Before I get into Saturday at Fontana, I want to thank you for your well wishes. I’m totally fine and have removed a lot of stuff from my plate. It’s a lot easier to breathe now.
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Maybe it’s because I watched Scream 4 (there was A LOT of stabbing going on in that movie) over the weekend that the old song by the O’Jays, “Back Stabber,” comes to mind when I think about yesterday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega.
I’m not saying that guys were being back stabbers on purpose, I just think that this whole two-car tandem racing thing puts them in that position. At some point you have to be selfish, or team-ish, or manufacturer-ish, and it’s not that enjoyable to watch. Clearly in racing you have to go for yours, and not worry about anyone else, but because of two-car craziness it puts people in awkward situations that they wouldn’t normally have to think about.
I don’t like what Talladega has become, it’s kind of boring and since we all know the drivers don’t like it, it makes it less fun. It’s just something they have to get through. It’s not really racing, it’s elementary school all over again trying to find someone who likes you enough to play with you. While strategy obviously plays an important role in every NASCAR race, the strategy that comes into play at Talladega becomes an annoyance.
That being said, I was happy for Clint Bowyer and Richard Childress Racing. And it was extra special because RCR scored their 100th win.
Anywhoo, can’t wait for Martinsville!
Saturday morning, with my iPod blasting The Civil Wars (don’t get me started, their song “To Whom It May Concern” perfectly explains the state of my love life right now), I headed to the track. Well, I should say that I was headed to Starbucks. Now here’s the weird thing about that area around Kansas Speedway which has everything from a full on mall to Target, Hooters, a movie theater, Chipotle, Red Lobster, the LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, a baseball field, and a bunch of other restaurants — there’s no standalone Starbucks. The only Starbucks is tucked inside Target and we all know that the Starbucks inside of any other store is not a REAL Starbucks. If I can’t use my Starbucks card there it’s not a real Starbucks.
Saturday in Fontana started out with Nationwide Series qualifying. Heather and I hung out in the media bull pen area and watched as the cars came through. It was pretty routine so this is a good time to talk about the children I saw in the garage that weekend. There were TONS of them. The new NASCAR rule allowing kids in the garage has made a big impact because I’ve never seen so many little boys and girls getting photos and autographs.
Overall I think Talladega went down pretty much the same way it would have gone down had NASCAR not instituted the new rules, smaller restrictor plate and no bumping in the turns. Those guys were going to hold off until the end and then crap was going to hit the fan in the final laps. Because really, at Talladega if you’re 35th you’re still in it, it’s all about being there in the end and getting in a good line up to the front.
I wasn’t mad about the whole no touching each other in the corners rule because of the rule itself, but more anxious about the enforcement of that rule. As it is, Talladega is a race that I love but one that also makes me crazy with anxiety because I’m hoping that my driver doesn’t get caught up in the “big one.” I hold my breath during Talladega because you just never know.
So then you add in the fact that my driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., could get caught on some lame rule NASCAR cooked up an hour before the race starts, you’re just tacking on another layer of panic for me to deal with for the ENTIRE race.
For some reason it has been so hard to write this post today. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what I want to say about yesterday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen.
I was confused by Tony Eury Jr.’s decision to leave Dale Earnhardt Jr. out on the track long after everyone else had already pitted. And then I was even more confused when I watched NASCAR Now hours after the race ended to find Dale Jr. sitting down giving an interview looking all worn out and sounding all lame and weary. I can’t even wrap my brain around all that right now. All I know is that I hope they get stuff figured out before Michigan.
And as if watching Dale Jr. lose two spots in the points standings and having to suffer through another Kyle Busch win wasn’t enough, there was the big wreck to process.
Here’s how I feel about the big wreck:
1.) I’m glad Bobby Labonte seems to be ok; they took him to a local hospital where he was checked and then released.
2.) In the post-wreck interview David Gilliland had with ESPN’s Marty Smith he made it seem like he felt that it was Michael McDowell’s fault and from what I saw of the video that’s what it looked like to me. McDowell said that he didn’t see Gilliland. So there ya go. This doesn’t do much for McDowell’s reputation. He’s a rookie and hopefully he’ll be able to keep himself out of trouble in the future.
NASCAR is one of those sports where if you make a mistake it has the potential to hurt other people who had nothing to do with it at all, in a way that is so different from any other team sport. For example, if you’re in a relay team and you’re the weakest leg of the team, your team might lose because of you, but at least you didn’t take out 5 other teams in the process. But situations like that — everything that happened at Watkins Glen — are what make NASCAR races so dramatic and interesting to watch.
3.) So in the end the crash, and it’s subsequent red flag clean-up, sucked.
4.) Max Papis sounds a lot like The Count from Sesame Street. He seems like a really nice guy who just wanted to finish the race but I kept waiting for him to say “One! One crash!” I’m just sayin’. Oh and here’s a little trivia, yesterday after the race was over Papis was #6 on Google Trends — a daily list of the hottest search terms.
In other news…
– On the bright side for Gilliland fans, he gained one spot in the points standings. Mostly because Mark Martin wasn’t in yesterday’s race, but hey I’ll take it.
– Congratulations to Marcos “Kangaroo Meat” Ambrose and his first ever NASCAR win in the Nationwide Series on Saturday.
– Mike Wallace and his daughter Chrissy are heading to New York today tomorrow to ring the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange. I post this because Germain Racing is trying to build a full-time team for Chrissy so that she can run for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next year and they’re looking for sponsors. Check out GermainRacing.com
– Red Bull Racing driver Scott Speed won his fourth ARCA RE/MAX Series race this weekend at Nashville. He leads the points standings by 140 over Matt Carter. I wonder where Speed will be racing next year… hmmm
Marcos Ambros driver of the #59 STP Ford celebrates winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 at the Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2008 in Watkins Glen, NY. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet (L) greets grand marshal and former Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett prior to the NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 at the Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2008 in Watkins Glen, N.Y. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The #43 Cheerios Dodge driven by Bobby LaBonte sits on Pit road after a multi car incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Centurion Boats at the Glen at the Watkins Glen International on August 10, 2008 in Watkins Glen, NY. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
So I was listening to my Sirius Satellite radio this morning and I had it tuned to the NASCAR channel. They kept talking about how they had an exclusive story that was breaking and of course I was like “What the hell is it already???!!” Turns out it was just the Jack Roush vs. Toyota saga that’s been going on for some weeks now. After reading an old article online it doesn’t seem like much new has happened except that Roush is complaining about it louder today?? No, actually more details came out today about the piece that was stolen, how he found out about it and how he got it back.
Apparently Toyota stole a sway bar and Roush is calling it “intellectual espionage.” That sounds kinda sexy actually. They should make that into a movie starring Carl Edwards as Agent Double 9. I could totally see him seducing women (even though that has nothing to do with the story) and then fighting those evil sway bar stealers from Toyota.
You’d think if Roush was really mad about this he would just say which team it was. I seriously hope it’s not Michael Waltrip Racing. Please, oh please, don’t let it be them, they totally don’t need that hanging over their teams. Not after last year, eek.
In other news…
– Chrissy Wallace, the 19-year-old daughter of Mike Wallace, is attempting to qualify for the Kroger 250 at Martinsville that’s set for tomorrow. If she makes it in she’ll be the 9th woman to ever compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Her dad will serve as her spotter if she makes it in the field:
“Obviously, this is a big opportunity for me. I have to thank the Germains, Mike Hillman and Toyota for putting this deal together,” she said. “Our goal is to go out there and run a smart race and finish.”
Her father is happy to be going along for the ride.
“When I got the call from Chrissy after the test, It was very nice. She just wanted to tell me ‘thank you,’” said Wallace. “She said everything I told her on the radio made her run faster and she said she realized I really did know what I was talking about.
“She asked me to spot for her. I don’t even need to say it, I’m sure, but yes, I’m very proud.”
(photo credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
As the NASCAR season winds down I got to thinking about commercials. More specifically, which ones were my favorite and now, without further adieu, I give you my list of the top 5 2007 NASCAR commercials. From fifth to first:
5.) Dale Jr. & The Desert Mutants (Budweiser) — This is by far Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s best commercial acting job to date. He’s funny and I don’t know why he doesn’t give in and host Saturday Night Live, he couldn’t be worse than LeBron James was awhile ago. I’m just sayin’. View video below or click here.
4.) Toyota Pit Pass (Toyota) — It seems like every year NASCAR and those that cover it are trying to figure out more ways to get the fans close to the action. This Toyota commercial seems to take that idea to the extreme by allowing fans to ride along with their favorite drivers, or should I say hover above their favorite drivers, going 180 mph. It’s funny (sad?)because it seems like this could actually happen one day when NASCAR exhausts all other options for fan integration. View the video below or click here.
3.) Dale Jarrett & his dad Ned (UPS) — I like Dale Jarrett in general and the series of “Race The Truck” commercials have been great, but this is my hands down favorite from this year. Dale’s dad Ned makes a cameo in this UPS commercial posing as his son and hilarity ensues. View the video “Imposter” at UPSRacing.com
2.) Michael Waltrip’s Fan Letters (NAPA Auto Parts) — Michael Waltrip is such a character and I love him for it. I love this commercial because they were able to take their lemons and make some seriously funny lemonade! He hasn’t had the best season, that’s a huge understatement, and to have the ability to make fun of yourself in spite of that is awesome. View the video below or click here.
1.) Lauren Wallace (Geico) — My favorite line from this commercial is “I didn’t say I wouldn’t go fishing with the man.” Cracks me up every time. This ad is the best because of so many things but for the most part it’s the direction, which reminds me of a Wes Anderson movie (Check out The Royal Tenenbaums or Rushmore) and of course the star is Lauren himself. This kid should totally get his own show, I mean the Geico cavemen have their own sitcom, why not Lauren? View the video below or click here.
I have some serious homework to do this weekend. I feel like I’ve been neglecting this blog when there are a lot of things that I could be talking about. So this weekend I’m going to get caught up.
That being said, I still wanted to post something before the week was over. So here are some photos that I think are cute and cool.
This kid is just adorable!
Mike Wallace and Eric McClure pose for a photo with a young fan. (Photo Credit: Richmond International Raceway)
Read more about Cortney and her quest to meet Dale Jr. It’s great that she got the opportunity.
Cortney Wickard of Mt. Holly Springs, Pa., gets to visit with her favorite driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Friday afternoon at Richmond International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)