This butterfly is definitely a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan!
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.
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)