You know me, I hone in on the IMPORTANT news. While Brian Vickers was in victory lane celebrating his win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway today he dropped the news that he’d gotten engaged to his girlfriend, Sarah Kensington.
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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.
Jamie McMurray and his wife, Christy, welcomed their second child into the world on Monday. Their daughter Hazel joins her older brother, Carter, who turns 3-years-old this year.
I think Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s comments after yesterday’s race at Talladega were right-on:
I think pretty much everyone in agreement that the finish to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen International was crazy, right? I scrolled through my Twitter feed and all it showed were a series of tweets that said “Wow.”
So I didn’t watch the race live on Sunday. I watched it on Tivo on Monday. Figures that the one good race as of late is the one I didn’t get to watch as it happened. Still I got the gist, lots of pit road speeding penalties and Joey Logano put the moves on Mark Martin to get his first “real” win.
Over 4,700 votes (whoa! that’s a record!) were cast in Round 3 and now we’re ready to reveal the four drivers that have made it in to Round 4 of the 2012 Hottest NASCAR Driver Tournament. It’s getting good now!
Over 1,700 votes were cast in Round 2 and now we’re ready to reveal the drivers that have made it in to Round 3 of the 2012 Hottest NASCAR Driver Tournament. Sadly, last year’s winner of the Hottest Driver Tourney has been eliminated from the competition. Clint Bowyer handily defeated reigning champ Tony Stewart.
Over 600 votes were cast and now we’re ready to reveal the drivers that have made it in to Round Two of the 2012 Hottest NASCAR Driver Tournament. Brian Vickers & Jeff Gordon were randomly seeded in to Round Two when the brackets were created, so that’s why they’re in. One of the closest results from the first round were between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton. Burton snuck past Dale Jr by just 2%. David Gilliland did the same thing in getting past Juan Pablo Montoya.
Where the hell have I been?? It feels like forever ago since I’ve written anything but there’s a totally awesome reason why: I met a guy! Yep, I went on a coffee date and the guy, his name is Jack, turned out to be pretty amazing, so amazing that we spent the next four days together. So, needless to say, I like him A LOT and he likes me A LOT. I wasn’t expecting it and it’s been the best thing ever. However, it’s totally thrown my whole schedule out of whack. I always had a ton of time to myself, pretty much any time I wasn’t working was my time to work on this site or do whatever. But now that I’m with Jack that’s pretty much all I want to do–be with him–so I’ve been prepping the 2012 Hottest NASCAR Driver tournament in bits and pieces, in small chunks of time, over the last few days and now I’m FINALLY ready to launch it.
I woke up at 6am Sunday morning in New Hampshire and willed myself to get up so that I wouldn’t get stuck in race day traffic. SYLVANIA gave us a tip that we (their invited media peeps) should get on the road by 7:15am at the latest in order to miss the traffic melee. It worked because the drive to the track only took 25 minutes. I have to say that NHMS is by far my favorite track to drive to because the scenery is beautiful, but more importantly it was (basically) a straight shot from the hotel to the track, with one left turn and one stop at the drive-thru Starbucks on Loudon Road.
When I arrived at Infineon Raceway on Friday I was late. It was only 9am but it was late. The garage opened at 7am and that’s when people showed up, so the media lot was full when I arrived. I was stuck in lot 1 which is next to the helipad. It’s not a big deal (there’s an awesome shuttle that takes you right to the media center no matter where you’re parked) but it’s funny to me how 9am can be considered late for anything. Anyway, Friday was the day of press conferences for the top-12 drivers.
“Shift. Shifting now. Lots of shifting. Why do I have to keep shifting? Shifting is fun! I hate shifting this much!”
I am so over shifting!! I hate that word and I never want to hear it again. Some drivers hated it and some were totally okay with it because they would have been bored otherwise. That’s all fine and well, I’m just glad it’s over.
My favorite part of the race was the in-car cockpit view of the drivers in action. I loved that so much because you get to see what these guys are actually doing. This is how they do it and it’s fun to see the different techniques. So I appreciated that a lot. TNT’s coverage is off to a great start.
Now that Conan O’Brien is on TBS, which is a sister channel to TNT, I fully expect a Team Coco integration to at least ONE of the TNT Summer Series races. We need Conan at a race or at least a bunch of the drivers on his show. This needs to happen.
Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California started out with the customary trip to THE Starbucks. I call it “THE Starbucks” because it’s the one everybody goes to during the race weekend, and by everybody I mean literally everybody. It could be groups of fans apart of some racing package deal or pit crew members, PR people, and NASCAR drivers. I always see someone. On Saturday morning it was Michael Waltrip and Michael Waltrip Racing general manager Ty Norris. Sunday I chatted about the weather with a pit crew guy that recognized me from the garage.
I didn’t get to meet Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, and ask him these questions in person but he was super gracious to send over his answers via email. Good stuff.
What is your favorite word? Winning
What is your least favorite word? Can’t
What turns you on? My wife
What turns you off? Germs
What sound or noise do you love? The quiet sound of my son’s breath when he falls asleep on my shoulder
What sound or noise do you hate? Fingers down the chalkboard
What is your favorite curse word? Try not to use them much
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Professional bass fisherman
What profession would you not like to do? Ice Road Trucker
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Well done my son!
Read more of my “Inside the Actor’s Studio” questionnaire interviews in the archives and read about how it all started with Tony Stewart.
Now that I’ve finally finished up my Vegas posts I can get to some of the other stuff that’s happened recently.
Monday night was the finale of the 15th season of “The Bachelor.” I was surprised to see Emily Maynard “win” (I don’t like to think of it as “winning” so much as just being the best person for that particular person ’cause those other women aren’t losers, ya know what I mean?) and become engaged to Brad Womack. I’m happy for her, but I’m also really happy that she thought it best to wait to get married until after they’ve lived with each other in the “real” world. All in all definitely hope for the best for those two.
So here’s the fun/interesting news tip that Tara S. sent me. Apparently the newest Miss Sprint Cup, Kim Coon was a contestant on this season of The Bachelor, as well. I had no idea there was another NASCAR connection on the show. Kim was eliminated at the 3rd rose ceremony.
In other news…
– NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray swapped rides with IndyCar Series driver Scott Dixon today at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
McMurray, on the car-swapping opportunity: I think it’s cool that the racetracks came together and were able to let us help promote those races and make it fun for us. For me, getting to drive this is a great opportunity. It’s a lot of money to come and do something like this, so it worked out well that they were already here testing. For Chip to bring his car down to Talladega and let Scott drive it, it’s hard to put those two together, because it costs so much money.
Dixon, on the possibility of becoming a Sprint Cup driver: Well, there’s no $5 million prize in NASCAR, so no, I’m not going. (Laughing.) Obviously, I’m intrigued by it. Sprint Cup is a massive sport, and has a huge following. I think the thing that’s most intriguing, as you’ve seen by the people who have tried to make the transition or have made the transition, it’s 43 cars that are very, very tight and very, very close. I think the tough part for me would be actually doing the 36 races a year. That’s a lot of travel.
(All photos courtesy of INDYCAR)
– In his pre-race press release for Bristol, Clint Bowyer shared the story of what happened after his engine blew up at the spring race at Bristol last year:
You finished 40th last year after you blew an engine. What do you do after? Do you hang out? Go home?
“You have to go home and it’s not much fun. Funny story – I was driving and on my way home I about ripped the leather off the steering wheel because I was so mad. I pulled in to get gas down the road and the cashier had a little TV behind the counter watching the race. I told him how much money I put in and he looked at me, looked at the TV, looked at me again and said ‘why are you here?’ I said ‘long story; don’t ask.’ It was actually pretty funny.”
– REMINDER: Enter to win a Richard Petty Driving Experience ride-along at Bristol in August.
I had to get up really, really early on Sunday morning in order to get to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in time to take a ride in the pace car with NASCAR’s Director of Competition, Research & Development Brett Bodine.
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)
How excited are you that tomorrow is the Budweiser Shootout? I, for one, am thrilled. The season is starting again and for this website, and me personally, a lot more stories to share with you guys. I’m planning on road tripping it to Phoenix and Las Vegas later on this month. I’m really looking forward to getting back to the one place in the world that I know ALWAYS makes me happy, NASCAR races of course.
I’m also super excited to crown the first ever Hottest Driver Tournament winner on Sunday. It’s between Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth. Be sure to cast your vote now because voting ends Saturday night (at midnight).
In other news…
– The latest issue of ESPN The Magazine, on newsstands today, focuses on speed. Not Scott Speed, but just speed in general. It features articles on how to survive a crash, Hendrick Motorsports pit crew combine and spotlights Ricky Carmichael and Kevin Harvick.
– Jimmie Johnson will be the subject of a segment on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. The show airs Tuesday, Februay 15th. I’m looking forward to this as Real Sports is one of my FAVE shows.
– Rock band Good Charlotte is set to perform live before the start of the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 27th. I’m totally looking forward to the performance and hopefully the band’s lead singer Joel Madden will bring his wife, Nicole Richie, along for support. Auto Club Speedway has special ticket packages available for starting at just $55. For an additional $25 you can have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Check out ‘Fabulous’ News for more news like this.
– Michael Waltrip has been doing a lot of media interviews in support of his new book, “In the Blink of an Eye: Dale, Daytona, and the Day that Changed Everything.”
While talking with the New York Times Michael revealed that he had never watched the 2001 Daytona 500, the race that he won and took the life of his team owner at the time, Dale Earnhardt. That is until this past July. Michael’s sister Connie tapes all of his races, and he came across the DVD — decorated with hearts and stars and the words “2001 Daytona 500 Winner!” that she’d written on it before Dale’s death had been announced — and watched it for the very first time, commercials and all.
Michael hadn’t been able to talk about the 2001 Daytona 500 for many years but in watching the entire race and then writing a book about that day in Daytona he was able to deal with his feels and find peace with everything that happened.
Andrew Giangola has a review of Michael’s book here, and I was told that Mikey’s book will debut at No. 11 on the New York Times’ Bestseller list when it makes it’s debut on February 20th, the same day as the 2011 Daytona 500.
– Yesterday was NASCAR Media Day down at Daytona International Speedway. The whole thing reminds me of a combination of the first day at school and picture day all wrapped up into one. The drivers spend what looks to me like all day walking around in their new firesuits answering all sorts of questions from the media from all over the place, taking new photos and shooting video spots. I really need to experience that whole thing for myself one day. Anyway, here are photos:
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano speaks to ESPN’s Nicole Briscoe during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya answers questions from the local media Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. during media day.
2010 Daytona 500 Champion Jamie McMurray poses during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson poses for photos Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. during media day. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne reads liners for MRN during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.(Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle talks with Pete Pistone and Mike Bagley from The Morning Drive on Sirius during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Here we are in Round Five of the 2011 Hottest Driver Tournament and we’re down to just four drivers! It was a close one between Elliott Sadler and Martin Truex Jr. but Martin won out by just 36 votes!
Here’s what happened in Round Four:
Jamie McMurray (56%) defeated Clint Bowyer (44%)
Tony Stewart (88%) defeated Ryan Newman (12%)
Martin Truex Jr. (51%) defeated Elliott Sadler (49%)
Matt Kenseth (66%) defeated Regan Smith (34%)
This updates the brackets, which you can see below (click it to see it larger).
So let’s get to it! Here are the match-ups for Round Five! You can vote as many times as you want each day until voting ends on Saturday, February 5th.
UPDATE: Voting has ended, stay tuned for the Finals!
|Jamie McMurray||Tony Stewart|
|Martin Truex Jr.||Matt Kenseth|
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)
I’m having too much fun with this contest. I was right when I thought things would get much more interesting in Round Two and the results of last week’s voting have set up Round Three to be extra intriguing. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Casey Mears just barely made it through in the closest match-up results so far. Dale Jr. beat Scott Speed by just 8 votes! I’m really, really surprised that it wasn’t a closer contest between Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne.
Here’s what happened in Round Two:
Jamie McMurray (75%) defeated Kyle Busch (25%)
Joey Logano (55%) defeated David Gilliland (45%)
Clint Bowyer (56%) defeated Bobby Labonte (44%)
Travis Kvapil (62%) defeated Kurt Busch (38%)
Kasey Kahne (75%) defeated Carl Edwards (25%)
Casey Mears (51%) defeated Kevin Harvick (49%)
Elliott Sadler (70%) defeated Reed Sorenson (30%)
Jeff Gordon (52%) defeated Marcos Ambrose (48%)
Ryan Newman (83%) defeated Juan Pablo Montoya (17%)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (51%) defeated Scott Speed (49%)
Tony Stewart (86%) defeated Sam Hornish Jr. (14%)
Matt Kenseth (65%) defeated AJ Allmendinger (35%)
Regan Smith (77%) defeated Robby Gordon (23%)
Martin Truex Jr. (88%) defeated Greg Biffle (12%)
Paul Menard (64%) defeated Brad Keselowski (36%)
Denny Hamlin (58%) defeated Mark Martin (42%)
This updates the brackets, which you can see below (click it to see it larger).
So let’s get to it! Here are the match-ups for Round Three! You can vote as many times as you want each day until
voting ends on Saturday, January 22nd.
UPDATE: I’ve extended voting through Sunday, January 23rd until 9am, because of a snafu with the voting form. // Voting for Round Three is over! Check out Round Four!
|Jamie McMurray||Joey Logano|
|Clint Bowyer||Travis Kvapil|
|Ryan Newman||Dale Earnhardt Jr.|
|Tony Stewart||Kasey Kahne|
|Casey Mears||Elliott Sadler|
|Martin Truex Jr.||Jeff Gordon|
|Paul Menard||Matt Kenseth|
|Regan Smith||Denny Hamlin|
Voting for Round Three is over! Check out Round Four!
It’s time for Round Two! But first let’s find out what happened in Round One.
Kyle Busch (68%) defeated Jeff Burton (32%)
Juan Pablo Montoya (62%) defeated Brian Vickers (38%)
Tony Stewart (97%) defeated David Reutimann (3%)
Paul Menard (71%) defeated Jimmie Johnson (29%)
Casey Mears (73%) defeated David Ragan (27%)
Regan Smith (86%) defeated Kevin Conway (14%)
This updates the brackets, which you can see below (click it to see it larger).
And now, I think this is when things are going to get even MORE interesting. Round Two is the largest group, it’ll be fun to see who makes it into Round Three. I was going to let Round Two last for two weeks but I have decided to run it for just a week. Votes poured in for Round One and I can only expect it to get crazier for this one, so I’m trying to contain it. Plus I’m highly impatient and two weeks sound like forever to find out the results.
So let’s get to it! Here are the match-ups for Round Two! You can vote as many times as you want each day until voting ends on Saturday, January 15th.
UPDATE: Round Two voting has ended. Stay tuned for the results and Round Three!
|Jamie McMurray||Kyle Busch|
|David Gilliland||Joey Logano|
|Clint Bowyer||Bobby Labonte|
|Kurt Busch||Travis Kvapil|
|Ryan Newman||Juan Pablo Montoya|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Scott Speed|
|Sam Hornish Jr.||Tony Stewart|
|Carl Edwards||Kasey Kahne|
|Kevin Harvick||Casey Mears|
|Elliott Sadler||Reed Sorenson|
|Greg Biffle||Martin Truex Jr.|
|Jeff Gordon||Marcos Ambrose|
|Brad Keselowski||Paul Menard|
|AJ Allmendinger||Matt Kenseth|
|Robby Gordon||Regan Smith|
|Mark Martin||Denny Hamlin|
UPDATE: Round Two voting has ended. Stay tuned for the results and Round Three!
2010 was the year of the baby in NASCAR. People were giving birth all over the place and because of this I can’t keep all of them straight. So I’ve compiled a list of the babies that were welcomed into the world this year and the ones that are on the way continuing the baby blitz into 2011.
Wyatt Herman Fritts Sadler
Parents: Amanda & Elliott Sadler
Born: February 15, 2010
Parents: Kate & Carl Edwards
Born: February 24, 2010
(Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Genevieve Marie Johnson
Parents: Chandra & Jimmie Johnson
Born: July 7, 2010
(Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Manuela Montoya Freydell
Parents: Connie Freydell & Juan Pablo Montoya
Born: July 19, 2010
Brooklyn Sage Newman
Parents: Krissie & Ryan Newman
Born: November 18, 2010
(Credit: Ryan Newman (facebook) – Photo by Karen Will Rogers Photography)
Carter Scott McMurray
Parents: Christy & Jamie McMurray
Born: November 25, 2010
Eliza Jo Hornish
Parents: Crystal & Sam Hornish Jr.
Born: December 28, 2010
Arriving in the new year will be…
– A girl for Cortney & Johnny Sauter. The couple’s daughter is expected to join her big brother, Penn, in April of 2011.
– A sibling for Katie & Matt Kenseth’s daughter, Kaylin, due in early 2011.
– (From what you guys have told me) A sibling for Kate & Carl Edwards daughter, Anne.
Something I’ve noticed as I go to more races is that I take less pictures. In the beginning I was taking photos of everything; tires, cars, etc. But now that I know the pain of uploading those photos to Flickr and having to write a title for each one, I’m a lot more discerning when it comes to choosing a photo subject.
My Friday at Auto Club Speedway (ACS) began with me walking from my car to the garage and happening to see Travis Kvapil walking out of the drivers/owners motorcoach lot at the same time. I was set to interview Travis a little later on that morning, but he noticed me then. He must remembered me from when I interviewed him at ACS in 2008. This was, and still is, a big deal to me. He knew we had a scheduled interview for that day and he ended up having time right then so we went ahead and got the Inside the Actor’s Studio questioning out of the way.
Because I feel like the underdog pretty much all the time, it felt like a super cool “win” to walk through the garage, past crew members and whoever was around, with a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver who actually REMEMBERED ME. Which is why Travis Kvapil is a super cool guy in my book. He really is genuinely nice and I cannot wait for a Sprint Cup win to come his way. I’ll talk more about him when I post the interview. He was the first driver to answer a particular question a particular way. How’s that for cryptic?
It’s only Friday and I already have so much stuff to share with you guys! It’s awesome. Needless to say I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and Sunday. David Hasselhoff is singing the National Anthem and, like, 56 couples are renewing their vows along with 16 couples that are getting married on the start/finish line of Auto Club Speedway. Superfun! Oh and there’s a race or two happening. Jamie McMurray (seen at left post qualifying) is on the pole for one of them, the Pepsi Max 400.
Of course I’m not writing a full post because I’m tired and I have to get up early again tomorrow and I didn’t get a full night’s sleep yesterday (my room makes weird noises at night and trains pass by here). But I can tell you that I had fun watching people flip out when they caught sight of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and I interviewed Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland, Marcos Ambrose, Juan Pablo Montoya, Brad Keselowski and Brad Daugherty. Whew! There’s a lot of great content coming up for sure.
Yea, that’s the whole story. You could have made a drinking game out of the words “loose” and “sideways” and you would of been drunk within the first 10 minutes of the race.
I loved it to much. It was dramatic and people were racing each other and trying not to lose control. I loooooved it. It was hard to watch, which means that it was an awesome race ‘cause I had no idea what was going to happen. It’s amazing there weren’t more wrecks.
How cute was the spat between Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne? Gosh, I wish I was there. I would have loved to have been in that garage when they rolled in together. I don’t know why I find it so cute to see Kasey angry. Ha!
Congratulations to Tony Stewart and the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice team. I decided that I would only be happy if someone who hadn’t won a race this year won, so I’m totally good with Tony’s trip to Victory Lane.
Annnd another set of congrats to Jamie McMurray and the No. 88 Hellmann’s/BJ’s team for their win in the Nationwide Series on Saturday. That was super huge and awesome for JR Motorsports. I’m so glad Jamie got to win with that team.
So the place where I normally get pictures has no pictures from this weekend yet. I hope it’s yet. As soon as new pictures are available I’ll post ‘em.
The starting field of drivers poses during pre-race ceremonies before the start of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I missed the Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday because I was busy driving two of my nephews (ages 9 and 11) from their home in Los Angeles to my mom’s house in the SF Bay Area. I love my nephews more than words can say but spending 7 hours in a car with them is not something I really want to do again. Who knew that doing word search puzzles could be a competitive thing??
Anyway, I did catch some of the race action from SIRIUS Satellite Radio’s coverage with MRN, but the boys were more interested in hearing music from Drake and, amazingly enough, Katy Perry’s song “California Gurls.”
In between pop music stints I did learn that Kevin Harvick won and that Dale Earnhardt Jr. dropped a couple curse words while being interviewed by ESPN’s Marty Smith.
So this post is going to be super duper photo heavy. Enjoy!
Delana Harvick takes a photo of her husband, Kevin Harvick (29), after he wins the Carfax 400 race at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI.
Don’t you just want to eat him up? So adorable! I’m talking about the baby, not Tony.
Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet talks with Gavin Grubb, son of Stewart’s crew chief Darian Grubb,during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jack Roush during the Carfax 400 race at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI.
Martin Truex Jr. (L), driver of the NAPA Toyota, and Sherry Pollex, stand on the grid during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet and guest stand on the grid for the National Anthem during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the Philips Norelco Chevrolet, talks with his wife Christy grid during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Greg Biffle, driver of the 3M Ford, stands on the grid with his wife Nicole for the playing of the National Anthem during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Nationwide driver Brad Keselowski celebrates with his mother after winning the Car Fax 250 at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.
Joey Logano (20) and girlfriend, Sabrina Simpson, before the start of the Carfax 250 race at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI.
Carl Edwards stands with his wife, Kate, and mother, Nancy Sterling, during pre-race ceremonies for the Carfax 250 race at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI.
It’s funny when you don’t realize you want something so bad until there’s a chance it can actually happen. For me that was the possibility of AJ Allmendinger getting his first win at Watkins Glen yesterday. He was chargin’, running up front with those guys and it really seemed like it could of been his day.
Well, he didn’t win, Mr. Juan Pablo Montoya did, but I had a lot of fun cheering for AJ. I don’t have anything against Juan Pablo, but during the race when I was imagining who would have a better, more fun, reaction to winning in Victory Lane AJ won hands down. You know he would be waaaaaay more excited and happy and thankful if he’d won that race than Juan was. I love a first-time win, what can I say?
Anyway, congrats to Juan Pablo and the No. 42 Target Chevy team. And bonus congrats to crew chief Brian Pattie for his first Sprint Cup Series win, it was sweet to see his emotions post-race.
Even though I’ve never been to Watkins Glen I think it’s beautiful there. From what I can see on TV it looks fabulous and I really, really wanna go to the next race there. Hopefully that’ll happen next year. Watkins Glen is right up there with Bristol, Daytona and Talladega as the tracks that I want to visit the most.
I know the drivers might not agree but I really wish there were more road course races in the Sprint Cup Series schedule. I love ‘em. It jumbles everything, in terms of the race itself and the points standings. I guess as a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan I shouldn’t wish for that but I have confidence in my driver no matter what, and one day that guy will prevail at a road course.
Denny Hamlin, driver of the FedEx Freight Toyota, stands on the grid with girlfriend Jordan Fish prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Driver Jamie McMurray of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing sits on the steps of the Sprint Cup Series hauler on Friday before practice for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen at Watkins Glen, New York
Ryan Newman, driver of the US Army Chevrolet, and his wife Krissie, stand on the grid prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Boris Said, driver of the Red Bull Toyota, stands on the grid with his family during the National Anthem prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
(left to right) Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Elliott Sadler hang out together before driver introductions for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International.
Juan Pablo Montoya clowns around with Tony Stewart prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International.
Mobil 1 driver Sam Hornish Jr. holds his daughter, Addison, before climbing into the car during qualifying for Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen at Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, NY.
Marcos Ambrose (47) celebrates winning the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, NY.
Martin Truex Jr.’s (56) helmet sits on his car during qualifying for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, NY.
Bo Bice looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International on August 7, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Max Papis, driver of the GEICO Toyota, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International on August 7, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
A.J. Allmendinger (L), driver of the Insignia HDTV Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International on August 7, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The awesome guys over at NASCAR This Week with Monte Dutton asked me to submit a guest post as Monte was out on vacation for a while. I obliged and they’ve posted the article on their site. Go check it out. I answered the 10 Inside the Actor’s Studio questions. It’s a fun thing to do, I really had to think about my answers more than I thought I would. Let me know what you think.
In other news…
– Jamie McMurray will be driving a supercool, never-been-done-before paint scheme this weekend at Pocono. Jamie’s No. 1 AXE Twist Chevy will feature paint that changes color based on the temperature outside. The changing colors of the AXE logo simulates how AXE’s new fragrance for men changes over time. That sounds really interesting, I wanna know how AXE’s fragrance smells and how it changes. Someone send me a dude (preferably hot, tall and single) that I can test this with. kthx.
– Phoenix International Raceway has partnered with Queers4Gears.com to offer a special ticket offer to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender) community. Ticket prices start at $25 for PIR’s November 14th NASCAR Kobalt Tools 500.
International Raceway (PIR) has partnered with Queer4Gears.com to offer special discounted tickets to their Lesbian and Gay race fans to attend the NASCAR Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday, November 14, 2010. With this special discount, admission for the race starts at $25.00.
The track has been working on this promotion with Queer4Gears.com, a website devoted to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and trans-gendered, also collectively known as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender) NASCAR fans.
PIR recognizes that they have a very diverse fan base and they want to reach out to all of them. While covering the Subway Fresh Fit 500 in April, Queer4Gears.com founder, Michael Myers began conversations with Phoenix International Raceway officials.
To his knowledge, Myers said that this will be the first time that any NASCAR sanctioned facility has reached out to fans in the L.G.B.T. community.
“Just a small push like including the L.G.B.T. community on the official web site of Phoenix International Raceway is a step in the right direction for uniting the different stereotypes that surround the racetracks on a weekly basis” said Queer4Gears.com founder Michael Myers. “I applaud Phoenix International Raceway for what they are trying to do and it definitely will speak volumes towards the gay race fans. It is a big first step.”
Go to www.phoenixraceway.com/LGBT for more information.
I’m kidding! Calm down Roush Fenway Racing supporters. I was just making a funny.
But seriously, super huge congratulations to Jamie McMurray for winning the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday. Kudos to him and his team for winning a race that further cements a place for him in NASCARs history.
Now, can I talk about Victory Lane or Winner’s Circle at Indy? It’s really lame. It seems like a complete afterthought, like they finished making the hugh jass pagoda and then were all, “Ohh, where are we gonna do Victory Lane? Let’s wedge it over there since we made the stage for the anthem and the command to start engines needlessly large and round.”
It makes me feel squished and I’m not even there. It’s so awkward, why not just do everything on the track? Ok, just had to get that off of my chest it makes me mental every year for the Indy 500 and the Brickyard.
And speaking of Victory Lane how cute was Jamie when he kissed his wife’s stomach? Christy McMurray is pregnant with their first child who is due to arrive in December. So adorable. I’m going out on a limb and calling a set of twins for them. I have no proof, obviously, other than I think someone should have twins.
Jamie McMurray, winner of the Brickyard 400 kisses his wife Christy after kissing the bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, on July 25, 2010. (UPI /Edwin Joseph Locke Photo via Newscom)
The pit crew for Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet runs down pit road to celebrate their win at the Brickyard 400 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN.
Jamie McMurray, driver of the Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, and his team kiss the bricks after McMurray won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The beard is back and he brought along a friend this time. I dunno if I like this trend.
Team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the Amp Energy Chevrolet with team owner Rick Hendrick before the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, on July 25, 2010, in Indianapolis on July 25, 2010. (UPI/Thomas E. Hayden Photo via Newscom)
(R-L) Dallas Clark of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts poses with brother Dan Clark in the flag stand before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Travis Kvapil, driver of the Long John Silver’s Ford, stands by his car during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ryan Newman, driver of the Haas Automation Chevrolet, stands with his wife Krissie Newman on the grid before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
So, if ESPN has Carl joining them after every race in the studio, do they really need Rusty to stick around?
Carl Edwards, driver of the Aflac Ford, reaches in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)
(R) David Stremme, driver of the Air Guard/gtwgps.com Chevrolet, looks on from pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)
Fans hold up signs outside the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
County music star Luke Bryan walks around in the garage area during the final practice session for the Brickyard 400 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN.
(L-R) Jimmie Johnson, driver of the Lowe’s Chevrolet, poses with singer Jack Johnson in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)
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)
I know I’ve used that title before but I love it.
Friday at Infineon Raceway was day one of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 festivities. It was a pretty big day for me because it held actual things for me to do. My usual shtick is to just show up and let things happen but this time I setup interviews with drivers. Since things went so well with Tony Stewart and the Inside The Actor’s Studio questions I decided to make it my “thing” for now and to get as many drivers to answer the same questions.
On my schedule for the day were one-on-one’s with David Reutimann, Regan Smith, AJ Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler. I’ll write about each of those experiences in separate posts. Stay tuned for those.
Back in the media center I sat in on press conferences for Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, and a little bit of Denny Hamlin.
Tony Stewart’s presser was, of course, by far the most entertaining of the bunch. His session was after practice and he wasn’t very happy with his car. I think that Southwest airlines should use his press conferences as the basis for one of their “Wanna Get Away???” commercials. I had this uncontrollable urge, every time someone asked something cringe-worthy to look down and start playing with my cell phone. There are always a few questions that bug Tony and after sitting in on a few of his pressers I’ve learned that Tony is a lot better when you ask him questions that are very real to him. He laid it out pretty plainly that he only cares about racing. He wasn’t in the mood to get all theoretical or philosophical about racing after having a crappy practice session. It wasn’t helping that people were asking the same questions they’ve asked year after year, my favorite being “Should there be a road course race in The Chase?” That was the one that really bugged him and got him to eventually say that he had no interest in giving his opinion on such things, he just wanted to race.
First, I must address the most amazing “Gentleman, Start Your Engines” ever PERFORMED on national television. That’s right, performed! Actors (and comedians) Kevin James and Adam Sandler were the Grand Marshals for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway and the didn’t fail to deliver what I knew would be the most entertaining command to start engines since I don’t know when. (Off topic right now but this photo, left, is the best photo of Denny Hamlin I’ve seen in quite some time. Just sayin’)
Can we get Kevin James out to every race to do that little dance? Freaking hilarious. If you missed it, video of Sandler and James giving the command is below. They’re promoting their new movie “Grown Ups” which, of course, looks very funny.
My only question about this race is why didn’t Denny Hamlin pick up the giant fake tub of Heluva Good! Sour Cream dip that was sitting on top of his car in Victory Lane? That would of been great, especially if they’d had a giant bag of chips to go with it.
Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the day of the Nationwide Series race, the TECH-NET Auto Service 300 powered by CARQUEST. It was also the day that I forgot to put my sunscreen on and got a nice little tan.
The two days that hold the Sprint Cup Series qualifying and Nationwide Series races are always my favorite days during any race weekend. It’s because there’s always, like, 50% less people running around the garage. I know it’s silly but I love feeling like I have the garage all to myself. And practice is always the best time to get pictures of the cars as they exit and enter the track.
On this particular day I witnessed something that has been going on forever but I only discovered it last weekend. I’m not sure what the process is but some cars come off the track and before going to their garage stall to make adjustments they stop at some designated area near or in the garage and the guys from Goodyear check out their tires. There’s also a crew member from their team checking stuff and taking notes.
The Monday after attending the inaugural induction ceremony at the NASCAR Hall of Fame I had already earmarked as being a “day off” meaning that I wasn’t going to do anything except watch daytime television and go to the mall. This made sense because when I arrived I had two straight days of events to attend. I deserved it, plus I actually needed stuff from the mall.
Oh! I forgot to say that on Sunday night I had dinner with Jessica, Kells and Margaret. Margaret & Jessica I knew because they read this blog and are super active on Twitter, it was an absolute no-brainer that I was going to meet them while I was out in Charlotte. They’re awesome women and we had a fun time laughing it up at The Cheesecake Factory.
Anyway, back to Monday. I went to the mall with no expectations of any NASCAR related sightings but ending up spying Joey Logano shopping with his girlfriend. They were really cute. And no, I didn’t follow them. It was an interesting moment because I realized that if I lived in Charlotte moments like that would probably happen more often. Just something to think about.
On Tuesday my plan for the day was to check out the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I had taken a cursory walkthrough before the induction ceremony on Sunday and I really wanted to take some time to really experience everything it had to offer.
Darlington was fun, that is, if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m sure it was ten times more frustrating to drive the SHOWTIME Southern 500 than it was to watch it, and that’s saying something because I’ve never wanted a race to end faster than that one.
Darlington is one of those racetracks where I feel like they could cut the Nationwide race down from 147 laps to 50 and the Sprint Cup race from 367 laps down to just 100 and we’d all be a lot happier. Well, I would be for one. It just seems unnecesary to have to drive around as long as they do.
Or maybe my frustrations are just Jeff Gordon’s rubbing off on me. I mean, what does this man have to do to catch a break and win a freaking race? He’s been so close this year. It’s kinda sad to watch, he’s like Sisyphus.
One the other hand, it was super adorable to see some of the drivers with their moms.
Jamie’s expression explains the ENTIRE weekend.
Jamie McMurray tries to explain how the car handled in the first practice to crew chief Bono Manion. After adjustments, McMurray led the final practice and earned the Coors Light Pole Award. (Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The baby bump! Although, I still think Chandra can afford to gain like 50 more pounds
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, stands on the grid with his wife Chandra during the NASCAR Sprint Cup series SHOWTIME Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 8, 2010 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dear Talladega Superspeedway,
I love you. I just do. You make me crazy and mental and while I always feel like I need a brown paper bag to breathe in just to make it through one lap, I still freaking love you!
Kevin Harvick’s amazing pass just before the finish line to take the win away from Jamie McMurray was one for the highlight reel. This win was HUGE for Kevin since he hadn’t won anything in the Sprint Cup Series in 3 years. I’m still shocked it’s been that long. I loved how his wife, DeLana, couldn’t watch the last lap. I don’t blame her, you’re such a nerve-wracking track! I’m so happy for them. We always expect such great races from you and you never fail to deliver.
Yes, I wish you could of gathered up some of that Native American burial ground mojo and used it to help Dale Earnhardt Jr. get the win instead but I’m okay with how things turned out. He’s still in the top-12 in points.
Oh! Before I forget, thank you for throwing another wrench in the relationship between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. I know I shouldn’t get excited when one person is mad at another person but it’s so freaking fun to watch Jeff Gordon get so pissed off. I wonder why it fascinates me so. I can’t get enough. I’m loving this season so far.
I can’t wait to see you again at Halloween! *JUAD* (that means I’m jumping up and down)
Sooo freaking close!
Kevin Harvick beats Jamie McMurray to the finish line by .011 seconds, the eighth-closest margin since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993, to win the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
I am absolutely in love with the little drama between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Sign me up for more of that, please! I think that was my favorite part about yesterday’s racing double-header. As was Jimmie’s post-race comment about not wanting the issue between him and Jeff to be played out in the media. Good luck with that, Jimmie. I actually think Jimmie needs this, to be in a battle with someone, anyone, even a teammate. It’s far more interesting when someone’s pissed off at him. hehe.
I was very disappointed that Jeff didn’t get the chance to be in the race at the end, that wreck had to hurt and I’m not talking physically. Also, loved how Jeff went over to Tony Stewart and was immediately taking the blame but Tony calmed him down and ended up taking some of the heat at the end of it all. Tony was super classy yesterday, I dug it.
And now on to Dale Earnhardt Jr., I was super proud of him, and his team, for their eighth place finish. Even though he didn’t win when it felt like he could have. His tires just weren’t there to do the job he needed in the end. It was a fun race though, it was the first time in a long time that I found myself yelling at the TV for him to kick some butt. That’s saying something because for what felt like all of last year I didn’t even attempt to hope something might happen for him. He’s in the top-10 right now and that, to me, is better than eating cheesecake with The Golden Girls.
Fans spotted NHL Dallas Star’s Mike Modano in the garage at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. (Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray stopped by San Francisco this week for a victory tour through the city, hosted by Infineon Raceway. He took a ride in a cable car and everything, and I could of been in said cable car with Jamie but I couldn’t make it. So yes, I’m as sad as you’d expect about missing out! They had ice cream sundaes too! Grrr!!
Too bad because it looks like Jamie had an awesome time in the city by the bay.
Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray hangs off the side of a cable car during his victory tour of San Francisco on February 17, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The red flags aside, this Daytona 500 was awesome. Actually I take that back. I didn’t mind the red flags. For one, I was at home sitting on my comfortable couch with snacks, and two, they got to interview the drivers which I always love. We should of been glad it was something fixable and not RAIN. Thank you.
I am so incredibly happy for Jamie McMurray. That was such an amazing ending to a crazy, long race. He leads just two laps and takes his place in history as a Daytona 500 winner in his first race with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing! Talk about redemption. From odd man out to freaking Daytona 500 winner. I love it, those are the best stories. And as if all of that wasn’t good enough, he was emotional in Victory Lane. I’m all for real, true emotion and it didn’t get any better than Jamie’s tears and his hugging of the Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 Trophy.
And then Dale Earnhardt Jr. *sigh* I love that guy. He kicked butt and drove from tenth to finish second. I’m so proud! I know he was disappointed that he came so close but he has nothing to feel bad about, he proved that he’s a racer and that he wants to win just as much as the next guy. BTW, I loved his interview with Marty Smith on ESPN, they showed it during the Nationwide race on Saturday. He doesn’t have to explain or justify himself to anyone!
I think it was in his interview with Jeff Hammond on FOX that he talked about marriage and how maybe it wasn’t for him and he wondered if fans could handle him having children without being married. I would like to go on record as saying that Dale has my permission to procreate with whomever he wants in wedlock or not. Again, he should live his life on his terms and everybody else can suck it.
Photos after the jump!
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)
Associated Press reported that Jimmie and his wife Chandra are expecting their first child in July.
It’s funny how excited someone else’s pregnancy has made me, considering I don’t know them at all. But I’m super excited for them. This is exactly what we need, more babies on pit road! I’m not making a joke, I’m serious. After baby Edwards and baby Sadler arrive baby Johnson will be future NASCAR driver number 3 for 2010 (so far). Did someone spike the VitaminWater or what?
In other news…
– AJ Allmendinger went go-karting with Jamie McMurray down in Florida last week during the annual Daytona KartWeek By Cometic Gasket events at Daytona International Speedway. This was the third straight year that Jamie participated in the event and AJ’s first time.
– 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)
Before the start of the Dickies 500 on Sunday I was thinking about what had to happen in order for Jimmie Johnson to lose some momentum in The Chase. Of course, I didn’t think any of it would happen. So when Jimmie’s accident occurred I was, uhm, sort of pleasantly surprised.
We needed that to make things a little more interesting. The guy still has a ton of points on Mark Martin but at least it gives hope a chance to shine. And, if I’m being honest, it was pretty cool getting to see the 48 team pull together and get that car back into shape to run in the race again. I’m never against seeing Ron Malec in action. (hehe) I have to give it Chad Knaus though, that guy is one cool customer. He was pissed of course that they ran into trouble, but his voice is always even. He doesn’t freak out, and you can’t afford to freak out in a situation like that, which is why Jimmie and the Lowe’s team are 3-time Sprint Cup Champions.
Watching Kurt Busch do his victory lap around Texas Motor Speedway in reverse with his tongue sticking out made me realize who he reminds me of, and no, it’s not Michael Jordan. No, I was thinking more along the lines of the character Pete Campbell from the awesome TV show Mad Men. Pete, played by Vincent Kartheiser, is kind of a punk. He whines when he doesn’t get his way and always thinks he should be treated better than he perceives he’s being treated. It’s funny. Watch Mad Men, it’s awesome. The latest season is over, but that’s what Netflix is for.
That being said it was cool to see Kurt so excited about winning and all that.
Uhm… There’s this one driver, I think his name is Dale Earnhardt Jr. or something, who doesn’t seem to be able to catch a break this season. I’m at the point, well I’ve been here for some time now, where I want to just say to him “Dale, (yes, in this scenario I know him and we’re BFFs) I think you should just park it and call it a season, this is lame. I know you’re doing your best but you need to tell whatever gods are in charge of luck to kiss your butt.”
He was running really well and then of course something happens and finishes crappy. And his finish has nothing to do with his overall performance. They were kicking butt and then it falls off. Ugh.
And now ladies and gentlemen, a photo bonanza!
Overall I think Talladega went down pretty much the same way it would have gone down had NASCAR not instituted the new rules, smaller restrictor plate and no bumping in the turns. Those guys were going to hold off until the end and then crap was going to hit the fan in the final laps. Because really, at Talladega if you’re 35th you’re still in it, it’s all about being there in the end and getting in a good line up to the front.
I wasn’t mad about the whole no touching each other in the corners rule because of the rule itself, but more anxious about the enforcement of that rule. As it is, Talladega is a race that I love but one that also makes me crazy with anxiety because I’m hoping that my driver doesn’t get caught up in the “big one.” I hold my breath during Talladega because you just never know.
So then you add in the fact that my driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., could get caught on some lame rule NASCAR cooked up an hour before the race starts, you’re just tacking on another layer of panic for me to deal with for the ENTIRE race.
DirecTV has some serious splainin’ to do. It all seemed to start on Saturday morning. I was watching TV and every now and again the screen would go black for a second and then the picture would come back. I didn’t think that much of it until Sunday when I was home all day and was all set to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods that I noticed this problem hadn’t gone away.
The problem, which could get worse and then clear up just as suddenly, seemed to only affect local channels, and after I spoke to DirecTV I found out that it was only happening to people in the San Francisco Bay Area (including fellow NASCAR blogger Amy!). So I could watch ESPN and another cable & premium channels just fine, but ABC was not behaving. I tried to watch the race with the one of the HotPass channels but that was annoying because I wasn’t in the mood to have to listen to MRN.
So I dealt with it even though it gave me a headache from all the skipping and flickering of the screen.
Because the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono was postponed from Sunday until Monday because of rain I couldn’t watch it live, on TV, from the comfort of my home. Since I was at work, I casually kept track of what was happening by using ESPN’s race widget in between doing work and sitting in meetings.
Once the race was over and I found out that Denny Hamlin had won I was stoked. Really, I was happy for him more than anything just because it had been what, 58 races since he’d last won a Sprint Cup race? So yes, this was a big deal, and like I’ve said before, I like the Denny.
It wasn’t long after I learned of Denny’s win that I received a text message from Tara, a young woman from Arizona who reads my blog and is one of the biggest Denny Hamlin fans around. She even won tickets to a race at Phoenix by professing her reasons why Denny is her favorite driver. Tara told me that she watched the final laps of the race while having lunch at T.G.I. Friday’s with her grandmother.
Yes, folks the rumors are true. Jamie McMurray did indeed marry his longtime girlfriend Christy Futrell over the July 18-19 weekend. The couple didn’t make a press release and there are no plans to do so at this time, hence the reason I have no details of said nuptials.
Congrats to the newlyweds!
So here are the things that have been rolling around in my head ever since my last blog post, which feels like an eternity ago and I apologize for that. That being said I’m not sure if it’s going to get any better at least until the season truly starts up again.
– I was listening to a few clips of Jamie McMurray talking about his love for kart racing. He mentions in one of ‘em that he doesn’t like to golf because it hurts his knees and back. I know that’s not huge news but I thought it might be interesting to McMurray superfans.
– The 2009 Sprint Sound & Speed event in Nashville, Tennessee is taking place today and tomorrow. Photos from last year’s festival were posted this week and frankly any photos of Dale Earnhardt Jr. from any point in time are totally fine with me. See below.
– Clint Bowyer filmed a commercial with the Hamburger Helper hand at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California this week. That guy has all the fun doesn’t he?
– Keith Urban, super talented hottie and Nicole Kidman’s hubby, will perform at the Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show this year.
– David Stremme, who is coming back to the Sprint Cup Series this year with Penske Racing, spends time with his girlfriend playing Guitar Hero.
– As grand marshal for the Fiesta Bowl Tony Stewart attended the 38th Annual Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. Stewart sat atop a Corvette convertible and waved to fans along the 1.9 mile parade route while two Chevrolets decked out in the branding of his new primary co-sponsors for the 2009 Sprint Cup season, Office Depot and Old Spice, rolled along beside him.
“That was like driver introductions at Indianapolis times 10,” said Tony, in reference to the pre-race activities for NASCAR’s annual race at the prestigious Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “This is a huge event and I’m just honored to be a part of it. It’s pretty cool to sort of venture outside our box a little bit and take in a game of this magnitude. With the racing season being what it is, getting away to see a college football game is kind of tough. When the Fiesta Bowl Committee called and asked if I was interested in being their grand marshal, I said, ‘As long as I get a ticket and a field pass to the game, I’m in.”
NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer gets a helping hand as he tapes a commercial for his new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series sponsor General Mills’ “Hamburger Helper” at Auto Club Speedway on Wednesday. Bowyer will debut his new ride in Southern California at the West Coast Premiere of NASCAR Feb. 20-22, hoping to end up in Gatorade Victory Lane following the Auto Club 500 on Sunday, Feb. 22. The new commercial spot is scheduled to begin running in February. (Photo Credit: Auto Club Speedway)
Joey Logano and brakeman Kenneth Stout, who led with only Todd Bodine left to go, watch the TV at the finish line as the eventual champion makes his final run. (Photo Credit: Todd Bissonette)
Country music star Jason Michael Carroll and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Petty pose for a picture during the 2008 edition of Sprint Sound and Speed Presented by SunTrust. Both are scheduled to be back at the event this year on Jan. 9-10. (Photo Credit: Sprint Sound and Speed)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Taylor Swift pose for a picture during the 2008 edition of Sprint Sound and Speed in Nashville. Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to participate in this year’s event on January 9-10. (Photo Credit: Sprint Sound and Speed)
…and things are definitely different.
Is it Daytona yet? Seriously, is it? It feels like the longest off-season ever and I am counting the minutes until the 2009 NASCAR season is here.
I can’t help but feel a little uneasy because with everything that’s happened (and not happened) to our economy in the last year it’s left me feeling like the rug has been pulled out from underneath all of us.
I guess all of this craziness just proves how much we need NASCAR. I don’t know about you but I covet the time I spend on Sundays yelling at my TV screen. It’s how I relax and how I escape. I think we could all use a little escape right now.
So take the economy and then add in all of the Silly Season stuff that is still playing out and my head is spinning. Elliott Sadler is out at Gillett Evernham Motorsports? Petty Enterprises no longer Petty Enterprises?? What the ??
I don’t know about you but the Petty/GEM deal made me sad. I think it sucks that Petty Enterprises couldn’t keep it going on their own. They’ve been around for 60 years. It’s odd, and it’ll take some getting used to.
So about Elliott, he’s reportedly set to sue GEM for breach of contract. I say more power to him. I’ve run the whole ditching Elliott for A.J. Allmendinger through my head and I just can’t understand it. It seems like people change drivers these days like they change their underwear.
In other news…
– Jamie McMurray went karting. Yea, that’s all I’ve got.
Jamie McMurray takes a spin in his kart during Daytona KartWeek By Cometic Gasket at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Motorsports Images & Archives)
Jamie McMurray shares a fun moment with a member of his team during Daytona KartWeek By Cometic Gasket at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Motorsports Images & Archives)
Jamie McMurray works on his kart at Daytona International Speedway during Daytona KartWeek By Cometic Gasket World Karting Association races. McMurray upgraded his pit area from last year with a new trailer that he purchased from fellow NASCAR competitor Jeff Burton. (Photo Credit: Motorsports Images & Archives)
I love living in Northern California. I’m very proud of my home state, but last night I had to shake my head in disgust. One of our local sports broadcasters referred to David Gilliland as Jason Leffler.
The guy runs through the highlights of the race at Phoenix and hits on the crazy wreck that put David and his car on top of Scott Speed, and then proceeds to say it was Jason — not David — with his tires on Scott’s windshield. It’s sort of an easy mistake to make because Gilliland and Leffler have the same car number (the No. 38), but in different race series. So really it’s a stupid mistake and someone wasn’t paying attention. I wanted to call the TV station and tell them they’re nerds but I figured it wasn’t worth it.
Anyway, even though the outcome wasn’t what I had hoped for I did find the race enjoyable. Who doesn’t love a good red flag every now and again? Was Carl Edwards eating an Arby’s sandwich during the first one?
With the season rolling to an end I really don’t have much to say about Phoenix. What can I say that you don’t already know? It’s highly unlikely that something crazy is going to happen next weekend to take the Championship away from Jimmie Johnson. I guess that’s OK.
I have to give props to the No. 26 and the No. 2 teams and their drivers Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch for putting together great runs on Sunday. I really hoped one of them would be able to give Jimmie a run for his money at the end. It was great to see some different faces up front for a change.
It’s Phil, Captain of the Cornelia Marie! I love Deadliest Catch!
David Reutimann shares a laugh with Phil Harris of Deadliest Catch. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kurt Busch poses with Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Webb before taking him on a pace car ride around Phoenix International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I’m diggin’ the scruffy look on him.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, started fifth and finished sixth during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday. (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #10 McDonald’s Dodge, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2008 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Yesterday I finally finished watching ESPN Ultimate NASCAR (Vol. 1): The Explosion – NASCAR’s Rise. This documentary takes you through the basic history of NASCAR and evolution over the years. I loved it for it’s cinematography, the imagery was absolutely beautiful, and ability to seamlessly merge the past with present.
The Explosion gives you the story up ’til now and covers the bigger stories like Jeff Gordon’s entrance into the sport and Dale Earnhardt’s death. I dare you to not choke up or get emotional when Darrell Waltrip talks about the days after that horrible accident. I couldn’t get through it without crying.
The interviews are all first rate, not to mention the variety of interview subjects. Amongst the usual lineup of drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin there were interesting conversations with Virginia Senator Jim Webb and bestselling author Tom Wolfe.
I highly recommend this DVD, and in the coming days I’ll be posting more reviews of the 4 other volumes in the ESPN Ultimate NASCAR series.
In other news…
– Did you know that Casey Mears has a second home in Scottsdale, Arizona? He bought it during the last off-season. Apparently the guy enjoys the dessert, Casey had this to say: “I’m a West Coast guy for sure. I was raised in Bakersfield, Calif., and spent a lot of down time with my family out on sand dunes. So, I naturally spend a lot of time in the Phoenix area taking my new sand car out on the dunes and just relaxing. The climate is perfect. I’m a flip-flops kind of guy, and this atmosphere just fits with me. I look forward to coming out here throughout the year. We’ve been out here all week since the Texas race. It’s like a second or third home for all of us.”
– Jamie McMurray became engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Christy Futrell, this week.
– Scott Speed is using his passion for fashion to help raise awareness and money for a good cause that is close to his heart. Speed was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2003:
“This is a really cool opportunity for me to work on a project that ties one of my biggest passions — fashion — into motorsports, while also raising money for a great cause,” Speed said. “We’re hoping that through this project we can help create awareness and raise money for conditions such as ulcerative colitis, a disease that affects me personally.”
Muffin Man T-shirts went on sale Monday at muzeclothing.com. Half of the $40 will go to the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation of America. They’ll also be on sale this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, where the Muffin Man’s creator will autograph shirts at an TBD location Sunday from 12:15-12:30 p.m. MT.
Why the Muffin Man?
“Just random, mate,” Speed said.
There’s been a lot of press leading up to today regarding wait times and long lines for voting. Here’s a tip for you, move to the suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area. I went to my polling place, which is right behind my apartment building, and there was no line and the only thing that took a long time was remembering how I wanted to vote on all of the propositions.
Anyway, on to more relevant things like Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.
First, I would like to thank Carl Edwards for restoring a little bit of drama to The Chase. I loved the fact that his team took a gamble on their fuel mileage and came out on top. Even if it didn’t work it still would have been cool. What did they have to lose anyway? All in all it was a great call and it made a pretty much boring race exciting in the end.
Ok, so there was that incident between David Gilliland and Juan Pablo Montoya. So David spun Juan out and ended up wrecking both of their cars. NASCAR parked David and I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen NASCAR take such swift and decisive action with someone before. I mean, I know they’ve done stuff like that before but I guess I was never around to see them park somebody during a race. What David did wasn’t good but I still like him. Hehe. I want that guy to win and I want him to get more attention but not from stuff like that.
His actions impacted the race and The Chase in the grand scheme of things, but I think that’s what NASCAR is all about. You have to be strong enough to weather the race, and your fellow racers, to be a champion. As much as racing is about being prepared, talented and having great equipment, it’s also about fate and luck. Kyle Busch didn’t all of a sudden become a big loser and forget how to drive a racecar once The Chase started, he just ran into some serious bad luck. And that’s what I love about the sport, there’s so much that is left to chance.
In other news…
– If you’re interested in donating directly to the Sam Ard Fund, go to his website for more information on where to send your check. If you haven’t already, read this great article by Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press regarding the impact of Kyle Busch’s $100,000 donation to the Ard family.
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #26 Crown Royal Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2008 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson (right), driver of the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet stands with his car chief Ron Malec (left), started seventh and finished 15th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway. (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
Is she not the cutest little girl ever??
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, started from the pole position and finished second in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway. Here he is prerace with daughter Ella Sofia. (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
NASCAR Nationwide Series pole-sitter Carl Edwards meets television host Rachael Ray on pit road Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway before the O’Reilly Challenge. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
This photo cracks me up, I love it.
Clint Bowyer (L), driver of the #07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet, talks with ESPN’s Brad Daugherty (R) on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2008 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Here’s some stuff you should know about, if you don’t already:
– Jamie McMurray’s paint scheme for this weekend’s Dickies 500 serves as a reminder to all NASCAR fans that they need to get crackin’ if they want to be the latest winner of the Crown Royal ‘Your Name Here 400′ Contest. Just think, your name could be title sponsor of the May 2009 Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway:
Before Nov. 21, fans 21 years old and over can visit www.CrownRoyal.com to enter the contest by describing an accomplishment or honorable act worthy of toasting with Crown Royal. Selected finalists will enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip in February to the Daytona 500 where they will participate in an unveiling ceremony to announce the ‘Your Name Here 400′ grand prize winner.
In addition to having their name officially incorporated into the race, the grand prize winner will serve as the Grand Marshal in Richmond — allowing them to do everything from delivering the trophy in Victory Lane to yelling the most famous words in racing, “Gentlemen, start your engines!”
– A man bid over $15,000 to take three high-speed laps around Lowe’s Motor Speedway with Dale Earnhardt Jr. proving that men love Dale Jr. just as much as women do:
When the auctions closed Oct. 3, Thomas Mendiburu from New Jersey had won the ride-of-a-lifetime with Dale Jr. for three warp-speed laps around Lowe’s Motor Speedway with a winning bid of more than $15,000! Wrangler® flew the generous high bidder to Charlotte for two days of unforgettable NASCAR experiences. Not only did he strap in for the 170-mph ride with Dale Jr. – Wrangler® also gave Mendiburu a glimpse of life in the driver’s seat when experts from the Richard Petty Driving Experience taught him to drive a racecar before letting him cruise around the track once again…this time as the driver!
The cool thing about all of this is that the entire Dale Jr./Wrangler auction raised $17, 475 for the Victory Junction Gang camp. Niice.
– Brian Vickers showed off his new digs in SoHo to the New York Times. Apparently the Big Apple bug bit him after former teammate Jeff Gordon extolled its awesomeness. Check out the accompanying photo gallery of his zen, modern bachelor pad!
– Interested in watching more funny videos from the Americans for a Gunk-Free Nation campaign? Check out the debate and a very interesting interview with Gunk. Yes, I said they’ve got an interview with Gunk.
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.
Sunday, August 31st was the Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, but it was also my 28th birthday. I still can’t believe I’m 28. I sometimes wish they had a version of Tivo for our lives but oh well. Until that day comes I have my mom. She called me while I was at the track to wish me a happy birthday and to tell me about everything that happened on the day of my birth.
I’m sure anyone who saw me on my cell phone standing in the garage with tears streaking my face were probably wondering what was wrong, but everything was totally right.
For the majority of the morning I spent my time stationed in front of a moving mister in the garage. It was situated next to the final inspection station teams had to pass through before parking themselves on pit road. This particular inspection took a look at the distance between the tires from the left and right and between the front and the back. It’s obvious if a team doesn’t pass muster, they just have to go back through it again, but I think they need to implement some sort of horn or a big flashing sign that says they didn’t pass. A little theater couldn’t hurt.
This inspection area also happened to be right next to the drivers meeting room and I wanted to get a good spot for photos. Well they started blocking it off and I got shuffled into the crowd. Yet another reason why I love the Nationwide Series ’cause they don’t bother with blocking anything off. But whatever, I caught sight of all of the VIPs on hand for the race.
Max Siegel, the president of global operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc. pushed past the crowd along with actor Blair Underwood, who is on a really great show on ABC that everyone should watch this season called Dirty Sexy Money. It’s really good, trust me.
Tom from MySpace was at the race! Tom Anderson, who is on the cover this month’s issue of Fast Company, started MySpace and if you sign up for the social networking site he’s your first “friend.” Anyway, he was there, looking shorter than I’d expected with a skinny blonde chick on his arm.
Drew Carey was walking around like the mayor of the garage looking far older than I’d imagined. I saw American Idol alum Bo Bice, who sang the nation anthem, walking around but I didn’t realize it was him until later. He’s way shorter than I’d thought, but I guess that’s how it goes with people that you’ve only seen on TV.
Actually, maybe that doesn’t apply if you’re an athlete because I saw Olympic swimmer Jason Lezak and he’s definitely 6’4″ like it says he is on the USA Swimming website.
Now, I begrudgingly, and I do mean begrudgingly, have to report that Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, so-called stars of the MTV reality show The Hills, were in attendance. I don’t like them. I felt sorry for Jamie McMurray having to show them around and speak to them. Although there was a moment of sweet justice when they were introduced to the crowd and they were summarily booed. It was brilliant.
Ok, so back to the drivers meeting. I stayed on the crowded side for a bit but decided to take a chance and head on over to the other side where there was a second exit. I was sure some slick drivers might decide to sneak out undetected. The only people on that side of the garage were team PR people. It was a good idea because I ended up walking right behind Jamie McMurray and A.J. Allmendinger.
The No. 84 Red Bull Toyota goes through inspection at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Sunday, August 31, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
The Price is Right host and comedian Drew Carey walks through the garage at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Sunday, August 31, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag from the MTV reality show “The Hills” take a tour through the garage at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Sunday, August 31, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Olympic gold medalist Jason Lezak heads into the drivers meeting at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Sunday, August 31, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
MySpace president Tom Anderson (center) drinks something and checks out the inspection process at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Sunday, August 31, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
And so begins the television coverage of NASCAR from the fine folks at TNT. I really wish NASCAR could just be on one channel. One. Uno. But what can ya do right?
So TNT excitedly announced their new RaceBuddy feature on NASCAR.com, I didn’t bother to check it out — at least not yet — but the image that kept jumping to mind every time they mentioned it during Sunday’s race was the doll My Buddy from the 80s. I keep singing the theme song to myself “My Buddy, My Buddy, My Buddy, My Buddy and Meeeeeee!” and then I followed it up with “Kid Sister, Kid Sister, Kid Sister, Kid Sister and Meeeeeeee!” Bonus points to you if you remember My Buddy and Kid Sister and triple quadruple points if you actually had one!
Brad Keselowski, how can you not be happy for this guy? He raced his butt off and got his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win ever and I couldn’t be more excited for him and the Navy team. You could see the genuine relief and happiness in his eyes after the race. It was just so cool that his mom and dad were there. Those are my absolutely favorite moments in sports in general. Getting to see the family that has been with these guys from the beginning and getting to see them sharing that moment when they have their first taste of success, that’s pretty awesome. It’s another one of the million reasons why I’m so anxious for the Olympics to start.
Furthermore, didn’t it suck that Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t there to be with his team for their first win? He didn’t even get to see it live on TV. DirecTV had a blackout and so for the last ten laps he had a friend relay the information to him online. Crazy.
Ok, so the Cup race at Pocono. Speaking of Dale Jr. what was up with him during his post race interview? I know that he’s not a super talkative guy after the races in general but that was less that usual. I’m sure it had to do with the heat, and it seems like all of the guys were feeling the affects of it after the race, except for Jimmie Johson who said he was totally fine. Right.
Kasey Kahne won another race and that’s great for him. I’m still miffed about the lack of attention that the Yates Racing guys have received. I want them to get a friggin’ top 5 finish so bad just so the media will have to talk about them for longer than 10 seconds.
In other news…
– Speaking of Yates Racing, both of their drivers will be here in the Bay Area tomorrow for testing at Infineon. I will be there too, taking pictures of whatever I can see. Hopefully something will be going on while I’m there, I won’t be able to stay the whole day.
– David Ragan will be on an episode of “Lawrence of America” on the Travel Channel tomorrow (June 10th) at 11pm EST. Check your local listings. “It was fun filming the show with Lawrence last fall,” said Ragan. “I think he learned a lot and it will be a great way to hopefully introduce the sport to some new fans to the sport. We had a good time at the go-kart track, but next time we’ll go the big track and see how he does.”
– There’s still plenty of time to enter the contest for a free copy of the NASCAR Full Throttle Adrenaline DVD set.
– I don’t know what it is about Brian Vickers but every time I hear him speak I’m surprised by his southern accent. It’s like I forget that he has one every time I see him. It’s cute though, I like accents. There’s no big point to this, I’m just over sharing.
Brian Vickers finished second in the Pocono 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, moving up two spots to 17th in driver standings (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Mark Martin qualified third-fastest for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, where he’s finished second six times. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Fellow Ford drivers, Jamie McMurray and David Gilliland, talk about their cars during a break in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Elliott Sadler share a laugh in the garage during Friday’s practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ok, so here is the bad news. I’m not going to Charlotte this week for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. There are a few things that contributed to me calling off the trip but the biggest thing is that I’m suddenly moving next week and I couldn’t justify using the money on the trip when I could really use it for the move.
So it sucks that I won’t get to meet people (Penni!) and visit the race shops but I know I’ll have another opportunity to visit the Charlotte area in the future.
But the good news is that I’m moving into my own place again (awesome!) and that I got word that I was approved for credentials to the races at Infineon in June. I’m super-duper relieved that I will be able to go the Toyota/Save Mart 350. It’s going to be fun. Oh and now this whole thing allows me to watch both the Coca-Cola 600 and the Indy 500.
In other news…
– I’m not writing for Examiner.com anymore. There’s no big story except that it just wasn’t the right thing for me. The thing that I love the most about my blog is that it’s mine and I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. If you check this site regularly you know that I don’t have a set schedule and I don’t write everyday. I would love to be able to have something relevant to say everyday but I don’t. Plus I love writing about my experiences at the races or watching the races on TV and not needing to be an expert. I don’t know everything there is to know about NASCAR and I’m not trying to act like I do. I just write about the things that occur to me and that’s what I’m going to keep on doing. So there. Just kidding. I have absolutely no ill will towards the folks at the Examiner. I appreciate being given the opportunity. I think the new design they have is great.
– I’ll be doing another DVD giveaway soon and by soon I mean hopefully this week. I watched the DVD last week and I need sit down and remember all the great things I liked about it. This time I’ll have three copies to give away (unless they tell me I have to give two of ‘em back).
– I finally got to watch the full episode of Cribs that featured Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the western town he built on his property, Whisky River. They’ve been playing it on CMT along with the old segments Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray filmed a long time ago (Casey was still with Gnassi Racing). I loved seeing inside Dale’s house and of course Whisky River. If I was a kid and I was related to him I’d want to hang out at his place like all the time. When I was a kid I loved to make believe and I don’t think it would get any better than having a place like that with an actual working jail you could lock your friends in and then go faux marry someone at the chapel. That’d be so freaking fun.
– The All-Star Race happened and I missed it. Marc from Full Throttle was awesome to give me a great tip on how to watch the race online but I had to miss out on that too ’cause I went out to meet a guy. Plus for some reason I had it in my head that the race was on Sunday and not Saturday. At any rate it’s awesome that Kasey Kahne got the win. Hopefully it’ll light a fire under his team to win a points race.
– I’m stoked that the Red Bull guys had a good weekend. First by winning the Pit Crew Challenge and then by getting A.J. Allmendinger into the All-Star race. It’s all awesome stuff.
The No. 83 Red Bull Toyota pit crew of Brian Vickers pushes their car towards the finish line during the Craftsman 40-Yard Push. The crew won the championship, setting a new speed record along the way. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(L-R): Individual winners Caleb Hurd, gas man for the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet, Jamie Frady, catch can man for the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet, Dave Smith, rear tire changer for the No. 17 DeWalt Ford, Jason Binger, rear tire carrier for the No. 17 DeWalt Ford, Nick O’Dell, front tire changer for the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota, Brad Donaghy, front tire carrier for the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota and Eric Wilson, jackman for the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge pose in Victory Lane. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
AJ Allmendinger celebrates winning the Sprint Showdown. Allmendinger’s win transferred him into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I love this photo, the expression on Kasey’s face is priceless.
Kasey Kahne celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Kahne was voted into the race by a Fan Vote and raced his way to victory from the back of the field. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
April is Autism Awareness Month and this weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway kicks off some fundraising activities involving NASCAR.
Jamie McMurray’s No. 26 Crown Royal car will have a special paint scheme this weekend and his foundation (The Jamie McMurray Foundation) is launching a month-long auction with all of the proceeds going to autism research and support. You can bid on memorabilia by going to the NASCAR Foundation site.
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that currently affects one in every 150 children. This
weekend, at Texas Motor Speedway, NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray will help promote autism awareness through a special paint scheme, as well as the launch of a month-long online auction with all proceeds going towards the research and support of autism and families coping with this neurobiological disorder.
“Crown Royal has been extremely giving to my foundation by providing space on the car, as well as on my fire suits and helmets,” said McMurray. “Each season they pick a race where we can run the autism awareness puzzle pieces, and throughout the season, they assist us with promotions, donations and helping promote awareness.”
– Chevrolet is also working to help spread awareness about autism by working with the non-profit organization Austim Speaks:
During April people who go to the Autism Speaks website (www.autismspeaks.org), can click on the “Help Chevy Help Autism” icon and take a free virtual test drive of the 2008 North American Car of the Year — the all-new Chevy Malibu. Chevrolet has committed to a minimum contribution of $500,000, but every virtual test drive taken gets Chevrolet closer to its goal of donating up to $1 million to Autism Speaks to support its mission of increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research. Those who participate in the virtual test drive will be offered a free 30-day online trial of XM Satellite Radio.
Anytime a non-Cup regular wins a Nationwide Series race it’s a good thing in my book. Congratulations to Scott Wimmer and his team for winning the Pepsi 300 at Nashville Speedway on Saturday.
I really wish they wouldn’t even let Cup regulars into the Nationwide races in the first place. I think it would allow for more unknowns to show their stuff, everybody always says the Nationwide series is like the minor leagues in baseball right? Well you don’t see Barry Zito or A-Rod spending time with the San Jose Giants or the Charleston RiverDogs. The same should be true for NASCAR. I think it would give people more time to develop their skills and actually give drivers a job that’ll last, instead of having to compete with Cup dudes that have more experience.
Ok, so about the subject of the post. Poor Jamie McMurray, Associated Press writer Jenna Fryer wrote an article about him (Outside the top 35, NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray in danger of derailing once promising career) and his points standings woes that makes it seem like the end is very, very near for Jamie.
It can only mean something is off with McMurray, and it’s something only he can fix. Until he gets his head back in the game, he doesn’t stand a chance at saving his season.
While I recognize the obvious issues and the reality that he needs to put some really good runs together, It still feels a little bit premature to say he’s done for. But then again rides, good rides, are hard to come by these days and there isn’t a lot of room for error. Jamie seems to think his current status is a product of bad luck:
“There are a lot of expectations for myself and the No. 26 IRWIN Industrial Tools team heading into Martinsville this weekend. We know we are outside the top 35 and right now, the only goal we have is to get ourselves back into the top 35. We’ve had a really rough start to the season, and honestly, it’s hard to pinpoint one exact reason — we’ve just had a lot of bad luck. We’ve spent a lot of time over the last week and a half looking at what we need to do avoid the bad luck that has followed us around since the start of the season.
“I’m really glad the next race is Martinsville. Last year, I qualified second in the spring race, and I think ninth in the second race. Martinsville is one of my favorite tracks, so to know that I have to qualify my way in, I’m glad that it’s at Martinsville.
I just hope Jamie and his team can get it (whatever “it” is exactly) together and get back into the top 35.
In other news…
– On Thursday Ryan Newman will be at the grand opening of an Alltel store in Lynchburg, VA. He’ll be taking pictures, signing autographs and giving away stuff. (3919 Wards Road, Lynchburg, VA — 6pm to 8pm ET)
– Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on one of the ten covers that make up ESPN The Magazine’s tenth anniversary issue. I bought the magazine this past weekend and I have to say that I think it’s one of the best photos ever taken of Dale Jr. He’s looks reeeeally good in that Armani suit. The magazine has two sides, with five covers on each and Dale’s is about 4 pages into the LeBron James side.
– Another Dale Jr. tidbit, he’s going to be featured on MTV Cribs again but this time they cover the western town he built on his land, Whiskey River. Jade Gurss has a photo gallery from the shoot (Jade’s Blog). Exact air dates of this latest Cribs episode are still to be determined.
I have awesome news to share. I’m going to the NASCAR races at California Speedway this weekend and at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the following weekend. I’ve got credentials and I’ll be in the garage, the pits, everywhere!
Well maybe not everywhere, but the fact that I’ll be there at all is absolutely wonderful. I’m beyond excited that I get to go to not one, but two races in a row. That’s my new personal best in consecutive race attendance.
In other news…
– If you’re looking for a truly creative way to propose to your girlfriend ya gotta enter this contest from Harlequin (the publishers of NASCAR licensed romance novels). Your proposal could be on Carl Edwards’ No. 99 Ford Fusion during the 2008 NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
– Kurt Busch is tending bar again:
Kurt is set for a Miller Lite Southern California “Pub Crawl” this Friday night. Included in his stops are Hooters at 725 Milliken Ave. in Ontario (8:30 p.m.) and Buffalo Wild Wings at 8188 Day Creek Blvd. in Rancho Cucamonga at 9:15 p.m., where he will be serving as a celebrity bartender.
– Jamie McMurray went flying with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds last week. I think they showed just a little bit of the footage during the pre-race show for the Daytona 500. Jeff Hammond was there too. Check out the details:
After a 45-minute flight that included a maximum vertical climb takeoff, high-speed rolls and turns and aggressive tactical maneuvers, the F-16 touched down safely on the runway.
When the two climbed out of the jet, Major Mulhare awarded McMurray with a “9-G” pin. The pin is only given to those participants who are able to endure 9 G-forces during the flight.
“I can’t believe we just did what we did,” said McMurray following the flight. “What a thrill to be able to fly with some of the greatest pilots in the world. Today Major Mulhare showed me what it is like to fly at speeds of over 500mph. The minute we took off, I knew it was going to be a fun ride.”
Three days later, the pilot and crew attended the race at Daytona International Speedway and were there to shake McMurray’s hand before he climbed into his No. 26 Ford.
“I have a lot of respect for those guys and what they go through. It was really cool to see how much their ‘pit crew’ is like our crew. Before the flight they went through everything with me to make sure I understood what was going to take place in the air. Then, right before we took off, the crew went over the entire jet again to make sure everything was set for our flight. They made sure everything was crossed off their list. I have to say, I was very impressed.
“Overall it was a pretty amazing experience to fly with Major Mulhare and the entire Thunderbirds crew.”
I don’t have much to say in regards to the race at California this past weekend. It didn’t seem to be that interesting, either that or my lack of excitement about the race could be the result of being back at work, after having 4 luxurious days off.
I have thoughts about the third episode of NASCAR in Primetime which I finally watched (thanks to Tivo) on Friday. The fan commentary that they feature on the show is just ok. It’s more relevant to me when they talk about fan things, like the camping area at Talladega. I know that I shouldn’t be, but I’m shocked that women are showing their boobs to random strangers for plastic beads. It looked like a weird mash-up of Mardi Gras and Woodstock.
Previously I wrote about California Speedway’s marketing attempts to get more butts in the seat for the race this weekend. Their party at Hollywood club Avalon did get attention, but I don’t know if it was the kind they wanted? There were a couple mentions in some celebrity gossip blogs. The mentions were about the pop/r&b singer Rihanna. You know her, or at the least her song “Shut up & Drive” that ESPN loved to play all the freaking time. Anyway, she was the only celeb of note because she was the only one that the Associated Press took the time to photograph coming down the red carpet and she was the only one that garnered these small mentions in the blogs IDon’tLikeUThatWay and PerezHilton.com.
I’ve heard that NASCAR drivers besides Jeff Gordon attended this party but I have yet to see any photographic evidence suggesting proving that to be true. Next year California Speedway should step up their celebrity quotient for the party, because from what I can see they managed only D-list celebs, if you can even call them that.
In other news…
– I know this will surprise you, but Kurt Busch, and his wife Eva, got a new dog. A black & tan Norwich terrier named Lola. The only reason I’m posting this is because the dog is adorable.
– Dale Earnhardt Jr. gives the best quotes:
What do people expect me to say when they keep asking me about the point standings? I check the standings right after each race and then I forget about it. I know we’re a long way back (from 12th-place Kevin Harvick), and even though we have a mathematical chance to get into the Chase, we’re going to worry about things within our own control.
– For all you soap opera fans get your Tivos ready — Jamie McMurray will be on an episode of “Passions” airing September 26th on NBC. Jamie filmed his scene last week in L.A.
When the lights were up and the cameras were rolling, it only took McMurray one shot to nail his lines.
We only had to take the shot one time, which is typically how they shoot those soap operas. They practice once and take once. I guess when your show is on five days a week you really have to be quick in learning the lines and making sure you don’t mess up. Overall I had a great time and really enjoyed meeting the entire cast and crew of “Passions.”
And now for photo fun time…
Robby Gordon prepares for practice at California Speedway. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr. waits for practice to start at California Speedway. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch takes a break during practice at California Speedway. (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson receives a hug from wife Chandra in victory lane at California Speedway. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
So here’s more thoughts & things from the Pepsi 400 at Daytona last weekend, and some stuff leading up to Chicago this weekend.
– This exchange between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his crew chief (and cousin) Tony Eury Jr. is just funny, so I felt like sharing:
Running 26 laps behind the leaders, the team needed one more stop for fuel to make it to the finish. The yellow flag flew on lap 116.
Eury Jr.: “Pit the second time by. We’ll just take fuel and we’ll be good the rest of the way.”
Dale Jr: “You ain’t gonna give me tires?”
Eury Jr: “You only have four laps on those.”
Dale Jr: “Well, if you like this set so much, you can take them home with you. I need tires. This place is like Darlington now.”
Eury Jr: “Alright, we’ll pit for four tires, second time by.”
As for Chicago, I think Junior is right:
“I’m beginning to think I should just not slow down when I see a crash in front of me. I hope that theme doesn’t continue. We’ve been taken out of two chances to win a race this season by getting hit from behind while trying to avoid a wreck (at Texas in April and last Saturday evening in Daytona). I keep saying that we’re due to have the breaks start going our way, and when they do, we’re going to enjoy it.”
– Are you like me and a need a new laptop? Well here’s the perfect contest for you to enter. You can win Carl Edwards‘ laptop. An autographed Toshiba Notebook. Go to www.officedepotracing.com for details.
– Another note about Jamie McMurray’s win last week at Daytona. After the race, while Jamie’s crew chief Larry Carter was being interviewed he looked as if nothing happened. The look on his face was priceless, he did not look or sound like a man that had just won a Cup race. In fact he looked like he had lost the thing. All of that changed, a little, once he was in victory lane with Jamie and the rest of the team. He finally cracked a smile! I counted at least 2 or 3. Maybe he just needed to be there in the winner’s circle before he could relax and enjoy it.
– After this weekend’s race at Chicagoland Speedway drivers Reed Sorenson, David Stremme and Juan Pablo Montoya will attend a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. The game on Monday, July 16th is against the San Francisco Giants. Sorenson is supposed to throw out the first pitch (don’t mess it up Reed, you’ll never live it down) and then go sing “Take me out to the ball game” with Stremme and Montoya during the seventh inning stretch. Uhm… Interesting. If you can’t make it to the game in person it’ll be broadcast on ESPN.
– Try on this quote from Kyle Busch’s crew chief Alan Gustafson:
“There’s been a lot of speculation about the equipment we’re getting and what Kyle is getting. I’d like to set the record straight that there is no discrimination as to who gets what at Hendrick Motorsports. It’s the same as it’s always been. We finished second last week — I’d say we were the best car out there. We are here to make the Chase and win a championship. That goal won’t change regardless what the 2008 plans are. I expect the Kellogg’s/CARQUEST team to win this weekend. We’re right on the brink, like we were last year at this time. We have a lot of momentum and I think Chicago is as good a place as any for another win.”
Uhm… Where did this come from? I’m just thinking out loud here, but has he talked to Kyle about this? ‘Cause I think he’s probably the one that started all of the speculation.
The Pepsi 400 was such a big event I had to take notes. I didn’t want to forget my talking points. So here goes:
– So when TNT announced that there would be less commercials for the Pepsi 400 telecast did they mean there would be more?? Yes, they cut away to fewer commercials that took up the whole screen but those that played at the bottom of the screen — on top of the racing action — were no less distracting.
– And as a side note to the above commercial debacle, I would like to say that I’m totally over Jeff Gordon’s 10 years with Pepsi. Congratulations to Pepsi for sticking with a winner for 10 years that was so hard.
– Actor Kevin James served as the Grand Marshal and gave one of the most memorable versions of “Gentlemen, Start your engines” ever! He’s right up there with Matthew McConaughey. Oh how I wish I had videos of both McConaughey and James versions so that we could contrast and compare. It’s becoming a fine art — being able to say those words without boring the hell out of people.
– When Clint Bowyer was leading the race at one point he said to his crew something to the effect of “nobody’s gettin’ past me” and then of course a bunch of people got past him. When he said it I immediately thought those were some famous last words. He ended up finishing seventh which is still really good considering. But I know that he desperately wants to win one of these things. I know that his time will come; this year is as good as any, especially when this was their 9th top ten finish of the season so far.
– How cool was it that Jamie McMurray won the Pepsi 400? So cool! Now, I’m not sure if I was so excited about it because he beat Kyle Busch or because it had been so insanely long since he’d last won a Cup race. I guess it was both. His obvious happiness, relief, joy for winning that race was great to see. There was no sense of entitlement in his tone when talking after the race. He was genuinely excited and happy that he won. Sometimes it seems like drivers just expect to be there (Hello JPM!), like duh I was supposed to win, and to me that’s disrespectful. It’s hard to win, act like you appreciate it.
– It’s always so refreshing to see Kyle Busch whining after a race. No teammate support my butt, he’s such a freakin’ tool. “Waaah, Why isn’t everybody helping me win???! Waaah!” Any team that wants him can have him, and good luck. He could become the Michael Jordan/Joe Montana/Babe Ruth of NASCAR and I would still say that he’s a complete nerd. He’s talented I’ll give him that but it all gets overshadowed by his crappy attitude. Ugh. Doesn’t he get tired of being known for that?
And now for some Daytona photo goodness:
So close and so awesome
Jamie McMurray (No. 26) barely beats Kyle Busch (No. 5) to the finish line. (Photo Credit: Doug Benc/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Reed Sorenson awaits the NASCAR Busch Series race at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kenny Wallace puts on his game face at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
They’re “older” but still super hotties!
Bobby Labonte and Dale Jarrett look on during qualifying at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
From my seat in the media center I overlook Jamie McMurray’s pit stall. Here are a few photos from my point-of-view. This is so cool.
At about the 38th lap the caution flag has come out and Ryan Newman is leading the race.