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PENALTY TALK September 24, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season, Teams, Trackside.
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Clint Bowyer
Image by TheGeekiestMark via Flickr

The aftermath of the RCR New Hampshire Sprint Cup Series #33 Penalty – Reaction here at Dover!

As you can imagine the discussion here at Dover with many of the drivers and crew chiefs is about the severe penalty  for the #33 after New Hampshire. Below is what Clint Bowyer had to say about the matter this morning here at Dover in the deadline media room in the media center. Also listed below are comments from Jeff Gordon

Clint Bowyer (Media Center Appearance at Dover International Speedway)

TALK ABOUT YOUR WEEK

“You always want to win races. You’re very proud to win races and I’m still proud of that win. I don’t believe that we did anything wrong. I guess I’ll go on record and say that, first and foremost, in my opinion. I want my fans to know that. There is a lot of integrity that goes into this sport. I’m damn proud of being a part of this sport. I love this sport and I wouldn’t cheat to win a race in this sport. We have a lot more integrity for myself and our race team at RCR. Hopefully I only have to do this once. I woke up about 6 o’clock this morning, which is uncharacteristic for me. I just grabbed a notebook and wanted to make some notes. You know, for myself and for you guys. I know a lot of you guys have a lot of questions; trust me; there are a hell of a lot of questions that I have too. And I’m going to go through them. I like to have facts when something like this comes down. I’ve got a timeline of facts.

“I’m going to start with number one: We were warned after Richmond that the car was too close to tolerances. Number two: We were told by NASCAR they were taking the car after New Hampshire, no matter what; first or 43rd. Number three: The car passed pre and post-race inspections at the race track. Number four: Monday, the rumors started about all this and in my opinion, forced NASCAR’s hand to do something about it. Number five: Wednesday came and it was a 150-point fine. And the sixth thing, and at least an answer, you know, I’m looking for answers too. There are several things but one of them is a two-ton wrecker pushed me to victory lane.

“I’m going to elaborate on them. I think the first one (is) we were warned that both sides of the car were high after Richmond. Both sides. After the race in New Hampshire, after it got back to the Tech Center or whatever they call that place, just the left side was high. I think this shows that we definitely had it fixed; something within that race happened.

“Number two: after being told that they were taking the car, we made double-sure before it went to New Hampshire that that car was right. Who in their right mind, knowing that they’re going to take that car, wouldn’t have made triple sure that thing was right before it went to the race track? I could have hit the wall doing a burnout, I could have done a lot of things that other drivers have done and that other teams have done in a post-race celebration this year. I didn’t. We didn’t want to push that in NASCAR’s face. We appreciated them warning us on the fact and we tried to fix the situation. They told us about that situation Wednesday. Wednesday the car leaves. We had about two hours to jump on that car and make sure that thing was right.

“And number three:  The car passed pre and post-race inspection, and three days later get such a huge fine? They take the car apart, completely apart to measure this thing and in my opinion that’s not the way the car was raced on the race track. I think that’s something to be said.

“Number four: Once the rumors started it wasn’t long before the penalty. I think NASCAR has a lot of problems with a lot of cars on the race track being out of the box and I think they needed to set an example with something.

“Number five: I don’t think the penalty fits the crime. Sixty-thousandths of an inch, folks. Grab a quarter out of your pocket (holds up a quarter). That’s sixty-five thousandths of an inch thick. Less than the thickness of that quarter right there resulted in a 150-point fine. Before or after this, grab that and ask yourself if that was a performance-enhancing thing right there.

“And the last thing, my question is, is it possible that a two-ton wrecker could bend the quarter panel of this thing sixty thousandths of an inch? You have to ask yourself that. I got hit during the race, turned a couple of times; racing is tough. Now if this thing was knocked out a half of an inch, I could see something being made. But if it passed the height sticks afterwards, the very height sticks the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) did not pass, then miraculously enough when that same pit crew pushed it back around after 20 minutes it passed, that was pretty amazing. You know it passed those same sticks.

“And, you know, my dad owns a towing business and has since I was born in 1979. I know a little something about wreckers. About 15 years ago they took them push bumpers off the front of them for this very reason. I remember back when people used to come (during) a snow storm and (say) please, push me out of the snow bank. You push them out of the snow bank and two days later they’d show up with a body shop bill in their hand, wanting you to pay the body shop bill for the damage you did to the back of their car. This could happen. That’s the only question I had for you guys (media) is to ask yourselves if it is possible for that to happen. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

YOU SAID YOU FELT LIKE NASCAR’S HAND WAS FORCED BY THE RUMORS THAT STARTED TO FLOW MONDAY MORNING. DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD NOT HAVE GOTTEN THE PENALTY HAD THOSE RUMORS NOT COME OUT? THOSE RUMORS COMING FROM AN INSPECTION AT THE R&D CENTER, WHERE DO YOU THINK THOSE RUMORS BEGAN AND HOW DID THEY GET OUT AND ARE YOU ANGRY ABOUT THAT?

“I’m angry about the whole thing. This tarnished my win. It’s something you’re very proud of. I’m very angry about it. I’m angry for my fans for our sponsors. I’m angry about it. I think that there are a lot of things a lot of people don’t know about, media included, and I don’t understand it about as much as you do. So I found myself all week, instead of celebrating a win, trying to figure out what the hell they were talking about. The rumors, in my opinion, I truly believe that these rumors forced their hand in making a decision.

YOU SAID YOU THINK NASCAR HAS A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH A LOT OF CARS BEING OUT OF THE BOX. WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE CARS ARE ILLEGAL EACH WEEKEND? HOW DO YOU RESOLVE THAT ISSUE?

“I think NASCAR does a great job of policing and maintaining common ground. Look at the racing.

”Now last year and the last two years, when an organization was as dominant as they were, do you think they had something up on the competition? This year it’s as close as it’s ever been. I think it’s pretty damn good racing on the race track. I think it’s the best as we’ve had since this car was put into inception. So, I think they do do a good job. I respect the fact that what they have to look at each and every week. My personal opinion, I don’t like the R&D Center. I think what you bring to the race track is what they inspect. And, you know? Three days later the car the car (is) completely taken apart from something that you haven’t even raced. I mean it’s a completely different vehicle, you know? You take the suspension off the thing; these are all components that bolt on. It ain’t a decal you took off. These things are bolted on and could interrupt the way the car is measured. How can that possibly be kept in the same box?

“So I think there is a lot of cars that are close to being on the out of the box side. I think that’s what crew members and crew chiefs are paid to do and you know, yeah; I do think there are a lot of cars that are very close. I think they do a good job. I appreciated the fact that they warned us, you know? That’s why we tried to fix the thing. That’s why we did fix the thing before it went to New Hampshire so this wouldn’t happen. Not to rub it in their face and say well you know what you’re talking about, we’re going to continue to do this and don’t think you’re going to do anything about it. I mean you’ve got to appreciate this sport and respect the sport and we darn sure did and it bit us in the rear for it.”

THAT WIN HAD BEEN A LONG-TIME COMING FOR YOUR SPONSOR, CAN YOU JUST TALK ABOUT THEIR REACTION AND HOW MUCH OF A CONCERN THAT IS? “I hope they are happy. Like I said, if of any of you guys, or anybody else, think I won that race because not the quarter panels are high; not because the splitter is this much higher; because of some measurement that nobody even understands in this room or watching on TV, if that won me that race, I would gladly give it back to them. We won that race on fuel mileage is what it ended up being. If you want to start looking at something, look at our fuel cell. How could the quarter panels have won that race? I’m proud of that win. I am proud of giving General Mills their first win in this sport. They’ve sponsored this sport for a long time and that was a good win for all of us.”

WAS ANYONE WITH RCR ALLOWED TO GO TO THE TECH CENTER AND WITNESS THE INSPECTION EARLIER THIS WEEK? ALSO, HAS THERE BEEN ANY DIALOGUE AND WHAT HAS THAT BEEN LIKE WITH NASCAR OVER THE CONTENTION THAT THE TOW TRUCK PUSH ACTUALLY CAUSED THIS INFRACTION? “They do call you down there. At what point in the inspection do they call you down, who knows. Had they looked at the car before? Probably. That is the thing about the R & D center that I don’t like. It’s, it’s…who knows. You don’t know. To answer that question, I don’t have a clue. They were down there at one part of the inspection. I don’t know if it was the part that mattered or not. I do know, one other fact, the left rear quarter panel was split. The bumper cover from the quarter panel, the rivets were pulled out of it and the rear quarter panel was kinked. You know. We have a picture of that. I know that if it was hit hard enough to have split that…like I’m saying, it wasn’t a half of an inch. You are talking less than the thickness of that quarter right there. Could it have moved it that much? I would say that was my only explanation of the whole mess.”

ON THE DIALOGUE WITH RCR AND NASCAR OF THE TOW TRUCK DOING THE DAMAGE: “IN OTHER SITUATIONS LIKE THESE, WE HAVE SEEN DRIVERS GO THE PC ROUTE, NOT REALLY GO ON THE DEFENSIVE. WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO MAKE A STAND? “Because I feel like we were warned. We were told they were going to take the car. We had no reason to take that thing there out of the box. We knew they were taking that car and we knew that was our good shot at winning the race and it didn’t matter whether we finished 43rd or won. They were going to take that car and they were going to look at it. And after being warned, if it was out of the box again, they were going to penalize us. They already told us that. Why in the hell would you take a car to the race track knowing that they are going to take the car and they are going to penalize you if it is out of the box?

“We fixed the problem and that is the only reason I am defensive about this. Richard grabbed everybody, I’m telling you it was an ugly meeting after that warning. This isn’t something that was taken lightly. He took everybody involved with that thing from the fabrication shop to me to Mike Dillon…everybody. Scott Miller, crew chief and it was a butt-chewing and it was a make sure, make damn sure that car passes tech when we go. I’m telling you, everybody did that. That is why I am defensive.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THE DOVER CAR THIS WEEKEND DID YOU TAKE IT TO R & D TO MAKE SURE IT WAS OK? “Good gawd, I’m talking about last week. It is hard to even focus on this week. That is what sucks. We are riding a momentum wave, huge boost of confidence over the last month and we get to Dover and all this mess. This is a good race track for me. Won two Nationwide races here and love this race track. I think we can win again. I sure hope so. I can’t wait to be back in this very room talking about ‘wonder if this thing is illegal?’. I bet not.”

DO YOU KNOW IF THE CAR’S ALREADY BEEN?

“I just answered that. I don’t know.”

DOES APPEALING THE PENALTY TAKE ENERGY FROM RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING RIGHT NOW? DOES THAT PULL CHAMPIONSHIP EFFORT THAT NEEDS TO BE MOUNTED WITH ALL FORCES?

“You know, it could. And that’s where all the frustration is. I apologize for coming in here and being stern. This isn’t me. This is completely out of character for me. I don’t like being in this situation. But if it paints you into the corner you’ve got to be able to react to it. Does it take away? I’m sure it does. I apologize to Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton and everybody at RCR for that very reason. This is something that shouldn’t have happened; something that’s completely complicated. I think there is about probably 80 percent of the people in the media and everywhere else that don’t understand what the infraction even was.”

JEFF GORDON:

GIVEN WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NO. 33, CLINT BOWYER AND THAT TEAM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, DOES THAT PUT YOUR TEAM IN ANY HEIGHTENED AWARENESS OR HEIGHTENED SECURITY TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS BUTTONED UP? “You have to remember, we have experienced what they have gone through in the past. So, we kind of feel like we were the first ones that were made aware of how tight the tolerances are and I’m not exactly sure of what are all the details of what went on there. I know there is an appeal. Because of we’ve been through this, we already are aware that this can happened to any of us at any time and that you really have to build the best race cars you possibly can but they have to be able to go to that (NASCAR) Tech Center and come back to your shop without the phone call from NASCAR.”

IF A CAR PASSES HERE ON SUNDAY, DO YOU THINK THERE ARE OTHER CARS HERE IN THE GARAGE THAT ARE PROBABLY ILLEGAL AND DO YOU THINK THAT DURING THE CHASE, ALL 12 CHASE CARS SHOULD GO TO THE NASCAR TECH CENTER? “I really wish that I had Steve Letarte (crew chief) up here to answer that question because he knows so many more details about the processes, how close those tolerances are. And that is the difference. Here at the track, the tolerances they can only get so close. When they go to the NASCAR Tech Center, they are checking it with lasers. I think that is when they can really get into the details of everything that is going on with those cars. All I can tell you is that since they started that process, it’s made it a whole different ballgame and a whole different process of inspection and how you build your cars. These days for us, we can run a car and we basically have to rebuild the sheet metal on that car just from a race without ever touching a wall. Without ever being hit by the two truck, anything. The body flexes and moves just from the banking or just from the torque, all those things. So, it’s tough for certain areas of the car to meet those tolerances just after a race. I think what I see with this situation, I guess there was something that they noticed after Richmond and so they focused on that area. If you notice, these cars now-days, they are going down the straightaways sideways. We have obviously learned that putting a lot of side force and twisting, we used to twist the bodies, now we are trying to run the car sideways through the toe of the rear-end housing; how we setup the straight line from front to back to basically run the body sideways on the car and that is all legal. We have all figured out how to do that within the rules. Because you realize that is helping the car, then you want to push everything maxed out to figure out how to get more side-force, more down-force. So, there is no doubt that is going to push everybody in the garage area to try to find out where that limit is. I’m not sure if that is what happened with the No. 33. I really don’t want to speculate. There is no doubt that this is racing and teams are always trying to find an edge. I wouldn’t be surprised I if…they don’t take ever car every weekend. It is hard to say how many would pass and how many would fail.”

THE PRECEDENT WAS SET YEARS AGO THAT THEY DON’T TAKE WINS AWAY. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THAT IS AND DO YOU THINK THAT THERE IS A GOOD REASON FOR THAT IN CASES SUCH AS THIS? “I’m sure there is a good reason. I don’t know what it is though. I’m not really sure. In my opinion, taking points away, might as well take the win away. I don’t know if I have ever asked that question before to be honest with you. I try to stay pretty clear of any discussion that have to do with points, fines, wins taken away. Those are usually not conversations I have with them.”

DO YOU AGREE THAT A WIN SHOULD STAND IN A CASE LIKE THIS? “There is still an appeal process going on. I think at this point, who knows what is going to happen. But, I don’t know. I have just felt like this is the process that we go through. This is what we know goes on in our sport and that is just the way they do it. Do I agree with it or disagree with it? Gosh, I mean I don’t know. I really don’t know. I would have to think about it a little bit more. Like I said, in my opinion, they’ve already taken the win away. I’m sure if you ask Clint, he would probably say ‘Might as well’ because the penalty is certainly very extreme. I don’t know. It seems like to me like there at least should be an asterisk next to the win.”

OTHER TOPICS:
THE DIFFERENCE -CONCRETE TRACK

ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 DELPHI/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET: The good thing about a concrete track like Dover is that we’re not out chasing the track due to temperature changes. That just doesn’t affect concrete like it does on asphalt. The big challenges are where the rubber builds up on the racetrack and the joints where the concrete was poured. Dover is really bumpy. We tend to fight making the car run well over those bumps more than we fight the simple fact that it’s concrete

THE GAME PLAN (KYLE BUSCH)

Kyle Busch has two Sprint Cup wins at Dover. What is his game plan this weekend? Kyle Busch (Driver of the #18) “Our game plan is to try to repeat what we did in the spring. Obviously, we had a good race going. We qualified well. We raced well all through the event. Toward the end of the race, it came down to the final pit stop between Jimmie (Johnson) and myself and we were able to get out of there smoothly and cleanly. Jimmie didn’t. He got caught speeding on pit road. We’ll just go back there with our Interstate Batteries Camry and try to make the most of the event and the weekend and get a good, strong finish and keep our momentum rolling here and try to get through the final 10 races strong in order to get a shot at the championship come Homestead.

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OMG – Evernham’s New Office Crib!! Dakar Rally January 27, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Crew Chiefs, Teams.
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OMG – Evernham’s New Office Crib!!

Today (Tuesday, January 27) I went to Ray Evernham Enterprises for a special lunch with Ray as he announced his new course for his future. I was blown away by the museum Evernham has put together at his new museum/shop just off exit 36 on I 77 North. (See the amazing picture).

museumshot--IndyCars

Upon entering the facility – looking through the many trophies and notes and photos and framed articles of racers who lived and died (most all of them died) racing the vehicles on display – – I saw a “Rainbow Warriors” engraved plaque. The etched metal piece on the wood was engraved with the signatures of the guys on the #24 team. Although Evernham has a slew of motivational banners and signs (some given back to him by Lowe’s #48 crew chief Chad Knaus from the time he led the Hendrick group) this one stood out:

“We know how rough the road will be – How heavy here the load will be. We know about the barricades that wait along the track.

But we have set our soul ahead upon a certain goal ahead and nothing left from hell to sky – shall ever turn us back.”

I got goose bumps on that one. Each member of the teams signature is etched below the saying and it’s hard to believe that one group of young men could be as committed to winning and excellence as that team. But you’ll have that in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing and you could almost feel the passion given in the prime years of the guys on that team led by Evernham to being number one.

Today, Evernham is happy and doing things on his terms. It’s not time for champion crew chief Chad Knaus to stop and enjoy what he has built and achieved – he’s still on his game, Evernham said. One day Evernham may return to Sprint Cup racing – but today it’s Evernham’s turn to reflect, collect and share with young racers and up and comers and whomever the heck he wants to share his knowledge with. He’ll help set the land speed record, He’ll create racing opportunities for young stars, host on ESPN, serve as new owner of East Lincoln Speedway and continue to build the museum at REE.

The place was incredible -beyond description. Inside the building, a diner, an antique Texaco gas station store front, bar, and the vehicles…amazing. Check out the photo at right. Impressive Ray!

NASCAR Hauler Driver Meets Dakar Rally LIVE on “Dialed In”

I want to thank Randy Rodriguez the Sprint Cup Series hauler driver for Robby Gordon Motorsports for calling me the first week of January from the Dakar rally when I was on the air on Sirius NASCAR Radio. Not everyone knows that Randy is married to Robby’s mom and he’s a right guy.

I received a phone call as clear as talking to your neighbor and here it was a call from Randy in Argentina. What a story! He talked about the guys, including Robby sleeping in tents, and roll overs and near misses and the crowds that lined the streets and the throngs that welcomed them to South America. His story was so compelling. Once Rodriquez and the team returned he sent me some photos of the trip – (see the photos in the blog sidebar to the right). Enjoy! Rodriguez is a man of his word. He said he would call and he did – he had a special international cell phone and it was a real special surprise to be able to take my listeners LIVE to the Dakar Rally camp of Gordon’s team. Thanks Randy!!

Stay tuned for more excitement and unpredictable calls and inside stories on Dialed In.

I am going to begin posting regular for the season as I leave for Daytona and coverage of the 2009 Daytona 500.

Enjoy the day!

Claire B

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Greetings from the Big Apple! December 2, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, My Show, NASCAR, Teams.
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Hey all! Greetings from the Big Apple!

I’m blogging you from the Sports Business Journal Motorsports Marketing Forum at the Westin Hotel at Times Square.

Tonight I will be broadcasting (Sirius NASCAR Radio and BEST OF Sirius on XM) Channel 128 LIVE from the Sirius studios in Manhattan – from 8-11 EST. I’ll have a recap of the day here in New York City and I hope you can hang out.

Last night on “Dialed In” (Sirius NASCAR Radio) I told you all that the media have been asked to rank the competition stories from 2008. Several of you called in and asked if I could put the list on the blog so that you could help rank them in order of importance in your mind. Here’s the list (below).

Listed in no particular order are the nominees for the top stories of the 2008 NASCAR season. The media members have been asked to rank all 17 moments in order. What do you think?

• Jimmie Johnson wins his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, becoming only the second driver in history to accomplish the feat. Johnson’s championship performance is highlighted by his strong showing in the Chase, as he posts three wins, eight top 10s, six top fives and an Average Finish of 5.7.

• The new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car concludes it transition year and is raced the entire season.

• Kyle Busch excels in all three national series, winning a combined 21 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

• Tony Stewart announces he’s leaving Joe Gibbs Racing to become owner/driver of Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009. Stewart won two NASCAR Sprint Cup championships during his 10-year tenure with JGR.

• Carl Edwards wins a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series-high nine races and finishes runner-up in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series.

• Johnny Benson edges Ron Hornaday Jr. to win the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship in the second closest points battle in that series’ history. Benson joins Greg Biffle as the only other driver to win both the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series titles during their careers.

• In his first season driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Jr. breaks a 76- race winless streak by winning at Michigan International Speedway on Father’s Day. Earnhardt Jr. finishes 12th in points with one victory, 10 top fives and 16 top 10 finishes on the season.

• Jeff Gordon’s streak of 14 consecutive seasons of winning a race is snapped as he goes winless in 2008.

• Clint Bowyer wins the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship and continues to establish himself as one of the rising stars in the sport.

• Ryan Newman wins his – and owner Roger Penske’s – first Daytona 500, with teammate Kurt Busch finishing second. It is the 50th running of the Great American Race.

• After being voted into the field by the fans, Kasey Kahne wins the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and rides that wave of momentum with a victory the following week in the Coca-Cola 600.

• Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota wins the NASCAR Nationwide Series Owners’ Championship, claiming nine victories with four different drivers during the season.

• Eighteen-year-old Joey Logano bursts upon the national series scene, competing in 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series events, winning at Kentucky Speedway and posting 14 top 10 and five top five finishes.

• Greg Biffle wins the first two races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and re-establishes himself as a championship contender after a two-year absence from the Chase.

• Canadian Ron Fellows not only wins in his home country but does so in the rain at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in August. The event is NASCAR’s first-ever national series points race contested on rain tires.

• The announcement is made that Camping World will become the official sponsor of NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series beginning in 2009. Craftsman had been the official sponsor since the series’ inception in 1995.

• NFL standout Randy Moss enters the NASCAR Truck Series as owner of the No. 84 Randy Moss Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado.

I’d better get back to the seminar.

Enjoy the day!

Catch you at 8:00 EST tonight on “Dialed In”

Claire B.

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Tough Times For NASCAR Crew Members November 19, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, NASCAR, Teams.
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Charlotte, NC Studio
Claire B Lang – Blog
Wednesday, November 18, 2008

“It All Ends Here”

Tough Times For NASCAR Crew Members

As we close the books on the 2008 season and celebrate the crowning of a new champion and the end of the 2008 season I have something on my mind that needs to be said. It is with sadness that I walked through the garage Sunday on the last race day of the season – hearing of more and more team members laid off, some (from the 01 car) who learned on Friday afternoon inside the team hauler away from home and family support that they were loosing their jobs.

Many crew members who have been around a long time are predicting that the good crew members will find jobs and get work –eventually. As things pick up they will be returning to this sport but at a lower pay rate. This, say some in the sport, will serve to lower the pay scale that has risen excessively in the shops of NASCAR teams.

Others say – since the drivers are getting paid so much what is wrong with the crew members getting paid a decent wage. The price of running teams in this sport has sky rocketed – something has to give. Another huge discussion topic in the garage amongst the management folks on the layoff topic is how much the competitive teams had to beef up staffing for the car of tomorrow implementation and how those extra staffers are not needed now.

I was told in another discussion in the garage that a service line mechanic at a dealership who works extremely efficiently and quickly can make $70,000 a year. On a good Sprint Cup race team the same person can make $140,000. Sources in the garage told me that pit crew members can make $150,000 – $175,000 if they do other jobs at the shop. One shop structures their pit crew pay this way $35,000 for a first tear guy, $40,000 for second tear, $55,000 for third and $70,000 for top rung. Plus, of course, what they get for the job they do in the shop.

Today, I heard awful stories of team guys who work at one particular race shop near an area where the employment applications are taken. One crew member said that all day while he is working on the race car at the shop he watches the line of people come in the door looking for work in staggering numbers, one by one, all day long, he sees a continuous line of employment seeking friends passing by looking for a job.

I am hearing that the US Army team guys will, for the most part, be moving as an entire team over to the Stewart Haas Race Team. The Army team guys are happy they will have work but are upset that they are displacing others and sad for their fellow crew members on that team who they will be replacing.

I have been told stories of crew members who got calls from crew members crying on the phone – asking for help finding jobs. Here’s another side – some in the garage say that crew members who made good money, way more than they could make anywhere else with the same experience, bought big houses and lived above their means and now have issues with big homes that they can’t afford.

Crew members told me this weekend that they think if folks do not get jobs soon – many of those released will likely go back home to other parts of the country as many of them relocated to the Charlotte area for the opportunity in racing. One crew member told me that he was told he would not have a job as he got off the airplane in Homestead. He got off the airplane and the crew chief called him over as soon as he landed. Others were told on Monday when they got to their race shop.. It’s not just about them – these are guys are tight with the guys they have roomed with and lived with and worked on a team with for years.

When I got into this sport – I remember a crew member who I met up in Mooresville, NC when I used to hang out at a local racing hangout the “Stock Car Café”. Team guys used to gather after work and talk racing there. These days, the team guys are busy testing and working with less time for hanging out mid week. This crew member was on a lower team and just getting the cars to the track was brutal every week with a lot of burning the midnight oil. He was not able to keep his struggling race team together and his family and his job and was in tears because he had no idea how to write a resume. In our world, these guys getting laid off are extremely talented people. Many are experienced only in getting cars to go fast.

I also remember all of the things that these crew members over the years have personally done for me. On my first national television deal – years ago – It was the crew members who gave me thumbs up – whispered information in my ear and cheered me on. When Dale Earnhardt died and we went to Rockingham and I finally let my emotion out, crying behind my sunglasses on pit road, it was a crew member who noticed and gave me a silent hug. When the road seems weary and the going gets hard away from home it’s a crew member who hollers a joke or busts someone’s chops and gets us laughing or who yells out your name. It’s funny how someone using your name is comforting to most people especially when you are on the road alone.

There are many opinions in the garage as well – who say that the NASCAR garage had many people in it making too much money – guys on race teams who did not need to be there. The days of having one specialty are over. Teams are tightening their belts and hanging on to the crew member who can handle multiple functions.

Right now as we celebrate the end of the season and prepare to go to New York with the newly crowned champ – let’s help each other through the hard times. Drivers need to think about the crew guys not only for their own teams but other teams that have helped the sport who are challenged right now.

I’d like to thank all of the crew guys, those who got laid off and those who are still working hard to make cars go fast, for their help during my career. They take my phone calls day or night – they carve out time to explain things to me and the race fans when there are issues that don’t make sense, when there are stories I want to get exactly right. Yes, they have been really lucky to work doing something that they love and the race fans would love to have been them, if only for one day, working on any race team up or down pit road. Today – every single person who has a job should thank the Good Lord and then look around and see who we can help or give comfort to who doesn’t.

Guys – thank you.

Claire B

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Race Day – November 9, 2008 November 9, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, In The Garage, NASCAR, Teams, Transcripts.
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Blog – Phoenix International Raceway
Race Day – November 9, 2008
Claire B Lang

Brian France – NASCAR Chairman and CEO Q and A with the media heart at Phoenix pre-race today:

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France came into the media center for Q and A’s this morning. We were given about a ten minute notice and told we could ask anything. The topic of conversation revolved around the economy and the stress on NASCAR with the tough economic times with the auto manufacturer’s being in dire straights.

France said NASCAR is not immune to a tough economy but the sanctioning body is working at trying to understand what the partners are going through and how it relates back to the team owners and teams.

I asked him about what Rusty Wallace said here Friday in an interview about the Nationwide car of tomorrow (COT):

Here’s what Rusty said:

Rusty Wallace: “Unfortunately I think that NASCAR is going to put a rule out that we are going to go to the (Nationwide) car of tomorrow and a lot of people will say we’re NOT going to do it. Under this economy and as hard as it is to find sponsors you simply can’t take 21 cars and throw them all away with nobody finding any sponsors. Right now is the wrong time to do that.”

CBL to Brian France: “Rusty Wallace …yesterday said he though that some Nationwide teams might refuse to run the Nationwide Car of Tomorrow or that the cost was just too much. Can you maybe talk about whether that is a reality or not and whether you intend to continue the Nationwide Car of Tomorrow program?”

Brian France answer: “Well we’re not there with deciding that the COT is going to appear in the Nationwide series. What we said is that the Nationwide series will evolve and it needs more of its own identity quite frankly. It has a new sponsor in Nationwide and we’re going to do a number of things that we need to do to keep reestablishing – it’s the number two motorsports series in the US. And I certainly heard those discussions… We do an unprecedented amount of background and working with the team owners before we make any significant moves. We’ve done that on my watch the last five years – more so than we’ve ever done. So the car of tomorrow was as an example two or three years of discussions. Mike and I both led those respectively. We met with every team owner, every crew chief, multiple engineers. We heard all the issues. We didn’t just make a decision in six months. We took a long time to do that. We got an unprecedented amount of feedback. That’s what we will do on any major initiative. The difference is we’re not going to stand up here each week and announce the progress report on that. But that is the progress report for significant rules that affect them.

France had a lot to say- mainly that NASCAR is meeting with not only the manufacturers but also the TV partners related to ad revenue and looking and continuing to look at cutting costs that might help the teams, manufacturers and partners. He said that if a manufacturer pulled out of NASCAR, which he doesn’t think will happen, the sport could survive.

Ray Evernham- What’s Next?

It is not a shocker that word is out that Ray Evernham would look at selling his share in Gillette Evernham Motorsports as he investigates where his passion for racing will take him.

I spoke with Ray this (Sunday) morning and I am including the full transcript for you. Because, unless you hear all of what he says – it might be easy to miss the point.

CBL: Ray it’s not a surprise that you are looking at these options and at pulling back:

“Quite honestly we’d been working in this direction. As I said I’m enjoying TV, I’m enjoying helping the Gillette family and it’s something that you know I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I want to slow down a lot. I’ve been having a good time with Ray Jay and doing a lot of different things. With that said I still have commitments to Gillette Everham. I am on the board – I’m still a minority owner but I’m just not as actively involved as I was. So – you know Mr. Gillette is a guy that knows how to win championships. I mean right now he owns the winningest hockey franchise in history so the best way I can assist him the way I can and kind of stay out of the way.

CBL: So what would you like fans to understand as they read about you and chat about this on the internet:

“I’ve had a great career and I really appreciate the fans and I appreciate – I have been really blessed to have been able to do everything that I’ve done in the sport. But there also comes a time – you know like as did Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace and I thought Mark Martin or Bill Elliott you know people want to walk away a little bit not totally. It’s just time for me to do that. I have had a good run but nothing lasts forever. So I would hope that people would look at me and say, ‘wow this guy has been good for the sport.’ I feel like I’ve brought a lot of innovations. I think that we did a great job bringing Dodge back when you look at overall what was going on and helped with a lot of charities, done a lot of different things and have always tried to give back to the sport. I’m going to continue to do that through the grass roots programs. I’m working with short tracks, I’m working with kids, I’m doing all those things to try and help short track racing across America. So, there’s not always some big conspiracy when somebody just wants to slow down a little bit. This has been part of a long term plan. I have said over and over again that at some point the business side of this sport was going to grow much bigger than a) either I was capable of doing or wanted to do. And I think it’s reached that right now. I think it’s going to take people that are as powerful as George Gillette, Rick Hendrick and guys like that to continue to grow it. At this point in my life right now I want to enjoy racing again. I don’t want the stress. I don’t want to have to listen to family worried about all the stuff that is being written on the internet. I’m a racer, I’ve always been a racer. I started my career as a racer and hopefully I can end it that way.

Again, I made a 10 year commitment to Dodge you know and then certainly now – next year will be the ninth year of it. But we’ve had a great run a great partnership. RIght now, the economy is making people change and do things and what not and it’s just best for me to be in a position where I can help. Because if I thought I could engineer the redesign of something of a company I would have done that but right now I’m not at that point in my life.

When will you pull out totally?
We don’t know. Right now my plan is not for me to be totally out of it for a while. It’s just a matter of how much George (Gillette) needs me to do and what exactly we are going to do.

I’ve visited a lot of short tracks. I’m looking at helping some of the diversity programs I am working with some people to do that. I’m looking at purchasing a short track in North Carolina. We’re doing a lot of different things to get back to the grass roots to see now again – you’ve gotta be able to give something back. When you look at Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and guys like that you know they are at the point in their career where they are looking at giving back. I’ve always said – I ‘ve been on the diversity council with NASCAR before and I’ve always said that I would love to be able to help where I work with people like Ingersol Rand and Stanley Tools and all those people. We’re going to be looking at doing programs around various vocational schools to get kids involved in racing. I want to have a little bit of fun and hopefully transfer some of the knowledge and give somebody the opportunity that people gave me

Everybody reaches a point where it’s time to retire you know. Whether you are at any sport – and I don’t know that I’m 100 percent at that point in my life but you know I’m 51, not 21 you know there’s a big difference.”

JACK ROUSH:
Pick your friends as carefully as you do your enemies
Which does Jack Roush like least – Toyota or Ron Hornaday? Answer Toyota

When Ron Hornaday crashed in Friday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race here at Phoenix Jack Roush sent some of his guys over to help repair the truck. Hornaday was really touched. “I had more tears in my eyes to see them guys working on that truck,” he said. But – why did Jack send his guys to help? Below is Roush’s answer

Jack Roush:
“Well the thing about Hornaday is that he’s Drew Blickensderfer’s father in law. And so every time Hornaday has run into one of our guys – in the truck series which has happened repeatedly Drew has paid the price. I’ve thrashed him pretty hard for it and so I felt that I owed Drew that (Friday) night since we had capacity – we had fabricators and we didn’t have anything involved in the wreck. Kevin Harvick flagged me down when he was in the Nationwide car ready to qualify and I had walked up to watch one of our guys qualify on the line before they went on pit road. He flagged me over and he wanted to thank me and he did thank me and I appreciate that. I said, ‘Don’t misunderstand, I do NOT like Ron Hornaday. I don’t want anybody to get that impression but he was definitely the lesser of the evils that I was confronted with. You need to pick your friends as carefully as you pick your enemies and I had a chance to define some space there and I think I made the right call.'”

The Politics In Racing – JGR Gibbs Racing’s #11 team:
Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin made a comment here at Phoenix as he talked with reporters about the chemistry on his race team. Interesting – read closely what he said –

Do you feel like a little shake up with the team management on the No. 11 car would give you a fresh start for 2009?
“I don’t know. I think we know what our problems are. It’s just real political in the shops. It really is. Just because we know what we want to fix within our race team, there’s other departments, there’s other heads of departments that have been there a long time that think maybe there’s a better way to do it than the way we’re doing it. It’s tough to say. A lot falls on Mike Ford’s (crew chief) shoulders to go out there and help this car perform. I think he’s done a great job of that. I’m behind him, I really think that Mike’s one of the best crew chiefs in the garage with the things he has to work with, I guess you can say. We’re trying to do everything we can and we’re not performing the way we were at the beginning of the year. The No. 18 team isn’t performing the way they were at the beginning of the year. As a team we have to get better. I think to do that we’re going to have to have everyone within that race shop be a little bit more open-minded.”

Roush Driver -Jamie McMurray Pops the Question:
“She Said Yes!”

Jamie McMurray is engaged. After qualifying second for Sunday’s race he said the week was special for another reason. In the media center he gave all the details…..

McMurray: It’s been a really exciting week for me, getting engaged – what about that? That’s pretty exciting stuff, huh? So, it’s been a fun week.” DID SHE SAY YES? “Yeah. Actually, what her words were, ‘Are you kidding? Are you serious?’ ‘Yeah, I’m serious. What are you thinking?’ So, to come here, it’s cool. Qualified second here before and on like the fifth lap I had something on the grille and had to pit, and hopefully Sunday will go better.” WHERE AND HOW DID YOU PROPOSE? “Actually, I did it at the Phoenician, at the hotel here in town. Christy and I stayed there, three and a half years I’ve known her, so every year we’ve stayed there. Did it after the race on Sunday, we got back and went and hung out and went and had dinner and went back to the room. I had it planned out, and I really didn’t get nervous, but I wanted to wait another day, and I’m, like, ‘I can’t wait another day. I’ve got to do this right now.’ It was cool. We’ve had so much fun this week. It’s exciting for me because it’s certainly a big deal to find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, but to see, Christy’s been glowing, that’s been so cool to me to see how excited that she’s been. I think she likes me.” WHAT DAY? “Monday, November 3rd.” WHAT’S CLICKED ON FOR YOU? JUST CIRCUMSTANCE? “I don’t know. I was just talking to the engineer about that in the trailer, and our cars have been very good over the last, like, three months. We’ve been a lot faster the second half of the year; things just haven’t worked out – whether you just got caught up in accidents, things have just clicked. There’s been a little more fortune on the race track. They just have made really good adjustments to my car, and I think I’ve probably been a little better driver explaining what I’m feeling. When we unloaded at Texas, you kind of know the tone of your weekend when you run your first few laps, like if it drives good we can work on this or you have weekends where you think, “We’ll never get this right,’ and at Texas we unloaded and I thought, “This is going to be tough.’ And we came into the garage and made we made a few adjustments and I pulled back out and I’m like, ‘There you go. It feels great again.’ So, they just have done a really good job of being pretty methodical on the adjustments, and they seem to work.” DID YOU GET ON A KNEE WHEN YOU PROPOSED? “Yeah, I was pretty nervous. I did. Yeah, I got on my knee. Christy and I have been together for so long that it’s weird when you’re talking to your friend. You picture that as a child, I think, doing that, and you don’t know what the person looks like, but we’re sitting there, and I’m, like, ‘Gosh, this is my best friend.’ I kind of felt corny. Do I have to get on my knee? Because I’m certainly not Romeo, by any means, you know? Not even close.”

    Drivers Meeting:

Pit Road Speed: 45 MPH
Caution Car Speed: 50 MPH
Pit Road Speed Begins: 250 feet before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed Ends: 105 feet past the last pit box
Minimum Speed: 31.87 Seconds

Time to go out to the grid. More later – stay tuned.
.
Enjoy the day.

Claire B

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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

TRANSCRIPT Richard Childress Racing (RCR) News Conference August 23, 2008

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Saturday, August 23, 08
Bristol Motor Speedway

RICHARD CHILDRESS, OWNER OF RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING, met with members of the media to announce the driver alignment for the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Impala SS and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Impala SS for 2009. Full transcript:

RICHARD CHILDRESS: “We have talked to the press several times over the last few months and said we are going to let you know, we are going to let you know, who is the fourth driver, what we are going to do. We did a lot of work, Mike Dillon, Ben Schlosser, our whole group. We looked at all the competition throughout RCR, we have picked Casey Mears as the driver of our fourth team, which all teams are equal, but he will be driving the Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet next year.”

CASEY MEARS: “First of all, I am just very excited obviously to be a part of the Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet. To still be affiliated with Chevrolet is a big deal for me. Being a part of RCR is very exciting. Richard and I have known each other for quite a while now. He has been one of those guys throughout the garage that even though I was driving for other owners; he would talk to me quite a bit throughout the past few years. Always noticed if you did well, if you had a good race, he would come up and say something to me. I am very excited to be a part of their team. Excited to be partners with Clint (Bowyer), Jeff (Burton) and Kevin (Harvick). I think it is going to be a lot of fun. I can’t wait to get started. Obviously being affiliated with Jack Daniel’s as well is a big thing for me; I am very excited about it. I just can’t wait to get started; I am ready to get going.”

CHILDRESS: “I have watched Casey’s career from the time he first came in, he has always impressed me. I have stood there and watched races with his Dad. He almost won the Michigan race one time and I think I was pulling for you about as hard as I was pulling for our cars. We are proud to have him and for Jack Daniel’s, we couldn’t be happier for everything they have done for the sport. What we are going to do with our Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, a great group of people to work with and very patient with RCR and so is Jack Daniel’s. Now I want to introduce our driver of the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, Clint Bowyer.”

CLINT BOWYER: “How is everybody? Hot? Just excited to be a part of all of this. Obviously about bringing Casey Mears on board. I have been a big fan of the Mears Gang for a long time. He is a family guy, just like all of us are. I think he will fit in our family just great. Looking to forward to the opportunity ahead of us. Real excited to work the General Mills people and having the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet on the track next year. Looking forward to it.”

CHILDRESS: “There have been a lot of questions asked about what we are doing and the one I get a lot is the points on the No. 07, are we changing them, what are we doing? The points will stay with the No. 07. We have all the confidence in the world in Clint and his team that we’re going to be ok there. We have some things working there as well. Right now, like we do every year at this time, we start evaluating our competition. Where we are at with all of our teams. We use Jeff’s and Kevin’s input a lot. Kevin is doing an appearance but Jeff is here, glad to have you Jeff. We are just thrilled about next year. We have our work cut out for us the next three weeks and that is what we are concentrating on right now is to get in to the Chase and at that point we want to be a championship contender which I know we will be. We’ve got to get through that and once we do that, then we will start addressing other things.”

Question: CASEY, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A FRESH START WITH ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBER ORGANIZATION? “I am really excited. A little bit I have been to the shop looking around. Obviously RCR has all the equipment to be a championship contending team with all the success they had last year and this year. The tools are there, the parts and pieces are there. From what I can see and already knowing Clint, Jeff and Kevin, I think we are going to get along just fine. I am a big team player. That is how I like to race, that is what I like to do. I have seen a lot of success with it in the past in what I have done with other teams. Really looking forward to getting there, working with these guys, seeing what they have learned and just being a part of it. I think a good match for everybody. From the outside looking in, it feels like it is going to be a good fit. Obviously, with knowing Richard and the little bit that we have talked here and there, he is the type of guy I want to race for. I am ready to get started.

“I have a lot to focus on the remainder of this season and I am going to focus hard on that. I want to finish the season off strong, but as soon as that season is over, I am going to start focusing on this direction and look forward to getting started on it.”

Question: RICHARD, ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A WAY TO GET OWNER’S POINTS FROM SOMEONE IN THE TOP-35? “We are going to be just fine. We’ve did a lot of research and looked in to a lot of different things. At this time, we really can’t say what the plan is, but we are definitely working on a few things.”

Question: CLINT, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT STARTING NEXT YEAR WITH NO OWNER’S POINTS?
“It is like I told him (Richard), beats beatin’ dents in the body shop.”

Question: CLINT, HOW TOUGH IS IT FOR YOU TO MOVE AWAY FROM THE NO. 07, A TEAM YOU HELPED BUILD? “Absolutely, I have had a tremendous amount of fun and learned a lot from the Jack folks. Just great folks to work with. Uncle Jack is a good brand to tie your name to. I enjoyed it and it has been fun. Casey will do a good job with it. He is a pretty good looking dude so he will be able to market good and have fun with it. The biggest thing is, it is all about team work and making RCR bigger and better. Jeff, Kevin and I all three know we need a fourth driver and fourth team to be able to bring resources in and make our teams better, no matter who those teams are. Make us drivers better. Just looking forward to being part of the package and moving forward.”

Question: RICHARD, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT CREWS? “We are working on all of that at this time. Like I said, we aren’t going to get in to all of that. We are evaluating every direction, we have some really good plans. At this time, we’re not going to say what we are doing there because we have to concentrate on the next three weeks. This is really important, this is an important day for all of us. Bringing Casey on and Jack Daniel’s staying with us and General Mills with Laura Rather and her group over here, it is a special day. But, we all know what work we have cut out for us for the next three weeks. We have been working on this fourth team for quite a while and we have some great plans and no matter which way we go, it is going to be successful.”

Question: CASEY, HOW LONG IS THE DEAL AND ANY ASSURANCES THAT YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE THE SAME CREW AND THE SAME CREW CHIEF FOR MORE THAN ONE YEAR?
“Right now we are focused on getting in to next year. Like Richard was saying, there is still a lot of details to work out about exactly how things are going to fold out and who is going to be with who. What’s going to happen there behind the scenes. But now that have gotten to this point, we can get back and evaluate that and find out who is going to be with who, what crew chiefs are going to go where, what team members are going to go where. I am looking forward to sorting a lot of that out in the next few weeks. From the RCR standpoint, they have a lot of things to focus on right now as far as getting in the Chase and then getting through the Chase. Once the dust settles, we will be working out a lot of those details. The deal is for three years.”

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

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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