I haven’t missed a Fontana race in 5 years, so it really sucked when I realized I wouldn’t be able to go this year. All the action & drama that happened on Sunday made it that much worse, but then again there’s no guarantee that it would have happened had I gone so I’m using that to make me feel better about the whole thing.
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First, let me apologize for my serious delay in writing about Sonoma. The Monday following the race I came down with a cold and subsequently felt like crap ever since and didn’t feel like doing anything at all except breathing.
I woke up early Sunday morning to clear skies and no rain. When rain is a possibility during a race weekend I’ve taken the stance of not talking about it. At least not in the negative. You don’t know for sure what the weather is going to do, so why stand on negative side of the fence and go on an on about how it’s going to rain and we’re not going to get the race in, blah, blah, blah. I’d just rather not and deal with what’s actually happening.
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.
(Wait, now that I’ve written “’til tuesday” I can’t stop thinking about their song “voices carry.” Great, now that’s stuck in my head. hush, hush, keep it down now… voices carry!!! )
It’s crazy to think we’ll be watching a NASCAR race on Tuesday this week. I guess it’s what you have to do when Mother Nature won’t cooperate. It sucks because I was REALLY looking forward to seeing the outcome of the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway today, because there’s SO much on the line. There’s the matter of the $3 million Sprint Summer Showdown, that if you hadn’t heard about until today’s rain delay coverage you’ll never be able to forget it now, and the $1 million that could go to the “Official Small Business of NASCAR, presented by Office Depot” should Tony Stewart or Greg Biffle win the race.
Then there’s all of the Chase implications and you’ve got one race with a ton of responsibility.
Anywhoo, since I can’t talk about the race I’ll talk about other sort of random things I came across this weekend:
– Harrison Burton, the 10-year-old son of NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, has taken up his father’s profession as a racecar driver. Harrison’s parents made it clear yesterday at Atlanta Motor Speedway that his decision to try his hand at racing was ALL his idea and not something that they wanted him to do.
“I was hoping he’d be a lawyer and I could hang out at the country club,” Kim Burton said laughing. “It’s hard watching your baby out there, but he loves it.”
Harrison races quarter midgets with the United States Auto Club (USAC) in an all-oval series for 5-16 year-olds, and he’s leading in points in a lot of divisions.
“I have a passion for racing, and I love it, but he doesn’t have to,” Jeff said. “If he ever wants to quit, we quit. If he wants to play lacrosse, we play lacrosse.”
At the press conference today, father and son shared the stage with Harrison donning a Caterpillar firesuit just like his dads. It’s too cute.
– Samantha Busch, wife of NASCAR driver Kyle Busch, has launched her own official website–samanthabusch.net. The site contains tons of photos, news and tips from everything from fitness to fashion.
– The following photo is just adorable. It’s too friggin’ adorable. That’s all I wanted to say.
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)
Matt Kenseth. What can I say about Matt Kenseth? Well, he’s funny for one. He made fun of my name when I interviewed him in Las Vegas a couple months ago during Champion’s Week. He’s also the first driver I’ve interviewed to end up not answering all of the questions in the “Inside the Actor’s Studio” questionnaire. As you’ll see below at “What turns you off?” there’s an exchange that involves me, Matt and Jeff Burton, but there’s no actual answer. We came back to it, but he still didn’t have any answer. Which was curious to me because I would think it’d be harder to think of an answer for “What turns you on?” than the opposite of that.
Anyway, Matt was supernice and a very good sport. Definitely another good interview.
What is your favorite word? Lately I’ve been noticing everyone says “Like” all the time, and I caught myself doing it so I’ve been trying to get myself to stop doing it when everyone around me uses it like crazy.
What is your least favorite word? When somebody uses God’s name in vain.
What turns you on? My wife
What turns you off? Can’t answer that one. (Me: what turns you off?) These are tough questions, where are you going to write these at? You’re going to get me in a lot of trouble. I can’t answer that. [To Jeff Burton] How can you answer all these? Like ‘What turns you off?’ (Jeff Burton: Everything’s not sexual, Matt). [To Me] Ok, let’s keep going. (Me: You want to come back to it?) Yeah.
What sound or noise do you love? I like hearing race cars start up
What sound or noise do you hate? A couple people’s voices. Gosh, I’m not quick thinking on my feet today. Can I come back to that one too?
What is your favorite curse word? I don’t know, I try not to curse. I guess I don’t have a favorite.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Well it’s way to late in life to do it now, but if I was going to be something else I probably would have been interested in joining the Air Force, try to be a fighter pilot.
What profession would you not like to do? Well I’m pretty fortunate because it’s hard to call this a job, so I think anything other than this would be not as good.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Welcome in!
Read more of my “Inside the Actor’s Studio” questionnaire interviews in the archives and read about how it all started with Tony Stewart.
I’m sad I missed the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour in Charlotte this week. But, if I’m being honest, it’s only because I just read this article about all the swag the media received, that I missed out on. There were cupcakes and cookies and wine!
Anyway, here are photos from the week. It’s one of my favorite things to post photos of the teams wearing those annoying long sleeve shirts. I don’t know why I hate them so much but they just look wrong. I say this every year and no one listens to me.
It’s just like bridesmaid dresses: it’s really hard to pick on dress type that works on every body type. Which is why brides have started letting their maids pick a fit that suits them individually and then just going with the same color and/or print for the group. I think NASCAR teams should adopt this same principle. Some teams have, but definitely not the majority.
NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Elliott Sadler, (second from left) speaks with the media, as drivers (left to right) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jason Leffler, and Aric Almirola look on, during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Hilton University on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Michael Waltrip’s familiar No. 15 NAPA car is on display during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Hilton University on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C. (Credit: Harold Hinson/HHP)
(Left to right) Bobby Hutchens, director of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing; Tony Gibson, crew chief of the No. 39 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car; Ryan Newman, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver; Tony Stewart, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner and driver; and Darian Grubb, crew chief of the No. 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car, pose for a picture during the 2011 Sprint Cup Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway on Monday at Stewart-Haas Racing in Kannapolis, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Regan Smith stands in front of his No. 78 Furniture Row ride during the Sprint Media Tour hosted byCharlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(center) NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty stands between his two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers AJ Allmendinger (left) and the newest addition to Richard Petty Motorsports Marcos Ambrose during the Sprint Media Tour hosted byCharlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Team owner Jack Roush (center) poses with drivers (left to right) Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and David Ragan, during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at the Roush-Fenway hanger of Concord Regional Airport, on Thursday in Concord, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, speaks with Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Hilton University on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) Richard Childress, team owner; Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 33 Cheerios Chevrolet; Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet; Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Chevrolet, and Paul Menard, driver of the No. 27 Menard’s Chevrolet, pose for the media during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Richard Childress Racing on Tuesday in Welcome, N.C.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, owner Rick Hendrick and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. pose for a team picture Wednesday at Hendrick Motorsports Media Day during the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, speaks to the media as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teammates Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, and Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, look on during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Penske Racing on Monday in Mooresville, N.C.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Team owner Joe Gibbs (third from right) poses with J.D. Gibbs (third from left), Joe Gibbs Racing President, Joey Logano (left), driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, Kyle Busch (second from left), driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota, Denny Hamlin (second from right), driver of the No. FedEx Toyota, and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brian Scott (right), during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Joe Gibbs Racing, on Thursday in Huntersville, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, on hiring Tony Stewart: “For 1997, we wanted to form a second team. We asked all the guys to write down the name of the driver they wanted the most and put it in a hat. There was one name on every piece of paper. That was Tony Stewart.”
Team owner Joe Gibbs (center) speaks about the 20th anniversary of Joe Gibbs Racing, as (left to right) JGR President J.D. Gibbs, former JGR drivers Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte, JGR senior vice president of racing operations Jimmy Makar and Interstate Batteries CEO Norm Miller look on during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Joe Gibbs Racing, on Thursday in Huntersville, N.C. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The No. 21 Motorcraft Ford proudly displays the new American Ethanol sponsorship around the fuel hole during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at the Roush-Fenway hanger of Concord Regional Airport, on Thursday in Concord, N.C. (Credit: Harold Hinson/HHP)
(Left to right) Juan Pablo Montoya, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, team owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates and Jamie McMurray, defending Daytona 500 champion, pose for a picture during the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing stop on the 2011 Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway on Monday at the Hilton Charlotte University Place in Charlotte, N.C.(Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Who is the hottest, cutest, most-handsome driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series? I know who I think is the hottest, most-adorable driver in the series but if I just tell you what I think it’s boring and the fun only lasts for a few hours, or a day, tops. So instead I thought it would be way more fun if everyone voted!
I’ve randomly seeded 38 drivers into a single-elimination tournament. There will be six rounds of action before we crown a winner and each round will last at least one week.
The second round will go on for two weeks because there are so many match-ups I want to make sure there’s enough time to get as many votes in as possible. You can vote as many times as you want and I strongly encourage you to do so every day. And as the rounds wind down be on the lookout for the opportunity to win a prize!
Download a copy of the 2011 Hottest Driver Tournament brackets!
Without further adieu here are the match-ups for Round One!
|Kyle Busch||Jeff Burton|
|Brian Vickers||Juan Pablo Montoya|
|David Reutimann||Tony Stewart|
|David Ragan||Casey Mears|
|Paul Menard||Jimmie Johnson|
|Kevin Conway||Regan Smith|
Round One Voting Has Ended! Vote in Round Two! CLICK HERE
This year’s crop of racing-related commercials found drivers singing, professing their love of love and playing poker with Big Foot. Here is my list of the best commercials of 2010:
Tony Stewart Burger King Employee
My absolute favorite commercial of the year because it was real. Tony really did work at a Burger King and the result was really funny. I know it would be copying but I really think Lowe’s should put Jimmie Johnson to work in one of their stores. He’d be great at selling appliances, dontcha think?
The Sponsifier program was a big hit this year and it’s gotta be because their commercials were hilarious. I will never be able to get the line “I want Kyle Busch in a pink car and a pink suit” out of my mind or Joey Logano’s chainmail outfit and that look of utter disgust on his face.
Gillette Young Guns & Big Foot
Because Big Foot is a sore loser. I find that idea to be really funny.
Mario Andretti Honda
How adorable is Mario Andretti? Like, really adorable. All because he says “I’m hungry.” I love it.
Coca-Cola Drivers Sing it Out
People who can’t sing (or aren’t known for singing) and then unexpectedly start singing is a recipe for hilarity.
Honorable Mention: Gillette Young Guns Wedding
Because I just like Clint Bowyer in this one. We need more commercials with Clint flexing his funny bone in 2011!
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 CAT Chevrolet Impala for Richard Childress Racing, is cool. He finished the year 12th in points and out of the drivers I interviewed in Las Vegas he struck me as the most “polished.” And I guess what I mean by that is that he was professional but relaxed and just himself. He just seemed the most mature, not that everyone else wasn’t it’s just that you understand why people always look to him for his opinions.
Later when I was interviewing Matt Kenseth, Jeff was standing nearby waiting to hear Matt’s answer for “favorite curse word.” When I asked Matt about what turns him off he had a hard time and looked to Jeff and said, “How can you answer these?” to which Jeff replied, “Everything’s not sexual, Matt.” It was so funny and all said with a laugh.
Friday, December 3rd was the day of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony & Banquet at the Wynn Las Vegas.
NASCAR After The Lap started off mostly like last year, with hostess Jamie Little asking the drivers questions submitted by fans. There were a few new wrinkles like some of the fans asking the questions in person, and the drivers walking in through the crowd with Jimmie Johnson making his grand entrance in his No 48 Lowe’s Chevy.
Immediately following the press room session with the Chase drivers at the Bellagio, I got on the bus taking the media over to the starting line in front of Planet Hollywood for the Victory Lap down The Strip (aka Las Vegas Boulevard).
Thursday was filled with events including the NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon, the Victory Lap and After The Lap at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
I arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday morning-ish. I checked in at my hotel, ARIA Hotel & Casino at CityCenter. I am giving this hotel two thumbs up because when I opened the door to my room (that unlocked after only having to wave my room key in front of the keypad above the door handle) music began to play and the curtains pulled back on their own revealing floor to ceiling windows facing a skyline of mountains.
I’m not going to lie, watching the 48 Lowe’s team experience failure in real time was fun. No, I don’t wish them ill and, really, really, who cares if I do? Dude, they’ve won the Championship 4 times in a row, they’ve got their place in history sealed for-ev-er. A little schadenfreude never hurt anyone.
It was clear that the 48′s cage was rattled with that pit crew swap happening in the middle of the race and watching Chad Knaus’ post-race interview was amazing. We got to find out what he looks, and sounds, like when he doesn’t have to pretend that the Championship isn’t a lock yet, because it really isn’t this time! (Ok, ok, so it’s not that different from when he’s on top, but there was a difference!)
Ya know what really irks me though? It’s when I think about what could have been had Clint Bowyer’s team not received that 150 point fine. Things would be so different, it’s so frustrating! Would I prefer that Kevin Harvick won the Championship over Denny Hamlin? Yes, but I’ll take what I can get. I so wish I was going to Phoenix this week, and hell, Miami too. Just promise me that when I do get to go to every NASCAR race the Championship is as close then as it is now.
Uhm, Denny? What are you doing? What is that face?
Denny Hamlin, driver of the FedEx Office Toyota, shoots a Turnbull Revolvers in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
As the campaign to prove that Jimmie Johnson isn’t vanilla rolls on, I thought it would be fun to assign an ice cream flavor to each of the drivers in The Chase for the Sprint Cup Series Championship.
I don’t know why Jimmie would mind being vanilla, I mean, it’s a classic and reliable flavor (how do you mess up vanilla??). It’s a trusty, go-to flavor, and doesn’t that make sense for him since we rely on him to win all the time? I’m just sayin’.
1.) Jimmie Johnson – Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk: He has a house in New York and this is as far away from Vanilla as possible. Happy, Jimmie??
2.) Denny Hamlin – Ben & Jerry’s Neapolitan Dynamite: Because Denny is the only one that sort of reminds me of Napoleon Dynamite.
3.) Kevin Harvick – Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby: He’s not chubby, but he is a hubby.
4.) Jeff Gordon – Rocky Road: It’s been one for, like, the past 2 or 3 years, right?
5.) Kyle Busch – Pistachio: I’m not a fan of Pistachio
6.) Carl Edwards – Vanilla frozen yogurt: Carl is all about eating healthy (Subway!), and staying ab-tacular, so this is all he can have.
7.) Tony Stewart – Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey: He had a monkey once.
8.) Matt Kenseth – Ben & Jerry’s Imagine Whirled Peace: He never gets into fights, ok there was that time with Jeff Gordon, but overall Kenseth is Switzerland.
9.) Kurt Busch – Rum Raisin: Alcohol, there’s no such thing as beer ice cream.
10.) Jeff Burton – Ben & Jerry’s Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream: This happens to be my favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor and it’s also the only flavor that is remotely related to politics, and ya know Jeff Burton will be a politician somewhere, someday. Just go with me on this OK?
11.) Greg Biffle – Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food: Can’t you imagine Biffle relaxin’ with some of this yummy chocolately, caramely, marshmallowy, fudge fishy goodness?
12. ) Clint Bowyer – Ben & Jerry’s Maple Blondie: He’s blonde, duh.
Sunday at Auto Club Speedway was a big day, not just for the Pepsi Max 400, but for all of the couples that were getting married and renewing their vows on the track. I was so excited about the whole thing and totally looking forward to seeing how it would all go down.
I’m finally writing again! I have so much stuff to post for you guys, please bear with me while I get everything up. There are new Inside the Actor’s Studio interviews coming too. I’m in Las Vegas this weekend for Blog World & New Media Expo, but I’m planning on getting a lot of writing done as well. So stay tuned…
Last Thursday I drove seven and half hours down to Southern California for the start of my Auto Club Speedway/Pepsi Max 400 race weekend.
As I was driving I tried to think of new & interesting questions for Tony Stewart. Tony was having an autograph session at the Office Depot in Rancho Cucamonga that day and he had an open media session before he starting signing things for fans. Yet again I found myself having a hard time thinking of more questions for Tony. I really loved how well my first interview went with him that I didn’t want to ruin it by asking more questions and having it be lame.
Here’s how I feel about the David Reutimann/Kyle Busch incident: Boys will be boys.
I love the idea of throwing that dumb cliche back in the face of people who like to use it to explain away bad behavior.
But seriously, I don’t really care. Reutimann was pissed and he decided to take action. The fact that Kyle is in The Chase is totally irrelevant. Everyone is trying to do the best they can no matter what, if they’re in the top-12 or not. That’s why I hate that Chase commercial where the drivers talk about all the stuff they have to compete against to win the Championship. Never once do they mention the fact that they still have to deal with 42 other drivers, not just 11 other guys contending for the Championship. That’s why winning the Sprint Cup is a big deal. The guys not in the Chase shouldn’t be expected to roll over, on the contrary, they should be getting in the way.
It’ll mean more for the the guy that ultimately wins the thing.
Congratulations to Greg Biffle and the No. 16 3M team! I’m so glad the standings within The Chase are still up in the air. Hopefully we can keep it that way for at least a few more races!
Jeff Burton, driver of the Caterpilliar Chevrolet, stands on pit road with his wife Kim prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Price Chopper 400 on October 3, 2010 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Christa Thomas/Getty Images for NASCAR)
While I’m not sure who I “want” to win the Championship this year, I can tell you who I think will win it and who I’m sure definitely will not.
I’ve had a feeling for some time now that Denny Hamlin would claim the 2010 Sprint Cup Series Championship, I’m not entirely sure why I feel that way but it just seems like the right thing. I think this kid is determined and it seems like it’s his time.
Now, on to who I think definitely will not win the Championship and that would be Jimmie Johnson. Not because he’s not capable, a duh he’s won 4 in a row, but because everyone else in the Chase wants it more. I think there has to be something to seeing Jimmie win it every year and I think these guys are psyched and pumped to make sure he doesn’t win a 5th. I just think the other guys want and NEED this Championship more than Jimmie does and therefore they’re going to do everything within their power to make sure they’re tops this year.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Air Guard 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 10, 2010 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
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 Coke Zero Fan 400 is the first-ever race-within-a-race that allows fans to help their favorite Coca-Cola Racing Family drivers win by simply “liking” them on CokeZero.com. As drivers accumulate “votes” online they move up in the race standings.
Fans who vote for the driver who wins the Coke Zero Fan 400 earn a chance to receive a free 20-ounce Coke Zero to celebrate the win. In addition, Coke Zero will donate $10,000 to the NASCAR Foundation on behalf of the winner of the online race.
Each member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family competing in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3 also will participate in the Fan 400. Fans can begin voting for their favorite drivers on CokeZero.com today. Voting ends following the finish of the Coke Zero 400.
Now, here’s the fun part. Drivers like Denny Hamlin, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton made videos imploring fans to vote for them. I’ve found Jeff Burton’s to be the most LOL inducing. See for yourself after the jump!
Meant to post these photos from the testing of the spoiler at Charlotte Motor Speedway awhile ago, but I still think they’re relevant since everyone seems to think that the real test of the difference the spoiler will make will be at the next Sprint Cup Series race at Texas on the 18th.
Plus, I just love this photo of Tony Stewart. It is quite possibly the funniest photo I’ve ever seen of Tony.
Engineer Matt Borland and driver Tony Stewart mug for the camera in the garage during Tuesday’s (March 23, 2010) testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
This week was the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. I wasn’t there (trust me, I’m crying inside) and so all I have to share with you are these photos of drivers sitting in chairs. Enjoy!
(Left to right) Richard Childress Racing’s Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, owner Richard Childress and Jeff Burton take part in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour Hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway Tuesday in Concord, N.C. (Credit: Harold Hinson Photography)
I distinctly remember watching the AAA 400 pre-race show on Sunday and thinking that there was no way there would be another gnarly crash like the ones they were showing from past races at Dover because when something is hyped up that means the race will be boring as heck.
In this case, I was very, very wrong! Poor Joey Logano, his accident on the 31st lap was absolutely insane. I couldn’t believe he flipped that way and that much. It was neat, but I was oh so glad that he — and everyone else involved — were OK. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must feel like and from his reaction it wasn’t anything good.
Okay, so I said that the race wasn’t boring, but that was just for the first 31 laps. After that it headed down Snoozeville Road. Jimmie Johnson dominated the race and won it, and that is just not good. As I’ve said a billion times before, I don’t dislike Jimmie. I just find it highly annoying if he keeps winning all the time. It’s the same show over and over. Bleh.
Congratulations to the twelve men that made it into the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup. It’s an interesting little group. I can’t believe the entirety of Stewart-Haas Racing made it in especially since I didn’t think they’d win a single race this year. Brian Vickers proved it really isn’t over til it’s over and made the Chase for the first time. I’m so excited for the No. 83 team.
I think it’s going to be a very fun Chase, at least I hope it is. It better be crazy at New Hampshire next weekend.
Some things of interest:
– Athena Barber, Clint Bowyer’s ex-girlfriend, has joined 3 Wide Life as a correspondent and contributor for the nationally syndicated motorsports focused television show. “This is really exciting,” said Barber. “3 Wide Life focuses on the core of racing and I could not be happier to be a part of it. Racing is my life, and this gives me the opportunity to be around something that I love. Plus I get to share it with the fans and racers across the country.” In her first episode she interviews Robby Gordon. Check your local listings for show air dates.
– For the first time ever Infineon Raceway will host the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Father’s Day. Recently some of NASCAR’s Chevy drivers shared their thoughts on Father’s Day and what their dads have meant to them:
“Racing is a family sport and it’s been very good to our family. My dad has been the biggest part of it since Day One when I was racing in motocross when I was four or five years old. He was the one who kept it all together. He instilled in me that hard work pays off and that you get out of it what you put in it, and that holds true for just about anything you do.”
- Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
“When you’re young, you take for granted all the things your father does. But, when you are a father, you think, ‘Wow, you do a lot.’ You have to really understand what being a father is all about to understand what Father’s Day really means. I don’t like being away from my kids on Father’s Day, but this is what I do, and they’ll take care of me some other weekend.”
- Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet
“Being a father makes me really appreciate my father that much more. … I also get to have some fun because I’ve got my daughter and my wife making Father’s Day cards and stuff. It’s cool and it’s only going to get better.”
- Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
“Hopefully (Father’s Day in Sonoma) it will inspire me to go out and win and wish my dad a happy Father’s Day from Victory Lane. My parents sacrificed everything to get me and my brother our starts, and racing has been a big part of my family.”
- Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet
“(My best Father’s Day racing memory) would have to be the Michigan race. We won the race in 2004 on Father’s Day weekend and I told him on the radio, ‘There’s your Father’s Day present,’ and he said, ‘That’s all I wanted.’”
- Ryan Newman, No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army Chevrolet
“(My father, Nelson) never pressured me to be the best racecar driver in the world, but he did want me to be the best racecar driver that I could be. He never compared me to anybody else. He expected that what I could do was what I could do. He never said that because this guy over here could do something, that I should be able to do it, too. He pushed me hard, but he was fair about it. That’s probably why you see so much fire in me today, because he always wanted me to be the best that I could be.”
- Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet
“My dad means a lot to me and he’s really done a lot for me over the years and really stuck behind me and what I’ve been trying to do in racing. He’s had a long career in racing himself, and he understands how difficult it can be and how fun it is when things go well. It’s so nice to having him at the racetrack, and I look forward to having him at the track on Father’s Day.”
– Casey Mears, No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet
There’s still time to enter to win a Talladega Pepsi Throwback prize pack. Enter now! Contest ends Friday, June 19th, 2009.
The NASCAR All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway is tonight and I am prepared for the occasion because I bought Creamsicles. What does ice cream have to do with the All-Star race you ask? Absolutely nothing. I just like sweet stuff.
I should like AJ Allmendinger more than I do because he’s a local guy, well to me. Both he and Scott Speed grew up here in the Bay Area, and yet I’m not that intrigued by either of them. What’s wrong with me? I’m not saying that I dislike them; I just don’t feel “it” for them yet. I know that probably makes absolutely no sense but I don’t know another way to describe it.
I bring this up because it seems like everybody is voting for AJ to make it into the All-Star Race on the fan vote. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Until then, check out these photos from the All-Star week that was:
In the shadows of the Charlotte skyline, NASCAR fans gather for NASCAR Rev’d Up in Uptown Charlotte to kick off NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race week on Wednesday. (Photo Credit: Chris Keane/Getty Images for Sprint)
O.A.R. thanks for the fans for coming out Wednesday in Uptown Charlotte for NASCAR Rev’d Up, kicking off NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race week. (Photo Credit: Chris Keane/Getty Images for Sprint)
Sprint welcomes NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Casey Mears to the stage Wednesday in Uptown Charlotte at NASCAR Rev’d Up, kicking off NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race week. (Photo Credit: Chris Keane/Getty Images for Sprint)
Everfine/Atlantic recording group O.A.R. learn how to perform a pit stop from the defending champions of the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Presented by Craftsman, the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota team, on Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip celebrate winning the Media Pit Crew Challenge after pushing their car across the finish line Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The winning Media Pit Crew Challenge team celebrates its victory on Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. (Top, left to right) SPEED’s Rick Allen, FOX’s Tony George, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brian Vickers, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio’s Claire B. Lang, SPEED’s Phil Parsons, Lugnut, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Michael Waltrip and Miss Sprint Cup Monica Palumbo; (Bottom left to right) O.A.R. drummer Chris Culos and SPEED’s Ray Dunlap. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Left to right) The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Caterpillar team defeats the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Air Force team in the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Presented by Craftsman Final Thursday at Time Warner Cable in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Caterpillar team, including Jeff Burton’s wife, Kim (right), who drove the car, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Presented by Craftsman Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. at the Time Warner Cable Arena. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Some things you should know:
– Clint Bowyer will appear on the March 24th episode of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” Isn’t it interesting that the guy that is sponsored by Hamburger Helper is guest starring on a non-reality-reality weight-loss game show? I don’t remember HH being billed as the healthiest thing you could make for dinner.
– Carl Edwards was in New York this week to film a commercial for Claritin. During the shoot he was interviewed by Beth Stern (radio host Howard Stern’s wife) for a segment on the celebrity news TV show “Extra.” Is anyone else bored by the fact that Carl and other drivers are so boring when they talk about stuff like doing commercials? It should be fun right? But like really fun, not implied fun. It’s the same line over and over with them, “It’s really kind of fun.” Wow, definitely sounds like it. I guess I believe you? I dunno.
– Infineon Raceway gave $5,000 to the North Vallejo Little League on Thursday. Jerks broke into the league’s concessions and storage building and stole all of the uniforms, equipment and $600 worth of candy last week. The nutjobs also decided to break computers and trophies and ransack the building before leaving. Vallejo, where this burglary occurred, is the hometown of Jeff Gordon. The good news is that so far the league has received more than $13,000 from San Francisco Bay Area companies and organizations like the San Francisco Police Officers Associations and the Oakland A’s. “With these checks we really should be able to get back to business,” said the league’s President Tony Hodges. “I feel grateful. We are in a bankrupt city in a disadvantaged area. I appreciate everything that everyone has done for us to help these disadvantaged kids.”
– Jeff Burton made an appearance on the soap opera “General Hospital” and all I really want to know is if he asked them why no one ever says “Bye” before hanging up the phone. I mean, really, what’s up with that?
– Tony Stewart will be meeting fans and signing autographs as a part of the 5th Annual “Mark Martin Fan Appreciation Days” event in Batesville, Arkansas on Thursday, April 9th from 3 to 5pm CST. For more information go to http://www.markmartinfordmercury.com
– Some news for the IndyCar fans out there: Versus will air more than 130 hours of IndyCar Series coverage throughout the season with a minimum of seven hours each week the network airs a race, the most ever during a race week.
“IndyCar fans have been asking for significantly more coverage of the sport and with our new partnership with VERSUS we have responded to our fans in a way that we think they will love,” said Charlie Morgan, president and chief operating officer for IMS Productions. “With the new VERSUS schedule it will be a weekend of IndyCar programming with Qualifying coverage, expanded race day coverage, and race encores. With so many great drivers, teams and sponsors, the time is right for expanded programming.”
The network will air 12 live IndyCar Series events in 2009 beginning with live coverage of the season-opener from St. Petersburg on April 5. Each of VERSUS’ race telecasts will last a minimum of three hours and will include extended pre-race coverage. VERSUS will also air one-hour preview shows at 6 p.m. ET the day before each race which will feature qualification highlights and all of the relevant IndyCar Series stories of that weekend.
And since I’m on the topic of IndyCar I have this message to send out to all of you: If anyone is interested in paying for me to fly down to Long Beach for the 35th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach’s Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race drop me an email will ya? I would die for the chance to hang out with Keanu Reeves and Luke Wilson and give them the opportunity to realize that I am their future wife. So really you’d be doing them a favor as well.
I have some homework for you and I recommend that you do it right now. Not because it’ll enhance your life but mostly because it’s super fun!
I’ve been playing with the ESPN Results Simulator for the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship for the past 2 hours and I love it. You get to try out different race result scenarios for the upcoming race.
I immediately dropped Jimmie Johnson way in the back in the 43rd position and set it up so that Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards finished first, second and third at this weekend’s race in Atlanta. With that finish in place it would push Jimmie back to second, 4 points behind Jeff Burton. Hehe. I looove it. And get this, when the race is on this weekend you can go into Live Race Mode and see how your predictions stack up in real time. I know my little race simulation isn’t super plausible but it makes me happy and that’s all that matters.
One really funny thing about the simulator is that when I picked up Jimmie and placed him in 43rd he said, “You’re a really negative person aren’t you?”
In other news…
– To prove that I’m not a negative person and that I do actually like Jimmie in general I’m posting this video from ESPN The Magazine’s “For Love Or The Game” feature. Let’s find out who knows Jimmie better: his wife Chandra or his crew chief Chad Knaus.
I refuse to accept this Chase as it stands right now. No, no, no! This is lame people! Jimmie Johnson can’t walk away with the Championship. The other guys within mathematical distance of the lead need to step it up and make something happen. I was delighted to see Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton with positive and upbeat attitudes about the coming races. I hope they battle and fight and snatch the Sprint Cup out of Jimmie’s hands.
Think about it like this too, we’ve seen Jimmie’s wife Chandra all decked out for the Championship week in New York. That’s all fine and well and she’s got a great fashion sense but it’s about time another wife had the chance to show off. Kim Burton and Nicole Biffle totally deserve the opportunity.
Back to the racing: What good is having a teammate if you’re not going to use each other? I’m just saying, how hard is it to take a guy out for the sake of a co-worker?? Hmm??? Hehe. Do with that what you will. It’ll be so boring if nothing happens to Jimmie in the next 4 races.
In case you were wondering, the female comic book character on his helmet is saying “Did my boyfriend just punch me in the side of the head?”
Scott Speed improved from 32nd-quickest in the first practice session to 19-quickest in the final practice. Speed will be making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut Sunday in the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kasey Kahne signs autographs for fans following the final practice for the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Was I the only one who thought that Chad was going to pull Jimmie’s head off??
Crew chief Chad Knaus congratulates his driver Jimmie Johnson on winning the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsvile Speedway on Sunday, October 19, 2008 (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
Casey Mears, driver of the No. 5 Pop-Tarts/CARQUEST Chevrolet, started 23rd and finished sixth during Sunday’s 500-mile event at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Here he confers with his crew chief Alan Gustafson (far right). (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
Jeff Gordon (C), driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, stands on the grid with his wife Ingrid Vandebosch (R), and daughter Ella Sophia (L), prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 19, 2008 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Johnny Benson and his crew celebrate winning the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway. The win moved Benson into first place in the point standings ahead of Ron Hornaday Jr. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
It’s that time of year again for my list of the best NASCAR-related commercials:
5.) Kasey Kahne Can Dance (Allstate): I can’t help but feel a wee bit embarrassed for Kasey Kahne when I watch this commercial. Not because he can’t dance but just because it’s so funny and such a perfect next step in the Allstate girls’ saga.
4.) Jeff Burton on Teamwork (Holiday Inn): One line sums up how funny this commercial is: “How come you don’t have a mullet?”
3.) Team Tylenol Tackles Your Questions (Tylenol): If I’m being honest Kevin Harvick owns this spot and I love it. I have yet to get tired of his expression after Elliott Sadler looks at him like he’s crazy. Brilliant.
2.) The One With The Talking Bird (Napa): Once again Michael Waltrip is in on the joke regarding his racing performance as of late and makes one of the best commercials of the year with the help of a bird who never forgets.
1.) Taste Infringement (Coke Zero): I love this commercial for a couple reasons, like it has a bunch of drivers in it who all do a good job of acting and the Coke Zero guys have the best zingers, I especially love the one at the end with Tony Stewart. Ah, it’s a classic.
Waking up this morning and realizing that there will be no NASCAR on today is a little disconcerting. I hardly know what to do with myself. It’s kind of like that commercial about quitting smoking where it shows people not knowing how to do regular things, like put their clothes on or get in their car, ’cause they haven’t had a cigarette. I’m having trouble watching football without thinking the flag on the play means there’s debris on the field.
Anyway, last night’s race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway was just OK. Well, at least for me. In the beginning it was exciting because I was wondering what would happen if Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick got together on the track, but then that idea was tossed overboard when Carl’s car had ignition problems.
It seems lately that when I watch a race it’s only a matter of time before everybody on my I’d-Like-These-Drivers-To-Win-Please list slowly gets weeded out and runs into trouble. Ugh. So for their sake and mine I am throwing away the list and just watching without expectations.
That being said I am truly happy for Jeff Burton and the No. 31 AT&T team. I’m glad they won. I hope that their win signifies a change in The Chase — a change that brings more drama and a close finish for the Sprint Cup Championship. And by more drama I mean on the track, not in the garage. While it did tickle me to hear about the tussle between Carl and Kevin it’s not something I’d want to see every week, not like that.
I have to talk about Jessica Simpson and her rendition of the National Anthem. I like Jessica and I have all of her CDs — except this latest one — to prove it, but I don’t know why she seemed to be trying so hard last night. I think she’s constantly trying to prove that she has a great voice and in doing so she added all these weird and unnecessary runs in the song. And she missed words too. It’s “home of THE brave” not “Home of brave.”
Photos after the jump!
Last week the top 12 drivers in The Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship were in New York City for Chase Media Day. For the drivers it meant making television appearances and conducting a bunch of interviews with various media outlets.
All twelve drivers appeared on The David Letterman Show to run down Dave’s “Top Ten List”, or in this case, a top-twelve list:
Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson hung out on The Early Show with host Harry Smith:
Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards went on Tony Stewart’s show on Sirius Satellite Radio and they addressed their “rivalry.” There’s a clip of them discussing exactly that over on Tony’s page at Sirius.com. Look for the section on the right-hand side with the “Sounds of the Show” heading.
And now for the photos, I’d like to point out Dale Earnhardt Jr. and how much I loved his sweater/button-up combo. That’s a very good look for him. In fact all of the guys looked really good, kudos to them and anyone that helped them pick out their outfits.
So now we finally know who the top 12 drivers are to make it into The Chase for the Championship this year. I’m glad The Chase to The Chase is over and I can now chew my fingernails down to the nub hoping and praying that something horrible doesn’t happen to my favorite drivers, which is basically everyone except Kyle Busch. hehe. I’m kidding!
The 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field poses with the Sprint Cup trophy after the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The drivers are (Back row L-R) Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton (Front row L-R) Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers celebrate their Chase berths after the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
On Saturday on my drive into the track from my sister’s house in Encino, I stopped by a Jamba Juice in Upland and bought a sixteen ounce Razzmatazz. I also decided to put the top down my on my car. It was 90-something degrees outside but I was wearing a hat and if you can’t put your top down when it’s hot what’s the point?
The day was about getting photos of anything and everything. During the Nationwide Series qualifying session I stood in the garage and watched as the top qualifiers came in and were interviewed by the crew from the SPEED channel.
After that I wandered the garage and spied Dancing with the Stars professional dancer Cheryl Burke with her new partner, Olympic sprinter and gold medalist Maurice Greene shooting some sort of video thing next to the pace car. Cheryl got to wave the green flag for the Camping World RV Service 300 presented by Coleman later that evening.
I made sure to keep close to the conference room in the middle of the garage where they hold all of the driver’s meetings and major press conferences. The Nationwide Series drivers meeting was set to start and I wanted to be in a good position to try and get good photos, but for some reason I got nothing of people going in, and then when they came out everybody was grouped together and they rushed out, so I didn’t get much.
One cool thing that happened was just a little bit later when the Cup Series guys got ready to go out for their final practice session of the day. Cars started to pull out from the far side of the Cup garage and made a long line out to pit road. They were all stopped and a second line formed right in front of me starting with Jeff Burton. He was so close that I could have easily walked up and touched the car and then poked my head in beside the window flap. Of course I didn’t, but there were photographers that did. They pushed their lenses right on inside the car to get close up shots of the drivers. I wondered what that must be like to have people basically shoving their cameras in your face to get a shot, right when you’re about to go out on the track.
But moving on, while I’m standing there Carl Edwards drives his car up behind Burton and rolls to a stop, and then starts to roll again and bumps into the back of Burton. I took a photo before Carl backed up. I’m assuming he meant to do that. They must like each other right?
So I’m standing there taking a couple photos and I’m like, I dunno, five feet away from his car and Carl waves at me. So I waved back, smiled, laughed and said “Hiii!” It was too funny.
After the Cup practice was the Nationwide Series race and oh how I love a Nationwide Series race. I love the fact that there’s way less security and structure to the driver intros, at least behind the stage, you get way better photos and experiences because of it. I got some great photos of drivers looking right at me as I took their photo, like the one below of David Ragan.
Okay, so I have to put in one more “Awww, Carl” story. There were these two teenage girls who kept calling to Carl to come over and sign their stuff. He eventually came over, talked to them and signed whatever it was they had. To hear their reaction was so cute, they were all “We got Carl! We got Carl! Omigosh!” I love that.
Nothing too noteworthy happened after all of that. I think some dude named Kyle Busch went on to win the race, but I’m not sure.
Dancing with the Stars professional dancer Cheryl Burke and her new partner gold medalist Maurice Greene hang out before the start of the Nationwide Series race on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
David Gilliland chats with his crew after qualifying for the Nationwide Series race on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Look closely and you can see his eyes peeking out through the window net!
Carl Edwards sits in his car, waiting to start practice on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Stanton Barrett signs an autograph for a fan before driver introductions on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
David Ragan (center) chats with Carl Edwards (right) and Joey Logano (left) before driver introductions for the Nationwide Series race on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
The NASCAR experience started on Thursday. I was driving through the city I live in — Concord, California — with a friend of mine on our way to get Starbucks. There were haulers for Juan Pablo Montoya’s team at a Holiday Inn down one street and haulers for Michael Waltrip at the Crown Plaza Hotel down another. It’s really not that interesting but it gave me that extra kick of excitement about this weekend. NASCAR really was coming!
When I got to the track on Friday the temperature was in the 80s. It was definitely warm, hot even but not unbearable. That changed of course as the temps hit 107 at the end of the day when I left. Yes, I left at like 5-o-clock whilst qualifying was still going on but I have very good reasons. For one, I was literally melting, even in the shade. Second, and most important, my camera/video camera’s battery died and I didn’t have my charger with me. And third it was friggin’ hot! Since you have to wear pants in the garage area you’re totally screwed when it’s hot outside. So there I am in jeans so jealous of the fans in the paddock area behind the grandstands ’cause they’re in dresses and shorts.
Ok, so on to the good stuff. The top-12 drivers were available to the media outside of their haulers at various times before and after qualifying practice. There was only ONE driver that I wanted to see the most and that was, of course, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale’s media meet-up was scheduled for 2pm, the first one after the practice session. Before the practice session, I went saw Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, and Kevin Harvick. While watching Clint answer questions I decided to try out my video skills. To be sure, they haven’t changed much from my experiment at the testing sessions last week (as evidenced in my earlier post). Anyway, I taped Kasey, Clint and Kevin, with various levels of pretty good sound.
It amazes me that anyone can hear anyone when those cars are grumbling in the garage. This was the first time I had ever attended one of the top-12 media press sessions before. So I wasn’t sure what to expect. The writers gather around the hauler doors before the scheduled time. It’s obvious that the majority of people know each other, which is incredibly intimidating to me since I’m the newbie. The PR reps are the gatekeepers and they’re not taking any crap from anyone. Kasey Kahne’s rep totally laid the smack down on some photographer who asked if he could get an autograph from him. It’s forbidden for media to ask the drivers for autographs, not to mention stupid. Why would you need an autograph when you’re there? I mean look at where you are!
OK, so picture it… You’re me and your computer is Clint Bowyer. That’s how close I was to him. I could have asked a question but I didn’t. For one, I had nothing prepared and two the questions I would want to ask would have nothing to do with the race this weekend.
Oh! I should say that I was given a cold garage pass. I wasn’t super worried about that, as I’ve found in the past that having a cold pass isn’t the worst thing in the world and I could still access a lot of things. So I wasn’t worried. Well not until practice began and the garage went hot. Dale Jr.’s press conference was the first one after practice ended and I was afraid they wouldn’t turn off the “hot” lights until it was too late.
And that’s exactly what happened. I wasn’t able to get back into the garage until after his session was over. I was so frustrated. I couldn’t believe it, out of all of the drivers, he’s the one I was looking forward to hearing from the most and then I couldn’t get in.
My consolation prize was seeing him walk past me as I sat on the ground outside the media center. He had just excited the men’s bathroom and quickly made his way through the fans that were looking for his signature.
One thing about the media center bathrooms, that is the place to be if you want to catch a driver. Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Jack Roush and Carl Edwards all made stops at the men’s room and really that’s the only time I have ever wished I was a guy. Haha.
This photo is kinda eerie ’cause it seems like Kyle Busch is looking right at me, as if to say “What the hell are you doing?” Frrrreeaaaky.
Kasey Kahne speaks with the media at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
I looked down and happened to notice how cool Kasey’s shoes were, so I snapped a photo. I figured the Kasey Kahne fans out there would appreciate this.
Kevin Harvick speaks with the media at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Clint Bowyer speaks with the media at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
As the NASCAR race weekend in Sonoma draws closer I’m getting more and more excited. It helps that on Tuesday Cup drivers David Ragan, Travis Kvapil, J.J. Yeley and Sam Hornish Jr. (along with Nationwide Series driver Marcos Ambrose) will be rolling into town to test at Infineon. The testing session (from 8:30am to 4:30pm) is open to the public, free of charge and yeah, I’m so there. Did I even need to say that?
NASCAR has been coming to the San Francisco Bay Area for twenty years now and some of the drivers expressed their thoughts on the road course:
“They have kept up with the times, as well as brought a tremendous amount of diversity to the sport. One of the things that Sonoma has done is bring a different culture, a different type of race fan, which I think is really cool. The racetrack is so unique. It’s very different, the racetrack itself is different. The grounds are different. The location is incredible.”
–Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet
“The track is definitely sentimental to me in terms of spring-boarding my career. Some of the big owners saw me win that (Southwest Series) race, and I was on ESPN that day, and in 1999 they had just changed the track configuration to use the Chute, so a lot of the big teams were watching that day. It was very exciting. We had a great Southwest Series team and ran for the championship that year and Infineon Raceway really put us on the map.”
–Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge
“What’s so special about Infineon Raceway is that it’s so difficult. I grew up racing on a three-eighth mile dirt track in Missouri. To come to a twisting, turning, uphill, downhill road course where you’re shifting gears in a 3,400-pound stock car, against guys like Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and Boris Said is a very, very tough thing. To be able to come here and win a race, I think for any driver, and I know for me would be one of the most satisfying wins in all of NASCAR.”
– Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford
“I was born in Vallejo, right down the road from Sonoma. So to be able to come out and see my family and friends, who I don’t get to see very often, and then we were able to win fairly early in my career out there, which is a lot of fun winning on the road course. And we’ve had a lot of wins since then. To go the last couple of years and have some exciting news and excitement in my personal life, which has all coincided with that race, has been very exciting. And now it gives us something to celebrate every time we come out there. This year we’ll be celebrating Ella’s first birthday when we come out there, so that will be fun.”
– Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
“Infineon Raceway is one race on the schedule that I absolutely love and look forward to coming and running. I mean, I like running the road courses, and we’ve had success out there. We ran really, really well. The people at the racetrack are always great. It’s an awesome crowd that’s very energetic and loves to see the Cup Series run there and it’s a track that I really have a lot of fun driving on so I always look forward to going there.”
– Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota
In other news…
– Did ya hear the news about Casey Mears?? He’s going to be dad! His girlfriend is pregnant with his first child. This tidbit of information was dropped in an article from the AP but Answer This has a little bit more detail. Congrats Casey!
— Clint Bowyer spoke with the media here in the Bay Area today in anticipation of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. When asked if, in this sport, it was important for fans to have someone to dislike Clint had this to say:
“It’s the same way with racing in general or any kind of sport. Everybody loves the winner until they win too much, and then they don’t like them anymore. The guys who have been very successful have seen both sides. Jeff Gordon, you either love him or hate him, but bottom line you respect him. There’s a big difference between a guy like Jeff Gordon and a guy like Kyle Busch. Kyle Busch is winning races and he’s on top, but there’s not that love-hate relationship. I think it has nothing to do with his performance on the track. People don’t respect him because of the things he does when he gets out of the race car.”
And then when asked if it’s easy for fans to find someone to boo Clint said this:
“I think it’s pretty easy. That’s what makes this sport what it is — the personalities. That’s what separates this sport from other sports is that you’re able to get so much closer to these personalities. There are a lot fewer people in this sport, there are only 43, whereas football and baseball there are hundreds. You see a lot more of the personalities of the drivers in this sport. I think it’s a good thing about our sport that it’s so fan friendly and they can get that close to the action.”
And I believe that he’s totally right on both points.
:: This is part four in a series of four posts (to see all of the posts on one page, click here) ::
Me: I know you have that history with Dale Earnhardt, and I know covering his death must have been horrible. I know in the book you wrote that his death changed you in a lot of ways, so how did it change you exactly? And how did it change the way you cover the sport? Did it change the way you cover the sport?
Liz: Oh, that’s hard. Let me first say, I’m certainly I’m not remotely unique. I think I speak for honestly millions of people when I say his death changed me and affected me. I don’t at all pretend to say my loss or my grief was any greater than other fans or certainly his own crew and own family. But, ya know, there was no personality quite like him and the circumstance, just the notion that he could have been killed was impossible to accept. To your question itself, I just was inconsolably sad and it wasn’t just when I went to the race track that I felt the loss. I just felt like the most charismatic, complex, fun, entertaining person had been taken away. Whether I covered a race and he spoke to me or not or he made some joke aside, or if I just saw him from across the garage, I mean, everybody watched that black car, everybody watched him when he got in the car. Ya know and he made you feel differently about yourself, he really did and I think every driver would tell you that. I mean he’d aggravate you or compliment you. I think sometimes when he ran you really hard that was his way of complimenting you.
There was one time they had built the track in Dallas, that awful first year of that race, and I was working for the Dallas Morning News and I was taking one of our metro columnists for a walk around the garage. He had never been to a race and I was trying to explain, ya know here’s the order that they park the cars and here’s what this means, be really careful ‘cause they’ll come in with their engines off and you won’t hear ‘em, ya know a lot of basics when you’re sort of showing somebody around. Earnhardt came around the corner in the car; he was in a practice session so they were in and out and in and out. And he whipped his car, hand to God, about two inches from my foot. Swung it right toward me, the guy next to me almost fainted. And I said, “Oh, he’s just saying hello.” And he was grinning and that was totally him. I’m not sure I talked to Dale that day but that’s the kind of stuff he would do. He’d do stuff like that to Schrader, Mark Martin. It was just his little way. It’s an aside, but the notion that he was gone; it was just a hole of blackness. This profound hole, it was like the sun was gone. It was just something so integral to way you saw the world was gone. I still feel that way, I still feel that way. I know Rusty Wallace feels that way, we’ve talked about it. It’s not something people talk about in racing too much. But I don’t think seven years has lessened it at all.
Me: Why do you think NASCAR was so slow, I guess is the word, to put in those mandatory safety features until after Dale Earnhardt’s death, especially the HANS device, especially after all of those incidents?
Liz: That’s really a shameful chapter in NASCAR’s history, and of course it’s easy to say in hindsight. From the day NASCAR started it was very clear that drivers were independent contractors. And what NASCAR meant by that is if you’re hurt we don’t owe you disability. You don’t work for us; you’re your own boss. And you can come play in our sport but we’re not responsible for you, we have no liability for you and it was a really smart posture to take. And they really, I think for business reasons, wanted to hold on to that as long as they could. Therefore, ya know, with every rule you make about how you stay safe, if something goes wrong with that then you’re technically liable. I mean, on the HANS device I can sort of empathize with NASCAR’s choice to not make that mandatory because there were several drivers who felt very, very strongly that it would keep them from being able to get out of a burning car. And the prospect of being trapped in a burning car understandably is the worst scenario for a race car driver and the fuel cell solved a lot of that. But still drivers would say flat out if it’s a choice of breaking my neck and burning up I want to break my neck. There were drivers who didn’t want to do it and made clear they wouldn’t want to do it. Earnhardt would have been chief among them. He wouldn’t even wear a closed face helmet, again not because he was being a tough guy, but he really thought peripheral vision was his best safety device. And he felt a closed-face helmet limited his peripheral vision. So he had very personal, very strongly felt views about his safety and that that’s what kept him safe. A lot of drivers felt the HANS device was not a deal they wanted.
There’s also a tradition in all forms of racing that every fatal accident is a freak accident. That there’s nothing to be learned from it in terms of the race car or the track or the rules of the sport, whether that’s racing back to the caution. It doesn’t really warrant further study because it was a freak deal; it’s not going to happen again. It was only because this part on the car failed, or the weird convergence of events, it’s just a way of rationalizing it away and therefore no drivers or driver’s family really have to wonder “is this safe?” It’s sort of a way of coping and a way of doing business and those were really entrenched that you don’t make wholesale changes after one guy dies and then another guy dies and then Earnhardt was the fourth in 11 months, I’m pretty sure.
Me: So do you think the whole idea of a drivers association, kind of like the NBA has and the NFL has, could ever happen in NASCAR?
Liz: I don’t think it will ever happen in NASCAR and I regret that. I think there’s a lot of use for the drivers on certain occasions speaking as one, having a representative. And they’ll tell you that that happens now that it’s ad hoc. They go in and speak to Mike Helton and Robin on matters of concern and I know that does happen. But I just like level playing fields and in NASCAR for all the bravery the drivers have, they’re not represented in the decision making, to me, to the extent they should be. I would love to see a drivers association with somebody like Jeff Burton be the head of it for the first couple years. He’s just so well spoken and reasoned and really smart about what’s in NASCAR’s interest, what’s in the driver’s interest, he’s not emotional. And I know there are other guys, I mean, Mark Martin would be perfect for that. It’s really only rarely have drivers sought that. It’s been a long time, it’s been seven years since I’ve even heard it discussed.
Oh. My. God.
I cannot believe it. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was leading on the last lap of the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway today but got wrecked, along with Jimmie Johnson, because of Brian Vickers. Vickers ended up winning the race.
I am so mad. I can’t believe that nut job wrecked his own teammate! What was he thinking??? Oh I know what he was thinking; he was thinking he would get his first win by being an impatient little punk.
I’m sorry; Brian Vickers has officially added his name to my crap list. Junior led the most laps of the race, he dominated, and his car was obviously the best. He even came back from being a lap down!! This is so incredibly not fair. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m crazy because I was screaming at the TV, cursing up a storm.
The last lap people! There was less than a lap left! UGH!!! It just hurts in points the most. Had Junior finished first, and because Jeff Burton was way back in the field, he would of gained three spots in the Championship and only been 26 points behind with 7 races left to go.
I’m not sure where he’ll end up now, as I type NASCAR is still figuring out the official race results.
Vickers was booed by the Talladega fans, as is customary when you ruin a perfect day for the most popular driver of NASCAR. Of course he said he was sorry to Jimmie Johnson, his teammate until the end of the season, but he didn’t say sorry to Junior! He actually insinuated that it was Junior’s fault that he got hit. Are you kidding me??
Yea, I’m just kinda mad.
– I heard about the fight between drivers Michael Simko and Don St. Denis during Sunday’s Glass City 200 ARCA Late Model race at Toledo Speedway in Ohio yesterday. So of course I had to find video of it and thanks to YouTube I was able to view the glory that is the best racing-related fight this year. This beats Jeff Gordon shoving Matt Kenseth hands down. Enjoy!
If you can’t see the video click here.
– It’s about time Jeff Burton won a race. I was so incredibly happy for him. Seeing his wife Kim’s reaction during the final laps really shows you how much winning really means to the drivers, the team and their families. It’s not just about money. Well I’m sure that’s in there somewhere, but really it’s about wanting to prove that you can win and that you’re still worthy of being at this level of competition.
Since Burton won the race on Sunday he went from fifth to first in the Chase standings. With 8 races left it’s still — almost — anybody’s game.
– What was up with Brooke Hogan’s outfit at Dover on Sunday? She was there to sing the national anthem, and her father, Hulk Hogan, was there to give the drivers the go ahead to start their engines. Apparently Brooke can’t go anywhere without the Hulkster in tow. But I digress. Her dress was a bad choice. This wasn’t the… the… Wait, I can’t think of anywhere that dress woulda been appropriate. No, wait, if she was singing the national anthem at the Championship dinner in New York at night it woulda totally worked, but not so much in the morning at a dirty, grimy race track. I just thought it was a bit much. (photo credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
– The winner of the InsideBayArea.com/The Fast and the Fabulous 200 at the simulated Indianapolis Motor Speedway last night was Bob Bryant . Congratulations to Bob! For more details on the race click here.