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saturday Blog June 21, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Trackside.
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Greetings from The Milwaukee Mile where I’m sitting in the deadline media room – having just come in from a trip to the garage. The weather is beautiful the fans are so down to earth and appreciative of the show coming to Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Mile is simply one of the sport’s classic race tracks.
 
It’s hard with so much going on in the Sprint Cup garage each week to pay these guys the attention they deserve. This weekend is my effort to do hang out with these guys in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck and Nationwide Series with no distractions.
 
No huge news here – just shooting the breeze with the guys in the garage and casual conversations with the Nationwide drivers. It should be a good show.
 
These series are incredible and you really get to appreciate them even more when you can focus on them alone for just one weekend . I am also monitoring what’s going on at Infineon Raceway – where the road course racing weekend provides some interesting twists and turns:
 
Tony Stewart Qualifies 39th at Infineon: GEEZE
 
What the heck is happening with the Home Depot team? Even here in the media center at The Milwaukee Mile – the media folks are talking about what happened to Tony Stewart in his qualifying effort at Infineon. Here are his comments:
 
Q: Knowing where you guys are going to line up Sunday, what can you guys do to improve your chances on Sunday?

Stewart: “We just gotta get the car driving as good as we can.  Obviously qualifying sucked.  I was fairly happy with race practice this morning in race trim.  We’re going to have a long way to go, but we’ll just do it like we’ve done before.”

Q: How much of that was qualifying set up, if you had race set up in it, how much does that affect you?
Stewart: “I honestly don’t know.  The track just felt slicker to me.  Obviously there are guys that went faster than what they did in practice and we weren’t one of them.  If I had the answer to why that happened, we wouldn’t be have been in the situation we’re in, obviously.  We definitely don’t want to start deep in the field like that because it makes for a long day – you don’t ever get a chance to take care of your stuff.  You have to fight the whole day.  It makes it to where you lose your equipment early in the race and you hope you have everything left at the end of the day you hope you have brakes left when you get down to the point that it really matters.  We don’t have the luxury of just sitting there and riding around to protect your car.  You have to battle the whole way.”

Q: Have you ever started this deep in the field and done well?
Stewart: “I guarantee this is the worse will have ever started on a road course.  I don’t know.  I’ll have an answer for you on Sunday afternoon after it’s over.  Right now it’s going to be a long way to go.”

Q: You have started from the back before and made up ground -this won’t be as easy:
Stewart: ……”It’s not a Michigan where you have five different spots where you can be at on a race track.  The apex of the corner is the apex of the corner, there’s only one preferred groove around here.  Everybody is going to be in the same mode where we are having to start – they’re going to try to work there way forward and that’s the hard part about it.  Everybody is going to be battling for the same thing all day.”

Q: Can you talk about Patrick Carpentier’s progression?
Stewart: “He’s got a ton of talent and I like him.  He’s got a very open attitude to what’s going on here.  He doesn’t have an ego and is willing to listen to anyone that will give advice.  That’s always the best attitude to come here with.  It’ll help him go a long way.  What he’s done just getting in some of these races being a go or go home guy has been impressive.  That talent is going to carry through to the racing, too.”
 I got a kick out of how Kevin Harvick (Qualified 32nd) handled local media at Sonoma asking about a story that was covered in full last week – the special drivers meeting called by NASCAR. He was asked about the same old thing one time too many :
Q: WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF NASCAR’S DISCUSSION WITH THE DRIVERS ABOUT THEIR “WHINING”?  Harvick: “Last week is over.”

Q: DO THEY WANT YOU TO EXPRESS YOUR OPINION OR NOT WANT YOU TO EXPRESS YOUR OPINION? Harvick: “If they wanted you to know that, they would have invited you to the meeting. It is none of your business, how about that, is that better?  (CHUCKLED)
Q: HOW IS THE KHI DRUG TESTING PROGRAM GOING? Harvick: “We are done setting it up. We go through our whole month of drug testing, the randoms that come out every week. We are all set there; we are just waiting on NASCAR’s final investigation and see where they go with it. We will give them the six weeks that they asked for, then we will put the heat back on.”
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ROAD COURSE RINGERS SOME TEAMS BRING IN TO SONOMA? Harvick: “They are really fast, but the usually end up running in to something for the day is all said and done.”
And Dale Earnhardt, Junior ( Qualified 15th) who talked about, among other things Tiger Wood.

Q: HOW WAS PRACTICE?
Junior:  “It’s alright.  We are struggling a little bit but we always do.  I don’t know, I’m not very good at road racing.  So we’ll just try to do the best we can.”

Q:CONSIDERING WHERE YOU ARE IN POINTS AND EVERYTHING ARE YOU RELAXED THIS WEEKEND EVEN THOUGH IT’S A ROAD COURSE, YOU KNOW EVEN IF YOU SCREW UP IT’S NOT GOING TO MATTER?  
 
Junior: “Oh, I’m going to screw up.  Trust me I’ll screw it up.  Yeah, it’s good to know you got a cushion. I think I can get through Watkins Glen okay I just don’t run good here.  Never liked coming here.  Don’t like the track, it’s not a fun track to compete on.  It’s fun to go around and goof off and raise a little bit of hell.  I don’t like being in competition on it, it’s difficult and these cars ain’t built for it know what I mean.”

Q: KYLE PETTY YESTERDAY WAS SAYING IF TIGER WOODS WENT TWO YEARS WITHOUT WINNING, GOLF MAY NOT SURVIVE IT, BUT HE SAYS THIS SPORT IS STRONG ENOUGH THAT IT COULD SURVIVE SOMETHING LIKE THAT.  CAN YOU COMMENT ON THAT?  
 
Junior: “I think golf would survive it.  All Tiger Woods has got to do is show up.  He don’t have to win every week.  When he does win its great, it’s great for his legacy and just adds more to him being the greatest that’s ever played the game.  Him just being there, hell you know what I mean.  Just being able to see the man play is what people go for.  If he wins, then they were there to see it.”

SOME PEOPLE FEEL THE SAME WAY ABOUT YOU, THE REASON THEY COME HERE IS TO SEE YOU WIN.  “I’m a lucky guy.  Very fortunate.”
 
I was glad to see that Max Papis and Boris Said got in the show at Infineon. Max was so worried – and almost sick about it – and Boris the same.
 
It’s rough for JJ Yeley, Scott Riggs, Dario Franchitti and Brandon Ash who did not make the show. Franchitti has had some tough breaks – I’ve never met anyone up close and personal who I sensed was more determined not to give up than Dario.  He is such a calm, poised decent guy when you chat with him – but he’s much tougher than he seems from afar. I get the idea talking with him that that guys will take almost any set back and come out of it even more determined not to give up.
 
Here in Milwaukee they are about to hold a news conference with the Wisconsin drivers – and I’m headed in to cover it. Stay tuned for more updates.
 
Take care…
 
More tidbits later.
 
Claire B
XM Satellite Radio
 

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