you have to witness for yourself.
I got to the track in time to attend a tweetup organized by SBNation’s Jeff Gluck. I went to meet up with ‘Fabulous’ readers Tara S. and Penni. It was really cool finally getting to meet them in person. I seriously adore the women that read my blog, you guys are the bestest! This is the perfect time to thank you all for the sweet comments about my interview with Tony Stewart. I really appreciate the encouragement.
As I alluded to in the title of this post, the Coca-Cola 600 was really all about Bradley Cooper and his hotness visiting a NASCAR race for the first time. He was there with three of his other cast-mates to promote their new movie “The A-Team.” I thought Brendan Fraser’s presence at Chicagoland a couple of years ago was a big deal but Bradley really brought out the ladies. Media and PR people alike make it a point to be in the media center for the cast’s press conference. As soon as Bradley walked into the media center people were requesting to have their photo taken with him (as you can see at right, that’s not me, unfortunately), which he happily obliged.
This week was the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. I wasn’t there (trust me, I’m crying inside) and so all I have to share with you are these photos of drivers sitting in chairs. Enjoy!
(Left to right) Richard Childress Racing’s Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, owner Richard Childress and Jeff Burton take part in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour Hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway Tuesday in Concord, N.C. (Credit: Harold Hinson Photography)
I don’t know about you but I’m a total sucker for photos of kids and babies getting autographs from drivers. It’s gotta be in the top 10 of cutest things on the planet. And since I’ve been slacking on posting photos here’s a bunch from some of the NASCAR events that have taken place this month.
If these pictures don’t make you smile you need to see a therapist.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver AJ Allmendinger waves to a young fan Friday in Daytona Beach, Fla. at the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway. (Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick poses for a photo with a young fan during autograph sessions on Saturday at NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL. (Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
A young fan meets NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Elliott Sadler and gets an autograph on Saturday during the Sprint Sound and Speed Fan Festival at Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. (Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
A young fan gets an autograph from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan on Saturday during NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL. (Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. meets a junior JR Motorsports fan Friday in Daytona Beach, Fla. at the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway. (Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer takes a picture with a young fan on Saturday during the Sprint Sound and Speed Fan Festival at Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. (Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I’m a few days late with my year in review but at least I’m not posting this in February or something. 2009 was a very big year for The Fast and the Fabulous. While I didn’t get to attend more races I did have a lot of fun new experiences.
– Questions?: At the Auto Club 500 I did what had previously been unthinkable, I spoke during a press conference and posed questions to some NASCAR drivers. It’s still surreal to me to just be in the same room witfh these guys. Growing up as “The Shy One” I’m proud of myself for coming as far as I have. To top it all off David Ragan said he liked my question, which seriously made my life.
– Weekends of racing: While I didn’t get to improve upon on my personal best, I did attend four races — Auto Club 500, Shelby 427, Toyota/SaveMart 350 and Pepsi 500 — in 2009 and added photo galleries from each one to the site. And, I attended my very first drivers meeting during the Shelby 427 weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
– NASCAR Citizen Journalists Media Corps: When I started this blog my goal from the beginning was to get as much credibility as possible. My aim isn’t to be TMZ (gag me) or to just publish anything. I want people to know that if I’m saying something there’s actual thought behind it. I respect NASCAR and this site is all about my experiences and about learning as I go. It means so much to me, probably even more than I know, to be included in the NASCAR Citizen Journalists Media Corps because to me it shows that I’ve done what I set out to do and that people like it.
– Sprinkles Cupcakes: I can’t believe this happened this year, It seriously feels like it was 2 years ago. My harrowing saga of searching for Sprinkles at Auto Club Speedway (and the follow-up) is hands down one of my best posts ever, and if you haven’t read it you should. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to eat cupcakes.
– Champion’s Week in Las Vegas: OMG. Seriously. Getting the chance to attend Champion’s Week was just awesome. I had a great, great time, so much fun and of course had the most amazing photo taken with Carl Edwards that beats any photo ever taken of me in my entire life. I think NASCAR has found a perfect home for Champion’s Week in Las Vegas. It is such a fun place for fans and NASCAR drivers alike to just let their hair down and celebrate. Where else could I drunkenly accost Chad Knaus? I cannot wait for Champion’s Week 2010, which I am sincerely hoping includes Dale Earnhardt Jr. and then maybe I’ll be able to get the greatest photo ever taken in the UNIVERSE! haha.
– A few of my favorite things: Some people that are new to this site might not be fully aware of my sense of humor. I do have one and I like to use it from time to time. In “Dear Dale, It’s Not Me, It’s You” I compared my driver/fan relationship with Dale Jr to that of a love relationship between a boyfriend & girlfriend. Some people didn’t get it but whatever, it was funny and some of my best work to date. And frankly, if you can’t find humor in a sucky situation what are you left with? A sucky situation that just sucks.
With “My Mom Gets It Sort of Right” I shared one of my mom’s Christmas gifts to me which was a Dale Jr. baby car shade. It’s awesome because I am childless. My mom is great though, she supports my NASCAR habit and I appreciate that more than anything.
This year for the first time I put together my non-prediction predictions for the Chase of which I am very proud because they serve no other purpose than to make me laugh.
– You guys!: It’s still kinda weird to know that people know me and my site when I don’t know them. I am eternally grateful to everyone who reads this blog and gets any kind of enjoyment out of it. You guys are awesome. Thank you for an awesome 2009 and here’s to an even better 2010!
Did I miss anything?? Let me know in the comments.
– It was announced yesterday that Jamie McMurray will take over the No. 1 car for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing next year. I say congratulations to Mr. McMurray. I like knowing that people have jobs. This leads me to think about another driver that I think should have a ride next year and that would be David Gilliland. I think Joe Gibbs Racing should take on a 4th team and that team should be for David. It’d be awesome.
– NFL star Junior Seau has a new TV show called “Sports Jobs With Junior Seau.” Before Seau decided to come back to the NFL he filmed this original series for VERSUS about the people working behind the scenes of major sports leagues. In the December 23rd episode Seau tries his hand at being a pit crew member for IndyCar Series driver Scott Dixon. Check your local listings.
– Mike Rowe, host of the super grody show “Dirty Jobs,” will be the Grand Marshal of this weekend’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. I love Mike Rowe because he does muck around in all of the muck on his show, and he has an awesome voice. AND he used to host a local TV show here in the San Francisco Bay Area so he’s sentimental fave. I’m glad he’s doing really well.
– NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Ragan surprised three Daytona International Speedway season ticket holders with free tickets to the 2010 Daytona 500 in February. There were pictures and I felt the need to post them.
Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig, left, joined UPS driver Robert Clopton and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 UPS Ford David Ragan to present longtime season ticket holder Ben Allen and his wife with their tickets for the 52nd annual Daytona 500 at their home Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Daytona International Speedway)
Longtime season ticket holder Mike Bruno Jr., right, poses with his tickets to Feb. 14′s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 and driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford, David Ragan on Tuesday as Ragan hand-delivered him tickets for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 on Feb. 14, 2010. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Daytona International Speedway)
When he opened his front door, longtime Daytona International Speedway season ticket holders Jim Barron and his wife Char were in for a surprise — NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford, David Ragan. Ragan, who stopped in Daytona Beach before heading down to Homestead-Miami Speedway for this weekend’s final races of the season, presented tickets to Barron for the 52nd annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 14, 2010. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Daytona International Speedway)
I have so much to tell you and I’m late on all of it! Grr. Last weekend I went to the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma and then there was this whole Miss Universe pageant where Miss USA wore a NASCAR-inspired outfit. I have a lot to discuss, but first my thoughts on Bristol.
Bristol was basically like Britney Spears‘ supposed “comeback” performance at the MTV Video Music Awards a couple years back. Everybody was all excited leading up to it and then it happened and it was a complete FAIL.
Bristol was friggin’ boring. Well not entirely but still a vast majority of it. So much so that I was actually sad I couldn’t take a nap to get through it.
Since I never wrote up my thoughts on the Coke Zero 400 last week I’m doing a double-double this weekend and including them with my write up of last night’s LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland.
First the Coke Zero 400, I felt that Tony Stewart did nothing wrong to Kyle Busch in the last lap. Apparently when Kyle ends up wrecked it’s whiney time, but when he does it to someone else he’s just racing. Whatever, dude. I do not understand Kyle’s logic, seriously.
With Tony’s win, Burger King definitely got their money’s worth for their sponsorship of his No. 14 right out of the gate. If they don’t do more next year, I think that would be a mistake. But I still think the BK King is creepy.
Now, I should say that I wasn’t all that thrilled that Tony won. I really wanted Denny Hamlin to win, and this weekend too. I’ve never been a Denny fan but he’s really growing on me. I’m not sure why. Well, maybe it had to do with seeing his episode of Cribs on CMT awhile back. He had this piece of paper in his bathroom that read: “I Can, I Will.” I guess it struck a cord with me that he even thought enough to post an affirmation like that, and then to let it be filmed. So I want the guy to win something, that and I want to hang out on the little beach he has in his backyard. It just seemed so relaxing.
Wanna know what my reaction was to the end of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway?
Jaw. On. Floor.
I couldn’t believe it. Here I was thinking that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was going to win it and then Brad Keselowski comes from outta nowhere — after getting in the way all day — and takes it.
Only seven laps in we got a “Big One” that took out guys that I like, including Bowyer and Gilliland, which was highly disappointing. But I still had Dale and the hope that he had read my post and had taken it to heart. Ya never know. Plus well, Talladega is a really good track for him so I’m sure it had everything to do with that and nothing to do with me, but because he left there with a top-three finish (which is what I asked for) I like to think it was mostly me.
Anyway, I congratulate Brad on his first Sprint Cup win.
I’m so glad that Carl Edwards is A-OK and that his crash only looked absolutely horrible and didn’t result in anyone’s death. Actually because of that insane fly through the air Carl will be a guest on “The Ellen Degeneres Show” that airs tomorrow (Wednesday, April 29th, check your local listings).
Apparently Ellen thinks that Carl should take it easy from now on and gives him a new ride, a “Cruzin Cooler”, to be exact. It’s a cooler on wheels. Niiice.
I don’t know the answer to the safety questions surrounding Talladega. I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t like watching cars run 3 or 4 wide. It’s pretty cool. And yes, seeing the “The Big One” happen is interesting to me. It’s also crazy to see two cars hook-up and push each other past the entire field. It’s so unique and I like it. Whatever NASCAR needs to do to make it so that people don’t get themselves into the situations that Carl and Matt Kenseth found themselves in this past weekend they should do, but hopefully that doesn’t involve taking the banking away.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left), driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Amp Energy Chevrolet, congratulates Brad Keselowski (right), driver of the No. 09 Miccosukee Chevrolet, in Victory Lane on his first Sprint Cup Series win at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Marcos Ambrose (right), driver of the No. 47 Little Debbie/Kingsford/Clorox Toyota talks with team co-owner Brad Daugherty (left) during Friday’s first practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates his first NASCAR national racing series win Saturday in Victory Lane after capturing the checkered flag at the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Old Spice Chevrolet, waves to the fans following driver introductions and before the start of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Mike Skinner and his No. 5 Bad Boy Mowers Toyota team celebrate winning the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway. The win was Skinner’s first of the season and the first for the team since becoming Randy Moss Motorsports last summer. (Photo Credit: Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet chats with former teammate Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota in the garage during Friday’s practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Earlier in the day, Stewart held a news conference about the 2009 Prelude to the Dream. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
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)
I drove 8 hours to get to Las Vegas, so I think that solidfies me as a true blue NASCAR fan. I’ve done the drive to Vegas from the Bay Area 2 times before, and I think it feels longer after you’ve done it the first time.
I arrived in Vegas yesterday and checked into my hotel, South Point Hotel Casino & Spa, where I found that many other NASCAR fans and teams were also staying. It’s a nice place but the fact that the casino is full of smokers pretty much solidfies the fact that I will not be indulging my passion for penny slots.
This morning I got up early to get to the credentials trailer. When I walked in the door I immediately identified David Ragan standing at the counter. I wondered why he was there and cursed the fact that I didn’t have my camera on me, not that I could have taken a photo because it would have been super obvious. Anyway, I stepped up to the open window next to him and handed over my ID to pick up my stuff.
It was then that the woman across from David asked how she could help him. He said that he needed his parking sticker for his RV. The woman told him that they should have given it to him when he drove in, there’s a little booth there. Well, David, who was obviously irritated by the whole thing, said that the guy manning the booth told him to come to the credentials trailer. He said that he would go back but asked if there was a specific person he could talk to about it because he thought this wasn’t a very organized way to handle things.
Two things I found interesting:
1.) He had to handle this whole thing himself. You think that all drivers have someone to drive their RV in for them, or pick up the necessary stickers. I guess it just isn’t like that for everyone.
2.) His accent becomes extra thick when he’s annoyed.
Here’s another totally random thought about David Ragan. He looks better in his street clothes than he does in that UPS firesuit. I really don’t think they should have used so much yellow. It’s not a good look.
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)
Gosh, where do I begin?
Let’s start with Thursday night when I arrived at LAX and picked up my rental car from Thrifty. I usually go with Hertz, but this time around Thrifty was cheaper and I was, well, trying to be thrifty. It was sort of a mistake. There was drama from the second I walked in the door. Some woman was trying to pay with quarters and one dollar bills and some other dude was trying to cheat the rental company out of money which ended with the Thrifty employee telling the dude to never come back there again.
What a glorious way to start a trip! Actually it wasn’t all bad, when it was my turn they got me out quickly, and I was able to pick the car I wanted. I ended up with a black Dodge Caliber. I’ve never driven one of those before and they said it was a compact car, but it totally doesn’t feel like it. I feel like I’m driving a boat.
Anyway, Yesterday morning I set off for the track with more butterflies in my stomach than ever. I always get nervous because I have no idea what is going to happen and I’m always seriously afraid that I’ll look like a nut job. How I would make myself look like a nut job I will never know, but I fear it nevertheless.
I arrived at the track, picked up my credentials and grabbed the press conference schedule. So I’m used to having to go from hauler to hauler for each session, but this time around the majority of the gatherings were in the drivers meeting room in the garage. So I just sat there as driver after driver came in and took a seat behind the table on the stage.
Here is a quick rundown of things that occurred to me as each driver spoke:
– Kurt Busch is kinda growing on me. I used to dislike him a lot but now, eh, not so much.
– I was dying to ask Matt Kenseth point blank whether or not his wife Katie was pregnant, but I do not have the balls to ask that kind of question. It’s none of my business, of course.
– A.J. Allmendinger is talkative, friendly and funny. He joked that he told USA Today that he might be doing steroids in an effort to get them to write an article about him.
– Kyle Busch talked about the incident at Daytona a little bit, all without actually saying Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s name. A reporter called him on it and asked why he wouldn’t say his name, Kyle replied (in a sort of annoyed tone) that he didn’t say the other guys’ (Brian Vickers) name either.
– I really liked the Kobalt Tools hat that Jimmie Johnson was wearing.
– Kasey Kahne kinda looks like the actor Robert Pattinson, who played the Edward character in the movie “Twilight.” They’re not dead ringers, but c’mon there are some similarities.
– When you ask Jeff Gordon a question he will never, ever answer it with just one word or one sentence. It’s not a bad thing, he just tends to go on more than others.
– David Ragan is my new favorite driver! Why? Read my next post!
When I wasn’t listening to drivers talk about the track and their feelings about the upcoming race I spent time in the garage Twittering and taking photos. Oh, and I monitored the Port-A-Pottie usage of a few drivers like Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan. These are the kinds of important updates you get when you follow me on Twitter.
My intention for this post was to talk about the Nationwide Series Champions Week, but I realized that I don’t have much to say ’cause I wasn’t there, but I will say that Clint Bowyer is pretty cute when he’s smiling. Isn’t the photo to the left a great shot of him?
Thanks to ESPN we all get to find out what happened at the awards banquet, all of the important things like who was Joey Logano’s date and other items of that nature. Highlights will be shown on ESPN2 at noon (EST). Check your local listings.
The big newsy news of the day is that Casey Mears‘ first child was born yesterday. According to a post by Casey’s mom Carol on the Mears Gang message boards Samantha Mae Mears was born yesterday at at 12:42pm, weighing in at 8lbs. 7oz.
Congratulations to Casey and his girlfriend Trisha!
In other news…
– Do you ever wish that there was one place on the web were you could find all of the top headlines about racing? Well there’s no need to look any further than Alltop. It’s a site the pulls in website and blog feeds (including The Fast and the Fabulous!) from around the web in what they’re calling a “magazine rack” approach. It’s worth checking out.
– Here is a fun quote from Mike Skinner about Scott Speed who will make his Sprint Cup Series debut next year:
“He’s a really funny guy. He acts so goofy on the outside. But when he puts on that helmet and gets in that race car, he does a great job. He gives good feedback, and I think the kid’s got a bright future. Red Bull is really, really high on him. Heck, he’s already won in ARCA few times, he’s won in the truck series, he was second-fastest at the Charlotte test. I hope to be his friend for a long time and help him any way I can.”
– The Third Annual Jamie McMurray Foundation Golf Tournament will take place on Monday, October 13th in Mooresville, North Carolina. The Jamie McMurray Foundation raises money for austism awareness and research:
“It’s hard to believe the golf tournament is really next week,” said McMurray. “We’ve put a lot of work into this year’s tournament to make it nothing short of first class. There are a lot of people that made this event what it will be, but nothing would have been possible without the help of our sponsors. Crown Royal stepped up as the primary sponsor, along with Stanford Group, Coca-Cola, Aflac, Sprint, Motorsports Authentics and a ton of others. The list goes on and on, and it’s really those sponsors who have made this all possible.”
Joining McMurray for an afternoon of golf are his fellow Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and David Ragan, along with Denny Hamlin, Rusty Wallace, Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson and others.
“I really can’t thank those guys enough for taking time out of their schedules to come out and support our foundation and help raise money for such a great cause.”
The JMF was formed in May 2006, and since has provided more than $200,000 to Autism Speaks and other autistic foundations throughout the United States.
Hello! Today has been insane let me tell ya, but the one awesome thing has been writing up this final post of my interview with Kyle Petty. Again, this interview was done last week during Kyle’s promotion of Prostate Cancer Awareness Week.
Me: In regards to Prostate Cancer Awareness, a lot of the readers of my website are women, what’s the most important thing that they can do for their husband or father to help them to go out there and see a doctor about this?
Petty: When had our STAY ON TRACK for Better Prostate Health booth set up at Michigan I was surprised at the amount of women who came through and would bring their husbands, or would say “My father had prostate cancer, it runs in our family and I’m trying to get my brothers to go and I really appreciate you guys speaking up on it.”
I think prostate cancer for so many people and especially guys, guys just are afraid to go be checked. And just like I said before, as my father uses the example of putting together a pit crew for his prostate cancer, I think so many guys will baby their car, change the oil, do everything they can with their car and their lawnmower, and their fishing boat or whatever it may be but they disregard their body.
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 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.
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 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)
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 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 (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)
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)
I’ve managed to shock myself at how long it’s taken me to write something about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s win at Michigan last weekend.
I was in Los Angeles helping to celebrate Father’s Day for my brother-in-law so I wasn’t able to watch the race unfold. I saw the beginning of it before we left for lunch and then when I got back to the house I found that my mom had called me on my cell phone that I had regrettably left behind. I called her back and she asked me if I had seen it, seen Dale win. My first emotion was anger that I had missed it. I was so mad. If you follow me on Twitter you already knew that.
Of course I’m happy for him, ecstatic even, but I’m still sad that I missed it. It’s not enough for me to see the highlights after the fact. I need to watch it live. In the end though there’s nothing I can do about it. I still got to see how it ended and his reaction in victory lane and his interview with ESPN’s Marty Smith. Although, I do wish his win had been cleaner and by “cleaner” I mean that I wish there wasn’t the whole controversy over passing the pace car under yellow. I’ll still take it of course, but still, it lingers.
My mom is traveling and she saw the end of the race in a restaurant in Arkansas. She was taken aback by the crowd cheering for Dale as he won the race. Stuff like that doesn’t happen in Northern California. If you enter a restaurant and the patrons are cheering it’s either because the Giants, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders or A’s are winning. Some places will have the race on TV but it’s usually because there’s nothing else on. At any rate, I want to experience that for myself. I must get myself to Charlotte asap!
In other news….
– Kyle Busch has bowed of his attempt at running for a Championship in all three of NASCAR’s series. I think that was a good idea. After two sucky weeks I think it was the thing to do. I don’t think that’s something that I’d want any driver to do, even the ones that I don’t like. It’s too much work and it thins out your focus for the most important Championship of all, the Sprint Cup.
– Joey Logano won his first NASCAR race and he’s the youngest guy to do it in the Nationwide series. How cool is that? I was really happy for him and it was fun to see his father counting down those final laps. It’s good to see the hype pay off.
– I’m all set to go to Chicago for the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in July. I even added in an extra day to my itinerary so I could check out downtown Chicago and see Gavin Rossdale in concert at the House of Blues.
– The NASCAR race at Infineon is this week and I’m super excited. I’ll be there on Friday. The first order of business will be attending the media gatherings outside of each of the top-12 drivers haulers. Of course I’m not trying to go to all of them. I have my select group of drivers that I’m interested in hearing from the most. I’ll be posting daily during the weekend, probably when I get home each day.
– Nikki Blonsky, the young actress who starred in the latest movie version of Hairspray will be singing the national anthem for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Northern California native Guy Fieri, host of the Food Networks show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives will serve as the Grand Marshall.
– For this weekend’s race at Infineon Travis Kvapil and the No. 28 Yates Racing Ford will be sponsored by… wait for it… the California Highway Patrol! Shut up! I know! Cops are sponsoring racing. How crazy is that? I love it.
Tony Stewart climbs in his car to practice for the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kasey Kahne, winner of two of the last three races, is all smiles as he waits to qualify for the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
David Ragan is all smiles Saturday after posting the third-quickest time in the morning practice session. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Team owner Rick Hendrick congratulates Dale Earnhardt Jr. after he won the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway, ending a 76-race winless streak. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Defending race winner Carl Edwards gets ready to practice for the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The really, really young guns.
(L to R) NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Brad Coleman, Landon Cassill, Bryan Clauson, Eric McClure and Jason Leffler talk with 2,700 Nationwide associates prior to the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Nationwide is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR)
Joey Logano hoists the winner’s trophy at Kentucky Speedway as Tony Jones, Cincinnati Market Director for Meijer, looks on. Logano was the eighth different winner and eighth different pole winner at Kentucky; he was also the third consecutive series regular to win at the track. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR)
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 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)
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!
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)
As the NASCAR race weekend in Sonoma draws closer I’m getting more and more excited. It helps that on Tuesday Cup drivers David Ragan, Travis Kvapil, J.J. Yeley and Sam Hornish Jr. (along with Nationwide Series driver Marcos Ambrose) will be rolling into town to test at Infineon. The testing session (from 8:30am to 4:30pm) is open to the public, free of charge and yeah, I’m so there. Did I even need to say that?
NASCAR has been coming to the San Francisco Bay Area for twenty years now and some of the drivers expressed their thoughts on the road course:
“They have kept up with the times, as well as brought a tremendous amount of diversity to the sport. One of the things that Sonoma has done is bring a different culture, a different type of race fan, which I think is really cool. The racetrack is so unique. It’s very different, the racetrack itself is different. The grounds are different. The location is incredible.”
–Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet
“The track is definitely sentimental to me in terms of spring-boarding my career. Some of the big owners saw me win that (Southwest Series) race, and I was on ESPN that day, and in 1999 they had just changed the track configuration to use the Chute, so a lot of the big teams were watching that day. It was very exciting. We had a great Southwest Series team and ran for the championship that year and Infineon Raceway really put us on the map.”
–Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge
“What’s so special about Infineon Raceway is that it’s so difficult. I grew up racing on a three-eighth mile dirt track in Missouri. To come to a twisting, turning, uphill, downhill road course where you’re shifting gears in a 3,400-pound stock car, against guys like Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and Boris Said is a very, very tough thing. To be able to come here and win a race, I think for any driver, and I know for me would be one of the most satisfying wins in all of NASCAR.”
– Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford
“I was born in Vallejo, right down the road from Sonoma. So to be able to come out and see my family and friends, who I don’t get to see very often, and then we were able to win fairly early in my career out there, which is a lot of fun winning on the road course. And we’ve had a lot of wins since then. To go the last couple of years and have some exciting news and excitement in my personal life, which has all coincided with that race, has been very exciting. And now it gives us something to celebrate every time we come out there. This year we’ll be celebrating Ella’s first birthday when we come out there, so that will be fun.”
– Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
“Infineon Raceway is one race on the schedule that I absolutely love and look forward to coming and running. I mean, I like running the road courses, and we’ve had success out there. We ran really, really well. The people at the racetrack are always great. It’s an awesome crowd that’s very energetic and loves to see the Cup Series run there and it’s a track that I really have a lot of fun driving on so I always look forward to going there.”
– Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota
In other news…
– Did ya hear the news about Casey Mears?? He’s going to be dad! His girlfriend is pregnant with his first child. This tidbit of information was dropped in an article from the AP but Answer This has a little bit more detail. Congrats Casey!
— Clint Bowyer spoke with the media here in the Bay Area today in anticipation of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. When asked if, in this sport, it was important for fans to have someone to dislike Clint had this to say:
“It’s the same way with racing in general or any kind of sport. Everybody loves the winner until they win too much, and then they don’t like them anymore. The guys who have been very successful have seen both sides. Jeff Gordon, you either love him or hate him, but bottom line you respect him. There’s a big difference between a guy like Jeff Gordon and a guy like Kyle Busch. Kyle Busch is winning races and he’s on top, but there’s not that love-hate relationship. I think it has nothing to do with his performance on the track. People don’t respect him because of the things he does when he gets out of the race car.”
And then when asked if it’s easy for fans to find someone to boo Clint said this:
“I think it’s pretty easy. That’s what makes this sport what it is — the personalities. That’s what separates this sport from other sports is that you’re able to get so much closer to these personalities. There are a lot fewer people in this sport, there are only 43, whereas football and baseball there are hundreds. You see a lot more of the personalities of the drivers in this sport. I think it’s a good thing about our sport that it’s so fan friendly and they can get that close to the action.”
And I believe that he’s totally right on both points.
The most fun he’s had with his clothes on. Yeah, that’s what Carl Edwards said after the Corona Mexico 200, a Nationwide Series race, in Mexico City on Sunday.
After seeing Carl without his shirt on during the pre-race show I had to take a few minutes to digest that comment. Honestly I’d never thought about him in that context before, ya know the whole no clothes and having fun kind of thing and now that I have it’s kind of jarring. In a good way, I think, I guess I just wasn’t expecting him to say that.
His body is ridiculous. Just ridiculous. David Ragan didn’t look bad shirtless either.
I was seriously disappointed that Scott Pruett couldn’t pull out the win yet again, and that Kyle Busch of all people had to be the one to ruin it for him this time. But whatever, he did all he could. My heart also went out to Boris Said who was spun out by Marcos Ambrose late in the race. Boris was pissed and rightly so, it’s hard to watch someone you’re pulling for leave the race for something that was totally out of their control.
I don’t know if anyone watched the race but didn’t it seem like everyone calling the race had the hardest time saying Colin Braun’s name? Sometimes they’d pronounce his last name as “Brown” and then other times I’d hear people say it like “Brawn” so which the heck is it?
Back in August I wrote about my plans/desire to spend 2008 following NASCAR Sprint Cup racing around the country. Since then I have spent my time thinking of and working on every conceivable angle that would allow me to get out there and make this dream happen. It wasn’t until last Friday when my hopes of working my current day job AND setting out on this road trip were dashed by my employer.
I was down about it for the rest of the day until the next morning when I decided that I would just start the trip at the end of June of this year. That will give me 19 races to attend and I can spend the time between now and June saving money and figuring out other ways to earn a living whilst on the road. Hmm, that sounded weird, but you know what I mean!
Over the past couple weeks I’ve been given a chance at an amazing opportunity to grow this site. I’ll have more specific details once everything is finalized. It’s very exciting and I’m so stoked about it.
In other news…
The testing continues in Daytona and here are some photos from yesterday’s sessions.
Richard Petty and flames adorn the No. 43 Petty Enterprises car driven by Bobby Labonte. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kasey Kahne takes over the Budweiser ride as the Gillett Evernham Motorsports No. 9 car gets a new primary sponsor. (Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood / Getty Images for NASCAR)
David Ragan has taken off his rookie stripe and prepares for his sophomore season during Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)
No. 88 crew chief Tony Eury Jr. talks with Dale Earnhardt Jr. as they begin their first season together at Hendrick Motorsports. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Or lets not and say we did.
This Penske points swap doesn’t sit well with me. I just don’t like the idea of this new guy coming in and taking credit for someone else’s hard work so to speak. I’m not even a Kurt Busch fan and I still think it’s shady. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m also not a big Sam Hornish Jr. fan either (he’s so freaking boring, I’m sorry). Actually, no, I don’t think it has to do with any of that, it’s just wrong. I’m sure Kurt will make all the races but there’s still a chance that he might not — which will make for a great platform for drama next year I’m sure.
So what else is new? Things are kinda slow, at least for me, because of the holidays. It always feels like nothing gets done during this time of year. I cannot wait for Christmas to be over so that things can start happening again.
Here are some photos I missed out on from a few weeks ago at the Bush Series Champions dinner:
Carl Edwards and his mom Nancy — such a sweet photo
Carl Edwards and his mother, Nancy, celebrate his 2007 NASCAR Busch Series championship. (Photo Credit: Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Who knew David Ragan was such a hottie?? Maybe he should take Jimmie Johnson’s spot as a Gillette Young Gun
Not only did David Ragan finish fifth in the NASCAR Busch Series standings, he won Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors and collected $1,229,394. (Photo Credit: Doug Benc/Getty Images)
I’ve never seen Dale Earnhardt Jr. like that, at least not that I can remember right now. He looked so absolutely defeated (or was that bewilderment?); it was not a pretty sight.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when Junior’s engine blew up on Saturday night. I could not believe it; I couldn’t believe it was happening again. That’s five engines now… five. How does this happen? It’s just insane. I think my exact words were “Are you f***ing kidding me?!”
Well, at least this whole “Race to the Chase” is over and we can just get on with it. All the focus can be shifted to the 12 dudes that have a real chance of winning the Championship. I’m pulling for Clint Bowyer even though has yet to win a race, but wouldn’t it be so much fun if he just came out of nowhere and blew everyone away? I would love that. It’s just boring to think it could be Jimmie Johnson again. I am kind of ok with a Jeff Gordon Championship, since it hasn’t happened for him in some time now.
Aside from Junior not making it into the Chase it was a pretty cool race. Johnny Sauter and rookie David Ragan both took home top-5 finishes. How cool is that? It’s huge for Sauter — I’m sure it’s a big boost to the ego for him. I love it ’cause it’s totally unexpected and it wasn’t just the usual suspects running up front.
I have to stop here for now, but tomorrow I hope to put down my thoughts on DALE: The Movie — I finally got to watch it yesterday.
Photos from the race at Richmond:
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane with his wife, Chandra, after winning the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 8, 2007 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale was right, that white car looked awesome under the lights.
Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. battle for position at Richmond International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Chris Daughtry performs prior to the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes a break following practice at Richmond International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I usually love the whole green, white, checkered, ending — now dubbed Overdrive — but this weekend it was pretty lame. It was very anti-climactic.
I’m not going to go into the whole Jeff Gordon-breaking-Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s-career-wins-record-fans-go-crazy debacle, except to say that I agree with tallglassofmilk in that if the Talladega fans can’t behave themselves ‘Dega should lose it’s second race. They should hand it over to Infineon, us Northern California NASCAR fans know not to throw things when we’re mad. We’d just make shirts that say things like “Anybody But Gordon” and call it day.
I’m still annoyed/upset about Casey Mears’ crash in the middle of the race. I thought he was going to make it this time and finally win one but alas it was not meant to be. He was so pissed when he jumped out of his car, seeing that emotion reminds you how much this means to these guys. It’s not just another day at the office. They go out there every race with the intention to win.
It was so very cool to see no-name drivers race upfront this weekend. Guys like Sterling Marlin, Kenny Wallace, David Ragan, Regan Smith, and David Stremme all led laps at Talladega. Congrats to them, I want to see more of that. Words cannot express how sick I am of seeing Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon winning these races.
The rest of my Sunday was filled with more racing coverage. After the NASCAR Nexel Cup race I caught the end of the IndyCar race in Kansas. Dan Wheldon was the winner and apparently there was some pit road debacle involving teammates Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan. Tony took a page from the Tony Stewart PR handbook and left the race track without commenting on the events of pit road (Danica hit his car on her way out of the pits which ultimately caused Tony to fall 8 laps down, finishing 15th for the day).
Now everyone’s attention will turn to the Indianapolis 500, the race is on May 27th but the media hype is already beginning. Oh yay, a whole month of talking about the same things over and over and over again.
In other news…
Ashley Force went up against John Force for the first time in her burgeoning Funny Car career. She beat her dad in the first round at Atlanta Dragway.
The marquee match of the day was in round one when Ashley Force beat her famous father, John, by a 4.779 to 5.783 margin in the first father-daughter Pro-level race in NHRA history.
“Today I’m a proud father,” John said. “I’ve dreamed of this day for a long time, and it makes me emotional to think it finally came true. She’s a great young driver and she’s probably gonna whip me a bunch, but I’m okay with it because she’s my baby.”
Ashley went on to win her second round match-up but lost in the semifinals to Mike Ashley. All in all still a great day for women in the NHRA, it won’t be long until she’s a Funny Car winner.
Jeff Gordon is saluted by Dale Earnhardt Jr. after winning the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Fans throw beer cans onto the track as Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Dupont Chevrolet, takes the Sunoco checkered flag to win the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29, 2007 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, poses for a photo with his wife, model Ingrid Vandebosch, in victory lane after after Gordon won the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29, 2007 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)