Friday, December 3rd was the day of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony & Banquet at the Wynn Las Vegas.
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This week was the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. I wasn’t there (trust me, I’m crying inside) and so all I have to share with you are these photos of drivers sitting in chairs. Enjoy!
(Left to right) Richard Childress Racing’s Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, owner Richard Childress and Jeff Burton take part in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour Hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway Tuesday in Concord, N.C. (Credit: Harold Hinson Photography)
Tony Eury Jr. is out as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief. Is there anyone out there that didn’t see that coming?
Now, I know the thing to do right now is to speculate on something that is entirely impossible to speculate on. Will this help Dale or will it hurt him? All I know is that I don’t think it could get worse. He’s not in the top 12 in points, and he’s only won one race in the past hundred or something races.
All we can do is shut up and watch what happens. This does put the focus totally on Dale because if a year goes by and nothing’s changed then people are really going to think he’s not so talented. That’s not a fun thing to think about. I personally don’t think that’ll happen. I know Dale is a talented driver and I know that he has it in him to be right up there with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates.
I wish the No. 88 team all of the best, and I can’t say that any more emphatically. I want them to do their absolute best, just like I want everyone to do their best (even Kyle Busch *cringe*). That’s what competition is all about. Everybody should be bringin’ it every single week.
It saddens me that it wasn’t better with Tony and Dale. They’re cousins, they’re family, and they’re close. That’s a super tough situation, something I don’t think people can really understand unless they’re in that same scenario themselves. Breaking up with your cousin can’t be fun or easy. I think loyalty matters to Dale and this decision has to weigh heavy on his heart. If it was easy, I think he would have initiated it himself a long, long time ago.
Oh there I go, speculating again.
Why is it that every time I see the Cheez-It logo I want some, like, immediately? That doesn’t happen with any other snack food.
Hats off to Mark Martin and the No. 5 Cheez-It/CARQUEST Chevrolet team for winning the Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com. They did a great job racking up their second win for the season. Hopefully they won’t fall off the edge of the earth and never win again. I don’t know why I just said that, that was kinda mean. I want Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win! Grrrrr! When is he going to win?! Gaaaah! The waiting is killing me. It almost feels like Ella Gordon is going to win a race before Dale does. Sheesh. Before everybody gets mad at me I say that with love.
In other news… One of my long held wishes has finally come true. I recently moved to Sonoma County here in California. I’m closer to Infineon Raceway now, but that’s not why I made the move. I did it to be closer to work and save money. In the process I finally got to sign up for DirecTV and I couldn’t be happier. I detest Comcast and I’m glad I finally had the option to switch over to DirecTV. Because of this lovely turn of events I get to watch the All-Star Race this weekend on SPEED. I finally have the SPEED channel!!!!
Also, I’m being a good NASCAR fan by supporting a company that supports NASCAR. So it’s a complete win-win situation.
I’m sure Mark Martin would congratulate me if he knew me.
An No. 33 crew member works on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car after the 10th caution at lap 223 sent Clint Bowyer to the garage Saturday in the Southern 500 Presented by GoDaddy.com at Darlington Raceway. Bowyer’s streak of consecutive starts without a DNF ended at 83, one shy of tying Herman Beam’s nearly 50-year-old record. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 Cheez-It/CARQUEST Chevrolet, won Saturday’s race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway after starting 12th. (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
Seeking his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Darlington Raceway, Tony Stewart’s No. 14 is worse for wear after getting a trademark Darlington Stripe during practice. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Prettiest wedding dress t-shirt I’ve ever seen!
(Right to left) NASCAR President Mike Helton congratulates Brenda and Danny Barrett on their 15th anniversary on Saturday, where they were married, at Darlington Raceway. The Barretts drive the Official NASCAR Merchandise Trailer. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
It was announced today that Burger King has signed a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Tony Stewart and Stewart-Haas Racing. The deal includes a personal services agreement with Tony and BK will be the primary paint scheme for the No. 14 Sprint Cup car for the July 4th race at Daytona and the September 27th race at Dover.
“I’m extremely happy to welcome Burger King Corp. to the team and really proud to be associated with such a great brand,” said Tony Stewart. “This demonstrates another important step in getting Stewart-Haas Racing ready for the season. I am a huge fan of BURGER KING® restaurants, especially of the WHOPPER® Sandwich, and even received my own customized BK® Crown Card!”
Does this mean that the creepy Burger King King with the ginormous head will be showing up at the track this year? Or maybe they’ll bring the WHOPPER Virgins out for a complete NASCAR experience?
I was watching the practice sessions at Texas Motor Speedway today and ESPN put up a segment dedicated to the creation and evolution of their Draft Track technology. While I have the deepest respect for the people who made this stuff possible, if I’m being honest I have to say that it’s not that useful. I’m sorry.
I understand how the draft works, that’s enough for me. I don’t need to “see the draft” to know it’s there. Sometimes I think networks come up with stuff hoping that we as fans are going to fall all over ourselves to tell them how fabulous it is, and in this instance I can’t do it. Stick with the in-car cameras. I love seeing the drivers hands on the wheel turning left and right, and their feet pushing the gas and the brake. Show how bumpy the ride really is, they’re not driving around in a Lexus ya know.
I’d rather they put together great stories about people instead of showing me what wind looks like in color. Go ask Carl Edwards about his engagement. Ask Casey Mears and Sam Hornish Jr. what it’s been like to be a new father this year.
And for the record when I saw Carl and Jimmie Johnson talking in the garage during today’s practice session coverage I knew Jimmie was congratulating Carl on his engagement. When I saw Carl say “Thank you, thank you” I knew it. Yes, I read lips.
In other news…
– Jeff Gordon scored his first-ever pole at Texas Motor Speedway today. That’s awesome and I truly hope he can overcome his bad luck in Texas and come out a winner this time around.
– I found out that I’ve received media credentials to the Phoenix race weekend next week, which is awesome. However, I lost my day job due to our crap economy and so I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to go which hurts my heart more than you can ever know. Of course the “I Love Lucy” area of my brain (there’s gotta be a way I can still get in the show!) is working overtime trying to figure out a way to make it work, but I wouldn’t bet on it producing any viable plans.
– This just popped into my head: things that I’m excited about for next year’s NASCAR season. Namely, Scott Speed and Joey Logano in the Sprint Cup Series full-time. I think they’ll be fun to watch and talk about. That’s pretty much it. Oh and David Stremme will be back too! Yay Stremme!
Brad Keselowski focuses in practice Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. A NASCAR Nationwide Series regular, Keselowski qualified 37th for Sunday’s Dickies 500 as he’ll make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Sitting in second in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards straps into his car during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. Edwards was third-fastest in practice and qualified 16th for Sunday’s Dickies 500 at the track. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I refuse to accept this Chase as it stands right now. No, no, no! This is lame people! Jimmie Johnson can’t walk away with the Championship. The other guys within mathematical distance of the lead need to step it up and make something happen. I was delighted to see Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton with positive and upbeat attitudes about the coming races. I hope they battle and fight and snatch the Sprint Cup out of Jimmie’s hands.
Think about it like this too, we’ve seen Jimmie’s wife Chandra all decked out for the Championship week in New York. That’s all fine and well and she’s got a great fashion sense but it’s about time another wife had the chance to show off. Kim Burton and Nicole Biffle totally deserve the opportunity.
Back to the racing: What good is having a teammate if you’re not going to use each other? I’m just saying, how hard is it to take a guy out for the sake of a co-worker?? Hmm??? Hehe. Do with that what you will. It’ll be so boring if nothing happens to Jimmie in the next 4 races.
In case you were wondering, the female comic book character on his helmet is saying “Did my boyfriend just punch me in the side of the head?”
Scott Speed improved from 32nd-quickest in the first practice session to 19-quickest in the final practice. Speed will be making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut Sunday in the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kasey Kahne signs autographs for fans following the final practice for the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Was I the only one who thought that Chad was going to pull Jimmie’s head off??
Crew chief Chad Knaus congratulates his driver Jimmie Johnson on winning the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsvile Speedway on Sunday, October 19, 2008 (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
Casey Mears, driver of the No. 5 Pop-Tarts/CARQUEST Chevrolet, started 23rd and finished sixth during Sunday’s 500-mile event at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Here he confers with his crew chief Alan Gustafson (far right). (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)
Jeff Gordon (C), driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, stands on the grid with his wife Ingrid Vandebosch (R), and daughter Ella Sophia (L), prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 19, 2008 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Johnny Benson and his crew celebrate winning the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway. The win moved Benson into first place in the point standings ahead of Ron Hornaday Jr. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I don’t know if it’s possible to love and hate a racetrack at the same time but that’s how I feel about Talladega. I love it because it’s a restrictor-plate race and it’s so exciting and nerve wracking to watch the cars go three or four-wide. However, I hate it for exactly the same reasons and because of “The Big One” which I don’t know why we call it that when there’s usually more than one.
For the majority of the race things were going relatively well for me and the guys I was rooting for in the AMP Energy 500 on Sunday. Of course it was a big let down when David Gilliland was involved in a crash, but then things got really sad when Carl Edwards’ mistake took out his teammates, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and all of my highest hopes for Travis Kvapil. I was pretty much done at that point. If you follow me on Twitter you’d know that already.
So done that I didn’t care about the whole last lap controversy involving Tony Stewart and Regan Smith. While I think it’s great that Tony got a win after such a long winless streak, he did deserve it and it was so sweet to see his crew chief Greg Zipadelli get so emotional — something doesn’t smell right.
I guess my irritation lies with NASCAR and I don’t understand why Regan would quote what NASCAR said in the drivers meeting about being able to pass under the yellow line on the last lap, if it wasn’t true. It seems silly to draw that distinction anyway, that you can pass when you’re pushed under the yellow line when you can see the finish line on the last lap but not at any other time during the race. So someone obviously said it was ok to do it. And NASCAR’s official statement on the matter didn’t say that they never said it, it only stated that from now on they’ll never be able to pass under the yellow line ever again at the restrictor-plate races no matter what lap it is.
So whatever. Something that I loved about the race coverage was in the pre-race show, when Dale Jarrett interviewed Dale Jr. I looooved it and I really, really wish DJ could interview a driver before every single race. It was fun and I honestly think that they should try to inject some of that E:60 type stuff into every pre-race show, but that’s just me.
First, in regards to the race at Kansas this past weekend, I have to talk about Pay The Fan and fantasy racing in general. I’m in the Chase for the PTF Cup and I think that it makes the races more interesting. While watching the race I found that I kept asking myself which drivers I had picked, and wondering if I made the right decision. I know that I could of easily gotten up and went over to the computer and double-checked, but it’s much more fun to wait until Monday to review my picks. I find that I’m always surprised by some of my choices.
At any rate my Group A driver is of course going to be Dale Earnhardt Jr. for this weekend’s race at Talladega and he better come through with something since this is one and only time I can use him during the Chase.
About the race, it was so awesome at the end. I loved Carl Edwards’ ballsy move in the last lap to gun it and try to bounce off the wall to victory over Jimmie Johnson. Carl said he’d tried that move in a video game and it worked, but apparently in real life not so much. It was great though. If Dale Jr. doesn’t win the Championship I would be fine if Carl walked away with it. To be honest I really don’t want to see Jimmie win another Championship. It would be boring. I know it would be cool in the grand scheme of things, the whole three-peat thing, but I just want to see someone new.
I think that the luck that Kyle Busch has been having in these past three races is really, really, really sad considering the year he’s had. As much as I didn’t want to think about it I figured he’d run off with the Championship with no problems. I feel sorry for him; I really do because I don’t think it’s fair. He wins 8 races and then nothing? But I must say that he’s still a tool for being so jerky in his post race interview on Sunday.
I get it, he’s frustrated and mad and whatever. I totally get it believe me I do. I know first-hand what it feels like to have horrible stuff happen to you and then have to talk to people about it. I still managed to not sound like a ho though. It is possible to have a graceful attitude even when the chips are down.
During green flag pit stops Kyle Busch and Mike Bliss tangled, leaving Busch’s car smoking as he pulled it into the garage on lap 155. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Steve Letarte, crew chief for the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, talks with his driver, Jeff Gordon, during practice Friday at Kansas Speedway. Gordon, who qualified 13th, was able to practice and qualify despite not feeling well all day. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 alltel Dodge, talks to Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet, in the garages of Kansas Speedway during Friday’s practice. Both drivers will start in the middle of the pack on Sunday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV 400 (Newman at 15th and Bowyer at 24th). (Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Star of the film “Hairspray” and national anthem singer for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV 400 Elijah Kelley reacts to the roar of the 43 race cars starting their engine within feet of him on pit road. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
After lunch on Friday I made sure I was in position to hear and see everything during Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s media session outside of his hauler. The crush of media wasn’t as thick as it could have been because Carl Edwards was having his session at the same time at the hauler next door. Obviously in a situation like this Dale overrides Carl.
Now, I feel like I must share something with you before you can understand the immense importance and weight of the moment I had that day. See about four years ago, way before I started this blog, I was a full fledged NASCAR fan but I wanted more and I didn’t know how to go about getting it. I hated my job, let me say this again, I hated my job and I knew that I had to figure out something to do in my life that was totally me — something that was made by me, for me, about me.
I’ve always wanted to do my own thing in business, seriously just ask my mom, whose kid wanted to buy a “Business Kids” kit when she was 8? Whose kid went dressed as a business woman for Halloween when she was 10? And whose kid was obsessed with cash registers and was ecstatic when she finally got a real one when she was 13? So you could say I was just sort of interested in becoming an entrepreneur.
Anyway, when I started this blog I finally realized that writing was really my thing, it’s something that I’ve always loved and until then had done just for myself. But in writing about NASCAR I found that maybe I could use it as my bridge to independence.
Plus I knew that I really wanted to be at the races. I wanted to be a part of it but I didn’t know how I was going get there. And obviously because Dale Jr. has been my favorite driver ever since I became a true fan of the sport, I always wondered how I could get myself in his proximity.
And I don’t mean that in an icky, groupie, pit lizard kind of way because that’s not what I’m about. To be clear and I don’t know how much more clearer I can get than this — I want to have a career writing and talking about NASCAR, I’m not a skank and I don’t aspire to be one.
So back to the situation at Dale Jr.’s hauler, I wedged myself in between two other reporters, mostly dudes, if not all, and propped my arm up on top of the AMP beverage refrigerator so that my digital tape recorder was within a reasonable distance of Dale. He started off answering a question about his thoughts on the reconfiguration of the Budweiser Shootout, and then commented on how he felt about Brad Keselowski’s opportunities for the future.
I had a clear question that I could ask, that no one up until that point had asked, at least not that I’d heard. He was scheduled to go to the set of the NBC sitcom “The Office” on that previous Thursday and I was going to ask how that had gone, after all it’s one of his favorite TV shows. Well the guy from the L.A. Times got to it before I did. Turns out Dale hadn’t gone to the taping. For some reason he went to the DirecTV offices.
He proceeded to tell us how he complained to the folks at DirecTV about their remote controls and how the positioning of the numbers so low on the remote isn’t very comfortable when you’re trying to change the channel. He’s apparently dropped the thing when trying to switch the channel to a specific number. I had to agree with him on that one, I have had DirecTV in the past and the numbers are so low that you have to change your whole hand orientation in order to switch the channel to a number you know by heart.
Anyway, he was funny and made everybody laugh multiple times. But the coolest freaking part was when he was talking about the DirecTV remote and he was looking at all of us asking if we knew what he was talking about and he looked right at me, like straight at me. I had to say to myself, “How the hell did I get here? This is amazing!”
It was so awesome, and I’m glad I didn’t have a moment like that until my 7th race as a member of the media. If it had happened sooner I might not have appreciated it as much as I did. It sounds really silly, the guy just looked at me for two seconds after all, but for me it represents more than just that. It means that I’m headed in the right direction and that I can make whatever I set my mind to happen.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks with the media assembled oustide his hauler at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Friday, August 29, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
So apparently Ryan Newman is set to be announced as the second driver for Stewart Haas Racing. The official announcement is supposed to happen tomorrow. This is yet another one of NASCAR’s worst kept secrets. I really want someone to send me a NASCAR secret so that I can blab it to everyone.
In other news…
– I’m going to the Pepsi 500!!! I’ve got media credentials again and I’m super excited about attending this Labor Day race weekend at the Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. The Sprint Cup race falls on my birthday (August 31st) and do you know what the greatest present would be? Well, besides winning the lottery, the best present would be if one of my guys would win the race. So I’m putting David Gilliland, Travis Kvapil, Clint Bowyer, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. on notice.
– And now for some random photos that I haven’t had the chance to post before today:
Oakland A’s pitcher Brad Ziegler gets a ride to his game on Wednesday from former IndyCar driver Davey Hamilton in a two-seat IndyCar. Hamilton drove the pair to the Oakland Coliseum from downtown Oakland, the drive was a promotional event in advance of the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County at Infineon Raceway, August 22-24, 2008.
(photo credit: Chucke Walkden)
Motocross star Travis Pastrana took in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono back in June of this year. He recently won the gold medal for Rally Car racing at the Summer X Games in Los Angeles.
Travis Pastrana in Pocono, June ’08, (c) David Vaughn (Courtesy of Red Bull Racing Team)
The following is the second (and final) part of my interview with David Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 DISH Network Ford this weekend at Watkins Glen.
I think you’ll find that what he has to say is truly refreshing. Here is someone who is determined to see his dreams realized and is all about doing the work necessary to make that happen. And frankly I can’t think of a better reason to sponsor the guy.
Oh and as you read this you should know that I am very aware of the fact that I used the word “feel” waaay too much.
Me: How do you feel about Yates Racing as a whole, as an organization? Do you feel like you guys are definitely moving in the right direction in that the base is becoming more and more solid to become a Championship organization?
What a difference an interview makes.
Today I had the opportunity to speak with NASCAR Sprint Cup and Yates Racing driver David Gilliland. He’s a true class act and a pleasure to talk to, so much so that I’ve decided to break this interview up into two posts. When you listen to him talk about racing you truly get the sense that this is a guy that is dedicated to being the best that he can be and making the most of his career in racing. He also comes across as very realistic and genuine.
In this segment we talked about how he feels about his car for tomorrow’s race at Watkins Glen International plus his thoughts on his chances at landing his first Sprint Cup win this year.
Me: So first let’s talk about Watkins Glen, how do you feel about your car after being in practice today and your chances for tomorrow?
Gilliland: Yeah, I feel like we’re good. We just worked on all race trim stuff obviously because we’re not qualifying or anything like that. So that was the main thing, we just worked on race trim stuff. We’ve got the car to where it feels good and comfortable and consistent on the times. I think we’re starting 26th or 27th tomorrow, so just gotta be there at the end.
Me: How do you feel about going against the so-called road course ringers? I mean, you did really well at Infineon; you had your best finish of the year, and your career in Cup so far, at Infineon, so do you feel like you can give them a run for their money tomorrow?
Gilliland: Yea, I think Infineon, I’ve had some experience there, I’ve raced there before while Watkins Glen I’ve only raced there one time. So it’s definitely a little more challenging for me, Watkins Glen is, but we came a long ways today and I’m definitely much better than I was here last year. I felt good [about the car today]. And a lot of the road course guys they run a lot of the different series that the road course guys race and run Watkins Glen quite a bit so they have a lot of laps on this track. I think that’s definitely an advantage but we’re going to just do our own deal and we feel really good about our race car, it’s the same car we had at Infineon so we’re just going to try and do what we can.
Me: Do you feel like your team is capable of winning this year?
Gilliland: Yes, I do. I think we had a shot last week at Pocono and we ran out of gas, which was a very big disappointment for us, but we had a very fast car, we qualified third, ran well. Infineon I felt like we had a very good car. At Daytona this year we ran very, very well, had a car capable of winning. There have definitely been some cars that have been capable of winning. Our team, we’ve got a lot of new guys and I think that’s where some of the struggle has been this year, but that will come with time. Hopefully we can put everything together and get our first win this year.
Check back tomorrow for more from my interview with David where we cover topics like his connection to Kyle Busch, his Yates Racing teammate Travis Kvapil, and how he feels about his fans.
Every once in a while there’s a story that comes along that truly inspires.
The following story of a couple from Maine who received a surprise visit from NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kevin Harvick makes me want to go out and buy a million AMP Energy drinks so that I can turn the cans into a giant replica of the No. 88 AMP Energy Chevrolet, in the hopes that Dale Earnhardt Jr. would appear at my doorstep. Eh, who am I kidding? That would take too much time, I have no patience.
Anyway, check this out:
Kevin Harvick paid a surprise visit to Chris and Jim Lamb who have a huge collection of antique Shell Oil Company signage and collectibles. Several weeks back these folks sent a note to Kevin at his race shop in Kernersville, North Carolina telling him of their collection and inviting him to visit their house in Maine. Little did they know that Kevin had already planned to run the TD Banknorth 250 Late Model race in Oxford, Maine in his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series off weekend during the July 19th – 20th weekend. Not only was the surprise visit to the unofficial Shell museum special for these Shell fans in Maine, but Kevin went on and won the event in dominating fashion — one of the largest short track races in the United States. Kevin was the 7th Daytona 500 champion to compete in this race.
Isn’t that such a cool thing? It’s so sweet! It truly epitomizes how much fans mean to NASCAR and how the drivers truly value them. Oh, and if you didn’t know, Kevin drives the No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, hence the Shell Oil connection.
In other news…
– On the same subject of doing something good for another person, now is the perfect time to give blood. Giving bloods helps save lives and that alone is really the greatest reward, but now, as an extra motivator, you can give blood and receive a chance to win a VIP trip to the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Phoenix in November.
There are two ways to win: Join the Donor Rewards Program and enter each Red Cross blood donation you make. Every donation is worth points you can trade for Red Cross Racing branded gear. Once you reach Elite Status, you’re automatically entered to win a VIP trip for two to the Phoenix race in November.
You can also join or start a racing team, where each team member’s donation counts toward prizes and another chance to win that VIP trip to Phoenix. Even if you can’t donate, you can get your friends and family to give.
The more blood you give, the more points you earn.
So the only question I have after watching the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard this weekend is this: If you know that the Brickyard is notorious for being really hard on tires and you have a new car that puts more weight on the right side tires why wouldn’t you schedule a testing session there??
Someone’s oversight was our craptastic and yet intriguing race. I’m sure everyone probably thought the race was boring but I thought it was fun (and Dale Jr. agreed with me, not in the exact same way, but still). It kept me watching, waiting for someone’s tire to blow. It never got old watching the pit stops and waiting for the shots of the used up tires to pop up. It made pit stops that much more important because at the end whoever got out of there first was pretty much sure to lead the race and ultimately win it.
And that’s what happened for Jimmie Johnson and the fact that it was he who won and not Kyle Busch pretty much left me on cloud nine. I was all set for a one woman riot if Kyle won again.
The thing that bugged me the most about the race came at the end when I had to wade through SportsCenter in order to get to some short interview clips and a shot of Jimmie & his team kissing the bricks. ESPN did a good job before the race with their taped interviews with Jeff Gordon and Richard Childress, but they missed the mark with their post race coverage.
I’m sorry but I don’t care about baseball scores or Brett Favre’s stilted comeback, at least not when it’s RIGHT after the NASCAR Cup race and I want to hear from the drivers and I want to see if the drivers faces are covered in rubber and dust like everybody said they would be.
But yea, I didn’t get that. I didn’t have enough patience to sit and wait and see if they would have more different coverage later on in the show. I just hope they don’t do this with every race.
Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon congratulates Jimmie Johnson on his Allstate 400 at the Brickyard victory. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(L-R): Crew chief Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson, Chandra Johnson and owner Rick Hendrick kiss the yard of bricks after winning the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Isn’t she cuuute?!
Six-year-old Lucille Nace of Farmerville, Ohio gets an autograph from Scott Riggs prior to practice for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
A view of a Goodyear tire with excessive wear after a competition caution during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Introducing “sexy” Tony!
Tony Stewart is all smiles in the garage after unveiling his new car number and sponsors at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I had fun being on “On Pit Row” yesterday. More fun than I anticipated and I really don’t know what I was worried about my voice. I think I sounded good. I know bringing up Michael Waltrip’s possible divorce might not have been in good taste, but I can’t help the fact that I want to know. And it is a big story, considering the fact that the man proposed to her in victory lane, everybody knows them and she’s listed as the owner of some of his cars. So yea I’m curious.
It’s true too that I could care less which team this guy or that guy is going to in a general sense. I feel like it’s all really important when things are said and done, what’s the point of speculating on something that makes no difference to me? There are certain topics that are interesting like Tony Stewart co-owning Haas CNC or just the idea that Teresa Earnhardt would take on partners. Those are definitely conversation starters. But where Ryan Newman is going isn’t something I think about.
The “On Pit Row” experience got me thinking though and I’ve got an idea I want to try out. Once I figure out how to do it I’ll let you know what it is. How’s that for being vague?
In other news…
– I’m sad, deeply sad that I’m not going to Indy this week and not for the reasons that you might think. The Goo Goo Dolls are performing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday in the infield on Turn 10 of the road course. I looove them. Johnny Rzeznik. *sigh*
– If you’re a lucky person and you’re going to the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard or you just happen to live in the area you can meet Kurt Busch at Scotty’s Brewhouse (located at 3905 East 96th Street in Indianapolis, IN) from 6pm to 7pm on Friday. He’ll be serving Miller Lites of course.
– During the week off, Ryan Newman went to his hometown of South Bend, Indiana where they named a road in his honor. To visit Newman Way you must travel the half-mile stretch of highway near the South Bend Regional Airport.
– Casey Mears will participate in a Q&A session with other Chevrolet drivers during Chevrolet’s annual Fan Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’ll also sign autographs and drive Chevrolet winners around the track in the official Chevy pace car.
– Do you want to question Jimmie Johnson about his season or about his hair (seriously, what’s going on there?)?? Well here’s your chance:
Starting today (Monday, July 21), The Jimmie Johnson Foundation and Richmond International Raceway Cares are auctioning off the opportunity to pose questions to Johnson on The Final Round with McElroy on Sports Radio 910 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST. Proceeds from the auction will benefit both charitable foundations and the winning donation is tax deductible.
For those who would like to bid on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, please visit www.sportsradio910.com. The winner will be awarded with a seat next to Johnson, driver of the #48 Chevrolet, where he or she will be able to ask questions. The winner also receives two tickets to the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 6. The auction closes on Monday, July 28, at 7:00 p.m. EST.
Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader in Major League Baseball, was a guest of Mike Wallace at Saturday night’s race at Gateway International Raceway. Hoffman (far left) and his San Diego Padres teammates were in town for a series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Joining Hoffman on Wallace’s pit box were Chase Headley, Kevin Jarvis and Trevor’s son Quinn. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR)
Landon Cassill (L), a native of Cedar Rapids, Ia., and Carl Edwards, who is from Columbia, Mo., lead fans on a charity track walk Saturday at Gateway. Proceeds from the event went to the American Red Cross and its outreach to Midwest flood victims. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR)
The difference between the crowd gathered for the Nationwide Series drivers meeting and the one assembled for the Sprint Cup Series was like night and day. Friday it was me standing with the security guards but on Saturday I had to contend with a big crowd, a fence and those damn TV crews.
I made sure I was there early, like half an hour before it was all supposed to begin. Matt Kenseth arrived first with a Sirius satellite radio DJ in tow. Matt was very punctual on Saturday, he was also first at driver intros. So as per usual I tried to take as many photos as possible. My attempts at getting shots of guys and their shoes were foiled by guys from TNT filming people right in front of me.
In the drivers meeting they go over what’s going to happen before, during and after the race and what the rules are, or if there’s going to be a competition caution, etc. There’s a lot of stating the obvious, but it’s something you have to do. I couldn’t help but wonder though what it would be like if someone raised their hand at the end and said “So, what do I do if I win the race? Where do I go?” That’d be fun.
Kurt Busch walked into the drivers meeting with none other than pop singer Gavin DeGraw. I didn’t know who was singing the anthem until I saw him arrive. I have lukewarm feelings about Mr. DeGraw. I want to like him, he has a nice voice, but his music always leaves me wanting something more. Anywho, I ended up seeing him a lot after that. I almost bumped into him coming out of the bathroom in the media center; he was pacing around warming up his vocal cords.
After the drivers meeting came driver intros. I trekked out onto the grass and proceeded to get my socks and shoes totally soaked by the soggy field. I decided to stake out the opposite side of the stage that no one was on because it was the best angle to get great photos. Of course security had to come over and rain on my parade and told me I had to go to either the front of the stage or the other side. They had to keep that area clear. Dagnabit!
Okay, so let’s talk about that tribute to Richard Petty and his 50 years of NASCAR racing. It’s amazing it’s been that long. I thought it was such a great idea to have all the drivers wear, what has become his signature accessory, the cowboy hat. However, it was clear that he should be the only person wearing those suckers. The King is the only person who looks good in them as far as I’m concerned.
Check out the photo below. Who’s missing from it? In spite of what they were saying at the time all 43 drivers weren’t there to take this photo. Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards all showed up later just in time for the actual driver introductions. Oh and someone else is missing from the photo too but I can’t remember who it is. Any guesses?
43 drivers starting the LifeLock.com 400 pose with Richard Petty, who was celebrating his 50th anniversary in NASCAR. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
He’s always got a smile on his face!
Richard Petty stands behind the stage before his tribute begins at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Robby Gordon walks with Richard Childress to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Singer Gavin DeGraw (left) walks to the drivers meeting with Kurt Busch at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
David Gilliland walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Jeff Gordon walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Martin Truex Jr. walks to the drivers meeting at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
On Saturday morning I got the chance to sleep in a bit before heading to the racetrack. Things weren’t really starting up until 3 in the afternoon, but I still ended up leaving my hotel at 11. I didn’t want to get stuck in some crap parking spot.
My first order of business at the track was to head back over to the grandstands so that I could try a Wisconsin cheese curd for the very first time. A guy that I’d met a couple months ago is from Illinois and he swore that cheese curds were the best thing ever and that California cheese paled in comparison, so I had to try them. However, I found out they were only serving them in the deep fried format, not fresh. I figured I’d still get the essence of it so I bought ‘em anyway. They were really tasty! It’s similar to eating fried mozzarella but a lot lighter. They’ve got a very mild cheddar flavor.
I sat next to the fountain in front of the main gates eating my cheese curds, people watching. After awhile I headed back to the infield.
Brendan Fraser was the Grand Marshal for the Sprint Cup race and a press conference was scheduled for him and Ryan Newman at 3pm. So of course I was there in the media center waiting for them to arrive at 2:45. I stood in the back of the room next to all the video cameras. Brendan is funny and cool and relaxed. His personality from the minute he walked through the door was so obvious. He was similar to his character in the movie Bedazzled with Elizabeth Hurley, or even in The Mummy. He’s not arrogant or stuck-up. He was totally down to earth and it was clear that was the case when he said that the NASCAR fans he’d met that day were the nicest people.
As I predicted the gathered media had zero quality questions for Brendan. I still couldn’t think of anything myself which irked me later on in the day when I finally thought of one. There was a great moment at the end of the conference when the moderator asked if there were anymore questions and the room was silent. So Brendan made cricket noises. Funny stuff. All told I think it lasted maybe 10 or 15 minutes.
Ok, so I made a beeline for the exit and rushed to wait outside. Apparently that was everybody else’s move too. The majority of the media swarmed Ryan Newman and asked him questions about his future and his chances for the weekend. Meanwhile Brendan was standing next to Ryan’s mob being interviewed by a local news crew. I stood there in front of him and snapped photos. He’s so adorable, and tall, and cute. *sigh* And as everyone found out later on in the day he gave one of the best “Gentlemen, start your engines” I’ve ever heard. He’s right up there with Matthew McConaughey in my book.
So get this as I’ve said before there are rules for the media about getting autographs and such. You’re not allowed to ask the drivers for them and by extension you would think that would include photos too. Well this one group of local tv people didn’t get that memo. They snapped photos of each other with Brendan Fraser after they interviewed him and then later that night they stopped Jimmie Johnson as he was leaving the media center to get a photo with him too. I just had to shake my head.
The second funny/cool thing Brendan did was after his interview. Ryan was still in the middle of the media mob and I had moved over to that group to try and get a shot of him too. A few seconds later I looked up and over the crowd and I see Brendan snapping photos of Ryan the same way I was. I stepped back and watched as he walked around the mob snapping photos of them and then turned his back to them and started to take photos of himself in front of Ryan and the reporters. The man could not be anymore likeable, it’s disgusting.
Ryan Newman answers questions outside the media center at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Brendan Fraser takes pictures of himself and Ryan Newman outside the media center at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)