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“Waiting Out The Storm” September 6, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, NASCAR, Trackside, Transcripts.
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Claire B. Blog
Richmond Hotel Room —– Saturday August 6, 2008

When I left you – I was on the air in the XM Chevy Mobile Broadcast Unit last night in pouring rain and because of the high winds and wet conditions with 7 minutes left in the broadcast we lost the broadcast line. Everyone moves fast into emergency mode when that happens. I was on the microphone with a crowd of listeners at the unit and NASCAR’s VP of Corporate Communication Jim Hunter in the hot seat – engineer Robert Morrison was in the co pilots chair engineering the broadcast – when bam the broadcast went down. I grabbed for the cell phone and finished the broadcast during the “White Flag Lap” with listeners lined up on the phone from across the country. It was crazy. The topic that callers wanted to talk about most was Joey Logano not being in the show.

Logano did not make it in the show due to rain and I promised an update. Officials of Hall of Fame Racing, a JGR ally, have already announced Logano would run that team’s No. 96 Toyota next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Here’s something I thought you’d be interested in a transcript of what Jeff Gordon said yesterday in the media center after being fastest in practice.

Jeff Gordon – currently 10th in points and right on the verge of getting that spot and clinching a position in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has been the topic of conversation on my show from listener call ins lately.

Race fans are interested to watch his progress week to week. Last night I went over to the Outback near my hotel for dinner and at the bar there amongst the race team guys the discussion was about Gordon and whether he’ll click in through the rest of the season as a real contender in the chase. He’s got two wins here at Richmond, 12 top 5s, 19 top 10s, he’s sat on the pole five times. There’s some interesting things to digest in what he said to media yesterday in the media center – so I’m passing along a transcript.

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT / NICORETTE IMPALA SS (Reporters Interview Transcript)

JEFF GORDON:
Yeah, it’s been a great track for us even here recently. There was a couple years ago when we struggled at this track, and a lot of it was with the brakes. We seem to have resolved that, and it’s got us back on track and back just being one of our best tracks.

Looking forward to it. Obviously we were pretty quick in practice, so not thrilled about this rain that’s on its way because I would have liked to have qualified. I think we could be better than 10th, where the points will put us, and just looking forward to tomorrow night or Sunday afternoon or whatever it may be.

I know weather is going to be a big issue this weekend, but we did what we needed to do in California and we’re thrilled about it, came here with a game plan, and it’s been paying off so far.

Q. This place has not always been an easy place for you, been kind of an anxious place. Looking at this thing, because every year you come here there’s some people hanging on or people trying to get in, could it be that this race has come down to where maybe there’s more drama here because this is the last chance to get in than maybe there is in any given race in the Chase itself? Is there more drama and focus and electricity right here than if you take any given race except for maybe Homestead itself?

JEFF GORDON: Well, I think, you know, in the Chase it just all depends on how the points are being played out. I think the Chase is still fairly new, and so we’ve seen some serious drama. I think it was the first year of the Chase when we had Kurt Busch, whatever year that was, Kurt Busch, when we had three of us going for it down to the last lap in Homestead. That was pretty dramatic.

This race is dramatic. It’s just about story lines, as you guys know. It’s important to make it into the Chase. It didn’t matter if it was 10 or now 12; there’s always going to be a tight battle of who’s going to be in and who’s going to be out, so it’s a good story line. But I still don’t think it stacks up to the story line of going for the championship. You know, I think that that to me is a lot more dramatic. There’s a lot more excitement that is potentially there for the championship.

But this race is an important race. I mean, a lot of us, I think, have been thinking about this race for a while, especially the guys that haven’t been locked in, knowing that this is a big race for us. And then you’ve got the guys trying to stay in the top 35. That race has really heated up and is a good story, and then you’ve got Kyle, Carl and Jimmie who have really been the guys to beat here recently that are trying to get those coveted bonus points and the momentum going into the Chase.

To me there’s a lot of good story lines here, and maybe that’s what makes this a great race, all the stories.

Q. The one thing you’ve really battled this year is consistency. You’ve had some weeks where you’ve run really well and some weeks where you haven’t run well. Assuming you make it into the Chase, what’s your personal forecast for — do you think you’ll have something for them, as they say?

JEFF GORDON: Yeah, you know, you’re right. It has been inconsistent for us this year. You hear drivers talk a lot about it. If you were in our debriefs and our meetings, you would hear me talk more about it probably than anybody. The inconsistency isn’t just with our performance, it’s with these bump stops that we have to run on. I can’t stand them, and trying to get them figured out is just near impossible.

Some have done a better job with it. Maybe it suits come guys’ driving styles better, but it’s one of the things that challenging us.

And especially this year — you can go off last year and say you were good at this track and this track and this track. Yeah, that’s true, but if we went back there with the same old setups, we wouldn’t be as competitive just because teams have gotten better and we’ve learned more about how we set these cars up.

Then you add in the mile-and-a-halfs, and it’s a whole ‘nother challenge. That’s the biggest inconsistency that we’ve had is whether we’re on the left front bump stops, right front bump stops, front bumps upright, both bump stops, the timing of the bump stops, we’ve just had one heck of a time trying to get the front of the car to be consistent in and through the corner at a lot of tracks. And when you see us running good, it’s usually because we’ve got those close and it allows me to do what I need to do.

You know, that’s — when I say we have a game plan, you know, we learned some things — we’re learning things every week. Ironic thing, last
Jimmie got a full day in, and it rained on Tuesday and we didn’t get any testing in, and those guys took some of that information that they learned, took it to California. Obviously that worked really well for them. We didn’t have the chance to test, so we didn’t want to race it.

That’s how close this stuff can be. Every week you can learn something and find something that can work the next week or a couple weeks down the road.

So I was very happy with today because I feel like we’re really starting to get some things figured out, and I hate that it’s coming this late in the season because we’ve had some missed opportunities, but all that matters to me at this point with the type of year that we’re having is that we’re making gains.

Q. Given what you experienced last year, finishing third, fourth every race in the Chase and not being able to make up ground on Jimmie because he was winning, does that lead you to think that whoever wins it all this year is going to have to win multiple races in the Chase, and if so, does that narrow the field of serious contenders?

JEFF GORDON: Again, that’s the thing that I think is exciting about the Chase is you just never know. I mean, a guy can go — Kyle Busch can go to New Hampshire and Kansas and crash both races, and all of a sudden this thing is wide open. Or somebody hits on something and starts a streak that they haven’t had before. I mean, we saw last year with Clint Bowyer, goes and wins the first race, and nobody expected that.

So there’s too many unpredictable circumstances. I think you can look at the teams that you think are going to be the ones to beat. I just think one of these years with the Chase format, somebody is going to be a surprise. You’re going to have guys with momentum, you’re going to have guys with an incredible record like those three I mentioned, and might not even be a factor because of whatever, bad luck, whatever it may be.

So I’m not saying that’s going to be the case; who knows. All you guys are going to be in the media center and that’s why we’re going to be out there racing is to find out. I do think this year with Kyle’s performance of getting all those bonus points, I think that that gives him a huge advantage going into the Chase over — not so much over Carl, but a little bit over Jimmie and then a tremendous amount over all the guys that have maybe one or two wins. And it’s going to make it much tougher for those guys — as good as the 18 is running, it’s going to make it tougher for those guys like myself to make up that ground. We need them to have some tough luck and we’ve got to get on a roll now, which we haven’t been able to do over 26 races or 25 so far. But we’re still optimistic.

Q. You touched upon the importance of the one-and-a-half-mile tracks. Are they really the make it or break it in the Chase, and can you talk a little bit about your team’s struggles to get your arms around the one-and-a-half-mile tracks?

JEFF GORDON: Yeah, there’s quite a few of them in the — yeah, because there’s so many they’re obviously very important. I still think even looking at our performance last year, it — I mean, what Jimmie did last year was pretty extraordinary, to win the number of races that he did. But to me he could have won that many races. Had Charlotte been a little bit worse for him — they had a tough run at Charlotte and spun. He kind of brushed the wall. But that could have been a much worse finish, and that might have taken him out. To me it’s about not having the big problem more so than going and winning four or five races.

So I think that while the mile-and-a-halfs are very important performance-wise, it’s how you come out of Talladega and the short tracks unscathed that I think can win you the championship.

Q. Talk about your team trying to get your arms around the one-and-a-half-mile setup

JEFF GORDON: Yeah, again, it just goes back to — at the mile-and-a-halfs aerodynamics obviously play a much bigger role than the short tracks, so you want to maximize the aerodynamics. But we’re also dealing with the mechanical grip. These bump stops that we all talk about, they allow us to get the car at the — basically get the car where we want it on the racetrack, but then it takes all the mechanical grip away from it. So we’re trying to get our hands around that. You’ve got hard stops, soft stops, stops that come in sooner, stops that come in later, you’ve got a stop with a spring. There’s just a million different scenarios, and some guys are making it work, some guys aren’t.

I think all of us are constantly trying to gain the edge when it comes to that. I’m not so sure, there might be some guys out there that aren’t on stops at all that might be making it work. Those are the things that we’re up against.

Q. You keep talking about the overwhelming disadvantage of the bonus points. Now, I don’t really get that. I mean, I know that 80 points seems like a lot, but it’s basically 15 positions. Well, that’s tough in one race, but 15 positions in ten races, and then you say, well, the way they’re running, but of the last ten races they’ve won seven of them, and you add Jimmie in, they’ve won nine of the last ten races. If they keep doing like that, then it wouldn’t matter if you were 80 points ahead. It just seems to me to compare the 680 that you’re behind right now that 80 points over ten races is not a crushing blow because you’re going to have to pick up your performance anyway.

JEFF GORDON: You’re absolutely right, we’ve got to pick up our performance. I didn’t say it’s impossible, I just said it makes it tougher. I think that going into anything behind those teams that are already performing well, have earned those bonus points, and they’ve earned the right to them. You know, it just makes it an even bigger uphill battle.

Let’s say we go into the Chase and we run consistent sixth, seventh place every single weekend, and those guys finish tenth and we outrun them with their average finish, those bonus points are going to make a big difference.

I just think that we’re capable of being very consistent in the Chase. We haven’t proved this year that we can go out and lead a lot of laps and win races. I hope for that and I know we’ve got to improve our performance to even compete with those guys. But I do think that we are capable of being consistent when this Chase starts and stepping up our game, and in order to beat those guys, as good as they’ve been, as well as the bonus points, we’ve got to step it up to a whole ‘nother level that we certainly haven’t shown all year long. And while I’m optimistic, I’ll be shocked if we are even able to do that. That’s all I was saying.

Q. I think you’ve been saying since just about the first test of the Car of Tomorrow at Bristol, you were pleading saying NASCAR needs to work with us on this thing and work with us and let us get it where we can drive it, and now you’ve got people like Chad Knaus saying that it’s rapidly becoming a spec series; we’ve been doing some fan samplings that are just absolutely beside themselves, upset with the Car of Tomorrow. Do you think natural law is going to make it — is NASCAR eventually going to have to work with you guys so everybody can get the cars drivable for you?

JEFF GORDON: You’ve got to ask them about that. I don’t have an answer for that. I’m just a dumb driver, go in, put my helmet on, get behind the wheel and drive the race car. That’s what I’ve been told and that’s what I’m living by (laughter).

Q. Weather permitting, it looks like Joey Logano could get his first start this weekend. What was your emotional state before your first race, heading into your first race, and secondly, what do you think of the scrutiny that’s been put on this kid going into the first race?

JEFF GORDON: Well, I think he’s tremendous. I think it’s great for the sport. He’s very talented obviously, and he was running good today. So I know that they don’t want to see this rain. I think any time a young talent comes into the sport, it’s good in every way.

I think the one thing, you can have all the talent in the world, you can have a tremendous amount of experience getting to this level. The one thing you cannot be prepared for is when you’ve got that much hype and that much focus on you coming in, of the demands on your time, the cameras in your face, the autographs, the fan base; all those things are not things that you can train for.

So that’s — it didn’t happen to me immediately. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody with as much attention coming into this series as Joey, so obviously he’s got a lot on his shoulders. He seems to have lived up to all of it so far.

But I do know, once you get to the Cup level, that’s what changes is that you start — there’s just so many factors. And for me, back in 1992 when I ran my first race, I felt like the whole world was watching me, even though they weren’t. I felt like I was under a microscope, even though I wasn’t to the extent that I — it was excruciating for me.

I was excited to be out there and get that opportunity. I wanted to do well. I questioned do I have what it takes to be at this level, to compete at the top in this series. So there’s just a lot of unknowns. He seems to have a lot of confidence, and that’s certainly good. But I’m more anxious to see — and certainly Joe Gibbs and J.D. are great at being able to offer advice and recognize those things and be able to help him through those things that I’m talking about, which to me is what the challenges are going to be. I think he’s going to do a great job in the race car. It’s how is he going to handle all the other things on top of it, especially with all the attention from the media that he’s getting. That’s when you really find out what you’re made of.

And that’s when scheduling and having good people around you helping you get through the PR aspect of it, the monetary side of it, you start making a lot of money that you aren’t used to, all those things that start to weigh on your decision-making and your focus of being able to get out in the car and go do your job.

Q. You hear drivers talk about how I wasn’t ready to win a championship those early years of a career. Jimmie said it before, too. Is Kyle Busch ready to win one, and why?

JEFF GORDON: Well, I will say this: I think Carl is more ready than Kyle. I think Kyle has — he has the ability to go really hard, really fast, and he’s made big improvements in my opinion this year over last year. Last year when he drove for us, there wasn’t a single practice that they didn’t have to knock out the right side on the car. This year it seems to be like every fifth race that happens.

So he’s still doing it a little bit, which isn’t a bad thing he’s pushing that hard; that’s why he runs fast and they’ve won a bunch of races so he’s gotten more comfortable. He’s close. He’s as good as anybody out there right now. I’d certainly put him at the top or in the top three or four guys in my opinion of who really has a shot this championship or the best shot at it.

But I would put Carl ahead of him as far as being ready experience-wise, and I’d put Jimmie ahead of both of those guys with just his experience of winning the last two.

Q. And one more thing: Do you still think the Chase is harder to win than winning the title under the old format?

JEFF GORDON: I do. I think that right now I think Kyle would have a lock on this thing. I think there’s a very good chance he’s not going to win this championship just because of the Chase format. In my opinion it really comes down, except for those bonus points, it really comes down to ten races, those specific ten races.

I guess maybe it’s more for me. I feel like I focused so hard for so many years that, okay, you had to be good at a short track, at a superspeedway, at a road course, at the mile-and-a-halfs, and we didn’t have as many mile-and-a-halfs, but that was my goal. I looked at the guys who won championships and they were good everywhere and they were great at some places. So that’s what I focused on was trying to be good everywhere that I possibly could.

And now I don’t think it’s — now it’s you’d better be good at those ten races, and you’ve got to get yourself into the Chase so your team has got to be solid. But to be on your game for those specific ten races, not have any problems, there’s just a lot of factors in there, and to win it I think is very, very challenging. That’s why I respect it and why I want one really bad.

You know, maybe it being easier or harder is not the right terminology for it. Certainly you can’t compare history of the old championship versus the new one.

Q. Do you think with so much focus being spent on the last ten races, if you’re up there running for the championship like you and Jimmie were last year, do you think we’re going to see a trend sort of like we did this year where those guys running for the top spots are going to remain focused where everybody else kind of has the leeway to focus on getting ready for next year? Do you think that’s something we’re going to see as years go past with the Chase, or is that something with the development of the new car that was a fluke?

JEFF GORDON: I think any time you introduce a new car, I think you maybe are going to see more of that. But I think it’s always going to be the case — I think anybody that doesn’t make the Chase, their goal is get ready for next year. That doesn’t mean that they throw away those last ten races. They might hit on some things and really think outside the box that works where they win a race or a couple races, who knows.

But I think that for us, I know when we didn’t make the Chase, that was definitely our goal was we use these ten — you can’t find a better testing session than those final ten races. You know, next year if we’re able to go to more tracks like they’re saying with the possible testing schedule, then those ten races as a test are still important but maybe not as important because we can actually go to the racetracks now.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, I think the strong teams are the strong teams, and they’re going to always be the guys to beat year in and year out. I think that what can happen is as a team — if you’ve got a teammate that’s outside the Chase or let’s say you get into the Chase a little bit and they’re outside the chance of winning the championship, then any of those thoughts that have been going through the crew chiefs’ and the engineers’ minds of things that they really want to try.

Just like today, we came here with a setup that we put it in our simulation on our computer, we put it on the seven post. All these things. Okay, we got it. We come here, and in the first 45 minutes we couldn’t get the heights worked out, the speed wasn’t there, and we had to abandon it. We had two hours to figure that out, get us ready to race, and then have to make sure we can qualify with it.

If you are trying to make the Chase or trying to win a championship, you can’t afford to do that. And that’s the advantage. If you’re outside of it, you can spend this whole two hours working on something if you want and then take it into the race and play with it for the whole race. You really in some ways have nothing to lose, unless it’s a sponsor situation where you’ve got a sponsor that’s bearing down on you or you’re in the final year of a contract and need to renegotiate or whatever, then you’d better get out there and shine. So all those factors play into it.

Q. At the risk of being overly simplistic and realizing that all sportswriters know just enough to be dangerous, isn’t it true that if you’re having a season like you did in ’98 or like you did last year where after 24 races you were 507 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson, it’s a lot harder to win the championship under this format, but if you don’t have any wins or you’re Clint Bowyer, it’s easier to win the championship? So as far as whether it’s harder to win, it depends on where you are, because many people — the reason it’s harder for the guy at the top is many more people are thrown into the mix.

JEFF GORDON: Here’s what I say: I think it’s harder to win it, but I think more people have an opportunity to win it, which is, I think, what you were saying. That’s what I’ve always felt like the Chase — you know, the excitement about the Chase is that if you’re not having a great year — let’s say your first half of the year is not very good, but you really start to get into your rhythm in the second half. Then the Chase is phenomenal for you because now you’ve gotten the opportunity to win the championship, where in the past you would have never had the opportunity. You were gone. You were too far behind.

There’s certainly plenty of pluses with the Chase. You know, I think you’ve got 12 guys that can win it, you’ve got people that haven’t had a great first half that can win it, you’ve got a lot of different factors that play out. You’ve closed the gap, so if one guy had a big lead, the guy in second, third or fourth, now, they’ve got a shot to win it. I mean, those are all big pluses of the Chase and why I support the Chase even though I won my championships under the old format and maybe would have, could have, should have had a couple more if we were still under the old format.

But I still am a big supporter of it because I think it’s the best show for the fans. I think it’s fantastic for the competitors all the way around I think it’s a good format for our sport.

But I still think that to win it, it’s seriously challenging because of those final ten races. Maybe I’m just saying that because — you bring Jimmie Johnson in here and he could tell you the exact opposite, because he didn’t win a championship under the old format. So he looks at last year, how far behind he would have been and wouldn’t have won the championship if the format had been — so for some guys, they might think it’s easier. For me I think it’s tougher.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JEFF GORDON: You’re taking the words right out of my mouth.

Q. You had a good season, didn’t you?

JEFF GORDON: I had a great season, we just didn’t win the championship, which is really what we’re all here to do anyway. But I certainly look at last year as a great season for me, and we were just lacking that one position, which is a big one, but still, a very good year for us.

Q. You kind of alluded to this earlier with a question about Joey Logano, but what do you remember about the weekend when you made your debut, because since you’ve started racing, no one has won more championships, no one has won more races than you, but you really came in super low profile that weekend in Atlanta. What do you think about when you think about that coming in?

JEFF GORDON:
Two things stand out to me from that weekend, maybe three. One is that we were fast in practice, went to qualify, and I blew the lap. We used to have second-round qualifying then and I was fastest second day, started at 21st, went to the drivers’ meeting, and Richard Petty’s final race, he hands out — I’ve told this story, I know. It was like a money clip, had his symbol, like his face and hat on it. I don’t know what it was made of, like silver or something like that, had 21 on it with my starting position, handed it out to every driver there. I still have it.

The other thing, the most important thing I remember, is crashing. I don’t remember what lap it was, I just remember backing into the wall pretty hard down in turns 1 and 2, which are now 3 and 4. That’s what I remember.

Q. So no media memories?


JEFF GORDON:
Not at all. To me, Richard Petty — that was his weekend. He was swarmed by media and fans, and I was nonexistent and happy about that. I wish that was the case every weekend. Just to come in here and do your job is what I like to do. But I also know that the sport wouldn’t be what it is and we wouldn’t have the sponsors that we have if you didn’t have that attention.

So that’s my point is that those are the things that you really don’t — even in the Nationwide series, it’s just not the same, the media attention, the fan base, the pressures, the competition. It’s just a lot more to deal with when you get to the Cup series and nothing can prepare you for that until you get right here and get into it, and then you’d better have a really strong upbringing, good people surrounding you, and people recognizing when it’s too much, when you’re doing too much.

A kid like him, especially if he does well, then they’re going to want to use him even more. I won my first championship my third season in, and until 1994 when I won the Brickyard, I really didn’t have a lot of things that I had to do, you know, like — I had a contract that said I was committed to do a lot of things, but I didn’t have a lot of demand. So I didn’t find myself constantly being pulled left and right, until I won the Brickyard. It was the 600 first in May and then the Brickyard, and that’s when all of a sudden things started changing for me, then we went and won the championship in 1995, and it’s literally never been the same for me. Every weekend is slam-packed full of stuff, every week is slammed full of things, and now it’s just part of life. But for those first couple years it was a huge, huge adjustment for me.

Q. I notice that six of the 12 Chase drivers are in the Nationwide race, including the two guys at the top and the two guys trying to stay in. It doesn’t apply to you, so maybe you have a good feel for it.

JEFF GORDON: You couldn’t — I can’t tell you how happy I am not to be in that race.

Q. I was going to ask you, why would a guy run a Nationwide race when he’s on the bubble for making the Chase? Would it be just too much to deal with?

JEFF GORDON:
It’s called commitment. They made a commitment that they wish they could all get out of (laughter). Or they’re needing to buy new bikes or they want a little bit nicer airplane. I can’t tell you. All I can tell you is that there’s not one driver I’ve talked to this year that said that they’ve enjoyed running the Nationwide races. With that spacer on them, they said they’re terrible, and they cannot compare the cars at all to the Cup cars.

You know, I think that the future of what they’re going to do with those cars is — I’m going to be curious to watch. I love sitting in my bus watching those races. You know, it’s a great place to be. Nothing is going to change that. I mean, who knows, I might run one or two somewhere down the road, I’m not going to say never, but to do it week in and week out the way some of those guys do and to do it on a big weekend like this one or in the next ten races in the Chase, I just don’t see where it makes any sense.

So I’m joking about why guys are doing it. You’d have to ask them.

Q. But you wouldn’t do it?

JEFF GORDON: Did I not speak clearly? I’m sorry, let me say it louder. Absolutely not. I have no desire to run back and forth — you know, I did the five or six races or whatever a few years back, and to me it was just — it took the fun right out of it. I mean, you’d go from one car, you run over to the other one. And it’s like being Rick Hendrick; he’s got four cars and two or three of them might be awesome but one of them is not going to be some days, so you can be in victory lane celebrating, and as soon as victory lane is over, you’re over there trying to figure out how to get that other car and team — that’s how it was for me, I’d maybe have one car running good and one car not running good. I didn’t feel like I was doing either job well. I felt like I did both of them mediocre. So I prefer to just focus on the one I think that I need to focus on the most and do the best job that I can.

_______________

Interesting comments from Jeff – – you talk with guys from other teams and they fully expect Jeff to make a surge at some point – they are definitely not counting him out. One thing is for sure – don’t expect to see him in a Nationwide car anytime soon.

Many of the drivers are here in town and hanging out in their motor homes watching football today. I saw a bunch of reporters at breakfast at the hotel. Most were planning to hole up with their computers and catch up on work or watch TV. Definitely a down day in the world of NASCAR and none of us have too many of them. Woah …. I swear to you power just went out in my hotel. This could get interesting. I’ll keep you posted. Here’s a revised schedule by the way as I promised listeners that I’d keep you all posted:

RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY 2008

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES

EVENT SCHEDULE

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7

7:00 AM Richmond International Raceway Parking Lots Open

7:30 AM NSCS REGISTRATION OPENS

Track Credentials Office Opens

8:00 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS

Ticket Office Opens

Press Box & MediaCenter Open

The Showplace Off-site Parking Lot Opens

Richmond Coliseum Off-site Parking Area Opens

Shuttle Service To/From The Showplace & Coliseum Begins

Hospitality Pavilion, Pit Stop & Green Flag Zone, TORQUE Club, Suites Open

Cup Pre-Race Pit Access

10:00 AM Grandstands Open

11:00 AM DRIVER / CREW CHIEF MEETING (TENT)

11:30 AM – 12:00 Noon PRE-RACE CONCERT – THREE DAYS GRACE

12:00 Noon NSCS “HOT PASS” IN EFFECT –UNTIL ONE HOUR AFTER RACE

12:30 PM NSCS DRIVER INTRODUCTIONS

1:00 PM NSCS CHEVY ROCK & ROLL 400 RACE (400 LAPS-300 MILES)

2:00 PM NSCS REGISTRATION CLOSES

3:00 PM NNS GARAGE & REGISTRATION OPENS

POST RACE CHASE EVENT (LOCATION TBD)

POST RACE CLEAR GRANDSTANDS

5:00 PM TORQUE Club, Suites Open

Nationwide Pre-Race Pit Access

6:00 PM Grandstands Reopen

6:30 PM NNS DRIVER INTRODUCTIONS

7:00 PM NNS EMERSON RADIO 250 RACE (250 LAPS – 187.5 MILES)

8:00 PM NNS REGISTRATION CLOSES

Enjoy the day!

Claire B

My Location For Richmond September 4, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, NASCAR, Trackside.
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How’s everyone?

I arrived here in Richmond just after lunch today and wanted to blog you quickly to let you know that the XM Mobile Broadcast Unit is here at Richmond International Raceway – in the midway area near the TV compound just outside of turn one.

The broadcast unit is located in between the Team Tylenol fan hauler and the Sun Trust Bank Machine right near the large American Flag Pole.

A programming shuffle today. Today’s “Dialed In” will be on at a different time 8-11 EST – LIVE from the Midway here at RIR – a pre race weekend kick off party. That broadcast time is just for today – LIVE from the XM Chevy Mobile Broadcast Unit.

Tomorrow (Friday) I’ll be back on 4-7 EST for “Dialed In” Live from the Midway at RIR. If you are in the area come by and say hi!

Meanwhile I thought you’d like a sneak peak at Joey Jogano’s New Car: Check this out:

Sneak Peak at Logano’s New Car

MA Logo
Joey Logano will debut his No.20 Home Depot car this weekend at Richmond. While his success in the Sprint Cup Series is still to be seen, he already has proven to be a hot commodity among fans buying Logano t-shirts and diecasts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btMhWVkvb3Q
Take care – and stay tuned. I hope today’s different time slot did not confuse you – and that you are ramping up for discussion of the last race before the seeding is set for the chase.

I’ll blog more later! Enjoy the day!

Claire B

BREAKING NEWS- Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards Probations! August 27, 2008

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Hey! Well penalties are out on the Kyle Busch – Carl Edwards post race bumping. I thought that I’d post them right away. We’ll definitely talk about this today (4:00 EST) on “Dialed In”

KYLE BUSCH, CARL EDWARDS PLACED ON PROBATION FOR NEXT SIX RACES

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 27, 2008) – NASCAR announced today that it has placed Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards on probation for the next six races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as a result of their on-track incident last Saturday at the conclusion of the race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

——–

Ok talk about it amongst yourselves and either email me at insidercbl@aol.com or join me on “Dialed In” today and we’ll discuss it on air. By the way – what the heck does probation mean? Anything?

Claire B

Bristol Motor Speedway Blog- August 23, 2008 August 23, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, NASCAR, Teams, Trackside.
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Bowyer's 2007 car.Image via Wikipedia Hi all – Welcome to Bristol Motor Speedway! Sorry I’ve not blogged more – these two days are, seemingly, the fastest in motorsports. Thank you for all your kind emails and instant messages. I wish that all of you could be here to be a part of this race event. It’s one of the special races on the circuit and the fans are charged up – but with the two-race, two day schedule it’s fast paced. I just got back from the Wypall stage where I emceed interview sessions with crew chiefs from across the Sprint Cup Series and in between I went up to emcee Chevy hospitality with Regan Smith (starts 4th) .

I have to say I’m impressed with that kid. He and I talked about how he needs a nickname to differentiate him from David Ragan (starts 27th) and he told me that a couple of his team guys were working on that but they haven’t come up with it yet. I told him maybe my listeners could help – he liked the idea so start thinking. His middle name is Lee by the way.

I have had emails from some of you looking for information on the announcement today on the fourth driver for RCR – so here are the details.
RCR Names Drivers for ’09 Jack Daniel’s & General Mills Programs

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 23, 2008) — Richard Childress Racing announced today that Casey Mears will drive for its No. 07 Jack Daniel’s® team and Clint Bowyer will move to its new No. 33 Cheerios®/Hamburger Helper® team for the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

With focus on having all three current RCR teams making the 2008 Chase for the Championship, RCR will continue its on-going process of evaluating team performance throughout the year to determine the crew chief, engineer and crew member lineups for the 2009 season.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve RCR and feel strongly that this driver lineup will improve our company as a whole with our move to four teams next year,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. “These changes will continue to raise the bar and we have every intention of getting all four teams into the Chase in 2009 with the ultimate goal of one of our teams winning the championship. RCR is very fortunate to have partners like Jack Daniel’s, Shell-Pennzoil and AT&T, in addition to new sponsors Cheerios, Hamburger Helper and Caterpillar, that work with us and support our making the competition decisions necessary to provide them with the best on-track performance possible.”
ears will join RCR for his seventh season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. The Bakersfield, Calif., native earned a dramatic victory in the 2007 Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and also has three poles to his credit.

“This is a great opportunity and I’m honored to become part of both the Jack Daniel’s family and the RCR family,” said Mears. “Richard Childress and everyone at Jack Daniel’s have put a lot of faith in me to continue the winning tradition that’s been established by the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s team over the last couple of years and I look forward to the chance to live up to those expectations.”

Jack Daniel’s® has been a primary sponsor partner of RCR since its first year of involvement in NASCAR in 2005. The Jack Daniel’s Distillery, located in Lynchburg, Tenn., is the oldest registered distillery in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We thank our friend Clint Bowyer for all of his efforts to bring Jack Daniel’s and our responsibility message to the forefront. We remain committed to Clint and are excited to watch him race his way in to the Chase in the No. 07 and vie for a 2008 Championship,” said Tim Rutledge, VP, Brand Director, Jack Daniel’s Americas. “We look forward to providing our support to Casey Mears, the Jack Daniel’s Racing team, and our responsibility message in 2009. Casey is a seasoned veteran that is primed for great success in the No. 07 in 2009.”

Bowyer, the current leader in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings, made his Cup Series debut in 2005 and has been with RCR since 2004 when he ran a partial Nationwide Series schedule. The Emporia, Kan., native has earned two victories and two poles since being named the full-time driver of the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet for the 2006 season.

“I’m proud to be joining the General Mills family,” said Bowyer. “Cheerios and Hamburger Helper are brands my family and I grew up with. General Mills is a great sponsor and has been in NASCAR for many years. I look forward to driving the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet Impala SS to victory lane.

“At the same time, I have to thank Jack Daniel’s for taking a chance on a rookie Cup Series driver and giving my career a great platform to build on. My focus now is to get into the Chase and again compete for the championship.”

The 2009 season will mark General Mills’ 13th year of sponsorship involvement in NASCAR. Based in Minneapolis, Minn., General Mills is one of the world’s leading food companies.

“We are thrilled to welcome Clint as our new driver,” said Pat Simmons, Vice President of Customer Marketing for General Mills. “Clint is a top-tier competitor. His performance on and off the track fit with the family-friendly values that Cheerios and Hamburger Helper are known for. We’re excited to build a winning partnership with RCR and Clint Bowyer.”

————————————–

It was an interesting news conference. Clint was most positive about giving up the Jack Daniels sponsorship for General Mills – but initially it seems hard to associate Bowyer with a cereal and easier to associate him with Jack Daniels. Boyer is a team player, that is obvious, and he understands that to have a sponsor and a ride with RCR is something that is enviable and that there are many racers across the country who would trade places with him in a skinny minute. Bowyer gets this – and he’s doing what he’s been asked to do for the good of RCR. Knowing Richard Childress – he won’t forget it.

More later…enjoy the day

Claire B

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JD Gibb- transcript- Part 2 August 17, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Breaking News, Controversy, NASCAR, Teams.
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Tony Stewart, driver...Image by Getty Images via Daylife Q: Did Toyota have any knowledge of what happened prior to the dyno test?

Gibbs: “No. We kind of do our own motor program for our Nationwide stuff and our Cup stuff. It’s separate from their stuff.”

Q: Are you furious that you didn’t know about this decision?

Gibbs: “Trust me, I’m sure there’s a whole lot of things that I don’t know and I’m glad, but for the most part with our guys and this team they all understand from the day we started this team in 1991 — racing the 1992 season — we’re going to do things a certain way. If you can’t abide by that, go find somewhere else that you can do it. It’s not worth it for us. Hopefully that’s the history that we have. I think if you look back that’s the way it is. So we’ll deal with this and move on. It’s obviously frustrating for all of us.”

Q: Is this a slap in the face to NASCAR for adding the plate a few weeks ago?

Gibbs: “I think more for the guys — they were just frustrated and wanted to make a point like, ‘Hey, we did it and we’re even farther off than you thought.’ I’m not sure exactly what would go through their minds because again, our guys kind of take pride in winning those engine dynos. That’s the only time you can take all of those manufacturers, lay them out there and say what do you got. For us, to win that it’s kind of like a notch in their belt.”

Q: Who called you last night regarding what happened at the track?

Gibbs: “It was a couple guys from our team.”

Q: Is there a time frame in which you will take some action within the team?

Gibbs: “Yeah. Once we get back tomorrow and kind of sit down and hash through it I think you’ll see something pretty quick from our side.”

Q: Is there any indication that NASCAR will respond with a severe penalties?

Gibbs: “I talked to them (NASCAR). I think in years past they kind of looked at the engine dyno-thing as hit or miss — put it on there. But, now they’re starting to make rules based off that. So, I think that becomes a more important piece in their arsenal as to how they keep the playing field level in their mind, and a tool. I think for them it will be bigger, and I don’t know exactly what. I met with them this morning. I’m sure it will be a pretty big slap.”

Q: Do you believe what people have said that the Toyota ‘advantage’ has become a ‘disadvantage’?

Gibbs: “I think when you go back — kind of what we talked about a few weeks ago — is here’s the box to play in. I think our guys have done a really good job utilizing that. I don’t care if it was GM, Dodge, Ford or Toyota — we invest a lot in that and spend a lot of time on it. And, so we want to make sure we are on an equal playing field. I think there was again some frustration there — that’s a separate issue. A rule is made, decisions are made — okay move on and lets work on what we have now. So, to be able to come out of that dyno and have — and again come up with the best horsepower — that would have been a huge notch for our guys. That was the discouraging part.”

Q: How much power have you gained back since the new tapered spacer?

Gibbs: “I probably won’t get into that. That’s all been hashed out a lot in the past weeks. I’m just kind of more focused on what happened here yesterday. I would say it definitely cuts you back some and we’re always working to get it back — what we lost. We are definitely not where we were — we think we were before. But, I think for us — whether they took anything away or not — we’re always working hard to find more stuff.”

Q: Do you believe NASCAR has put the Toyota teams in this position because they gave Toyota too much initially?

Gibbs: “I think when you look at the big picture you usually go — before we were even involved with Toyota — they had a motor and NASCAR made them redo it to be eligible to run in the Nationwide Series. That all took place. They changed a bunch of stuff. Now here’s a new package. It fit within the ‘box.’ Now, as time goes on — you’re always going to have new (things). GM is going to phase in the RO7 and let the SB2 go away. The problem you have in Nationwide I think — the biggest problem in Nationwide — is financially there are such constraints on what you can do. So, I think for us, here’s a package. So, now you change us and we have to go back and spend more money figuring out how we can get back to where we were. I can see Jack’s (Roush) point. NASCAR says here’s some parts for you to use to build new motors. He’s like, ‘I don’t want to build new motors that costs too much money.’ Which is a valid point. So, you are kind of stuck in between. What you don’t want to do is lose sight of our guys that have invested time, effort and financially. Apart from Toyota have invested a lot in these motors to get them to where they need to be. So, that’s frustrating I think for us and for every owner out there. I’m not going to say, Who’s to blame? That’s just part of life. We’ve been through this for 17 years and sometimes you have bodies getting changed years ago. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen any more. That’s to NASCAR’s credit. We’re not changing bodies every couple years. The motor thing is a big piece and I think NASCAR has a pretty good ‘box’ on it. Our thing is we just want to have a level playing field and go to work and do a better job than the next guy.”

Q: Will you still field two NNS cars the rest of the year? Who could be the crew chiefs for those two cars?

Gibbs: “We are not going to speculate on that. We will definitely field two cars the rest of the year. I’m not sure — there might be a race or two where we don’t have two cars lined-up on our schedule. I’m not sure. Things will go on unchanged for us on the racing side.”

Q: Do the individuals you believe were responsible also work on your Sprint Cup teams?

Gibbs: “No. For what we’re talking about here, it’s pretty much that would be there own decision. It is unrelated to the Cup program. Obviously, we have one engine shop that builds motors for everyone, but it would be unrelated to any

Q: Does this fall on the crew chief no matter who in the organization did this?

Gibbs: “Ultimately it starts with, to me, ownership. It falls on our shoulders and then you’ve got management in place and you’ve got crew chiefs in place. I think everyone has a level of responsibility there and it starts with us. That’s the frustrating part. People know how we operate and this isn’t it. I think the crew chief, yeah, they are responsible for what happens at that car and at that track. If something happens that they don’t know about they should’ve known about it. So, I agree with that.”

Q: Did the drivers have anything to do in this whole issue?

Gibbs: “No, our drivers did not have anything to do with this process here.”

Q:
Did the drivers have anything to do in this whole
issue?

Gibbs: “No, our drivers
did not have anything to do with this process
here.”

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Michigan Sunday August 17, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, NASCAR, Teams, Trackside.
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Claire B. Lang
Blog – Sunday August 17, 2008
Michigan International Speedway
 
 
Shenanigans. Under a full moon here in the Irish Hills after the Nationwide Race on Saturday – A poor decision was made to try to withhold accurate numbers from NASCAR by manipulating the dynamometer testing on the #20 and #18 Joe Gibbs Racing teams  . Who did it, for what reason and how they should be held accountable has been under great discussion since the Sprint Cup garage opened here today. Everyone here has been talking about it and the bottom line is that because of it JGR and Toyota (by asssociation) have egg on their faces and NASCAR is not happy. The investigation is under way – and if what NASCAR thinks was done (using a magnet to hold back the throttle) it is likely severe penalties will be handed down from NASCAR and JGR next week.
 
The president of Joe Gibbs Racing, J.D. Gibbs addressed media at at 12:30 p.m. EST in the trackside news conference room here at MIS today regarding the issue.  Here’s the transcript:
 
Opening Statement J.D. Gibbs:
 
Gibbs: “Guys – On behalf of JGR…. Just a little background. I got a call late last night kind of informing that hey there was an issue after the race doing the dyno they found a piece there – again I’m not going to go into technical (detail) on what it was cause I am not even sure yet on the race car- so there was a piece there that wouldn’t let the pedal  apparently go all the way down in the dyno and show like we had less horsepower than we actually did. So let me just say first and foremost that we -that was a really poor and foolish decision on the part of our key guys there at JGR. I want to apologize to NASCAR to our partners to Toyota guys a couple guys chose to make a decision there that impacts all of us. To me the frustrating part is you know —why? I know they were probably frustrated from the standpoint that – wanting to show that we have less horsepower than ever before and wanting to make it look like we’re handicapped you know even more than we actually were I understand that. But that is not an excuse. I think for us we kind of feel like I know with us with the engine shop that’s kind of badge of honor. You win that engine dyno – good for you. We felt like the past few years and Mark Cromquest and those guys really feel like they want to win that thing. So to me …to come back after you’ve been chopped to come back and then win it again that’s awesome – that’s a great story. So that wasn’t able to be told so now we’re sitting here going over  issues from the guys it sounds like again they made a poor decision on our part so we apologize to our partners and we think going forward hey we’re going to have to address some of those things no matter what NASCAR does we’re going to address those issues in house. Figure out exactly what happened and those responsible and hey there’s  going to be punishment for them – you know that’s just part of life. You can’t do that – you put everyone else at risk. So any questions you guys have along those lines feel free to fire away – knowing that  I don’t have all the details on it – but I have a pretty good idea.”
 
Q: To follow up on the last part you said – do you have any idea how high it goes and is there any possibility that heads will role and you’ll have to fire people?
 
Gibbs: “Yea I think for us any violation is a serious one so I think you know  keep in mind it wasn’t  an on track issue. In no way was the caron the track issue. In no way was the car we had on the track we were racing anything other than it should have been .You know – that would have been an extremely big deal. Even that so off the track- going through the dyno again I understand the guys frustration – I think there’s probably a few of the guys on the Nationwide team wanting to make a point and so..we’ll go through it – hey we have had some pretty hard stuff we’ve done in the past before and we’ll continue to do that in the future.”
 
Q: We’ve been trying to remember – you guys don’t usually get caught for doing things. The last we can remember was when the 20 car was taken back at Texas. So is that particularly distressing because you have such a good reputation within the garage?
 
Gibbs: “Yea I think for us..look, .if you can’t come in whatever business you are in and do it the right way you know what’s the point? We want to do it – to get the satisfaction do it the right way. If you ask NASCAR we’ve been a great partner throughout the years and I think with them and trying to do things the right way. So yea that was the last thing and I still think that our guys will say that was a mistake on our part and was not intentional. This one here is clearly – if it turns out what it is – that’s an intentional opportunity to lead someone astray so we’re not going to do that.”
 
Q: This was not in place for the race only during the dyno test?

Gibbs: Yea. And thankfully not in place during the race because what it did it definitely lowers your horsepower so for us it was just after the track thing trying to – and NASAR has been taking that down to the track for quite a few years now so to my understanding – I don’t know what it exactly was-  a piece placed there to kind of show less horsepower than we’d normally have and the intention was to either to say hey you hurt us worse than you thought or whatever I’m not sure. Either way it came out the wrong way.
 
Q: I believe your teams have 14 wins in the series this year. Do you believe this stains any of those wins?
 
Gibbs: “Yea I would say if it was an on track thing it would definitely  stain them but being an off track things and trying dinking around with the dyno personally I don’t see how it would affect those wins there but again hey it’s still a serious issue with NASCAR even if it is off the track working the dyno so there was no reason for that.
 
Q: Have the individuals or individual involved who committed this transgression stepped up and said it was me. Have you identified who it was?
 
Gibbs: “Yea I have had some conversations with a couple of  our key guys and I got a pretty good idea but not enough now that I want to say here’s exactly what it was …and now enough to say here’s what I’m going to do but I’ve got a pretty good idea of who the guys are on the Nationwide team that are responsible.”
 
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Toyota about this to gauge their reaction?
 
Gibbs: “We have and I met with a couple of those guys there and really I think it’s frustrating to everyone at this point. I think what happened is our guys were doing it based on Joe Gibbs Racing. They want what is best for us. Keep in mind what you do with our motives also reflects poorly on Toyota. It looks like hey now they are involved in something that they don’t want to be involved in. I think for us it was clearly a Joe Gibbs racing – you know our guys did it and It was I’m sure discouraging for them. Again, hey we are in the middle of an owners points chase too you know so I think at the end of the day I keep going back to our guys we want to win the engine dyno thing that’s the frustrating thing. ….To me that’s satisfaction not to go out there playing games.”
 
-more later-
 
The anthem is playing now. I need to go to the grid. More of this transcript coming up later when I get back in.

Statement from Joe Gibbs Regarding Alleged Infractions by Joe Gibbs Racing  
The following is a statement from Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing regarding the alleged incident:
“If this alleged incident proves true, it goes against everything we stand for as an organization,” Gibbs said. “We will take full responsibility and accept any penalties NASCAR levies against us.  We will also investigate internally how this incident took place and who was involved and make whatever decisions are necessary to ensure that this kind of situation never happens again. The expectations we set for everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing begins with me, and I personally apologize to NASCAR, our partners and our fans for the negative light this situation has cast upon all of us.”
 

 
Enjoy the race.
 
Claire B
Michigan International Raceway
 
 

Saturday Garage Blog:”Don’t Count Jeff Gordon Out – Ever!” August 16, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, NASCAR, Trackside, Transcripts.
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Jeff Gordon in August 2007 a...Image via Wikipedia Claire B. Lang
Saturday Garage Blog:
Michigan International Speedway – August 16, 2008

“Don’t Count Jeff Gordon Out – Ever!”

I’m here in the media center at MIS. I promised I’d post a transcript of what Jeff Gordon had to say when I asked him the questions you have been asking me on air and in email (insidercbl@aol.com) about his team’s performance which has not been catastrophic yet -but not up to tradition especially at specific tracks where his fans expect a ray of light.

As always, which is a great thing about Gordon, is that when I went searching of an answer – he was open to answering a lot of questions – and for a man who is 6th in points headed into this race I don’t think that he’s in a crisis position. “Never rule Jeff Gordon out,” is what everyone in the garage, from his teammates to his fellow competitors will say when asked and I agree. But with so many callers asking me and wondering what I think I felt it was time to go ask him. You know it’s not like me to answer for the driver -I’d rather go ask him so that I’m fair and not making up as I go along with what I think he’d say.

Jeff answered everything and it was helpful (see post below). When I told Jeff that some of the fans feel that a champion like him should be able to drive through an ill handling race car – compensating for the lack of handling despite the challenges he didn’t want to comment. That ,he said, was best reserved for the way that the team handles issues which is internally. Later in the transcript he explained why. Gordon is not the type to slam his team – nor does he want to be lectured on how to drive a race car – not by the fans and not by anyone. I don’t blame him. No one except the guy behind the wheel, least of all the well intentioned who are fans of his, or not, but have never driven a race car or his race car.

Here’s the transcript of is answers. Most of the questions were mine – other reporters standing by added some good questions……

CBL: LATELY I’VE BEEN GETTING A LOT OF CALLS ABOUT EITHER STEVE (LETARTE) OR YOUR PERFORMANCE, IT’S REALLY YOUR FANS THEY LOVE YOU BUT THEY ARE GETTING UP ON THE EDGE OF THE WHEEL, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? “You got to love them for that but at the same time it’s a competitive sport. We focus on everything from how internal communication is, how people are doing their jobs. If making a change was going to fix it then there might have been changes, but that’s not the issue. I think Steve Letarte is doing an awesome job. I feel like last week was not a great performance for us. We’ve had that happen this year. It’s just been one of those years. I believe in what we have. There’s areas where we’re looking to getting stronger and better. The fans have to just be patient and I remind everybody of what we did last year.

“We were an awesome race team last year. Had one of the best years that I’ve ever had and Steve was the guy that was guiding that ship so I believe one hundred percent in him. Your confidence gets down and a lot of things happen. Performances aren’t always there and it’s the toughest thing to rebound from that and that’s kind of the situation we’re in right now. We’re working really hard. We tested this week in Kentucky and we just continue to work hard at it.”

CBL: HOW FAR OFF YOU? THEY SAID THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE FAR OFF TO BE WAY OFF. “Not with this car. You can actually have a good car and just lose track position and be done. That was a combination of what happened to us last week. We weren’t very good there at the beginning on the long run and then we had the radio problem. We lost a lot of track position and it’s just so hard to make it up. We didn’t have enough cautions to work on the car.

“All those things contributed to the type of day we had not to mention Robby Gordon spinning me out on the last lap. My favorite part about it was Mark Martin sending me a text, he said hey man we had a tough day but its tough days that make you appreciate the good ones a lot more. You know he’s so right and I appreciated that very much. That’s the way we think and focus.”

Reporter: IS THERE ANY ONE THING THAT CAN HAPPEN FOR YOU GUYS TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER? “Again, even though we’ve been hit or miss this year, I feel like those last ten races are all good tracks for us other than Texas. Texas is a track that has been our Achilles heel and we’re going to work hard to try to fix that. When you’re looking at a deficit of eighty or ninety points going into it from the way Kyle Busch has been running this year, that’s a lot to overcome. We know we need some bonus points before we start that Chase and all our focus is on is racing hard and trying to get those wins and get the best finishes that we can.”

CAN YOU TAKE A GAMBLE OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS IF THAT WIN IS THERE FOR YOU? “No, we’re not in a position to take a gamble right now. We’re in a tricky position right now because we have one or two bad finishes where we could find ourselves very easily slipping back and not be secure going into Richmond. We want to be secure going into Richmond and so these next couple of weeks if we put good finishes together then we might be in a position to take some more risks. I say risks, it’s experimenting with things that you’re testing, its taking gambles on pit strategy calls, those types of things.”
HOW MUCH ARE YOU WATCHING POINTS NOW? “I pay attention to it. I try not to get too caught up in it because it doesn’t change how we approach things every weekend unless you have a big points lead or if you’re on the outside of the top twelve. If you’re on the outside of the top twelve you’re going for broke right now. You’re taking gambles. When you’re up front, you got nothing to lose. We were in that position last year. Right now we’re pretty much just kind of doing what we normally do which is go out there race hard, clean and put the best average finish we can together.”

REGARDLESS OF YOU ARE FINISHING POSITION, WHEN YOU GET OUT OF THE CAR SUNDAY WHAT DO YOU NEED THAT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE MAKING PROGRESS AND HAVE SUCCESS ON SOME OF THESE BIGGER TRACKS? “I think that it’s being able to get to the front. I feel like if you’re talking about us being in championship position we got to go out there and lead a lot of laps and being in contention. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to win the race which we do need the bonus points. We need to be out front, competitive, contending for the lead and then plan the pit strategy right. All those other things have been good for us, pit stops, communication and the pit strategy. We just lacked a couple of things, track position.

“If you have a car that’s working good you could take a few more gambles to maintain the track position. If your car is not good enough then you’ve got to work on it and put four tires on it. That’s what we need this week is a good enough car to be able to stay out or take two tires and do some of those things that are paying off for those other guys.”

IS THAT MORE HANDLING OPPOSED TO HORSEPOWER? “When have we ever complained about horsepower? Horsepower is not an issue with us, not at all. Power is good.”

CBL: YOU ARE GOOD AT WEATHERING TOUGH TIMES BECAUSE YOU’VE SEEN IT BEFORE
“Yeah, as I get older, it gets a little bit more difficult. Every race, every year, is crucial and important and you want to do well and you feel like you’ve got the team capable of doing well and it’s always frustrating. It’s just how you show it. I feel like if I go stomping my feet and throwing things around here, it doesn’t make me run good. It doesn’t make it any better. So going back to the fans talking and calling in and stuff, the reason why I don’t really respond to that is because we respond to it internally. We deal with it internally, like any good business should. When you start getting into trying to explain to outsiders, it doesn’t make it any better. I only hope that our fans support me and Steve and the whole team, and I know that they are. They just want us to do good. The funniest thing happened to me in 2000. I had a fan come up to me and said you need to tell Robbie Loomis he needs to get that thing going! And I said, ‘Hey, trust me. We’ve got as much on the line as anybody.’ And he goes, ‘I’m losing a lot of money on all my bets every weekend, because I pick you every weekend.’ And that’s when it hit me how far the fans take it and why they take it so avidly for many different reasons. It could be that type of situation or it could be just that they’ve been a longtime fan and their pride is on the line. But I still promise you, we all have a lot more on the line than anybody else.”

YOU SAID YOU DON’T STOMP AROUND. IS THERE EVER A TIME WHEN THAT MIGHT BE NEEDED FOR A TEAM?
“No, I meant I don’t stomp around and throw things out here (laughter). I do plenty of that. Don’t worry. We handle things the way that I feel like is productive. And you don’t just turn the other cheek. You don’t deny what’s going on. You face it head on. Everybody handles it professionally and you can only have the type of relationship like Steve and I have, where we don’t take things personally. He can criticize me and I can criticize him and we only want to get better and know that he’s the leader of this team and I’m the best tool that he can possibly have to help make the car better. And I have a responsibility; he has a responsibility, and that’s where our focus is.”

CBL: WHAT’S COOL IS THAT YOUR TEAM ISN’T EATING ITSELF UP ON THE INSIDE
”No, we’re very fortunate in that sense. We’re not having a terrible year, you know? It’s frustrating because I know we’re capable of running better and we should be. But we still are sixth in the points. We’ve been outside of the Chase before, so we’ve had worse years. So it’s nothing that we need to start quitting our jobs and moving to other teams and all of that type of things. It’s nothing like that. And we’re fortunate that when we do have tough seasons that our guys don’t leave. We’re still able to continue to get quality people at our organization and that’s what gets us through the tough times.”

So, that’s what he’s saying. He’s cool as can be – no sense of stress or lack of confidence that the team will figure it out. I have talked with the team and they are confident that they will find the answers and rebound because that is what this team does. My guess is that they will be ok – they have too good a driver and too many resources not to get over this speed bump.

Back with more later…I wanted to get this up and to you since I promised.

Hope all of you are enjoying the weekend. The weather is exceptional here. This is such a beautiful part of the country.

Enjoy!

Claire B
MIS Saturday 3:32 p.m. EST

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Michigan- Mobile Unit Live Broadcast August 13, 2008

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Michigan- 3M Performance 400- “Dialed In” With Claire B. Lang – Broadcast Location
Thursday -Aug 14 and Friday August 15 – LIVE from Michigan the XM Mobile “Dialed In” broadcast unit – LIVE Thursday and Friday from:

Victory Lane Speedway
11547 Brooklyn Rd
Brooklyn, MI
behind victory lane quick lube

You can always check:
https://claireblang.wordpress.com/mobile-unit-locator/

Breaking news blog – Where is Casey Mears Going? August 10, 2008

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Claire B.Log
Covering Watkins Glenn International

Where is Casey Mears Going in ’09? ——-Options as of August 10, 2008

Casey Mears (Driver of the #5 Kellogg’s Carquest Impala SS) addressed reports that he is the top candidate and will take the fourth ride at Richard Childress Racing when he leaves Hendrick Motorsports next season. Today (Sunday) he clarified his current progress on plans for ’09 which seem to be fluctuating as negotiations continue.

Q: WHAT IS THE LATEST ON YOUR SEARCH FOR A NEW TEAM BEGINNING NEXT SEASON?

MEARS: “Just looking. Right now, nothing is done at all, still talking to a couple of different teams trying to get it sorted out. Obviously there is a lot going on and things have been said this week, but nothing is signed. I am still trying to figure out what is going to be the best possible program for myself.

“Just really focused more than anything on this weekend and during the week focused on what is going on with next season. Hopefully, we can get something sorted out soon. Really right now, nothing is happening other than talk with a few different teams. Until we get that sorted out, there is not a whole lot to say.”

Q: DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE GOOD CHOICES?

MEARS: “There are a couple of good teams. I mean, all of them right now are good choices, just depends on how you look at it. What the potential is for the future versus where the teams are right now. There are teams that have room for growth and a lot of potential for the future. There are teams that are ready to go right now. Really, just have got to get sorted through everything right not. Nothing is signed.

“Like I said, I am down the road with a couple of different guys trying to sort things out. Hopefully, soon we can get it nailed down and have answers for everybody.”

Q: DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE A WEEK OR 10 DAYS AWAY FROM HAVING THIS FINALIZED?

MEARS: “I would like to think so, if we can get something sorted out. But then again, it could take another month. It just depends on the details and after we sit down and look at all the details of the agreements and exactly how everything is, no telling how long it can take. Obviously the sooner the better for me if we could just get it sorted out and be able to focus on the remainder of this season; then focus on next year when it comes, would be good.”

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM DRIVING A CAR AT THE START OF NEXT SEASON THAT DOESN’T HAVE ANY OWNER POINTS?

MEARS: “I wouldn’t be real comfortable with that. Obviously I have to weigh out my options and see how things are. When you compare things, you have to compare teams. If you know you are going with a team that is very capable of making those first five races, then it definitely makes things a little bit easier. If you know you are going with a team that maybe in the past didn’t look like it had as good of a shot to make those races at times, you have to weigh out how all that is. As of right now, it is still pretty wide open. I mean there are some things that look good. Don’t get me wrong. I am excited about some things that are happening but right nothing is signed.

“I have always been one of those guys man, I have always talked about things before they happen or got excited about them before they happen and then have to explain why they didn’t. Until things are signed and done, I really don’t know what exactly is going to happen yet. Some things look good, but right now, there is just not a whole lot to talk about.”

Q: HAVE YOU NARROWED IT TO TWO OR THREE TEAMS OR DO YOU HAVE A NUMBER?

MEARS: “It just depends. At times I was down to one, at times it gets back up to five, it just depends on where those teams are. Where they are with their sponsorship and what they want to do with their current situations. There are a lot of guys that are thinking about doing things different for next season and it might be a month down the road before they know exactly what is going on. There are some guys that are ready to go now. I want to get something done sooner than later. Hopefully we don’t have to deal with talking about this too much longer and we can get something announced soon and go on about our way.”

Enjoy the race – I’ll keep you posted on breaking news.

Centurion Boats at The Glen – Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Sunday | 1 PM | ESPN

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Bill Elliott: Thanks so much August 8, 2008

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Claire B.log – Saturday, August 9 08
Awesome Bill Discussion:

Hey all!

Bill Elliott was the topic of an email that I received recently – and the email impressed me so much that I read it on the air and it created some discussion that provoked a flurry of emails. Here’s the email that kicked it all off: I’d love your feedback on the emails at the bottom, so read on:

Email from Jay :

Hey Claire B.

I’ve got an interesting show idea for you. What about Ray Evernham’s promise to Bill Elliott that when he ran his last race, it would be in the number 9?

You know, with all of the attention Dale Jarrett got in the early part of the year, it is unfathomable to me that Bill has been literally forgotten by the media this season, especially since he announced that this was his final year. No offense to Jarrett, but Bills career credentials trump Jarrett’s, as do his many, many Most Popular Driver awards. Yet Jarrett was treated like a true legend, which I have no problem with. Jarrett had a great
career and deserves to be recognized. But let’s face facts- Bill Elliott single handedly turned mainstream America on to Nascar during his record setting year of 1985. With the exception of Dale Earnhardt Jr., nobody in the sport has even come close to the kind of fan
following that Bill has had over the years.

Back to the Ray Evernham part- Ray clearly said several years back that when Bill decided to step away, the number 9 was his to run in that last race. And everyone agrees certain numbers are synonymous with certain drivers…Richard Petty in the #43; Dale Earnhardt in the #3, Cale Yarborough in the #11, David Pearson in the 21 car. And while it has been quite the historical moment to see Bill run for the legendary Wood Brothers 21 just like his idol David Pearson did, ANYONE with a historical perspective knows who made the number 9 famous- and it wasn’t Kasey Kahne.

That being said, in an era where more and more longtime fans seemingly get pushed aside to make way for the new generation of fans, where has the loyalty in Nascar gone? It has become a game of “How much money can you spend?” and that is not the foundation that Nascar was built on. Nascar claims that they want to get back to their roots. But the
truth is, with the influx of mega-teams created by Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush, there is no way possible to recreate what made the early days of Nascar so magical. It just frustrates me as a longtime fan to see my lifelong hero and idol, Bill Elliott, turned into another also
ran by the media and by Nascar. Granted, Bill and the Wood Brothers have had a terrible season that has them fighting to even make most races. But at least give the man that has given so much of himself as an ambassador to the sport the respect of letting him finish out his career as it began- in a number 9 race car. And I understand in an age of 20 million dollar sponsor deals, a company like Budweiser may balk at running Kasey Kahne in a different number for one race. But Bill has earned the right to run that number one final time, and if anyone should know the type of person Elliott is, it would be Budweiser, whom
Bill drove for from 1992-94 for Junior Johnson, and was 2 laps away from winning them a championship over Alan Kulwicki.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Jay C.
Newnan, Georgia

After I aired the reading of the email above – I began to get calls – a lot of calls. I also got emails like the ones below:

Email from Wes:

Claire B,

First of all, thank you for reading that email sent in by a listener regarding Bill Elliott and Ray’s promise to him.

On the day Bill Elliott decides it’s going to be his last race, he will drive the No. 9.” – Ray Evernham

How good is someone giving you their “word” nowadays? I remember hearing this and seeing it posted in the following months after Bill Elliott announced he would be driving part-time. I recall thinking to myself, “that’s going to be a fine day when Bill drives the #9 for the final time”. A legend.. one of the good ol’ boys.. the Fastest Man Alive.. Million Dollar Bill.. Awesome Bill from Dawsonville and his final drive in the #9!

Bill stood next what was left of his 2003 Dodge Intrepid. It’s rear quarter panel torn open like a soda can after a dog had gnawed on it all afternoon. His right foot pressed up against the exhaust trying to choke out the fire. A few minutes ago he was coming out of turn 2 on the final lap with the lead. We all saw the rear of the car wobble to the right and got that sickening feeling in the pit of our stomachs. For months on end before this race the media would ask Bill when he was going to retire. Bill would shine his pearly whites and give us his old famous line, “we’ll just have to wait and see”. We waited, and we saw Bill standing next to his “ole piece” he delivered the words to us that he would be back. Elliott fans all around rejoiced!

Bill’s definition of being back and my definition got somewhat tangled up. I thought he would be back in the #9. Bill and Ray layed out a semi-retirement plan that seemed ample at first, but waned as funding wasn’t always there for Bill to run in competitive equipment. It became a guessing game as to when we would see the next time that Bill would race. Over the next 4 years we would see Bill in the 91, 98, 00, 83, 39, 19, 21. Bill fans would hear of a race he was scheduled to be in only to show up at the track to see someone else in his car. It got harder and harder to follow our 16 time MPD.

For me the breaking point was watching Bill fail to make the field for the 2008 Daytona 500. The salt in the wound was failing to qualify at the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Bill’s home track). It became evident to me that Bill’s services provided through his Past Champions Provisional would no longer be needed when Dale Jarrett decided to to do a parade lap during qualifying. With the Petty’s struggling and Sam Hornish teeter-tottering the top 35, Bobby Labonte and Kurt Busch become hotter commodities than Bill. So us Elliott fans sat around hoping qualifying gets rained out so could make the show. We wonder when will be Bill’s last race.
I started reading old Bill headlines when I came across Ray Evernham’s promise. It brought me back to that day when I remembered thinking how cool it would be to see Bill in the #9, one last time. I imagine Bill holding onto one of his PCP’s for the fall Atlanta race. I imagine Ray Everhnam honoring his promise. I imagine Budweiser Beer sponsoring a Dodge with the #9 on the side. I imagine Dan, Ernie and Bill standing next to the car for a photo. I imagine George Elliott and Harry Melling smiling down. At the beginning of 2008 NASCAR president Brian France proclaimed that NASCAR needs to get back to its roots. Is there anything rooted deeper than Bill Elliott driving the #9?

I created this petition to show Ray that we remember his promise to Bill. We ask that Bill’s fans get our one last chance to see our racing hero in the car he made famous.
by, Wes Eisenschenk
http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/billelliott.html
irAnd more – this from Travis in Oklahoma:

Email from Travis:

So what about Ray Evernham letting Bill Elliott drive the #9 for the last race? Where is all the attention to Bill’s final race year on the circuit this year? Where is the media with him like they were with Dale Jarrett? There seems to be a total lack of respect for this man who help put nascar on the map and who’s fan base was as large as bill himself winning the most popular driver award what 14 times maybe? I don’t know, but I hope you could clear some things up Claire. Your the biggest sweetheart in Nascar right now and I don’t know how empty my life would be with out listening you and being a part of my day 5 days a week. Love the show Claire and thank you for all the thankless hard work.

Travis Turney

I knew the only possible fair thing that I could do was to go and find Bill Elliott and ask him personally what he thought about all of this. Elliott has been helping the Wood Brothers by driving the 21 car for them when they need him – and has started a driver development business in which he will mentor and assist young drivers. “Paying it forward,” is what Elliott is doing these days.

Claire B.: What is your plan as far as racing? Are you not done after this year. Some fans think that you are just kind of kind of quietly going out into the sunset and I wonder if you think that is what you are doing?

Elliott: “Well some days I think I wonder. You know right now I have a good opportunity to drive the #21 Wood Brothers car and it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been kinda looking pretty hard at saying this is my last year of doing this mess and trying to focus on this other stuff, cause it’s hard to do both. It’s hard to do everything you need to do and concentrate on both deals. I think it’s almost like Mark thought – you either need to be in it or out of it and I guess that’s the decision that I need to make. But you know right now I’ve got so many other things going on that it’s hard to be in it 100% and you know …looking at the thing realistically – looking at the Wood Brothers and where they are at being a single entity we need to try to get help us grow back and get back to where they need to be. You know every time we come into these places – just like coming to Pocono (last weekend) we changed a lot of stuff – a lot of things are different – we got no practice (Saturday) so we didn’t have the last race of running well. They had a different guy here with Andretti and Andretti did a great job…and they brought David Hyder in and now we’ve turned around to a totally different direction. They have good ideas but it’s a whole growing experience and when you don’t have other teams to build off of and grow off of. I know you hear a lot of people say that but it’s just a simple fact of what racing has become today….”

Claire B: – I had an email from Travis and he was up on the wheel about Bill Elliott and he was furious. He said that Ray Evernham had promised that when you were done your last race would be in the #9 did he make that promise to you?

Elliott: “I don’t really recall – I was hoping that my last race would be with Evernham but it just didn’t work out. What my ideal situation would have been – when I said at the end of 03 I wanted to stop running all races – I wanted to focus on a 15-18 race schedule – well we fell short of that. Then, we got to kind of floating around there and I mean it got to be where it was only just a couple of races. Then I got with Michael and did a few races and with some other guys kind of back and forth and that’s hard to do too. You needed some consistency. You take anything you know about this sport – having people around you and keeping that consistency is probably 75% of the game……it always has to do with the nucleus around you. Look at Jeff Gordon and the ups and downs he’s had. It always has to do with the nucleus around them. You know he’ll go through a period where he ran well with Ray (Evernham) then Ray left and it took them a little bit of time to get sorted back out and it’s been a kind of up and down roller coaster. But you take the guys that have been most successful there’s always a key nucleus that has stayed with them and stayed behind them. I think that is probably the most important part of this sport and I think that’s what most people fail to realize.”

Claire B: Do you feel that – as the emailer wrote- that for a man who put NASCAR on the map who was the most popular driver so many times – that the media is not giving you the farewell or giving you the attention right now that you deserve. That unless you don’t make the show they hardly even interview you and that they gave Dale Jarrett so much more attention. How does Bill Elliott feel?

Elliott: “Well I feel fine. The thing that I look at is that Dale Jarrett had UPS and UPS’s push behind him. That makes a lot of difference. When UPS pays a lot of the tabs within the business and they can put the Ads and put the PR out there that is different than where I am here today where I’m just running a limited schedule with what I am doing – you can put out big press releases and do a lot of stuff. You know we are kind of out here on Gilligan’s Island doing out own little thing and you know you’re so easily forgotten. I don’t get upset about it – I don’t worry about it. It’s not good for the fans though because I still have fans that want to know what’s going on – whether you are running 51st out of a 43 car field I mean they still kind of want to know what’s going on. That’s what I have always said that I get up on my soap box about in this sport is that they don’t cover everybody within the sport. Which is like – we’ll pick these guys and that’s all we’ll talk about and I’ve always said that.”

Claire B: If you decide that next year you are not going to race – do you want a big good bye at the end of this year?

Elliott: “Well that I don’t know. That is I will take out here in the next little bit. But I am in such a different perspective as some of these other guys. It’s just like Mark (Martin) and Terry (Labonte) – they did their big farewells and here they are back again and I don’t understand that. You know do what you say and say what you do you know and that’s the thing that I look at. I’ve never said I was quitting up to this point and I’m looking very hard at calling it the end at the end of this year because I don’t really know where I want to be next year other than trying to help these guys.”

Claire B: “So in essence Bill Elliott, the man who helped to build this sport, is helping young drivers and helping a struggling race team – is that where you want to be?”

Elliott: “Well why not. If I can help these guys to get to the next level – then I’ve done something well. Even if they take only one thing out of what I tell them – through this whole deal. If I can help them get through a few hard times or help them get through this or whatever – I’ve either been there or I have seen it in this sport and I don’t know how many people I’ve seen come and go. Granted I look back on my career and maybe I wasn’t the best driver at a lot of places but I worked harder than most of the guys. I had that extra determination to get to the next level. When we got that door cracked open – a toe was in there , then a foot was in there then we finally got in there and go to the next level.”

I want to ask the guys this. When was the last time a team outside the state of North Carolina won a championship. I can’t answer that – I don’t know. You need to research that and find out. We were in Georgia in 88 and I can’t think of anybody since then that has bee out of North Carolina and has won a championship.”

Claire B: What do you want to tell your fans?

Elliott: “Well I just want to say how much we appreciate the sport over the years and all the stuff that has happened. I’ve said this a thousand times – if my career ended three or four years ago I’ve had a great career. I’ve done virtually everything within this sport. Granted, I only won one championship but we’ve won Daytona we won Indy, we won a lot of the races in the middle there – and we’ve had a good career. It’s the point of – and the next generation is coming regardless of what we about it and it’s going to continue on. That’s just evolution – we live to die and then there’s another group that is going to come along. That’s the key thing is if we try to live back in the past – yea I had my hay day but so did a lot of other people. Richard (Childress) went through his hay day and Cale (Yarborough) went through his hay day and so on and so forth.

You are going to have these guys today who are going to have their hay day but what are they go to do when they realize their hay day is gone and what are they going to do after that? I think that’s the key thing is that you look at all the fans and appreciate all the support and just be thankful for all the friends that you have created around the country and I think that is the biggest thing that has helped me within this sport.”

Claire B.: If you never close the door then you could come back for a one off race next year and you never really have to make that decision or do you have to decide?

Elliott: “Well there’s going to eventually be a point that you say hey this is it I am going to quit this and I’m going to go do something else whether you go play with your dirt car. I don’t intend to just totally quit driving. You know like Rusty (Wallace) he just totally cold quit and I don’t know – if that’s the decision that you make We were somewhere one day and I tried to get him to get into something and he wouldn’t even do that. It was just a hobby car somewhere and we were just playing around. I raced a few Legends races just to help understand how those cars are and I’ve raced some dirt stuff. I feel like if I can be the racer that these guys (his young development drivers) are when I started in I would have won a lot more races than I did. As well as total races run when I started running cup it’s so few versus these kids today come up and they’ve already run 100 or so races their first year.”

Claire B. So you are doing ok- you are going to make your decision some day. You have these young development drivers coming up including your son. You are not angry at anybody for not covering you more but in general you think the sport should be covered better.

Elliott: “Totally – I am not talking about necessarily me but everybody within the sport. There are fans from all the way down the list from the guy running in the back to the guy running in the front. I mean maybe it isn’t so obvious to the people on the network and really I don’t know the inner workings of a lot of stuff but I understand it and I understand how it works and I understand that’s probably the way that it’s going to be but still the guys in the back deserve a little bit of attention now and then.”

————————————————————–
Poll: Bill Elliott is contemplating what to do about his future. Right now he’s concentrating on “Paying it forward” running for the Wood Brothers and working on his new young driver development program. What should Elliott do?

Elliott should:

NO…not another retirement tour – Don’t do it for any reason

Bill Elliott has earned a farewell – Give the man what he deserves

Stay – don’t even think about retiring race when you can

It’s up to Bill Elliott and the fans will go the direction he decides to go and what makes sense for him – either way is fine.

That’s it for now. More later in the weekend.

Claire B
XM Satellite Radio

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