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Race Day Coffee Break from Talladega April 27, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Coffee with Claire B., Drivers.
Tags: , ,

Good morning from Talladega – Welcome to race morning. On Friday, Dario Franchitti was telling reporters how much progress he felt he had made since entering stock car racing. Today, he’s in his motor coach elevating and icing his leg with a fractured ankle suffered in a multi car accident here at Talladega in the Nationwide Series race yesterday.

David Stremme will fill in for him. I walked into the garage earlier today and saw the Ganassi guys with Stremme getting him fit and adjusted to the car he will race today. Several permission slips were needed – from Rusty Wallace who Stremme races for in the Nationwide Series and from Roger Penske who uses him as a test driver. I asked the Ganassi folks how long Franchitti will be out with the fracture – they said it’s hard to tell. Franchitti will visit his own doctor I am told next week and they’ll go from there. Franchitti did not take an airplane home and is here in Talladega – impressive. He may venture into the garage yet I am told but elevating the leg is key right now.

Stremme will meet with the media at 9:30 this morning so I’ll be leaving soon to go over and see what he has to say. I’ll fill you in when I get back. I have to make this quick as I’ll be leaving soon.

Light rain early this morning here at Talladega. As I left the hotel the desk clerk was sitting outside smoking a cig. “You need the room another night in case it rains?” she asked. “I’m trying to get a total.” So goes the story of the morning.

I’ll be back with you. Oh, and I’ve had a lot of email about my interview Friday with Shane Hmiel – in case you missed it I transcribed a portion of it and am posting it below. I’ll be back with more of it and replay it next week.

Enjoy the morning.

The garage calls.

Claire B

Claire B Lang Interviewed Shane Hmiel on Friday April 25, 2008
XM Satellite Radio “Dialed In”

Former NASCAR driver Shane Hmiel failed a third drug test in 2006 and was banned by the sanctioning body. Since then – he has taken steps to revive his career and turn his life around and he is being considered to be approved by the sanctioning body of ARCA. He found out he was bi-polar and he’s been through intensive treatment.

CBL: How are you feeling:
“I’m feeling good, I mean I’ve been out in California racing USAC Sprint cars and Midgets and we raced three times and won all the races and sat on a pole and led a bunch of laps but you know I mean I’m feeling good. I’m feeling better than I was this time last year. Everybody knows what all I went through and that was all brought upon by you know it was all my fault but I’m in a better place now. You know I went through a treatment center last July and found out a lot about myself and found out I was bi polar and you know I always knew something was kind of messed up with me. You know I knew I wasn’t a complete idiot. I have made some stupid decisions racing and off the track so you know it just feels good being back acting normal and being at the race track.

CBL: How much do you feel different on the inside and how much do you feel that you have grown up? How old are you now?
“I’ll be 28 in less than a month. I was 25 when I got in trouble last time failing a drug test so it’s been three long years that I’ve grown up. I’ve grown up more, no I’ve been sober now nine months so I’ve grown up in the last nine months than I’ve grown up the first 26 and a half years of my life. So it’s been a huge change and a change that I’m glad about because my life is in a much better place than it was even five years ago when everything was going good.”

CBL: You don’t want to celebrate this and say oh wow it’s great he’s better and all that but you do want to check back and say this is a horrible situation for all involved and your family has put a lot into helping you get back to where you are now . You have people who want to be race car drivers. Young people who are listening right now. What would you say to them?
“I would say stay as far away from drugs as possible. Truthfully it’s something that I just didn’t fall into by the time I was a professional race car driver. It’s something that I did all growing up and it’s just something that I knew. Truthfully.. it was something that – you know I self medicated myself due to my by polar and not knowing what was wrong with me and it made me cope you know what I mean? And to find out later on in life you know I’m 27 years old and I was 21 just six years ago and I was a professional race car driver making tons of money and now I’m 27 years old and a recovering drug addict and you know I don’t have ten dollars in my pocket but you know I’m living better now than I was then. Just stay as far away from drugs as possible it’s really a waste of time. I mean I could be down there in Talladega qualifying for the Cup race right if it wasn’t for drugs. Some people don’t think drugs can ruin your life but I am a proven picture that it can.”

CBL:I hear that you may be allowed to run the ARCA Series. I don’t want to jinx that for you – but should that come to be what would you think about that?
“That would be amazing. I have totally not been in a race car for the last couple of years. I raced three times this year. USAC was fantastic for letting me get to race. I have to take drug tests for them and you know they got a new drug test policy and ARCA’s got the same thing. So you know what I mean just for people to believe in me and think that I have made the right decisions and changes in my life to let me race is you know I’m just very thankful if that happens. You know I’ve heard about it and heard some talk about it and if they do it I’d be very grateful and appreciative.”

CBL: What are your plans. I mean -you know there are some people who would say don’t let him ever race and there are others who would say he’s only twenty some years of age. The bi-polar thing may and doctors saying that is what you had may help in the sense that there was something else wrong with you. I don’t know what these series consider…what should they consider?
ah…it’s hard to say. Because you know there are going to people who are totally like’ he should never be able to drive blah blah blah anything ever again. Some people are probably going to say I shouldn’t even drive a street car. But those are people that have never had any kind of addiction or ever been around it or known anybody who has an addiction or a sickness like bi-polar. I mean, you know addiction is not something that you choose you know what I mean it’s a real disease. It’s something you have to treat just like cancer and diabetes. If a man is diabetic and he doesn’t take his insulin he’s in as bad a shape as a drug addict is without his drugs and that is just part of life. Some people are born with it some people are born without it and you know sorry for me that I was born with it. But you know I’m not making excuses I made all my own decisions and you know what I mean. Time will tell – if they let me race I think I’ll do a good job. I’m smarter, I’m older, I’ve been through a lot and I’m ready to grow up and be a man.”



1. leadlap - April 28, 2008

I watched ‘Dega yesterday and was wondering if anyone commented on Kyle Busch’s pass of Jimmie Johnson with two tires below the yellow line?

Hard to tell if the move was legal or not, but I remember when Junior did it in ’02, we never heard the end of it.

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