Yea, I don’t know. I’m just going with it.
Congratulations to Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team on their win at Michigan this weekend.
Yea, I don’t know. I’m just going with it.
Congratulations to Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team on their win at Michigan this weekend.
First, I apologize for taking so long to write about Sonoma. Life, work, blah, blah, blah.
I don’t know why I always feel this way when Jimmie Johnson wins a race. It’s like watching Survivor and getting pissed off when the idiots have the upper hand and they don’t take the opportunity to vote off the obviously stronger player when they have the chance. It’s silly. That’s how I feel when I see Jimmie Johnson leading a race.
I haven’t missed a Fontana race in 5 years, so it really sucked when I realized I wouldn’t be able to go this year. All the action & drama that happened on Sunday made it that much worse, but then again there’s no guarantee that it would have happened had I gone so I’m using that to make me feel better about the whole thing.
I was going to write a whole paragraph about how traveling sucked but I figured what’s the point. You guys have been there, you know what I was dealing with on my flights from San Francisco to Charlotte and then on to Miami. Although I have to say I have NEVER been on a flight so full of babies & toddlers as I did that Saturday. It was crazy and it made me vow that if I ever have kids I’m not flying anywhere with them until they’re adults.
So we’re really doing this? I can’t express to you how incredibly boring and soul crushing it is when Jimmie Johnson wins AND continues to lead the points in the Chase.
Nothing important changed after the race at Kansas yesterday. Brad Keselowski still leads the points standings by 7 points over Jimmie Johnson. Denny Hamlin is still third. Sooo yep, that’s about it.
We all know that Ron Malec, car chief of the No. 48 Lowes Chevy, is indeed the hottest car chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage. But did you know that the jackman for the 48 is pretty hot, too? In fact, TJ Ford been nominated for the 2012 Cosmo Bachelor of the Year Contest. Check out his profile (and photo!) and then vote for him (here) before the contest ends on Thursday, October 18th at 6AM EST.
I feel like I should send Carl Edwards a care package. Or at least a nice handwritten note that reads: “Buck up, kid! Everything happens for a reason.” Seems like the right thing to do since he hasn’t won a race this year and crap keeps happening to him.
The Saturday of our 3M Racing Experience began with all of us gathering in the lobby of our hotel and then heading over to Charlotte Motor Speedway. Once there we were picked up and shuttled to the Fan Zone area, in spiffy 3M branded golf carts, at the entrance of the track.
I woke up early Sunday morning to clear skies and no rain. When rain is a possibility during a race weekend I’ve taken the stance of not talking about it. At least not in the negative. You don’t know for sure what the weather is going to do, so why stand on negative side of the fence and go on an on about how it’s going to rain and we’re not going to get the race in, blah, blah, blah. I’d just rather not and deal with what’s actually happening.
I flew into Kansas City, Missouri on Friday in the middle of the day. I knew that I was going to miss out on all of the top-12 driver press conferences, as well as Clint Bowyer’s big, non-surprise announcement that he was going to Michael Waltrip Racing next year in the #15 5-Hour Energy car. I knew all of that going in and it wasn’t a problem seeing as how the fact that I was going to the race weekend at Kansas Speedway at all was a big deal.
I woke up at 5am in order to get to Infineon Raceway by 7am (with a quick stop at Starbucks along the way) at the latest. I wanted to make sure I got a ride around the track in the pace car with NASCAR’s Brett Bodine. You think because you’re going in the pace car it wouldn’t be intense, but you’re WRONG. I sat in the back seat and proceeded to be bounced around the my seat and fellow passenger next to me.
When I arrived at Infineon Raceway on Friday I was late. It was only 9am but it was late. The garage opened at 7am and that’s when people showed up, so the media lot was full when I arrived. I was stuck in lot 1 which is next to the helipad. It’s not a big deal (there’s an awesome shuttle that takes you right to the media center no matter where you’re parked) but it’s funny to me how 9am can be considered late for anything. Anyway, Friday was the day of press conferences for the top-12 drivers.
There are no words. I have no words.
But I do have pictures.
Jimmie Johnson (L) kisses his wife Chandra as she holds their four-month-old daughter Genevieve, after winning the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship at the Ford 400 race in Homestead, Florida November 21, 2010. (REUTERS/Hans Deryk)
On the morning of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 I attended the NASCAR Tweetup held in front of Victory Lane. It was there that I met an awesome ‘Fabulous’ reader, Angela (aka @caligirl88 on Twitter). She was super nice and she totally surprised me because I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone that read my blog. Thanks again Angela for your kind words!
After checking in with Dawn, my fabulous friend who is the queen of efficient packing for NASCAR races (she also makes great cupcakes!), I headed over to the driver’s lounge for the driver’s meeting. For some reason my memory of that room was that it was much, much bigger than it actually is. Once the meeting started we were packed in there like sardines. Even some drivers and crew chiefs had to stand.
Nothing earth shattering happened in the driver’s meeting but I like being in there and knowing that I’m in there with ALL 43 drivers. It’s kinda neat. Matt Kenseth was the first driver in the room, showing up 30 minutes early, which is smart move if you want to get a seat. I find his punctuality refreshing.
Post-driver’s meeting I met up with Kristen (read her blog) and the No. 2 Miller Lite “Brew Crew” as they walked their Dodge through inspection. I don’t remember if I’ve ever talked about Kristen before, I apologize if I’m repeating myself. Anyway, back in 2007 she won the “Miller Lite Next Great Sportswriter” Contest and she got to spend a bunch of time and race weekends with Kurt Busch and the entire team doing interviews and writing. She’s been their “unofficial tool cart girl” ever since and she’s superfun to hang out with. We have an awesome time swapping gossip and chatting about this and that.
So Sunday was no different, we got to watch as some Cougar tried to hit on one of the Brew Crew dudes. This woman was a piece of work. I hope she doesn’t read blogs. Anyway, she seemed a little tipsy to me. A couple inspection stations later we saw the same woman touching a security guy. Hilarious.
Oh! So this is good, remember how I said Ron Malec probably thinks I’m some crazy person following him around? Well the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy & crew were in front of the No. 2 in line for inspection. So the entire time I’m standing with Kristen, Ron Malec is in front of us pushing the 48. I’m dead serious when I say that it was purely a coincidence and the last thing I want to be thought of is as a pit lizard. I have no desire to lick anyone’s helmet (although I’m sure that Cougar did!). I’m just an appreciator of good lookin’ dudes, so of course I took yet another photo of him (see right).
For driver intros I didn’t go behind the stage, thought it better to stay out on pit road. There cars were lined up one-by-one side by side faced out instead of in the usual two-by-two. It looked good and was a better use of space, in my opinion. I walked down to Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet because I know Lisa, who is a PR person on behalf of Office Depot. I never know where to stand on pit road for the Anthem and all that, so it’s nice to know someone and have a place to stand where you don’t feel like people are looking at you like “What is she doing here??” I don’t know that people actually think that but it’s what I think they’re thinking and it weirds me out.
Anyway, Tony’s dad, Nelson Stewart, was on hand for the day, he even walked out with Tony during driver introductions. He was at the car when Kevin Harvick stopped by specifically to talk to Nelson and give him a hug. It was a cute moment, photos of which you can see below.
After all the invocation, National Anthem and the command to start engines I walked pit road to get a spot behind the pits to watch the start of the race. Luckily, there was a spot right where I wanted to be, right behind the start/finish line. I stood on top of the little wall that sits at the back of the pits, right in front of the grandstands and got the best view of the green flag to start the race.
I hung around down there for a little bit and then headed to the media lounge tent to hang out away from the sun. I ended up meeting a French guy named Mat who was attending a NASCAR race for the first time. He was stranded outside of the garage because he lost his Hot Pass and his roommate that he came to the race with was nowhere to be found. We had an interesting time trying to talk in between the roar of the engines and me trying to understand his accent. It was fun though.
With about ten laps left I went down to Turn 11 to see what I could see and got a front row seat to Clint Bowyer’s caution-less spin out. I asked one of the photographers standing next to me if they could send me the photo and Tyler Takeda of The Madera Tribune obliged (see below). I was too busy screaming, “Ahh! Whoaaaaa!” to take a picture myself.
Instead of rushing over to Victory Lane to take my usual picture of the winner driving his car in, I decided to pass through the garage. It’s an interesting place to be post-race since cars are coming in smashed up and crew members are rushing around trying to be the first team out of the track. Those guys are super fast, it’s amazing how quickly they can pack up. Maybe they can help me out the next time I have to move?
I was there when Boris Said’s crew chief Frank Stoddard yelled at Tony Stewart — as Tony was climbing out of his car — to “Come on! You fat fuck!” Tony just sort of waved him off and went into his hauler. I wasn’t quite sure I had heard him right until I locked eyes with a smiling GoDaddy.com crew member walking toward me. It was then that I knew I had heard him perfectly and rushed off to the press conference room where my cell phone was charging to send out a tweet about it. Funny stuff. (If you want the full story on what went down and caused that outburst check out the article over at SBNation.com)
Although now that I look at the photo I took in the garage just before Stoddard make his comment, I think Tony might have said something first (see below).
And so that was my day at the Toyota/SaveMart 350. Photo fun time below!
Eva Busch, wife of Kurt Busch, walks down pit road to her hubby’s car. If I ever reach a point where I can have an assistant at the track their entire job would be to take pictures of WAGs. Between making sure I got pictures with my cell phone for tweeting and my regular camera, I missed stuff! Grr!
In the second photo here, of Kevin Harvick greeting Tony Stewart’s dad Nelson, you can see the top of Tony’s head. He was kneeling to do something with his shoes.
The pit crew for the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevy lined up for the National Anthem.
The green flag drops for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway. My view! So cool.
Kevin Harvick. Yet another one of my “I don’t know how I got that photo” photos.
Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson
Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulls into the garage after the race. So glad he finished 11th! Now he’s 13th in points! Yay!
I know I’ve used that title before but I love it.
Friday at Infineon Raceway was day one of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 festivities. It was a pretty big day for me because it held actual things for me to do. My usual shtick is to just show up and let things happen but this time I setup interviews with drivers. Since things went so well with Tony Stewart and the Inside The Actor’s Studio questions I decided to make it my “thing” for now and to get as many drivers to answer the same questions.
On my schedule for the day were one-on-one’s with David Reutimann, Regan Smith, AJ Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler. I’ll write about each of those experiences in separate posts. Stay tuned for those.
Back in the media center I sat in on press conferences for Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, and a little bit of Denny Hamlin.
Tony Stewart’s presser was, of course, by far the most entertaining of the bunch. His session was after practice and he wasn’t very happy with his car. I think that Southwest airlines should use his press conferences as the basis for one of their “Wanna Get Away???” commercials. I had this uncontrollable urge, every time someone asked something cringe-worthy to look down and start playing with my cell phone. There are always a few questions that bug Tony and after sitting in on a few of his pressers I’ve learned that Tony is a lot better when you ask him questions that are very real to him. He laid it out pretty plainly that he only cares about racing. He wasn’t in the mood to get all theoretical or philosophical about racing after having a crappy practice session. It wasn’t helping that people were asking the same questions they’ve asked year after year, my favorite being “Should there be a road course race in The Chase?” That was the one that really bugged him and got him to eventually say that he had no interest in giving his opinion on such things, he just wanted to race.
To answer Melody’s question from my previous post, I was in Tony Stewart’s hauler for all of 5 minutes. It was luxuriously air conditioned and I didn’t see the back lounge area. Plus Tony wasn’t there he was out practicing but it was very cool to be inside a hauler for any reason and any amount of time.
Sunday was of course the Coca-Cola 600 and on my drive in to the track I couldn’t get over the amount of tailgating that was going on seemingly EVERYWHERE. Every blade of grass surrounding the track was filled with trucks, tents and people with barbecues. Even the parking lots of commercial office buildings had groups of people crowded together. It was so neat to see. There’s tailgating at the California races but nothing to the degree of what I saw outside of Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’s something that you have to witness for yourself.
I got to the track in time to attend a tweetup organized by SBNation’s Jeff Gluck. I went to meet up with ‘Fabulous’ readers Tara S. and Penni. It was really cool finally getting to meet them in person. I seriously adore the women that read my blog, you guys are the bestest! This is the perfect time to thank you all for the sweet comments about my interview with Tony Stewart. I really appreciate the encouragement.
As I alluded to in the title of this post, the Coca-Cola 600 was really all about Bradley Cooper and his hotness visiting a NASCAR race for the first time. He was there with three of his other cast-mates to promote their new movie “The A-Team.” I thought Brendan Fraser’s presence at Chicagoland a couple of years ago was a big deal but Bradley really brought out the ladies. Media and PR people alike make it a point to be in the media center for the cast’s press conference. As soon as Bradley walked into the media center people were requesting to have their photo taken with him (as you can see at right, that’s not me, unfortunately), which he happily obliged.
On Sunday, I was watching a bit of the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals that took place in Houston, Texas. Melanie Troxel, whom I totally dig because she’s kick ass and we have the same birthday (August 31st), is sponsored by In-N-Out Burger in both Funny Car and Pro Mod. She’s leading the points standings in Pro Mod, by the way.
Anyway… The In-N-Out Burger connection got me thinking. First about how yummy their burgers are and then about how every time the NASCAR drivers are in California or Nevada they can’t NOT talk about how they all have to stop by In-N-Out at least once during their stay in the West. So I was thinking why isn’t In-N-Out Burger sponsoring like, ANYTHING in NASCAR? At least for the races at Infineon, Auto Club Speedway, Las Vegas and Phoenix?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers wax on and on about how they love In-N-Out.
And then I started thinking that maybe all those NASCAR groupies should forget about trying to dress all sexy in the garage & pits and just bring a bunch of In-N-Out burgers and fries (animal style, of course) with them instead. They do say that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, well there ya go. Nobody said you had to be the one doing the cooking.
In other news…
– ‘Fabulous’ reader Leila emailed me today and was all, “Wouldn’t Ron Malec be perfect for ABC’s next Bachelor? I would love to see it!” and I was like, “You’re totally right!” Ron would make an excellent Bachelor (as would Michael Waltrip) but I do know that as of the Sprint Cup Championship banquet last year he had a girlfriend. But still ABC should direct their attention to the world of NASCAR to look for their next Bachelor, for sure.
Instead of starting from the beginning, I’m going to start with the end and work my way backwards.
Friday was of course the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony at the Wynn in Las Vegas. I woke up that morning with a slight hangover from the previous night’s festivities. I spent the majority of the morning willing myself to feel normal and to not vomit even though vomiting probably would have made me feel better, but whatever. I went down to Carnegie Deli and got their chicken soup, which helped tremendously.
That morning I had to go over to the Wynn (I stayed at the Mirage Thursday and Friday, and Harrah’s on Wednesday) to pick up my ticket to the banquet. Passing through the lobby I caught sight of Ron Malec, car chief of the no. 48 Lowe’s team, taking pictures with his girlfriend.
Along with the ticket to the event that told me my table number for the night, I also got to pick up the wristband to get me into the after party and a mini replica of the Sprint Cup Championship trophy. It’s as cute and cool as you’d expect, and it also doubles as a paper weight.
Before the start of the Dickies 500 on Sunday I was thinking about what had to happen in order for Jimmie Johnson to lose some momentum in The Chase. Of course, I didn’t think any of it would happen. So when Jimmie’s accident occurred I was, uhm, sort of pleasantly surprised.
We needed that to make things a little more interesting. The guy still has a ton of points on Mark Martin but at least it gives hope a chance to shine. And, if I’m being honest, it was pretty cool getting to see the 48 team pull together and get that car back into shape to run in the race again. I’m never against seeing Ron Malec in action. (hehe) I have to give it Chad Knaus though, that guy is one cool customer. He was pissed of course that they ran into trouble, but his voice is always even. He doesn’t freak out, and you can’t afford to freak out in a situation like that, which is why Jimmie and the Lowe’s team are 3-time Sprint Cup Champions.
Watching Kurt Busch do his victory lap around Texas Motor Speedway in reverse with his tongue sticking out made me realize who he reminds me of, and no, it’s not Michael Jordan. No, I was thinking more along the lines of the character Pete Campbell from the awesome TV show Mad Men. Pete, played by Vincent Kartheiser, is kind of a punk. He whines when he doesn’t get his way and always thinks he should be treated better than he perceives he’s being treated. It’s funny. Watch Mad Men, it’s awesome. The latest season is over, but that’s what Netflix is for.
That being said it was cool to see Kurt so excited about winning and all that.
Uhm… There’s this one driver, I think his name is Dale Earnhardt Jr. or something, who doesn’t seem to be able to catch a break this season. I’m at the point, well I’ve been here for some time now, where I want to just say to him “Dale, (yes, in this scenario I know him and we’re BFFs) I think you should just park it and call it a season, this is lame. I know you’re doing your best but you need to tell whatever gods are in charge of luck to kiss your butt.”
He was running really well and then of course something happens and finishes crappy. And his finish has nothing to do with his overall performance. They were kicking butt and then it falls off. Ugh.
And now ladies and gentlemen, a photo bonanza!
Is everybody done talking about Talladega yet? Let’s move on to talking about more important things like “What will Chandra Johnson be wearing during Champion’s Week?” and “Who will be Chad Knaus’ date?” or “Can I be Ron Malec’s date?” (I’m kidding, okay, sorta, no really I’m kidding, maybe.)
That’s way more fun isn’t it? And speaking of the Championship festivities there are a number of ways for fans to get tickets to attend the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony that is being held for the first time in Las Vegas on December 4, 2009 (my mom’s birthday!).
Here’s a handy-dandy rundown of all of the opportunities:
If I were to become a NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver I would have Alan Gustafson as my crew chief and Ron Malec as my car chief. Why? Because they’re both smokin’ hot!
Seriously, I’m awarding them both with the first ever I-totally-just-made-this-up-on-the-fly Fast and the Fabulous hottie crew & car chief awards for 2009. In case you’re not in the know, Alan is the crew chief for the No. 5 Pop-Tarts/CARQUEST/Kellogg’s Chevrolet driven by Mark Martin and Ron is the car chief for the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson.
I mean, hellooo, just look at them. I’ve had the great opportunity to see both of these gentlemen in person. A race weekend is simply not complete without one of my obligatory Ron Malec photos, and seeing Gustafson in street clothes is mind blowing.
Congratulations to Alan and Ron! I’m sure Hendrick Motorsports, extremely honored that two of their employees were selected for this illustrious honor, will frame this post and and hang it in their lunchroom. hehe
(Photo Courtesy NASCAR/Getty Images)
Ron Malec (left)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by The Fast and the Fabulous)
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.
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)
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 final laps of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 were literally killing me. I haven’t been that engaged in a race in quite some time. The fact that David Gilliland was running up front, realistically in contention for the win was seriously blowing my mind. In the end though he didn’t come up with the win but I feel like 2nd place is just as good.
I Tivo’d the race while I was at the track and I just watched it today. David’s smile in his post race interview was priceless. He was so happy and rightly so. He proved that he could contend with the likes of Jeff Gordon and come out on top.
On Sunday during the post-race press conference with the media his happiness still shone through, albeit subdued. I’m not one for chopping up quotes so here are some of my favorite parts from the Q&A with the media.
David on what he thought when he saw Jeff behind him in his rearview mirror:
GILLILAND: It’s not a comfortable feeling, I’ll tell you that. I grew up coming here, and so I wasn’t really surprised about having him back there for sure.
GORDON: You didn’t have anything to worry about, trust me.
GILLILAND: Our car was pretty good. On the restart before the last one, I got away from Jeff a little bit going up the hill, and so that made me a little more comfortable on the second one. But it was super slick the last lap as far as challenging for the lead. It was everything I could do just to stay on the racetrack. It was wild back there. It was incredible.
GORDON: You were up there.
GILLILAND: Yeah, up there; back there. (Laughter).
David responds to a reporter asking him if he feels his team is making progress towards becoming really competitive at the “bread and butter tracks:”
GILLILAND: Absolutely. That’s why we go to the racetrack each week. We’re working hard at it. It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that. It’s a challenge each and every week, but definitely, I mean, you know, I feel like we definitely made an improvement on the mile and a half stuff. Our short track stuff has been much better than it was last year. Richmond we had the best car we had and were in the Top 10 and got involved in an accident.
Had a bit of bad luck, but definitely I feel like our performance has improved 90 percent from what it was last year. Our cars are much better and you talk to people and they say, you know, you’re just learning, experience, but you don’t really learn anything driving a car that shouldn’t even be on the racetrack.
So I’m having to relearn a lot of things this year and running up in the front with guys like Jeff Gordon, you know, you’ve got to earn that respect and that goes a long ways.
It’s just a steady process that we are chipping away at.
Jeff Gordon speaks with the press after the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway
David Gilliland speaks with the press after the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway
Crew chief Chad Knaus walks the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet through inspection at Infineon Raceway
Clint Bowyer sits on pit road before the start of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway
Boris Said takes a call at Infineon Raceway before the start of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway
Rear Tire Carrier and Car Chief Ron Malec steers the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet through inspection
It’s funny how your mind has to switch gears quickly while watching a NASCAR race. One minute I’m hoping that Dale Earnhardt Jr can still make a play for the win and then all of a sudden I have to ditch that thought and hope that Denny Hamlin can hold off Jeff Gordon.
It’s weird. I don’t dislike Jeff Gordon but I don’t want him to win. It’s so boring to me when it happens. And now there’s this mini documentary on his racing life (24 x 24: Wide Open With Jeff Gordon) they’re showing on Saturday before the Pepsi 400. I want to watch, but I don’t. I want to watch it because I’m a race fan and I’m curious about drivers’ lives on and off the track. But on the other hand I don’t like him that much and I feel like if I watch it I’m giving in to him somehow. Does that make sense at all? Probably not, but whatever.
If you’re unlike me and need more Jeff Gordon in your life then you should watch “Live with Regis & Kelly” on Monday, July 9th. He’ll be co-hosting the show with Kelly Ripa, filling in for Regis Philbin. I think we can expect some baby talk, not from Kelly, but Jeff as I’m sure he’ll expound on the joys of first-time fatherhood. After watching Saturday Night Live’s spoof of Kelly (they totally hit the nail on the head), I can’t take 5 seconds of that show. Too bad Jeff couldn’t have co-hosted with Regis instead.
And now for some photo goodness from this weekend’s race at New Hampshire.
uhm… Can the #48 team of Jimmie Johnson keep their interim crew chief Ron Malec (left) even when Chad Knaus comes back?? He’s hot! Next thought: Is he single?
Interim crew chief Jeff Meendering, of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet driven by Jeff Gordon, talks with interim crew chief Ron Malec, #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, driven by Jimmie Johnson, prior to the start of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 1, 2007 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin beats Jeff Gordon to the finish line to win at New Hampshire International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
President of global operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc., Max Siegel, stands on pit road with Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet, prior to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 1, 2007 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)