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RANTIN RAY June 15, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Claire B's Mail.
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Hey! A quick note to share something that came to be my email tonight. I came back to my hotel tonight, post Dale Junior win -and at 10:48 p.m. it’s been a long day. This email is what I find in my email box at the top of the many I have yet to open. It’s from a listener -who loves to send rants – about racing. This one -stopped me in my tracks. I did not know that this emailer I have known as Rantin Ray was about to have surgery. I really didn’t know Ray well except for his occasional rants – which, like other listeners emails I would read and reply to. His rants were always pretty good. But this rant pretty much surprised me – stopped me in my tracks- and put a perspective on things. It really shows you how every single person you encounter in life – every listener, every stranger in the supermarket who you pass, every person who you encounter can make a mark on you, sometimes when you least expect it.

Prayers for Ray and I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it – it’s such a great email.
Claire B

_________

Hi Claire,
Well, this could be my last rant so it’ll probably be a long one. By the time you are on the air Monday I’ll be under the knife for heart surgery so I’ll miss your show tomorrow.

My Dad was a racer in the late 40’s after the war where he was a tailgunner on a B-17 bomber over Europe. A position where only 25% returned. A detail I recently just learned, along with the fact they returned from one mission on only one of the four engines and crashed landed.

Our home town was a center for USAC midget racing in the 50’s and 60’s. “Shorty” Templeman was the Champion and a frequent visitor to our home so he was my first favorite driver. My Dad also worked side by side mounting tires with a guy named Rufus Jones before he became Parnelli and had to look for a ride and settle for the fourth car in the Howard Linne Enterpises stable behind Tony Bettanhausen, Don Branson, and Bob Tattersall, and he was happy to just get it . “Back in the day” my Dad would go in the pits, sometimes as pit crew, but mostly to “needle” these drivers. He once made a lead inner sole for Shorty’s right foot.Now you see where I get my trates. I wonder if the inner sole is still around so I could send it to my main guy Tony, a driver I’m sure my Dad would be for, although he’d sure get a kick out of Kyle.

My Dad, who passed dec 26, ’93, took me to my first race nearly 60 years ago at age 6 months in 1948 and continued to take me with him every time he went. Along with everything else he taught me, a list too long for even one of my rants, several important lessons always seem to resurface.

One of the first lessons I learned was in Milwaukee about age 10 when I boo’d a driver, he looked at me stearnly and said “if you aren’t going to cheer don’t do anything, just be quiet”. I’ve never boo’d again. Although I admit Jeff Gordon has made my jaws hurt from restraint. I’ve since forgiven even him.

Another important lesson he emphasized all through his life was “the only hero is a person who gives his life for another”, ………..”not race car drivers or sports people”.I have a slight revision on this one though. I feel a hero is one who risks his own well being for others, mainly all our troops serving. I remember seeing Gary Bettanhausen stop his perfectly good racecar at Indianapolis and jump in a flamming race car to help another driver get out. I’ve seen other drivers do the same although I don’t remember their names. Sorry Dad gotta differ a little on this one.

I know my Dad would be really pissed if I said my Dad was my hero so I’ll just say I’m glad you were my Dad.

And to all the NASCAR drivers and families may you be as blessed as I for all you do for those less fortunate than us. I applaud each and every one of you . Especially my main guy Tony Stewart.

Here’s something to throw out there and see if it sticks. How about we pay an extra ten bucks for the the next prelude to the dream on pay per view to see Darrel Waltrip in the passenger seat of one of those two seat late models complete with helmet and fire suit and let Tony or maybe Scott Bloomquist as the driver take him for a couple laps at speed.

And you too Claire B for bringing the behind the scenes reporting that you do soo well for us, God Bless.

To the booing fans, did you notice Kyle Busch just waved to you in response to your boos at the prelude, no bow, just a wave, seems Kyle has more class than you and knows that that charity event to be the important thing. Kyle Busch gets it , think you ever will.

If I had one dying wish I think it might be to see if you “race fans” could just be quiet one time during driver introductions if you didn’t like someone.Maybe give them drivers credit for the good they do, someday maybe you may be the beneficiary of one of their charities they support.Think about it!

One last tidbit. Remember early 07 I told you of 13 old Stepanie Soberri, the little girl whose mother was a track champion at our local dirt track? She needed a double lung transplant do to systic phybrosis. Well she has had that transplant and on april 28,2008 in front of her mother and her uncle, a hard charging Late model driver, 15 year old Steph strapped on a helmet and got in her street stock and fulfilled the first part of her life dream, she then filled the second part of her dream (to pass someone). Saturday, June 13, 2008, she passed another milestone, a trip to victory lane in her heat race. Too bad the rest of the night got rained out. If you got a chance google Stephanie Soberri and check out some of the stories about her Keep kleenix handy.

Well,time to sign off, Thanks again for the best damn show their is.

Have a good one CB, you the BEST. Hope to be back to rant some more.You’ll be hearing from me by the end of the week.
RANTIN RAY
.

Zemanta Pixie

June 15, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, Trackside.
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Race Morning POSTcard – Michigan International Raceway

Driver’s Meeting:
Pit Road Speed: 55 miles Per Hour
Race: 200 Laps: 400 Miles

Race Director David Hoots gave the drivers and crew chiefs the basic rules and procedure announcements. At the end of the meeting – there was one question – from Mark Martin on the yellow line and exiting pit road. “All four tires (must be) below the yellow line past the exit of turn two,” David Hoots said, adding “Happy Father’s Day Everybody, Tim will you lead us in prayer please.” The call for prayer always ends the driver’s meeting.

The basic name visitors at the drivers meeting were execs from the big American auto manufacturers who are based here in Michigan.

Today, in addition to praying for all fathers and for a safe race, silent prayer was also extended to the weather that rain holds out and that we get this race in today. Keep your eye on the storms coming our way.

Kyle Busch and Ron Hornaday – Doubt a Penalty is Coming
It does not look to me like NASCAR will issue penalties related to the “conversation” that occurred between Ron Hornaday and Kyle Busch after the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series race here in Michigan on Saturday. NACSAR says the occurrence must be pretty blatant before they step in. Even if he’s aggressive in their eyes, sometimes NASAR lets the garage settle itself down and the drivers work it out on the track. They may pull a driver aside and tell him that he’s over the edge and needs to settle down. That can even happen without the other drivers or media finding out. Hornaday went to look for Busch here yesterday- and the two had a heated discussion. It does not appear that NASCAR sees anything that would warrant a penalty. If NASCAR does not tell Busch to settle down – I’m hearing that a driver or two may use the opportunity of the next short track race to (without being blatant) settle him down just a little themselves. It’s standard procedure in the garage. This could come back to bite him when he really needs it. Time will tell. It seemed to me as if Kyle didn’t crash Hornaday on purpose as much as thinking that he could pull off a spectacular move that he could not. Maybe overconfidence in that situation rather than blatantly trying to take Hornaday out. I do know some fans think it was on purpose.

Ron Fellows in the 01 at Sonoma:
Dale Earnhardt, Inc’s John Story confirmed that DEI is putting Ron Fellows in the 01 car at Infineon Raceway this coming week.”We have 100% commitment in Regan (Smith) and the job that he has been doing. But we felt like when you have the rare opportunity to work with a guy like Ron Fellows whose definitely a top five guy in this field at Infineon you know we gotta take advantage of that opportunity and see if we can go out and score maximum points. It will help us all -it will help the 01 car and it will help Regan personally to make sure we get a little cushion between us and 36th place.

Happy Father’s Day:

Happy Father’s Day to my own father, John Bennett who I would be so enjoying spending the day with in Madison, Wisconsin – if I was not living the dream covering NASCAR and traveling the country on the circuit. My father taught me that you really can achieve anything if you are willing to work hard for it and he worked hard his entire life to support the family – sometimes too hard. Now – is his time to kick back and I’d love being at home today ’cause he makes a mean turkey on the grill and he’s a very smart man. Sweet! My father was a silver medal winner in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne – but with or without that we are always proud of him. Happy Fathers Day dad!

Enjoy your fathers – Enjoy the day!
It should be a great race!

Claire B

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TRANSCRIPT OF Brian France News Conference June 14, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Controversy.
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NASCARImage via WikipediaFrance Addresses Media;

“Knowing what I know now and not to compromise the investigation at all and I’m not going to do that I can tell you not to jump to conclusions about what a lawsuit attempts to say in an attempt to create some monitory reward for themselves. We’ve been down this road before and usually the facts are something different than the lawsuit and we’ll just have to let the facts come out as they will” Brian France to the media at MIS 6/14/08

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France entered the Michigan International Speedway media conference room at 1:30 p.m. EST Saturday wearing dress slacks and a shirt with sleeves rolled up. In other words – no formal suit.

He was there to address the media and take questions about the $225 million discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed last week by a former official of NASCAR in the Nationwide Series. When asked whether he came to Michigan specifically for the news conference or if he was coming to the race anyway he joked, “I always like to fly up to see you guys (media) personally, so, no I was going to be here anyway.”

Then France made a statement and opened the floor for questions.

__________________

TRANSCRIPT OF Brian France News Conference
May 14, 2008:
BRIAN FRANCE: I wanted to make a couple of comment regarding a couple of items that are in the news for us. One of the comments is in respect to a lawsuit that was filed on Tuesday and a subsequent investigation we have under way to review those claims that were made. I think I mentioned earlier in the week that the most disappointing thing to me is that we found out about the alleged claims after you did in the media via a national lawsuit that seeks a lot of money.

That’s very disappointing, because if any of those claims turn out to be accurate and have substance, we would have liked to have known about that two years ago so that we could have reacted and done something about it. It is inconsistent with anything from a policy standpoint of how a work environment for our officials should be. It is not consistent with anything – our values or what have you.
I would tell you the most disappointing thing that all of times that this plaintiff, Miss Grant, had in her time at NASCAR through diversity and sexual harassment seminars and training – where our human resources people were explaining as we always do multiple times during the year what our policy is and how the environment needs to be. Everybody signs that and understands that and abides by that.
To have never, ever raised it other than in a lawsuit is disappointing to us. Nevertheless, we have started an investigation -we’re under way. We are treating in very seriously as we would when we have these types of investigations. With thousands of employees and the nature of our business we’re going to have claims that are made from time to time. It’s not uncommon for us. We investigate every one of these kind of claims very thoroughly and we will continue to do that.

That is it on that topic and happy to take any questions
Q: There’s a story on the wire today that two of the people involved or named in the lawsuit have been suspended as part of the investigation obviously. Can you comment on that?
France: In our investigation we have put two officials on a leave of absence until we can complete more details and complete the investigation fully. That is correct. The two people have left for the weekend. (The Nationwide Series was scheduled to race Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.)

Q: Was there a meeting (Friday) with officials in the (Cup and Truck series) garages here in Michigan as well as the investigation going on in Kentucky?
France: There was. We wanted to remind everyone about our policy. Everyone should be familiar, should be aware of how to conduct themselves and their behavior. But, obviously, we wanted to make sure once again of exactly what NASCAR’s policy is in terms of behavior in either harassment or certainly in racial discrimination of any kind. That was the nature of those two reviews with our officials.

Q: What did you discover in your investigation in Kentucky that led to the two officials on leave?
France: The investigation is still ongoing. Obviously we found some violations in our policy. I would not jump to conclusions to assume that all the allegations that were made over the many months that the plaintiff made are accurate. I would be very, very cautious to making that leap of faith even if we were to take action on any official in this investigation. We might discover something entirely different that may have been going on that had nothing to do with the claim in the lawsuit but still is a violation of our policy.

That would get you in trouble with us. That’s the nature of investigations. They go on and we’re very detailed. We’re bringing in everybody that we can find to give us the information of what is going on so we can be very clear in our findings.

Q: What does this do to the relatively clean reputation the sport has had? Is that reputation sliding?
France: I wouldn’t characterize it as a sliding at all. We are a big sport with lots of participants at lots of different levels. The idea that everybody is going to act and behave perfectly is just not a reality that any of us lives in. Our job is to make sure that we have really good work policies in place and to react very swiftly if our policies are violated.

We’re going to do that. We found out about this,as you know, on Tuesday with the filing of the suit. By Thursday we were in full investigative mode. We didn’t wait. Some of these claims go back two years or longer.

Here again, it’s very disappointing that would not have been brought to our attention if these claims actually happened that the would have been brought to our attention right when they happened so we could have investigated it right then and taken any action we needed to. And it didn’t happen. It just didn’t happen. She chose to make this about money and about a lawsuit and we’ll deal with that.

Q: In the course of the investigation you’ve done over the past few days you’ve talked to supervisors that Miss Grant says she reported this information to. In your subsequent investigation after you found out about it have you found any instances where her complaints might have not gotten up the chain as far as they needed to. Do you know what I’m asking?
France: I know what you are asking. So far – she just didn’t report anything to anybody. Quite the opposite, she was very pleased with her colleagues, most of the comments that we have heard is she liked her job, enjoyed being there and liked the camaraderie with the other officials. We just have not found anyone that she reported the claim (to). Even if we have not found it yet… There’s a very clear process you go through if there is any discrimination or harassment. Everybody in the company knows what it is and they have been trained to observe it and make sure that the proper officials within the company are notified. You could pull me (aside)-any employee who has an issue can e-mail me directly or certainly go to human resources. There are dozens of ways to report such an incident and it just didn’t get reported.

Q: Will you hesitate to settle the lawsuit out of fear that it could spark other lawsuits of a similar kind?

France: We can’t comment on the developments of litigation. Lawsuits are lawsuits and we’ll deal with that within the court system.

Q: Could you tell us why (the official who filed the lawsuit) was terminated eventually?
France: We don’t divulge that information on any employee so I can’t tell you that.

Q: What does this do to the diversity efforts you and NASCAR have made? Does it affirm a perception that may be held outside the sport that NASCAR is a white guy’s sport?

France: Would we like to not have had a suit filed that makes these kinds of claims? Of course. Would we really have liked to been able to investigate it when these incidents occurred? You bet.
But we have to deal with what we have to deal with. The only thing I will say is that as all of the facts ultimately get on the table is not to jump to conclusions about what actually happened. That’s why we do investigations that’s why we do reviews. We will get to the bottom of it and hopefully nobody will jump to an improper conclusion.

Q: Brian her representation is pulling no punches in this thing at all. There was a statement issued recently where here representation said yes they (NASCAR) have a zero tolerance policy something of the line zero tolerance for women zero tolerance for blacks etc. What is your response to her representation coming out and saying those types of things?
Well, anybody can say anything that you want and hire a PR firm and do all the things that anybody wants to do and say whatever they want. That’s just completely inconsistant with anything that goes on in NASCAR. It’s not the NASCAR that we are building and I would obviously disagree with her.

Q: Brian, perception is reality, can you paint the picture that (you see) is NASCAR right now out on pit road and in the garage?
Well it’s a sport that is evolving and a sport that is reaching out in lots of different ways to be more diverse and not because it’s a socially good idea. It’s a good idea for a whole host of different reasons. It’s an American sport we need to look and feel more like America. You know the many different initiatives that we have from driver diversity where drivers are getting a chance who otherwise wouldn’t have. Crew members, internship programs, the tracks are doing an enormous amount they are trying to attract a new audience and I have helped lead it for a number of years. We’re never happy because we haven’t reached all our goals. But we’re happy with our approach, the road we’re on and what we stand for. You’ve heard me many times and you as the media you know things that were in that claim were absolutely and completely inconsistent with where this sport is going.
That was most of what Brian France had to say. I like to give it to you in full so that you can review it for yourself.
____________________________

Talk amongst yourselves on this one:
How about that NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Race. Was Ron Hornaday mad at Kyle Busch or What? He ran through the fence into the garage and found Busch. The conversation wasn’t pretty. What did you see? Email me at ClaireBMail [at] ClaireBLang.com

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Friday Special Drivers Meeting at Michigan International Speedway- Transcripy June 14, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, Trackside, Transcripts.
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Shot by The Daredevil at Daytona during Speedweeks 2008Image via WikipediaHere’s something I thought you’d like. As I told you on the air yesterday, NASCAR held a special driver’s meeting to address the Sprint Cup Drivers in private in the garage. After qualifying was rained out – Jeff Burton talked about the meeting. I thought you’d like to read exactly what he said. Burton is always excellent at explaining things – and so I thought this would be interesting to all of you:

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T

YOUR MEDIA AVAILABILITY WAS BEFORE THE MEETING THIS MORING. WHAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION? WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE OPPORTUNITIES LIKE THAT FOR YOU GUYS TO MEET WITH NASCAR IN THAT MANNER?
“Well, as I have said before, I think communication is important. I don’t think drivers have any power, but we do hold that information that could be valuable to NASCAR. Of course, NASCAR holds a tremendous amount of information that can be valuable to us. A lot of times, we don’t fully understand, we are complaining about something, but we don’t fully understand how NASCAR got to where they are or for that matter, how the teams even got to where we are. Drivers today, including myself, are much more apart from the race team; apart from the mechanics of what a race car is all about and how we build race cars, than ever before because of engineering and because of the way things work. So I think that communication is really important. We at times complain about things and we think we are the only ones who understand it, when in fact, other people do understand it. There are also times that we see things that people don’t understand. So I think it is a good idea to communicate and I think it is a good idea that we were able to listen to NASCAR. They can explain things to us and they need to listen to us and we can explain things to them too. Whether we need a formal setting to do that, I don’t know. But I do believe that communication is the key to any business. I think our athletes can provide some insight that NASCAR could use to the fans benefit.

“I guess you could have heard in today’s conversation, you could have heard whatever you wanted to hear. I believe a lot of people knew what they were going to hear when they went in there and that is what they heard. I bet if you asked every driver what they heard, they would probably say something different. What I heard, was ‘Hey look, let’s don’t forget that things aren’t all that bad and let’s also don’t forget we can make things better, let’s work to find a way to make them better and let’s communicate. Let’s work hard to make things better.’

“You know it is a frustrating thing, because our perception, teams and drivers perception is that NASCAR gave us this car and we had little input in it and you know, that is true. But, it falls on us to make it work. So, when you have a tough day and things don’t work or whatever, then you want to point the finger at them and say ‘Well, it is their fault.’ It is our job to just do it better than everybody else.

“I have told you guys to begin with that I don’t care what we run. I don’t care if it is the COT, whatever, I don’t care. The only thing I know is that it is my job to drive it better than everybody else and it is my team’s job to set it up better than everybody elses. That is what we do, it is our job. When we don’t, we can’t blame that on NASCAR because somebody wins the race. I think we lose focus on that and I do think that NASCAR has become the point of contention for everybody pointing their finger and saying it’s their fault. When in fact, there are some issues we could help make better.”

WAS THIS A MEETING MORE OF A REMINDER OF THE PARTNERSHIP THAT A DRIVER, THE SANCTIONING BODY AND THE WHOLE SPORT HAS WITH EACH OTHER OR WAS NASCAR ASKING ITS ATHLETES FOR MORE HELP AND SUPPORT?
“I got both and I got more than that. I got a reminder that this sport is bigger than any one person. This proven to be over time bigger than any one person. We got a reminder that we are all in this together. We got a reminder that is we have got a problem there is a way to go about it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with speaking to the media about the issues we are dealing with. I think that our fans deserve to know what we are dealing with. I think there is a way to do it that is constructive. I do believe that NASCAR has become…we all point our finger at NASCAR anytime something happens.

“I mean, how many times has a driver speeded on pit road and said “Yea, I did it.’ (LAUGHS) They’re the…I am raising two children. I have a 13 year-old and a seven year-old and every time I tell them to do something, they don’t want to do it. Every time I tell them they did something wrong, they say they didn’t do it wrong. It is the same. They (NASCAR) is our authority. They are the authority figure. When we question them all the time, because that is human nature I guess.

“I thought today’s meeting was kind of a reminder of that we are all in this together. It was a reminder that if you have a problem, let’s be constructive. It was reminder that don’t think that anyone person is bigger than the sport. Mike (Helton) showed his openness and willingness to look at finding a way to always make things better.

“To be honest, I watch the races from my seat. I don’t watch them from those seats (points to grandstands), ok. We have had some races this year that I didn’t think were very good races. We have had some races this year that I thought were really good races. I betcha if we went back 15 years ago, we could say the same thing. I think what is going on today is because the car of tomorrow has received… the car of tomorrow was kind of thrust upon us, this is what you are going to run. It was all new, so anything that didn’t work, we pointed the finger and said this is a piece of junk. This car does this, this car does that, this car does this. I think it has gotten to the point it hasn’t been constructive. I hasn’t produced better the car or for the racing. So, we are at a point where something needs to change. I think that NASCAR understands that and I think, not in the sense that the car needs a change, but the attitude about the car needs to change. The car doesn’t drive as good as the old car. I mean, it doesn’t. But, that doesn’t make it wrong. It is different than the old car, that doesn’t make it wrong.

“What matters is what is the quality of the race. I believe racing is like any other sport. If anybody thinks that every single race we are going to go out and have a three-wide battle for the lead on the last lap, you are mistaken. By the way, I watched the NBA finals the other night that was a blowout. It is sports. Sometimes people get on a role and they kick everybody’s butt because they are going a better job.

“Listen, I led every lap of a 300 mile race in New Hampshire, I led every lap. That wasn’t celebrated. It wasn’t ‘Wow, that was a history making deal, it was great, it was this, it was that’, it was boring. The race was boring. The part about history being made and all of that, that meant nothing. The only thing that mattered was that nobody passed for the lead, so the race was boring. That the world we live in. Every race isn’t going be what somebody thinks is a great race. Not everybody is going to think that every race is a great race. We have good races this year; we have had races that weren’t so good. Then people talk about in the good ole days, just bring you some of those films out and we will show you the good ole days, I mean.

“We have as good of racing today as we have ever had, on average, that is my opinion. I may be wrong, but my view is that on average, we have as good of racing as we have ever had. And…this car is still an infant. Think about it, this is the first time we have had this car at Michigan. It is the first time. We are going to be better when we come back next time. We are going to be better with it when we come back the next year.

“I think the thing that the teams and the drivers have become frustrated about is that NASCAR hasn’t been willing to change anything about the car. If you go back to six years ago, when they changed something every four months, that drove you nuts too.

“So, NASCAR is in kind of a tough spot. If they don’t change anything they ridiculed, if they change stuff, they get ridiculed. They are in a touch spot. I respect that. I do believe that we could make the car a little better. That we can make it drive just a little bit better, it might produce better racing, that is my opinion. Although, I don’t think the racing we have today is bad racing. That is the way I view it.

“I don’t sit up there though (points to the grandstands). I don’t have that perspective.”
__________________________________________

Personally, I like what Burton said about every driver reading the message from the meeting the way he heard it. It makes sense. Like I said, Jeff Burton is a good one to ask about what was said. I hope the above gives you more information to discuss on this topic.

Enjoy the day !
Claire B

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Michigan Blog Brian France to address media- Justin Lofton wins 1st ARCA race June 14, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, NASCAR.
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CBL Blog-MIS

Greetings….I’m in the deadline room at MIS with an update.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France is going to address the media at 1:30 p.m. EST in the conference room next to the media center. I’ll be headed over there and post an update.

Check out the photo of me broadcasting here at MIS inside the XM Chevy Mobile Dialed In broadcast unit.
claire b lang inside XM Mobile Unit

The winner of the ARCA race – was so excited here at MIS today. He told me he cried in the race car in the final laps. It was his first ARCA win and I sat down with him for a one on one after his collected the trophy. If you don’t know this young racer you soon will. He’s 22 years old, single, and from Westmorland, CA.

—————————-

Justin Lofton – Eddie Sharp Racing
Tears inside the race car for young racer – MIS Arca Winner -After crash with teammate last week.

CBL: Justin this is a huge win for you. I think your last win was in 2005.
“This is absolutely awesome. I am speechless. I can’t thank everyone enough for it. There’s a lot of people who have put a lot of hard work into this..the Sharp family, Eddie Sharp Racing, all the behind the scenes people and Brad Parrott has been by my side and the Smith family from Colorado Springs and my parents have been my biggest supporters. This is awesome I cannot thank them enough.

CBL: And it’s Fathers Day weekend. This is a Father’s Day Gift
Yes it is. This is the best one I have given my dad and probably the best one he could ask for.

CBL: What was going through your mind in the final laps?
I heard every creak and crack and ping and pang – and everything in the car. I really didn’t think it was going to happen. You know I have been robbed of a win so many times and last week was a fine example of the luck I have had all year long and I just really didn’t think it was going to happen.

CBL: Because last week you got crashed out by a teammate:
Yes – green, white checkered going into (turn) one at Pocono and a teammate just did a really late move. Complete racing accident – no ones fault. No hard feelings towards it. This is the ultimate revenge though on it.

CBL: Did he come over and congratulate you?
No actually I have not even talked to Scott since the beginning of the Pocono race.

CBL: Ok, so mid week you didn’t even talk.
No we didn’t talk at all. I think we did the best we could to both avoid each other. The only talking we did was you know he came up to me a couple of times before the start of the race (here at MIS) and asked me if I was going to wreck him or not and that was it.

CBL: He did?
Yea he did and I just told him there’s no hard feelings it was a racing accident and it is what it is.

CBL: You got a Karma win!
Yes I did. This is the best revenge I could ask for. Not that I was really looking for any. You know I go out there and race everyone the same. I just race everyone the same – just as clean and as hard as I can.

CBL: What will you remember the most of this win. Drivers always remember their first win in a series?
I think just the whole day in general. You know I woke up and wasn’t nervous, wasn’t anxious and you know the first pit stop where we went back to about 14th or something like that – you know that was kind of heartbreaking. But, when Lauren Ranier , my spotter, said five to go I pretty much started crying and didn’t think it was going to happen.

CBL: You did?
Yea I was tearing up in the car and I was like oh man I gotta get into turn one now and then it just kind of went away. I think the whole day in general – I’m not going to forget this.

CBL: People love to see that emotion –
Yea, this is a very emotional sport. Everyone puts their heart and soul into it. I mean the guys in the shop put 100 plus hours in and me just doing everything putting friends aside, basically putting your whole life aside to do this and this is the payoff for it.

CBL: You got the lucky t-shirt (under the uniform) and cap on -which is luckiest?
Probably my hat. I wore my hat last week at Pocono and even though you wouldn’t think it was lucky – you know we ran up front and you know so …I’m definitely going to have them both on the next race at Cayuga.

CBL: Did you call anyone after you won?
Yes -I’ve been on the phone since victory lane. I’ve got my grandparents both sides. My cousin she just texted me and said that this is the best graduation present for her. She graduated from Cal Poly today in St. Louis and my whole family was up watching the race and it’s just so special.

CBL: What about you and who you are?
Me? I’m very committed, very determined. Probably I scare a lot more people away because of it. You know I do what it takes to win this. I have a lot of good people behind me….

CBL: What do you mean you scare people away? Who do you scare?
I think more emotional wise. Maybe not scare em but more push them away. Try to eliminate as many distractions as I can in my life and just spend as much time in the shop as much time getting myself physically and mentally prepared to do this.

CBL: It takes that.
Yea, last weeked I probably made a couple people mad, made the #2 team mad just because I know a lot of people came up and tried to apologize and felt sympathetic for me but it’s just all the emotions so bottled up inside and when it comes out it comes out in a big explosion and that’s why it scares a lot of people.

I’ll be back with you later. I’m headed into the garage. Back soon.

Claire B
Michigan International Raceway

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Mobile Unit Michigan June 10, 2008

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Check out the Mobile Unit Locator tab https://claireblang.wordpress.com/mobile-unit-locator/
for my whereabouts in Michigan.
Claire B

PROM QUEEN – RACE CAR DRIVER June 9, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Fun Stuff.
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Carson High School, Carson City, Nevada

Check this out –
Mackena Bell was the prom queen at Carson High School in Carson City, Nevada. She was on the air with me on “Dialed In” today – and she held her own. She was on her game.

The 17 year-old competes in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif. Her last race was Saturday, the day she also graduated from high school.

As soon as she got her diploma she jumped in the car and speed to Rosville to get behind the wheel of her race car where she finished 9th. Here’s something even more unique – Bell is her schools homecoming queen and she attended the prom — in a NASCAR-themed checkered-flag dress. She turned 18 this past week and became the owner of her own race team.
The custom-made NASCAR prom dress, with race-checked themed material from RaceChex(www.racechex.com) made her a standout at the prom. She was the queen – and she wore a race themed prom dress – and she drives a race car driver. How can she be more perfect?

Bell is an honors student who’s been racing seven years and she fully intends to give the NASCAR guys a run for their money one day. You go Mackena!

Claire B

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Pocono Raceway Driver’s Meeting Sunday, May 8, 2008 June 8, 2008

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Pocono 500Image via WikipediaGood day! Welcome to race day.

A couple of interesting notes from the Sprint Cup Series drivers’ meeting here at Pocono Raceway.

Dale Earnhardt Junior
– watched the Nationwide Race at Nashville on Direct TV in his Motor Home Saturday night – well until Direct TV mysteriously went to a network logo and dropped the broadcast for the final laps of the race. The broadcast – out for an estimated ten laps – picked up with Brad Keselowski in Victory Lane – so Dale Junior did not get to see his driver race to the win as he too watched the broadcast go to a logo while watching the Nationwide race from his motor home. “Yea, Pretty frustrating,” he said when I asked him about it. He also said, heading into the driver’s meeting, that he was proud of the entire Junior Motorsports team and that the team’s win would accomplish some great things for his team. “It really makes us a legitimate contender for the championship this year,” Dale Junior said today at the entrance to the drivers’ meeting. “From an owner’s standpoint it puts us in a Winner’s Circle Program and there’s a lot of different things that it will change for our program and (it will) help our program. I think it really gives us a stronger footing in the series and our ability to be there and compete for a few more years.

No questions at the driver’s meeting from the drivers – and the usual information noted by Race Director David Hoots. Specifics to Pocono and the Pocono 500:

Pit Road Speed Pocono: 55 mph
Caution Car Speed Pocono: 70 mph
Pit Road Speed Begins: 165 feet before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed Ends: 75 feet past the last pit box
Minimum Speed: 60.08 seconds

After the drivers’ meeting, with no questions and the drivers ready to go, we prayed. Amen!

Mood Meter: Does it work?
In my humble observation – the guy who was in an obvious good mood at the driver’s meeting was DeWalt Ford driver Matt Kennseth. He starts 13th -and was 5th fastest in the final practice. I go to the drivers’ meeting each week -and my gut reaction observation doesn’t mean a guy will win- but to me- even better than the track stats – it’s an indication he’s pretty happy with things heading into the race today. Let’s see if my mood meter works 🙂 We’ll meet back here after the race.

J.D. Gibbs Doesn’t Crack Under Pressure:

J.D. Gibbs will not sing like a bird! He might have been good in the military in battle. I was hanging out over at the NASCAR food area in the garage with another reporter having coffee very early this morning and J.D. walked up. The reporter tried to pry from him anything regarding a fourth team for Gibbs Racing or the contract future forTony Stewart. Despite comments from crew chief Greg Zipadelli that, in his opinion, Tony Stewart knows where he will be driving in the future Gibbs said it is not a done deal. Silly season is in full bloom – but Gibbs could be a poker player -and he swears it’s not a done deal with Stewart already done with his decision. The negotiating continues?

Well – out to pit road for the start of the race. I’ll keep you posted and you can email me if you have some good race questions during or after this race.

Take care.

Claire B
Pocono Raceway
XM Satellite Radio

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Pocono Saturday Night Blog June 7, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers.
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Greetings from Pocono!

I thought I’d write you a quick POSTCard from the mountains 🙂 Yep – Kyle Busch came to the track from Texas good to go. But he had a wrangle with the wall during practice. It’s wild that no one seemed to have a great replay of it. We have descriptions from the TV people but everyone wanted a clear replay. Even his crew chief Steve Addington had not seen a replay of it. Busch was ok – but he was on a tight schedule. The car was mangled and they pulled out a back up. He slipped out the side door of the hauler on his way to Nashville without talking to the media – and he was in a hurry to get to Nashville so time was short.

I keep getting emails about Busch. I’ll post them but am not picking them out – because they are raw. I think the folks who like Busch are not as apt to write as those who do not.

Here are a couple I received today –

Hi Claire B:

I’m so disgusted I can hardly stand it. I just watched Kyle Busch put on an impressive display of driving, working his way through the field (cleanly for once) in the truck race. He gave Hornaday a run for his money, but came up just short, finishing second to the winningest driver in truck series history, which I would think is something to be proud of. And what were the first words out of his mouth when he was interviewed? “What a piece of crap!” Belatedly, he remembered to thank his crew, although it was really backhanded – “They worked hard all day, I’m sure”. Talk about a poor sport, an ungrateful, graceless, spoiled brat!!! Did he even mention his sponsor? No. He was just petulant and egocentric. Even when he congratulated Hornaday, he made it sound like the only reason Ron won was because Kyle didn’t get a good restart. If the truck was so bad, how the heck did he almost win the race??? No one is that good of a driver. I’ve never heard a professional driver, particularly one who has been on the cup level for several years, give such a childish, classless interview, particularly after finishing second. It’s way past time for him to grow up and learn some manners. I would think the Coach would be teaching him some, but apparently just winning races is enough for him and JD. If I were Kyle’s parents, I’d be so embarrassed by his behavior I couldn’t show my face. But I guess if they cared about such things, we wouldn’t have been treated to this disgraceful display in the first place. This is just another reason why I hit the “mute” button as soon as a microphone is put in front of Kyle Busch. I dread the rest of the season, having to keep my finger poised as he pouts his way through the three top series.

Congratulations to Ron Hornaday on another wonderful win.

– Tricia in CA

Reply To: Tricia
From: CBL
Your email got me to double check the post race in Texas and see what he said in the media center. The transcript is below FYI – I thought you’d like the read (below).

ToyotaMotorsports

KYLE BUSCH -Finished: 2nd

Can you talk about how your truck was handling throughout the night?

“In the beginning, it was just plowing tight and the front end wasn’t hitting the race track. We have to have the front end down on the race track to get the most grip out of the truck and get the splitter down. If there’s any air that goes underneath the truck, it just kills it. We had too much air underneath the truck at the beginning. We took some rounds out of the front, and got the front end to work better. Then, it was just sideways loose up off the corner. This tire, me not getting to practice on it, I didn’t know if it was going to go loose or if it was going to go tight. We were sideways there in the middle of the runs, absolutely just barely hanging on.” Are you disappointed that you didn’t win the race? “We finished second for Billy Ballew. That’s what matters the most. I know we lost points to Hornaday, I’m sure he led the most lost, but we’ll take a good finish we can. We’ve struggled here in the past few weeks of getting finishes we need. Dover, we messed up. Charlotte, we messed up. Here, we lost a little, but we gained on a lot of other guys. So, we can go to Michigan and try to win there.”

Can you talk about what the team had to do to make this truck handle for you?

“We fixed it and made the most of it. You have to give it to this team. They worked hard all day, I’m sure. They unloaded with a good base line and J.R. (Norris) did the best he could. But, man, it just wasn’t for me at the beginning. We worked on it and made so many adjustments on it all night. Luckily, we made it home second. Congratulations to Ron (Hornaday). I just didn’t get a good restart there at the end. I couldn’t make a race out of it.”

How hard was the truck to drive tonight?

“It’s a testament to this team. They did a great job, but the thing wasn’t my truck at the beginning. It was a piece of (crap). We worked on it and made it the best we could. It just wasn’t a second-place truck at all. It was probably an eighth-place truck. We made the most of it tonight and came home second. All we have to do is go to Pocono and practice tomorrow and then go to Nashville.”
——————————————-

Hi Claire B,

I’m watching Trackside right now, and Larry Mac said it so simply when discussing the “why” Kyle is doing so well this year compared to last year.

Larry Mac said it is because “Kyle is with a team that believes in him, and he believes in that team.”

Wow! That’s it! I’ve tried to figure it out, but Larry Mac has it right. So simple. A revelation to me! And I will repeat it to my friends who are Hendrick lovers and Kyle naysayers.

But you know, that is what is at the root of me becoming a Kyle fan the day he was dumped by Hendrick. Hendrick didn’t believe in him, and that pissed me off and made me a Kyle fan, in a protective motherly sort of way. Because I did believe in him.

I feel like I’ve been to therapy. (If you don’t understand that, okay, but I thank Larry Mac for the revelation.) And I didn’t pay a dime.

Cynda
—————————————————————–
I included the post race from the media center and checked it to see what he said. Does it make a difference that he thanked his team inside where the media were sitting? You tell me. I just want all the information out so you can fully decide with all the facts. Well folks – I’m off to a dinner so I have to scoot. More from the garage tomorrow. I wanted to touch base and tell you some things before I headed out and yes, I am dressed up tonight. That’s a rare thing.
Usually I’m in the garage and I don’t get the chance to dress up!
I’ll have a bunch to tell you tomorrow.
Enjoy the Nationwide race in Nashville.

As always.

Claire B
Pocono Mountains

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California Speedway Notes June 6, 2008

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Hey All! You have got to read this. I got an email from a listener recently – Larry – who sent me a note about California Speedway. He sent it to me and said he did not get a reply from anyone at California Speedway – so I sent his email on for him to the President of the track. You have got to hear what she replied. First, read Larry’s email :

May 24, 2008

Good afternoon,

It is with deep regret that I read of the impending schedule change which shall “reward” the California Speedway for its lack of ticket sales by awarding it a “chase” race date.

It is important to note that when Darlington and Rockingham (deservedly) lost Cup dates for lack of ticket sales, without being provided consideration for their weather woes, California is now being “GIVEN” not only a better race date but a CHASE date.

I / we / most people can totally understand that when a specific track does not live up to ticket sales expectations then they would (deservedly) have dates cut back and/or removed. But it is becoming more and more obvious that the “favored status” of your speedway means that regardless of whether one, one hundred or one hundred thousand (highly unlikely) show up, NASCAR will see fit to continue to support this most unproductive of race venues.

It would seem (more than) obvious to everyone (except maybe the Hollywood set) that California can do no wrong and will continue to occupy not one but two dishonored dates on the illustrious Cup schedule.

How disappointing. You must indeed be proud.

Larry Taylor

New Bern, NC 28560

Larry said he did not get a reply – and he said he bet someone he never would. I told Larry I’d send his email on to the President of the track . Sure enough I got a reply today to him that I was copied on by the track president. Read on:

Larry,

Claire B. Lang forwarded me your note. As I’m sure she would be willing to confirm, I jump at the chance to respond to any issues raised by race fans, especially ones based on factually inaccurate information because it allows us a chance to present our side.

Let me begin by saying should the date change at Auto Club Speedway, it most certainly won’t be as a result of any kind of “reward”. We have been petitioning for a date change for several years – unsuccessfully. The possibility of a calendar swap to a date with more appropriate weather conditions would only occur because of a request by Atlanta for Labor Day Weekend. Their management feels that a holiday weekend will have a positive impact in a market that continues to struggle and has seen attendance continue to decline.

That is not the case in California where our track is seeing slowly increasing attendance, even in light of the most horrific weather conditions imaginable. For that reason, we disagree with your suggestion that our track has a “lack” of ticket sales. In point of fact, we draw considerable more than so many events on the schedule. Small tracks that fill to capacity like Darlington, Miami, even Phoenix are considered successful while you view us as unsuccessful even though we sell more tickets than any of those facilities.

As for doing no wrong. We feel quite the opposite, that we can do no right in the minds of those from the heart of the NASCAR Nation. It’s a shame because it our aggressive, strategic and creative marketing that has driven our facility to what would have been the most highly attended Auto Club 500 since I have been at the facility. Mother Nature stepped in to rain on our parade but that monumental growth of ticket sales in an economy when other tracks are experiencing a decline, we feel shows that Californians are continuing to step up when it comes to NASCAR.

Fans here further demonstrated their passion is growing through their recent support of our Southern California NASCAR Day celebration. How ironic is it that out of every race track in the nation, it was Auto Club Speedway that sold the most pins for NASCAR Day, more than 16,000, and raised more money for the NASCAR Foundation than any other speedway.

I indeed am proud. Proud of a team that has made monumental strides in making NASCAR relevant in one of the most difficult but also most important markets in the nation. This all is good for the sport and with the passion for NASCAR that I know we share, I hope you will look at Auto Club Speedway with a little less venom in the future. We’re just pushing relentlessly for what is in the best interests of the sport and our SoCal race fans.

Best regards,
Gillian Zucker
President
Auto Club Speedway

How about that? I wonder which one is right – Larry or Gillian. Email me and let me know what you think. Interesting email in my mail bag.
Claire B
XM Satellite Radio