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David Poole – “Go Rest High On That Mountain” April 28, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season.
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He gave many a reason to get up in the morning

Sadly, today – we mourn the tragic death of a comrade, a friend, and one heck of a motorsports journalist.

The passing of David Poole today – – is a great loss ,of course, to his family which he treasured and talked about often on the road – but also to our sport

The NASCAR media core is a tough group but an extremely close clan ——even as we bicker and debate and wrangle issues on the road and in the media centers at tracks far from home. To all of us —and to everyone who loves racing….we struggle at a lost for words with an ache that won’t go away inside at word of David Poole’s passing.

Poole was a guy who could argue with you on racing until you got mad –or gave up crying uncle or stood your ground until you made him blustery. That was David. No one more than he enjoyed the pure debate on the sport he loved. He was passionate about his views on racing and he was good at it. If you thought David Poole was wrong on an issue, you’d better have the facts to back up your challenge because David was on his game. Behind that columnists’ exterior (columnists are paid to get your blood pumping) he was a writer who gave us all a real great reason to drop in a few coins to pick up the newspaper and read it and react every day. I believe it is that tribute that would mean a great deal to him. You bought the paper because David had something to say. That led to him joining SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.

Behind that columnists’ exterior was also a guy who would give you the shirt off his back —back you up when you didn’t know it – and help you when you were down and out.

Drivers and folks in the sport respected him so much that they’d almost always call his name out, refer to him, or banter with him at the start of news conferences – no matter what the issue. Calling out to David was part of most news conferences held in the sport..no matter what the issue.

I don’t know if anyone ever made much of how hard David Poole worked. He wasn’t a guy who mailed it in, who stayed at home. Week after week, with very few exceptions Poole was at his desk in the media center at a track, or traveling to a race track, to deliver the story to his readers.

At SIRIUS NASCAR Radio he was extremely kind to me when I joined the channel this year . I was formerly the competition, but David even wrote me a note welcoming me when I moved over to SIRIUS and it meant a great deal to me.

I always told David that he had a big heart –but that I wouldn’t tell anyone….He loved playing the tough guy on the radio and being the guy who you wanted to argue with. He actually enjoyed it a great deal.

Inside though, David was a sensitive guy who had many friends in the sport, who was respected by the drivers and the business folks and who loved racing.

I am so sad at his passing. It’s hard to imagine the sport without Poole.

I wish his family strength and I admire that nowhere on this earth was there anyone else exactly like David Poole.

He made his mark. He gave us a reason to get up in the morning to read the paper or listen to the radio and he did what he loved. Someone asked about a charity and there are several you could contribute to in his name – but I think he’d feel good also if you put a few quarters in the box and bought the daily newspaper tomorrow morning in his name – no matter where you live.

We’ll miss you David.

Go rest high on that mountain!

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Hello from Talladega April 24, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Live Show, Trackside.
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Hi all! Hope your day is going well. My broadcast schedule for this weekend – is as follows:

Friday (April 24) “Dialed In”
7-10 p.m. EST – LIVE from the Media Center at Talladega

Saturday (April 25) “Dialed In”
After Qualifying for the Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup Series Race until the start of the Aaron’s 312 Nationwide Series race at 2:30 p.m. EST on MRN

Then –enjoy MRN’s coverage of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 Camping World Truck Series race in Kansas after the Aarons 312

“Dialed In” continues after the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 until 10 p.m. EST LIVE from the media center at Talladega Super Speedway

Sunday, (April 26)
I’ll be in the booth for the SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Pre Race Show for the Aaron’s 499 beginning at 10:15 a.m. EST.

Here are some thoughts on a busy Friday – after many trips to the garage:

Jeff Gordon on Aggressiveness at Talladega:

Gordon is working out the issues with his back which he told me were more of an issue at a track like Phoenix than they will be here. He was not feeling well (was sick aside from the back) last week and told me that he felt he did not give his team good feedback.

Gordon had some interesting comments on Talladega recently as we gathered to chat with him about this race:

“Things have always been aggressive at Talladega. Go back the last 15 years and show me a race that they haven’t had a big crash (at Talladega). You know their might be one or two…but this car is really almost designed for Tallladega. The way that the bump drafting happens, the aerodynamics of the car the engine package – it’s perfect for Talladega. We put on spectacular races but when you run that tight together in those kinds of packs it’s easy to make a mistake and one little mistake happens and a big crash is going to come out of it.”

“I think the one thing that I would like to see happen is that the bump drafting be a addressed a little bit more. We all hear about the warning and where the no bump zone is and it’s all the way around the track and yet we sit there and just nail one other all day long and nothing really seems to happen until some guy gets way out of shape and gets wrecked and you know it doesn’t seem to me that there’s really a lot being cracked down on that. I’d like to see that but even with that being said if all 43 cars at the end of that race one lap to go it’s still going to be a mele you know cause now it’s time to go and you are going to take the risk of being aggressive whether you get a penalty or not.” Jeff Gordon.

Richard Childress – RCR Changes:
I asked Richard Childress (RCR) what would happen if the recent swap of teams between the teams of Kevin Harvick and Casey Mears doesn’t work. He told me “We don’t have an option – it has to work – No options.” Look in the mans eyes and you know that he means business.”

Phoenix International Raceway- Rear View Mirror

Stewart’s Eyes

Mark Martin was just pulling his car into victory lane when I headed out to the grid to talk to Tony Stewart. I like Tony – and I think that one of the reasons I have never had an issue with him, even in his “tormented” days, was because I’ve always found Stewart’s eyes to be the gate to his soul and a clue to how he’s feeling. The first time I noticed this was after he won his first Championship and came to the XM Studios in New York City for an interview. I had an hour with him, and he was testy at the time. The PR team brought him in the bldg and I could see his eyes darting around the room as if he was a caged animal – he seemed to be looking for an escape and felt anything less than comfortable. I began to worry. On Impulse, I pulled him to the side and told him from the heart that I took great responsibility in interviewing him in a way that would show the fans who he really was and wanted to do a great job of being real and I needed him to feel comfortable and I felt that he was anything but, which made it impossible for me to do a good job at what I do. As I poured out my thoughts from the heart – and trust me I was scared to be so honest- Stewart’s eyes, warmed and the thaw began. He converted from a guy who wanted to escape to a guy who wanted to give me a good interview because he knew I was worried about it and wanted me to be at ease. That’s Tony Stewart in a nut shell and he’s been great to me ever since. It’s hard to imagine that Tony Stewart when you see him today.

Since then, of course, Tony has warmed in general and has done his own radio show and is much more comfortable in his own skin. But the eyes still have it with him and what I saw from Tony talking to him as he got out of the race car at Phoenix was total complete and uncomplicated pure happiness and joy. The eyes connected and he was rattling off how happy he was with his new race teams’ success. It was if he was bubbling over with excitement and for a guy like Tony Stewart who downplays the cliche question and abhors over blown story- seeking media questions from anyone – he was almost giddy. I don’t think I’ve seen Tony happier.

You don’t interview a race car driver right after he jumps out of a race car and not get a glimpse into his soul. There’s something raw about that first few moments with a man after a race once he climbs out of the car that is hard to explain. I wish that every fan could have a chance to see the intensity that these guys put into these races. It’s pretty amazing.

Later, as I finished my live reports from Victory Lane – I walked into the garage to check on the teardown. Most of the transports had left and the garage was almost empty. There was Tony Stewart standing with a group of officials in the middle of the PIR garage, with his race uniform half way undone and the top part tied around his waist, in the dark at around 1:30 a.m. EST. I first thought maybe there was an inspection issue with his car – and then I walked over and got a closer look. Tony was cutting up and beaming, hanging out enjoying the end of the race day as if he was at a local short track race where the garage doesn’t clear out and racers savor the day.

Tony Stewart is a real racer. In Victory Lane Saturday night, Stewart was one of the first of the line up of drivers to come and congratulate Mark Martin. I was standing there as he arrived and he was, again, so happy for Mark that he stayed at the stage and seemed to soak in Mark’s victory as if it was his own.

I’ve always felt that Stewart was a sensitive guy with a big heart and a hard core on the outside. I’m really happy – to see that things are going so well for him because new teams like his are so good for the sport and he’s going to be exciting and downright fun to cover his season.

Oh yea, and the eyes go completely jet black like the dark hole when he’s furious and I haven’t seen any of that directed to anyone since he began his own team.

Mark Martin Victory Lane
I’ve covered many victory lanes – and, yes, they’re all addictive. It’s a euphoria place where, for a brief hour or so, you forget about the economic crisis, the shop hours and toil, what you gave up or lost to be there, and yes, even the times that through luck, or misfortune or someone else’s dumb move you deserved to be there but were not.

Before the race as I interviewed him on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio – Mark Martin told me he was nervous and had butterflies in his stomach. As the race was winding down I recalled those comments – because even for Mark they seemed out of character. After all he’s a seasoned racer – and this was not his first rodeo. I totally got it when I was watching him take the checkered flag. He was nervous before the race because his car was that good and he wanted to not screw it up. Note to fantasy racers – when Mark worries it’s when he has a good car not a bad one.

I reflected on Mark’s win at 50 years of age, by remembering the journal that Mark kept after every race as a 14-15 year old young racer. It’s on display at his Batesville, Arkansas Ford dealership and I couldn’t get enough of reading it when I was there for his fan days. Some of the postings give a real look into the talent, heart and competitiveness of a young Mark Martin. The comments below are just snippets thumbing through the journal, race after race.

“Did alright, got 5-points $56”

“Blew up, second lap, no points,”

“Bumped others, a lot – Second in overall points”

“Everyone was too rough. Didn’t place in money”

Locust Grove: “Not a good night. Too sticky for heavy car. three points, $33.”

“Car wouldn’t run…flag man screws up, and puts #10 ahead of me in third heat race. Seven points, $9 a point, $63”

“Blew it up in the third race – had local boys to strike”

“I got run over by the #7 on purpose”

“I got the sportsmanship award. I beat Wayne by a fender”

“28 put me in the mud hole”

“I tapped him and I went around and he went crazy and ran over everything $125”

“State Championship, won pole position – ran good race with #43 for 30 laps. He had to pull out then the sob started playing ping pong with me. I got third, left mad so we were disqualified.”

In the journal Mart lists yearly totals. Here’s one: “1975 season totals- 96 races – feature races won 20, 51 firsts 32 seconds eight thirds, three fourths and two fifths.

Mark Martin learned a tough, competitive business as a child – and didn’t make much money at it to start. He became a gentleman racer and one of the most respected drivers in the garage.

Standing in Victory lane with the Hendrick #5 car covered in confetti and champagne, with the admiration of the superstar drivers in the sport , lined up to congratulate him, I thought back to what Mark put into this to be where he is today. The mud holes, the disqualifications, the times the engine blew up or a local guy went out of his way to take him out the times he made mistakes or lost despite his talent.

The challenges were there and Mark Martin persisted.

Now, he’s just getting started.

Look out!

Enjoy the day.

Claire B.

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Welcome to Phoenix! April 17, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Trackside.
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PF Chang's Signboard
Image by Alaivani via Flickr

It’s absolutely beautiful here today. Here’s my broadcast schedule for this weekend. It’s a crazy short weekend with everything scheduled so tightly and we’re all rushing from one thing to another here in the media center and garage. .

I’m on the air tonight (Friday April 17) for “Dialed In” LIVE from the media center at Phoenix from the end of Sprint Cup Qualifying (Qualifying begins at 7:00 p.m. EST) to the start of the Basha’s Supermarkets Nationwide race (coverage on MRN Radio heard on Sirius NASCAR Radio).

Tomorrow – “Dialed In” will air from 2:00 EST to the start of the SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Pre Race Show at 4:46 p.m. EST at which time I will be in the booth and Steve Post in the garage for the pre race show. Following the Sprint Cup Series Race (Subway Fresh Fit 500) and following the race I’ll be in Victory Lane for the post race show.

Kasey Kahne – like clockwork!

I never miss a PF Changs visit near my hotel in Peoria Thursday evening near the sports complex and neither does Kasey Kahne. When I got off the air last night I stopped by PF Changs for a late dinner and, once again, there was Kasey and a group of his buddies seated at the adjacent table. It seems every year at Phoenix when I arrive at PFC – there is Kasey. The wait staff gets pretty excited because they know he will be there. A woman at the next table with a cute little toddler kept passing Kasey things to sign – the baby’s block , the babies bottle – I was waiting for them to pass the baby over for a signature. The waiter had a sharpie ready to hand to the family while Kasey ate. The young family thanked Kasey and then exited with a baby bag full of signed merchandise. Kasey, who is always great with signing for fans, was extremely accommodating, as always.

Kahne is currently 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points standings, 112 points behind fifth place Tony Stewart. He’s got an average start of 12th and an average finish of 21st here at PIR. Tonight (Friday night) Kahne will be on hand for the “Grand Opening” of PIR’s New Budweiser ROLL-BAR. Tickets to the Budweiser ROLL-BAR can be purchased on line at http://www.phoenixraceway.com or on the phone at 1-866.408.RACE).

Matt Kennseth – Doesn’t think anyone knows for sure the status of McMurray team – assumes the out team will move across the street to Yates.

Matt Kennseth is on the podium right now….talking to media here in the media center. . “I don’t know and I don’t know that anyone knows what’s going to happen or how they are going to move that team or whatever,” Kennseth is saying. “But with the Yates Racing Team being right across the street and sharing an engineering department – car builds are the same, engine departments the same you know really those guys are really two more team mates so I imagine and I don’t know I imagine that whatever team has to move out of Roush under the new four team cap that goes into affect next year…I would assume it would just go to the Yates team and it really wont change that much.”

I have to get out in the garage I’ll have more for you later.

Enjoy the day!

Claire B

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Road Trip!! LIVE from Batesville, Arkansas April 9, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season.
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Road Trip!!
LIVE from Batesville, Arkansas

5th Annual Mark Martin Fan Appreciation Days
Thursday, April 9th & Friday, April 10th, 2009
Mark Martin Ford Mercury Dealership, Batesville, AR

I’ll be broadcasting live tonight (7-10 p.m. EST) and tomorrow (11a.m.-3:00 p.m.) from Batesville, AR. and Mark Martin Fan Appreciation Days. Several members of the SIRIUS team will be there broadcasting live and although my schedule has not allowed me to accept the invite to attend in the past I was honored to be asked to come – and this year I was able to make it happen. Mark has been doing holding this event for a number of years now and his fellow racers will be showing up in support. My 3 p.m. show on Friday will be a repeat of the mid day LIVE show by the way.

YOUR DRIVERS -OFF WEEKEND PLANS:
AJ Almendinger: “Lynne and I aren’t doing a thing this weekend. We’ve been gone every weekend since before Daytona so this weekend we are just going to hang out around the house. Lynne has family and I have some friends coming over and we are just going to have fun. It will be nice to take a break from racing for a while. But I’m sure after a couple of days I’ll be ready to go again.”

Reed Sorenson: “My off weekend plans are pretty simple. There are a ton of things that I have to do around the house with putting in some hardwood floors at the top of the list. After that, there’s a lot of little things that need to get done. We travel so much that I just haven’t had the time to just get to work. So that’s what I plan for this weekend. Probably not the most exciting thing in the world, but it just has to get done.”

Elliott Sadler: I’m heading down to Nags Head, NC to spend some time with my wife and family. My mom makes sure that every year we spend this time together as a family. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together each day and do most things as a family. This is also my first trip back to Nags Head since I proposed tomy wife so it’s going to be kind of a special trip for us to go back and be there now that we’re married. We also try to get out and do some deep sea fishing or play some golf. This is really just a complete vacation from racing.”

Casey Mears: NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series takes the weekend off with this being their last break until mid- July. Jack Daniel Chevy driver Casey Mears has family and friends in Phoenix so, since next weekend’s race is in the valley of the sun, he’ll head out to the desert early.

Go Karting Tonight: Tonight from 6-7:30 p.m. Burney Lamar and Trent Owens will join Toyota drivers Jason Leffler, Joey Lagano, Michael McDowell and Leffler’s crew chief, Scott Zipadelli in a little on track fun with members of the media at the Cedar Creek Sports Center in Mount Juliet, TN.

Listen- the airplane is about to board and so I gotta go. I’ll keep you posted with a blog from Batesville. Lots of inside stories from there.

Take care..enjoy the day! Oh yea and be sure to check out the new photos posted on the blog.

Claire B

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April 1, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season.
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Pictures – Worth a Thousand Words: Behind the Scenes – Behind the Microphone! Check out my new blog post. Photos to follow. http://ping.fm/uyd1i

Pictures – Worth a Thousand Words: Behind the Scenes – Behind the Microphone! April 1, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Items of Interest, Listeners, Mail.
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I always enjoy getting notes at insidercbl [at] aol [dot] com about where folks are listening to “Dialed In” on Sirius NASCAR Radio. You all probably don’t know how much I enjoy knowing who I am talking to coast to coast. That’s why I reply to emails and enjoy hearing what driver you follow and how you got into this sport. Every day, just before I flip on the microphone in my studio at home or in the media center at the race track and tell the story of the day, I envision who is out there in my mind. It’s strange, but I have never been nervous in front of a microphone because while I am scrunched up in my chair in the studio room in the front of my house in front of the big picture window, or looking down over a race track late at night on the air live – I never feel alone. I feel as though my neighbors and friends are the people out there listening coast to coast. I like having a close up conversation with all of you – even if you are too shy to call in.

I have never called into a radio station — unless I was calling in an official report. I would have been to darn shy to do that before I was in radio. So I am well aware that there’s a vast group of people who listen but remain unidentified. So, late at night, I sort of envision in my mind who is out there so that I see a huge group of people in my mind before I flip the switch and go live.

I decided, along with my broadcast schedule, I will be posting some more photos for the blog. The photos I will post today include: My trip to Jelloville, Susie the Queen of Jelloville, surprising Gloria (a listener who I just met at Bristol) with a scale model of the race track for her birthday, getting “arrested” by NASCAR officials at the Jail and Bail Fundraiser, posing for Pit Road Pets with “Rosie”, para sailing over Lake Lloyd over Daytona near the Blimp, interviewing David Pearson and Leonard Wood at Atlanta Motor Speedway a couple of weeks ago and more. Click on the photos and check them out.

Here’s my broadcast schedule for the weekend (SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Channel 128 and “Best of SIRIUS on XM Channel 128:

“Dialed In” – Wednesday, April 1, 2009 – 7-10 p.m. EST
“Dialed In” – Thursday, April 2, 2009 – 7-10 p.m. EST (LIVE from Texas Motor Speedway)
“Dialed In” – Friday April 3, 2009 – 7-10 p.m. EST (LIVE from Texas Motor Speedway)
“Dialed In” – Saturday April 4,2009 2-2:30 pm. EST (LIVE from Texas Motor Speedway) Pre Race for the Nationwide Race
“Dialed In” – Saturday, April 4, 2009 – After the Nationwide race until 7:00 p.m. EST
PRE RACE – Sunday April 5, 2009 – 10 a.m. EST – Noon
POST RACE – CBL in Victory Lane
“Dialed In” Post Race – after the Post Race until 10 p.m. EST.

Jason (Dialed In listeners prayed for his recovery) Update

Remember Gabe the “Dialed In” listener who wrote about Jason the racing buddy he met at the track and became friends with? Jason fell at work off a railroad bridge and was not expected to come out of the coma he was in. Gabe contacted me and asked for my listeners to pray for his friend. With all your prayers we had a miracle and Jason recovered – which was not even expected by doctors. Well the good news is that I got photos and a nice note from Gabe that Jason was able to visit the races at Bristol and Martinsville for a short time. Since he was still recovering they didn’t tell anyone they were coming yet but Gabe got to see his friend again for the first time. You can check out the photos on this site which I just posted. Everyone should have a friend like Gabe who, when the chips were down, wrote a broadcaster who he didn’t even know asking for her to solicit prayers for his friend. The story still amazes me. Below is Gabe’s recent note:

Hey Claire,

Its been a while and I have been meaning to write to you to update you on the latest with Jason, but with trying to get ready for a new baby its starting to get hectic.

Well on to the good news, Jason and Tara was able to attend the Atlanta race, Tara said Jason’s head was hurting however he didn’t want to leave because Gordon was doing so well.

This past week I was fortunate enough to get to go and spend some time with both Jason and Tara at the Nationwide race. We got to watch Happy Hour and he made sure to let me know that the 24 was higher on the scoring tower than the 88. However, Jason got to feeling bad and wasn’t able to make it to the start of the Nationwide race and also was still ill on Sunday and missed the Cup race. But it was definitely a true blessing from God to be at the track sitting and enjoying being there with my dear friends.

Its only been 6 months and in one way it seems like a long 6 months,but on the other hand its been a short 6 months seeing the major steps that Jason has taken. None of this would have been possible without the dear Lord. All of the millions of prayers that went out for Jason back in November and still today are being heard and answered one by one.

I just wanted to email you and let you know that another of my prayers was answered to be at the track with Jason, enjoying one of the things that we both love doing most in life.

And one other good bit of news was that Jason has been accepted to rehab closer to home in Johnson City TN. Now he will be able to be in the company of his many friends and see that they support and stand by him all the way. The dear lord is still answering everyone’s prayers. He still has a long road ahead of him but with the prayers that are still going up for him I know that the lord will guide him the rest of the way.
I am attaching a few pictures of Jason and Tara at the Atlanta Race, and A picture of us three at the Nationwide race in Bristol.
I just wanted to say Thank you again for getting word out about this situation and for all of you support during this time. You have truly been a blessing sent from heaven.

Gabe

Isn’t life amazing! How about a racing friend who has traded barbs on your driver and met you at a race track -becoming the friend who stands by you and is so happy that you are back talking racin’ again. You gotta love the fans of this sport.

Gabe – thanks for the note. Jason – we’re still pulling for you buddy.

As always, see you on the radio!

Enjoy the day!

Claire B

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