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Quick post for today May 6, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Coffee with Claire B., Drivers.
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Testing Note: Good morning everyone! There was an interesting comment at testing yesterday from Brian Vickers – Here’s a transcript of the question and answer. I thought you’d like to read it. Claire B

What was it like to have ‘Junior Nation’ upset with you following your incident two years ago at Talladega?
“As far as the situation you’re referring to — I didn’t really think much about it to be honest with you. It was a racing incident and obviously the fans are passionate. I believe it was Humpy (Wheeler) that put out a press release about security and that he offered us security and he never actually offered it to me, he just put it out in a press release. I think that Lowe’s Motor Speedway does a good job promoting the race track and supporting the event, but that particular instance with me personally that you’re referring to — it kind of pissed me off to be honest with you. It was really more about publicity than anything else and that’s a shame. As far as the fans themselves, like I said then, I have a lot more respect for our fans than to think that just because I got into Jimmie (Johnson) and (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. or Kyle (Busch) got into (Dale Earnhardt) Jr., his life is in danger. There’s a lot of nuts in the world and I’m sure if you took a big slice of it, there’s a couple floating around here. Maybe even me included, nobody’s perfect and I understand that, but for the most part I’ve met some fans that love one driver and hate me. I’ve never met one that I felt for my safety. I’m ok with that — they don’t all have to like me, they don’t all have to like (Dale Earnhardt) Jr., but most of them like (Dale Earnhardt) Jr., but they don’t all have to like all of us and that’s just part of the sport. I’ve never felt for my safety and I think that whole safety thing is blown out of proportion. Kyle (Busch) is probably going to get a lot more boos, in all honesty, he got a lot anyway and he’s probably going to get even more now. I got a few more after the whole Talladega thing too.”

Good Morning – Garage at Richmond- Robby Reiser interview May 2, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Coffee with Claire B., My Show, Teams.
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Former logo of Roush Racing.Image via WikipediaGood morning from the Garage at Richmond International Raceway. I’ve been so busy on the air – I have forgotten to remind you to take the newest survey that I put up (http://www.polldaddy.com/p/548251/) about which female will make the first mark in NASCAR. I’m interested in your opinion.

Last night, I interviewed Robbie Reiser on my show – He’s the General Manager at Roush Fenway Racing. It’s no secret that Robbie misses being a crew chief but how much he wants out of the glass office and back on the pit box as Jack Roush would say, “Is the thing of which editorials are made.” Jack Roush has said there’s no room for another crew chief in his camp and that now that Robbie has moved up he’s not able to move him back. He simply doesn’t have another crew chief opening.

Bob Osborne returns to the #99 pit box after serving his suspension for pushing the grey area this week and Robbie returns fully to the upper management role. I called him up and asked him about his feelings going into this weekend here’s a small part of that interview aired on “Dialed In” yesterday (4/2/08):

CBL: So how do you feel about your current management job –
Reiser: You can’t take the racer out of a lot of guys and I’m one of them. You know I love to go stock car racing no question about it and I’m a pretty competitive guy and it’s hard to take competitive people out of competitive things. So, sticking me in a glass office is a little bit tough but it’s the direction of what we’re doing and where we’re going so that’s what I’m doing.

CBL: Ok so it could be like you could be trying to get the papers to the photo copy machine the fastest and you figure out the way to do it. You can be competitive in an office too you know. But you can’t take the racer out of a racer I know what you mean.
Reiser: It’s more fun working on race cars than what it is worrying about sick pay and safety glasses and who is here and who is not and all that kind of thing you know. It’s more fun working on things that go fast and working with the people that make them go fast. So, between that, that barrier that’s some of the issue that I have. But it will be ok. Ahm it’s just a different role and you gotta learn the different role and everything has it’s new challenges and if it was easy everybody would do it so that’s kind of all of it right there.

CBL: But this is what you wanted though wasn’t it – what you asked for. Or did you not know it was like this – you know what I mean?
Reiser: Here’s the deal. If you look back a few years ago Clint Eastwood ran to be mayor of this township in California and the reason he ran for mayor was because he wanted to change one of the roads in front of his house. You know – I wanted a lot of things changed but I didn’t want all the stuff that went with it. So as soon as he got the road changed he quit his job as being the mayor. So I guess the moral to the story is watch what you wish for you may end up with more than what you really wanted.

CBL: I got an email from a race fan listening who writes –‘So when is he going to be sitting on the 17 pit box again, we all know it’s going to happen – He still probably knows the dyno numbers on the 17’s engine. They all like you a lot you know:
Reiser: Well, I mean, you know in the last six weeks I had to fill in for Bob (Osborne) and help him along and Chris Andrews went down on the early part of the weekends and got the car running well and did all the things so we helped Bob as much as we possibly could and you know we have five teams here that we have to support and keep running and obviously we want to make them all run the best we can so, ah, this weekend I’m going to go along with Chip Bolin on the 17 and give him a hand a little bit and you know next week I might go and help somebody else so that is just how we end up doing it here.

CBL: I have emails what is wrong with the 17 – I keep hearing from fans who are concerned. Is too much being made of their early struggles this season?
Reiser: Hang on, the #17 has been the same as it’s been for the last ten years. It’s basically the same right now. The only difference is that I moved 40 feet up into the front office and Chip Bolin and the rest of the guys slid forward and are working on the car. There is really no change there. If you go back to 2005 we struggled a little bit to and had some days where it didn’t look like we were going to make the chase and middle of the summer we put it together and were able to get back into the deal and run for a championship by the end of the season. Not every season is perfect and there’s a lot of ups and downs and that team performance wise has run well. It’s just that they have been bit a few times with mistakes they have made and been at the wrong place at the wrong time. So I think if everybody just hangs tight. They are only eight races into this they are only 120 out of the top 12. They’ll be just fine and hopefully all that goes away. I mean, Chip has done a great job for the last ten years and done a great job being an engineer on the 17 and he deserves all the opportunity in the world to run that team and all those guy s that have been a part of that team deserve the opportunity to move up. Anybody that is in any type of job always looks for a promotion. So those guys deserve that and they need the opportunity to put everything together and get it running the way they need to get it running. And I think with all that said those guys will be just find and don’t be surprised if those guys go out and win Richmond this weekend.

CBL: What would be the chances that one day you’d go somewhere else and be a crew chief that you miss it that bad. Or is it not that bad that you want to be a crew chief again?
Reiser: Why are you starting with me today (laughter – kidding). You gotta weigh everything out you gotta do it for a while. You can’t just give up on everything that you start because you’ll never finish it. So it’s important to get used to this and do the right things. Obviously, if it doesn’t fit the style after a while then you probably gotta change directions and do something different. Where that is I don’t know.
You know I don’t think you ever know. I sure didn’t think ten years ago that I’d be doing this so..it’s ahm all just part of life and you gotta roll with the punches once in a while and if it doesn’t fit you then you gotta make that decision and I’m sure I’ll decide as I go.

Note: The above is a condensed segment of a longer interview transcribed into a shorter interview to post on this site. Reiser went on to answer my questions about the Green Bay Packer’s draft and the fact that he’s never been to a Packer Game at Lambeau. The visit to Lambeau field to watch his Packers play he said is something he plans to do if and when he gets a day off.

Coffee with Claire- Happy Birthday Dale Earnhardt April 29, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Coffee with Claire B., Drivers.
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It’s 7:00 a.m. EST. You know that I would not forget you this morning. I am literally running out the door and sending this via Blackberry as I am headed to Dale Earnhardt Inc, for Dale Earnhardt Day. I’m going to broadcast “Dialed In” from DEI today 4-7 EST from DEI. Today’s event at DEI Honors the birthday of 7 time NASCAR Champion Dale Earnhardt… “Behind the legend – he was one of us”.

You know it was a spectacular Dega race to talk about on air with you all yesterday. It may be like reality radio today but I just have to be there and to take you with me. I have packed every cord and wire and have enough equipment with me to rig the space shuttle! Get some rest at work today and I’ll catch you at 4:00 EST – it’s going to be wild. It doesn’t matter who you follow – Dale was one of a kind and we should stop – even if we’re busy – and remember him and the stories that surround Dale and his legacy. I hope we never forget the drivers who have paved the way for the young guys racing today.

I remember the song he liked played for him on local radio in Charlotte, when I was had a local morning radio show there – “I’m in a hurry to get things done – rush and rush until life’s no fun…” It’s an awesome song and I’ll open the show with it today.

Catch you then. I gotta get in gear and fly.

Later –
Claire B
XM Satellite Radio

Race Day Coffee Break from Talladega April 27, 2008

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Good morning from Talladega – Welcome to race morning. On Friday, Dario Franchitti was telling reporters how much progress he felt he had made since entering stock car racing. Today, he’s in his motor coach elevating and icing his leg with a fractured ankle suffered in a multi car accident here at Talladega in the Nationwide Series race yesterday.

David Stremme will fill in for him. I walked into the garage earlier today and saw the Ganassi guys with Stremme getting him fit and adjusted to the car he will race today. Several permission slips were needed – from Rusty Wallace who Stremme races for in the Nationwide Series and from Roger Penske who uses him as a test driver. I asked the Ganassi folks how long Franchitti will be out with the fracture – they said it’s hard to tell. Franchitti will visit his own doctor I am told next week and they’ll go from there. Franchitti did not take an airplane home and is here in Talladega – impressive. He may venture into the garage yet I am told but elevating the leg is key right now.

Stremme will meet with the media at 9:30 this morning so I’ll be leaving soon to go over and see what he has to say. I’ll fill you in when I get back. I have to make this quick as I’ll be leaving soon.

Light rain early this morning here at Talladega. As I left the hotel the desk clerk was sitting outside smoking a cig. “You need the room another night in case it rains?” she asked. “I’m trying to get a total.” So goes the story of the morning.

I’ll be back with you. Oh, and I’ve had a lot of email about my interview Friday with Shane Hmiel – in case you missed it I transcribed a portion of it and am posting it below. I’ll be back with more of it and replay it next week.

Enjoy the morning.

The garage calls.

Claire B

Claire B Lang Interviewed Shane Hmiel on Friday April 25, 2008
XM Satellite Radio “Dialed In”

Former NASCAR driver Shane Hmiel failed a third drug test in 2006 and was banned by the sanctioning body. Since then – he has taken steps to revive his career and turn his life around and he is being considered to be approved by the sanctioning body of ARCA. He found out he was bi-polar and he’s been through intensive treatment.

CBL: How are you feeling:
“I’m feeling good, I mean I’ve been out in California racing USAC Sprint cars and Midgets and we raced three times and won all the races and sat on a pole and led a bunch of laps but you know I mean I’m feeling good. I’m feeling better than I was this time last year. Everybody knows what all I went through and that was all brought upon by you know it was all my fault but I’m in a better place now. You know I went through a treatment center last July and found out a lot about myself and found out I was bi polar and you know I always knew something was kind of messed up with me. You know I knew I wasn’t a complete idiot. I have made some stupid decisions racing and off the track so you know it just feels good being back acting normal and being at the race track.

CBL: How much do you feel different on the inside and how much do you feel that you have grown up? How old are you now?
“I’ll be 28 in less than a month. I was 25 when I got in trouble last time failing a drug test so it’s been three long years that I’ve grown up. I’ve grown up more, no I’ve been sober now nine months so I’ve grown up in the last nine months than I’ve grown up the first 26 and a half years of my life. So it’s been a huge change and a change that I’m glad about because my life is in a much better place than it was even five years ago when everything was going good.”

CBL: You don’t want to celebrate this and say oh wow it’s great he’s better and all that but you do want to check back and say this is a horrible situation for all involved and your family has put a lot into helping you get back to where you are now . You have people who want to be race car drivers. Young people who are listening right now. What would you say to them?
“I would say stay as far away from drugs as possible. Truthfully it’s something that I just didn’t fall into by the time I was a professional race car driver. It’s something that I did all growing up and it’s just something that I knew. Truthfully.. it was something that – you know I self medicated myself due to my by polar and not knowing what was wrong with me and it made me cope you know what I mean? And to find out later on in life you know I’m 27 years old and I was 21 just six years ago and I was a professional race car driver making tons of money and now I’m 27 years old and a recovering drug addict and you know I don’t have ten dollars in my pocket but you know I’m living better now than I was then. Just stay as far away from drugs as possible it’s really a waste of time. I mean I could be down there in Talladega qualifying for the Cup race right if it wasn’t for drugs. Some people don’t think drugs can ruin your life but I am a proven picture that it can.”

CBL:I hear that you may be allowed to run the ARCA Series. I don’t want to jinx that for you – but should that come to be what would you think about that?
“That would be amazing. I have totally not been in a race car for the last couple of years. I raced three times this year. USAC was fantastic for letting me get to race. I have to take drug tests for them and you know they got a new drug test policy and ARCA’s got the same thing. So you know what I mean just for people to believe in me and think that I have made the right decisions and changes in my life to let me race is you know I’m just very thankful if that happens. You know I’ve heard about it and heard some talk about it and if they do it I’d be very grateful and appreciative.”

CBL: What are your plans. I mean -you know there are some people who would say don’t let him ever race and there are others who would say he’s only twenty some years of age. The bi-polar thing may and doctors saying that is what you had may help in the sense that there was something else wrong with you. I don’t know what these series consider…what should they consider?
ah…it’s hard to say. Because you know there are going to people who are totally like’ he should never be able to drive blah blah blah anything ever again. Some people are probably going to say I shouldn’t even drive a street car. But those are people that have never had any kind of addiction or ever been around it or known anybody who has an addiction or a sickness like bi-polar. I mean, you know addiction is not something that you choose you know what I mean it’s a real disease. It’s something you have to treat just like cancer and diabetes. If a man is diabetic and he doesn’t take his insulin he’s in as bad a shape as a drug addict is without his drugs and that is just part of life. Some people are born with it some people are born without it and you know sorry for me that I was born with it. But you know I’m not making excuses I made all my own decisions and you know what I mean. Time will tell – if they let me race I think I’ll do a good job. I’m smarter, I’m older, I’ve been through a lot and I’m ready to grow up and be a man.”


Coffee with Claire B. from Talladega April 26, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Coffee with Claire B., Drivers, Trackside.
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Good morning from Talladega Superspeedway!

Who is the favorite here at Talladega Superspeedway? I can hear the shout out from the campground here even as folks look up from frying eggs and bacon recovering from a night of Dega mania and “Hell Hill” yelling – “Junioooooor,” Jeff Gordon can’t be overlooked and, well, Tony Stewart has been in such a great mood!

The favorite here? I’d have to say Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Somehow when I drive in the tunnel here I can never forget the time that big E looked me in the eyes and I had probably the most engaging discussion that I ever had with him in all the interviews that I did. It was after his stellar performance here at Talladega in the fall of 2000. I had seen him race so many times here but this was perfection. He came through the pack from 18th to first place like a bat out of hell in the last five laps and it was brilliance. Later, there was a media event at DEI and I asked him to explain how he did it – and I told him my breath was taken away watching him navigate this racetrack. He looked me directly in the eyes and for what seemed like 20 minutes described how he did it. With Dale Senior you usually had to walk while you talked – or he had the glasses on so to actually get that much time and to have him describe his racing Talladega – I knew at the moment that it was a rare moment that I would not take lightly. I never did.

Today, here at Talladega I thought you’d like to read what Jeff Gordon said yesterday here in the garage about Dale Sr., about his career, and about his chances here. Below, is something to sip on with your coffee.

JG: “Obviously seven championships. Being the Intimidator, a guy that’s just relentless. To me I think he was the greatest restrictor plate driver of all time. I don’t think there is even a question about that, but he has so many things that can contribute to his legacy it’s hard to pick one.”


JG: “It was incredible. I miss Dale a lot. I miss racing Dale, a great deal, he brought a lot to this sport. Something I don’t think anybody can bring to a sport, just everything sort of matched up from his personality to driving style, his black 3 Chevrolet, his nickname to what he did in the race car on track and the fan following that he had. It’s all those things that make him the legend that he’ll always be.”

JG: “Yeah, that won’t be an issue here.”

JG: “Don’t know, couldn’t tell you. They all the same. I think we had our short track car at the shootout there in Daytona. All at issue was the stress we were putting on the upper control arms and it just broke the bracket, I think it was the left upper control arm bracket. We’ve addressed that. We feel confident we’ve fixed it and we didn’t have an issue here. This place is not near as hard on the suspension components as Daytona is.”

JG: “You always love getting asked that question. Makes you feel old. I don’t feel pressure. I feel I’m in a great place in my life and my career. No matter what this season offers me I have a lot to be excited and proud of and happy about. I’m a competitor, I like to be competitive and I think what’s helped me contribute to team’s I’ve driven for throughout my career and be successful. I hope it always continues until the day that I can walk away from it. Hopefully I can walk away from it on my own terms. I don’t know, I couldn’t tell you.
When you have tough years you want to walk away sooner when you have good years you feel like it extends your career longer. After last year I was excited to get back in this year and obviously a tough year ahead of us and we’ll see where it all ends up being at the end of the year I can’t give you a number, I don’t know. But if I never get the fifth championship, I will always be proud of my career, what I have a accomplished. My four championships and my wins. The competitor in me wants to keep going, I have a great race team, great people around me, so that is what I am looking at.”

JG: “Man, there’s a question. I hate to say it but Kokomo (Speedway) would be on my top 15 or 20. Maybe because I wasn’t very good at Kokomo. I used to love Bloomington, Indiana, Lawrenceburg, Indiana, Haubstadt, Indiana and I loved a lot of short tracks, Chillicothe, Ohio is one of my favorites. I mean I always loved Eldora. I think Eldora is probably the ultimate dirt track that there is. All kinds of race cars put on great races there. A guy that personally grew up on little short tracks, I’d probably have to say Lawrenceburg or Chillicothe or something like that.”

JG: “I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as the more things they throw at me, it seems like the better things are going for me. I think that our fans our passionate and I like to see their passion. Obviously you don’t want them throwing things. It’s always been a love/hate relationship for me ever since I came to NASCAR. Prior to NASCAR everywhere I went the fans were all for me and having an incredible fan following, but when you get in NASCAR you start battling Dale Earnhardt, you’re second, third year into the series created quite a rivalry among the fans and that’s just the way I’ve always looked at it.”


JG: “Sometimes they do, it depends on how good we are doing. You know. It doesn’t seem like it ever changes here at Talladega. There are a lot of Earnhardt fans here. But there are also a lot of Gordon fans. I think that is one of the coolest things I love about Talladega is the on going rivalry. When you are in the car and you are making a pass for the lead and you pass Dale Earnhardt, Jr., even if he is your teammate, you know the fans are going nuts. That is a cool feeling.”

JG: “Maybe, I mean, if I was doing odds, I would definitely put us as one of the favorites. I don’t know how really separate them by much here. Anybody can win at this race track. The only reason you might put me is because we won the last restrictor plate here with this car and won the last couple of races. But Jimmie has been good here. Junior has been good here. I am very interested to see how Junior does here with Hendrick equipment, I think he is going to be really strong cause because he is a very good drafting.”

Time for me to gear up and get in the garage, but here are some notes before I run:

Loose Lug Nuts:

-Did anyone hear Carl Edwards say last week on camera that the race in Mexico was “the most fun he’s had with his clothes on”? I know I heard him correctly.

-I had Shane Hmiel on the air yesterday – He was banned from NASCAR due to not passing the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy. Since then he’s been in treatment and found out that he is bi polar. He said he used drugs to try to manage the bi-polar situation. Word is that ARCA may soon approve him to race in their series. He says he’s never been so poor or felt so good now that he’s straight. I’ll keep you posted on the ARCA deal and I wish him well.

More later.

Claire B
at Talladega Superspeedway

Coffee with Claire B. April 25, 2008

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Claire B. Lang – Talladega Alabama
April 25, 2008

This is the first in a daily morning blog – a quick post over coffee to stay in touch with you on claireblang.com. The posts and hits to this site are increasing – and I’m hoping this site is a way for me to post things that you may have missed on the show or items over the weekend after “Dialed In” goes off air. Note: Major breaking stories I will file on XMSN Sports Updates (every 20 minutes) over the weekend. Most days are crazy busy – so I’m going to attempt to jot you a quick note every morning about what’s going on – with the hope that even if you can’t be on the road following the NASCAR circuit like I do – you’ll feel like you are along for the ride.

I picked up my Starbucks today and headed to the race track shortly after 7:00 a.m. I’m in the radio room here in the media center – and there are a handful of radio talk shows live down the hall from me. These rooms are not soundproof. I can hear all the radio hosts talking loudly (as if all trying to outdo each other with opinions) – and the buzz is, of course, Tony Stewart. Sounds like “Conspiracy Theory Thursday” from what I can hear – with everyone throwing theories around now that Tony has said that he’s negotiating and has not decided where he will end up.

I thought that I’d miss Stewart’s conversation about his contract yesterday in the Nationwide garage as I was live on air in the mobile unit in an area in front of the track when it was initially scheduled. The hauler chat with Stewart was delayed as he was still in the Nationwide practice. When I got off air in the Chevy mobile unit I slammed my computer and audio equipment in a back pack and drove as fast as I could get by with through the tunnel and to the media center then ran into the garage. When I got there Stewart was still debriefing with his team and the media corps in attendance was waiting for him in front of the hauler.

What did I notice? Well first of all I had said the day before as the Tony Stewart “inside source” stories outlined what they had learned that I felt Stewart was negotiating plain and simple. When you negotiate you check out what’s out there and you most certainly would want it to get out that you are in demand.

It struck me as Stewart held court that he took every single question and bent over backwards to be accommodating to every single media person in the group. I like Stewart and he’s always been good to me when I need an answer on something–but trust me Stewart does not hold court with the media for almost a half hour – after practice – in that mood- unless it’s something that he wants to get out and communicate.

Do you not think that if Stewart or his people did not want the story out about his being offered deals that could have him at some point asking for an early release that it would have gotten out?

This, as I said earlier in the week is what negotiating is. I’m not always right – and I try not to be too opinionated so that listeners feel more comfortable with their opinions – I don’t want to tell race fans how to think. I want to hear what they think and give them all the information I can gather that would spur the discussion in an accurate and unbiased manner.

This time – I was right. Stewart was and is negotiating.

And that is what he announced on Friday.

I was glad I was there. Stay tuned today – I talked with Kevin Harvick after I left the garage with Tony Stewart. I’ll share with you what he said.

Also – After driving five hours – anchoring a live three hour show – filing reports to XM Sports Nation and XM Channels across the board and audio back to XM – it was time for dinner and a Merlot. I was fried.

At 9:30 p.m. EST I headed to the steakhouse near the hotel which is like team central on race weekend – and within walking distance of the hotel. This is what I love about NASCAR – the bar restaurant area was full of crew chiefs and engine builders and chassis guys and competition directors and we discussed everything from the Camping World Penalty to where will Tony Stewart go?

Will you look at the time – I gotta get out into the garage.

Have a great day!
Claire B