“Who’s That Girl?,” starring one of my heroes, Madonna, stuck in their brain. Louden was the uptight husband, that needed to loosen up, of the insanely rich chick in the movie that Madonna’s bad girl, Nikki, (but she’s really nice) character ends up with. Anyway, they said his name about a million times, so I guess it makes sense that I’d remember it. Loudon, New Hampshire is where New Hampshire Motor Speedway is located and it was the home of the 2nd race in the The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the Sylvania 300, on Sunday.
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Tony Stewart claimed the first win in The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup yesterday. I have to say that was a pretty satisfying race. I’m not going to lie I watched it from home and kind of dozed off halfway through it but the ending was great. I, mean, hello, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 4th. How can you not love that? Now the points standings are all jumbled up and it makes going to New Hampshire this week all the more thrilling. I feel like I’ve mentioned this a ton already (on Twitter for sure) but I’ll be at New Hampshire this week, I leave on Thursday, and I’m beyond excited. It’s so early on in The Chase and the Championship is still up on the air, I can’t wait to get there and see what happens next. Although, I’ve been checking the weather forecast and there’s supposed to be rain on Saturday but not on Sunday. So let’s hope it stays that way.
During the rain delay coverage on Sunday I left the house to do something and I was listening to Claire B. Lang on SiriusXM’s NASCAR channel. She mentioned how people had been asking her what was going to happen in The Chase, who was going to win, etc. I wondered why people do that? Like, what’s the point? Have you ever watched the Super Bowl and thought “I’m SO glad I knew that the Packers were going to win because Terry Bradshaw said so.” No one EVER thinks that. (I have no idea what Terry Bradshaw’s actual prediction was, it’s just an example) So why should I say that I think this person or that person is going to win? I’m not psychic and I don’t want to be. I like not knowing and watching it unfold. Of course there are people that I’d rather see win than other people but that’s a given. Maybe it’s just because I don’t like counting people out because people constantly count me out and I don’t like that.
In other news…
Regarding the Camping World Truck Series race:
– How do you feel about Austin Dillon’s new celebration practice of sliding on the infield grass? I’m not really a fan because it doesn’t look that fun. It looks like it kind of hurts.
– Actor/singer Tyrese Gibson’s performance of the National Anthem was WONDERFUL. It was subdued but totally on point. The fact that I’m mentioning it at all is saying something.
Regarding the Nationwide Series race:
– Uh, I got nothin’
Regarding the Sprint Cup Series race:
– I feel bad that the Geico Caveman had to wear all that makeup and stuff for a SECOND day just to give the command to start engines.
– Loved the exchange over the radio between Carl Edwards and his crew chief, Bob Osborne, when Carl said that the sun was coming out and Bob sang back to Carl “Here comes the sun!! bababa!” So funny.
Monday night Clint Bowyer was in one of my dreams. I have no idea why he would be but there he was confiding in me about his contract talks with Richard Childress Racing. I distinctly remember him being upset at not being able to seal the deal on a new contract and the number 4 was mentioned (don’t know what that means). I was telling him not to worry, that there were plenty of other teams that wanted him and would snap him up. I remember in the dream asking myself “Why are you telling him that?? You don’t know anything!” LOL
And then Tuesday morning there’s a report saying that Richard Petty Motorsports, who was reportedly interested in him if RCR wasn’t, is now reportedly NOT interested in him anymore. (That sentence alone is why silly season is so freakin’ silly). I remembered my dream and I felt bad that I gave the Clint Bowyer in my dream such bad advice.
I’m sure you guys have gone to sleep and had NASCAR drivers invade your dreams, please feel free to share what’s happened in yours so that I don’t feel like such a geek about mine (keep it PG!).
In other news…
– The top-12 drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, AKA The Chase drivers, were a bunch of busy little bees this week promoting themselves, NASCAR and The Chase for the Sprint Cup everywhere. I figured it was worthy of a photo spread. My favorites are the ones of Jimmie Johnson at the high school pep rally (Jimmie has to take that girl to the prom!) and Carl Edwards with the lobster (because he finally shaved off that goatee thingy, but now that it’s gone I kinda miss it).
And I’m not talking about on the track either. They might need to post security in the media centers for the next 10 races. A lot of interesting things happened Saturday night at the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway post-race press conference. Sounded like a good time full of ripped up paper, tension, verbal jabs that made no sense and the comedic talents of Matt Kenseth.
I guess Snookie has that kind of effect on people.
Anyway… The only thing I can/want to say about the media and it’s questions that always sound the same is to quote one of my favorite movies from the 80s, “Heartburn,” starring my one of the greatest actresses of all time Meryl Streep (I love her!) and Jack Nicholson (He’s great too!). The movie is about a couple who get married, have a baby and then the husband cheats and the wife loses all trust she had for the husband but tries to carry on in the relationship. During that portion of the movie Jack’s character says to Meryl’s character “You can’t take it’s temperature every five minutes.” He was referring to their relationship, us ladies always want to know where we stand in our relationships especially if things don’t feel “right.” (If you’ve ever had to ask a guy “where is this going??” it’s probably not going anywhere good) Anyway… I love that line and I think that it applies to the media when they keep asking drivers how they feel about making The Chase, being in The Chase, still being in The Chase, why are you in The Chase, what does it feel like to be in The Chase… it NEVER ends. They do the same thing with other storylines, whatever it is they will ask the same question in various formats every week until there is a resolution. But I say, you can’t take it’s temperature every five minutes, dude! Nothing’s changed and when it does change, ask a question then.
Moving on… Congratulations to Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team! It had to have felt great considering the announcement he and his wife DeLana made earlier in the week about shuttering the racing side of Kevin Harvick Inc.
Richmond was a great, caution-filled race and I can only hope that we get more awesome action like that in the next 10 races. I love this time of year right before the first race in The Chase when everything feels possible. I hope we get to hold on to that feeling for more than two races.
Jimmie Johnson (right), driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, signs a fan’s shoulder on pit road after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 19 in Brooklyn, Mich. (Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images for NASCAR)
So why is he retiring?
Patrick Carpentier of the No. 99 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota signs autographs for fans prior to the NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Aug. 20 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Credit: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
David Reutimann, driver of the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota, signs autographs on pit road after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 19 in Brooklyn, Mich. (Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Get this man a contract! Enough already!
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, climbs in his car in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 19 in Brooklyn, Mich. (Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (right), driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Amp Energy Chevrolet, signs autographs for fans after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 19 in Brooklyn, Mich. (Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images for NASCAR)
A fan takes a photo with Kasey Kahne (left), driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 20 in Brooklyn, Mich. (Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 21 in Brooklyn, Mich. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
How much did you LOVE the racing between Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch? And how much did you ADORE their post-race face-to-face (with respectful distance) argument? Probably not as much as me! It was brilliant and just added to an already excellent race finish. Why don’t they turn up the mics and let them hover close to those guys when they’re arguing like that? I know there’s potential for foul language, but can’t they just risk it? I was straining to try and hear something.
Congratulations to Brad Keselowski! Maybe everybody should get injured more often? I mean, he won the race with one properly working ankle and Denny Hamlin won races after his knee issues. Crazy, but very cool.
Did you see Carl Edwards‘ finish line crash with Ricky Stenhouse in Iowa during the Nationwide Series race? More craziness. Never seen anything like that before, but it seemed like a fitting end to a race that saw those two getting into each other and Ricky didn’t appreciate it at all. The two had history from ORP last week and now this new wrinkle. During the post-race coverage they showed Carl talking to Ricky’s crew chief, Mike Kelly. You could clearly hear Mike say to Carl “Well, you tell him that. He thinks you hate him.” Finally some actual truthful feelings. Whenever the guys talk on camera you don’t always feel like you’re getting to true thoughts, and this time we got some via Ricky’s crew chief.
– Take the 2011 ‘Fabulous’ Reader Survey and enter for your chance to win an awesome Goo Gone prize package. Contest & survey ends on August 10th, 2011. More info
– Help me raise money for My NASCAR Year 2012. More info
How excited are you that there’s going to be NASCAR Sprint Cup Series action this week? I, for one, am really happy about it, and it’s the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway no less. It throws my entire weekend off when there’s no race. I end up doing horrible things, like working.
I was going through various driver pre-race reports and found some quotes that I thought were funny or interesting enough to share (this doesn’t happen that often).
– Before I get to the pre-Brickyard stuff, I have to say something. So I got an email today from some PR person promoting a book about why men cheat. I have NO idea why I got this email because, while my audience is chock full of women, I don’t write about relationship stuff in that way. But still it got me thinking about something that’s been on my mind lately. The idea or “fantasy” of dating a racecar driver or crew member. I’m not going to lie, I’ve thought about it. Of course I have. I wouldn’t be human if I hadn’t, but I must say that it’s never been my GOAL. For groupies, it’s their one freaking goal. For me, it never was and now that I’ve been in the garage a lot and have heard many a story about crew guys, crew chiefs, drivers & team owners I can tell you that the “fantasy” has been thrown to the ground and stomped all over. If you’ve heard the crap I’ve heard you would make a rule that you would never want to even entertain the IDEA of dating one of those guys. Which is not to say that you can’t have a perfectly awesome committed relationship with a guy whose job revolves around racing. You totally can, but just be careful. And there are a lot of nice, stand-up guys in the garage too. I’m just saying. Any pro athlete that’s constantly traveling is ripe for shenanigans. Keep your eyes OPEN.
– In his pre-race report Jimmie Johnson was asked how he’d characterize the first half of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The last sentence of this made me chuckle:
“I would say parity is really the first thing that comes to mind. You can flip it around and maybe say the lack of a dominant team as well. There have been guys that can flex muscle at times, but no one consistently has just schooled everybody. It’s been very, very equal this year and unpredictable if you will. A lot of first time winners, which is great to have and no runaways right now. It’s been an exciting time for the fans I believe. Then also we’ve been acting like fools out there at times so that’s always spicing things up.”
– Kurt Busch is really excited about the interview he did with ESPN, which will air this weekend during the pre-race show for their first Sprint Cup Series race of the season:
“ESPN is starting their coverage very strong with a feature like this,” said Busch. “When he told me during the interview what his angle was and started asking all the questions, I said to myself, ‘Wow, now this is a really different way to look at this track and this race.’ When he brought out the prop to use at the end of the interview, I said, ‘Man, this guy really has his act together. This will be one of the best features on our sport for the season…maybe one of the best ever.” Be sure to watch ESPN’s coverage that begins at 12:00 noon EDT on Sunday.
– David Gilliland shared a nice story on his memories of his very first visit to the Brickyard with his father, Butch:
“I think just the history of the Brickyard is what makes it so special. I remember the first time I ever went to the track was with my dad in 1994 for the inaugural Sprint Cup race. My dad wasn’t racing, actually, but we went to try to help a friend of ours try to make the race. Just going through the museum, seeing the bricks on the start-finish line and just thinking about all of the history and everything that has happened at that track is cool. And to be able to do that with my father makes it even more special. He was racing a lot and I just loved being around it. Then, just to go to Indy with him, that is something I’ll never forget.
And at that time, for stock cars to be racing there was something unheard of. Growing up, I don’t think my father or I ever thought we were going to see that day. Growing up on the west coast, anywhere really, Indy was about Foyt, Unser and Andretti. And being west coast guys, the Unsers were big names. We really didn’t think names like Wallace or Earnhardt were ever going to be a part of Indy. Then, here we were working in the same garages as these guys. It’s cool, too, because I can bring my family and my son, Todd. We can have that same experience. Some people are giving this race a hard time, but this is still Indy and it’s always special.”
– Take the 2011 ‘Fabulous’ Reader Survey and enter for your chance to win an awesome Goo Gone prize package. Contest & survey ends on August 10th, 2011. More info
– Help me raise money for My NASCAR Year 2012. More info
It just so happens that I’ve either ran into or received a bunch of info about fashion & accessories that relate to racing, enough to warrant an entire post dedicated to the subject. So here ya go!
– When I was at Infineon Raceway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 last month I wandered around the area behind the grandstand where the majority of vendors had their wares on display. One such vendor was Harveys, the makers of “The Original Seatbeltbag™.” All of their products are made from real seatbelts that you find in your car.
Their display caught my attention because it was the ONLY one selling stuff specifically for women, and they had the cutest little Airstream trailer as their stockroom. So I asked if I could take some pictures of their big variety of bags. They’ve got something for every occasion, just check out their website. I especially loved the clutches and the tote bag made from recycled materials. But I really thought the black clutch wallet would be PERFECT for Champion’s Week in Las Vegas. You can carry a bunch of stuff in it and it’s just really well made. They’re pricey ($78 for the wallet and $228 for the Treecycle Carriage Satchel that could be my next laptop bag) but they’re going to last you for a REALLY long time. Plus Harvey’s offers a Bag Spa — just send them your worn down bag and they’ll make her look all special and fabulous again (there’s a small fee but it’s worth it).
– The creators — a husband & wife team from Florida — of Motor Munchkins emailed me last month about their line of racing inspired kids clothing. They’re just launched their website and they’ve got some really cute stuff. I especially love the “Look, Mom! No Hands!” and “I (heart) boobs & karting” (see below) shirts & onesies. Definitely check out their site and let them know what you think.
– Ever wonder how you could keep your favorite driver CLOSE to your heart? Ya know, without getting arrested? Well, Pit Pass Gifts creates custom NASCAR jewelry using actual remnants from the track. They’ve turned pieces of sheet metal from the cars of drivers like Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson to create unique necklaces. Check out the Pit Pass Gifts eBay site for more information.
What a letdown. The racing was boring and tons of fans couldn’t even get to the track to see the boring race.
Kentucky Speedway apologized today and announced a ticket exchange offer. Meanwhile other tracks have offered up rants and comments about the weekend’s traffic debacle giving Kentucky Speedway crap for not figuring out how to deal with the traffic issue ahead of time. Just check out what Michigan International Speedway president Roger Curtis wrote today.
Here’s the statement NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France released yesterday:
“While NASCAR was thrilled by the incredible response to our inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Kentucky, we also are extremely disappointed by the traffic problems and inconveniences endured by fans who wanted to be part of our races at Kentucky Speedway. NASCAR will be in close communications with Kentucky Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc. to see that they work to resolve the issues. This situation cannot happen again.”
And now Indianapolis Motor Speedway has created a special offer for fans that had tickets to Kentucky’s inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race:
Fans who present a ticket from the Kentucky Sprint Cup race at the IMS gate will receive one free admission to Brickyard 400 practice Friday, July 29 or will be admitted to Brickyard 400 qualifying Saturday, July 30 for just $5.
Fans holding tickets from the July 9 race at Kentucky also can park for free Friday and Saturday at IMS Lots 1, 2 and 3, conveniently located on the south, west and north sides of the iconic facility. The regular price is $10 per day to park in those lots.
“As an urban track, we offer a fan experience inside a vibrant city that provides restaurants, nightlife, cultural activities and top-rated hotels in addition to the history and tradition of 100 years of racing at Indianapolis,” said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and CEO. “We have easy, efficient access to and from the track that allows our fans to participate in activities at the track and, in just a matter of minutes, enjoy all that the city of Indianapolis has to offer or be well on the road toward home or the hotel.”
Congratulations to David Ragan and the No. 6 UPS team on winning the COKE ZERO 400 at Daytona! It’s been a long time coming! And if there was ever a driver that NEEDED to win right now it was David Ragan. I loved his post-race interview where the TNT reporter (can’t remember who it was, Matt Yocum?) tried EVERYTHING to try and get some sort emotional reaction from David and nothing happened. It was kind of anti-climactic. We love an emotional winner, and you’d think a first-timer would have brought something to the party.
Oh welly, David doesn’t need to cry for me to know that it means a lot. I’m happy for the guy.
Must talk about the sight of Andy Lally driving all by his lonesome during the race. Having a “partner” is the only way you’re going to do anything at Daytona these days and Andy didn’t have anybody for a while there. It brought me right back to junior high school P.E. class and dreading having to be picked for someone’s team (for some dumb activity that all the boys always took WAY too seriously). Ugh, it made me sad for him. I understand why guys didn’t want to work with him because they didn’t know what he was capable of, but still it was hard to watch. It’s the nature of the beast, though.
“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.
The image I created in my head of Richard Childress getting Kyle Busch in a headlock and beating him up far surpasses any actual image of the incident that you could show me (if one even exists). I can’t help but laugh at the whole thing. It’s just too much. Childress was fined $150,000 for the incident and put on probation by NASCAR. When they give fines I think they should be the same number as the person’s car number, so Childress should of been fined $180,000 for Kyle’s #18 truck. NASCAR should maintain a NASCAR theme at all times.
Ya know what’s annoying? Yesterday’s race was Brad Keselowski’s second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, his first with Penske, and the commentators didn’t bring that up until he crossed the finish line. I find that annoying because I would like that information up front–with laps to go–so that I can get all emotional and worried for the guy. They do it for Dale Earnhardt Jr. ALL the time. They’ve got that “Races since last win” graphic queued up, always ready to go.
I feel like we didn’t get to really appreciate the fullness of the moment for Brad because nobody talked about the significance of it all that much. Kinda lame.
While I certainly don’t dislike the Fox broadcast team, I am REALLY excited about TNT’s coverage because I’m looking for a change of pace. It’ll be good to get a different perspective, until we get another perspective when ESPN/ABC takes over later this year.
My only question right now is: Can it be time for Infineon’s race now?? Please! I’ll be there and I cannot wait for that race weekend. I know it’s going to be superfun, but let’s hope this ridiculously cold & rainy weather we’ve been having doesn’t last through that weekend. I’m ordering perfect weather; not too hot, not too cold, but just right.
Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya failed to bring what Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch delivered.
O. M. G.
The SHOWTIME® Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway was the greatest NASCAR race I have seen in quite some time. It was Ah-mazing!
First, congratulations to Regan Smith on winning his first Sprint Cup Series race (and congrats to Furniture Row Racing for winning their first race as an organization). He was emotional and his team was ridiculously happy. It was the perfect finish and I LOVED it. A first-time winner is the greatest thing. It was great to see him be congratulated by Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Brad Keselowski.
But of course before all of that you had the driver’s moms, as usual, giving the command to start engines. How adorable was Jimmie & Chandra Johnson’s baby daughter, Genevieve, clapping during the National Anthem? That was too cute.
Then there was the race with David Ragan peeling back Brian Vickers car like it was a can of sardines, poor Clint Bowyer crashing out, and the most amazing series of events with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
I think that Kevin Harvick should walk around with a speaker hanging out of his pocket playing the song “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty on a loop. It’s his theme song. He is no joke.
I know that fighting is frowned upon and all that but I loved it. When Kevin punched Kyle’s helmet/face and then Kyle pushed his car into his Kevin’s it was all TOO much for my brain to process. It was wonderful. I felt like a high school kid in the quad yelling “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
Does NASCAR really need to take action? I’m in a “Ah, whatever, let it gooo” kind of mood. They’re adults, they know what they did was wrong. Let’s not forget that sports are entertainment, they serve no other purpose than that (Yes, they can be inspiring and all that but still), and Saturday night’s race was PURE entertainment from beginning to end. So, NASCAR should send Harvick and Busch a “Thank You” card, some flowers & maybe some candy.
Here’s video of the last laps:
There was a point during the last 30 laps of the Aaron’s 499 where I told myself to just let go of whatever outcome I was hoping to see and just let it happen. Is it funny or sad that I get so wrapped up in these races that I need to tell myself something like that? I have absolutely nothing at stake but I still get so caught up in wanting a certain person, or persons, to win that I’ll stress myself out over it.
Anyway, I couldn’t believe Jimmie Johnson pulled off that win; I was sure it was going to go to one of the Richard Childress Racing guys. Clint Bowyer had been running up front all day and Kevin Harvick has been, well, winning.
When I saw Jimmie trying to give the checkered flag to Dale Earnhardt Jr. I knew Dale wasn’t going to want it. It was a really classy move by Jimmie, I must say. As much as I would have been ridiculously thrilled for Dale Jr. to have come away with the win I’m still insanely excited that he’s 3rd in points right now. That’s just fantastic. O! And another fantastic thing: Huge congrats to David Gilliland and the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford team for walking away with a 9th place finish!
Every week when the latest points standings are published I read through them and then create my own “fantasy” top-12, it’s the list of drivers that I think would make for a super entertaining Champion’s Week. So it’s not a “Who do you think WILL make The Chase?” list, it’s a “Who do you WANT to see in the Chase because you know they’ll be superfun to interview during Champion’s Week?” It’s really early to be thinking about Champion’s Week but I can’t help it, it’s my favorite time of the year.
My current list is as follows (in no particular order):
1.) Tony Stewart – He has to host his annual “Stewie Awards” from Vegas, it wouldn’t be the same with him.
2.) Clint Bowyer – He needs his own talk show to host during Champion’s Week. I’m just sayin’.
3.) Kasey Kahne – He’s adorable
4.) Dale Earnhardt Jr. – People will lose their minds
5.) Kevin Harvick – Another guy with personality
6.) Denny Hamlin – Denny adds a layer of honesty and he likes to instigate drama (or at least he did at last year’s After the Lap event)
7.) Brian Vickers – Because he had some good stories to tell about Jimmie Johnson, and I’m sure there has to be more right??
8.) Jimmie Johnson – I’m including Jimmie because he’s a good sport, not because I want him to win a 6th straight championship.
9.) Brad Keselowski – I think he’d have a ridiculously good time to Vegas and would be very entertaining at the various events.
10.) Jeff Gordon – Jeff has that honesty vibe too, and he’s also very chatty. Chatty & honest are two ingredients for good times.
11) AJ Allmendinger – He’s someone that can definitely bring a lot of comedy relief.
12) Kyle Busch – Another honest guy with a personality that lends itself perfectly to the Champion’s Week festivities. Plus he’s the hometown guy.
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.
Was the only thing that was interesting about the Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol the driver introductions that we didn’t even get to see? I would say “Yes.” They couldn’t show ONE of the driver’s walking into their song?? I know it costs money to get the rights to play the songs on air but Fox doesn’t have money for JUST ONE?!
I Tivo’d the pre-race show, as has become a new rule so that I can skip the crappy parts (80% of it), and I made sure I went through it TWICE to make sure I didn’t miss a moment where they might have shown an intro and I didn’t find anything. Instead, there was some thing with Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond and some diagram that looked like the board game “Operation” or something. I dunno, I was fast forwarding.
Anyway, Kyle Busch’s weekend sweep was impressive, of course. The deal that went down between Jennifer Jo Cobb and the owner of 2nd Chance Motorsports was far more interesting than anything either race had to offer. Jennifer Jo Cobb is all about racing, why would someone who has stated several times that her goal this year is contend for Rookie of the Year in the Nationwide Series ever want to “start & park”? I mean, c’mon, she’s all about racing. I sincerely wish her all the best and hope she can get something together that’ll help her reach her goal. What she did on Saturday took guts. It would have been way easier to just run the few laps and get out of the car, but she stood up for herself and I think that’s awesome. That’s a person I can root for!
Friday morning in Las Vegas started with me arriving at the track just in time to interview J.J. Yeley at his hauler. But I found out that he had been asked to drive the No. 27 car for Baker Curb Racing in the Nationwide Series race. So he was participating in their practice session and wouldn’t be available till later in the day (We did end up connecting later in the day and I got some great answers from him).
What would have made Jeff Gordon’s win at Phoenix better? Ella and Leo, of course! Sucked they weren’t in Victory Lane with their papa but the win itself was great. I always love seeing a driver get emotional after a win. I’m always looking for something real, and by that I mean just something genuine to remind me that these guys really love what it is that they do and that it means more to them than just fame and money.
To me it’s easier to see the lows and the highs in this sport, than it is in others. A basketball team might lose one night and then win on another, or maybe go 5 games without a win but eventually a win comes up in that same season. But in NASCAR these guys can go YEARS without a win. It just makes it so much sweeter when it happens.
I cannot wait to get to Las Vegas this week. I’m driving down there on Wednesday, it’s my first race of the season and it feels like I’m going to summer camp or something. On Thursday I’ll be at Tony Stewart’s autograph session at Office Depot (1435 West Craig Road, North Las Vegas) at 12:30pm. If you want to get something signed ya gotta get a wristband first (one per person), which they’re distributing to the first 600 people starting at 8am the day of the event. Then you have to get on line for the autograph sesh no later than 1:30pm. This is all local/Las Vegas time.
Before Tony signs stuff for fans I’m presenting him with the 2011 Hottest Driver Tourney “trophy” and I sincerely hope he likes it. I already have anxiety about that whole thing. I’m sure it’ll be fine, though.
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)