All posts tagged David Ragan

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testing the limits (of fun) at infineon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

More photos of the cars in my Flickr account!

my 80s flashback at pocono

The No. 9 crew escorts Kasey Kahne to victory lane after winning the Pocono 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images for NASCAR)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 Brad Keselowski shares his first career trip to Victory Lane with his father, Bob, and mother, Kay, Saturday night at Nashville. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR) 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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

celebrating 20 years of nascar at infineon

Infineon RacewayAs 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 BowyerClint 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

Carl Edwards qualified third for Sundays Corona Mexico 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images)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?

where reality and dreams collide

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.


Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR

Richard Petty and flames adorn the No. 43 Petty Enterprises car driven by Bobby Labonte. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood / 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)

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / 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)

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)

let’s do the penske points swap

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:


Photo Credit: Doug Benc/Getty Images

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)

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)

richmond: just utterly unbelievable

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.

Anyway…

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:


richmond_jchandrajohnson.jpg

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)

richmond_gordonearnhardt.jpg

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)

richmond_daughtry.jpg

Chris Daughtry performs prior to the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images for NASCAR)

richmond_dalejrpractice.jpg

Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes a break following practice at Richmond International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images for NASCAR)

bad talladega fans, bad, bad

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.


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Jeff Gordon is saluted by Dale Earnhardt Jr. after winning the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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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)

talladega_ingridgordon.jpg

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)