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Claire B Lang moving to SIRIUS Radio- Dec 1st November 24, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, My Show.
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Official logo for Sirius XM Radio, Inc.Image via WikipediaC L A I R E B. M A I L
Tuesday, Monday, November 24,2008 – Charlotte, NC Studio

An note to friends and “Dialed In” listeners:

I wanted to let you know how much I have, over the years, appreciated your friendship, support, loyalty, calls on the air, race rants, observations and the good times we’ve shared over the radio on “Dialed In” on XM. It may be that some of you are now SIRIUS subscribers, that you got the “Best Of” package and can get NASCAR Radio now on XM or that you have been listening every day and are tried and true loyal XM’ers. When I decided to stay at XM back when NASCAR Radio moved to SIRIUS, I thought of you – of how many radios you already had purchased and I stayed. Many of you did too and I’ll never forget your kindness and support during that time.

Many of you moved with me from XM channel 144 to 148 when they moved the show after the merger and I was truly amazed. When they moved me again to channel I43 I figured it would be really tough for you to find the show – but you moved in droves and sought out being a part of “Dialed In” again. I was humbled. I promised that you all would be the first to know what would happen to “Dialed In” when the two services merged. Now, finally I can tell you.

On December 1, 2008, I am going to be moving to SIRIS NASCAR Radio on The “Best of” Channel 128. “Dialed In” will once again, be a part of the line up on Sirius NASCAR Radio. I will be anchoring coverage at the race track, on weekends, doing specials and “insider” coverage as well as doing “Dialed In” during the week. I will be returning to the radio channel that I helped to launch when NASCAR Radio first began. I was so proud of helping launch the initial NASCAR Radio channel and I’m happy to be returning to it now.

“Dialed In with Claire B Lang on Sirius XM” New York City – December 1

I will kick off being a part of SIRIUS NASCAR Radio on Monday, December 1 at the Sirius XM Studios in New York City. I’ll have a special show each night after covering all of the press conferences, parties and insider events that NASCAR will have during Champion’s Week in NYC.

I’ll take you behind the scenes as if you are actually at the events yourself. Plus, I’ll host an exclusive show with the entire Hendrick Championship team, featuring Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus, Rick Hendrick and their entire crew!

My main concern now is that no one tunes into XM Channel 143 on Monday, December 1 looking for “Dialed In” and is disappointed not to find it. We have been moved many times and I worry that some of you may be looking for my New York City Champion’s Week coverage on the channel I have been on the past several weeks.

If you have SIRIUS Make sure to update your radio pre-set to SIRIUS NASCAR Radio channel 128 so you don’t miss one second of the show on December 1. If you have XM and you don’t have “The Best of SIRIUS” on your XM radio, you can get it today by logging onto www.xmradio.com/best or by calling 888-5-SIRIXM (that’s 888-574-7496) right now.

I have been blogging here on Claireblang.com to keep you all posted so be sure to keep up with what is happening with me and the show behind the scenes by logging on here for all of the details!

In closing, It’s hard for me to tell you what you have all meant to me over the years. If you are a regular listener then you know how much you matter to me. I most often travel alone on the road although I have friends on the circuit. But most times I am alone in a studio in a city away from home and when I click on the ISDN broadcast line you are there. You are my friends, my neighborhood and my listeners and you all matter a lot to me. You have shared much with me over the years and I wanted to make sure that you were a part of the latest chapter of my life.

Thanks for everything! I’m lucky to have had listeners like you. I hope to hear from you on Monday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m. EST when I sit down behind the microphone in the Sirius studio in New York City for the very first time to kick off Champions Week coverage.

Many blessings and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Thank you for your loyal, support and friendship.

Claire B.

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Chex Most Popular Driver- Hot Topic! November 21, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, Fun Stuff.
Tags: , , , , ,
13 comments

Hey all: The National Motorsports Press Association and Chex are looking for ideas to further promote and grow the Most Popular Driver contest. This year’s voting is already over and will be announced in New York City next week. I brought this topic up on air and found that it was really a hot one! I got tons of emails and feed back ranging from pick a most popular driver each month and then have a vote off at the end to charging for charity $1.00 per vote. There was talk that ranged from allowing people to vote only once to allowing them to vote as often as they’d like.

We had a man who called who set two computers up to vote up to 150 times a day. The listeners were amazed that was happening. Others said it’s nothing new and leave it alone.

Let me know your feedback if you can. Here are some of the emails I got yesterday.

Thanks for listening and checking out ClaireBLang.com

Claire B

________________________________________________
Hi Claire

It’s my understanding you were asking on behalf of Chex about the voting for MPD. As a long time Jr fan and voter, I shouldn’t give you my insight (ans spill our secrets), but here goes anyway. I feel the problem is: it’s very difficult for a casual fan to even locate the voting. Once it moved from Nascar.com to Scene Daily it was even more confusing for the casual fan. If you don’ t keep a link in your favorites, locating the voting can be a challenge. Now us Jr fans, it’s easy. We’re a very organized group. This is just my opinion. Thanks for asking.

***Sandy Beddie***
Proud member of Jr Nation
________________________________________________
Claire B – I am diehard Dale Jr fan and I voted daily. I’d gladly pay $1 a
day to vote… Maybe money to driver’s specified charity? Then it would
really reflect driver’s popularity!
Kat in VA

Paying a dollar a day for each vote would cost me $30.00 a month. In this economy that’s just not practical. I could not afford it, and many others couldn’t either.

Ginger
________________________________________________
Hey Claire!
I’m not out of the office yet, but I understand you brought up the topic of MPD and wondered if it should be changed. My vote is NO!

If indeed Dale Jr is the winner again this year, and from the apparent description that you gave on the show it sounds like he is, it is because his legion of fans has faithfully voted each and every day. In fact, some of us were fairly concerned that we were doing enough to show our support and wanted to do more. If fans of other drivers are not voting, that’s too bad. Maybe they feel that there isn’t a chance, but the only way that they can show their loyalty is to vote, vote, vote! My guess is that if fans could only vote once a season (boooo), or once a month, Dale Jr would still win. He just has more fans! The only way he is not going to win is if he follows Bill Elliot’s path and removes himself from the voting list.

Some of the things that also convince me that he is the most popular are (1) the hands down majority of fans wearing his gear at the tracks, (2) the reception he gets in driver intros, and (3) the advertising minutes/stats that get generated every year. My guess is that somehow Budweiser isn’t gonna be at the top of the list this year! And that is not to take anything away from Kasey, it is just that he is not as popular as Dale Jr!

Goodness knows, the fans get no respect and are not listened to by the powers that be in Daytona Beach. Don’t take this away from us too!

Chicago, IL
________________________________________________
Claire,

I am in my car and cannot call you. Had to walk in the school library to send this e-mail. My driver is Dale Jr and yes I do vote in the Most Popular Driver Award ONCE every day. I don’t feel the need to vote more than that. The MPD Award is very prestigous and means a great deal to us as Jr fans, that we have been able to win it for him the last 5 years running. We take a lot of pride in him winning it and we know it means a lot to him. I totally disagree with anyone who says it dosen’t mean anything. It shows where the drivers stand with the people who make it possible for them to do what they love every week. Don’t tell me “it dosen’t mean anything!”

I resent that Chex is even THINKING of changing the format in which this award is voted on. Please do not insult us as fans by cheapening what is now a very prestigous award. We don’t need some new “allstar” format to drum up excitement. Leave it alone…the people who want to vote already do. People need to suck it up…Jr has the most fans and that is that. Let them change it to whatever format they want because it does not matter…Jr Nation will come out on top. Please let the Chex people know though Claire, that I purchase Chex Cereal as my cereal of choice. I eat it every morning for breakfast. If they change this format, I will pull my support. I will not buy their product if they do this. I only buy it because they sponsor this award, I can easily find me another cereal to eat, that I like just as much.

Some of his fans, me included, have been concerned over the last few days because voting was supposed to be over at 11:59CT on Monday afternoon, and the website is still taking votes. Are the organizers of the award TRYING to sabatoge us fans who are voting for Jr??? Okay, I am joking so nobody get upset but it does make us wonder. Why will they not take the voting page down. Voting is over, yet, we can still vote. After hearing all of this, it just makes me wonder.

Thanks for your time

Jennifer

________________________________________________
Hey Claire!

1) Tell Gary the Mojo Crew says “Hey!” We got to talk to him a couple years in a row when he used to come to the Lowes Zone at LMS in Charlotte. He’s got some funny stories. I think Jimmie must get some of the humor from Gary. I thought Jimmie jumping into the crew reminded me for some reason of the Jimmie Gary talked about who invited everyone at a race he won to come to their house for a party and that when he (Gary) got home there were like a hundred people in his front yard. The spontaneous; I want to share my happiness with everyone; let’s have a good time Jimmie. They did a wonderful job raising Jimmie, Jarit, and Jessie. And I bet he’s enjoying Jarit’s little ones too. Congrats on that also.

2) Most Popular Driver voting: they need to continue to refine the program that runs that. Make it one where the voter has to enter a randomly generated code in order for the vote to go through so they can’t use the macro voting programs that generate votes without a person needing to hit the buttons by hand. Another would be if they can have it set up so it recognizes ISP addresses so people can’t vote with multiple emails from the same computer address. Just a couple of suggestions. Not a huge deal though. I’m a Jimmie fan and I know how wonderful he is whether other people figure it out or not. I’d rather be a fan of the 3 time Champion (IN A ROW! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! I’M STILL A BIT EXCITED! Ha ha!) than the guy who is most popular but can’t get the job done on the track – and note my driver is physically fit enough that he can still breath and talk after 500 miles.

Thanks Claire! Love the show as always!

Pam J
________________________________________________
Hey CBL,

I haven’t voted in the most popular drive promotion in years, since Ward Burton got “booted” from the sport I haven’t had a car in the race. When you get some one as popular as Jr. it would be hard to cast that many votes, seems to me “awesome Bill” from Dawsonville was one like Jr. Don’t know what they could do to pull me into the voting again. I like Jr. but I like a lot of the other drivers too, maybe they should have a most “unpopular driver” segment too…I think I would be more apt to vote in that now than the most popular.

Joyce
Arkansas
________________________________________________
Dear Claire B

I am a faithful MPD voter, and I vote every day. This contest has been in existence for many years. I’m just wondering why you would want to change the format now. Is this Chex’s idea? PS Love your show.

G

________________________________________________
Hi Claire,
I voted for my driver, Casey Mears, everyday in the most popular driver voting. Everytime I voted I felt like it was a waste of time because the Jr. fans would win out every time Jr. is a choice for anything. I think that a driver should not be eligible after winning the Most popular award more than 2 years in a row. At least Bill Elliot had the grace to take himself out of the running after dominating that award for years.

David
Endicott, NY

________________________________________________
Hi Claire,

I’m and Dale Jr. fan and will vote no matter how they change it, but in my opinion if you ask people to pay to vote you will get fewer people to your website. These are going to be hard economic times and people will watch what they spend their dollars on.

In my opinion, I think if you offer participants a prize at the end of the year. A trip to the banquet for two all expenses paid. A trip to a race for two all expenses paid. Maybe some other smaller prize from their favorite driver. If you offer people something that they can’t get on their own in these hard economic time maybe they would be more likely to vote more often and then they would get more hit to their website.

Just my opinion.
Bonnie from Connecticut

________________________________________________
Should the NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Voting be changed?

Yes it should be. I think it is a disgrace to the award to be able to make up email addresses and vote more than once. Try one person voting 6 times to 10 times. There should be a way that the IP address of the email address be registered and only to be used ONCE a day. No one will vote knowing the Jr Nation vote much more than once a day. This is fact. But, this is the ONLY trophy Jr will get. The one his so called Nation votes for him. Thank God the Championship is not decided by votes.

Have Happy Holidays
________________________________________________
Hi Claire,

Thanks for reading my email on the air! It was hard to drive and listen to something that I wrote at the same time!!!

Have thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. Now that I have a better feel, I have a couple more thoughts to share with Chex…

1. Whatever voting system is used, it has to be fair and open to all people equally or the results are questionable. To have someone pay to vote, or go to the track to vote, severely limits a segment of the population. While I would encourage them to put a donation link on their site, I would hate to see folks have to pay to vote in this economy, when racing/voting might be one of few perks in a pretty bleak existence.

2. I certainly support Chex wanting to have more hits to its website. Perhaps if after someone voted a set number of times in a month, they would automatically get a coupon for a discount on one of the Chex products. If, perhaps, one had to vote 20 times in a month, the coupon could not be possibly kicked out until the 21st of the month and if someone voted multiple times daily, then their votes would be discounted… the software is out there to match emails to votes. That would encourage folks to vote even if they perceived their driver not to be a potential winner!

3. I must say I like the idea of a driver of the month and then perhaps in the last month a run off of all (or the top 3- 5) drivers over the year.

Thanks to you for listening and thanks to Chex for asking!

Mary
Chicago, IL
________________________________________________
Claire B:

How about 1 per month then a “chase” vote during the last week or so of the season between the drivers that won each month for the yearly big winner.

Or a 1 per month; then between those 3 for the quarter with the final vote between the quarterly for the end of year winner with all the quarterly winners being acknowledged some way.

And yes by clearing cookies anyone can vote more than once and after about the first month this year fans didn’t even have to do that to vote more than once. Didn’t even have to use more than one email. I voted but will admit most weeks I only remembered 4 out of 7 days.

As much as I love giving to my driver’s charity I have a bit of a problem with $1 a vote or whatever because that leaves out a lot of people who could not afford to do that. You are talking even at only one vote per day up to $365 a year and for folks who are struggling to make all their bills or saying they can’t afford $100 for a race ticket, does Nascar or the sponsors want to add one more thing people would have to pay for? Just a thought. Now maybe if they did a vote off at the end out of the top so many for the year to get the winner for the year or something and during that week or whatever the time frame is they want to do that, that could be interesting.

Just a couple thoughts.

Pam
________________________________________________
Claire B,
If they insist on a popularity contast, why not vote for a favorite team.
Some folks cheer the car and what it represents and not the driver.
Besides, these drivers aleady have a hard time fitting their heads in their
tight little seats.

Glad I’m finally getting listen today. Been too long.

Duane
Menifee. CA
________________________________________________
Claire B: This is an easy problem to fix. Only allow each computer’s IP address to count for 1 vote no matter how mant times they vote. Travis from KS

No matter how you change it Jr will win as he should he does have the most fans. That said I keep voting to hopefully keep Jeff G in 2nd (they have told us some years where the others were after Jr). I do know people who
say the Jr fans outnumber any others fans so why bother. The sweepstakes they have is a good thing as people might vote just to have the chance to win that. What I would do would not be what they want as they would get less hits on the site and probably not possible. I would like one Fan one
Vote and although I know Jr would still win that would be more accurate instead of being able to vote every day with all your email addresses. I don’t think you can do it for MPD but have heard of people being able to program their computers to auto vote when voting in an on-line poll.

Deb
________________________________________________
Claire: I voted several times for Sadler and know many who did the same. They used to show who was in the top 10 from time to time in years past, but I never saw that this year. Maybe if they kept it up to date on the standings more people would take place.

I don’t think any changes need to be made to the voting for this award. It’s the FANS vote so please leave it alone! No one complain in all of the years that Bill Elliott won it why now?

Virginia Spann
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” Proverbs 3:

Tough Times For NASCAR Crew Members November 19, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, NASCAR, Teams.
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3 comments

Charlotte, NC Studio
Claire B Lang – Blog
Wednesday, November 18, 2008

“It All Ends Here”

Tough Times For NASCAR Crew Members

As we close the books on the 2008 season and celebrate the crowning of a new champion and the end of the 2008 season I have something on my mind that needs to be said. It is with sadness that I walked through the garage Sunday on the last race day of the season – hearing of more and more team members laid off, some (from the 01 car) who learned on Friday afternoon inside the team hauler away from home and family support that they were loosing their jobs.

Many crew members who have been around a long time are predicting that the good crew members will find jobs and get work –eventually. As things pick up they will be returning to this sport but at a lower pay rate. This, say some in the sport, will serve to lower the pay scale that has risen excessively in the shops of NASCAR teams.

Others say – since the drivers are getting paid so much what is wrong with the crew members getting paid a decent wage. The price of running teams in this sport has sky rocketed – something has to give. Another huge discussion topic in the garage amongst the management folks on the layoff topic is how much the competitive teams had to beef up staffing for the car of tomorrow implementation and how those extra staffers are not needed now.

I was told in another discussion in the garage that a service line mechanic at a dealership who works extremely efficiently and quickly can make $70,000 a year. On a good Sprint Cup race team the same person can make $140,000. Sources in the garage told me that pit crew members can make $150,000 – $175,000 if they do other jobs at the shop. One shop structures their pit crew pay this way $35,000 for a first tear guy, $40,000 for second tear, $55,000 for third and $70,000 for top rung. Plus, of course, what they get for the job they do in the shop.

Today, I heard awful stories of team guys who work at one particular race shop near an area where the employment applications are taken. One crew member said that all day while he is working on the race car at the shop he watches the line of people come in the door looking for work in staggering numbers, one by one, all day long, he sees a continuous line of employment seeking friends passing by looking for a job.

I am hearing that the US Army team guys will, for the most part, be moving as an entire team over to the Stewart Haas Race Team. The Army team guys are happy they will have work but are upset that they are displacing others and sad for their fellow crew members on that team who they will be replacing.

I have been told stories of crew members who got calls from crew members crying on the phone – asking for help finding jobs. Here’s another side – some in the garage say that crew members who made good money, way more than they could make anywhere else with the same experience, bought big houses and lived above their means and now have issues with big homes that they can’t afford.

Crew members told me this weekend that they think if folks do not get jobs soon – many of those released will likely go back home to other parts of the country as many of them relocated to the Charlotte area for the opportunity in racing. One crew member told me that he was told he would not have a job as he got off the airplane in Homestead. He got off the airplane and the crew chief called him over as soon as he landed. Others were told on Monday when they got to their race shop.. It’s not just about them – these are guys are tight with the guys they have roomed with and lived with and worked on a team with for years.

When I got into this sport – I remember a crew member who I met up in Mooresville, NC when I used to hang out at a local racing hangout the “Stock Car Café”. Team guys used to gather after work and talk racing there. These days, the team guys are busy testing and working with less time for hanging out mid week. This crew member was on a lower team and just getting the cars to the track was brutal every week with a lot of burning the midnight oil. He was not able to keep his struggling race team together and his family and his job and was in tears because he had no idea how to write a resume. In our world, these guys getting laid off are extremely talented people. Many are experienced only in getting cars to go fast.

I also remember all of the things that these crew members over the years have personally done for me. On my first national television deal – years ago – It was the crew members who gave me thumbs up – whispered information in my ear and cheered me on. When Dale Earnhardt died and we went to Rockingham and I finally let my emotion out, crying behind my sunglasses on pit road, it was a crew member who noticed and gave me a silent hug. When the road seems weary and the going gets hard away from home it’s a crew member who hollers a joke or busts someone’s chops and gets us laughing or who yells out your name. It’s funny how someone using your name is comforting to most people especially when you are on the road alone.

There are many opinions in the garage as well – who say that the NASCAR garage had many people in it making too much money – guys on race teams who did not need to be there. The days of having one specialty are over. Teams are tightening their belts and hanging on to the crew member who can handle multiple functions.

Right now as we celebrate the end of the season and prepare to go to New York with the newly crowned champ – let’s help each other through the hard times. Drivers need to think about the crew guys not only for their own teams but other teams that have helped the sport who are challenged right now.

I’d like to thank all of the crew guys, those who got laid off and those who are still working hard to make cars go fast, for their help during my career. They take my phone calls day or night – they carve out time to explain things to me and the race fans when there are issues that don’t make sense, when there are stories I want to get exactly right. Yes, they have been really lucky to work doing something that they love and the race fans would love to have been them, if only for one day, working on any race team up or down pit road. Today – every single person who has a job should thank the Good Lord and then look around and see who we can help or give comfort to who doesn’t.

Guys – thank you.

Claire B

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I’ll be on a new channel today – XM Channel 143 —from 3-6 EST. November 12, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season.
Tags: , , ,
14 comments

Hey Listeners!

I am writing this from the Miami airport – and I will be broadcasting today from the Chevy XM Mobile Broadcast Unit –

I’ll be on a new channel today – Channel 143 —from 3-6 EST.

“3 on 143” 🙂

Sorry to have to ask you to move again – but wanted to let you know – hope you can find “Dialed In” and hang out today from 3-6 EST on Channel 143.

Thanks for listening…..you all rock.

Claire B

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Race Day – November 9, 2008 November 9, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, In The Garage, NASCAR, Teams, Transcripts.
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Blog – Phoenix International Raceway
Race Day – November 9, 2008
Claire B Lang

Brian France – NASCAR Chairman and CEO Q and A with the media heart at Phoenix pre-race today:

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France came into the media center for Q and A’s this morning. We were given about a ten minute notice and told we could ask anything. The topic of conversation revolved around the economy and the stress on NASCAR with the tough economic times with the auto manufacturer’s being in dire straights.

France said NASCAR is not immune to a tough economy but the sanctioning body is working at trying to understand what the partners are going through and how it relates back to the team owners and teams.

I asked him about what Rusty Wallace said here Friday in an interview about the Nationwide car of tomorrow (COT):

Here’s what Rusty said:

Rusty Wallace: “Unfortunately I think that NASCAR is going to put a rule out that we are going to go to the (Nationwide) car of tomorrow and a lot of people will say we’re NOT going to do it. Under this economy and as hard as it is to find sponsors you simply can’t take 21 cars and throw them all away with nobody finding any sponsors. Right now is the wrong time to do that.”

CBL to Brian France: “Rusty Wallace …yesterday said he though that some Nationwide teams might refuse to run the Nationwide Car of Tomorrow or that the cost was just too much. Can you maybe talk about whether that is a reality or not and whether you intend to continue the Nationwide Car of Tomorrow program?”

Brian France answer: “Well we’re not there with deciding that the COT is going to appear in the Nationwide series. What we said is that the Nationwide series will evolve and it needs more of its own identity quite frankly. It has a new sponsor in Nationwide and we’re going to do a number of things that we need to do to keep reestablishing – it’s the number two motorsports series in the US. And I certainly heard those discussions… We do an unprecedented amount of background and working with the team owners before we make any significant moves. We’ve done that on my watch the last five years – more so than we’ve ever done. So the car of tomorrow was as an example two or three years of discussions. Mike and I both led those respectively. We met with every team owner, every crew chief, multiple engineers. We heard all the issues. We didn’t just make a decision in six months. We took a long time to do that. We got an unprecedented amount of feedback. That’s what we will do on any major initiative. The difference is we’re not going to stand up here each week and announce the progress report on that. But that is the progress report for significant rules that affect them.

France had a lot to say- mainly that NASCAR is meeting with not only the manufacturers but also the TV partners related to ad revenue and looking and continuing to look at cutting costs that might help the teams, manufacturers and partners. He said that if a manufacturer pulled out of NASCAR, which he doesn’t think will happen, the sport could survive.

Ray Evernham- What’s Next?

It is not a shocker that word is out that Ray Evernham would look at selling his share in Gillette Evernham Motorsports as he investigates where his passion for racing will take him.

I spoke with Ray this (Sunday) morning and I am including the full transcript for you. Because, unless you hear all of what he says – it might be easy to miss the point.

CBL: Ray it’s not a surprise that you are looking at these options and at pulling back:

“Quite honestly we’d been working in this direction. As I said I’m enjoying TV, I’m enjoying helping the Gillette family and it’s something that you know I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I want to slow down a lot. I’ve been having a good time with Ray Jay and doing a lot of different things. With that said I still have commitments to Gillette Everham. I am on the board – I’m still a minority owner but I’m just not as actively involved as I was. So – you know Mr. Gillette is a guy that knows how to win championships. I mean right now he owns the winningest hockey franchise in history so the best way I can assist him the way I can and kind of stay out of the way.

CBL: So what would you like fans to understand as they read about you and chat about this on the internet:

“I’ve had a great career and I really appreciate the fans and I appreciate – I have been really blessed to have been able to do everything that I’ve done in the sport. But there also comes a time – you know like as did Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace and I thought Mark Martin or Bill Elliott you know people want to walk away a little bit not totally. It’s just time for me to do that. I have had a good run but nothing lasts forever. So I would hope that people would look at me and say, ‘wow this guy has been good for the sport.’ I feel like I’ve brought a lot of innovations. I think that we did a great job bringing Dodge back when you look at overall what was going on and helped with a lot of charities, done a lot of different things and have always tried to give back to the sport. I’m going to continue to do that through the grass roots programs. I’m working with short tracks, I’m working with kids, I’m doing all those things to try and help short track racing across America. So, there’s not always some big conspiracy when somebody just wants to slow down a little bit. This has been part of a long term plan. I have said over and over again that at some point the business side of this sport was going to grow much bigger than a) either I was capable of doing or wanted to do. And I think it’s reached that right now. I think it’s going to take people that are as powerful as George Gillette, Rick Hendrick and guys like that to continue to grow it. At this point in my life right now I want to enjoy racing again. I don’t want the stress. I don’t want to have to listen to family worried about all the stuff that is being written on the internet. I’m a racer, I’ve always been a racer. I started my career as a racer and hopefully I can end it that way.

Again, I made a 10 year commitment to Dodge you know and then certainly now – next year will be the ninth year of it. But we’ve had a great run a great partnership. RIght now, the economy is making people change and do things and what not and it’s just best for me to be in a position where I can help. Because if I thought I could engineer the redesign of something of a company I would have done that but right now I’m not at that point in my life.

When will you pull out totally?
We don’t know. Right now my plan is not for me to be totally out of it for a while. It’s just a matter of how much George (Gillette) needs me to do and what exactly we are going to do.

I’ve visited a lot of short tracks. I’m looking at helping some of the diversity programs I am working with some people to do that. I’m looking at purchasing a short track in North Carolina. We’re doing a lot of different things to get back to the grass roots to see now again – you’ve gotta be able to give something back. When you look at Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and guys like that you know they are at the point in their career where they are looking at giving back. I’ve always said – I ‘ve been on the diversity council with NASCAR before and I’ve always said that I would love to be able to help where I work with people like Ingersol Rand and Stanley Tools and all those people. We’re going to be looking at doing programs around various vocational schools to get kids involved in racing. I want to have a little bit of fun and hopefully transfer some of the knowledge and give somebody the opportunity that people gave me

Everybody reaches a point where it’s time to retire you know. Whether you are at any sport – and I don’t know that I’m 100 percent at that point in my life but you know I’m 51, not 21 you know there’s a big difference.”

JACK ROUSH:
Pick your friends as carefully as you do your enemies
Which does Jack Roush like least – Toyota or Ron Hornaday? Answer Toyota

When Ron Hornaday crashed in Friday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race here at Phoenix Jack Roush sent some of his guys over to help repair the truck. Hornaday was really touched. “I had more tears in my eyes to see them guys working on that truck,” he said. But – why did Jack send his guys to help? Below is Roush’s answer

Jack Roush:
“Well the thing about Hornaday is that he’s Drew Blickensderfer’s father in law. And so every time Hornaday has run into one of our guys – in the truck series which has happened repeatedly Drew has paid the price. I’ve thrashed him pretty hard for it and so I felt that I owed Drew that (Friday) night since we had capacity – we had fabricators and we didn’t have anything involved in the wreck. Kevin Harvick flagged me down when he was in the Nationwide car ready to qualify and I had walked up to watch one of our guys qualify on the line before they went on pit road. He flagged me over and he wanted to thank me and he did thank me and I appreciate that. I said, ‘Don’t misunderstand, I do NOT like Ron Hornaday. I don’t want anybody to get that impression but he was definitely the lesser of the evils that I was confronted with. You need to pick your friends as carefully as you pick your enemies and I had a chance to define some space there and I think I made the right call.'”

The Politics In Racing – JGR Gibbs Racing’s #11 team:
Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin made a comment here at Phoenix as he talked with reporters about the chemistry on his race team. Interesting – read closely what he said –

Do you feel like a little shake up with the team management on the No. 11 car would give you a fresh start for 2009?
“I don’t know. I think we know what our problems are. It’s just real political in the shops. It really is. Just because we know what we want to fix within our race team, there’s other departments, there’s other heads of departments that have been there a long time that think maybe there’s a better way to do it than the way we’re doing it. It’s tough to say. A lot falls on Mike Ford’s (crew chief) shoulders to go out there and help this car perform. I think he’s done a great job of that. I’m behind him, I really think that Mike’s one of the best crew chiefs in the garage with the things he has to work with, I guess you can say. We’re trying to do everything we can and we’re not performing the way we were at the beginning of the year. The No. 18 team isn’t performing the way they were at the beginning of the year. As a team we have to get better. I think to do that we’re going to have to have everyone within that race shop be a little bit more open-minded.”

Roush Driver -Jamie McMurray Pops the Question:
“She Said Yes!”

Jamie McMurray is engaged. After qualifying second for Sunday’s race he said the week was special for another reason. In the media center he gave all the details…..

McMurray: It’s been a really exciting week for me, getting engaged – what about that? That’s pretty exciting stuff, huh? So, it’s been a fun week.” DID SHE SAY YES? “Yeah. Actually, what her words were, ‘Are you kidding? Are you serious?’ ‘Yeah, I’m serious. What are you thinking?’ So, to come here, it’s cool. Qualified second here before and on like the fifth lap I had something on the grille and had to pit, and hopefully Sunday will go better.” WHERE AND HOW DID YOU PROPOSE? “Actually, I did it at the Phoenician, at the hotel here in town. Christy and I stayed there, three and a half years I’ve known her, so every year we’ve stayed there. Did it after the race on Sunday, we got back and went and hung out and went and had dinner and went back to the room. I had it planned out, and I really didn’t get nervous, but I wanted to wait another day, and I’m, like, ‘I can’t wait another day. I’ve got to do this right now.’ It was cool. We’ve had so much fun this week. It’s exciting for me because it’s certainly a big deal to find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, but to see, Christy’s been glowing, that’s been so cool to me to see how excited that she’s been. I think she likes me.” WHAT DAY? “Monday, November 3rd.” WHAT’S CLICKED ON FOR YOU? JUST CIRCUMSTANCE? “I don’t know. I was just talking to the engineer about that in the trailer, and our cars have been very good over the last, like, three months. We’ve been a lot faster the second half of the year; things just haven’t worked out – whether you just got caught up in accidents, things have just clicked. There’s been a little more fortune on the race track. They just have made really good adjustments to my car, and I think I’ve probably been a little better driver explaining what I’m feeling. When we unloaded at Texas, you kind of know the tone of your weekend when you run your first few laps, like if it drives good we can work on this or you have weekends where you think, “We’ll never get this right,’ and at Texas we unloaded and I thought, “This is going to be tough.’ And we came into the garage and made we made a few adjustments and I pulled back out and I’m like, ‘There you go. It feels great again.’ So, they just have done a really good job of being pretty methodical on the adjustments, and they seem to work.” DID YOU GET ON A KNEE WHEN YOU PROPOSED? “Yeah, I was pretty nervous. I did. Yeah, I got on my knee. Christy and I have been together for so long that it’s weird when you’re talking to your friend. You picture that as a child, I think, doing that, and you don’t know what the person looks like, but we’re sitting there, and I’m, like, ‘Gosh, this is my best friend.’ I kind of felt corny. Do I have to get on my knee? Because I’m certainly not Romeo, by any means, you know? Not even close.”

    Drivers Meeting:

Pit Road Speed: 45 MPH
Caution Car Speed: 50 MPH
Pit Road Speed Begins: 250 feet before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed Ends: 105 feet past the last pit box
Minimum Speed: 31.87 Seconds

Time to go out to the grid. More later – stay tuned.
.
Enjoy the day.

Claire B

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Email from Jason’s girlfriend November 6, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Help Out, My Show.
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I received a follow-up email from Jason’s girlfriend.

email November 5th

Hello,

My friend Gabe Calton gave me your email address. I am Jason Deel’s girlfriend of 3 years. This has been the hardest thing I have ever been thru. Jason and I are more that we are best friends. We’ve been to so many races together we live close to Bristol and have season tickets we go to charlotte and other places. Jason loves nascar so much and he would appreciate all the prayers. If anyone wants to send E-Cards they can go to http://www.ohiohealth.com/homegrant.cfm?id=321 and click send E-Card he is in Grant Medical Center.

Thank you so much for everything

I attached a photo of Jason and I today at the last Bristol race. He has a Kahne shirt on but dont get me wrong he is a GORDON ONLY fan 🙂 he lost a bet and had to wear the Kahne shirt.

Tara

Tara and Jason

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Jason Needs Prayers November 5, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Help Out, Listeners, Mail, NASCAR.
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Claire B. Blog
November 5, 2008
Charlotte, NC Studio

Sometimes something so powerful hits you from a race fan that it literally stops you in your tracks. That happened to me this week when I got an email from a listener about a friend of his that he met at a race track. I get a lot of emails but this one truly made a mark on me. Here’s the first email:

email 11/4/08

Claire,

I’m having a hard time trying to write this email but I am needing to ask the NASCAR nation a favor. One of my dear friends, Jason Deel, who is a die hard Jeff Gordon fan is in very critical condition after hitting his head and falling 20 ft from a railroad bridge while at work. He has no injuries from the fall, it all stems from him hitting his head before the fall. He is currently in the hospital in Ohio and hasn’t been awake since the accident on Thursday. I met him at the race track through one of my good friends, whom he is now dating. We have became really good friends and share a love of NASCAR. He is a Gordon fan and I am a Jr fan so we are always giving each other a hard time about the race. This weekend was the first time in my life that I was pulling for Gordon to win the race to maybe help pull Jason through this. I didn’t think it was going to happen then at the end of the race there was Gordon finishing second. I immediately texted his girl friend to have her tell him he finished 2nd as I know he would have been very excited. And it was hard not getting that text ragging me about how Jr ran out of gas.

If there is some way you can pass this along to the NASCAR nation and have them pray that he will recover from this and one day be able to attend another race and cheer his favorite driver on I would greatly appreciate it. I got a call this morning and it wasn’t the best of news but I will not give up on him and know he will put thought this situation. I know that everyone in Nascar nation is a huge family no matter who you root for and I would greatly appreciate all the prayers for Jason and his family.

Thank you all!

Gabe Calton

After receiving the email (above) I tracked Gabe down and read his email on the air. He came on the air with me and told the story of meeting his friend Jason at the race track and the many hours of good fun they had ribbing each other about their drivers over the past years. Quickly, the instant messages and emails started coming in – people were listening and they were praying.

Today, I received another email from Gabe with a picture of his friend Jason Deel – who is fighting for his life.

Jason Needs Prayers

email 11/5/08

Claire B,

I just wanted to take the time to thank you so much for allowing me to ask the Nascar Nation for their prayers for Jason Deel. That was a hard thing to do and I could talk days about him. I was just trying to keep my composure. It meant the world to me and I have passed on to his Girlfriend Tara that all of Nascar nation is praying for him to pull through this. Its been rough no doubt, I found out later that they are saying he may never awaken but I still stand firm on my statement that he will pull through this with the help of God and I thank you for allowing me to get the word out.

I am attaching a picture of Jason and I at Bristol this spring standing at the pit gate watching the drivers coming in. I’m sure you can tell which on is Jason by his Jeff Gordon gear. The smile you see on his face is a smile that was always on his face. When around him you where always smiling.

I will keep everyone that is interested updated and I appreciate everything you have done for him, and his family and friends.

Thanks!
Gabe

Like I said – some days I’ll get an email that just stops me in my tracks. To have a friend like Gabe – someone who you met via racing – and someone who refuses to give up on you and to have listeners who would stop and pray for someone they don’t even know. It’s powerful.

Thanks to the listeners who passed a prayer on for Jason. Jason is pictured below (in the Gordon gear) next to his friend Gabe

It means a lot.

Enjoy the day – take nothing for granted. Never give up.

Claire B

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Race Day Texas Motor Speedway November 2, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, NASCAR, Trackside.
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Texas Motor Speedway on NASA World Wind 1.3.Image via WikipediaBlog – November 2, 2008
Claire B Lang

The Dickies 500 will take the green flag today at 3:30 p.m. EST and ABC-TV will begin live coverage at 3:00 p.m. EST.

Driver’s Meeting – Get out the Vote:

NASCAR Race Director David Hoots opened the pre race drivers’ meeting here at Texas Motor Speedway today by asking the drivers and crew chiefs gathered in the auditorium in the media center here to vote on Tuesday.

“I’d like to remind everybody to take the opportunity – use the privilege that we have – be an American to vote this week – so everybody do that if you would please,” Hoots noted as he took the microphone prior to the review of the race rules and regulations.

Race Director David Hoots Asks Drivers Not To Get Lax:

David Hoots today also made a special note to remind the teams and drivers about safety vehicles. “We’ll take three pace laps. Crew chiefs, each week we ask you to have your spotters take notice to where the fire trucks and emergency equipment is coming out. They are located around the race track. Do that on the pace laps if you would,” Hoots said.

Hoots added, “Once the caution lights are illuminated you are under caution. Slow down to a cautious pace. Let’s not get lax on this because I think we have a tendency but let’s not get lax. Be aware and very respectful of those emergency services vehicles and personnel out on that race track. They are responding to somebody that needs them. Slow down around the equipment and give them the maximum amount of room possible. If you can’t have clear vision on your car if you’ve been in an accident stop and let us come help you and get the car in the garage. Give them a lot of room and give them a lot of respect.”

TMS – Pit Road and Speeds:

Pit Road Speed is 45 mph.

Caution Speed is 55 mph.

Minimum Speed is 34.11

There were no questions asked….and we prayed.

Gordon on the Pole:

Jeff Gordon will start from the pole today. His award – a Beretta shotgun.

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NICORETTE IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 1ST:

“Texas has not been one of our best tracks but today has been a great day for the DuPont/Nicorette Chevrolet. We started off, the car felt good, but didn’t just quite have the speed. We worked on it and the last lap we made in practice, we really hit on something and it followed all the way through qualifying.

“We have made huge gains on these mile and a half race tracks. Things that I feel good about and we can be consistent with. It is just how you get good information back to your team to fine-tune things. That is how we go faster. We are finding it, we are just unfortunately finding it a little bit late. Not quite enough too late, but this is great for us. A good start to the weekend.

ON WINNING THE BERETTA SHOTGUN FOR GETTING THE POLE: “It is a beautiful shotgun. It takes about a year to get it after all the engraving that goes in to it. It is really a prize worth going after. Late in the season, we haven’t gotten a win. We haven’t been able to qualifying for about a month. This is just exciting to get out there and put a lap down. What a great day for the DuPont/Nicorette Chevrolet. The team was unbelievable today, we unloaded with a fast race car but just kept improving on it all through practice.

“Certainly a lot more comfortable on these mile and a half tracks than we were earlier in the season. This is just half the battle, just qualifying and one lap. We feel like we still have some work to do for the race. We will find out about that tomorrow, but I know our race car are so much better at this point in the season will all of our testing and our hard work. The mile and half have been pretty decent to us the last few times we have been to them, so we know we have made improvements. Texas has been hit or miss for us. We have been here capable of winning before and been here when we were the worst car or I was the worst driver, whatever it was, we weren’t fast. We really want to turn it around this weekend.

“I am so proud of this race team. I think it has been pretty well documented how tough of a weekend we had here in Texas back in April. This team has been working so hard and today was a real sign of that effort. Track position is so important at this place. We put a lot of effort and focus on qualifying and it paid off. That green machine is starting on the pole and we have to go to work tomorrow to get ready for the race and try to get it there.

“I just think that it is so ironic that the last three tracks, Martinsville, Charlotte and Atlanta, all tracks that we felt like we could win the pole at, we didn’t get the opportunity because of rain. I thought the last place we could win a pole was here at Texas. Here we are on the pole. Anything is possible.

“We have started from the pole here but not legitimately, it was because of rain. Top of the board practicing and now qualifying.

TALK ABOUT YOUR WEEKEND HERE IN APRIL: “In my opinion, the car does the talking for me. I drive it in the corner and it does whatever it is going to do. I don’t really do anything different. I try to improve all the time and get the most out of it. But, when the car does what I am asking it to do and it sticks, we go fast. I am not saying that meaning that the guys have to get the car right, it is all of us working together through testing, through communication, everything that it takes to get to get the right setup, the right feel, everything that matches up with how I am driving the car. When we were here in April, we just weren’t even close off the truck. I knew we were in trouble. It just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t fast, the times in qualifying showed up. Today is the exact opposite. I said our car feels pretty good. It is a little tight, but it is comfortable going through the transitions in the corner, I wasn’t having some issues I was having in the past. We kept freeing the car up. A lot of times when you free the car up here, you just get loose in, loose off, it doesn’t really fix the middle part of the corner. All the adjustments we were doing were helping in the right spot and the car just kept going faster. We put up a big lap there at the end of practice and were able to back it up. It is a great feeling and definitely a boost to the confidence of our team.

“I like the night races and I think if you are close, you should be able to adjust on it from the daylight in to the night time. To me track position is just so important at this track. To me it plays out way more than what the car is going to do from day to night. Obviously we have to keep up that. All we can do is go off of our notes from last year and our teammates and go in to practice and see what kind of balance the car has. You have to be careful trying to pay too much attention, you have to think about track temperature changing, but you have to be careful about putting too much emphasis on it. We will just go in to practice tomorrow and make the best of it. In the early practice will be the closest it will be when the race goes in to night time.”

WOULD IT BE FITTING FOR YOU TO WIN HERE TO BREAK THE WINLESS STREAK? “Well, I wasn’t expecting to get the pole, I can tell you that. I definitely not expecting to get the win either, but it doesn’t stop us as a team and me as a driver from trying to make that happen and putting out every bit of effort that we can. I mean, it really doesn’t matter what our stats are, good or bad at any race track. We go in to that weekend believing we can win the pole, that we can win the race and constantly pushing the car and ourselves to improve whether we won the last race there or finished dead last. That is just the kind of team that we are and I think today pretty much proves that and shows that, we know everybody is talking about us not winning and certainly know that our stats here are not great. Yet, we come out with a great car today, win the pole and that all we have to go on right now. We have to wait until Sunday to see how the race unfolds. I can tell you that the track position is huge here and can play a big role.”

MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO.1 BASS PRO SHOP/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 2ND: “It was a good run. The car was good off the trailer and we were able to go out there and just hold it wide open. I was hoping we had a shot at keeping the pole, but nevertheless it was a good run for our Bass Pro Shops Chevy.

HOW GREAT IS THE SENSATION OF SPEED HERE? “Not really. I don’t think it seems faster than any of the other tracks we go to. Doesn’t seem any faster than Atlanta. I think after 100, they all feel about the same. It isn’t too bad.”

IS THIS A CAR YOU HAVE RUN A LOT? “We’ve been kind of all over the board here lately. We actually ended up fairly similar to where we were here in the spring, we came with a different setup with some stuff we learned last week in Atlanta and at Charlotte. It didn’t work. That is the thing with these cars, you can’t really seem to be able to take it anywhere else. I don’t know it is. It is like every track you go to has its own things that it likes. Until you figure that out, you are kinda going to chase yourself around in circles. We went back to close to where we were in the spring, kinda like the stuff we ran last year with this car earlier in the year and it seemed to work pretty good for us. It is hard to tell exactly what it is you need to do to get better when everywhere you go is a little bit different.”

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 3RD: “It was good. We unloaded good. I was proud of the guys. Qualifying hasn’t been our strong point all season long. We’ve been getting lucky the last three races starting fifth. We earned a top five this time and all is well.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 7TH: “You see a big number like the No. 1 car put out, you know what you did in practice and the adjustments that have been made, you try and compute all that and say OK, my mark was here and I am going to try to go to here and hope it sticks. Getting out there and remembering those things is really the tough part. But, when you have a great race car like I did today, you can go out and do a good job with it, get a good lap. Very happy with the Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet and looking forward to a good weekend.

“It was a great lap. I have wanted to be on track the last few weeks like everyone else. It was some really good tracks that got rained out of qualifying.”

I am headed out to the garage. I’ll keep you posted. I’m in the radio room behind the auditorium where the Motor Racing Outreach service is going on and they are playing guitars and singing. It’s extremely inspirational to hear that and see the drivers gathered for church service before a race like this.

Enjoy the day. More later!

Claire B

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Texas Blog November 1, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season.
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Greetings from Texas.

Do you like “Deal or No Deal?” Today the winner the “Dickies 2008 American Worker of the Year” had a chance to take his shot at winning $1 million here at Texas Motor Speedway. The winner was Hale Hughes, an oilfield roughneck whose wife survived a battle with breast cancer and went on to survive an accident at work that left him severely injured to battle back and be chosen one of the countries hardest working Americans.

The Dickies girls marched into the news conference today with metal briefcases, each containing the number of a race car in Sprint Cup.

Hughes had to pick a case with a car number in it. If the car number in the case he picked wins the race on Sunday he’ll get $1 million He decided to pick the case right behind Richard Childress who was seated as part of the announcement. He turned to the media in attendance and tod them he felt Childress would give him good luck in his selection.

Hughes opened the case, pulled out the envelope and opened it up.

He had selected the case with the #24 inside it.

Hughes began to tear up.

Let’s see if Jeff Gordon is magic for Hughes on Sunday.

Gordon was 33rd fastest in the final practice session. He was 8th fastest in the first session Saturday.

Final Practice:

1- Carl Edwards Time: 29.657 Speed 182.082 1 lap of 44 the fastest
2-Kyle Busch Time: 29.769 Speed 181.397 1 lap of 47 the fastest
3- Kurt Busch Time: 29.806 Speed 181.172 1 lap of 45 the fastest

A shredded right-rear tire on Tony Stewart’s #20 Home Depot Toyota during the first practice session ripped apart the right -rear quarter panel and side window forcing Stewart and team to pull out their backup race car and prepare it for Sunday’s 500-mile race.

Stewart himself worked on the back-up car to get it out for the second practice. I was in the garage watching Stewart, in his Home Depot driver’s uniform, not only work with a screw driver under the hood of the car but also to get down on the ground and work under the car as the team thrashed to prepare the back up.

The team, with Stewart assisting, was able to prepare the car in time to participate in almost all of the final practice session

First Practice:

Greg Biffle posted the fastest single-lap speed during the first practice session on Saturday:

HOW WAS THE CAR?

Biffle: “We got the 3M Ford Fusion car a lot better in that session. I just wish I would have had that lap yesterday in qualifying. I just got too tight down there in three and four and got a terrible starting spot for tomorrow’s race, but I feel a lot better. The car is real fast in race trim and we’ll keep working on it. I was a little too free at the end of that session, but running down a lot of guys we’re racing with, so I’m pretty happy about that. If we can just get the back of it under it a little better for a long run, we know it’s gonna be hot and sunny and slick, so we’ll just get it the best we can.”

ARE ALL OF THE GROOVES COMING IN OK?

Biffle: “Actually, the last lap I ran the top down there trying to get a run on the 24 car and when I got up there it was just a little loose all the way around the corner. That tells us we need to tighten up just a little bit to be able to run up and down on the race track, but that was only about the second groove. That wasn’t the one up next to the wall. That will come in later.”

Dale Junior’s Comments:

Dale Junior was 25th fastest in the final practice and 12th fastest in the first practice. I thought you’d like to read word-for-word what he said in his media session here at Texas: He had some interesting things to say about Jimmie Johnson:

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., DRIVER OF THE NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS,

ON JUNIOR GIVING THE SHOTGUN HE RECEIVED FOR WINNING THE POLE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY IN APRIL TO HIS CREW CHIEF, TONY EURY, JR. “I’m going to let Tony (Eury), Jr. my crew chief look after this one for me. I promised him if we won it that he would get it. So I’m going to let him take it home and hopefully we will make it two-of-a –kind after today.”

“He asked me for that shotgun before we came here last time and didn’t tell me nothing about it being worth $65,000 (laughter). I’ve got plenty of 12-gauges. I didn’t know nothing about it being $65,000.”

ON THIS WEEKEND’S RACE. “I’m just glad to be back to Texas. This is a fun race track to come to. The fans are really excited about us coming out here. They enjoy the facility and we have such a great facility here it’s good for the fans. They seem to be repaying us that favor by showing up every time we come back and they get real excited about it. They love seeing the sport come this way. We’ve had some good success here too so that helps a lot and makes us get excited about coming back. I just kind of like the enthusiasm that the crowd has and the people that are from in and around this area have for when we come here so it gets me excited.”

WITH TALLADEGA PRECEEDING THIS RACE NEXT YEAR, DO YOU THINK WE’LL SEE A TIGHTER GROUP THAN WE DID THIS YEAR AMONGST THE GUYS IN THE CHASE? “I don’t know. Talladega is just such a wild card. It could have went either way as far as separating or keeping people tighter together for the Chase. I think you just can’t take anything away from what Jimmie’s (Johnson) been able to do up until this point. In my opinion the Chase does what it’s supposed to do. There’s no real true formula that anybody in this room could come up with to make the perfect Chase every time. I think you’ve just go to give Jimmie and those guys credit for what they’ve been able to accomplish up to this point. They’re a dominant team in the sport at this time and you can’t handicap an individual for being great. Next year is going to be interesting. The one thing that I’m probably most excited about is I think I heard in there somewhere we were going to get an extra weekend off, so that will be kind of cool.”

KELLEY (EARNHARDT, GENERAL MANAGER OF JR MOTORSPORTS) SAID EARLIER THIS WEEK THAT THE NO. 5 NATIONWIDE TEAM WILL PROBABLY RUN A LIMITED SCHEDULE NEXT YEAR, DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HOW MANY RACES THAT TEAM WILL DO AND ARE YOU FRUSTRATED OVER THE SPONSORSHIP SEARCH IN THAT SERIES? “To be honest with you, this is really the truth of the matter when we merged the No. 88 and the No. 5 together we were entirely too big for what we were setting out to do but under the current situation we didn’t want to merge the teams together and lay off a bunch of people that were dedicated. We made it work this year and we tried to pinch when we could and really kind of came out even on the budget but without the ability to secure another full-time sponsorship for the No. 5 and without that program has not really progressed this season like we wanted to, we just weren’t able to put the money together to be able to run that car again. Up until this year, we’ve lost probably an average of two million dollars a year in our racing program at JR Motorsports and that was just a one-car team. Working in the Nationwide Series, even in the Cup Series is not really a money-making kind of program or a money-making deal for a car owner. You are trying your best to budget yourself to make even and just come out even. We felt like we had a pretty good package for Brad (Keselowski), we had one program that was ready to sign and we couldn’t sign it because it was a conflicting sponsor with one we already had at HMS (Hendrick Motorsports), so we ran into a couple of hurdles that were just too tall for us to jump over. It’s tough. Not only is there a lack of interest in sponsoring the Nationwide Series which is probably going to be growing unfortunately over the next year or so, but there’s those other hurdles you don’t think about where you’ve got a guy that comes in and says I’m ready to do 15 races and you can’t because his product conflicts with another product that is already on your car or the No. 5 or my No. 88 Cup car. So you have all kinds of little things that kind of jump up and bite you. It was unfortunate. We had to trim down. Like I said, when we put those two teams together we were really too large in the first place. To be honest with you, Rick (Hendrick) is the kind of guy he wanted to keep everybody on and try to get through this season and we did the best we could. I think we did a really good job as far as our accounting staff and all that. Going into next season without the same package financially, we weren’t able to maintain the many employees we had. We had probably 100 or 80 people in the shop. That’s too many for two Nationwide teams. I read somewhere that this was kind of like a correction more so than a recession, that we were all kind of living beyond our means. We definitely were. We were employing more people than we necessarily needed to do the job that we were trying to do. I feel like that a lot of us in the sport lived in excess as far as that goes. It seems like it’s all kind of coming back down to Earth.”

THE PUBLIC’S PERCEPTION OF JIMMIE JOHNSON IS THAT HE IS POLITICALLY CORRECT, CLEAN CUT AND A COOL GUY. WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT JIMMIE THIS YEAR AND IS THAT WHO HE REALLY IS? “It’s unfortunate and I talk to Jimmie about this all the time. I’m in a different situation and I tell him man you know if you would just act like you act to me and other people you know really well, if you were just like that all day long at the race track and in front of the camera and to the media and just in general people would really see what type of guy you are. Most of you guys know Jimmie. He’s really cool, he’s really a good guy and he’s got a great attitude. He’s never acted like a fool. He’s never thrown a tantrum per say and he’s never said anything really out of context. He’s just always held his head on real straight and he’s a great person. He does a lot of things. He’d give his shirt off his back to you if you needed it. He treats me that way anyways. See I’ve always been able to say whatever I wanted to say and act however I wanted to act. When I tell Jimmie you ought to be more like that, more open and just be yourself, he says I can’t do that like you can do it and I don’t really understand why as much as they understand why. I really feel like its unfortunate that Jimmie isn’t able or hasn’t been able to get his personality truly across to the fan to where they knew exactly what type of person he was. I mean there’s a lot of drivers like that too. I wish that each and every one of these fans could spend several hours with all the drivers for good and bad reasons (laughter). That’s another story. We all are very colorful, even Matt (Kenseth). If you really get to know Matt, Matt’s got a great sense of humor and he’s really funny. He’s got a lot of Wisconsin in him but he’s a great guy. I will never go to a Green Bay Packers game with him though in Wisconsin again. We’ve had a great relationship and he’s a real, real good friend of me and I know what kind of guy he is. He’s funny. He’s got a great sense of humor. He’s got a good outlook on the sport. He sees the sport for what it is. He doesn’t take it too seriously. He takes what he needs to seriously. Jimmie is sort of the same way. They’re very colorful. I don’t know, I think they personally choose to limit their access because down the road how much privacy they’re going to want when they get older. The older you get I think the more privacy you wish you would maintain and I feel like they are just kind of trying to do their job while they’re here and when they’re not here anymore they want to have a life of their own. Maybe that’s what they’re trying to protect. I’m not really sure.”

YOU’RE WRAPPING UP YOUR FIRST HENDRICK SEASON, GIVE ME A SENSE OF WHAT YOU’VE REALLY ACCOMPLISHED AND GAINED AND WAS IT WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR WITH THE CHANGE IN TEAMS? “Well I got a lot of things I was looking for. I was looking for peace of mind and some satisfaction and being able to enjoy my job and do my job like I wanted to. I got all those things. We didn’t run like we wanted to obviously. I was real happy with the first half of the year. I thought we were really strong. We kind of held our own there and ran really well. There was some high points. We ran fast pretty much every week. We led a lot more races than we normally lead but we didn’t get the finishes in the second half of the season that we normally wanted. The second half of the season we were nowhere near what we wanted. Rick (Hendrick) and them have some pretty interesting ways to try to remedy situations which I’m willing to do whatever it takes. Hopefully next year we can try to do a better job the second half of the season. I want to really purposely focus on the summer. The Poconos and those types of tracks and try to do better to just prove to myself that I can get it done at those certain tracks. It’s been pretty good. I’m really, really, really happy. I’m really lucky to have what I have and have the opportunity with Rick. I thank him all the time for giving me the chance to drive one of his cars. Every time I get in my car, it’s the best race car I’ve ever seen. I thank my guys for how good of a job they do building the cars. They honestly to me look the best in the garage. I know there’s probably no big difference visually to the eye from one car to the next, but to me mine are the best prepared in my mind. I feel real lucky to have that opportunity. I feel like the first half of the year I was out there making a case for myself for getting that opportunity. The second half I didn’t. So I want to make sure next year I can put it together the whole season.”

YOUR TEAMMATE JEFF GORDON MAY BE GOING THROUGH HIS FIRST WINLESS SEASON SINCE HE WAS A ROOKIE, YOU DID IT ONLY ONCE IN YOUR CAREER AND THAT WAS LAST YEAR, WHAT DOES THAT FEEL LIKE TO GO THROUGH A WHOLE SEASON AND NOT WIN A RACE AND HE SAID IF HE DIDN’T WIN IT WOULD BE OKAY BECAUSE HE WOULD BE THINKING TOWARD NEXT YEAR, CAN YOU REALLY THINK THAT WAY? “Well you are. When I didn’t win last year I didn’t want the season to end. That’s the way I felt. I got to Homestead and I was still winless and I was like I wish we were running 10 more races because you don’t want to go out like that. That was the first and only time I’ve not wanted the season to end at Homestead. When you’re left with that option and that option only, you do as maybe a self-defense mechanism to keep from crying, you start laughing to try to look forward to the next season and look forward to what the opportunities are in the future. I feel very confident that Jeff’s still got great opportunities to win before the end of the season. He always has a way of getting it done when it comes time to get it done. He’s such a competitor and they’re such a great team. It’s tough. Yeah you don’t want the season to end and when you realize the reality of the situation you just want Daytona to start the next week because you don’t want to be winless. You want to win a race or two if not more.”

WITH THREE RACES TO GO IS IT STILL A MAJOR PLUS TO BE IN THE CHASE AT THIS POINT OR DOES IT MATTER AS MUCH BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T HAD A GOOD CHASE?
“I think when you go to New York you get a lot of confidence because you’re in that group and you’re part of that group that is getting ready to start the Chase. So you get a lot of confidence at that point. At this point you’re just sort of watching the battle like everybody else. You’re still a participant but you’re clued in to whose going to win it, what’s happening up front. It’s really an honor when you go to New York at the first of the Chase and you’re honored by being there and being a part of that but if you’re not a part of the actual battle for the championship coming down to the last two or three races, you’re on the sidelines like everybody else. You’re still out there trying to win races. It’s tough. Last week I was trying to run really good. I had a car that was good at certain points of the race and bad at others and I was behind Jimmie at one point and trying to race past him and I felt like wow, what am I supposed to do here? Am I supposed to be racing him this hard because I had to run him hard for like five laps to get by him? You try to take care of the guys that are in the battle for the championship, especially your teammates. But you’re out there trying to race and do your job and make a case for your season as well.”

IS THE CHAMPIONSHIP TOO BIG OF A DEAL? HAVE WE GOTTEN TO THE POINT WHERE THE BALANCE BETWEEN TALKING ABOUT THE CHAMPIONSHIP 36 WEEKS OUT OF THE YEAR HAS TAKEN AWAY FROM EACH WEEK’S RACE? “Not really. What’s happened is we have saturated the market with race after race after race. The NFL, they do such a great job. I hate to keep comparing to them and using them as examples but they do the best job. They give you just enough to keep you wanting more. The season ends before you want it to. You just get just enough to get excited and then it’s all over and there’s such a long wait. The model works. We have basically a very similar reaction that baseball, hockey, a lot of other sports do that have long enduring seasons. There’s lulls and inactivity between the fan and the sport itself at times. There’s no way to fix that. We’re driven by the ability to go make another dollar and make more money and there’s no way we would ever trim it down. But when we were a 28-race schedule, some of you here were around at that time; the sport was giving you just enough to get really get excited about the next season. When we were racing at 12:00 people were racing home from church to get to see the start of the race. We’ve just made it too easy and too much. We sort of lost a lot of the substance that we really had before and the character the sport I think has waned a little bit but its part of the times too. I don’t think it’s all our fault, I think it has a lot to do with a lot of other things going on. The temperature of the world out there and the economy. I think the model that the NFL has is the perfect one and I feel like that’s really our best bet for the most amount of success and to maintain it I think also that’s the best way. We’ve already passed the point of no return. No way we would ever trim the schedule back. There’s no way we would change what we really already have here.”

EVERYBODY WANTS TO KEEP TALKING ABOUT TWEAKING THIS AND TWEAKING THAT WOULDN’T YOU RATHER JUST KIND OF LIKE TO SEE IT STAY THE SAME FOR A FIVE, SIX, SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD TO JUST KIND OF SEE HOW IT PLAYS OUT? “I think it’s fair to throw discussion out there about changing the qualifying format and all the different things, but I think it’s not a good idea to go making a bunch of changes especially with the Chase. How do we understand what to change and how to make it better if we can’t watch it and look at it for seven years or eight years and see how it’s working and really get a good look at how it is working and not working? How can we really know what to change and make the right change? We shouldn’t keep changing and changing until we stumble on the right spot and the right options and the right ways to have things. The qualifying order is kind of the same way. It’s been done the same way for a long, long time. We had some poor luck with weather and now we have an argument on our hands that’s really not got an answer. I think they should really remain the same for a while so we can get a good, especially with the turbulence with the economy right now we all need to be really kind of watching and looking in different areas to make sure things are working right. We’ve got to make sure we’re doing all the right things to keep the sport healthy and get through the tough times that we’re going to have in the next year. I think we leave the things as they are. Jimmie (Johnson) just had a great season. They’ve just been that good. It is kind of foolish to want to make changes. This is kind of how we got in this spot in the first place. It’s just going to snow ball into more and more corruption and disagreement if we continue to change and change and change just because a guy has such a great year. Matt (Kenseth) was really consistent when he won his championship that really started the argument to make this happen and get the Chase. But I think the playoff atmosphere is better and I do enjoy it. We need to really kind of watch it happen for a while before we know what kind of change to make.”

DOES IT BOTHER YOU WHEN JIMMIE (JOHNSON) GOES OUT AND KILLS EVERYBODY THE WAY HE HAS THESE LAST SEVEN RACES THAT SOME COMPETITORS WANT TO TALK ABOUT WAYS THEY CAN CHANGE THINGS RATHER THAN MAYBE JUST CELEBRATE THE FACT THAT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THIS HAS BEEN DONE IN OVER 30 YEARS AND THEY SHOULD TALK ABOUT THAT RATHER THAN TALK ABOUT HOW TO CHANGE IT? “That’s a great point. Everybody has a responsibility especially in this room to try to help keep this sport on a pedestal and try to bring some of the greater topics to view for the public. What Jimmie’s been able to accomplish is truly amazing and it’s really incredible how dominant they’ve been in this day and age where competition is so tough. What Cale (Yarborough) and them did is really great but they were battling half of the competition that we’re battling today. To take nothing away from them but for Jimmie it’s truly amazing. They’ve been so, so consistent. I mean they’ll get their credit and you guys will be the one to give it to them but otherwise to keep it interesting until the last lap at Homestead we’ll discuss this and that idea about how to change things to make them better. I really think they are just fine how they are. It’s tough to take away a big points lead after 26 races from a guy. If you’re 12th or 10th or 11th in points you’ve got to feel a little sympathy for the guy that’s in the points lead and see the points lead be nearly lost and you’re back in it. You’re 400 or 500 points out of the race and now you’re back in it. Now you got a chance and it really makes no sense to me. I’ll take it, shoot. I don’t want to get in an argument but it’s important that we do realize what Jimmie’s done and how big of a deal that is. He is a good guy and he deserves that kind of credibility and that kind of accolade. I’m sure he’ll get it too if he wins the championship.”

That’s it for now. Going on to pre-race for the Nationwide Series event.

More later.

Enjoy the day!
Claire B