Tags: Chad Knaus, claire b lang, claireblang.com, Hendrick Motorsports, jimmie johnson, lowes, Ron Malec, Texas Motor Speedway
Dallas/Fort Worth 11/08/09 – Claire B Lang 5:48 p.m. EST Sunday
As the Lowe’s team lifted the cover on the #48 team’s crash cart to begin work on Johnson’s destroyed race car – I noticed the Lowe’s logo and the slogan printed adjacent to it in large white letters, “Let’s Build Something Together.” That is exactly what the Chad Knaus (crew chief) and Ron Malec (car chief) led race team did – they rebuilt the 48 car after a second lap crash not of their driver’s making.
As I watched the Lowe’s team work on their race car, I was expecting Johnson to jump out and grab a wrench and Chad for to ask him ( as he does in the Kobalt tools commercial), “What are you doing Jimmie?” And Johnson would reply, “I’m helping fix the car Chad.” But Johnson stayed right were Knaus wanted him -inside the car ready to pilot it back out when the time was right, because Knaus had supreme confidence that this car was returning to the race track.
The team replaced the rear end housing, drive shaft, rear deck lid, mounts, front end, welded the chassis and the list goes on and on. It’s easier to list what this team did not do to their race car. Watching this team work exemplifies what makes the 48 guys so good.
It’s as if they had rehearsed this scenereo to perfection. There were some 15 Lowes guys working in sync, without speaking, on the points-leading race car while three NASCAR officials looked on. Knaus, as always, carried himself like the team owner, keeping calm and overseeing a major reconstruction project.
Twenty five media folks, local, national, print, broadcast, all standing around watching the one hour plus repairs on Johnson’s ride in the garage here at Texas Motor Speedway. Their comments initially ranged from, “He needs to man up and get out of the car and talk,” to “This is so smooth it’s like watching doctors work in the ER,” to “They’ll never get this car back out there,” to “that’s incredible.” Most of the comments were about how this team went to work, didn’t show even so much as a frown or a facial expression of any kind, any of them, and, like machines, went to work to get the car back on the race track.
There was Chad Knaus pounding sheet metal to bend it using the side of the garage stall’s concrete wall to bend the piece. They were welding, pounding, fitting, inspecting, and screwing metal, hoses, tape and wiring. They carefully used a broom under the car several times to clear the way for the tires as they prepared to pull out of the garage and at one point welded near the gas tank and a fire extinguisher and safety tarp were brought over.
Three times, they’d get close to being ready to take the car out and Chad or one of the officials would see something that needed attention. So, once again without expression, the appropriate member of the team, or Chad or Ron would move in and finesse the area one more time.
Chad would feel around the spoiler, or a rim or area he was concerned about and the team would watch him like a hawk, instinct telling them what they needed to do next. Watching this team work on their car –one just knows that most of these guys know this race car better than they know their girlfriends, wives and family members.
As the car pulled out to return to the track, I watched the members of the 48 machine run out like a football team chasing on to the field to return to the pits. Leading those running out of the garage towards the gate that leads onto pit road was car chief Ron Malec and, as he ran, he turned around quickly once and look back over his shoulder at the team guys running behind him. His face lined with grease and sweat, he gave them a thankful and confident warm smile, in a trademark 48 calm and focused way – he did so faintly but I’m sure they picked up on it because I did.
And on the 48 went to take, once again, the field of battle in a car many thought would never make it back on this race track today.
Over the years I’ve covered this sport I’ve seen many teams make incredible repairs to race cars that we thought would never make it back out onto the race track- so this is not a first.
It was something to watch though.
They made it seem easy.
Heading Off To New Hampshire June 25, 2009Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Drivers, NASCAR.
Hey all! I hope this finds you all well.
I’m on my way to the airport but figured I’d drop you a line with my broadcast schedule for the weekend and some thoughts for the day.
Dialed In: (Schedule for Thursday – Sunday)
Thursday, June 25, 2009
“Dialed In” 7-10 EST from New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Friday, June 26, 2009
“Dialed In” 7-10 EST from New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Saturday, June 27, 2009
“Dialed In” 1:30-2:00 p.m. EST — Leading into the Start of the Camping World 200 Nationwide Series Race
“Dialed In” AFTER the Camping World 200 Nationwide Series Race until the start of the Memphis Travel.com 200 Camping World Truck Series Race at Memphis at 5:30 p.m. EST
“Dialed In” AFTER the Memphis Travel.com 200 Camping World Truck Series Race until 10:00 p.m. EST
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Claire B Lang in the booth for the SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Pre Race Show 10:00-12:00 EST
Then: In Victory Lane for the SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Post Race Show
Followed by “Dialed In” until 11:00 p.m. EST Sunday after the Post Race Show
Three for Three on the Bets:
How the Heck Did That Happen?
I have taken bets for three weeks- wild bets on the races pitched by the listeners. I’ve taken one a week. I take the scraps…meaning they pitch the bet and I take the side that they don’t want. I’m not actually betting something I’m taking the other side of their bet. Sometimes they are crazy bets and yet –I keep winning. I have no idea how that keeps happening. Maybe karma for taking the underdog in the bet.
The week before last I bet with John in Louisiana. He’s a helicopter pilot that takes workers out to the oil rigs. He bet that that Dale Jr would finish in the top 10 at Michigan and he lost. He had to take picture next to his helicopter with a sign….(see picture here posted on site). I loved it…..you have to zoom in to read the writing on the sign but it’s a good one. Just posted today (6/25/09) along with this column. Most of the time the bets I take should never win. Last week I took the other side of a listeners bet that Kyle Busch would finish ahead of Carl Edwards. He picked Kyle and I had Carl. Well – Kyle who started second finished way below Carl at Infineon when it was all over. I won again. How did that happen?
Richard Childress Racing –Regrouping
What is the reason for the slump at Richard Childress Racing? Yesterday, Clint Bowyer had some thoughts about it that led me to believe that like some other teams, without testing -they shot the direction they figured was right and they went the wrong direction:
Clint Bowyer: “Kevin last year at the end of the year was really running good and they were on some drastically different things that we were running at the time, so we all kind of over the off-season put a lot of — our eggs in that one basket, hopefully that being the answer for the year starting off strong. It just wasn’t. So we have had to drop back and punt so to speak. We have had to come back and cut our cars up and change front clips, change body designs around, aero designs around, whatever the changes were. It takes time to get those all acclimated and back in place as a group and as a whole so we can all get back to running well. That’s kind of where we are at. We are starting to see all of the hard work of getting things back to where we were, you know, and going down the right path. We are starting to see some results, especially on my side. So I’m excited about the races to come here. I think we have got ten races left, to be a part of this Chase, I feel like we are starting to run good at the right time…….. But it takes that long to find the problem, fix the problem and get those changes that you’ve made acclimated into the system. You know, when you’ve got an organization as big as ours, it’s not something where you can just make one change and fix the whole problem. Everybody’s cars have to be changed. You know, if we find advances in the engine department, we have to make sure that those changes will live, and so a lot of sim and a lot of dyno work goes into place and making those changes and making a smart change.
So that’s the thing is when you get behind, it just takes a while to dig yourself out of that hole. I feel like when I said “stop the bleeding,” I feel like that meant we found the problem, we fixed the problem. And now it’s taking a little bit of a problem to get that problem and get those changes acclimated into our system. We are already starting to see results and things turnaround.”
It’s going to be an interesting weekend. If I don’t get going I’ll miss my flight and then – I’ll not be there to blog you from the track…so I’d better get in gear.
Enjoy the day.
I’ll write you when I get to New Hampshire.
Welcome to Infineon Raceway…Pressure June 18, 2009Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Listeners, My Show, NASCAR.
Tags: claire b lang, Infineon Raceway, pressure, Sirius NASCAR Radio, Sprint Cup Series, www.claireblang.com
1 comment so far
I just arrived at Infineon Raceway and am setting up my home away from home in the studio here at Infineon Raceway. I got a bunch of email about whether I’m going to Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Mile again this weekend instead of Infineon which has been the mode the last couple of years.
This year, while my heart will be home with family and friends I’ve met in Milwaukee, I’ll be situated in the Sonoma Valley covering both races. Since I am in the booth for the pre race show it would be hard to anchor the show from a bar in Milwaukee across from the Milwaukee Mile. But it sure was fun wasn’t it? I’ll figure out a way to do that again one day – but this weekend I’m in the beautiful Sonoma Valley.
My “Dialed In” With Claire B. Lang broadcast schedule is as follows:
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Dialed In 7-10 EST LIVE from Infineon Raceway
Friday, June 19, 2009
Dialed In- 3-6:30 EST LIVE from Infineon Raceway (pre Sprint Cup Qualifying)
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Dialed In -5-8:30 p.m.EST leading up to the start of the NorthernTool.com 250
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Dialed In – 11-1 p.m. EST leading up to the start of the Sirius NASCAR Radio Pre Race Show.
SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Pre Race Show- Sunday, June 21 – 1:00-3:00 p.m. EST
Claire B. will be in the booth for the Sirius NASCAR Radio Pre Race Show
SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Post Race Show – Sunday, June 21 POST RACE
Claire B will open up LIVE from Victory Lane on the Sirius NASCAR Radio Post Race Show
Enjoy the day!!
Oil Rig Helicopter Pilot’s Bet on Dale Jr’s Michigan Finish:
NOTE: See the photo of John in Louisiana’s landing spot (he’s the guy who made the bet with me last week that Dale Junior would finish in the top ten at Michigan. He lost the bet so he is going to send me a photo of him with a sign indicating he lost and with at least one of the oil rig guys near the helicopter and the sign. Check out where John has to land his helicopter when he shuttles the guys to the rig each day woah!
Read these Billy Joel Lyrics and then my notes below it.
Pressure (Billy Joel)
You have to learn to pace yourself
You’re just like everybody else
You’ve only had to run so far
But you will come to a place
Where the only thing you feel
Are loaded guns in your face
And you’ll have to deal with
You used to call me paranoid
But even you can not avoid
You turned the tap dance into your crusade
Now here you are with your faith
And your Peter Pan advice
You have no scars on your face
And you cannot handle pressure
All grown up and no place to go
Psych 1, Psych 2
What do you know?
All your life is Channel 13
What does it mean?
Don’t ask for help
You’re all alone
You’ll have to answer
To your own
I’m sure you’ll have some cosmic rationale
But here you are in the ninth
Two men out and three men on
Nowhere to look but inside
Where we all respond to
All your life is Time Magazine
I read it too
What does it mean?
I’m sure you’ll have some cosmic rationale
But here you are with your faith
And your Peter Pan advice
You have no scars on your face
And you cannot handle pressure
One, two, three, four
Exposure, Television Mentions, Superior Performance More Crucial Than Ever
The song “Pressure” by Billy Joel summarizes the state of drivers and team members in the sport headed into this weekend’s race here at Infineon. It struck me of late that when I am live with the winners in victory lane how many drivers and crew chiefs are now talking about the great vehicles that the manufacturer that they race for puts on the show room floors. Arm chair quarterbacking after the fact is always easy but maybe some more of that should have been going on before the economic crisis hit Detroit’s big three.
Tough times teach us a lot – and I always say when times are tough the Good Lord is preparing us so that we’ll be humble when we win the lottery. Good times are coming. What lesson are we supposed to learn at this juncture? Am I the only one who thinks that some of what we have experienced, yes even in our sport, has made us appreciate it more?
While GM teams ponder where to cut back to assist GM in their restructuring while professing long-standing support to Chevrolet – sponsors looking ahead to renewing or signing contracts with the sport look to the performance of teams and drivers like never before.
Team members are uneasy, not sure where budget cutbacks will come from and hoping this is not the weekend that they mess up. Team owners and drivers say that they are resourceful and I agree. No one has seen yet what teams and drivers and crew guys will do to make teams thrive in tough times. I think it’s not like anything you’ll see in other sports — I think the resourcefulness of folks on NASCAR teams (creativity is what made winners in the sport) will lead to decisions that no one has yet thought of. Other sports – No I don’t see that resourcefulness not to the level of what will come from decisions made in tough times by smart team owners. Add to that the loyalty of the true fans and even in tough times, maybe more so in tough times, the sport will find a way.
The pressure to perform which has been a part of this circuit forever is ramped up to a level these days that will absolutely affect the racing -perhaps for the positive. This is not the time to be mediocre and survive. This is a time when funding is on the line like never before and no one can race unmentioned at the back of the field and stay in the game for long with sponsors looking for the payback on every penny to justify the spending to boards of directors. Does NASCAR give the payback to sponsors? With everyone on their game yes – and the game will be stepped up.
Drivers and team members know that, and since these guys (team members) do not dwell on the negative but rather the perpetual series of opportunities for hope that each race presents – they are not talking about it much. Where will the cutbacks come from? What programs, what team members and are layoffs in the future for these teams? These questions are inside, unsaid within the sport this race weekend.
Those answers are yet to come. Team owners are positive and loyal and they will find a way.
But as we head into this weekend -even more so than ever…for many in the sport – there is more pressure.
Welcome to Sonoma. It’s going to be a heck of a race.
Claire B Lang Broadcast Schedule- Atlanta March 3, 2009Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, My Show, NASCAR.
Tags: atlanta, Atlanta Motor Speedway, claire b lang, NASCAR, Sirius NASCAR Radio, Sprint Cup Series, www.claireblang.com
Broadcast Schedule This Weekend (SIRIUS NASCAR Radio – Best of Sirius Upgrade on XM)
Wednesday. March 4th:
“Dialed In” with Claire B.
7p-10p ET – LIVE from Claire’s Studio at home – in Charlotte, NC
Thursday, March 5th:
“Dialed In” with Claire B
7p-10p ET – LIVE from Atlanta Motor Speedway
Friday, March 6th:
“Dialed In” with Claire B.
From the end of Sprint Cup qualifying until 11PM ET – LIVE from Atlanta Motor Speedway
Saturday, March 7th
“Dialed In” with Claire B.
From the end of Truck Race until 8PM ET
Sunday, March 8th
CBL in the booth for Pre-Race from 10a-12p ET – Steve Post in the garage
Post-Race for 2 full hours from end of race -CBL in Victory Lane
“The Back Stretch” Claire B. with Pat Patterson from end of post-race until 11PM ET
NASCAR Holidays December 8, 2008Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Claire B's Mail, Fun Stuff, NASCAR, Off Season Fun.
Tags: Cale Yarborough, claire b lang, jimmie johnson, NASCAR, NASCAR Awards Ceremony, New York City, Sirius NASCAR Radio, Tom Cruise
Greetings from my house in Charlotte, NC everyone!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I wanted to touch base with you all today and, as promised, I will definitely keep you posted through the holidays with specific plans for the “Dialed In” show on Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 128 (starting in 2009) and new schedule information very soon.
I’ve gotten a large number of emails about where I am at today on the dial. Thanks to all of you who had a scavenger hunt to find the show over the last months on various channels. I hope you enjoyed the “Dialed In” coverage in New York city on Sirius NASCAR Radio. I hope I made you proud. I am still unpacking from the trip and getting things back in order today and I am taking some time off post season (I am not on the radio this week) as I take some down time (vacation) to just rest up and prepare for some really exciting broadcast plans being put together for 2009.
I’m interested in what you thought of the banquet. Word on the street and amongst the reporters who were there -even the curmudgeons- was that it was better than last season with the drivers being unscripted (they were told by NASCAR to just make bullet points – no formal speeches). I though the surprise visit to the stage by Cale Yarborough to present his championship ring was a great touch. Cale was actually sitting at a table on the other side of the room from Jimmie during the dinner but no one noticed -and Jimmie had no idea. The surprise was so worth it. Also, how about Tom Cruise being at the Hendrick table, a guest of Mr. Hendricks? On the dance floor later I chatted with the guys from Matchbox 20 – totally down to earth. I also hung out with some of the guys from the 48 team who owned the celebration – and it was a fun night/early morning. Got to bed close to 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Let me know what you thought of the banquet and I’ll post it tomorrow. ClaireBMail [at] ClaireBLang.com
Melissa sent me this photo (above). She’s been a huge fan of Jeff Gordons and has been following him on a regular basis since 2002. When she first saw stores carrying Nascar Christmas Ornaments she had to have them! She decided to make a tree of Jeff or Nascar ornaments which also has a couple of Jimmie ornaments (and her most recent purchase of her other favorite driver KYLE BUSCH) on it. She says her ornaments have come from Lowes, Target, Walmart, Kmart. She shopped for them the day after Thanksgiving to let all her friends & family know which ones she wanted & where to get them. If you know anyone who has a similar tree for Christmas send the photo along I’d like to post it.
I am headed over to get my mail which has been held for a week- and just really taking some time to get everything back in order after having been gone most of the year.
I will still post news here on ClaireBLang.com so if you check here you can get the latest and this is the best place to keep updated on the show and developments with a firm schedule and about you, the listeners.
Anyone got a tree that rivals Melissas? I’d like to see it.
I’ll have more time to post the next couple of days while I’m off so stay tuned for that and more news on this site.
Thanks for your support, your loyalty and your friendship in 2008. You all mean a great deal to me and I appreciate it.
Greetings from the Big Apple! December 2, 2008Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, My Show, NASCAR, Teams.
Tags: Camping World, Carl Edwards, claire b lang, clint bowyer, jimmie johnson, joe gibbs racing, Joey Logano, Johnny Benson, Kyle Busch, NASCAR, Randy Moss, Sirius NASCAR Radio, Sprint Cup Series, tony stewart
Hey all! Greetings from the Big Apple!
I’m blogging you from the Sports Business Journal Motorsports Marketing Forum at the Westin Hotel at Times Square.
Tonight I will be broadcasting (Sirius NASCAR Radio and BEST OF Sirius on XM) Channel 128 LIVE from the Sirius studios in Manhattan – from 8-11 EST. I’ll have a recap of the day here in New York City and I hope you can hang out.
Last night on “Dialed In” (Sirius NASCAR Radio) I told you all that the media have been asked to rank the competition stories from 2008. Several of you called in and asked if I could put the list on the blog so that you could help rank them in order of importance in your mind. Here’s the list (below).
Listed in no particular order are the nominees for the top stories of the 2008 NASCAR season. The media members have been asked to rank all 17 moments in order. What do you think?
• Jimmie Johnson wins his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, becoming only the second driver in history to accomplish the feat. Johnson’s championship performance is highlighted by his strong showing in the Chase, as he posts three wins, eight top 10s, six top fives and an Average Finish of 5.7.
• The new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car concludes it transition year and is raced the entire season.
• Kyle Busch excels in all three national series, winning a combined 21 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
• Tony Stewart announces he’s leaving Joe Gibbs Racing to become owner/driver of Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009. Stewart won two NASCAR Sprint Cup championships during his 10-year tenure with JGR.
• Carl Edwards wins a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series-high nine races and finishes runner-up in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series.
• Johnny Benson edges Ron Hornaday Jr. to win the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship in the second closest points battle in that series’ history. Benson joins Greg Biffle as the only other driver to win both the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series titles during their careers.
• In his first season driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Jr. breaks a 76- race winless streak by winning at Michigan International Speedway on Father’s Day. Earnhardt Jr. finishes 12th in points with one victory, 10 top fives and 16 top 10 finishes on the season.
• Jeff Gordon’s streak of 14 consecutive seasons of winning a race is snapped as he goes winless in 2008.
• Clint Bowyer wins the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship and continues to establish himself as one of the rising stars in the sport.
• Ryan Newman wins his – and owner Roger Penske’s – first Daytona 500, with teammate Kurt Busch finishing second. It is the 50th running of the Great American Race.
• After being voted into the field by the fans, Kasey Kahne wins the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and rides that wave of momentum with a victory the following week in the Coca-Cola 600.
• Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota wins the NASCAR Nationwide Series Owners’ Championship, claiming nine victories with four different drivers during the season.
• Eighteen-year-old Joey Logano bursts upon the national series scene, competing in 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series events, winning at Kentucky Speedway and posting 14 top 10 and five top five finishes.
• Greg Biffle wins the first two races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and re-establishes himself as a championship contender after a two-year absence from the Chase.
• Canadian Ron Fellows not only wins in his home country but does so in the rain at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in August. The event is NASCAR’s first-ever national series points race contested on rain tires.
• The announcement is made that Camping World will become the official sponsor of NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series beginning in 2009. Craftsman had been the official sponsor since the series’ inception in 1995.
• NFL standout Randy Moss enters the NASCAR Truck Series as owner of the No. 84 Randy Moss Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado.
I’d better get back to the seminar.
Enjoy the day!
Catch you at 8:00 EST tonight on “Dialed In”
New York City- NASCAR Champions Week Schedule December 1, 2008Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, My Show, NASCAR.
Tags: Chad Knaus, champions week, claire b lang, jimmie johnson, NASCAR, New York City, Sirius NASCAR Radio, Sirius Satellite Radio, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
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Image via WikipediaHey All! Greetings from New York City. Thanks for all the emails and for keeping in touch. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.
I wanted to write you a note and let you know when I will be broadcasting on Sirius NASCAR Radio (Sirius Channel 128 and XM Best Of Package 128) here in New York City for Champions Week and post the schedule. I arrived today (Monday) in the city and will be on site and in and around the city covering and hosting live broadcasts at the events all week long – and I’ll be hosting a special wrap up show at the end of each day.
Did I tell you that the Sirius Studios are on the 36th floor of this building? Don’t look down 😉
My Schedule in New York City:
Monday, December 1
“Dialed In” with Claire B. Lang
Monday / 7p-10p ET
SIRIUS NASCAR Radio studios, Manhattan
Tuesday, December 2
“Dialed In” with Claire B. Lang
Tuesday / 8p-11p ET
SIRIUS NASCAR Radio studios, Manhattan
Wednesday, December 3
“Dialed In” with Claire B. Lang
Wednesday / 7p-10p ET
LIVE from the Sprint Champions Party, Sports Museum of America
Thursday, December 4
“The 2008 Stewie Awards”
Thursday / 6p-8p ET
SIRIUS NASCAR Radio studios, Manhattan
“Dialed In” with Claire B. Lang (Claire B Hosts Stewie’s After Party Show)
Thursday / 8p-11p ET
“Stewie’s After Party” — SIRIUS NASCAR Radio studios, Manhattan
“The 2008 Championship Year In Review” Claire B Lang Back Stage LIVE at the Waldorf
Claire B – Friday / 3p-5p ET
Featuring: Exclusive interviews with the entire #48 team including Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus, Rick Hendrick and the rest of the Championship team, plus the listeners will have a chance to call the show LIVE to talk with the team!
Remember: LIVE coverage of “NASCAR Awards Night / Banquet”
Friday / 7pm-TFN ET
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (Anchored by MRN Radio)
I am slamming getting the show ready and getting used to the different layout in this studio. I’m looking forward to hearing from you on air tonight and sure hope you can catch the shows from New York City.
Tough Times For NASCAR Crew Members November 19, 2008Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, NASCAR, Teams.
Tags: 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, claire b lang, crews, NASCAR, Sprint Cup Series, XM Radio
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.
Race Day – November 9, 2008 November 9, 2008Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, In The Garage, NASCAR, Teams, Transcripts.
Tags: Brian France, claire b lang, Gillett Evernham Motorsports, Jack Roush, jamie mcmurray, NASCAR, phoenix international raceway, Ray Evernham, Ron Hornaday, Rusty Wallace, XM Radio
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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.”
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
“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.”
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.
Jason Needs Prayers November 5, 2008Posted by claireblang in Help Out, Listeners, Mail, NASCAR.
Tags: claire b lang, fans helping fans, NASCAR, XM Radio
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.