This past week was the Sprint Media Tour in Charlotte, which meant that the NASCAR media corps got to ask the same questions they always ask, hope someone gives an interesting answer (Tony Stewart stepped up), eat free food and get free stuff. So of course I’m annoyed I couldn’t go — because of the free food & swag, obviously — but what can you do.
All posts tagged Photos63 Posts
All I can say about Jimmie Johnson winning yesterday at Martinsville is this: No. Just, nooooo.
We’ve seen this movie before and I don’t want to see it again. We’ve seen the 4 sequels, too. I’m over it and I want to see something new.
I’m all apologies lately. I feel like I’m continually apologizing to you guys about being late and I hate that. I can say, with complete confidence, that I’m not going to be late anymore and I’ll be back on track posting stuff from here on out.
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.”
On Saturday I forgot my cell phone at home, and my camera’s battery died, like, 15 minutes after I arrived at Infineon Raceway.
It was really weird to not have my cell phone or camera on me all day. It was annoying that I couldn’t take any photos or tweet out updates on the fly. I realized that those devices also served as security blankets. They were these things that proved I had “something to do” while I was in the garage. I wasn’t just wandering. I had to take pictures and constantly check my phone for updates–that gave me purpose. So without a purpose I felt like a nerd, just standing around. And I was worried that without the photos that I usually snapped throughout the day I wouldn’t have anything to remind me of what happened.
I feel so incredibly late with this post, and I apologize for that. There’s something about Sunday that makes me really not want to do anything that I “should” do.
And to make matters worse I didn’t even write anything about the race at Martinsville. Ya know, the one where Dale Earnhardt Jr. made me mental. When he took the lead I muted the television and began yelling my TV screen. Of course it didn’t work because Kevin Harvick had to be all good and everything and win the race. Despite not making my life and winning that race I’m so incredibly PROUD of Mr. Dale Jr. because he’s in the Top 12 in points, which is just awesome all by itself. One last thing about Martinsville, Harvick shouldn’t have said anything about “being the bad guy.” He did what he was supposed to do–anything and everything he could to win that race. He’s not supposed to worry about the feelings of JR Nation. Just race, that’s all we ask.
Soo, on to this past weekend at Texas. Congratulations to Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 Crown Royal Black team! That was a great win and I’m always stoked for someone to win a race when it’s been a REEEEEALLLLLLY long time since they last had one.
Here’s one housekeeping note: I recently launched The Fast and the Fabulous mobile application. Now you can receive alerts and stuff on your cell phone, if it uses the Android operating system. Look for it in the Android Market on your cell phone. Just search for “The Fast and the Fabulous” or “NASCAR.” There’s a solution coming soon for iPhones so stay tuned for that.
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)
The IZOD IndyCar Championship was decided back in early October which wasn’t that long ago even though it feels like it’s been 50 years. I intended to post these photos from their Championship celebration in Miami but got sidetracked. The event was held the day after the final race of the season, taking place at the W Hotel in South Beach.
Better late than never, and really, who cares how long you had to wait to see photos of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Champion Dario Franchitti get thrown into a pool by Tony Kanaan? These pics hold up.
Will Power and his fiancee, Liz Cannon
Everyday, at least that’s what it feels like, I get press releases or newsy items about teams, sponsors, charities and drivers in the world of racing. I probably get around to posting like 10% of it. It’s not because it’s bad or uninteresting it’s just that I don’t have time to post ‘em all. So that’s why I created a new sub-section here for The Fast and the Fabulous called ‘Fabulous’ News. It’s where you, your friends and PR people can post any kind of newsy news and press releases for everyone to read.
This way you don’t have to wait for me to post ‘em. They still have to be approved before they’re shown on the site but they won’t go through my filter so it’s still a lot better than languishing in my email box.
Of course, if something piques my interest I’ll still highlight it here in the main area of The Fast and the Fabulous.
I am absolutely in love with the little drama between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Sign me up for more of that, please! I think that was my favorite part about yesterday’s racing double-header. As was Jimmie’s post-race comment about not wanting the issue between him and Jeff to be played out in the media. Good luck with that, Jimmie. I actually think Jimmie needs this, to be in a battle with someone, anyone, even a teammate. It’s far more interesting when someone’s pissed off at him. hehe.
I was very disappointed that Jeff didn’t get the chance to be in the race at the end, that wreck had to hurt and I’m not talking physically. Also, loved how Jeff went over to Tony Stewart and was immediately taking the blame but Tony calmed him down and ended up taking some of the heat at the end of it all. Tony was super classy yesterday, I dug it.
And now on to Dale Earnhardt Jr., I was super proud of him, and his team, for their eighth place finish. Even though he didn’t win when it felt like he could have. His tires just weren’t there to do the job he needed in the end. It was a fun race though, it was the first time in a long time that I found myself yelling at the TV for him to kick some butt. That’s saying something because for what felt like all of last year I didn’t even attempt to hope something might happen for him. He’s in the top-10 right now and that, to me, is better than eating cheesecake with The Golden Girls.
Fans spotted NHL Dallas Star’s Mike Modano in the garage at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. (Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
On Sunday, last weekend, at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma when I arrived at the track, again at 8am, I realized quickly that there wasn’t much to do. I sat on pit road and watched as fans and VIPs took spins around the track with professional drivers from the Jim Russell Racing School. The whole thing made me wish I owned an Audi, the car of choice for the day’s hot laps.
Eventually, I ducked into Jennifer Azzi’s press conference. As I wrote a few days before the weekend started Azzi was on hand as the race’s Grand Marshal. It was cool to see her and I must admit that I totally missed my opportunity to introduce myself and tell her what an inspiration she’d been to me as a kid. I’m shy, OK. And I have to work up what I’m going to say in my mind before I actually do it and make sure it’s not lame. There never was a perfect time, but whatever, she’s on Twitter and I plan on saying something to her at some point over there.
Sometimes I think the only reason I write blog entries is to use the subject lines I come up with. Often I come up with the headline before I think of the actual content. hehe.
Anyway, this is the story of Saturday at Infineon Raceway during the NASCAR Toyota/Save Mart 350 weekend.
So the big thing for me was watching the Camping World Series West race in which David Gilliland, Boris Said and Joey Logano were participants. I’ve never witnessed a Camping World Series race before (East or West) so it was a new thing for me.
I found a choice spot behind the pits next to the start/finish line. For a good portion of the race I was sitting indian-style on the second wall beneath the grandstands. It was the best place to watch the race from because I was directly in front of one of the Sprint Vision screens. I didn’t miss a thing. When the action wasn’t in front of me it was on the screen.
Ya know, like actual racing with passing and everything.
I know it’s late to be writing about the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville but I had some things to say, and some photos to post, so better late than never right?
– Jimmie Johnson’s win on Sunday was his first for the season but it didn’t feel like that to me. It felt like I was watching a continuation of the 2008 season and I didn’t like that. It’s just boring; I want someone else to win except the same freaking handful of people.
– The race itself was very good. There was passing and the distinct possibility that somebody other than Jimmie could have won it. So I did appreciate that aspect of it. Denny Hamlin is growing on me.
– As the cameras cut to various people during the invocation and the singing of the National Anthem I remember thinking to myself “Who is that person hanging on to Jeff Gordon? Why is she… Oh, wait, that’s Ingrid!” Jeff’s wife, Ingrid, cut her hair like really, really short and I can’t say I approve of it. Not that it’s any of my business, she’s a beautiful girl but I liked it better long.
– I would like to thank Fox Sports for not showing another Digger & Friends episode this week. I am fine with Digger as a graphic element to showcase their embedded-in-the-ground camera but everything else is incredibly pointless. If I wanted to watch cartoons I’d watch the Cartoon Network, not a NASCAR race.
– Something that has nothing to do with racing, I got the new Keith Urban CD “Defying Gravity” this week and it is so freaking good! Although Keith did come up with the Digger theme song I am choosing to overlook that serious infraction because this man has put together some awesome music that I’m sure I’ll be listening to over and over for days and months to come. If I could marry a song right now it’d be “‘Til Summer Comes Around.”
Tony Stewart signs an autograph for a fan prior to climbing into his car for the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Country music star Trace Adkins smiles in the flagstand before waving the green flag to start the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Joey Logano signs autographs for two fans while waiting out a rain delay at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
1.) His eyes are actually blue, but I love this photo ’cause it’s so color coordinated.
2.) With his head tilted to the side like that I imagine him thinking to himself “Why are you asking me the same damn questions over and over??”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks with media about meetings he had during the week with team owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(L-R): Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Jeff Gordon discuss their Martinsville driving styles while waiting for the rain to subside. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Here’s my recap of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway this past Sunday: It was boring.
That is all. Now it’s photo fun time:
(L-R): Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and AJ Allmendinger are introduced before the Wii Boxing tournament during Food City Race Night at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Elliott Sadler celebrates beating Kasey Kahne in a Wii boxing tournament during Food City Race Night at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin and Delana Harvick celebrate winning the Scotts Turf Builder 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kevin’s first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory for Kevin Harvick Inc. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Race fan Wessa Miller presents a penny to Dale Earnhardt Jr. prior to the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Miller gave Dale Earnhardt a lucky penny before he won the 1998 Daytona 500. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kyle Busch does a burnout on the frontstretch of Bristol Motor Speedway to celebrate his Food City 500 victory. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was unlike any other Sprint Cup race day I’d experienced before. Why? Because I got to attend the drivers meeting.
Shut up! I know! Yea, I was kind of psyched about the whole thing. Standing in the back of the room with various media and PR people it was definitely a moment where I said to myself “Am I really standing here right now? This is happening? Yes, it is.” At the same time though the whole reality of situation revealed itself and it turned out to be really boring.
It went by in a flash, and while I did see a lot of drivers it was pretty mundane. Maybe I’m getting used to seeing drivers walking around in regular clothes, and being in the same room as them? I know, I can’t believe I just wrote that either. I think there’s something to that though. The meeting itself consisted of a PowerPoint presentation that takes the drivers and their crew chiefs through the specified pit road speed for the day, the entrances and exits for pit road and various rules and regulations.
I found it funny that there were typos in said presentation and that if someone didn’t remember turn off their cell phone they were ushered out of the room as if they’d just tried to throw their shoe at the President.
The meeting ends with a prayer and then everyone is on their way. It was a cool thing to experience and I will no longer have to wonder what the atmosphere is like in those meetings.
After the drivers meeting I headed straight into the lunch room for uh, lunch, and sat at a table with Travis, a member of the Nellis Air Force base honor guard. Travis volunteered to attend the event and present the American flag before the start of the race. We chatted for a little bit before he had to run to get ready. Our conversation consisted of me explaining why NASCAR was indeed a sport. I found it hilarious that I had to defend NASCAR while at a NASCAR race. Classic.
Let’s skip ahead to after driver introductions and imagine me walking from the general area of the stage set-up on the start/finish line over to the race cars parked on the edge of the grass in front of the grandstands.
If you’re by yourself and have no affiliation to a race team it is incredibly nerve wracking to walk around and try to just “blend in” with the crowd, when everybody is just standing around looking at everybody else. I always feel like I stick out like a sore thumb, but I want to stand out there with everybody else ’cause a.) I can and b.) because I can. If you have that access of course you’re going to use it and I’m one of those people who like to extinguish all available options. It’s so cool to be there, but at the same time I feel like people are looking at me wondering why I’m standing next to their car in particular. I dunno. It’s the weirdest thing and it’s hard to explain.
So after what was the coolest fly over ever, I headed to pit road to get a spot to watch the race start. I ended up behind Kurt Busch’s pit box where I saw his wife Eva and her insanely large wedding ring. I want to give you a more realistic example of how large the diamond on her hand was, instead of just saying “It’s a rock alright!” So I’ll say that it looked to be the same size as a peanut M&M.
I watched the vast majority of the race from the media center and then with about 20-30 laps left to go I decided to leave. Yea, I just couldn’t stomach the idea of having to stay at the track until 8pm in order to have the possibility of missing traffic. I couldn’t take it. So I left, missing all traffic and went to Panda Express.
On my way back to my hotel, whilst on I-15, I could see the helicopters from the track making their way to McCarran Airport. It was fun to see them all in a row, it looked like a constellation.
Monday morning I was in the lobby of South Point Hotel & Casino waiting to check-out, and I noticed that Fox Sports NASCAR analyst Larry McReynolds was in front of me doing the same.
All in all it was a great weekend; I learned a lot and met some great people. It seems crazy to say that I’m going to highly enjoy watching this weekend’s race at Atlanta from the comfort of my own couch, but I really, really will. At this point in time my next in-person race will probably be Infineon in June. That gives me plenty of time to recover from two-straight weekends of NASCAR craziness.
This photo ranks right up there with my shot of Clint Bowyer at Chicagoland from last year.
Reed Sorenson and Casey Mears make their way to the stage for driver introductions before the start of the Shelby 527 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 1, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Can you spot Sam Hornish Jr. and his baby daughter, Addison, in this photo?
Cars and drivers line up before the start of the Shelby 527 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 1, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Members of the Flying Elvi skydiving team touched down before the start of the Shelby 527 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 1, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Do you hear that noise? It’s the sound of a big creaking door shutting out my heart. Okay, I’m being a little bit dramatic but sometimes you have to be in order to drive a point home. I think I can honestly say without a doubt I would rather be in Phoenix at this moment, more than anywhere else in the world. If I think about everything that I’m missing… Well it just sucks.
There’s been a lot of press leading up to today regarding wait times and long lines for voting. Here’s a tip for you, move to the suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area. I went to my polling place, which is right behind my apartment building, and there was no line and the only thing that took a long time was remembering how I wanted to vote on all of the propositions.
Anyway, on to more relevant things like Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.
First, I would like to thank Carl Edwards for restoring a little bit of drama to The Chase. I loved the fact that his team took a gamble on their fuel mileage and came out on top. Even if it didn’t work it still would have been cool. What did they have to lose anyway? All in all it was a great call and it made a pretty much boring race exciting in the end.
Ok, so there was that incident between David Gilliland and Juan Pablo Montoya. So David spun Juan out and ended up wrecking both of their cars. NASCAR parked David and I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen NASCAR take such swift and decisive action with someone before. I mean, I know they’ve done stuff like that before but I guess I was never around to see them park somebody during a race. What David did wasn’t good but I still like him. Hehe. I want that guy to win and I want him to get more attention but not from stuff like that.
His actions impacted the race and The Chase in the grand scheme of things, but I think that’s what NASCAR is all about. You have to be strong enough to weather the race, and your fellow racers, to be a champion. As much as racing is about being prepared, talented and having great equipment, it’s also about fate and luck. Kyle Busch didn’t all of a sudden become a big loser and forget how to drive a racecar once The Chase started, he just ran into some serious bad luck. And that’s what I love about the sport, there’s so much that is left to chance.
In other news…
– If you’re interested in donating directly to the Sam Ard Fund, go to his website for more information on where to send your check. If you haven’t already, read this great article by Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press regarding the impact of Kyle Busch’s $100,000 donation to the Ard family.
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #26 Crown Royal Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2008 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson (right), driver of the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet stands with his car chief Ron Malec (left), started seventh and finished 15th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway. (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
Is she not the cutest little girl ever??
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, started from the pole position and finished second in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway. Here he is prerace with daughter Ella Sofia. (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
NASCAR Nationwide Series pole-sitter Carl Edwards meets television host Rachael Ray on pit road Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway before the O’Reilly Challenge. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
This photo cracks me up, I love it.
Clint Bowyer (L), driver of the #07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet, talks with ESPN’s Brad Daugherty (R) on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2008 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Nationwide Series O’Reilly Challenge today at Texas Motor Speedway, his tenth win in the Nationwide Series this year. Kyle tied Sam Ard’s record and in victory lane pledged to give $100,000 Sam and his family. How cool was that? I was genuinely proud of Kyle in that moment.
Sam Ard is a former Nationwide Series Champion who once won 10 races in 1983. In only three seasons, Ard accumulated 22 wins, 24 poles, 67 top five and 80 top-10 finishes. Instead of battling for wins these days he’s faced with Alzheimer’s disease along with financial woes and his wife Jo has a degenerative eye disease that is slowly taking her vision.
I encourage you to check out the online auction for the Sam Ard Fund that is going on now through November 17th, 2008. Visit www.nascar.com/foundation
Last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway Kevin Harvick donated the van that was used in the Shell commercials to Sam Ard:
“Sam Ard has been a huge part of NASCAR and an inspiration in my career,” said Harvick. “A lot of people don’t understand how hard those guys raced and how different it was back then. Those guys spent everything they won on racing and I am just happy that we are able to help Sam because none of us would be able to do what we love to do if it weren’t for guys like Sam Ard.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, presents a minivan to Robert Ard, the son of former Nationwide Series Champion Sam Ard, while DeLana Harvick and Jim Hunter, Vice President of Corporate Communications for NASCAR join them outside the Media Center, prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
I was watching the practice sessions at Texas Motor Speedway today and ESPN put up a segment dedicated to the creation and evolution of their Draft Track technology. While I have the deepest respect for the people who made this stuff possible, if I’m being honest I have to say that it’s not that useful. I’m sorry.
I understand how the draft works, that’s enough for me. I don’t need to “see the draft” to know it’s there. Sometimes I think networks come up with stuff hoping that we as fans are going to fall all over ourselves to tell them how fabulous it is, and in this instance I can’t do it. Stick with the in-car cameras. I love seeing the drivers hands on the wheel turning left and right, and their feet pushing the gas and the brake. Show how bumpy the ride really is, they’re not driving around in a Lexus ya know.
I’d rather they put together great stories about people instead of showing me what wind looks like in color. Go ask Carl Edwards about his engagement. Ask Casey Mears and Sam Hornish Jr. what it’s been like to be a new father this year.
And for the record when I saw Carl and Jimmie Johnson talking in the garage during today’s practice session coverage I knew Jimmie was congratulating Carl on his engagement. When I saw Carl say “Thank you, thank you” I knew it. Yes, I read lips.
In other news…
– Jeff Gordon scored his first-ever pole at Texas Motor Speedway today. That’s awesome and I truly hope he can overcome his bad luck in Texas and come out a winner this time around.
– I found out that I’ve received media credentials to the Phoenix race weekend next week, which is awesome. However, I lost my day job due to our crap economy and so I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to go which hurts my heart more than you can ever know. Of course the “I Love Lucy” area of my brain (there’s gotta be a way I can still get in the show!) is working overtime trying to figure out a way to make it work, but I wouldn’t bet on it producing any viable plans.
– This just popped into my head: things that I’m excited about for next year’s NASCAR season. Namely, Scott Speed and Joey Logano in the Sprint Cup Series full-time. I think they’ll be fun to watch and talk about. That’s pretty much it. Oh and David Stremme will be back too! Yay Stremme!
Brad Keselowski focuses in practice Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. A NASCAR Nationwide Series regular, Keselowski qualified 37th for Sunday’s Dickies 500 as he’ll make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Sitting in second in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards straps into his car during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. Edwards was third-fastest in practice and qualified 16th for Sunday’s Dickies 500 at the track. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Apparently the new “in” thing is to call for changes to the Chase format. Whatever. You can’t build in suspense, no matter what you do someone can always run away with it.
It was great that Carl Edwards won at Atlanta this weekend. What wasn’t great was that it didn’t really matter. I still have hope that something amazing will happen, but I can see the writing on the wall just like everybody else. It makes me want to puke.
But it didn’t keep me from wondering out loud to myself why Tony Eury Jr. can’t be more like Chad Knaus. Have you ever wondered what Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s career would be like if he had Chad as his crew chief? Hmmm??
So here’s my suggestion on how to make the Chase better for next year: All of the race teams, that aren’t the 48, need to get BETTER!
Driver David Stremme checks out times during Friday’s practice at Memphis. (Photo Credit: Dak Dillon for NASCAR)
Sam Hornish Jr. driver of the #77 Mobil 1 Dodge with his Daughter Addison before practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on October 24, 2008 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Marc Davis waits for his turn to qualify Saturday at Memphis Motorsports Park. Davis will start from the fourth position. (Photo Credit: Dak Dillon for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, talks with crew chief Tony Eury Jr. prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
Apparently it was beanie day for a couple of the Hendrick drivers.
Casey Mears, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet, started 22nd and finished 12th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
Jeff Burton, driver of the #31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet, stands on the grid with wife Kim and daughter Paige, during the national anthem sung by “American Idol” alum and Atlanta resident Michael Johns Sunday before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
If you’re a Scott Speed fan then you’re in luck. I have a ton of photos of the guy from the latest Texas Motor Speedway media event. The Red Bull Racing driver was in town to promote next week’s Dickies 500 Sprint Cup race by riding a mechanical bull.
Who needs Formula One racing? I think Speed has found his home in NASCAR.
Former four-time bull riding champion Tuff Hedeman (left) stands with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Scott Speed (right) after he received his "Bull Riding Diploma" following his maiden ride on a mechanical bull in the Fort Worth Stockyards Tuesday, October 21, 2008. (Photo By Tom Pennington/Getty Images for the Texas Motor Speedway)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Scott Speed limbers up before he tangles with the mechanical bull again in the Fort Worth Stockyards Tuesday, October 21, 2008. (Photo By Tom Pennington/Getty Images for the Texas Motor Speedway)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Scott Speed (right) hangs on during his maiden ride on a mechanical bull in the Fort Worth Stockyards Tuesday, October 21, 2008. (Photo By Tom Pennington/Getty Images for the Texas Motor Speedway)
Former four-time bull riding champion Tuff Hedeman (right) gives NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Scott Speed (left) some bull riding tips in the Fort Worth Stockyards Tuesday, October 21, 2008. (Photo By Tom Pennington/Getty Images for the Texas Motor Speedway)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Scott Speed takes a break — and strikes a pose — after his maiden ride on a mechanical bull in the Fort Worth Stockyards Tuesday, October 21, 2008. (Photo By Tom Pennington/Getty Images for the Texas Motor Speedway)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Scott Speed, "cowboyed up" in his Charlie 1 Horse hat and Panhandle Slim shirt, takes a break after his maiden ride on a mechanical bull in the Fort Worth Stockyards Tuesday, October 21, 2008. (Photo By Tom Pennington/Getty Images for the Texas Motor Speedway)
Last week was the Drive for Diversity combine presented by Sunoco at South Boston Speedway. Yes, it’s a tad lame of me for writing about it now, but better late than never right?
Drive for Diversity invited 25 applicants out to the track to show off their racing skills in the hopes of being selected for the 2009 Drive for Diversity season. Fourteen drivers will be selected to be a part of four NASCAR Camping World Series teams and 10 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series teams.
“With the participation of 14 dedicated team owners, we are able to increase our national presence, as well as provide more opportunities to young minority and female drivers,” said Greg Calhoun, president of Access Marketing & Communications, which runs the Drive for Diversity program.
Increasing the number of drivers and team owners will give the program a greater presence at several well respected weekly tracks across the country. It will also increase local team owner involvement in the program. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series teams participating in the program for 2009 represent 10 different weekly tracks across eight different states, including California, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.
According to my count of the combine participants 16 of them were female, which I think is super cool! It’s only a matter of time before we see women competing at NASCAR’s top level. And not just getting in for a race here and a race there, I mean having a real chance at winning, with complete support and great equipment.
Twenty-five minority and female drivers from across the country participated in the Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco at South Boston Speedway. Ten drivers will earn rides in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and four will earn positions in the NASCAR Camping World Series. (Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Trista Stevenson of Pocahontas, Ill. is congratulated by Brett Bodine after her time on track during the Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco at South Boston Speedway. (Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Natalie Sather of Fargo, N.D. talks with Drive for Diversity program mentor Wendell Scott Jr. during the Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco at South Boston Speedway. (Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Managing Director of Public Affairs Marcus Jadotte, who oversees the diversity department, huddles with Lyn St. James, who was offering guidance to the drivers at the Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco at South Boston Speedway. (Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Current Drive for Diversity participant Paul Harraka, who won the track championship at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., chats with team owner Bill McAnally during the Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco at South Boston Speedway. (Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Caitlin Shaw of Albuquerque, N.M. gets ready to get in her car during the Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco at South Boston Speedway. (Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
First, in regards to the race at Kansas this past weekend, I have to talk about Pay The Fan and fantasy racing in general. I’m in the Chase for the PTF Cup and I think that it makes the races more interesting. While watching the race I found that I kept asking myself which drivers I had picked, and wondering if I made the right decision. I know that I could of easily gotten up and went over to the computer and double-checked, but it’s much more fun to wait until Monday to review my picks. I find that I’m always surprised by some of my choices.
At any rate my Group A driver is of course going to be Dale Earnhardt Jr. for this weekend’s race at Talladega and he better come through with something since this is one and only time I can use him during the Chase.
About the race, it was so awesome at the end. I loved Carl Edwards’ ballsy move in the last lap to gun it and try to bounce off the wall to victory over Jimmie Johnson. Carl said he’d tried that move in a video game and it worked, but apparently in real life not so much. It was great though. If Dale Jr. doesn’t win the Championship I would be fine if Carl walked away with it. To be honest I really don’t want to see Jimmie win another Championship. It would be boring. I know it would be cool in the grand scheme of things, the whole three-peat thing, but I just want to see someone new.
I think that the luck that Kyle Busch has been having in these past three races is really, really, really sad considering the year he’s had. As much as I didn’t want to think about it I figured he’d run off with the Championship with no problems. I feel sorry for him; I really do because I don’t think it’s fair. He wins 8 races and then nothing? But I must say that he’s still a tool for being so jerky in his post race interview on Sunday.
I get it, he’s frustrated and mad and whatever. I totally get it believe me I do. I know first-hand what it feels like to have horrible stuff happen to you and then have to talk to people about it. I still managed to not sound like a ho though. It is possible to have a graceful attitude even when the chips are down.
During green flag pit stops Kyle Busch and Mike Bliss tangled, leaving Busch’s car smoking as he pulled it into the garage on lap 155. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Steve Letarte, crew chief for the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, talks with his driver, Jeff Gordon, during practice Friday at Kansas Speedway. Gordon, who qualified 13th, was able to practice and qualify despite not feeling well all day. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 alltel Dodge, talks to Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet, in the garages of Kansas Speedway during Friday’s practice. Both drivers will start in the middle of the pack on Sunday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV 400 (Newman at 15th and Bowyer at 24th). (Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Star of the film “Hairspray” and national anthem singer for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV 400 Elijah Kelley reacts to the roar of the 43 race cars starting their engine within feet of him on pit road. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/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)
I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority about this but I do enjoy a good rain delay. Why? Well I like it when the drivers get out of their cars and are interviewed by the pit reporters, you get to hear about what’s been going on so far in the race and what they think (or hope) will happen next. I dig it.
I’m still irked by the post race coverage, of which there has been little. Maybe it was the rain delay which made it impossible for them to have more than two post-race interviews, but still I want more. Maybe it’s just me being a serious NASCAR fan that can’t get enough, but I want more. And by more I mean more of the drivers. I don’t want to hear from analysts and commentators, nooooooo, I want to hear from the drivers or the crew chiefs or the crew members, anyone who is actually doing something during the race.
And so I must acknowledge David Gilliland’s disappointing finish. Things were going so well before the red flag happened, he was running as high as second, and then he ended up finishing 34th. How that happened I’m not sure about as I don’t recall being told during the race what was going on with David’s car. If they did talk about it and I’m wrong please correct me, but I totally doubt it. You would think they’d talk about it as the dude was running up front and then is shuffled to the back. And I guess for that reason I should hate rain delays, because maybe if that hadn’t happened he wouldn’t have gotten stuck in the pack without clean air.
I will say this about that race I’ve never been so emotionally involved, which I love. Between Dale and David I was all over the place. But I have to say to a certain degree I’m more emotionally invested in how David finishes than I am when it comes to Dale Earnhardt Jr. It’s going to be so freaking cool when Gilliland finally wins his first Cup race, I just hope it happens this year. I’d love to be there for it. It’d be sick if he got his first win at the upcoming Auto Club Speedway race in Fontana, California. I’m hoping to be at that one, which is on my birthday this year, so yea, Yates Racing should totally focus on that one. I’m just sayin’.
Oh, and what was up with Carl Edwards after race in victory lane? My mom stopped by right after the race restarted from the red flag and she stayed until the race was over. When Carl grabbed the big fake Sprint cell phone they put on top of his car and shook it, my mom looked at me like “What was that??” to which I smiled and said “That’s the euphoria of winning.” I like Carl but I don’t know what that was.
David Gilliland drives the #38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 500 at the Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2008 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford and winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, received congratulations from third-place finisher Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)
These fans of the No. 20 Home Depot were probably pretty happy with driver Tony Stewart’s second-place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
J.J. Yeley (L), driver of the #96 DLP HDTV Toyota, shows actor Kiefer Sutherland (R) a car spring and the inside of the hauler during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at the Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2008 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)
So the only question I have after watching the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard this weekend is this: If you know that the Brickyard is notorious for being really hard on tires and you have a new car that puts more weight on the right side tires why wouldn’t you schedule a testing session there??
Someone’s oversight was our craptastic and yet intriguing race. I’m sure everyone probably thought the race was boring but I thought it was fun (and Dale Jr. agreed with me, not in the exact same way, but still). It kept me watching, waiting for someone’s tire to blow. It never got old watching the pit stops and waiting for the shots of the used up tires to pop up. It made pit stops that much more important because at the end whoever got out of there first was pretty much sure to lead the race and ultimately win it.
And that’s what happened for Jimmie Johnson and the fact that it was he who won and not Kyle Busch pretty much left me on cloud nine. I was all set for a one woman riot if Kyle won again.
The thing that bugged me the most about the race came at the end when I had to wade through SportsCenter in order to get to some short interview clips and a shot of Jimmie & his team kissing the bricks. ESPN did a good job before the race with their taped interviews with Jeff Gordon and Richard Childress, but they missed the mark with their post race coverage.
I’m sorry but I don’t care about baseball scores or Brett Favre’s stilted comeback, at least not when it’s RIGHT after the NASCAR Cup race and I want to hear from the drivers and I want to see if the drivers faces are covered in rubber and dust like everybody said they would be.
But yea, I didn’t get that. I didn’t have enough patience to sit and wait and see if they would have more different coverage later on in the show. I just hope they don’t do this with every race.
Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon congratulates Jimmie Johnson on his Allstate 400 at the Brickyard victory. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(L-R): Crew chief Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson, Chandra Johnson and owner Rick Hendrick kiss the yard of bricks after winning the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Isn’t she cuuute?!
Six-year-old Lucille Nace of Farmerville, Ohio gets an autograph from Scott Riggs prior to practice for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
A view of a Goodyear tire with excessive wear after a competition caution during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Introducing “sexy” Tony!
Tony Stewart is all smiles in the garage after unveiling his new car number and sponsors at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I had fun being on “On Pit Row” yesterday. More fun than I anticipated and I really don’t know what I was worried about my voice. I think I sounded good. I know bringing up Michael Waltrip’s possible divorce might not have been in good taste, but I can’t help the fact that I want to know. And it is a big story, considering the fact that the man proposed to her in victory lane, everybody knows them and she’s listed as the owner of some of his cars. So yea I’m curious.
It’s true too that I could care less which team this guy or that guy is going to in a general sense. I feel like it’s all really important when things are said and done, what’s the point of speculating on something that makes no difference to me? There are certain topics that are interesting like Tony Stewart co-owning Haas CNC or just the idea that Teresa Earnhardt would take on partners. Those are definitely conversation starters. But where Ryan Newman is going isn’t something I think about.
The “On Pit Row” experience got me thinking though and I’ve got an idea I want to try out. Once I figure out how to do it I’ll let you know what it is. How’s that for being vague?
In other news…
– I’m sad, deeply sad that I’m not going to Indy this week and not for the reasons that you might think. The Goo Goo Dolls are performing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday in the infield on Turn 10 of the road course. I looove them. Johnny Rzeznik. *sigh*
– If you’re a lucky person and you’re going to the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard or you just happen to live in the area you can meet Kurt Busch at Scotty’s Brewhouse (located at 3905 East 96th Street in Indianapolis, IN) from 6pm to 7pm on Friday. He’ll be serving Miller Lites of course.
– During the week off, Ryan Newman went to his hometown of South Bend, Indiana where they named a road in his honor. To visit Newman Way you must travel the half-mile stretch of highway near the South Bend Regional Airport.
– Casey Mears will participate in a Q&A session with other Chevrolet drivers during Chevrolet’s annual Fan Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’ll also sign autographs and drive Chevrolet winners around the track in the official Chevy pace car.
– Do you want to question Jimmie Johnson about his season or about his hair (seriously, what’s going on there?)?? Well here’s your chance:
Starting today (Monday, July 21), The Jimmie Johnson Foundation and Richmond International Raceway Cares are auctioning off the opportunity to pose questions to Johnson on The Final Round with McElroy on Sports Radio 910 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST. Proceeds from the auction will benefit both charitable foundations and the winning donation is tax deductible.
For those who would like to bid on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, please visit www.sportsradio910.com. The winner will be awarded with a seat next to Johnson, driver of the #48 Chevrolet, where he or she will be able to ask questions. The winner also receives two tickets to the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 6. The auction closes on Monday, July 28, at 7:00 p.m. EST.
Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader in Major League Baseball, was a guest of Mike Wallace at Saturday night’s race at Gateway International Raceway. Hoffman (far left) and his San Diego Padres teammates were in town for a series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Joining Hoffman on Wallace’s pit box were Chase Headley, Kevin Jarvis and Trevor’s son Quinn. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR)
Landon Cassill (L), a native of Cedar Rapids, Ia., and Carl Edwards, who is from Columbia, Mo., lead fans on a charity track walk Saturday at Gateway. Proceeds from the event went to the American Red Cross and its outreach to Midwest flood victims. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR)
Here is some very, very cool news: Tomorrow (Tuesday, July 22) I’ll be a guest on the ON PIT ROW radio show. I’ll be a part of their “around the NASCAR net” segment and I’ll be discussing some of the current headlines in NASCAR. Now you’ll all get to hear what I sound like and hopefully that won’t be a bad thing.
You can listen to the live broadcast online tomorrow at OnPitRow.com from 5pm – 7pm EST (or 2pm – 4pm PST).
In other news…
– Did you not get enough of Brendan Fraser at Chicagoland? Well then you have to check out the awesome photos (and video) from the great people at Kodak. Their flickr account has some great shots too.
– So I didn’t watch the ESPYs but I did check out some of the photos from the red carpet. I was hoping for more racing related stuff but all I could find was this one of IndyCar’s Danica Patrick. Cute dress and all but I’m not sure how I feel about her hair.
– This is not at all racing related except that I wish that it was. Former NFL quarterback and The Bachelor bachelor Jesse Palmer is an on-air talent guy for ESPN’s show College Football Live and he’s so freaking hot. I really think ESPN should institute some sort of broadcaster exchange program. Maybe we could swap Rusty Wallace with Jesse for a weekend or two?? I’m just sayin’ it could be fun.
After driver introductions I slogged back through the grass and onto pit road. I felt awkward about where to stand for the National Anthem. It’s hard to not feel like you’re in the way, plus should I really be out there anyway? I decided to split the difference and I stood at one of the garage entrances, which also left me standing just behind Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s pit crew and in front of Jimmie Johnson’s. I looked behind me and there was Ron Malec, car chief and rear tire carrier for the No. 48, looking insanely gorgeous. I’m sorry but that guy is really, really cute. Like really, every time I saw him over the weekend I had to take a moment.
Everybody lined up and then they introduced Gavin DeGraw as a country singer. That was funny. I think I snorted. And then a few of the guys from the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard team said, in unison, “Who???” I think I snorted at that too. Ahh, good times, good times. Later on I caught sight of Gavin taking a seat in Kurt Busch’s pit box next to Kurt’s wife Eva.
I watched the race start and then went back to the media center to eat dinner. That’s another great thing about being in the media center, free food. It really is a great benefit; I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to eat the whole time I was at the track.
I didn’t want to watch the whole race from the lunchroom, and I didn’t want to stand on pit road all night killing my lower back in the process, so I walked down the road to the grassy area next to the infield tunnel. I sat on the grass and watched the cars roll through the space between turns three and four. It was a great place to sit and watch the cars go by. Obviously I had no idea what was really going on with the cars and the drivers that drove them. But I knew that nothing wonderful was happening for Dale Jr. or the Yates Racing guys ’cause their numbers weren’t on the pylon. Well they were but just waaaay down at the bottom where it scrolled through the running order two places at a time.
As odd as it may seem it was really peaceful sitting there. I had earplugs in and it dulled the roar of the engines nicely. I waited until they hit 200 laps before walking back to the pits. I stood behind the pits for the Dave Blaney and the No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota. At one point the crew chief and some other dude were visibly pissed about something that happened to their car because it caused both of them to take their anger out on the pit box.
The end of the race was a rollercoaster. I was up when Carl Edwards took the lead and then down when he lost it. I was up when Jimmie took the lead and then I stayed down when he lost it too. If only he could have held on. If only.
I went into the garage and took pictures of Dale Jr. talking to a TV crew. Carl was next to him doing the same. I caught some of the press conference with Jimmie and Kevin Harvick and then I left just before it was over. I saw both of them as they walked out the back of the media center.
Yet again getting out of the track was a breeze. So remember how I said that I thought I had finally gotten the hang of driving in Chicagoland? Well of course on my last trek I realized I had never taken the right way back to my hotel. I had never gone the exact route my navigation system had initially specified. At some point I had always taken a wrong turn and then it recalculated to get me on the right path. This ended up being kind of a cool thing.
There are two things Joliet is famous for in my mind (besides being the home of Chicagoland Speedway of course). One, it’s the hometown of the very first America’s Next Top Model winner, Adrianne Curry (wife of the guy who played Peter on The Brady Bunch) and two, it’s also home to a ginormous prison that they used to film FOX’s drama Prison Break.
So going into my trip I wanted to see the prison. On my final, and correct, drive back to the hotel I got to see Joliet Correctional Center! The prison isn’t open anymore, they closed it back in 2002. But ok, so it was at night and actually really kinda freaky — especially when you add in the “Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers” sign that sits across the street from it — but it was also cool!
So that was my Chicagoland weekend. The next day, Sunday, I checked into a hotel in downtown Chicago and went to the Gavin Rossdale concert at the House of Blues. At some point I’m going to write about that experience in my other blog.
I had so much fun at the races. On the plane to San Francisco I knew that I wanted to go home, ’caused I missed it and my family, but at the same time I really, really wished I could go to Indy next week.
Car chief and rear tire carrier Ron Malec before the start of the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
The crew for the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet before the start of the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
The pit crew for the No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota prepare to go over the wall during the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks with media after the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
The difference between the crowd gathered for the Nationwide Series drivers meeting and the one assembled for the Sprint Cup Series was like night and day. Friday it was me standing with the security guards but on Saturday I had to contend with a big crowd, a fence and those damn TV crews.
I made sure I was there early, like half an hour before it was all supposed to begin. Matt Kenseth arrived first with a Sirius satellite radio DJ in tow. Matt was very punctual on Saturday, he was also first at driver intros. So as per usual I tried to take as many photos as possible. My attempts at getting shots of guys and their shoes were foiled by guys from TNT filming people right in front of me.
In the drivers meeting they go over what’s going to happen before, during and after the race and what the rules are, or if there’s going to be a competition caution, etc. There’s a lot of stating the obvious, but it’s something you have to do. I couldn’t help but wonder though what it would be like if someone raised their hand at the end and said “So, what do I do if I win the race? Where do I go?” That’d be fun.
Kurt Busch walked into the drivers meeting with none other than pop singer Gavin DeGraw. I didn’t know who was singing the anthem until I saw him arrive. I have lukewarm feelings about Mr. DeGraw. I want to like him, he has a nice voice, but his music always leaves me wanting something more. Anywho, I ended up seeing him a lot after that. I almost bumped into him coming out of the bathroom in the media center; he was pacing around warming up his vocal cords.
After the drivers meeting came driver intros. I trekked out onto the grass and proceeded to get my socks and shoes totally soaked by the soggy field. I decided to stake out the opposite side of the stage that no one was on because it was the best angle to get great photos. Of course security had to come over and rain on my parade and told me I had to go to either the front of the stage or the other side. They had to keep that area clear. Dagnabit!
Okay, so let’s talk about that tribute to Richard Petty and his 50 years of NASCAR racing. It’s amazing it’s been that long. I thought it was such a great idea to have all the drivers wear, what has become his signature accessory, the cowboy hat. However, it was clear that he should be the only person wearing those suckers. The King is the only person who looks good in them as far as I’m concerned.
Check out the photo below. Who’s missing from it? In spite of what they were saying at the time all 43 drivers weren’t there to take this photo. Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards all showed up later just in time for the actual driver introductions. Oh and someone else is missing from the photo too but I can’t remember who it is. Any guesses?
43 drivers starting the LifeLock.com 400 pose with Richard Petty, who was celebrating his 50th anniversary in NASCAR. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
He’s always got a smile on his face!
Richard Petty stands behind the stage before his tribute begins at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Robby Gordon walks with Richard Childress to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Singer Gavin DeGraw (left) walks to the drivers meeting with Kurt Busch at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
David Gilliland walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Jeff Gordon walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Martin Truex Jr. walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
On Saturday morning I got the chance to sleep in a bit before heading to the racetrack. Things weren’t really starting up until 3 in the afternoon, but I still ended up leaving my hotel at 11. I didn’t want to get stuck in some crap parking spot.
My first order of business at the track was to head back over to the grandstands so that I could try a Wisconsin cheese curd for the very first time. A guy that I’d met a couple months ago is from Illinois and he swore that cheese curds were the best thing ever and that California cheese paled in comparison, so I had to try them. However, I found out they were only serving them in the deep fried format, not fresh. I figured I’d still get the essence of it so I bought ‘em anyway. They were really tasty! It’s similar to eating fried mozzarella but a lot lighter. They’ve got a very mild cheddar flavor.
I sat next to the fountain in front of the main gates eating my cheese curds, people watching. After awhile I headed back to the infield.
Brendan Fraser was the Grand Marshal for the Sprint Cup race and a press conference was scheduled for him and Ryan Newman at 3pm. So of course I was there in the media center waiting for them to arrive at 2:45. I stood in the back of the room next to all the video cameras. Brendan is funny and cool and relaxed. His personality from the minute he walked through the door was so obvious. He was similar to his character in the movie Bedazzled with Elizabeth Hurley, or even in The Mummy. He’s not arrogant or stuck-up. He was totally down to earth and it was clear that was the case when he said that the NASCAR fans he’d met that day were the nicest people.
As I predicted the gathered media had zero quality questions for Brendan. I still couldn’t think of anything myself which irked me later on in the day when I finally thought of one. There was a great moment at the end of the conference when the moderator asked if there were anymore questions and the room was silent. So Brendan made cricket noises. Funny stuff. All told I think it lasted maybe 10 or 15 minutes.
Ok, so I made a beeline for the exit and rushed to wait outside. Apparently that was everybody else’s move too. The majority of the media swarmed Ryan Newman and asked him questions about his future and his chances for the weekend. Meanwhile Brendan was standing next to Ryan’s mob being interviewed by a local news crew. I stood there in front of him and snapped photos. He’s so adorable, and tall, and cute. *sigh* And as everyone found out later on in the day he gave one of the best “Gentlemen, start your engines” I’ve ever heard. He’s right up there with Matthew McConaughey in my book.
So get this as I’ve said before there are rules for the media about getting autographs and such. You’re not allowed to ask the drivers for them and by extension you would think that would include photos too. Well this one group of local tv people didn’t get that memo. They snapped photos of each other with Brendan Fraser after they interviewed him and then later that night they stopped Jimmie Johnson as he was leaving the media center to get a photo with him too. I just had to shake my head.
The second funny/cool thing Brendan did was after his interview. Ryan was still in the middle of the media mob and I had moved over to that group to try and get a shot of him too. A few seconds later I looked up and over the crowd and I see Brendan snapping photos of Ryan the same way I was. I stepped back and watched as he walked around the mob snapping photos of them and then turned his back to them and started to take photos of himself in front of Ryan and the reporters. The man could not be anymore likeable, it’s disgusting.
Ryan Newman answers questions outside the media center at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Brendan Fraser takes pictures of himself and Ryan Newman outside the media center at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
After the fun ESPN tour I headed into the Sprint Cup garage. I walked down one row and then another and stopped at the stall for the No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota. I took photos and then noticed Michael Waltrip walking towards me. As he passed by he smiled and said “Hello” to me and the guy taking photos next to me. He got into the car and strapped himself in.
Here’s the thing, I knew that the practice sessions were set to start soon, but I didn’t realize exactly how soon. So here I am walking down the garage right in front of the car stalls stopping at each one to take a photo. I started to see a pattern that all of the drivers seemed to be in their cars with their helmets on all at the same time. It didn’t dawn on me that they were minutes from racing out of the garage and onto the track until I got to the end of the row and noticed that nobody else was as close to the stalls as I was and drivers were looking at me as I took their photos like “What are you doing? Who are you? Don’t you know I’m about to run you over?!” It wasn’t that serious, but it was really, really, eerie.
I mean, really eerie. It’s this extreme calm before the storm. They were all just sitting there waiting for the go ahead. As soon as I caught on that they would be racing out at any moment I decided to walk faster and get to a corner where I could get a good view of the cars as they pulled out and stay well out of everyone’s way.
Once practice was over it was time for the drivers & crew chiefs meeting before the start of the Nationwide Series race. First I must say that I love the way the infield area of Chicagoland is laid out. The media center is smack dab in the center of everything and it’s closed off so the fans, even those with pit passes, are kept well away from it. The Sprint Cup garage is to the left and the Nationwide garage is to the right, and the tent for the drivers meeting was behind it.
So back to the drivers meeting, I went to tent area and stood with the security stationed outside of it to keep the fans at bay. Since it was the Nationwide race after all there weren’t that many people waiting with me, maybe like 3 or 4? If that, I’m not entirely sure but I know it wasn’t anything near all of the people that were there the next day for the Sprint Cup drivers meeting. They had to put up steel barriers for that one. But I digress. So I’m standing there and drivers start to trickle in. I snapped Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers and Matt Kenseth.
And then there was Clint.
Clint Bowyer walks up, all alone and I hold up my camera to take a photo and he looks in my direction. Now, I had no idea if he was actually looking at me or just in my general vicinity. I had no idea what expression he was making and honestly I didn’t want to know. I feel totally fine about taking pictures of people if they’re not looking at me while I’m doing it. Plus he’s seen me directly taking shots of him at Las Vegas and Infineon and now Chicagoland. So I didn’t dare look up from my camera for fear that he might be frowning or something. I don’t know. He went into the tent and that was that.
Later on I looked at the photo in its full size and I cracked up because he is in fact staring straight at me with this weird expression that looks kinda like he’s pissed. But I love this photo. It’s my most favorite photo to date. The look on his face is priceless; he’s like “What??” Hmm. Note to self: No more photos of Clint Bowyer, at least for the next race. Or at least not when he’s looking.
Sprint Cup cars roll out to the track for a practice session at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, July 11, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Tony Stewart heads into the drivers meeting before the Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, July 11, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
David Ragan (far left), Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth leave the drivers meeting before the Dollar General 300 on Friday, July 11, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Yes, the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway was a good race. It was intriguing and crazy right down to the last lap, but of course I hated how it ended.
Why, why, why did he have to win again?? WHY?? If the rest of the season plays out like this I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s sooo boring if the same person keeps winning. Yes, he’s talented and all that, yes, I get it. I can appreciate that fact but it’s so freaking boring to watch. I don’t want to hear the same person in victory lane each week. Even if it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. I promise you I would be bored with that too. It wouldn’t be painful to watch of course but it would be boring.
The coolest thing was seeing David Gilliland running up front. That was truly awesome; I only wonder what could have happened had his pit stop not gone so bad. And see that’s what I’m looking for people, I’m not just out to see Dale Jr. win I wanna see a variety of drivers win. It helps to keep things interesting. If it ever comes to a time when NASCAR only has 4 major teams running several cars, shutting out all of the small teams, then I don’t know if I could watch anymore.
Kevin Harvick (R), driver of the #29 Reese’s Chevrolet, stands with wife, DeLana (L), prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2008 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Uh, yea, my thoughts exactly.
Tony Eury Jr., crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr., #88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet reacts to race action during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2008 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Does he smile like ever?
Sprint Cup driver Paul Menard earned his first pole Friday at Daytona International Speedway for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Martin Truex Jr. chats with Kevin Costner, who performed a pre-race concert with his band Modern West. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Here’s what I will say about the race at New Hampshire this past weekend: It was a good day for Kurt Busch and that’s pretty much it.
It was a good thing to see Patrick Carpentier capture the pole on Friday; you can’t take that away from the guy. Kurt needed a win in the worst way, but as usual I would prefer it if people could win — especially the much needed ones — with a complete race devoid of rain or controversy. It’s like when Dario Franchitti won the Indy 500. He’s a good guy and deserved the win, but just for me personally I would of felt better about it had it not been rained out. I’m just sayin’.
I didn’t see and hear everything that went on during the race because I was down in Los Angeles for my cousin’s wedding, and so I had to contend with my three nephews and their endless questions about racing. They’re 11, 9 and 7-years-old and they want to know everything. The questions never stop. Who’s leading? Who do you want to win? Who do you want to lose? Who do you want to finish 2nd? Who do you want to finish 3rd? Who do you want to finish last?
I love them I really do, and I desperately want to bring them to a race so they can see it all in person, but it did make me long for the times when I can watch the race in the peace and quiet of my apartment.
During the seventh and final caution, Kyle Busch (top, No. 18) and Juan Pablo Montoya (bottom, No. 42) were involved in an incident that cost Montoya two laps for rough driving in the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo Credit: Chris McGrath / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Polesitter Patrick Carpentier and his daughter Anais meet the crowd during driver introductions before the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
There were a bunch of random things that occurred to me during the Infineon weekend and none of them deserved its own post so here they are:
– At Jeff Gordon’s press conference on Friday I was staring at him and noticed for the first time ever that he’s got grey hairs. It’s not like two, it’s like fifty. That was the precise moment when my camera decided to die so I have no proof. This all means nothing of course, but I just thought it was interesting ’cause he’s always had this boyish look to him and so you don’t associate that kind of thing, ya know, getting old, with him.
– When Oakland Raiders play-by-play announcer Greg Papa introduced Joe Nemechek as “Jerome” Nemechek pretty much everyone on pit road looked around with the same “What the???” expression on their faces. Next time it might be a good idea to get someone who actually knows NASCAR to announce the drivers. I’m just sayin’.
– Someone asked Carl Edwards “Beer or wine?” to which he replied “Neither.” This was kind of surprising to me, I mean I always figured him for a granola boy-type (and by “granola boy” I mean those guys who are all about fitness and eating healthy which can be really annoying when you’re, uhm, not) but I didn’t think he went that far. I couldn’t hear his follow-up answer so I’m not sure if he clarified his answer to say that he preferred some other alcoholic beverage entirely, but I doubt it.
– Nikki Blonsky, the young woman who played Tracy Turnblad in the 2nd movie version of Hairspray, was on hand to sing the National Anthem. I saw her as she walked up the stairs to the media center. She seemed really nice and sweet but she had on these super high, black Christian Louboutin pumps that were obviously causing her some mischief by the way she was toddling around. I know the walk caused by uncomfortable shoes, let me tell ya. Anyway, so it was funny to see her later walking around in a pair of white sneakers. Smart move Nikki.
– At the end of the day on Sunday I caught the media center shuttle van back to my parking spot. On the way there a voice came over the radio to say that Kyle Busch’s mom believed that someone from the racetrack’s staff had taken her bag. So funny! Her son wins the race and then her bag is allegedly stolen? I do hope she got her bag back, it’s a very disconcerting feeling to lose one’s purse.
– Below is a video of my view of the race. For the last 20 laps or so I watched it all go down from a landing area leading up the media center.
On Sunday before the race I walked pit road taking the usual pictures and I found the pit boxes for the No. 28 and No. 38 Yates Racing teams.
I have to say that I’ve been thinking about the guys on pit crews a lot lately, mostly because you don’t hear much about them individually or even as a group. Drivers constantly talk about how it’s a team sport and they couldn’t do it without their guys but how much do we really know about the men on these teams? And how much do they know about their fans? Unless you’re on the crew for the most popular drivers it’s hard to know who’s rooting for you or if they are at all.
On television in pre-race shows they sometimes do profiles of this crew member or that one for some special or unique story, but it’s never a consistent study of who these guys are and how they feel about their teams chances each week. I suppose it would be really hard from a PR standpoint to control all of those voices but it would be refreshing to hear them.
So with that being said I took the chance to talk to the pit crew guys — that were there — from Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland’s teams. I asked them if they ever went online to their team website to see what their fans were saying. They all said that they don’t go online and some guessed that maybe the comments were negative.
I told them that they had a bunch of fans out there that supported them 100%. So the comments from these guys surprised me and got me thinking. Since these guys don’t have time to spend online searching for what people are saying, I think that if you’re a Gilliland, Kvapil or Yates Racing fan you should send a letter to the crew members. Don’t send it to Travis or David — send it to the guys on the team. Just to be clear I’m not saying you shouldn’t write to the drivers too, you totally should, but don’t forget about the other guys that make up the team.
Crew members from the No. 28 California Highway Patrol Ford Fusion team (from left to right): Tire Runner John Horn, Catchcan Bobby Grant, and Front Tire Changer Cory DeMarco.
Crew members from the No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford Fusion team
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)
I’ve managed to shock myself at how long it’s taken me to write something about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s win at Michigan last weekend.
I was in Los Angeles helping to celebrate Father’s Day for my brother-in-law so I wasn’t able to watch the race unfold. I saw the beginning of it before we left for lunch and then when I got back to the house I found that my mom had called me on my cell phone that I had regrettably left behind. I called her back and she asked me if I had seen it, seen Dale win. My first emotion was anger that I had missed it. I was so mad. If you follow me on Twitter you already knew that.
Of course I’m happy for him, ecstatic even, but I’m still sad that I missed it. It’s not enough for me to see the highlights after the fact. I need to watch it live. In the end though there’s nothing I can do about it. I still got to see how it ended and his reaction in victory lane and his interview with ESPN’s Marty Smith. Although, I do wish his win had been cleaner and by “cleaner” I mean that I wish there wasn’t the whole controversy over passing the pace car under yellow. I’ll still take it of course, but still, it lingers.
My mom is traveling and she saw the end of the race in a restaurant in Arkansas. She was taken aback by the crowd cheering for Dale as he won the race. Stuff like that doesn’t happen in Northern California. If you enter a restaurant and the patrons are cheering it’s either because the Giants, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders or A’s are winning. Some places will have the race on TV but it’s usually because there’s nothing else on. At any rate, I want to experience that for myself. I must get myself to Charlotte asap!
In other news….
– Kyle Busch has bowed of his attempt at running for a Championship in all three of NASCAR’s series. I think that was a good idea. After two sucky weeks I think it was the thing to do. I don’t think that’s something that I’d want any driver to do, even the ones that I don’t like. It’s too much work and it thins out your focus for the most important Championship of all, the Sprint Cup.
– Joey Logano won his first NASCAR race and he’s the youngest guy to do it in the Nationwide series. How cool is that? I was really happy for him and it was fun to see his father counting down those final laps. It’s good to see the hype pay off.
– I’m all set to go to Chicago for the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in July. I even added in an extra day to my itinerary so I could check out downtown Chicago and see Gavin Rossdale in concert at the House of Blues.
– The NASCAR race at Infineon is this week and I’m super excited. I’ll be there on Friday. The first order of business will be attending the media gatherings outside of each of the top-12 drivers haulers. Of course I’m not trying to go to all of them. I have my select group of drivers that I’m interested in hearing from the most. I’ll be posting daily during the weekend, probably when I get home each day.
– Nikki Blonsky, the young actress who starred in the latest movie version of Hairspray will be singing the national anthem for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Northern California native Guy Fieri, host of the Food Networks show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives will serve as the Grand Marshall.
– For this weekend’s race at Infineon Travis Kvapil and the No. 28 Yates Racing Ford will be sponsored by… wait for it… the California Highway Patrol! Shut up! I know! Cops are sponsoring racing. How crazy is that? I love it.
Tony Stewart climbs in his car to practice for the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kasey Kahne, winner of two of the last three races, is all smiles as he waits to qualify for the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
David Ragan is all smiles Saturday after posting the third-quickest time in the morning practice session. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Team owner Rick Hendrick congratulates Dale Earnhardt Jr. after he won the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway, ending a 76-race winless streak. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Defending race winner Carl Edwards gets ready to practice for the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The really, really young guns.
(L to R) NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Brad Coleman, Landon Cassill, Bryan Clauson, Eric McClure and Jason Leffler talk with 2,700 Nationwide associates prior to the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Nationwide is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR)
Joey Logano hoists the winner’s trophy at Kentucky Speedway as Tony Jones, Cincinnati Market Director for Meijer, looks on. Logano was the eighth different winner and eighth different pole winner at Kentucky; he was also the third consecutive series regular to win at the track. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR)
Yesterday I went to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma for the NASCAR Sprint Cup testing sessions. Let me tell you it was really cool!
First of all, it was free and you can’t beat free.
Second, everything was open. By open I mean seriously open. I parked my car in the garage area, literally next to the haulers. The garage stalls were right across from my car. When it’s a race weekend, everything is blocked off and you have to have a garage pass. There was none of that yesterday. There were no Hot or Cold garage warnings. If I had the balls to do it I totally could have walked right into someone’s garage and been like “Hey, what’s up? How’s the car handling today?”
That being said you really had to watch yourself ’cause the guys were coming in and out of the garage left and right and there was no one around with a whistle to tell you to get out of the way. Case in point a man with two kids was walking towards me in the grandstand/victory lane area completely oblivious to the grumbling race car right behind them.
I always wonder how drivers feel about having the fans right there looking at them, getting in their way, etc. It’s not like I can walk into the Chicago Bears locker room and stare at Brian Urlacher before a game, although if the NFL decides to start doing that sign me up! Just kidding. Sort of. Ok I’m not kidding.
Anyway, back to yesterday. I stood in the victory lane above pit road and realized that this was exactly where I wanted to be at that exact moment. It was so awesome to just be there, taking pictures and watching the cars drive by. There weren’t a lot of people on hand, although more started to come in as I was leaving, but all in all I probably saw less than 15 people all told — lots of grandparents, fathers and sons.
Travis Kvapil, David Ragan, J.J. Yeley, Marcos Ambrose, Sam Hornish Jr. and David Gilliland were all there to test cars in anticipation of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. J.J., David Ragan, Marcos and Travis tested in GT America stock cars provided by Pioneer Motorsports from Lake Oroville, California (outside Sacramento). David Gilliland drove a NASCAR Camping World Series West car. I seriously couldn’t tell who was who ’cause the paint schemes were not their own, except for Sam’s.
Of the drivers that were present I only saw J.J., David Gilliland and Sam outside of their cars. I got a photo of Sam on his cell phone. It was so odd trying to take a photo them. I felt like a paparazzo. You feel like you should be able to say something but you can’t.
I took some very, very bad video of a couple cars on the track. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of video taping live action events, so forgive me.
Here’s a quote from David Gilliland talking about the importance of Infineon:
“People used to think, ‘This is Sonoma, a road race. I’m not good at road races.’ But now, with the points so close, you can’t give up on one race,” said Gilliland. “You can’t have a bad race anymore and expect to be up front. It’s too competitive now, so people are starting to take it more seriously.”
Sam Hornish Jr. chatting on his cell phone during the testing session at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
This is the back of J.J. Yeley discussing stuff with his crew at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
And now the back of David Gilliland talking one of his crew members at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
More photos of the cars in my Flickr account!
And so begins the television coverage of NASCAR from the fine folks at TNT. I really wish NASCAR could just be on one channel. One. Uno. But what can ya do right?
So TNT excitedly announced their new RaceBuddy feature on NASCAR.com, I didn’t bother to check it out — at least not yet — but the image that kept jumping to mind every time they mentioned it during Sunday’s race was the doll My Buddy from the 80s. I keep singing the theme song to myself “My Buddy, My Buddy, My Buddy, My Buddy and Meeeeeee!” and then I followed it up with “Kid Sister, Kid Sister, Kid Sister, Kid Sister and Meeeeeeee!” Bonus points to you if you remember My Buddy and Kid Sister and triple quadruple points if you actually had one!
Brad Keselowski, how can you not be happy for this guy? He raced his butt off and got his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win ever and I couldn’t be more excited for him and the Navy team. You could see the genuine relief and happiness in his eyes after the race. It was just so cool that his mom and dad were there. Those are my absolutely favorite moments in sports in general. Getting to see the family that has been with these guys from the beginning and getting to see them sharing that moment when they have their first taste of success, that’s pretty awesome. It’s another one of the million reasons why I’m so anxious for the Olympics to start.
Furthermore, didn’t it suck that Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t there to be with his team for their first win? He didn’t even get to see it live on TV. DirecTV had a blackout and so for the last ten laps he had a friend relay the information to him online. Crazy.
Ok, so the Cup race at Pocono. Speaking of Dale Jr. what was up with him during his post race interview? I know that he’s not a super talkative guy after the races in general but that was less that usual. I’m sure it had to do with the heat, and it seems like all of the guys were feeling the affects of it after the race, except for Jimmie Johson who said he was totally fine. Right.
Kasey Kahne won another race and that’s great for him. I’m still miffed about the lack of attention that the Yates Racing guys have received. I want them to get a friggin’ top 5 finish so bad just so the media will have to talk about them for longer than 10 seconds.
In other news…
– Speaking of Yates Racing, both of their drivers will be here in the Bay Area tomorrow for testing at Infineon. I will be there too, taking pictures of whatever I can see. Hopefully something will be going on while I’m there, I won’t be able to stay the whole day.
– David Ragan will be on an episode of “Lawrence of America” on the Travel Channel tomorrow (June 10th) at 11pm EST. Check your local listings. “It was fun filming the show with Lawrence last fall,” said Ragan. “I think he learned a lot and it will be a great way to hopefully introduce the sport to some new fans to the sport. We had a good time at the go-kart track, but next time we’ll go the big track and see how he does.”
– There’s still plenty of time to enter the contest for a free copy of the NASCAR Full Throttle Adrenaline DVD set.
– I don’t know what it is about Brian Vickers but every time I hear him speak I’m surprised by his southern accent. It’s like I forget that he has one every time I see him. It’s cute though, I like accents. There’s no big point to this, I’m just over sharing.
Brian Vickers finished second in the Pocono 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, moving up two spots to 17th in driver standings (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Mark Martin qualified third-fastest for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, where he’s finished second six times. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Fellow Ford drivers, Jamie McMurray and David Gilliland, talk about their cars during a break in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Elliott Sadler share a laugh in the garage during Friday’s practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Today has been hectic for moi. I officially moved into my new apartment and I’m so tired I could… well… go to sleep.
As far as NASCAR goes, here’s what I know:
I’m off to put a bedskirt on. Oh! But one more thing, I was thinking about this the other night. So crew chief Jimmy Elledge was fired from Chip Ganassi Racing, but he’s married to Kelley Earnhardt Elledge who basically runs anything that her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is doing, so do you think he’ll get a job over at JR Motorsports?
Here are some photos from the testing sessions at Pocono this week:
They’re installing my dish tomorrow! Yay!
Clint Bowyer waits to get in his car during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Pocono Raceway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
David Gilliland turned the fastest lap of the day on Tuesday (54.742 seconds) during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Pocono Raceway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Marcos Ambrose helps his No. 47 crew by working on his tires on Wednesday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at Pocono Raceway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
They’ve got great genes in that Labonte family.
Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Terry Labonte tests the No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Pocono Raceway on Wednesday (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dario Franchitti reviews data during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Pocono Raceway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Martin Truex Jr. meets the media during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Pocono Raceway on Wednesday (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I don’t know what is up with Jimmie’s hair but let’s just hope he’s “in between styles” right now.
Jimmie Johnson talks with the media during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Pocono Raceway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I’m glad that Kasey Kahne won the Coca-Cola 600. It’s a great boost for him and his team and Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM — truly, truly outrageous!). I didn’t think it was going to happen since Tony Stewart had that commanding lead at the end, but his misfortune was Kasey’s good luck.
About the photo of Kasey to the left: I seriously challenge him to take a horrible picture! He’s not even trying for gosh sakes.
I have to give NASCAR kudos for all of the pre-race festivities involving the troops. I got all teary-eyed when the trumpeter played Taps and I got chills from the bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace.”
But here’s where I got irked during the pre-race show. During the Gas ‘N Go segment where Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond answer quick fire questions asked by Chris Myers. They failed to include a question about the swapping of the deck chairs on the titanic that has been Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
Why oh why did they not talk about Jimmy Elledge’s firing, after he had been moved from Reed Sorenson’s team over to the crew chief position for Juan Pablo Montoya? That’s interesting. That’s something about which I’m actually curious to know DW’s opinion. What I’m not concerned with is the obvious fact that there’s no way that NBA star Yao Ming could fit into a race car.
Ya know, for a moment there when I heard about the crew chief swap at Gnassi and Juan Pablo’s frustrations that I actually felt for the guy, but then I read this exchange between him and Associated Press writer Jenna Fryer and I all of that went out the window:
Q: They call last weekend the biggest weekend in racing. Monaco, Indianapolis and the Coca-Cola 600 — of all three, which do you think is the biggest?
JPM: Um, the one I’m in.
Q: Do you mean the one you are in now (NASCAR), or the one you are in that particular year?
JPM: Both. I don’t know. As a show for the fans, the best one is this one. As far as tradition, the other ones have a lot of tradition. In Europe, the Monaco Grand Prix is a big deal. I think it’s such a big deal because it’s the only street course Formula One does. The other races you can actually see cars hitting walls and screwing up. I guess people like that.
Q: Which victory did you prefer, Monaco or Indy?
JPM: Don’t put me in that position.
JPM: I am not going to answer that. You know what the answer is, so don’t ask it.
Q: I don’t know the answer. That’s why I asked the question.
JPM: Next question.
Q: I’ve got nothing else.
Why is this guy such a tool?? Okay, I actually do feel for him in terms of the crew chief situation and everything, but I still maintain that he’s got an icky, egotastic attitude.
Yao Ming (L) talks with Kyle Petty (R) prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 on May 25, 2008 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Joey Logano addresses the media during a news conference to celebrate his 18th birthday. Logano will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut next week at Dover International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #20 Z-Line Designs Toyota (L), and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #88 NAVY Chevrolet, speak to the media in a press conference following the NASCAR Nationwide Series CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 on May 24, 2008 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Travis Kvapil, driver of the #28 Lumber Liquidators Ford, sits in his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 on May 22, 2008 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ok, so here is the bad news. I’m not going to Charlotte this week for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. There are a few things that contributed to me calling off the trip but the biggest thing is that I’m suddenly moving next week and I couldn’t justify using the money on the trip when I could really use it for the move.
So it sucks that I won’t get to meet people (Penni!) and visit the race shops but I know I’ll have another opportunity to visit the Charlotte area in the future.
But the good news is that I’m moving into my own place again (awesome!) and that I got word that I was approved for credentials to the races at Infineon in June. I’m super-duper relieved that I will be able to go the Toyota/Save Mart 350. It’s going to be fun. Oh and now this whole thing allows me to watch both the Coca-Cola 600 and the Indy 500.
In other news…
– I’m not writing for Examiner.com anymore. There’s no big story except that it just wasn’t the right thing for me. The thing that I love the most about my blog is that it’s mine and I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. If you check this site regularly you know that I don’t have a set schedule and I don’t write everyday. I would love to be able to have something relevant to say everyday but I don’t. Plus I love writing about my experiences at the races or watching the races on TV and not needing to be an expert. I don’t know everything there is to know about NASCAR and I’m not trying to act like I do. I just write about the things that occur to me and that’s what I’m going to keep on doing. So there. Just kidding. I have absolutely no ill will towards the folks at the Examiner. I appreciate being given the opportunity. I think the new design they have is great.
– I’ll be doing another DVD giveaway soon and by soon I mean hopefully this week. I watched the DVD last week and I need sit down and remember all the great things I liked about it. This time I’ll have three copies to give away (unless they tell me I have to give two of ‘em back).
– I finally got to watch the full episode of Cribs that featured Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the western town he built on his property, Whisky River. They’ve been playing it on CMT along with the old segments Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray filmed a long time ago (Casey was still with Gnassi Racing). I loved seeing inside Dale’s house and of course Whisky River. If I was a kid and I was related to him I’d want to hang out at his place like all the time. When I was a kid I loved to make believe and I don’t think it would get any better than having a place like that with an actual working jail you could lock your friends in and then go faux marry someone at the chapel. That’d be so freaking fun.
– The All-Star Race happened and I missed it. Marc from Full Throttle was awesome to give me a great tip on how to watch the race online but I had to miss out on that too ’cause I went out to meet a guy. Plus for some reason I had it in my head that the race was on Sunday and not Saturday. At any rate it’s awesome that Kasey Kahne got the win. Hopefully it’ll light a fire under his team to win a points race.
– I’m stoked that the Red Bull guys had a good weekend. First by winning the Pit Crew Challenge and then by getting A.J. Allmendinger into the All-Star race. It’s all awesome stuff.
The No. 83 Red Bull Toyota pit crew of Brian Vickers pushes their car towards the finish line during the Craftsman 40-Yard Push. The crew won the championship, setting a new speed record along the way. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(L-R): Individual winners Caleb Hurd, gas man for the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet, Jamie Frady, catch can man for the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet, Dave Smith, rear tire changer for the No. 17 DeWalt Ford, Jason Binger, rear tire carrier for the No. 17 DeWalt Ford, Nick O’Dell, front tire changer for the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota, Brad Donaghy, front tire carrier for the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota and Eric Wilson, jackman for the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge pose in Victory Lane. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
AJ Allmendinger celebrates winning the Sprint Showdown. Allmendinger’s win transferred him into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I love this photo, the expression on Kasey’s face is priceless.
Kasey Kahne celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Kahne was voted into the race by a Fan Vote and raced his way to victory from the back of the field. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I still don’t have the SPEED channel and therefore won’t be able to watch the NASCAR All-Star event. Yes, I know it’s shameful and sad but for as many reasons that I have to justify the cost of having the channel I really don’t want to pay all that extra dough to move up to the channel plan I would need just to get one extra channel. I say bring on a la carte pricing!
Anyway, as soon as I move I’ll be sure to get DirecTV and I can avoid using those price gougers at Comcast.
So, yeah no All-Star festivities for me this weekend but I did vote for the drivers I want to see in the All-Star race on Sunday night. The All-Star Fan Vote has been going on since April and you have until this Saturday at 7pm to submit your vote. You can do it online by going to NASCAR.com or by texting the word “NASCAR” to 7777 on your Sprint phone. I highly recommend voting for Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland, Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip or J.J. Yeley. Since these guys are amongst the drivers that don’t have a spot locked in, they’ll have to either race their way in from the Sprint Showdown or be voted in by the Fan Vote.
In other All-Star news…
– Dale Jarrett will be at Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the last All-Star race of his career. They’re making the occasion extra special by introducing Dale last during driver introductions and instead of sitting in the back of a Toyota Tundra, like the other drivers, to wave to the fans around the track he’ll be driving (finally!) the UPS Big Brown Truck. Sounds like it’ll be a really cool send off.
– The first ever NASCAR Day telethon is set for tomorrow at the Sam Bass Gallery in Concord, North Carolina. Various Sprint Cup drivers including Casey Mears and Brian Vickers will be on hand to field calls for donations. Call 1-888-MAY16TH (1-888-629-1684). SIRIUS Satellite Radio will be broadcasting from the telethon all day starting at 7 a.m. and SPEED will be cutting in and out throughout the day as well.
– On Sunday the rear panel for Carl Edwards’ No. 99 Office Depot Ford will carry a super cool message from the winner of the Harlequin & Office Depot “Say Yes to a Winning Proposal” contest. I’m soooo excited to find out who the lucky couple is and I hope someone produces some kick butt reaction photos of the soon-to-be bride. They’re unveiling the winning proposal tomorrow, so I’ll see what I can see, but be on the lookout for Carl’s car on Saturday.
– Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle spent some quality time together this week while helping to build a KaBOOM! playground (in one day!) for Elon Homes for Children in Charlotte. Think they talked about swapping rides next year??
Tony Stewart, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the #20 Home Depot Racing car & two-time Series Champion and Greg Biffle, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the #16 3M Racing car help build a build a racing-themed playground in just one day at Elon Homes for Children (Photo Credit: CIA for KaBOOM)
Jeff Gordon was on hand for the Monster Monument dedication ceremony at Dover International Speedway today. I bring this up to point out Jeff’s surprisingly muscular arms (who knew?) and to talk about the place of his birth.
Jeff was born in Vallejo, California which is situated about 20-something miles away from where I’m sitting right this very minute. As a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m pretty sure Jeff is the greatest thing to ever come out of Vallejo in its entire history of existence (and if I’m wrong, I’m sure someone will point that out), unless you count Marine World, which I don’t. There isn’t much to do there, it’s just a city with houses and people and schools and what not.
But anyway the point is that the city of Vallejo has been going through some financial woes as of late and is on the brink of declaring bankruptcy. They’re in the hole about $16 million. You think he could write ‘em a check?
In other news…
The fabulous people at Nationwide — title sponsors of the NASCAR Nationwide Series — sent over a press release featuring the post-race interviews with the top-three drivers from the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington Raceway on Friday. There was one exchange between Tony Stewart and Dave Rogers, his Nationwide Series crew chief, that was particularly funny (for audio go here):
The Joe Gibbs number 20 team is easily leading the Owners’ standings again after winning six of the year’s 12 races and they have done that with three different drivers, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. After last Friday night’s win, Tony was doing the post race interview when someone asked who chief Dave Rogers thought was the best driver among those three, would want in that car. Before Rogers could answer Tony jumped in:
How many races have you won this year?
How many have I won?
Well that’s easy to figure out. I thought you guys were smart. Obviously there are no math majors in the group. See, I am just keeping him from getting himself in a box. I don’t care those guys can come tell me they are better than me all day long. Just like AJ Foyt said, “all you got to do is check the record books big boy.”
It was a super sweet moment seeing the group of NASCAR moms standing the track telling their son’s to start their engines.
With that said though it sucks that Kurt and Kyle Busch’s mom had to take on the fans booing her son. It’s one thing to boo Kyle but not when his mom is being honored for Mother’s Day. That’s really lame.
Kurt (left) and Kyle (right) help their mother Gaye (center) off of the stage before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brian and Ramona Vickers leave the stage before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ryan Newman and his mother Diane take part in driver introductions before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Everytime I see Kasey’s mom, Tammy, I’m always in awe of the fact that she looks like she could be his sister and I don’t mean that in an Eddie Haskell kind of way either. She looks great.
Tammy Kahne and her son Kasey wave to the Darlington Raceway crowd before the Dodge Challenger 500 (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Elliott Sadler follows his mother Bell off of the stage before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Reed and mother Becky Sorenson salute the crowd before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tony Stewart and his mother, Pam Boas, wave to the Darlington Raceway crowd during driver introductions for the Dodge Challenger 500 (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Jr’s mom, Brenda, wins for best outfit, I would totally go out and buy this entire ensemble. And I’m not just saying that ’cause she’s the mother of my favorite driver. Seriously, it’s a great look.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. follows his mother, Brenda Jackson, off of the stage before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carol Mears follows her son Casey off of the stage before the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carol Bickford and her son, Jeff Gordon, waves at the crowd at Darlington Raceway, where Gordon has won seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The winner of the Wave the Green Flag contest, Betty Easley, received an all-expense-paid travel package to the Dodge Challenger 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway over Mother’s Day weekend (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
If you’ve been living under a rock then you don’t know that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be sporting a retro look this weekend on his No. 88 Chevy. His car will feature a Mountain Dew paint scheme similar to the one Darrell Waltrip used in 1981 and 1982.
Dale says, “I think the Mountain Dew retro paint scheme is very fitting for the history at Darlington. The car itself is an old paint scheme on a new car, and we’ve got an old racetrack with a new surface. It’s going to be very interesting. It’s going to be fun to see how to get around that track and where the fast grooves are — where to find the grip and speed. It’s a real good-looking race car so I can’t wait to get some good photos — old school type photos — when I get out there.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. waits for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice to get under way at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
Driving a retro Mountain Dew paint scheme at NASCAR’s second oldest track, Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives through the garage area at Darlington Raceway (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
I think it looks awesome; I love the look of retro racing stripes.
But don’t think that Dale Jr. is the only one who knows how to go back in time. Travis Kvapil’s No. 28 Ford Fusion will be decked out in a special paint scheme similar to the one Fred Lorenzen used in the 1960′s when he was sponsored by LaFayette Ford.
With a paint scheme reminscent of one driven by NASCAR legend Fred Lorenzen, the No. 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team prepares its car for Travis Kvapil (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(April 29, 2008) Yates Racing announced today that LaFayette Ford, who sponsored the No. 28 with driver Fred Lorenzen from 1962-1967, will again sponsor the No. 28 entry but this time with driver Travis Kvapil for the Sprint Cup series race at Darlington Raceway on May 10th. Kvapil’s No. 28 will sport a paint scheme reminiscent to that of Fred Lorenzen’s during the 60’s when LaFayette Ford sponsored Lorenzen’s No. 28 machine.
“It’s really a neat idea that LaFayette Ford wanted to sponsor our No. 28 Ford for the race at Darlington,” commented Kvapil. “The No. 28 has so much history associated with it that I’m honored to be a part of that legacy. Our paint scheme is a vintage scheme similar to the one Fred (Lorenzen) used to race and I think the car’s going to look great out on the track. I’m flattered that LaFayette Ford chose to sponsor our team at Darlington and I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
It’s a well known fact that Jimmie Johnson has a friend in pop star Nick Lachey. The two buddies even created a charity golf tournament together. So it was no surprise that Lachey was in victory lane with Jimmie after he won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 in Phoenix a few weeks ago.
But for Johnson it was surprising to see his face on the t-shirt Lachey was wearing that day. The white shirt featured Jimmie’s high school yearbook photo. The shirts were made by Johnson’s wife, Chandra, for his birthday one year.
“I never thought I’d see the shirt again, and then Nick showed up with it again,” Johnson said. “That’s my senior photo. That’s going to haunt me for a long time.”
Nick calls it his lucky shirt and with Jimmie’s first win of the year coming on the same day he showed up at the track wearing it, he might be right.
I think Jimmie is right about this photo haunting him, ’cause I for one plan on keeping this sucker online forever. Although, as high school photos go it’s really not that bad.
(photo credit: ©Dorsey Patrick Photography, 2008)
It’s no secret that I don’t like Kyle Busch. While I respect his talent and I can appreciate his drive for winning, I still find him to be the most annoying and obnoxious driver on the Sprint Cup circuit to date. Even when he wins he can’t help but complain or take a jab at someone. I think it all stems from insecurity and immaturity but whatever, maybe he’ll grow out of that.
And now for some random fabulousness:
– I interviewed Washington Post sportswriter Liz Clarke a little while ago and I would love it if you’d read our conversation. I only point it out because I’m really proud of it and I think you could get something out of it. I’m just sayin’.
– If you’re new to my blog or are a regular reader please take a second to fill out my reader survey. It’s nothing fancy and I’m not selling the information I receive, so it’s all just for my knowledge. I’ll be your best friend, ok, not really but you know what I mean.
– My mom will be mad at me if I don’t mention the fact that on Sunday while we were watching the race we saw a commercial for Domino’s promoting some special NASCAR deal. We called our local Domino’s restaurant and the manager had no idea there was such a deal available. He’d never heard of it apparently and then my mother proceeded to ask him what kind of manager he was and then he hung up on her. Yep, that’s my mom. Anyway, we ended up getting pizza from Round Table, where, I might add the guy went out of his way to find a coupon for us to use since we didn’t have any. Good job picking up the slack Round Table!
– Do you read The Onion? Well you should because they’re hilarious and they write the funniest stuff. They decided to make fun of Carl Edwards and his backflip tradition. Ya gotta check this out… Carl Edwards Does Mournful ‘Did Not Finish’ Backflip (Onion Sports)
– If this doesn’t work I don’t know what will. In an attempt to secure a sponsor for the Yates Racing No. 28 car driven by Travis Kvapil they’re running a special “11 Million” paint scheme at Bristol this weekend. The “11 Million” stands for the average number of people that watch the race coverage on FOX each day. Of course it goes without saying, if I had the money I’d totally sponsor this team. Can’t you just imagine “The Fast and the Fabulous” Ford zooming around the race track? hehe. Maybe Travis and the guys at Yates are glad I don’t have the money.
The 2008 NASCAR TV season is already off to a great start with an average of more than 11 million people per race day watching the No. 28 Yates Racing Ford during FOX’s coverage. This three-race average doesn’t include the 33.5 million viewers that watched the Daytona 500. With TV ratings up, and the No. 28 team still looking for sponsorship, it only makes sense to highlight one of the many benefits of a primary sponsorship with Yates Racing and the No. 28 team by placing “11 Million” on the hood of the Ford Fusion. Driver Travis Kvapil thinks it’s a unique approach to attracting sponsorship and hopes that he can get his No. 28 “11 Million” Ford to the number one position this Sunday at Bristol.
“I think it’s pretty creative,” said Kvapil. “When you stop and think about it, that’s a lot of eyeballs watching you every weekend, and this is just a fraction of the coverage that we get each week. I can’t imagine what the number would be if you added up all the media coverage along with the practice, qualifying, pre-race and post-race shows. That’s huge.”
Sponsorship opportunities are available; please contact Kevin Thomas with Yates Racing at 704-706-2120.
– Speaking of Yates Racing, be on the lookout for my interview with Michelle Gilliland, wife of David Gilliland who drives the No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford. I should be posting it in the next few days.
I’m posting this because I think Connie Montoya’s dress is super cute! That is all.
(Left to right) Felix Sabates, NASCAR CFO R. Todd Wilson, Chip Ganassi, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, Connie Montoya, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Petty and NASCAR Foundation Executive Director Sandy Marshall traveled to Colombia to raise awareness for the Montoyas Formula Smiles program and Petty’s Victory Junction Gang Camp. (Photo Credit: Special to NASCAR)
Scott Speed is one colorful dude.
Guenther Steiner (R), the technical director for Red Bull Racing Team, talks with Red Bull Racer, Scott Speed (L) a few hours before his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Martin Truex Jr. qualified third for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Marc Serota / Getty Images for NASCAR)
After the track was dried, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series got in a final practice. In his quest for three consecutive Atlanta wins, Jimmie Johnson turned the eighth-fastest lap. (Photo Credit: Marc Serota / Getty Images for NASCAR)
So as the race wound down I made sure I was in the lobby of the Media Center to catch Carl Edwards’ flip into the grass as it happened. As soon as he sped his car into the garage the entire No. 99 Office Depot team came running through the lobby on their way to celebrate their win in Victory Lane. My blurry photo of some of the guys is to the left.
I must confess that yet again I was hoping and wishing that Dale Earnhardt Jr. would make it into the top 3 because at the end of every race they always have the top finishers come into the Media Center to answer questions. As soon as I saw Carl jump off of his car in Victory Lane I hightailed into the deadline media room and waited for Dale and Greg Biffle to arrive. Biffle came in first and looked dead at me like I was an alien. I don’t think he meant anything weird by it; I was standing right next to the door he came through and he was already answering questions from a couple writers so he was in mid-sentence and they just stopped right there by the door. Yea it was awkward. So I moved away and stood next to an empty workspace, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible from that point onward.
Eventually Biffle took a seat on the stage and Dale Jr. zipped in and took his designated spot next to him (after the questions were over he zipped right out, he’s not much of a lingerer that Dale Jr.). There were more questions directed to Dale than Biffle. Dale was funny and I knew they wouldn’t use his best responses on the local newscasts later that night. He called himself a tool for not being more aggressive when it came to restarts and when one writer questioned his status of emotions after coming in second, saying that he thought Dale seemed “subdued” in his demeanor, Dale replied, “I don’t know, I’m happy. I’m sorry I’m not happier.”
The best part came when they were both asked about how much they think about the points standings and making sure they’re in the top 12. Dale admitted that last year he was “lackadaisical” about the Championship standings, saying that he’d say “We’ll get around to it, we’ll put some runs together to get in there,” but not so this year. This time he’s focusing on every lap. And frankly as one of his fans, that’s music to my ears.
Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. answer questions from the media after the UAW-Dodge 400 in Las Vegas on Sunday, March 2, 2008
For all of the Auto Club Speedway’s attempts at making itself Hollywood east it didn’t really come through at their race last week. Ok, so they had Tom Cruise, but that’s one dude and people don’t like him anymore since he jumped on Oprah’s couch. Las Vegas Motor Speedway had Carrot Top! You read that right, the one and only Carrot Top was on hand for the UAW-Dodge 400. He just sort of popped up at driver introductions. I was disappointed he was wearing a jacket. I wanted to see his scarily bulging biceps.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous host Robin Leach was there to announce the drivers. I caught a glimpse of country singer Blake Shelton leaving the drivers meeting before the race. He is so freaking gorgeous. JC Chasez of N’SYNC fame also made an appearance at the race. He hung out with the drivers before introductions and then at Kurt Busch’s car during the national anthem.
JC Chasez of N’SYNC waits to have his photo taken at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 2, 2008. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
I got back from Las Vegas yesterday and I’m still tired. I’m going to break up my recap of Sunday into separate posts, along with photos ‘cause there’s kind of a lot to talk about.
To start, I gotta talk about the Neon Garage.
The Neon Garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a playground for adults. At least that’s what it looks like to me. There’s a big bar, food and a concert stage right smack dab in the middle of the garage. The thing I loved about it the most is how much of the team garages you can actually see. You could even go one step further and say that you really don’t even need to get a garage pass. There are windows into each of the team’s stalls, from the top and the bottom so that fans can see in from almost every angle. The teams have no privacy when they’re working on their cars. If someone’s butt crack is showing or they’re picking their nose everybody is going to see it.
Some other pluses for the fans are the fact that the place is super clean and just incredibly open. Oh and about that concert stage. I saw the impersonators for Elvis and Stevie Wonder. And really it’s not a trip to Vegas without a performance from Elvis right? In addition to Stevie and Elvis there was a complete line-up of celebrity impersonators and then a bunch of cover bands — no race weekend is complete without a cover of “Life is a Highway.”
After a road trip that consisted of over 500 miles, one prison, and 50 Lance Burton billboards, I made it to Las Vegas on Friday.
I checked in to the hotel I went straight to the track to pick up my credentials. Traffic was crap.
Here’s the thing you should know about me. I’m a rule follower. I don’t like to break rules. It bothers me when others break rules. If we all say we’re going to do it one way I don’t like it when people disregard all of that and do whatever they want. So with that being said, I thought I was prepared. Well as much as I could be given the fact that when you’re given credentials nobody tells you anything about where anything is. It’s all up to you to figure it out. Of course you can ask (and I have), but I don’t understand why they don’t have some sheet that just outlines basic stuff, like here’s how you get to the media center, here’s what those symbols on your credentials mean and what they give you access to, here’s why you’re not getting a parking pass, etc.
So back to Friday, My first mistake was getting off at the exit for general parking, there was another exit designated for people picking up credentials but I didn’t find that out until yesterday when I was on my way to the track again.
After exiting the freeway, I went in the direction that should have taken me to another road where I should have been able to turn left. Mm, no. All of the cops in the world were out in force and were diverting traffic to the right. So I went right. But I still needed to get to the credential office before it closed. So because my hands were tied, I did what the other people who were pissed that they couldn’t go left like they needed to did, I made what I’m sure was an illegal u-turn and headed back up the road. I crossed in front of oncoming traffic to turn into the credentials gate, no help from the cops there.
After I got my credentials I decided to just go back to the hotel. There was no way I was going to figure out how to get into the track at that point. Besides, I was tired and qualifying was over.
The navigation system in my car said that it should take 25 minutes to get back to the hotel. It actually took an hour. Traffic in general on the city streets was slow and then once you were on the highway there were two accidents to contend with.
So that was Friday. Saturday I made sure I got up early to be at the track as soon as the gates opened so I could get a good parking spot. Here’s the problem with that plan. There’s like thousands of other NASCAR fans who had the exact same plan. My spot ended up not being that bad but it was still a bit of a walk to get to the track entrance.
This was my first time to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I was in awe of the Media Center. In the first floor lobby there’s this big wall of glass looking out at the start/finish line and pit row. I think I might have actually said “whoa” out loud.
It’s a beautiful, pristine building. But you know there’s a gripe coming right? The Media Center has three floors. The first has a lounge, a big meeting room (for drivers meetings and the like) and direct access to pit road. The second floor is where the deadline media have their view of the start/finish line and it’s where all of the PR materials, schedules & stat sheets live. The third floor, complete with roof access is where the VIP suites are situated. I’m not deadline media so that means I can sit in one of the workrooms and watch the race on a TV. I just think there’s something off about that. I’m here at the race with all this access and yet I still have to watch the race on a TV? Why not let me have access to the roof with the high rollers? I’ll promise to not eat anything from their platters of food.
I have no idea where I’ll be watching the race from today, but I can guarantee you it won’t be solely from a TV. The more I think about that the more it irks me. Ugh. Anyway…
Below are photos from Friday and Saturday. I’m posting my photos tomorrow as I forgot to bring my USB cord with me today. Lame.
Kasey Kahne retreats to his hauler after he was one of six Dodge drivers to find the wall during Friday’s practice for the UAW-Dodge 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)
Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Indy Racing League Indy Car Series champions Jimmie Johnson and Dario Franchitti chat while looking for shade from the hot Las Vegas sun during qualifying for the UAW-Dodge 400. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tony Stewart motions to his crew what he’s experiencing on the track during practice for the UAW-Dodge 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne was fastest in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice on Saturday for Sunday’s UAW-Dodge 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Doing the double this weekend, Greg Biffle qualified his NASCAR Nationwide Series car and then hopped in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ride for two practices before racing his Nationwide car on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Mark Martin (No. 5) slides by after making contact with Carl Edwards (No. 60) who collided with Brad Keselowski (No. 88) late in the Sam Town’s 300 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrates the first win for JR Motorsports with Mark Martin taking the No. 5 to victory lane. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images)
What can I say about the Daytona 500? I’m serious… What can I say about it? I’m stoked that Ryan Newman won, I’m pretty sure that no one was expecting that. I know everyone is saying that Hendrick Motorsports got off to a bad start for the year, which is kinda true but 1.) It’s one race and 2.) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 9th so that’s a win as far as I’m concerned. hehe.
I’m shocked that I’m about to say this, I really, truly am shocked, but Kurt Busch is kinda growing on me. I know! I can’t believe I just said that. I still don’t dig his little brother Kyle, but Kurt showed some real maturity on Sunday and I have to give him props for that. He could have tried to go after the glory for himself but he didn’t, he helped his teammate instead. I so totally respect that. This is freaking me out I have to stop talking about it.
In other news…
How great was it to have Fox back covering NASCAR? Getting to watch the race with Darrell Waltrip, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds is seriously like coming home. No, it’s like coming home with a Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte (with whip cream!) from Starbucks, lounging on the couch with a big blanket and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. It’s that good.
I’ve been reading the book “One Helluva Ride: How NASCAR Swept the Nation” by Washington Post writer Liz Clarke. I’m this close to finishing and I have to say that this was the perfect time to read it. The Daytona 500 brings up memories of the past, NASCAR’s beginning and it’s heroes. “One Helluva Ride” is the perfect companion. I wanted to get out of the house yesterday, so I took the book with me to Starbucks. Once I got to the parts about Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001 I was crying — I’m sure the people around me were like “What’s her deal??” At any rate, I hope to get the chance to speak with Liz and ask her some questions. More on that later.
Actress Amy Smart was a guest of Kyle Busch, who ran the second Gatorade Duel 150 race at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Teammates Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch chat prior to the 50th running of the Daytona 500 (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carl Edwards scans other drivers on his radio during Gatorade Duel practice. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ya go and try to do something different and everybody’s a critic. I still don’t know how I feel about it, but at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter. I just think it’s funny that there are message board threads dedicated to this topic and that for the past week the number one search term for people coming to my site has been “Tony Stewart’s Hair.” So if that’s what you came here for, who am I do deny you?
In other news…
– Kurt Busch secured the pole for tomorrow night’s Budweiser Shootout in Daytona. He managed it even though he was sick with the flu. I think this quote from his crew chief Pat Tryson is pretty funny:
“He’s a skinny little dude, but he’s as tough as nails,” Tryson said of Busch late Thursday night. “I told him this morning that his health is the number one priority and after seeing him laying there earlier today, I can’t believe he’s done all they tell me he has since then.”
And now more photos…
(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teammates Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch share time together before the Charlotte Media Tour event at Joe Gibbs Racing. (Photo Credit: HHP / Harold Hinson)
(Left to right) Chandra Johnson, President George W. Bush and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson visit for the second consecutive year to celebrate back-to-back championships. (Photo Credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Left to right) Rick Hendrick, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson share a moment during NASCAR’s visit to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo Credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images for NASCAR)
2007 Daytona 500 winner Kevin harvick gets behind the wheel of the 2008 Daytona 500 pace car in New York City’s Times Square. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Fickies / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kasey Kahne takes a break during Preseason Thunder testing at California Speedway (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Check out the photo below. It is of the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates open wheel and stock car drivers for 2008. Now, is it just me or do they look like waiters? Or maybe service dudes from my local dealership? I’m just sayin’…
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates introduces its open wheel and stock car teams on Monday during the Charlotte Media Tour. From left to right, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Pruett, Reed Sorenson, Scott Dixon, Sabates, Ganassi, Dario Franchitti, Memo Rojas, Alex Lloyd and Bryan Clauson represent six different countries. (Photo Credit: HHP/Harold Hinson)
Ya know, I’m not quite sure which I like better. I’m usually a big fan of dudes with long hair but I don’t know how I feel about it on Tony.
At any rate, here are more fantastic photos from the second week of testing at Daytona. These were taken yesterday.
Tony Stewart shares a laugh with the media during a Preseason Thunder news conference following Tuesday morning’s test session. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Sam Hornish Jr. signs autographs for fans on Tuesday morning during the second week of Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dario Franchitti puts on his balaclava as he gets ready to test on the second day of the second week of Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Three-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Jarrett will go for gold in his final Great American Race on Feb. 17 at the Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. poses with the special 50th running of the Daytona 500 edition of the Harley J. Earl Trophy during Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)
It’s like he’s staring into your soul. Great photo.
Bill Elliott takes a break from testing the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford during the second week of Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Back in August I wrote about my plans/desire to spend 2008 following NASCAR Sprint Cup racing around the country. Since then I have spent my time thinking of and working on every conceivable angle that would allow me to get out there and make this dream happen. It wasn’t until last Friday when my hopes of working my current day job AND setting out on this road trip were dashed by my employer.
I was down about it for the rest of the day until the next morning when I decided that I would just start the trip at the end of June of this year. That will give me 19 races to attend and I can spend the time between now and June saving money and figuring out other ways to earn a living whilst on the road. Hmm, that sounded weird, but you know what I mean!
Over the past couple weeks I’ve been given a chance at an amazing opportunity to grow this site. I’ll have more specific details once everything is finalized. It’s very exciting and I’m so stoked about it.
In other news…
The testing continues in Daytona and here are some photos from yesterday’s sessions.
Richard Petty and flames adorn the No. 43 Petty Enterprises car driven by Bobby Labonte. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kasey Kahne takes over the Budweiser ride as the Gillett Evernham Motorsports No. 9 car gets a new primary sponsor. (Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood / Getty Images for NASCAR)
David Ragan has taken off his rookie stripe and prepares for his sophomore season during Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)
No. 88 crew chief Tony Eury Jr. talks with Dale Earnhardt Jr. as they begin their first season together at Hendrick Motorsports. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images for NASCAR)
The 2007 Cup season is finally over. Jimmie Johnson is the Championship winner for the second year in a row and I’m just OK about it. Obviously it’s a great thing for him and his team. Hendrick Motorsports had a wonderful year. Three out of four of their drivers made it into the Chase and two of those drivers finished first and second. So instead of being so incredibly excited for Jimmie I’m happy for Rick Hendrick. He’s built an organization that is a force to be reckoned with, there’s no way around that.
Like all of the drivers I’m looking forward to next year. I became numb to the cruel hand fate had dealt to Dale Earnhardt Jr. over the end of this season many weeks ago. I can’t even talk about what happened at Homestead. There’s so much possibility awaiting him at Hendrick next year it’s pointless to waste time being frustrated with his last races with DEI.
2008 is going to be something. The thing that I’m the most excited about seeing is how the teams that are switching to Toyota next year handle the transition. I have a feeling that Tony Stewart is going to have some choice words if things don’t go so well.
Of course next year I want to be there in person to see it all go down. I ask you, what could be more fun than that? Yea, not much.
Matt Kenseth and crew chief Robbie Reiser celebrate the end of their eight-year partnership with a win at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 pit crew adjust his car during the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jeff Gordon takes a break during practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Car owner Jack Roush and Carl Edwards hoist the NASCAR Busch Series driver’s championship trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ricky Rudd races Kurt Busch in Rudd’s 906th and final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start. (Photo Credit: Doug Benc/Getty Images)
The holidays are quickly approaching and I have no clue what I’m getting anybody at this point. I think my friend Jamie has already bought my gift and a few for her relatives. Every year I say I’m going to start earlier but I never do. Anyway, If you have a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan on your list then you should think about buying them a brick with their name on it.
Now at first blush that sounds kinda dopey but these personalized bricks will be placed outside of Junior’s JR Nation retail store. Elvis fans have Graceland and Dale Jr. fans have JR Nation. So if you want to make sure that Dale knows that you support him — or that your sister has the hots for him — check out his website for details on how to be a part of his “Circle of Fans.”
JR MOTORSPORTS LAUNCHES CIRCLE OF FANS
Bricks allow fans to leave their mark on JR Motorsports
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 13, 2007) – Just in time for the holiday season JR Motorsports is offering race fans a chance to leave a lasting impression on the headquarters for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. with the JR Motorsports Circle of Fans.
The Circle of Fans is located outside the entrance to JR Nation, the first-ever retail store exclusive to Earnhardt Jr. and his JR Motorsports brand and home of the “Dale Jr. Fan Experience.” A total of 1,788 4×8-inch bricks make up this special area in front of JR Nation and each brick is customizable with up to two lines of copy with 17 characters on each line.
The bricks are $159.95 each and come with a limited edition 1:24-scale diecast replica of the JR Motorsports No. 17 street stock car — the very first race car fielded by Earnhardt Jr.’s team in 2002. Replica bricks are also available for an additional $39.95 each.
“We’ve had so many visitors at JR Nation who’ve wanted to leave a message for Dale Jr., so we thought the Circle of Fans would provide the perfect opportunity for fans to leave a lasting mark here at JR Motorsports,” said Shannon Reel, JR Nation store manager. “With this special program fans can create their own customized message.
“With the holidays upon us, these personalized bricks make great gifts for the Dale Jr. fan who has everything.”
The bricks are available for purchase in-store at JR Nation and order forms are also up on www.dalejr.com.
A portion of each purchase benefits the Exchange-SCAN of Iredell County, which fights child abuse through education and awareness training, health and daycare providers, parental aide programs, parental support groups and home-based intervention programs.
For more information on the Circle of Fans, please visit www.dalejr.com.
(All photos courtesy of JR Motorsports)
– This is kinda old but I had to post these photos (there’s one below too). Vince Vaughn attended the race at Texas to promote his new movie “Fred Claus.” He is a hot, hot man and I like him a lot. I don’t like mincing words when it comes to the awesomeness that is Vince Vaughn — he had me at “Swingers.” And ya know it did cross my mind that my name starts with a V and well it’d be really cool if we got married ’cause we’d have the same intials. But anyway… you really didn’t need to know that.
– Even though it’s coming from Kurt Busch, it’s nice to know that one of the drivers agrees with me on the lameness that is only the top 10 chasers getting the royal treatment — and not the top 12 as it should be — in New York this year:
“All the Chase drivers want to finish at least in the top 10 in the points,” Kurt said. “The way they have it this year is that there are 12 drivers in the Chase, but only the top 10 get to drive their show cars around Manhattan and take to the stage at the NASCAR Awards Banquet. It’s a case of team pride and wanting to be able to do all you can for your sponsors. To tell you the truth, as hard as all the teams work toward making the Chase, it’s kind of sad that two teams get left out like that. I really don’t understand that, but I guess you just have to accept it and go on.”
– Are you on Facebook? If you are you should check out the page I made and become a fan of “The Fast and The Fabulous.” I’ll be your best friend.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, except these guys, they really are that tall.
Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki (left) talks with actor Vince Vaughn at Texas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Geoffrey Miller over at AOL Fanhouse doesn’t seem to think that Jeff Gordon will be able to get past Jimmie Johnson for the Championship this weekend at Homestead:
After Johnson’s late-race domination at Phoenix — a race in which he led the final 24 laps — Johnson leads Gordon’s No. 24 team by 86 points. The basic math on that is that Gordon must win and lead the most laps at Homestead and Johnson has to finish 18 or worse.
In other words, it’s not going to happen.
While I could care less if Jimmie or Jeff wins the Championship, I still can’t let go of the hope that Jeff could still pull out the win in the end. I never give up until it’s all said and done. Why? Because I don’t want it to be boring — and if no one else is going to keep it interesting for me I’ll do it myself. Yes, the chances are slim but I’d rather cling to slim ones instead of none at all. It’s already boring as hell to see Jimmie win four-in-a-row. While it’s a very cool thing to accomplish, it doesn’t happen every day, but as a non-Jimmie fan it’s annoying.
Then factor in the fact that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going into this final race of the season winless and you have a very irked Valli.
In other news…
During the coverage of the race at Phoenix Dr. Jerry Punch noted that at the Championship banquet in New York this year only the top 10 of the 12 drivers will be on stage. Ok. Whose incredibly lame idea was that? If I was one of the two drivers in the bottom I would feel totally gypped. That’s like the Olympics committee saying “oh, wait, we’ve only got room on the podium for the first place winner.”
(Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)