‘Tis the season to get engaged! Reed Sorenson proposed to his girlfriend, Laura Frame, yesterday (Christmas Day). According to Reed, she said “yea.”
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Saturday’s Nationwide Series 5-hour ENERGY 200 was more entertaining than Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks because, ya know, stuff happened.
Not that you ever want to see anyone get hurt, but Saturday had some crazy crashes and all of the drivers walked away totally OK. Although crew guy, Glen Wheeler, for the No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. team did sustain an injury to his left leg and was held at a hospital overnight for his injury. It’s crazy that the debris that hit him came from the car he works on. I couldn’t believe Clint Bowyer’s crash. That was insane. When incidents like that happen at Dover they’re always insane. Hopefully Mr. Wheeler will be A-OK.
Sunday was cool and all, who doesn’t love babies in Victory Lane? But it was one of those races where if you talked to me five minutes after it was over and asked me what happened, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Sometimes it’s like that and then sometimes it’s like last week at Darlington and you can’t stop talking about it. Nevertheless, congratulations to Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 WileyX team. I think that was the second WileyX sponsored race for the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing team, so that’s pretty good for their second time out!
It’s time for Round Two! But first let’s find out what happened in Round One.
Kyle Busch (68%) defeated Jeff Burton (32%)
Juan Pablo Montoya (62%) defeated Brian Vickers (38%)
Tony Stewart (97%) defeated David Reutimann (3%)
Paul Menard (71%) defeated Jimmie Johnson (29%)
Casey Mears (73%) defeated David Ragan (27%)
Regan Smith (86%) defeated Kevin Conway (14%)
This updates the brackets, which you can see below (click it to see it larger).
And now, I think this is when things are going to get even MORE interesting. Round Two is the largest group, it’ll be fun to see who makes it into Round Three. I was going to let Round Two last for two weeks but I have decided to run it for just a week. Votes poured in for Round One and I can only expect it to get crazier for this one, so I’m trying to contain it. Plus I’m highly impatient and two weeks sound like forever to find out the results.
So let’s get to it! Here are the match-ups for Round Two! You can vote as many times as you want each day until voting ends on Saturday, January 15th.
UPDATE: Round Two voting has ended. Stay tuned for the results and Round Three!
|Jamie McMurray||Kyle Busch|
|David Gilliland||Joey Logano|
|Clint Bowyer||Bobby Labonte|
|Kurt Busch||Travis Kvapil|
|Ryan Newman||Juan Pablo Montoya|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Scott Speed|
|Sam Hornish Jr.||Tony Stewart|
|Carl Edwards||Kasey Kahne|
|Kevin Harvick||Casey Mears|
|Elliott Sadler||Reed Sorenson|
|Greg Biffle||Martin Truex Jr.|
|Jeff Gordon||Marcos Ambrose|
|Brad Keselowski||Paul Menard|
|AJ Allmendinger||Matt Kenseth|
|Robby Gordon||Regan Smith|
|Mark Martin||Denny Hamlin|
UPDATE: Round Two voting has ended. Stay tuned for the results and Round Three!
Saturday morning at Auto Club Speedway found me inside the Nationwide Series garage watching as drivers qualified for the CampingWorld.com 300. Driver after driver made their qualifying run and I stood by in the media bullpen area where they keep the top-3 cars. Cars shuffle in and out (and drive by) as the numbers on the pylon change order.
There weren’t a lot of fans milling around in the garage and only a handful actually stuck around to watch drivers get out of their cars and maybe ask them for an autograph. I noticed David Reutimann, in regular dude clothes, standing with the guys from Michael Waltrip Racing. He had on a hat and sunglasses but I still couldn’t get over the fact that people didn’t notice him. I guess it was good for him to not be bothered, seeing as how he’d just come off the weekend before and his infamous incident with Kyle Busch.
As qualifying progressed I watched as Carl Edwards got out of his car, spoke with various members of the media, signed autographs for fans, met with a large group of employees from his sponsor, Copart, took pictures with them, and then went off to the media center. All of that took place in the space of like 10 minutes. Now that’s multi-tasking.
The second Brad Keselowski got into Carl Edwards in turn 1 at Gateway International Raceway on Saturday I knew it was only a matter of opportunity before Carl got Brad back. So I wasn’t surprised in the least when Carl nudged Brad before the checkered flag.
Maybe what I’ve thought about Carl is all wrong. Maybe he’s just an “Eddie Haskell” smiling and being the nice “Aw shucks” guy in front of the cameras, doing all the right things you need to do to get a ride, get a sponsor, and get fans. But then once it’s time for the competition he’s clearly out for himself, he’s out for the win and I think in the case of Brad Keselowski it doesn’t help that Carl has had many issues with him in the past. Oh and the fact that it was a race at his home track also didn’t help matters. He couldn’t let this win slip out of his hands if he had a shot at it.
People always love to talk about NASCAR needs, ‘cause NASCAR always needs something, I guess. I never like writing or talking about stuff like that because I don’t think NASCAR is in a dire situation for anything. So what’s the point of talking about what would help it if I don’t think it needs help?
With that being said, if NASCAR does need something right now it would be what happened last night. David Reutimann won the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway and while the race as a whole was kinda boring, it was pure awesomeness to see David win a race without the help of weather issues for the first time. He and his No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine team won the race fair and square. I loved seeing the emotion in his face and that of his crew chief Rodney Childers. Rodney apologized for all of his emotion while talking to the TNT crew, but he shouldn’t have. He earned that win and he should let those feelings roll, he earned it.
And don’t forget to re-read my Inside the Actor’s Studio interview with David. hehe.
In other news…
– At race time yesterday Jimmie and Chandra Johnson had yet to announce the name of their new baby girl, but today they finally shared her name, Genevieve Marie Johnson, along with a picture of the cutie pahtootie newborn. Raise your hand if you have the same middle name as Genevieve. I do! I do!
– 20-year-old Austin Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress, won his first career NASCAR race today in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 200 at Iowa Speedway. Congratulations Austin! Who doesn’t love a first-time winner?
They’re hugging like this because they’re friends in real life.
Actor Angie Harmon greets Jimmie Johnson, driver of the Lowe’s Chevrolet during driver introductions for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 10, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
“Big Mac”, love that.
Jamie McMurray waits for the race action to begin for the LifeLock.com 400 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.
Austin Dillon, driver of the Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet poses with his little brother Ty Dillon, driver of the Karl Chevrolet Arca car after both of them won the pole awards at Iowa Speedway on July 10, 2010 in Newton, Iowa. Austin won the pole award after qualifying first for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 200 and Ty won the pole award for the ARCA Prairie 200. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards and his mother, Nancy Sterlin, during pre-race ceremonies for the Dollar General 300 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.
David Ragan (6) during practice for the LifeLock.com 400 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the Jimmy John’s Chevrolet and his wife DeLana stand for the National Anthem during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 Powered by Coca-Cola at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Reed Sorenson, driver of the Red Bull Toyota looks on from the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the Cheerios Chevrolet looks on from the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Duncan Keith of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks gives the command for the drivers to start their engines during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 10, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
A Sprint Cup Series off-weekend is a hard thing to deal with. It’s pretty sad how hard it is for me to figure out things to do to fill up the time. I’m sure the drivers and teams adore them but I find them to be intolerable and cruel. Ok, ok, it’s not THAT serious but still, I miss NASCAR when it’s gone.
The good news was that it wasn’t really gone, gone. There was still a Truck race on Friday and a Nationwide Series race on Saturday. I didn’t see the Truck race although I heard that some dude named Kyle Busch won it. I did catch the majority of the Nationwide race but I fell asleep during the last 20 laps or so. I woke up to that guy KyBu talking again and I was going to scream because I thought he’d won but he hadn’t, so I was happy. Thank you, Kevin Harvick, for making sure my weekend wasn’t ruined.
Here’s something you should know: I’m NOT working for Z-Line Designs. I can’t/won’t go into details, but I wanted to explain why I haven’t said anything about them since I announced I was going to work for them.
Driver of the #32 Dollar General Toyota, Reed Sorenson, watches scoring in the garage area during practice Friday while he prepares for the Nashville 300. (Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The two races at Atlanta last weekend or as I like to call them “The Two Races Dale Earnhardt Jr. Had an Actual Chance of Winning,” were good stuff. What would have made them great of course would have been if Dale Jr. had gone and actually won one of them. But it was not to be.
This might be mean but my favorite part of the race came when Kurt Busch spun out, hitting Reed Sorenson in the process and had to take his Miller Lite Dodge to the garage. Luckily they had the camera on him when he got out of his car and pounded its roof. He was highly pissed and it was television magic.
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)
All day the amount of media that gathered for the individual driver press conferences had been small to say the least. I think almost every driver who walked in commented on the lack of butts in the seats. The audio from each meeting was being broadcast over to the deadline media room, and the reporters there could ask questions if they wanted, so people didn’t have to show up in-person if they didn’t want to.
The only driver to have an insane grouping of everyone and their mother was Dale Earnhardt Jr. who was asked every kind of variation of the same question regarding the incident between him and Brian Vickers at Daytona. The gist of what he had to say was that he didn’t mean to do it, he’s sorry about it, and yes, he’s talked to Brian. Blah, blah, blah.
While the vast majority of media was hanging onto every word uttered from Dale’s lips, Carl Edwards was left sitting in the driver’s meeting room with only 3 writers in front of him. I was kicking myself for not ditching Dale and sitting in on Carl’s session instead.
When it comes to these Q&A shindigs with drivers I’ve never asked a question and I usually try to stay towards the back and to the side. But when you’re in a situation where you’re one of like 5 or 6 people in a big empty room it’s hard to blend in. I don’t prepare questions for these things, or at least I haven’t in the past.
These guys are always asked the same questions and if I did dare to say something I’d want it to be interesting and somewhat thoughtful. After about 3 drivers came in it was Casey Mears turn to take the stage and field questions.
I don’t know what I was thinking but I raised my hand to ask a question. I was curious if becoming a father last year has changed his outlook on racing at all. I was sort of afraid to ask because I didn’t want to pry into his personal life and I didn’t want him to give me a Paul Menard answer of “I’m not going to answer that.”
Casey was very nice and smiled throughout his entire response. Smiling is the international symbol for “Your question wasn’t horrible.”
Here’s Casey’s full response: “I’ve discussed this a little bit before and in Daytona as well. It’s funny because I think being one of the younger guys looking at some of the guys that have children and have a little bit more of a family thing, ‘Man, they’re probably slowing down a little bit.’ Ya know, they’re going to be a little more conservative because of that situation and in a lot of ways I think it’s completely the opposite now, being in that situation. It makes you want to try that much harder. It makes you want to be that much more successful. It makes you want to be able to provide for that family now and that child. And I think that it definitely brings a whole new light in my mind of the situation because I feel like you think about it at night a little bit more, ‘hey we wanna make something happen. I want to prove myself, I want to do well.’ So I think from that perspective things have changed. I’ve always had a huge drive to do well and be successful but it’s definitely affected my life probably, and my racing career, in a different way than I thought it was going to. It’s not slowing me down it’s making me work harder.”
From that and subsequent questioning of other drivers I quickly realized that these guys remember everything they’re asked and if you want to stand out and not sound like a schmo you need to come up with something different.
Unfortunately for me I didn’t have the time to think of something fabulous and witty when Elliott Sadler walked into the room. I was the ONLY media member sitting in front of him. As Elliott walked by me he was like “So it’s just you and me today?”, and I was all “I guess so!”
Inside I was freaking out, what am I going to say? I have nothing! Nothing! So I offered up the only thing I could which was the standard how do you feel about your car question. After that I followed up by asking him if ever gets the opportunity to sit down with The King, Richard Petty, or does it happen more in passing which is what Kasey Kahne and Reed Sorenson had said earlier that day. He was nice and answered them both well, but I could tell that I hadn’t wowed him with my journalistic skills. Luckily, a few reporters trickled in during his response to my second question and I was off the hook.
The best part of my day, in which I had to pat myself on the back, was when I asked David Ragan if he ever Googled himself. I think his answer speaks for itself, in it’s pure awesomeness:
“I have Googled myself and, trust me, I wasn’t just like sitting in a room and it was just me. It was probably with a group of friends or at a racetrack trying to kill some time, but yeah I read a little bit.
I think probably my aunts and uncles, and family members they read a lot more than what I do. I read a couple magazines and papers and kind of see what everyone’s talking about, but I don’t get overly caught up in what everyone is writing. And every now and then I’ll see something that ‘Hey that’s not right, or that’s not spelled out right.’ And I think that for a second I’m like ‘Man I wonder if they’re just confused or they don’t have the facts right’ and I’ll try to round ‘em up or if I see one of the writers at the next racetrack I’ll try to grab them or something like that. I do pay attention a little bit to what’s going on but I think my family probably keeps me up to date more than anybody.
That was a good question. I like questions like that, other than ‘How was your car?’ or ‘Are you excited to be here this weekend?’ and stuff like that. I like odd questions.”
Kasey Kahne (left) and Reed Sorenson (right) took on their press conferences together at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Friday, February 20, 2009. (credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. mulls over a question at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Friday, February 20, 2009. (credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Gosh, where do I begin?
Let’s start with Thursday night when I arrived at LAX and picked up my rental car from Thrifty. I usually go with Hertz, but this time around Thrifty was cheaper and I was, well, trying to be thrifty. It was sort of a mistake. There was drama from the second I walked in the door. Some woman was trying to pay with quarters and one dollar bills and some other dude was trying to cheat the rental company out of money which ended with the Thrifty employee telling the dude to never come back there again.
What a glorious way to start a trip! Actually it wasn’t all bad, when it was my turn they got me out quickly, and I was able to pick the car I wanted. I ended up with a black Dodge Caliber. I’ve never driven one of those before and they said it was a compact car, but it totally doesn’t feel like it. I feel like I’m driving a boat.
Anyway, Yesterday morning I set off for the track with more butterflies in my stomach than ever. I always get nervous because I have no idea what is going to happen and I’m always seriously afraid that I’ll look like a nut job. How I would make myself look like a nut job I will never know, but I fear it nevertheless.
I arrived at the track, picked up my credentials and grabbed the press conference schedule. So I’m used to having to go from hauler to hauler for each session, but this time around the majority of the gatherings were in the drivers meeting room in the garage. So I just sat there as driver after driver came in and took a seat behind the table on the stage.
Here is a quick rundown of things that occurred to me as each driver spoke:
– Kurt Busch is kinda growing on me. I used to dislike him a lot but now, eh, not so much.
– I was dying to ask Matt Kenseth point blank whether or not his wife Katie was pregnant, but I do not have the balls to ask that kind of question. It’s none of my business, of course.
– A.J. Allmendinger is talkative, friendly and funny. He joked that he told USA Today that he might be doing steroids in an effort to get them to write an article about him.
– Kyle Busch talked about the incident at Daytona a little bit, all without actually saying Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s name. A reporter called him on it and asked why he wouldn’t say his name, Kyle replied (in a sort of annoyed tone) that he didn’t say the other guys’ (Brian Vickers) name either.
– I really liked the Kobalt Tools hat that Jimmie Johnson was wearing.
– Kasey Kahne kinda looks like the actor Robert Pattinson, who played the Edward character in the movie “Twilight.” They’re not dead ringers, but c’mon there are some similarities.
– When you ask Jeff Gordon a question he will never, ever answer it with just one word or one sentence. It’s not a bad thing, he just tends to go on more than others.
– David Ragan is my new favorite driver! Why? Read my next post!
When I wasn’t listening to drivers talk about the track and their feelings about the upcoming race I spent time in the garage Twittering and taking photos. Oh, and I monitored the Port-A-Pottie usage of a few drivers like Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan. These are the kinds of important updates you get when you follow me on Twitter.
Since the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway is this weekend it only made sense to post photos from the Lowe’s testing session that occurred a couple weeks ago.
I’ve been following the presidential election coverage a lot and everybody is looking for a “game-changer” from the debates and in terms of NASCAR I think this weekend’s race might bring just that for the drivers embroiled in the The Chase. At least I hope this race produces a game-changer because I think it’ll be far more interesting if the points lead changes hands again.
Oh and I have something to say about NASCAR’s judgment on the whole Regan Smith/Tony Stewart Talladega finish. So yes they got the call right but they really need to work on being clear on the rules in the first place. This isn’t the first time the rules have been foggy. Even the announcers calling the race heard different things about the rules for the last lap of the race. So the bottom line is they still f’ed up. Thank you.
The big newsy news of the day is that Casey Mears‘ first child was born yesterday. According to a post by Casey’s mom Carol on the Mears Gang message boards Samantha Mae Mears was born yesterday at at 12:42pm, weighing in at 8lbs. 7oz.
Congratulations to Casey and his girlfriend Trisha!
In other news…
– Do you ever wish that there was one place on the web were you could find all of the top headlines about racing? Well there’s no need to look any further than Alltop. It’s a site the pulls in website and blog feeds (including The Fast and the Fabulous!) from around the web in what they’re calling a “magazine rack” approach. It’s worth checking out.
– Here is a fun quote from Mike Skinner about Scott Speed who will make his Sprint Cup Series debut next year:
“He’s a really funny guy. He acts so goofy on the outside. But when he puts on that helmet and gets in that race car, he does a great job. He gives good feedback, and I think the kid’s got a bright future. Red Bull is really, really high on him. Heck, he’s already won in ARCA few times, he’s won in the truck series, he was second-fastest at the Charlotte test. I hope to be his friend for a long time and help him any way I can.”
– The Third Annual Jamie McMurray Foundation Golf Tournament will take place on Monday, October 13th in Mooresville, North Carolina. The Jamie McMurray Foundation raises money for austism awareness and research:
“It’s hard to believe the golf tournament is really next week,” said McMurray. “We’ve put a lot of work into this year’s tournament to make it nothing short of first class. There are a lot of people that made this event what it will be, but nothing would have been possible without the help of our sponsors. Crown Royal stepped up as the primary sponsor, along with Stanford Group, Coca-Cola, Aflac, Sprint, Motorsports Authentics and a ton of others. The list goes on and on, and it’s really those sponsors who have made this all possible.”
Joining McMurray for an afternoon of golf are his fellow Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and David Ragan, along with Denny Hamlin, Rusty Wallace, Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson and others.
“I really can’t thank those guys enough for taking time out of their schedules to come out and support our foundation and help raise money for such a great cause.”
The JMF was formed in May 2006, and since has provided more than $200,000 to Autism Speaks and other autistic foundations throughout the United States.
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)
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)
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)
While the Nextel Cup Series was on a break this past weekend so was I. Part of it was self-imposed and the other was thrust upon me by the not-that-helpful-at-all people at Comcast. For the fifth time I had to have a Comcast service person come out to fix my internet connection. They came out on Sunday when it started working again on its own, but it’s down again.
For me not having an internet connection, or an unreliable one, is the same as not having electricity. Even if I’m not going to use any of my appliances I like knowing that I could if I needed to. I seriously feel wrong/weird not knowing if my internet connection is going to be working when I get home today. Peace of mind is everything.
Anyway, while drivers were spending their weekend off heading here and there (see below) I spent mine at a conference called WordCamp in San Francisco. The two-day event brought together bloggers and developers from all over the country who use WordPress as their blogging software of choice, me included. I only attended the first day but it was really fun to be around other people (tons of dudes) that were doing cool things with their blogs. I learned a lot of cool ways that I could enhance my site and I hope to implement some of those things soon. I think a slight redesign is in my future.
I’m not sure how much interest there is in this kind of information but I figured I’d list what I could about what some of Cup drivers did over their free weekend:
Kevin Harvick — Spent time at home with his wife DeLana.
“You know everybody has these trips planned to go this place and that place,” said Kevin. “Man, we go every week. I don’t know why you would want to leave home if you had a week off.”
Kasey Kahne — Went down to Mexico
Elliott Sadler – Played some golf and visited family & friends in Virginia.
Denny Hamlin — Denny hit up Miami.
Jimmie Johnson — Spent some quality time with his wife Chandra in Europe
Jeff Gordon — Practiced changing diapers at home with his wife Ingrid and newborn daughter Ella.
In other news…
Reed Sorenson won the Busch Series race at Gateway International Raceway in IL this weekend. All I can say is good for him. Although it would have been cool if Carl Edwards could have made it to the front again with that insanely banged up car but alas it wasn’t meant to be.
I can’t believe Reed is just 21 years old. What were you doing when you were 21? I highly doubt you were winning a nationally televised stock-car race. I’m 26 and I keep asking myself where the last 6 years of my life went. I vividly remember turning 21 and now I’m soon to be 27 and I have no clue what I’ve done with my life since then (well not completely but ya know, I am quite proud of a few things that I’ve done). For those same 6 years I’ve been a NASCAR fan. I had to quiz myself the other day on all the winners of the Cup Championship to make sure that I haven’t been in some weird sub-conscious coma. I’m happy to report that I was able to accurately name all of them.
So here’s more thoughts & things from the Pepsi 400 at Daytona last weekend, and some stuff leading up to Chicago this weekend.
– This exchange between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his crew chief (and cousin) Tony Eury Jr. is just funny, so I felt like sharing:
Running 26 laps behind the leaders, the team needed one more stop for fuel to make it to the finish. The yellow flag flew on lap 116.
Eury Jr.: “Pit the second time by. We’ll just take fuel and we’ll be good the rest of the way.”
Dale Jr: “You ain’t gonna give me tires?”
Eury Jr: “You only have four laps on those.”
Dale Jr: “Well, if you like this set so much, you can take them home with you. I need tires. This place is like Darlington now.”
Eury Jr: “Alright, we’ll pit for four tires, second time by.”
As for Chicago, I think Junior is right:
“I’m beginning to think I should just not slow down when I see a crash in front of me. I hope that theme doesn’t continue. We’ve been taken out of two chances to win a race this season by getting hit from behind while trying to avoid a wreck (at Texas in April and last Saturday evening in Daytona). I keep saying that we’re due to have the breaks start going our way, and when they do, we’re going to enjoy it.”
– Are you like me and a need a new laptop? Well here’s the perfect contest for you to enter. You can win Carl Edwards‘ laptop. An autographed Toshiba Notebook. Go to www.officedepotracing.com for details.
– Another note about Jamie McMurray’s win last week at Daytona. After the race, while Jamie’s crew chief Larry Carter was being interviewed he looked as if nothing happened. The look on his face was priceless, he did not look or sound like a man that had just won a Cup race. In fact he looked like he had lost the thing. All of that changed, a little, once he was in victory lane with Jamie and the rest of the team. He finally cracked a smile! I counted at least 2 or 3. Maybe he just needed to be there in the winner’s circle before he could relax and enjoy it.
– After this weekend’s race at Chicagoland Speedway drivers Reed Sorenson, David Stremme and Juan Pablo Montoya will attend a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. The game on Monday, July 16th is against the San Francisco Giants. Sorenson is supposed to throw out the first pitch (don’t mess it up Reed, you’ll never live it down) and then go sing “Take me out to the ball game” with Stremme and Montoya during the seventh inning stretch. Uhm… Interesting. If you can’t make it to the game in person it’ll be broadcast on ESPN.
– Try on this quote from Kyle Busch’s crew chief Alan Gustafson:
“There’s been a lot of speculation about the equipment we’re getting and what Kyle is getting. I’d like to set the record straight that there is no discrimination as to who gets what at Hendrick Motorsports. It’s the same as it’s always been. We finished second last week — I’d say we were the best car out there. We are here to make the Chase and win a championship. That goal won’t change regardless what the 2008 plans are. I expect the Kellogg’s/CARQUEST team to win this weekend. We’re right on the brink, like we were last year at this time. We have a lot of momentum and I think Chicago is as good a place as any for another win.”
Uhm… Where did this come from? I’m just thinking out loud here, but has he talked to Kyle about this? ‘Cause I think he’s probably the one that started all of the speculation.
The Pepsi 400 was such a big event I had to take notes. I didn’t want to forget my talking points. So here goes:
– So when TNT announced that there would be less commercials for the Pepsi 400 telecast did they mean there would be more?? Yes, they cut away to fewer commercials that took up the whole screen but those that played at the bottom of the screen — on top of the racing action — were no less distracting.
– And as a side note to the above commercial debacle, I would like to say that I’m totally over Jeff Gordon’s 10 years with Pepsi. Congratulations to Pepsi for sticking with a winner for 10 years that was so hard.
– Actor Kevin James served as the Grand Marshal and gave one of the most memorable versions of “Gentlemen, Start your engines” ever! He’s right up there with Matthew McConaughey. Oh how I wish I had videos of both McConaughey and James versions so that we could contrast and compare. It’s becoming a fine art — being able to say those words without boring the hell out of people.
– When Clint Bowyer was leading the race at one point he said to his crew something to the effect of “nobody’s gettin’ past me” and then of course a bunch of people got past him. When he said it I immediately thought those were some famous last words. He ended up finishing seventh which is still really good considering. But I know that he desperately wants to win one of these things. I know that his time will come; this year is as good as any, especially when this was their 9th top ten finish of the season so far.
– How cool was it that Jamie McMurray won the Pepsi 400? So cool! Now, I’m not sure if I was so excited about it because he beat Kyle Busch or because it had been so insanely long since he’d last won a Cup race. I guess it was both. His obvious happiness, relief, joy for winning that race was great to see. There was no sense of entitlement in his tone when talking after the race. He was genuinely excited and happy that he won. Sometimes it seems like drivers just expect to be there (Hello JPM!), like duh I was supposed to win, and to me that’s disrespectful. It’s hard to win, act like you appreciate it.
– It’s always so refreshing to see Kyle Busch whining after a race. No teammate support my butt, he’s such a freakin’ tool. “Waaah, Why isn’t everybody helping me win???! Waaah!” Any team that wants him can have him, and good luck. He could become the Michael Jordan/Joe Montana/Babe Ruth of NASCAR and I would still say that he’s a complete nerd. He’s talented I’ll give him that but it all gets overshadowed by his crappy attitude. Ugh. Doesn’t he get tired of being known for that?
And now for some Daytona photo goodness:
So close and so awesome
Jamie McMurray (No. 26) barely beats Kyle Busch (No. 5) to the finish line. (Photo Credit: Doug Benc/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Reed Sorenson awaits the NASCAR Busch Series race at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kenny Wallace puts on his game face at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
They’re “older” but still super hotties!
Bobby Labonte and Dale Jarrett look on during qualifying at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)