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Race Day Texas Motor Speedway November 2, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, NASCAR, Trackside.
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Texas Motor Speedway on NASA World Wind 1.3.Image via WikipediaBlog – November 2, 2008
Claire B Lang

The Dickies 500 will take the green flag today at 3:30 p.m. EST and ABC-TV will begin live coverage at 3:00 p.m. EST.

Driver’s Meeting – Get out the Vote:

NASCAR Race Director David Hoots opened the pre race drivers’ meeting here at Texas Motor Speedway today by asking the drivers and crew chiefs gathered in the auditorium in the media center here to vote on Tuesday.

“I’d like to remind everybody to take the opportunity – use the privilege that we have – be an American to vote this week – so everybody do that if you would please,” Hoots noted as he took the microphone prior to the review of the race rules and regulations.

Race Director David Hoots Asks Drivers Not To Get Lax:

David Hoots today also made a special note to remind the teams and drivers about safety vehicles. “We’ll take three pace laps. Crew chiefs, each week we ask you to have your spotters take notice to where the fire trucks and emergency equipment is coming out. They are located around the race track. Do that on the pace laps if you would,” Hoots said.

Hoots added, “Once the caution lights are illuminated you are under caution. Slow down to a cautious pace. Let’s not get lax on this because I think we have a tendency but let’s not get lax. Be aware and very respectful of those emergency services vehicles and personnel out on that race track. They are responding to somebody that needs them. Slow down around the equipment and give them the maximum amount of room possible. If you can’t have clear vision on your car if you’ve been in an accident stop and let us come help you and get the car in the garage. Give them a lot of room and give them a lot of respect.”

TMS – Pit Road and Speeds:

Pit Road Speed is 45 mph.

Caution Speed is 55 mph.

Minimum Speed is 34.11

There were no questions asked….and we prayed.

Gordon on the Pole:

Jeff Gordon will start from the pole today. His award – a Beretta shotgun.

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NICORETTE IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 1ST:

“Texas has not been one of our best tracks but today has been a great day for the DuPont/Nicorette Chevrolet. We started off, the car felt good, but didn’t just quite have the speed. We worked on it and the last lap we made in practice, we really hit on something and it followed all the way through qualifying.

“We have made huge gains on these mile and a half race tracks. Things that I feel good about and we can be consistent with. It is just how you get good information back to your team to fine-tune things. That is how we go faster. We are finding it, we are just unfortunately finding it a little bit late. Not quite enough too late, but this is great for us. A good start to the weekend.

ON WINNING THE BERETTA SHOTGUN FOR GETTING THE POLE: “It is a beautiful shotgun. It takes about a year to get it after all the engraving that goes in to it. It is really a prize worth going after. Late in the season, we haven’t gotten a win. We haven’t been able to qualifying for about a month. This is just exciting to get out there and put a lap down. What a great day for the DuPont/Nicorette Chevrolet. The team was unbelievable today, we unloaded with a fast race car but just kept improving on it all through practice.

“Certainly a lot more comfortable on these mile and a half tracks than we were earlier in the season. This is just half the battle, just qualifying and one lap. We feel like we still have some work to do for the race. We will find out about that tomorrow, but I know our race car are so much better at this point in the season will all of our testing and our hard work. The mile and half have been pretty decent to us the last few times we have been to them, so we know we have made improvements. Texas has been hit or miss for us. We have been here capable of winning before and been here when we were the worst car or I was the worst driver, whatever it was, we weren’t fast. We really want to turn it around this weekend.

“I am so proud of this race team. I think it has been pretty well documented how tough of a weekend we had here in Texas back in April. This team has been working so hard and today was a real sign of that effort. Track position is so important at this place. We put a lot of effort and focus on qualifying and it paid off. That green machine is starting on the pole and we have to go to work tomorrow to get ready for the race and try to get it there.

“I just think that it is so ironic that the last three tracks, Martinsville, Charlotte and Atlanta, all tracks that we felt like we could win the pole at, we didn’t get the opportunity because of rain. I thought the last place we could win a pole was here at Texas. Here we are on the pole. Anything is possible.

“We have started from the pole here but not legitimately, it was because of rain. Top of the board practicing and now qualifying.

TALK ABOUT YOUR WEEKEND HERE IN APRIL: “In my opinion, the car does the talking for me. I drive it in the corner and it does whatever it is going to do. I don’t really do anything different. I try to improve all the time and get the most out of it. But, when the car does what I am asking it to do and it sticks, we go fast. I am not saying that meaning that the guys have to get the car right, it is all of us working together through testing, through communication, everything that it takes to get to get the right setup, the right feel, everything that matches up with how I am driving the car. When we were here in April, we just weren’t even close off the truck. I knew we were in trouble. It just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t fast, the times in qualifying showed up. Today is the exact opposite. I said our car feels pretty good. It is a little tight, but it is comfortable going through the transitions in the corner, I wasn’t having some issues I was having in the past. We kept freeing the car up. A lot of times when you free the car up here, you just get loose in, loose off, it doesn’t really fix the middle part of the corner. All the adjustments we were doing were helping in the right spot and the car just kept going faster. We put up a big lap there at the end of practice and were able to back it up. It is a great feeling and definitely a boost to the confidence of our team.

“I like the night races and I think if you are close, you should be able to adjust on it from the daylight in to the night time. To me track position is just so important at this track. To me it plays out way more than what the car is going to do from day to night. Obviously we have to keep up that. All we can do is go off of our notes from last year and our teammates and go in to practice and see what kind of balance the car has. You have to be careful trying to pay too much attention, you have to think about track temperature changing, but you have to be careful about putting too much emphasis on it. We will just go in to practice tomorrow and make the best of it. In the early practice will be the closest it will be when the race goes in to night time.”

WOULD IT BE FITTING FOR YOU TO WIN HERE TO BREAK THE WINLESS STREAK? “Well, I wasn’t expecting to get the pole, I can tell you that. I definitely not expecting to get the win either, but it doesn’t stop us as a team and me as a driver from trying to make that happen and putting out every bit of effort that we can. I mean, it really doesn’t matter what our stats are, good or bad at any race track. We go in to that weekend believing we can win the pole, that we can win the race and constantly pushing the car and ourselves to improve whether we won the last race there or finished dead last. That is just the kind of team that we are and I think today pretty much proves that and shows that, we know everybody is talking about us not winning and certainly know that our stats here are not great. Yet, we come out with a great car today, win the pole and that all we have to go on right now. We have to wait until Sunday to see how the race unfolds. I can tell you that the track position is huge here and can play a big role.”

MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO.1 BASS PRO SHOP/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 2ND: “It was a good run. The car was good off the trailer and we were able to go out there and just hold it wide open. I was hoping we had a shot at keeping the pole, but nevertheless it was a good run for our Bass Pro Shops Chevy.

HOW GREAT IS THE SENSATION OF SPEED HERE? “Not really. I don’t think it seems faster than any of the other tracks we go to. Doesn’t seem any faster than Atlanta. I think after 100, they all feel about the same. It isn’t too bad.”

IS THIS A CAR YOU HAVE RUN A LOT? “We’ve been kind of all over the board here lately. We actually ended up fairly similar to where we were here in the spring, we came with a different setup with some stuff we learned last week in Atlanta and at Charlotte. It didn’t work. That is the thing with these cars, you can’t really seem to be able to take it anywhere else. I don’t know it is. It is like every track you go to has its own things that it likes. Until you figure that out, you are kinda going to chase yourself around in circles. We went back to close to where we were in the spring, kinda like the stuff we ran last year with this car earlier in the year and it seemed to work pretty good for us. It is hard to tell exactly what it is you need to do to get better when everywhere you go is a little bit different.”

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 3RD: “It was good. We unloaded good. I was proud of the guys. Qualifying hasn’t been our strong point all season long. We’ve been getting lucky the last three races starting fifth. We earned a top five this time and all is well.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 7TH: “You see a big number like the No. 1 car put out, you know what you did in practice and the adjustments that have been made, you try and compute all that and say OK, my mark was here and I am going to try to go to here and hope it sticks. Getting out there and remembering those things is really the tough part. But, when you have a great race car like I did today, you can go out and do a good job with it, get a good lap. Very happy with the Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet and looking forward to a good weekend.

“It was a great lap. I have wanted to be on track the last few weeks like everyone else. It was some really good tracks that got rained out of qualifying.”

I am headed out to the garage. I’ll keep you posted. I’m in the radio room behind the auditorium where the Motor Racing Outreach service is going on and they are playing guitars and singing. It’s extremely inspirational to hear that and see the drivers gathered for church service before a race like this.

Enjoy the day. More later!

Claire B

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NASCAR Qualifying Discussion October 26, 2008

Posted by claireblang in claire blang, NASCAR, XM Radio.
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NASCAR’s Qualifying Subject of Seemingly Endless Discussion
Truth: Changing qualifying is NOT on NASCAR’s front burner
 
After Friday’s rained out qualifying here at Atlanta – The phone lines were buzzing on “Dialed In” show (3-6 EST XM Channel 148) with listener’s creative ideas to change NASCAR’s qualifying format. Because we had debated it for hour after hour – in the days and weeks leading up to the 10th rained out qualifying of the season -I tried to direct the callers to other hot topics – to no avail. For weeks the talk shows and columns and questions to drivers from media members has been how to change qualifying and whether the format needs changing. The ideas ranged from the well thought out to the absurd but fun to throw out there. There was no stopping the ideas for qualifying.
 
We can talk until we’re blue in the face – and come up with ideas ranging from great, to tongue in cheek but why?  OK, there are not a lot of other things to talk about on a rained out qualifying day.
 
First, despite the comments from drivers about setting a special qualifying for the “go or go homers” who are not in the top 35 when their shot to qualify is rained out – NASCAR is not close to coming up with a special “go or go home qualifying.”
 
Second, there are usually good reasons why some things that seem like the best idea ever won’t work – when presented to NASCAR.  It’s fun to throw ideas out – but when you sit down with those ideas and talk about them realistically – most of them just don’t play out as workable.
 
I decided to talk with NASCAR Spokesman Jim Hunter about the qualifying debate so that everyone could be on the same page as to what NASCAR is thinking about qualifying today – and the background as to what it’s been in the past.
 
NASCAR Spokesman Jim Hunter –
 
CBL: We’ve had ideas on redoing qualifying – everything from ping pong ball picks to foot races…let’s start at the beginning:
 
Hunter: “Well we’ve heard stories about even turning them around and running them counter clockwise – just to line them up in reverse and all that sort of thing. But going back to the beginning for the big races we used to run four laps of qualifying just like Indianapolis. If you start to think about that – four laps per car- and there have been times when we’ve had over 60 cars. So 60 cars times four laps, let’s say a minute a lap, I mean you’re talking hours. Then we knocked it down and we even had at one time we used to line the field up with the top 30 by time trials and then had a qualifying race – a last chance race for all the cars that were there and at times way back we would have as many as 30 cars trying to make 6 spots. And we finally settled on two laps most of the places.  Running multiple events on a weekend where you run two national series and in some cases three national series. At New Hampshire for example we’ve got Cup, we’ve got trucks, we’ve got the Camping World East and Featherlight Modified. That’s four divisions, four sets of cars that you’re trying to establish qualifying time for in a schedule. It’s so difficult to reschedule qualifying. A lot of people wonder why you do it by points. It’s because points are earned by the drivers and teams who race. So in our mind it’s fair for the teams who do well to earn this as opposed to doing a lottery and draw for positions. I mean you might could do that in weekly races but at this level the points system works well because the people who will have earned their way into the chase deserve – weather is out of everyone’s control. In one sense of the word though Claire I think it’s really good because everybody comes up with an idea.”
 
CBL: Fans are even talking about letting them qualify on race day. Can you fathom that?
 
Hunter:” It would be very difficult to do because schedules are put together a long time in advance. Just like pre race for example – all the things that you have to do on race day and getting people in and out of the race track, getting the track prepared – it just wouldn’t work. Realistically that just would not work. Now we did-we didn’t qualify -but on 9/11 and we had to go back to New Hampshire. We rescheduled that race for the Friday after Thanksgiving. The reason we did that is that gave us Saturday you know it was in November so in New Hampshire everybody was saying there could be snow, there could be ice. We impounded the cars. We went in there that morning I think we had a one hour practice session from 8 to 9, something like that. Then we ran the race at like 11:00 and all in one day. So, if you plan that ahead of time you could do that. But by the same token when you have a preliminary event on the day before the Sprint Cup race then it makes it difficult to reshuffle everything and that’s why. I think this year it was our tenth, when we had to cancel qualifying. That’s very, very unusual. We have had some years when we might have had three or four. This is one of those that I think might be one of those records that we don’t keep (laughter). I don’t think we want to be reminding people of the year we had ten qualifying sessions washed out.”
 
CBL: Is there any thought to changing any part of qualifying. Like the go or go home qualifying moving to Saturday (after rained out qualifying)?
 
Hunter: “I think that we’re ok with the way it is. We’re constantly getting suggestions very obviously from the people who are not in the top 35 which is self serving to that group. We think locking in the top 35 is, I think, a really good thing because it rewards the people who race the most and things should be performance based. That’s based on a team’s performance. In the real world when somebody says well you should stretch it to 36 cars because somebody happens to be 36th  your response to that team should be well you need to race well enough to be 35th. We think about it – but I think it’s served us very well.”
 
CBL: So (changing it ) it’s not on the front burner?
 
Hunter: “No, No. I think qualifying rain outs are only on the front burner when it rains. And it goes away quickly. Like here in Atlanta on Friday I mean it rained all day. We finally got the track dry and what did they get 6 laps 5, laps or 8 laps and the mist started coming and the track got wet again and it had taken us like three hours to dry the track and plus we were racing the truck series here. So all and all I think it’s the way to do it.”
 
CBL: Why don’t they come in on Saturday and qualify when you have a rain out?
 
Hunter: “Well I think that the biggest difference or the biggest reason is when you have another event. Like this (Saturday) morning we scheduled some practice times. Remember these cars hadn’t even other than those 8 laps some of them took four had not even been on the race track. Getting the cars prepared for racing is more important than getting the cars prepared for qualifying. So that’s why we do that. They’d have to change, even today when they don’t do all the things they used to do with a special motor and all those sorts of things, still they have to switch the car from qualifying trim to race trim and we’d rather the guys have practice time so that they are better prepared for the race.”
 
CBL: Why is it ok for the go or go homers who don’t’ get to qualify to go home when they did not have a chance to qualify?
 
Hunter: “Well I don’t think you ever justify it to them. But there has to be a way to do it. And, to us, the way we do it seems to be the fairest way.”
 
CBL: Do you remember in history when people were complaining when we had years the rain days were excessive like this year?
 
Hunter: “Yea, and even more than that I remember when, if you were a rookie, we had several days of qualifying leading up to an event. In the old days we used to qualify on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Back in the 60’s, I was a PR guy at Darlington. The guys would come in on Tuesday night and we would have the first round of qualifying on Wednesday and we would take the top 8 cars. The first 8 would be locked in. Then Thursday we’d take the next 8 that would be 16 and then Friday we’d take another 8 and that would be 24. We started 36 cars. Then Saturday we ran a qualifying race – so whoever didn’t get in – and we kept that going until the teams were having to come in so early from a cost standpoint time. And we got to where we went through a time back then in the 60s and early 70s where we would only have if we were starting 36 cars – we might just have 36 or maybe 37 so when you got to that qualifying race – everybody was going to make the race anyway so it wasn’t really a race.”
 
CBL: Fans would love to see something like that (a qualifying race). What would you like to say to the fans who have suggestions on everything from ping pong balls to qualifying races:
 
Hunter: “Keep thinking. A qualifying race today – there’s just no time for it. Plus when you run a qualifying race you have certain teams that know they might not get in regularly or the regular way or they’ll have a special motor built just for the qualifying. I mean there’s all sorts of cost related things to the teams and the tracks that prevent us from doing that. Times change. Even back in the older days those qualifying races – everybody criticized us for running the races because they didn’t race, they didn’t have to. Then the teams that had to run 20 laps wanted the promoters to put up more money for qualifying race because they were using a set of tires. You get into all those things that you don’t normally think of.
 
Our fans usually when they get all the information they may not always agree with what we decide. But we hope that they’ll understand why we do it.
 
You have to change with time. The demands on the time of our teams today is so much greater than it used to be with sponsor appearances, media obligations.”
 
CBL: So the fans will continue to talk about lots of ideas. But there is no thought that it will change any time soon?
 
Hunter: “I haven’t heard one yet that our competition guys and that the garage would be happy with. I’ll put it that way. “
 
CBL: So keep talking.
 
Hunter: “Absolutely keep throwing out ideas because I have always believed in throwing things up against the wall and sometimes something will stick -what we call out of the box. Plus, I like it because our fans care, I like that.”
 
CBL: What about the points leader in a rain out getting the pole position but maybe change it so they do not also get the first pit selection?
 
Hunter:” It is what it is. Jimmie is leading the points. Our program is designed for whom ever is leading the points. We can’t, we haven’t come up with a way that if it rains ten times in a row – well if it rains twice here’s what you do – if it rains three times here’s what you do. You see where I’m going?  I hope our fans understand that. It’s simply the system is designed to reward whoever is first in points gets first choice second gets second choice right on down the line. So any of the guys who are12th and get 12th choice if they had performed better they would be first or second or third so that is how you have to look at it.”
 
CBL:Well what about the theory that the pit selection is helping them to perform better – unfairly just because of rain?
 
Hunter: “These races are usually long enough that a guy has still got to perform on the race track during an event and yea early in the race in some cases pit stalls are more important than others. But it’s still relies – if you’re pitting under caution and they talk about track position a guy has still got to pass people to get to the front.
 
And I think our crew chiefs in this sport – I call them the best spinners in the world. Those guys can spin things to make you believe that if their pit stall was one instead of 15 that they would have won the race. They convince me of that. (laughing) and I think that’s a part of the sport. But I don’t think it’s that big of a situation and it only comes up because it’s happened so often. If it’s every once in a while – and hopefully we don’t have another year where we have ten qualifying sessions rained out.”
 
 
CBL: Thanks Jim
 
Hunter:” Ok”
 

Claire B. Blog Monday, October 20, 2008 October 20, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, Items of Interest, Listeners, NASCAR, Transcripts.
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Ryan Newman in August 2007 a...Image via WikipediaClaire B. Blog
Monday, October 20, 2008
Charlotte, NC

Good morning from Charlotte! All the way home last night we debated sports in which the same team/person wins all the time and how fans of various sports react. That will be the topic today. I have had emails on how frustrated Kurt Busch was —ready to pull his car off the track – and asking for permission to do so……Penske management saying no. I have had emails from Johnson fans and fans of other drivers regarding the chase and statistically the chances that anyone can catch him.

I got this from a listener: Larry maintains that most race fans who are “up on the wheel” today about their driver’s chances in the chase do not understand that “IF” their driver were to win all the remaining races, why wouldn’t they be in first place and win the championship.

Larry writes, “Given that most of us thought it would take something like an average finish of 5 to win the championship, you will notice that ONLY three drivers can conceivably finish with a 5 or better average and that is ONLY if they win the remaining races. But what is really hard to fathom (for most) is that winning does not “dig oneself out of a deficit” because if a specific driver were to win and the top three drivers were to finish 2nd, 3rd and 4th, the largest point gain over the leaders would be a mere 10 points. At +10 points per weekend, it would take 10 weekends to make up for a 100 point deficit and then only if you won every weekend…the top drivers are “there” every weekend…..and to catch the 48 car, he will have to finish outside of the top 10 “more than once” for deficits to be made up.”

Potential best avg if….IF any of the drivers were to win all of the remaining races…however unlikely….
Chart- for Chase 10-20-08

Obviously, at the rate we are going, says Larry, a “sub-avg-5” will not guarantee a championship….but something well below a sub-5 avg….maybe.

Thanks Larry!

Claire B


NEWMAN TO DRIVE A TRUCK AT ATLANTA:

Ryan Newman is driving a truck this weekend at Atlanta. I wrote the story from a source in a blog a couple of days ago and now it’s official.
Ryan Newman, known as “The Rocket Man,” slides in behind the wheel of the No. 2 Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) American Commercial Lines (ACL) Chevrolet for the first time at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS). Newman has never driven in the Truck Series, but has an honorable pole record in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with seven poles in thirteen Sprint Cup starts at AMS. Newman is currently tied for the all-time pole record in the Sprint Cup Series. Newman has two starts in the Nationwide Series and has one pole and a second place start in that division.

Q: THIS IS YOUR FIRST TRUCK RACE. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?

Newman: “It’s the first time I’ve had the opportunity to run in the Truck Series. Everyone has always told me how much fun they have running the trucks, and now I’ve got the shot to see what it’s like. I expect to go there and have fun. But in saying that, we should have a shot at the win in the end. KHI has two really strong trucks. My teammate is Ron Hornaday, who is currently second in points, and I think he was second at Atlanta earlier this year so I expect we’ll have a really good truck – a top-five or top-10 truck. And by halfway, I’d like to be in a position where we have a shot at the win.”

Q: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO RUN A TRUCK SERIES RACE FOR KHI?

Newman: “First off, I have never driven a truck before and it was really something that I wanted to have the chance to do. Secondly, Kevin and DeLana (Harvick) are good friends of mine and (wife) Krissie’s, and when the seat came open in their 2 truck, we talked about it and he asked me if I would be interested. The timing was just right. It’s kind of a difficult time for them with having the need for a driver to fill the seat for the last few races, and I am glad to help them out at Atlanta this weekend.”

Q: WHAT ARE THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN A TRUCK AND A SPRINT CUP CAR?

Newman: “I don’t know since I haven’t driven one yet. I’m sure I will be talking to Kevin and Ron a lot over the weekend so that we can get the No. 2 truck up front.”

Q: WHAT IS THE KEY TO RUNNING A FAST LAP AROUND ATLANTA?

Newman: “From what I understand, running the truck there, you are wide open. It’s a really fast track, trucks stick really well. The biggest thing I will have to learn is how the trucks race. It seems like they get pretty loose inside each other.”

CHASSIS HISTORY: The No. 2 ACL team will bring chassis number 014 to Atlanta Motor Speedway. The chassis took to the track earlier this season at AMS where the No. 2 team earned their first top-10 finish of 2008 with a sixth-place finish. Chassis 014 also competed at Bristol (Va.) Motor Speedway and was rebuilt after the event due to a crash. The team refers to this chassis as “Old Faithful” due to the fact that this is the oldest downforce truck the No. 2 team has in their stable of chassis. “Old Faithful” also has a consistent record of being solid throughout a race and coming on strong at the finish.

Thanks all….back to work in the studio getting today’s show ready. Thanks for checking out the blog!

Claire B

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Claire B Blog- Martinsville Speedway October 19, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, In The Garage, NASCAR, Trackside.
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An older Wells Fargo branch, located in Berkel...Image via WikipediaBLOG – MartinsvIlle Speedway
Claire B. Lang – Sunday October 19th, 2008

Good Morning and welcome to Martinsville Speedway!

I asked Richard Petty today about the rumored merger talks between Petty Enterprises (Boston Ventures) and Dale Earnhardt Inc. While talks have been going on – it’s just conversation between many teams as they posture their companies and adjust their business plans to include looking at satellite teams or mergers. Here’s Richard’s answer about the possibility of a merger – I’m sure parts of it will be used by others who were taping – but I wanted to give you the full answer to my question to Richard about the possibility of a DEI Petty Enterprises merger:.

CBL: What about the reports of a merger between Petty Enterprises and DEI:

Petty: “You read in the paper that Wachovia and Wells Fargo was trying to get together and everybody else is trying to get together. The Japanese sent a bunch of money to buy a bank in New York. Everybody in the world is talking about this crap. OK and that’s just the trend of the time right now. Yea, we’ll talk to anybody. I’d like to talk to Wells Fargo somebody that’s got a lot of money. I don’t, some of these teams that’s trying to join up they ain’t no better off than we are so we need to get some better help than that.

CBL: That would be wild if two rivals (Earnhardt /Petty) Merged:

Petty “What happens is the way the system is now as far as the economy and also the way the system is with some of the other race teams that’s got satellite teams – here we’re sitting with two teams and some of these guys from the major satellite part is sitting there with eight teams. (It’s) kind of hard to compete with so I think that everybody’s looking at different angels of you know how do you compete with what’s out there right now.”

Petty also said that he would not comment when asked a follow-up by a reporter who asked if DEI needed Petty more than Petty needed DEI.

“Can’t never tell man – liable to be three or four names in there,” Petty added when a reporter followed up by asking if it would be Earnhardt Petty or Petty Earnardt if the merger ever did happen.

The word is that while everyone’s talking to everyone the meetings are more like fact-finding meetings and with a number of players in the garage – not just the two meeting to hammer out a deal.

Drivers Meeting:

Couple of quick notes – the main warning at the driver’s meeting from race director David Hoots was about Martinsville’s pit road: “LET’S LEAVE THE RACING ON THE RACE TRACK AND NOT ON THE PIT ROAD,’ Hoots emphasized. “We all know how small it is,” he added, “It’s been redone it’s nice and smooth – Let’s leave the racing out on the race track.”

There was one question in the driver’s meeting. It was from #48 Crew Chief Chad Knaus:
“Last race here it seemed that you guys opened up the pits kind of late. We were almost all the way through one and two – can you guys push that back?”

David Hoots answered: “Chad’s question is the last race we opened the pit road a little bit late and around one and two – we’ll try to advance it as much as we can but we also look at how the field is spread out and see if it makes sense but we’ll try to take care of that for you.

Pit Road Speed: 30 mph
Caution Car Speed: 35 mph
Pit Road Speed Begins: 110 feet before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed Ends: 75 feet past the last pit box
Minimum Speed: 23.00 seconds

No more questions and we prayed.

I’ll have more coming up – headed into the garage for a few more. I just wanted to get this posted.

Claire B

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Race Day Blog – Lowe’s Motor Speedway October 11, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, NASCAR.
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Claire B Lang – Pre Race
Race Day Blog – Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Saturday October 11, 2008

The Edwards Harvick Argument Photograph……Has Been Outed

Welcome to Lowe’s Motor Speedway. I just saw a photo of the Carl Edwards/ Kevin Harvick scuffle in the Nationwide garage on Thursday here at LMS. The photo series has started to make it around to the various web sites. There are various accounts as to how the photos got out.

We knew that, eventually, the photo would get out somehow – it was just a matter of time. It always does somehow. I’ve heard various stories of why the photo of the argument was not released and was kept under wraps by a handful of photographers.

Several media members covering the race here at Lowe’s Motor Speedway noted that, in their minds, the photo would have been rushed to Associated Press immediately if H.A. Humpy Wheeler was still on staff here at LMS because, of course, he’d know how good it was for business and would have seen to it that the photo got out. Maybe some think that the photo is bad for the drivers involved or their sponsors but traditionally photos like this are good for ticket sales.

Last night here at LMS several of us in the media corps talked about why the several photographers who got the shot, who are photo and commercial journalists, would have agreed to not publish the photo. This usually happens due to pressure from sponsors that the photographers double dip for on side jobs or from the track or the Roush team. The discussion was that it was no different than someone getting a story off the record and deciding not to use it.

Also, many of the photographers who shoot in the sport do other jobs -and make extra money shooting for corporate and sponsor entities that might conflict with a shot like that getting out. Then are they not photo journalists? Some in the photo room say that the photo was in the garage, a place that is not the same as on pit road and therefore should not be released. Others in the photo room disagreed – saying that there are a lot of fans in the garages now and that while you would hold a photo of two drivers fighting in the motor coach lot, which is their neighborhood, the garage is more public. Now, the photo series is out.

I am asking you this. How much of an impact does a series of photos like this have on your support of a driver or sponsor. Here’s what I think – I think if you are a Kevin Harvick fan you do not change your thoughts about him related to this photo series and you support and back Kevin. If you are a Carl Edwards fan you support him and see the photo series a different way. It all depends on who you support how you see this series of photos right?

Bottom line – these photos will not change fans opinions of either the sponsor nor the driver.

Not one bit.

Am I wrong?

You can find the photos on any of the racing web sites. Let me know what you think

Claire B

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ON LOCATION: “Jail and Bail” October 8, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Fun Stuff, My Show, NASCAR.
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Claire B Lang

LIVE on Location Blog – Wednesday October 8th 2008

Today I am broadcasting live (3-6 EST XM Channel 148) from the Brickhouse Tavern – in Davidson, NC (209 Delburg St.) LIVE in the Chevy Mobile Broadcast Unit today – broadcasting live from the first official “Jail and Bail” raising money for the Brienne Davis NASCAR Technical Institute Scholarship Fund.

Brienne was a Universal Technical Institute graduate and a NASCAR official who was killed in a car accident six months ago today (April 8th). The NASCAR community – drivers, crew chiefs and crew members and officials have rallied to raise money today for a scholarship fund in her name.

If you can come enjoy the music – meet the participants and help bail out the likes of Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya and others. If you can’t come listen on the air on Channel 148 and we’ll tell you how can participate.

I have had so many emails and instant messages regarding the finish of the race at Talladega – and I am going to post more of them later tonight. I’ve been busy on location – last night at Dale Earnhardt Inc. and tonight at the Jail and Bail.

I have read your emails and they are good….. here’s a sampling:

Claire,
You just made a comment that a rule is a rule. That is 100% correct. If you
force someone below the line, you get the black flag. I can’t stand how
Nascar keeps changing the rule.
Brad Karlovec

Dear Claire,

How many races is NASCAR going to let Goodyear ruin before they either bring in some competition or a different manufacturer to make tires that do not determine the outcome of the race. After the debacle at the Brickyard earlier this summer, I, personally, would have thought that Goodyear would have been going above and beyond, even making a tire that was too hard, to make sure that tire failures did not affect the outcome of another race this season. Tire failure not only affected the outcome of the race this past weekend, it may, ultimately, have affected the outcome of The Chase and who the champion will be. The luck of the draw and whether the driver received a set to tires that wouldn’t inexplicably EXPLODE was very much present on Sunday. Denny Hamlin spent the night in a Birmingham hospital on Sunday after his tire exploded. This shows not only the frustration that the exploding tires was causing, but also the danger.

Four drivers were either starting backup cars or had crews that spent extra long hours fixing their cars Friday & Saturday after Dale Jr. had a tire blow up during practice on Friday. As a fan who wants to see the drivers determine the outcome of the race and not their tires, I believe that Goodyear should be on extremely thin ice with NASCAR.

Just my thoughts!
Jenn

I have been a little disconnected from the whole world the past two weeks. So Monday when I actually was able to get to my XM and couldn’t find your show I freaked. I am happy to have found you on your new station. Knowing that it was going to be a good one after the race on Sunday. I hate that I missed it but am sure that there were a lot of unhappy/happy people. I am one of those fans that was very excited to see Tony get a win (first of the year) as well as his first at Talladega.. GO Tony.. Tell Regan that he wouldn’t of wanted to get a win this way people would of questioned him getting his first win with an illegal pass. When people talk about his first win he wants it to be because without a doubt he earned it. Keep your chin up Regan it will come and then you will give people something to talk about.

Annette
Arkansas

SEND THAT 20 AROUND WOO HOO…..

Claire

I think Nascar should make the rule for all tracks and noit just the super speedways. This way it is the same rule for all the tracks.

I believe Nascar has more important problems to fix. Luckly they have not had anyone hurt in the big one yet, they need to look at how to break up the big packs before someone is. I don’t want to see that happen but if you play with fire or are bound to get burnt.

Paul

Hi Claire B,

Kudos to you for being there with Regan where the real story is, and kudos to Regan. Regan, You have made a name for yourself! Now I can place a face with the firesuit. I and the Biff agree that you were robbed. Did you notice how subdued the interviews were on NASCAR Victory Lane? I will be rooting for you!

Cynda
Associate of Robinhood

Regan is a class act the way he is handling this travesty. Can you imagine
the whining going on if this had need to Kyle Bush? The more I think about
this, the madder I get. That call was a joke, once again!
Brad

Hi Clare:)
I have been listening to all the banter regarding the finish at Dega
this past weekend and in a nut shell what Nascar has done by
rewarding Tony the win was let the drivers know that it is ok to
cause the big one on the final lap at Dega and Daytona. They have
basically just told anyone who is leading on the last lap to block
and force your opponent below the yellow line and you win.

They have really just told all drivers that they need to pass the
leader on the outside and only the outside on the last lap because if
you try the low side you will be forced below the yellow line by the
leader because we are ok with blocking. So now every leader will
always know that the guy in 2nd will be passing on the outside or
wrecking a lot of good cars trying the inside and holding his line.

Nascar has become a joke. every week I become more and more
frustrated with this sport I love.

Keep The Rubber Side Down

Lorne
Canada

wouldn’t go so far as to say there was a conspiracy theory that NASCAR wanted Tony Stewart or a big name to win the race, however, do you (or others) think that if the move pulled off by Regan Smith would have been pulled off by a bigger name that there would have been a different ruling?

In the NBA there were the Jordan Rules where we got the better calls by officials and I’m just wondering if a guy like Regan doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt like others would.

Mark C. Winkler

Claire,
Please tell your listeners that the Talladega horse is dead, move on, get over it, it’s a done deal. TONY WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wayne in NJ

He is a racer and wanted the win but he was justified in staying low and
just backing off. He did not have to try and get back inline and would
have gotten second.

I hope this silences all the crazies that call in and say Stewart would
never win a race in a Toyota!

Rick
I’ll post more of the hundreds of emails that I have when I get off air tonight.

Take care…raining in Charlotte…pouring in fact.

How much money will it take to bail out Tony here tonight?

Claire B

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Talladega Drivers Meeting October 5, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, NASCAR.
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Casey Mears Girlfriend – Is not in labor:

Note: Despite conflicting reports that you may read or hear – I am told she is not in labor. She is in the time frame where technically she could go into labor but is not in labor at this time (Sunday 12.24 EST) . So – unless something happens he’ll be fine to race. They are just being prepared. The Hendrick folks told me today that she was not in labor – and asked if I’d clarify. So-that’s the accurate story as of this hour.

Talladega Drivers Meeting:

Pit Road Speed: 55 mph
Caution Car Speed 70 mph
Pit Road Speed Begins 175 feet before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed Ends: 75 feet past the last pit box.
Minimum Speed: 54.66 seconds

THIS IS YOUR WARNING DRIVERS: Race Director -David Hoots told the drivers and crew chief’s today “This is your warning. If you race below the yellow line and in the judgement of NASCAR you advance your position, you will be black flagged. If, in NASAR’s judgement you force someone below the yellow line in an effort to stop him from passing you , you may be black flagged”

Hoots added: “Aggressive driving zones..first off don’t place yourself in position of opening up in our judgement of what’s aggressive. It’s considered all the way around the race track with much emphasis and observation placed on the turns and in the tri-oval. If you think that you are getting ready to go over being aggressive back off and let’s get to the end of the race.

Hoots also warned the group about speeding. “I would remind you all we had numerous speeding penalties yesterday at the entrance and exits and yellow line to yellow line,” he said.

NO Questions:
When asked by Hoots if there were any questions – the room of drivers and crew chiefs was silent.

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Great Listener Emails… September 21, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Listeners, Mail, NASCAR.
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Hey all! Check out are some of my recent emails. They are good.
Claire B.

http://clairebmail.wordpress.com/2008/09/21/some-emails-from-listeners/

September 20, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, My Show, NASCAR, Teams, Trackside.
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Claire B.log

“On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of millions who when within the grasp of victory sat and waited and waiting, died.” William H. G. France, 1979

Dover International Speedway
Saturday – September 20, 2008……….3:00 p.m.

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m in the radio room right behind the stage in the deadline room here at Dover International Speedway. NASCAR just held a news conference announcing their new substance abuse policy. NASCAR will do random testing of team members, officials and drivers beginning next year. Drivers have been in support of random testing in general for some time now.

“NASCAR has taken a lot of steps to elevate our sport to the level of the “Big Four” leagues. We’ve entered new markets. We draw hundreds of thousands of fans each weekend. So it’s time that we police ourselves as one of the biggest sports leagues in the country. The new drug policy is another step in the evolution of NASCAR and the safety of the sport. Make no mistake, what we do is dangerous. We need to make certain that the competitors are clean when they hit the racetrack. NASCAR did a great job in outlining the rules, what is legal and illegal, and it’s up to the drivers and their doctors to make sure they are within the guidelines.” -Bobby Labonte, driver, No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge

The reporters in here are debating the new policy because it doesn’t specify the substances that are banned from NASCAR. There are two sides of the room – one says that a policy that doesn’t tell a guy what is banned specifically is open to lawsuits etc. Some say those media members are totally missing the point. Which is that NASCAR prohibits the misuse or abuse of any drug period – could be cough syrup could be anything. The problem with lists of substances, NASCAR says, is that it restricts what you can look for – this policy is open to abuse of anything that would affect a driver’s ability to be safe on the race track. Drivers are saying this is not shooting hoops or hitting a fast ball – that anything that affects a driver’s ability should be off limits because it’s life or death.

The saying above from Bill France, Sr. about hesitation is well documented – it’s painted on the wall at Pocono Raceway. Somehow on a cool Saturday in Dover the part about bleached bones for those who hesitate within the grasp of victory is compelling. It’s a motivator for sure to kick the cobwebs out and make something happen. That’s just what some teams need to do to stay in the chase this weekend. Jeff Gordon and the 24 team are on the pole and I have gotten so many calls on air and emails from Gordon fans saying they hope that the pole is a sign of good things to come. I have to say that there was some confusing information circulated regarding Gordon testing with his team this past week at Kentucky. After qualifying Gordon confirmed that he was, indeed, at the test himself despite a trip to Washington DC.

“We had a test in Kentucky this week. I wasn’t scheduled to be there. Brad Keselowski was going to drive the car and I was able to work my schedule around to be there. You know we tested until 9:00 p.m. over there on Wednesday night. so it’s things like that. It’s going in the shop it’s showing up early for practice and it’s putting a big lap out there like we did today” Jeff Gordon Media Center Post Pole Dover

Good for Gordon. I still maintain that they have a better test session and are more successful if Gordon can get to the test himself. It’s a positive move that he rearranged his schedule to be at the test instead of letting Keselowski do it for him.

Sunday with The Fallen Firefighters at Dover!

I volunteered to pitch in and emcee hospitality tomorrow for the over 500 supporters of the Fallen Firefighters Foundation —-in support of the over 100 firefighters who lose their lives each year in the line of duty. The track asked if I’d help out and how cool is it that guys like Jeff Burton and Richard Childress volunteered to speak to them on their own time. Of course I’ll pitch in – I’d be honored. It’s a small, small thing to do to pay back those who serve and protect. At the races here at Dover, by the way, over 250 fire and EMS Crews work to keep drivers, crews and fans in attendance out of harms way.

Hallam Moves from Formula One to NASCAR and Joins Michael Waltrip Racing

Steve Hallam, a 56 year-old-Englishman will leave his post as Head of Race Operations for McLaren Racing and join MWR’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Operation following the conclusion of the Formula One season. Hallam has established himself as a respected engineer and manager of the past 27 years in Formula One, participating in 430 Grand Prix, winning five World Championships while working for only two teams: Team Lotus and McLaren Racing. Hallam has worked as Race Engineer with such world-class drivers as Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Michael Andretti, Gerhard Berger, Mika Hakkinen before moving on to become Head of Race Operations. In this role he developed a group of the most capable trackside engineers in Formula One resulting in Lewis Hamilton’s current challenge for the Formula One title, a four-time winner this year who is leading the World Championship Driver Point Standings.

I talked with MWR’s Cal Wells about Hallam and what he lends to the program. “We’ve been talking with him for a long, long time. He’s been at the same place for twenty plus years so it’s a pretty big leap for him but he has been to a six pack of races in the past. He’s got some friends that work in the garage one that drives. So I flew over and spent some time with him, and then Rob and I spent some time with him and then Mike and Rob and I spent some time with him and we just thought that this guy would be the right guy to really fully leverage all of the assets that Toyota has as they start to blossom. Cause you know they really haven’t yet. When their Salisbury facility is just opening up this week. We won’t actively be allowed in there for I don’t know how long – a month or two or three -I’m not sure yet. But whenever that really gets going we need to be able fully exploit all of that. We’ve got to have somebody on the ground that’s at the track every week extracting the maximum of our engineering group extracting the maximum amount of what they can provide and really making the cars faster every single week.”

TED MUSGRAVE – HT Motorsports – Las Vegas – What is the deal?

Ted Musgrave crashed in the second lap of the first practice for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Las Vegas and in the half hour break between the first and second practice – he and the team GM Donnie Baden I am told had a heavy conversation and they apparently agreed they should part ways and another driver was brought in to qualify and race the truck. Talk that someone thought he intentionally crashed the truck was flying around the garage – you know how garage talk spreads. Team sources say that there was not a feeling that he had crashed the truck on purpose at all- but rather that some stress had been building the last couple of weeks and that the events today “just brought the situation to a head,” and they mutually agreed to separate. Here’s the team release that was issued shortly after the conversation:

Musgrave and HT Motorsports Part Ways Effective Immediately

Ted Musgrave and team owner Jim Harris, owner of the No. 59 Team ASE/HT Motorsports Toyota Tundra, have mutually agreed to part company effective immediately. Stacy Compton will replace Musgrave for Saturday’s Qwik Liner Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Stacy Compton will drive the No. 59 for tonight’s race in Las Vegas,” said HT Motorsports team manager Donny Vaden. “We will evaluate our options once we get back home and make an announcement on our driver or drivers for the rest of the season then.”

Compton was HT Motorsports’ first driver in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition, competing in four races in 2001 and three races in 2002. He scored top-10 finishes in his first five starts with the team, including a fourth-place finish after starting from the pole at Phoenix in October 2001.

Compton has started 16 NCTS races in 2008 driving for the BHR-VA team for which he is a co-owner. His best qualifying effort of the season was a second at Nashville in August and his best finish is a sixth in the season opener at Daytona. Overall he has four top-10 finishes and although he’s missed the last two races he stands 21st in the series championship standings

-o-
The drama is everywhere in NASCAR. I’ll keep you posted. I put up some new emails in the Claire’s email bin above. Check it out.

Thanks for finding me on the new XM channel # 148 and new time 3-6 EST. You all rock! Greetings from Dover!

Claire B

Unwritten NASCAR Rules…… September 14, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Controversy, Drivers, NASCAR, Trackside.
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Claire B. Lang – New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008
There are a set of unwritten rules in NASCAR – amongst the drivers and the crew members and one of them, I think, played out on Saturday after the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race as team members from two teams fought. David Starr was confronted inside his car on the grid after the race by a crew member from another team. Anyone who knows me knows how much I respect the NASCAR crew members and how much I work to tell their story as well as that of the drivers. However, I can see why Starr drew his fist and used it.

My understanding has always been that the cockpit of a guy’s race machine, car or truck, is his sanctuary and it’s his area. For another driver to come up and pull him out would be setting up for a fight – and I think all drivers would agree to that. For a crew member from another team to go to a driver’s vehicle and grab or confront him- is beyond an unwritten rule – it’s fighting time. In an argument about racing – the crew member and driver are not on the same level. It’s driver to driver and even then there are set areas of acceptable confrontation. David Starr immediately drew his fist – and used it after he was pulled from his truck angered that a crew member would pull him out of his vehicle. In the NASCAR Sprint cup garage today I talked with crew members and drivers about the unwritten rule and the above is how they saw it exactly.

Members of several teams said that they are not even to confront another driver – or ask him why he did something verbally and that the level of pulling another driver out of his vehicle would definitely result in them being fired. The team haulers of the 48 and the 18 teams are parked next to each other in the garage here. The team guys said to me that they get along really well and that if their drivers got in a fight they would not think it was their place to get involved in it…unless a driver came to their pit area- and then that is their turf. What happened violated an unwritten rule. You fight for your team – you’d do anything for your team – but a crew member does not confront a driver. It’s just not how it’s done because the argument was between two drivers. That, despite the fact that the team guys build the cars and trucks and have a lot invested themselves. So, there will be much said about this. I likened it to someone coming up to a guy in a bar and flicking his cowboy hat or baseball cap off. There’s something about that that every guy knows is so over the line that it is violating a “guy” unwritten rule.In this case the crew member violated a driver unwritten rule. He went over the line – and Starr reacted. So, does star get punished for the punch? Does the crew member get fired? “When a crew member comes to a driver and wants to fight…man that driver needs to kick the tar out of him,” Joe Nemechek told me after the drivers’ meeting. “That’s wrong, that’s the worst thing that can ever happen.”Nemechek said that additionally, “In my opinion that crew member should be fired from his team and banned from NASCAR.”

Drivers Meeting:
The drivers’ meeting was over and the prayer was said. No questions were asked but the doors were locked and no one was allowed out. We were waiting for a “special guest” who was, of course, US Senator and presidential candidate John McCain. He came into the drivers’ meeting with the media corps that follows him on the campaign trail. The media who were ushered in looked confused being in a steamy and humid drivers’ meeting garage with the drivers and crew chiefs prior to this race with McCain. McCain thanked the group in the drivers’ meeting for supporting the US Military – and the men and women who are serving…”I thank you, they thank you and God Bless America,” was the basic message McCain delivered. He received a standing ovation from those in attendance at the drivers’ meeting.

Crew Chief Handout Info from Drivers’ Meeting:

Pit Road Speed today: 45 mphCaution Car Speed: 50 mph
Pit Road Speed begins: 185 feet before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed ends: 75 feet past the last pit box
Minimum Speed: 33.93 seconds

The race may be influenced by the weather. Let’s hope not. We’ve been soaked all morning and it’s supposed to clear up so – let’s go racing and stay racing through the completion of the entire race.

I’ll keep you posted Claire B



***REMINDER “Dialed In with Claire B Lang” will air 3-6 ET beginning Monday, Sept 15th XM Channel 148 (not 144)

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