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September 20, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, My Show, NASCAR, Teams, Trackside.
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Claire B.log

“On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of millions who when within the grasp of victory sat and waited and waiting, died.” William H. G. France, 1979

Dover International Speedway
Saturday – September 20, 2008……….3:00 p.m.

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m in the radio room right behind the stage in the deadline room here at Dover International Speedway. NASCAR just held a news conference announcing their new substance abuse policy. NASCAR will do random testing of team members, officials and drivers beginning next year. Drivers have been in support of random testing in general for some time now.

“NASCAR has taken a lot of steps to elevate our sport to the level of the “Big Four” leagues. We’ve entered new markets. We draw hundreds of thousands of fans each weekend. So it’s time that we police ourselves as one of the biggest sports leagues in the country. The new drug policy is another step in the evolution of NASCAR and the safety of the sport. Make no mistake, what we do is dangerous. We need to make certain that the competitors are clean when they hit the racetrack. NASCAR did a great job in outlining the rules, what is legal and illegal, and it’s up to the drivers and their doctors to make sure they are within the guidelines.” -Bobby Labonte, driver, No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge

The reporters in here are debating the new policy because it doesn’t specify the substances that are banned from NASCAR. There are two sides of the room – one says that a policy that doesn’t tell a guy what is banned specifically is open to lawsuits etc. Some say those media members are totally missing the point. Which is that NASCAR prohibits the misuse or abuse of any drug period – could be cough syrup could be anything. The problem with lists of substances, NASCAR says, is that it restricts what you can look for – this policy is open to abuse of anything that would affect a driver’s ability to be safe on the race track. Drivers are saying this is not shooting hoops or hitting a fast ball – that anything that affects a driver’s ability should be off limits because it’s life or death.

The saying above from Bill France, Sr. about hesitation is well documented – it’s painted on the wall at Pocono Raceway. Somehow on a cool Saturday in Dover the part about bleached bones for those who hesitate within the grasp of victory is compelling. It’s a motivator for sure to kick the cobwebs out and make something happen. That’s just what some teams need to do to stay in the chase this weekend. Jeff Gordon and the 24 team are on the pole and I have gotten so many calls on air and emails from Gordon fans saying they hope that the pole is a sign of good things to come. I have to say that there was some confusing information circulated regarding Gordon testing with his team this past week at Kentucky. After qualifying Gordon confirmed that he was, indeed, at the test himself despite a trip to Washington DC.

“We had a test in Kentucky this week. I wasn’t scheduled to be there. Brad Keselowski was going to drive the car and I was able to work my schedule around to be there. You know we tested until 9:00 p.m. over there on Wednesday night. so it’s things like that. It’s going in the shop it’s showing up early for practice and it’s putting a big lap out there like we did today” Jeff Gordon Media Center Post Pole Dover

Good for Gordon. I still maintain that they have a better test session and are more successful if Gordon can get to the test himself. It’s a positive move that he rearranged his schedule to be at the test instead of letting Keselowski do it for him.

Sunday with The Fallen Firefighters at Dover!

I volunteered to pitch in and emcee hospitality tomorrow for the over 500 supporters of the Fallen Firefighters Foundation —-in support of the over 100 firefighters who lose their lives each year in the line of duty. The track asked if I’d help out and how cool is it that guys like Jeff Burton and Richard Childress volunteered to speak to them on their own time. Of course I’ll pitch in – I’d be honored. It’s a small, small thing to do to pay back those who serve and protect. At the races here at Dover, by the way, over 250 fire and EMS Crews work to keep drivers, crews and fans in attendance out of harms way.

Hallam Moves from Formula One to NASCAR and Joins Michael Waltrip Racing

Steve Hallam, a 56 year-old-Englishman will leave his post as Head of Race Operations for McLaren Racing and join MWR’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Operation following the conclusion of the Formula One season. Hallam has established himself as a respected engineer and manager of the past 27 years in Formula One, participating in 430 Grand Prix, winning five World Championships while working for only two teams: Team Lotus and McLaren Racing. Hallam has worked as Race Engineer with such world-class drivers as Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Michael Andretti, Gerhard Berger, Mika Hakkinen before moving on to become Head of Race Operations. In this role he developed a group of the most capable trackside engineers in Formula One resulting in Lewis Hamilton’s current challenge for the Formula One title, a four-time winner this year who is leading the World Championship Driver Point Standings.

I talked with MWR’s Cal Wells about Hallam and what he lends to the program. “We’ve been talking with him for a long, long time. He’s been at the same place for twenty plus years so it’s a pretty big leap for him but he has been to a six pack of races in the past. He’s got some friends that work in the garage one that drives. So I flew over and spent some time with him, and then Rob and I spent some time with him and then Mike and Rob and I spent some time with him and we just thought that this guy would be the right guy to really fully leverage all of the assets that Toyota has as they start to blossom. Cause you know they really haven’t yet. When their Salisbury facility is just opening up this week. We won’t actively be allowed in there for I don’t know how long – a month or two or three -I’m not sure yet. But whenever that really gets going we need to be able fully exploit all of that. We’ve got to have somebody on the ground that’s at the track every week extracting the maximum of our engineering group extracting the maximum amount of what they can provide and really making the cars faster every single week.”

TED MUSGRAVE – HT Motorsports – Las Vegas – What is the deal?

Ted Musgrave crashed in the second lap of the first practice for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Las Vegas and in the half hour break between the first and second practice – he and the team GM Donnie Baden I am told had a heavy conversation and they apparently agreed they should part ways and another driver was brought in to qualify and race the truck. Talk that someone thought he intentionally crashed the truck was flying around the garage – you know how garage talk spreads. Team sources say that there was not a feeling that he had crashed the truck on purpose at all- but rather that some stress had been building the last couple of weeks and that the events today “just brought the situation to a head,” and they mutually agreed to separate. Here’s the team release that was issued shortly after the conversation:

Musgrave and HT Motorsports Part Ways Effective Immediately

Ted Musgrave and team owner Jim Harris, owner of the No. 59 Team ASE/HT Motorsports Toyota Tundra, have mutually agreed to part company effective immediately. Stacy Compton will replace Musgrave for Saturday’s Qwik Liner Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Stacy Compton will drive the No. 59 for tonight’s race in Las Vegas,” said HT Motorsports team manager Donny Vaden. “We will evaluate our options once we get back home and make an announcement on our driver or drivers for the rest of the season then.”

Compton was HT Motorsports’ first driver in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition, competing in four races in 2001 and three races in 2002. He scored top-10 finishes in his first five starts with the team, including a fourth-place finish after starting from the pole at Phoenix in October 2001.

Compton has started 16 NCTS races in 2008 driving for the BHR-VA team for which he is a co-owner. His best qualifying effort of the season was a second at Nashville in August and his best finish is a sixth in the season opener at Daytona. Overall he has four top-10 finishes and although he’s missed the last two races he stands 21st in the series championship standings

-o-
The drama is everywhere in NASCAR. I’ll keep you posted. I put up some new emails in the Claire’s email bin above. Check it out.

Thanks for finding me on the new XM channel # 148 and new time 3-6 EST. You all rock! Greetings from Dover!

Claire B

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