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Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season.

Welcome to Atlanta Motor Speedway! I’ll be blogging throughout the weekend and into the season now so stay tuned.

First: Here are some pit notes from today’s interviews at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Friday, March 5, 2010

KYLE BUSCH,No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry,Joe Gibbs Racing
How would you describe yourseason so far this year?
“It’s finally good to seeeverybody.I’m finally back in the top-12 again, you know, it’s been awhile.So it’s always nice to get back in here and do some mediaavailabilities.Besides that, our year has been pretty consistent I guess– 14, 14, 15.We’d like to make it where it was more top-fives thantop-15s but we still need those finishes in order to make ourselves capableenough to run in the Chase.We’ve had some good runs this year sofar.We had a fast car at Daytona.We had a fast car at Californiaand the same thing at Vegas.In all three races we had circumstances notquite go our way so we’re hoping to change our luck around a little bit thisweekend at Atlanta and get back down to business with the No. 18 M&M’s Camryand hopefully have a good strong run.”

Do you have to take a second lookat how you race the 48 team this year after the way they’ve started theseason?
“No, it’s just the 48 (JimmieJohnson) team.That’s them every single week.So it doesn’t put aworry in our mind at all.We’ve got to be a team that can run with thoseguys.Right now, we’re a team that’s a few spots behind them in therunning but we’re definitely not finishing nowhere near where they are.Weknow they’re going to be tough every single.It’s not that we’re worried,but it’s a long season and right now we’re not racing the 48, right now we’reracing the top-12.We’ve got to be in the top-12 by the 26th race and thenafter that you’ve got to worry about racing the 48.We’ll see whathappens.Anything can bite you here in the next 23 races before we getthere so we’ll just have to try to make sure it’s not us.”

What has your experience been sofar as a team owner with your new Truck seriesteam?
“It’s been a challengedefinitely.We’ve had a lot of things that we were really excited aboutcoming into the year and then we got a lot of bad news and we’ve been strugglingtrying to find some sponsorship but at least the golden goose.We had somehelp from a great company, Heluva Good, for Daytona and we’re giving them somesupport here in Atlanta.They’re on the bed cover.Toyota hasstepped up.They’ve come to help us here for this weekend as well alongwith the 56 (Tayler Malsam) truck.It’s been a struggle just trying tofind the sponsorship dollars that you need to run the team.We’re going torun the year regardless but it would certainly make it nice to pay off all thenotes I got outstanding on buying everything.It’s going to be maybe atough challenge for this year but hopefully down the road it will pay off andtwo, three, four years down the road we’ll be stronger thanever.”

How would you size up the 48 teamright now?
“They’re the best of thebest.They’re the guys that you’ve got to beat every single week, everysingle year.There’s no question that the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) isn’t thebest team probably in history — that they have the opportunity to win everysingle week.They had the opportunity at California and they had a perfectcall go their way and they won the race.They had the opportunity to winat Vegas and they had another good call go their way and their teammate (JeffGordon) to take two tires and whatever, who was the best car all day but theywere the smartest and they won the race.As long as you put yourselves inposition to win some of these races, you’re not going to win them all.Just like myself at California — we put ourselves in position to win that raceall day.We ran second all day and we certainly weren’t the best car towin but we ended up winning.So that’s just how you’ve got to play itsometimes and the 48 is the best at it.”
Do you think the change from thewing to the spoiler will help your driving?
“It’s hard to tell.Ihaven’t been able to drive with the spoiler yet so I’m unsure about how exactlyit’s going to change the handling characteristics of the car.I’m lookingforward to the change.At least we get to test it I think at Charlottebefore we get to go to the race track with it.It will be good to testwith it.As far as what the guys have been doing in the shop, I’munsure.I know they’ve been to wind tunnel testing some numerous things –not just the spoiler but some other things to try to see if we can’t find alittle bit more downforce out of our cars as well too.The rules are sotight, you have such a small area and a small window to work in that you doeverything you can.We’ve been working everywhere trying to findstuff.I know they’re doing their due diligence on what to do and where tofind some more downforce and stuff.That’s not what’s going to make ourcars go faster but it certainly, hopefully will make it better for racing and alittle bit easier to drive in traffic.”
What are the new challenges youface being a team owner and driver during raceweekends?
“To be honest with you, we wentthrough the truck race at Daytona and really nothing was different.It wasjust different because you’re driving your own equipment.You don’t treatit any differently really.I went out there and crashed on the first lapand put it back together and went back out there.We made a name forourselves, at least we had a fast truck that could compete.I might’vemade some other people mad that I was up there 18 laps down or whatever racing,but they’ve got to recognize that I’m trying to work for sponsorships and tryingto get stuff sold so I can be out there and make the series stronger.Thatwas the whole goal in Daytona.Here this weekend it’s going to be the samething.We’re just going to go out there and do what we can, try to sit ona pole and win the race in the truck and of course just learn as much as we canfrom the truck to the Cup car.The same as I would any other time so tracktime is always crucial.”

What does winning 50 Sprint CupSeries victories mean to you?
“I think it’s verysignificant.I think the more significant number — and this might justtell you how long Jimmie Johnson is still going to be around — is somewhere upin the 80s.That’s definitely a more significant number.Jimmie(Johnson) is now at 49 or 50 or whatever it is so he’s right there at the top-10brink.You want to win as many races as you can in anything and of coursethe more wins you get the closer you get to the 200 whether it’s Truck orNationwide.Cup wins, the more wins you get there, the closer you get tothe 50 (wins).Once you get to the 50 then you shoot for the 80s.Ithink I’m at 16 or 17 right now.There’s a long way to go and fortunatelyI’ve got time on my side right now so hopefully we can start punching thoseout.It would be nice if it was as easy as Jimmie (Johnson) makes it lookbut it’s certainly not.”

What has your teammate JoeyLogano improved on this year?
“All around Joey (Logano) hasjust been better.He’s been a better communicator in the teammeetings.He looks like he’s a lot smoother on the race track.He’slearned how to drive these cars.He’s been a lot better — it’s all aboutinformation.It’s all about telling your crew chief what you need and whatthe car has done for you or what you need it to do differently.Joey(Logano) has done a great job and obviously he’s leading the team right now withthe good finishes and leading the point standings for the JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing)drivers.I’m real proud of him.And I think that if he just keeps itgoing and keeps doing what he’s doing he’s got a great leader with GregZipadelli (crew chief).I’d like to say that Denny (Hamlin) and I are goodteammates and that we’ve been able to help him and get him to where he’s at buthe’s got to be the guy that gets himself better so he’s done a goodjob.”

ALLMENDINGER GOES GREEN: AJ Allmendinger’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford will have a new look for this weekend’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Instead of the traditional Best Buy and Petty blue, Allmendinger will sport a green Insignia logo, representing Best Buy’s own line of affordable consumer electronics. “Best Buy’s been very excited with the name recognition it’s gotten through NASCAR,” Allmendinger said. “They’re using that to take their Insignia brand and boost that, use it as a stepping stone. It shows what NASCAR can do for a great product.”

JOEY LOGANO IS BACK AT HIS SOUTHERN HOME: Joey Logano ruled the quarter-mile Thunder Ring at Atlanta Motor Speedway as a youngster, spending most of his childhood dominating the Legends and Bandolero divisions he raced in. A decade later, Logano is back with the big boys of NASCAR to try to change his stock car luck at what he calls his “second home” track.

“It’s cool to come back and see some of your friends, and this is Home Depot’s headquarters too,” said Logano, who originally hailed from Connecticut but spent his formative years in Alpharetta, Ga. “In the past, this race track been kind of tough for me.”Logano has competed in two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta, finishing 22nd and 30th“ This track’s fun, because it’s so wore out,” Logano said. “It makes it tough as a driver and crew chief to try to make things good on the long run.”

EMAIL BAG………………….

Here’s a look at some of the mail in my email box on a number of topics –

On SPEED Channel’s new TV show “What’s the Deal” with Jimmy Spencer
(Spencer was a guest on “Dialed In” to talk about his new show which airs Monday nights)

I would be interested in the show If jimmy can back his statements then I am okay with it.
I would be curious how long the show would last and if he would have enough material week to week

By the way the only thing the 48 team needs to do is brush up on their

Other then that they are top notch for now

On Kyle Petty being on the NASCAR Victory Lane show on SPEED

listener email: I have been some what critical of him (Kyle) from time to time based on his families position.Now that he is on Nascar victory lane and Jimmy Spencer is not even though he has has a new program. I can not help but feel there is some politics behind it.Kyle made the remark ,that every time he gets a new gig,people think i got some one fired.I can not help but think that that is more that a off the cuff statement…just curious…thx

On Jimmy Spencer:

Still trying to figure out why no driving Jimmy Spencer hit Dale Earnhardtr’s car a Bristol after Dale spun out Terry Labonte

On Ann in Indiana who has written and called frustrated over JJ and 48 wins (she’s a Gordon fan)
Claire, As I a long time Jeff Gordon, I really can’t figure out for the life of me why another Jeff Gordon fan could be upset with Jimmie Johnson. I guess they forgot the days when Jeff ran over the competition the same way or better. I can remember going to the track and feeling like I was on a lone island unless I was around a bunch of other Gordon fans. I was not a easy feeling and wouldn’t want to do it to anyone else. The old saying applies what rises to the to the top will eventually fall down to the ground. And I’m not saying Gordon isn’t good anymore, I’m just saying he’s not at his peak anymore were as Johnson is! I think most Gordon fans don’t like Jimmie Johnson winning because it reminds them of the good ole days!
From Ann in Indiana (who called in to “Dialed In”)

Thanks for having me on. You know you- and Jeff- are the only reasons
I’m sticking around, because I truly am fed up. You would probably
know this. Do the drivers, crew chiefs, or someone on the crews
listen in on the radio feeds to what is going on with their
competitors? Do they have private channels for communication that we
can’t hear? I’m on the computer now and my radio is in another room,
so I can’t listen and type at the same time.

Ann from Indiana

Email from a hard working transport driver:

I delivered in Mc donough,ga last night. I drove by speedway. Looked ready For you. passed few RVs on there way. And few speckled in RV lot. Looks like a party to me. Brewing. But wife and 2 children in Peoria,IL got priority so headed that way I go. And a new trumpet for my 15 year old is on plans so enyoy the fun and be safe Ron piper
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

On Jimmie Johnson and 48 team wins.

I am a tony stewart fan but i say good job to jimmie johnson. however, having him win over and over again is killing the NASCAR audience. it getting boring. I used to have a deal with my mother (a johnson fan) that every time jimmie wins i buy her something from nascarsuperstore.com but i had to stop because it was making me go broke.

Jay in NH

On the Driver for Five:


Jeff has been doing the “Drive for Five” for awhile now. So we will keep that tag line for him.

Jimmie will be “Strive for Five” or “Stride for Five” so we can keep them separate from each other.


From Shawna Robinson, who has a new web site – and has started a chair business: Way cool

She writes: Check out new website!

Many Thanks!
I asked Chad Knaus in Victory Lane at Las Vegas if he commiserated with Steve Letart who took two tires while he took four. He joked that he didn’t know the meaning of the word. Haaa! Here’s an email on that.
Hey Claire:

Maybe Chad did know what it meant!
Here is what the Merriam Dictionary says is the definition of commiserate.

Entry Word: commiserate with
Function: verb

Meaning: to have sympathy for
Also see pity.


Love your show. I am working tonight on my laptop and enjoying the NASCAR talk!

Greensboro, NC
AFTER Daytona win by Jamie McMurray:

Hi Claire B.
I’m stoked I stayed Loyal to Egr. And the 1 team and they did not dissappoint….It’s Awesome Daytona 500 winner.. Jamie and Bono and the team were Awesome…
Old School With An Attitude
Go Jamie McMurray and the Whole Team….KICK ASS AND TAKE CAR NUMBERS


1. Sherri Plamondon - March 5, 2010

I’m just patiently waiting for Tony Stewart to knock the #48 out of the lead!

2. Finding The Groove – Ryan Newman Interview « Track Smack - March 5, 2010

[…] Kobalt Tools 500 Weekend Pit Notes (claireblang.wordpress.com) […]

3. donald lamson - March 8, 2010

the claire,
love nascar. love richie evans. love Jesus Christ. nascar needs to do something immediately and i am counting on you, the voice of the common-folk, to get it done. nascar seems to think that a new spoiler will change the lift characteristics of the car. remember, paid professionals built the titanic. common-folk built the ark. here goes:

add a flat panel, on the bottom of the car, that fills in the area behind the rear wheels to the rear bumper. if you look at the tape, the cavernous air pocket that presently resides there, acts as pulling the rip-cord as a parachute deploys, in-effect lifting the car off as the huge cave is exposed. as it starts behind the rear wheels it needs to have some curvature transition. flat panel will also cause negative pressure and suck the car to the track.

also, they made the greenhouse too high (for michael waltrip). so the air going to both the present wing and the future spoiler is dirty air. this is why you see cars going down the track sideways. smarter crews are trying to get clean air on the spoiler by cocking the bodies. so, no wing will work as intended until 2 things: 1) lower the roof 2) change the angle of the c-pillar. that way, the air the makes it to the spoiler is clean. must be done.

lastly, change the location of the battery farther aft. and, make a concerted effort for 50/50 weight distribution, which will also help lift-offs.

and, yes, you are doing a great job. reporting with passion. that’s you. passion.

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