What a Wild Ride February 14, 2009Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season.
Tags: claire b lang, claireblang.com, Daytona 500, jeff gordon, NASCAR, Ryan Newman, stewart hass, tony stewart
What a Wild Ride
Claire B LOG – Saturday, February 14th, 2009
Welcome to Daytona – the eve of the Daytona 500. It’s been one really busy week and I thought I’d send you a postcard from the media center. I’m on the air tonight (Saturday) from 7-10 p.m. EST – for a final recap before race day.
Story of The Day – Stewart Haas Crash in Saturday practice
Today was wild. Watching Ryan Newman spin and Tony Stewart plow into him in the final practice – the crash drew a gasp from even the hard core media. The media here in the media center, most of them, got up off their chairs and stood at the monitors , almost in disbelief that lightning could strike Newman again and that the Stewart-Haas team which has been so organized leading into this race here at Daytona. This, in the last practice before the big race.
Out to the garage we went. Newman was Newman – pleasant but as honest as the day is long, unflappable and seriously frustrated with Goodyear and he wasn’t going to back down. Tony was pleasant and business like but it was one of those interview sessions where all of us knew that if you asked a stupid or ill thought out question, get ready, cause Tony would let you know in no uncertain terms what he thought of it. Tony told everyone that he was in an understandable bad mood and he wasn’t in a good mood. I think he was letting us know that he was still boiling inside so understand that.
One reporter asked Tony “Does this tire make you concerned for your safety?” and Stewart was on the edge, saying “Get out of here!” to the reporter. He later told the reporter that he’d likely not be talking to him any time soon. Those on the PR side of the fence thought it was an incendiary question and understood why it angered Tony. To his credit -Stewart spoke at length with the media and didn’t cut it short or run off – he but his anger at Goodyear was evident in his eyes.
Stu Grant the GM of Worldwide Racing for Goodyear came into the media center……and said that Newman’s tire showed no indication of high wear —and that they looked for fender rub – there was not enough of the upper side wall to give an indication of that. In their exam Grant said that Goodyear officials found a clear puncture or hole that was the “likely” cause of the air loss in Newman’s Tire. This is not what Goodyear wanted.
Newman tells me it was not a punctured tire
Later, back in the garage, I asked Newman about the puncture comment from Grant and he said “I’m sure he would have said that yes,” I asked him if he looked at the tire and Newman said, “It came apart. I felt it coming apart before it blew up. I was running 195 miles an hour and there’s nothing you can do. I mean it’s just – it exploded. A puncture in a tire doesn’t lead it doing what it did…the rest is more than obvious.”
In his media center session I asked Grant, “Tony out in the garage pretty much said not to let him anywhere near you guys when I asked him if he was going to go chat with you. Are you going to call a little pow wow with him this afternoon?”
Grant answered, “It’s not unusual to be very upset when you go through something like that as a race driver as a race owner and certainly that’s understandable. I do want to talk with Tony and I do plan to talk to Tony. Yes, I’ll do that Claire.”
Sometimes with Goodyear and Tony it takes more than a day for them to get back together. No idea if that meeting will happen before the Daytona 500.
Gordon Works on Back Issue -Stronger in 09
Here at Daytona Jeff Gordon had said that he was working on the issue with his back that had affected him last year. I asked him about it……”You were talking about your back -did you hurt your back or are you just trying to build up the strength in it,” I asked him. I had heard some back comments last year but this one seemed more serious. Could it be that a bad back – more than just a small back problem was bothering the four time champ and affecting his driving last year?
“It’s something that’s been lingering for a while. I think it’s just years of bouncing all over race tracks going around in circles,” Gordon told me ” You know, I’m getting older and so, you know, I gotta pay attention to those things and work on them. You know especially when I get to short tracks and the road courses pushing on the break pedal is really affecting it. So, it’s something that I really noticed the last couple years but I really started working on it last year and during the off season I was really able to go to work on it and I hope it will pay off.”
Jeff Gordon’s Rabbit Foot:
John Bickford, Jeff Gordon’s step-father in victory lane after the Gatorade Duels told me with a big grin— “I asked (Jeff) if he emptied his rabbits foot box out to make it through that maize of cars and he said, “I think I got one left, I’m saving it for the 500.”
Meanwhile, Johnny Sauter, who raced on Friday the 13th in truck #13 -told me he was not superstitious. “I don’t believe in luck I don’t believe in any of that,” he told me before the Camping World Series race with a cheery disposition. “If somebody told me I had to wear a green uniform and there was peanuts all over inside my truck I’d say, Alright, let’s go race.” Sauter was out of the race caught up in an early incident not of his doing.
Luck in the 500. Oh yea..you have to have it.
Boris Said – Says We’ll Get Out of The Mess We are In:
Boris said did not make the Daytona 500. A comment he made here earlier in the weekend was worth posting in the blog, though, I think. “If you don’t think this is the best entertainment out there. If you didn’t like that Budweiser Shootout the other night. To me that was one of the most exciting races I’ve ever seen,” Said noted.
“Granted this economy is in a hole right now,” he said. ” But it’s the greatest country in America no matter who you voted for we have a new president and sooner or later we are going to get out of this mess and our country will be thriving. I’m a big believer in that. Unlike NFL which is the most popular sport in America. In NASCAR you can come here and you see the fans faces when they see Dale Earnhardt Junior and they can actually get his autograph. I have been to a football game and I have never got anywhere close to a Brett Farve or somebody to get their autograph. So I think it’s a unique sport in the fact that it is a fan friendly sport and hopefully NASCAR will still do their best to still keep it that way.
I think that’s kind of what’s grass roots about it. I see NFL and NBA players. I mean they are so sheltered and they are such babies about who they are. They don’t give back to the fans like racers do. So I think it is a good investment cause it’s good entertainment.
Shout out to Boris!
Daytona 500 Pick – Not Going to Happen:
Driver after driver this week has told us that it’s almost impossible to make a good pick for the Daytona 500. Impossible. Jeff Gordon said that anyone can win. He talked about how although Ryan Newman won the 500 last year he would never have selected Newman as a front runner before the race from racing around the team or seeing the practice sheets.
In this race you have to have help at just the right time. You ,preferably, would like a push from a teammate – and even that seems to be like two ships passing in the wind that at the right moment in time, when each driver has been patient enough to get ready to pounce and they meet at just the right moment in the race for the push to be executed.
Shut your eyes, point to the starting line up and have at it. LOL
I’ll be anchoring the pre race show tomorrow (Sunday) for the Daytona 500 and will be hosting “Dialed In” live from the media center 7-10 tonight. I’ll catch you then and will try to blog you before the start of the race Sunday.
So keep posted.
Take care, enjoy!