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Victory Lane at Darlington May 10, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season, claire blang, Trackside, Transcripts.
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What a wild Saturday night – Sunday morning at Darlington. Victory Lane is the size of a living room at Darlington Raceway, fitting for the kind of down home atmosphere that makes that track special. Everyone is packed in for a really fun, tight-knit celebration. After interviewing Denny Hamlin’s Mother, his crew chief, his team president and team owner – I took a golf cart ride to the media center (hitched a kind ride with the folks rushing crew chief Mike Ford to the media center) and appreciate the lift greatly. We’re all squeezed on the golf cart and there was a Victory Lane Champagne bottle on board which became the topic of discussion during the ride. It was totally empty but going on the shelf at Mike Ford’s house and Ford talked about perhaps having to build a new shelf for more hardware and souvenirs of wins.

Finally, Denny Hamlin, stepped out of the media center and well into the early morning hours of Sunday I interviewed him live. I noticed something that I had not noticed before about him. For some reason Denny reminded me of Jeff Gordon. After all that had transpired, Hamlin was calm and focused during the interview as if he was devoting that several minutes entirely and with complete attention to what I was asking, even after a long day and on a night into early morning where all kinds of things were now being thrown at him. It struck me that this characteristic is something I have always noticed in Gordon. When you have those few minutes with Jeff either behind his hauler or after qualifying or racing – he pays complete attention to the moment and is not distracted. He is remarkably able to isolate each of the moments he dedicates entirely to what he is doing at that moment and he doesn’t give standard answers but truly answers what you are asking giving completely of himself to the moment. I have always notice this in Jeff Gordon and it struck me that this is why I like interviewing Hamlin, because from the interviews of him after his first pole to his firt win to now, he is the same way and it is a characteristic I see in the champion drivers.

Honestly, I am not sure if it is coincidence or the mark of great talent, but I have to believe that inner calm and stress free focus into the moment, allows a driver to enjoy what he’s doing more and excel in focus on the track. Interesting.

In interviewing the team after the race for the “teardown” to be broadcast on “Dialed In” this week – it was easy to pick up on the teams support of Hamlin, even in the tough times, certainly after a win. In the media center Hamlin said he has to believe his faith in his team demonstrated by staying in the car when he injured his knee has paid off with the team. “We have those good pit stops at the end. Is it coincidence?,” He asked. Talking with the team, their confidence and admiration of him was through the roof. This is a team that will not gloat but they feel they are championship level – without a doubt in their being.

Struggles – Dancing with the Lady in Black:

Interaction between driver and crew chief who appear on the same page – even after a frustrating run. it was a long night.

DALE EARNHARDT JR., AND CREW CHIEF LANCE MCGREW, NO. 88 AMP ENERGY /NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – Finished 18th:
SO YOU’RE NOT FRUSTRATED?

JUNIOR: “We ran really good at the beginning. Lance will go home and work on what he can.”
MCGREW: “I think the best thing is that now we have a notebook. We didn’t have that. And now we can go back and we can look and we see.”
JUNIOR: “We ran better this time than we did last time here. I think this has been one of the worst races I had last year.”
MCGREW: “Yeah, it was horrible.”
JUNIOR: “We see that we can do it. We’ve just got to be able to finish.”
MCGREW: “We overcame a cut right rear tire and that was good. You have nights like this.”
JUNIOR: “I enjoy working with Lance every week.”

Tony Stewart finished 23rd – on a frustrating evening for the #14.

From the start of the 367-lap race, Stewart had a racecar that was loose back to the gas each time he came off the track’s corners. Track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments were used throughout the race to alleviate the car’s ill-handling ways, but adding to the team’s headaches was a slew of problems that only compounded their original difficulty in navigating the track’s tight confines. There was a chain-reaction crash that saw Stewart get into the back of Paul Menard’s Ford on lap 63, when traffic stacked up in between turns one and two. While Menard spun to the apron, Stewart received some cosmetic damage to the nose of his Old Spice/Office Depot machine. Then, on what was supposed to be the team’s third pit stop on lap 85, Stewart missed his stall when traffic clogged pit road and prevented him from angling into his box. The non-stop did have one benefit as it put Stewart into the lead when the race restarted on lap 89 – Stewart and team kept fighting. On lap 336, Stewart lost a lap to eventual race-winner Denny Hamlin, and it was a deficit he could not overcome. When the checkered flag mercifully dropped, Stewart was 23rd.

Note: I got a kick out of the writing of Stewart’s PR guy Mike Arning who gets full credit for noting that the checkered flag “mercifully dropped,” for Stewart. Touche Mike.

Bad night for AJ (and Jimmie Johnson)

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet – At the infield care center after being caught up in AJ’s Brake rotor mess (see below) Johnson wasn’t sure what happened. He was wacked out of nowhere and calm as could be. I was surprised how a guy could be so laid back after being what he called “drilled” with no notice. When I asked him about it he said that they were running good times, and called it an “adventurous” night. He told me he felt like they were “doing their best,” and was positive that they were fast before being taken out. Not a good night for the 48 – but situation out of their control. He’s a master of not wasting time worrying about what is out of control and moving on.

So what did happen?

AJ ALLMENDINGER – No. 43 Insignia/Best Buy Ford Fusion (Finished 37th) – “The brake rotor exploded. The last 40 or 50 laps we were struggling with brake problems and just no brakes. We took all the brake cooling off and thought maybe we were gonna fix it, and when that yellow came out I went to hit the brakes to slow down and the brake rotors exploded. I’m not sure which one, but I was just trying to aim for the bottom and try to miss everybody. I’m sorry to Jimmie. It wasn’t his fault, but I had no brakes and couldn’t do anything about it.”

Looking ahead to Dover:

Hang on to your clothes –

Grammy-nominated country music artist Joe Nichols will sing the national anthem prior to the start of the “Autism Speaks 400 presented by HERSHEY’S Milk & Milkshakes” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on May 16, 2010 at Dover International Speedway. Nichols’ hit song “Gimmie That Girl” currently sits at No. 1 on the Billboard country music chart. The singer of country hits “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” ooh boy did you catch that race fans –it should be a wild weekend. LOL.

Jeff Gordon – #24 Dupont Chevrolet -“It’s high speed, really high banked — Dover is just one of those white knuckle experiences that you really feel the sensation of the speeds that our cars are capable of probably more there than any other track that we go to. It’s one of my favorite tracks. I love Dover because it’s got those big, fast high banked corners, but it’s great racing as well. The groove has really widened out. You can run high, you can run the middle and you can run low. We’ve seen a lot of different lanes there to race on. It’s challenging. Every lap, you’re on the edge.”

DOVER 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – (SIRIUS NASCAR Radio) 5:00 p.m. EST Friday

Interesting Note: Elliott Sadler returns to Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) to pilot the No. 2 Best Buy/Insignia Silverado for the second time this season. Despite the fact that Sadler has been competing in NASCAR’s top-3 series for over 15 years, he has NEVER made a Truck Series start at Dover International Speedway. Sadler has, however, made a total of 27 combined starts in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series at the one-mile concrete track. Sadler has led a combined total of 189 laps at the track, and has earned a best finish of sixth in both series (Fall of 2005 in Cup, Fall of 1997 in Nationwide). Is there any added pressure in returning to the truck that currently sits first in the owner’s points? “No pressure at all. I know it’s a great truck and I’m really looking forward to being behind the wheel of the Best Buy/Insignia truck at Dover. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

Did you know?

According to NASCAR’s Loop Data statistics, over the past four Truck Series races at Dover International Speedway – Ron Hornaday has gained more points than any other Truck Series driver. Hornaday has picked up a total of 771 points at the Monster Mile over the last four race events. Hornaday also holds the title of driver fastest early in a run at Dover.

Catch the Heluva Good! 200 NASCAR NASCAR Nationwide Series -(SIRIUS NASCAR Radio) 2:00 p.m. Saturday

Thanks for your Crown Royal #17 Pit Crew Name Suggestions!!– The #17 team is looking for a name for their pit crew, a creative challenge that is fun – especially with the new sponsor. I opened up the phone lines and email and got a ton of suggestions including, Royal Knights, Kings of the Road, Gold Diggers, Crown Over-The-Wall Bangers, The Barneys, The Royal Wrenches, The Purple Reign, Purple Predators, Purple People Eaters and more. Some of them were a bit royal and snobby in nature for a down and dirty pit crew, one that is not included to step out on pit road acting like they are more regal than everyone else. There lies the challenge of naming the crew with a name that matches a “Crown Royal” type hook. Hmmm. Send an email at insidercbl@aol.com if you have a suggestion. I interviewed Robbie Reiser, the GM of Roush Racing who reminded the listeners that the “Killer Bees” earned their nickname – and that the #17 pit crew earned that initial name they didn’t create it. Reiser is tough. I like that.

Newly Posted Photo: The Stewart Haas team guys with the ARMY Team at Fort Benning, with driver Ryan Newman. The trip to Fort Benning last week was beyond worthwhile – and we all had great pride over the pit stop that the team busted off before being thrown into the training course with the US ARMY Rangers. The Stewart Haas guys held up their end of the deal, they may have been pushed to the limit by the Rangers but they didn’t buckle. To the Army guys – thanks for all you do! Meeting some of America’s finest and chatting with them at Fort Benning – filled all of us with pride in what America represents.
Claire B.

US Army Racing Team at Fort Benning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Larry!

Claire B


NEWMAN TO DRIVE A TRUCK AT ATLANTA:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Claire B

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“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

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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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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Saturday Pocono Blog and Goodyear Tires Interview Transcript August 2, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Controversy, Track Testing, Transcripts.
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One of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company's bl...Image via WikipediaClaire B.log

Saturday, August 2, 2008
Pocono Raceway

Latest in Tire Saga: Goodyear Announces Actions to Address NASCAR tires

Both Sprint Cup Series practices were rained out today and were canceled due to rain. This should make tomorrow’s race interesting to say the least. This morning Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced actions toward solving the tire issues that hampered last weekend’s event at the Brickyard.

After the announcement was made – I walked down to the the Goodyear hauler in the garage here at Pocono Raceway to interview Stu Grant, General Manager, Global Race Tires for Goodyear (see transcript of interview below). Before I get to that interview here are the basic steps that Goodyear is making:

Next steps include:
• Completing the extensive post-race analysis in process that includes
all internal aspects of tire design and manufacturing and discussions
with key external stakeholders, including representatives from NASCAR,
team owners

, crew chiefs and drivers to gain insight to information
that will provide clarity to the final analysis.

• Engaging research scientists and engineers, including available
assets and modeling capabilities from the Sandia National Laboratories,
to develop a range of potential short-term solutions.

• Scheduling a fall track test at Indianapolis with multiple
participants to test solutions to full fuel stop capabilities and test
again in the spring of 2009 to fine-tune the specific race setup.

• Accelerating discussions with appropriate NASCAR representatives,
team owners, drivers, crew chiefs and track management on any future
tire. Among elements already being considered are larger overall
diameters, wider section widths, and larger bead diameters.

• Developing future tires as a long term solution, looking proactively
at the vehicle, tire, setup and track combinations for a complete
package to assure only the highest level of performance for NASCAR’s
racing fans.

TRANSCRIPT: Claire B. Lang Saturday, August 2 Interview with Stu Grant/Goodyear:’

CBL: Stu in general what are you guys doing, actions to address the tire issues at Indy?

Grant: “Well we understand that it’s our issue to fix and we were unexpected by the results that we saw on Sunday, we didn’t predict that. So now what we are doing is we are analyzing all of our manufacturing operation to make sure that the right side tire that we raced there was actually what we thought it was. We’ve been through that analysis and we’re satisfied that we are ok in that respect so now what we are looking at is that whole mechanism of tire wear that ah we’re trying to model the new car on that race track with that tire combination to be able to predict that wear so that we can come up with a solution for 2009.”

CBL: So what will you do to fix it?

Grant: “Well it’s the attitude of the car when it enters the corner it’s changing the way the tire abrades so what we’ve got is we’ve got again we’re trying to model that exact interface between the tire and the race track. But then what we are going to do is modify the materials that we have in that rubber. We’ve talked to a lot of our research chemists to get some ideas from them and what we’re going to try to do is formulate a compound differently so that in that kind of an abrasion mode we put a tread compound on that tire that will actually rubber in the racetrack.”

CBL: Were you shocked that it didn’t rubber in the racetrack with all the research, all the testing all that you know about tires?

Grant: “Yea we were absolutely shocked. Again we ran the same right side compound in 06 and 07 and we tested it in 08 on the car of tomorrow. It appeared that that right side compound was going to be the best race tire compound that we had available. We saw nothing in that test that would indicate a problem. We did see high wear in that test like we normally do but we, again, thought the track would rubber in and be fine with the race and that’s what never happened. We did see some improvement on the right front and honestly that was a fairly normal wear throughout the race on Sunday. In other words the right front looked to us in 08 almost like it did in 07 and 06 but the right rear wear was just horrendous.”

CBL: Can you talk about discussions about the width of the tire -making it wider- which we have been talking about for years.

Grant: “We actually had some discussions with NASCAR about a larger tire several years ago. We initiated those discussions again with NASCAR in the spring of 08 so we are actually doing a lot of work on that. We have a lot of people doing some modeling on what exactly this tire size should look like. What tire size does this car really want. So we are looking at larger bead diameters, we are looking at larger section width, we’re looking at a larger diameters. We are trying to figure out the right contained air volume to carry the load that these cars deliver and also what we think might provide the best handling.”

CBL: Some of the drivers are saying that NASCAR and Goodyear should come up with a tire that doesn’t depend on the track rubbering in. That might require the drivers to overcome criticism of the tire being harder to handle.

Grant: “Boy that is really a complicated situation. See on a really high abrasive race track you are faced with the rubber going somewhere. Let’s take Indianapolis – one of the most abrasive surfaces that we run at. No matter what you put on there from a tire standpoint – it is going to wear those tires out and it is going to rubber in the race track. So what you’re faced with is – in order to try to get around it – You know that’s going to happen. So if you go there with a simple solution – oh gee lets just put more tire rubber on there – put more gauge in the tread – well then you end up with like Dover in 1994. What happens is – you have a tire and everything looks fine and the track gets rubbered in and then you come to race day and the track is rubbered in and the wear goes away and the tire contains the heat and you blister everything. So you can’t get yourself in that situation. So you have to have a tire that deals with the abrasion but also isn’t going to cause you problems on race day when you know that the track surface is going to change. So you have to be able to deal with that on Sunday.”

CBL: What about addressing things that you are hearing (in the discussion of this) that is not accurate?

Grant:” I’m not sure specifically what people are saying that is not accurate. We should have had a tire there that worked on the Car of Tomorrow on that race track and we did not do that. Our job as a supplier is to produce a tire that has a good race and we didn’t do that. Now in retrospect in the absence of a NASCAR open test like we had at 06 and 07 at Indianapolis in the absence of that we should have gone in there and rented the race track and taken 20 cars there to make sure we had a tire that would go a gas stop. You know that is not something that we typically do but that is something that we could have done and if we would have done that we would have seen the track didn’t take rubber and we could have reacted to that.”

CBL: Why did you not do that?

Grant: “Because what we had was – we had this known quantity – a proven race tire that had worked for us in 06 and 07 – we know the Car of Tomorrow and what it does and doesn’t do so we were comfortable with that aspect of it. The tire test that we had on the Car of Tomorrow at that race track with Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers and Dale Earnhardt Junior was a good test and we saw nothing out of the ordinary there so there was no signal that would indicate to us that we needed to do something like that.”

CBL: Some said that perhaps when you are a driver going to a tire test you don’t push it to the limit or don’t share all?

Grant: “I think that these guys are professional drivers and when we go to a tire test they know what’s on the line. They know that they are there to help us develop a tire that we’re going to go back and race. I think we get 100 percent from these guys. Now the difference is you test and you drive a certain way. The change then is when they race you race a different way don’t you? The car moves around a lot more on a race track as you are passing and obviously you are not trying to deal with practice in a tire test. Sometimes the way you muscle the car around a little bit more during a race as you are moving through traffic does affect the tire wear or tire heat sometimes we have seen that. Honestly, I feel pretty good about the job that these professional drivers deliver for us during a tire test.”

CBL: Why not have a NASCAR or Goodyear tire testing team. Why depend on the drivers?

Grant:” I am glad you brought that up – that is a good question. We have talked to NASCAR about that and they have talked to us about that but we’ve been down that road. We’ve been down that road with our own test team. We did that a number of years ago when we were involved in Indy Cars and Formula 1 we had our own test program. Here’s the problem with that – you cannot keep up technically with what is going on with the race car. If we had our own stock car and we had our own engine program – and so on there is no chance that we or NASCAR even with an in house program could possibly keep up technically with the advancements that the Hendrick Motorsports organization is going deliver or Childress or anybody for that matter. So we are better off saying to those guys hey Jeff Gordon bring your car and bring yourself and lets do this tire test at Darlington. We are way better off using those guys and they are very cooperative about helping us out. We haven’t had any problem getting these people to our tire test and the only issue for us is we just try to be fair to spread it around amongst drivers and teams and manufacturers”

CBL: Will you find what was wrong with this tire? Is it possible you will never know?

Grant: “I am confident we will find an answer. What that is I don’t know at the moment. We’ve got a lot of theories on what we need to do to fix that but I think we are going the right direction. We have got a lot of people working a lot of hours back in Akron Ohio right now trying to analyze this problem and determine a set of solutions. We’re going to go back -we’ve got two dates at Indianapolis already this fall. We’re going to go back twice and see if we can make some progress towards a solution. Because we do need to prove to ourselves that we do have the capability of making a tire that will last a fuel stop on the Car of Tomorrow at Indianapolis.”

-O-

That’s it for now. Digest that and enjoy the afternoon. I am headed to the hill. The practices have been canceled and the Nationwide race is about to start in Montreal. More later, everyone have a great afternoon.

Claire B
Pocono Raceway.

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Friday Special Drivers Meeting at Michigan International Speedway- Transcripy June 14, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, Trackside, Transcripts.
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Shot by The Daredevil at Daytona during Speedweeks 2008Image via WikipediaHere’s something I thought you’d like. As I told you on the air yesterday, NASCAR held a special driver’s meeting to address the Sprint Cup Drivers in private in the garage. After qualifying was rained out – Jeff Burton talked about the meeting. I thought you’d like to read exactly what he said. Burton is always excellent at explaining things – and so I thought this would be interesting to all of you:

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T

YOUR MEDIA AVAILABILITY WAS BEFORE THE MEETING THIS MORING. WHAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION? WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE OPPORTUNITIES LIKE THAT FOR YOU GUYS TO MEET WITH NASCAR IN THAT MANNER?
“Well, as I have said before, I think communication is important. I don’t think drivers have any power, but we do hold that information that could be valuable to NASCAR. Of course, NASCAR holds a tremendous amount of information that can be valuable to us. A lot of times, we don’t fully understand, we are complaining about something, but we don’t fully understand how NASCAR got to where they are or for that matter, how the teams even got to where we are. Drivers today, including myself, are much more apart from the race team; apart from the mechanics of what a race car is all about and how we build race cars, than ever before because of engineering and because of the way things work. So I think that communication is really important. We at times complain about things and we think we are the only ones who understand it, when in fact, other people do understand it. There are also times that we see things that people don’t understand. So I think it is a good idea to communicate and I think it is a good idea that we were able to listen to NASCAR. They can explain things to us and they need to listen to us and we can explain things to them too. Whether we need a formal setting to do that, I don’t know. But I do believe that communication is the key to any business. I think our athletes can provide some insight that NASCAR could use to the fans benefit.

“I guess you could have heard in today’s conversation, you could have heard whatever you wanted to hear. I believe a lot of people knew what they were going to hear when they went in there and that is what they heard. I bet if you asked every driver what they heard, they would probably say something different. What I heard, was ‘Hey look, let’s don’t forget that things aren’t all that bad and let’s also don’t forget we can make things better, let’s work to find a way to make them better and let’s communicate. Let’s work hard to make things better.’

“You know it is a frustrating thing, because our perception, teams and drivers perception is that NASCAR gave us this car and we had little input in it and you know, that is true. But, it falls on us to make it work. So, when you have a tough day and things don’t work or whatever, then you want to point the finger at them and say ‘Well, it is their fault.’ It is our job to just do it better than everybody else.

“I have told you guys to begin with that I don’t care what we run. I don’t care if it is the COT, whatever, I don’t care. The only thing I know is that it is my job to drive it better than everybody else and it is my team’s job to set it up better than everybody elses. That is what we do, it is our job. When we don’t, we can’t blame that on NASCAR because somebody wins the race. I think we lose focus on that and I do think that NASCAR has become the point of contention for everybody pointing their finger and saying it’s their fault. When in fact, there are some issues we could help make better.”

WAS THIS A MEETING MORE OF A REMINDER OF THE PARTNERSHIP THAT A DRIVER, THE SANCTIONING BODY AND THE WHOLE SPORT HAS WITH EACH OTHER OR WAS NASCAR ASKING ITS ATHLETES FOR MORE HELP AND SUPPORT?
“I got both and I got more than that. I got a reminder that this sport is bigger than any one person. This proven to be over time bigger than any one person. We got a reminder that we are all in this together. We got a reminder that is we have got a problem there is a way to go about it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with speaking to the media about the issues we are dealing with. I think that our fans deserve to know what we are dealing with. I think there is a way to do it that is constructive. I do believe that NASCAR has become…we all point our finger at NASCAR anytime something happens.

“I mean, how many times has a driver speeded on pit road and said “Yea, I did it.’ (LAUGHS) They’re the…I am raising two children. I have a 13 year-old and a seven year-old and every time I tell them to do something, they don’t want to do it. Every time I tell them they did something wrong, they say they didn’t do it wrong. It is the same. They (NASCAR) is our authority. They are the authority figure. When we question them all the time, because that is human nature I guess.

“I thought today’s meeting was kind of a reminder of that we are all in this together. It was a reminder that if you have a problem, let’s be constructive. It was reminder that don’t think that anyone person is bigger than the sport. Mike (Helton) showed his openness and willingness to look at finding a way to always make things better.

“To be honest, I watch the races from my seat. I don’t watch them from those seats (points to grandstands), ok. We have had some races this year that I didn’t think were very good races. We have had some races this year that I thought were really good races. I betcha if we went back 15 years ago, we could say the same thing. I think what is going on today is because the car of tomorrow has received… the car of tomorrow was kind of thrust upon us, this is what you are going to run. It was all new, so anything that didn’t work, we pointed the finger and said this is a piece of junk. This car does this, this car does that, this car does this. I think it has gotten to the point it hasn’t been constructive. I hasn’t produced better the car or for the racing. So, we are at a point where something needs to change. I think that NASCAR understands that and I think, not in the sense that the car needs a change, but the attitude about the car needs to change. The car doesn’t drive as good as the old car. I mean, it doesn’t. But, that doesn’t make it wrong. It is different than the old car, that doesn’t make it wrong.

“What matters is what is the quality of the race. I believe racing is like any other sport. If anybody thinks that every single race we are going to go out and have a three-wide battle for the lead on the last lap, you are mistaken. By the way, I watched the NBA finals the other night that was a blowout. It is sports. Sometimes people get on a role and they kick everybody’s butt because they are going a better job.

“Listen, I led every lap of a 300 mile race in New Hampshire, I led every lap. That wasn’t celebrated. It wasn’t ‘Wow, that was a history making deal, it was great, it was this, it was that’, it was boring. The race was boring. The part about history being made and all of that, that meant nothing. The only thing that mattered was that nobody passed for the lead, so the race was boring. That the world we live in. Every race isn’t going be what somebody thinks is a great race. Not everybody is going to think that every race is a great race. We have good races this year; we have had races that weren’t so good. Then people talk about in the good ole days, just bring you some of those films out and we will show you the good ole days, I mean.

“We have as good of racing today as we have ever had, on average, that is my opinion. I may be wrong, but my view is that on average, we have as good of racing as we have ever had. And…this car is still an infant. Think about it, this is the first time we have had this car at Michigan. It is the first time. We are going to be better when we come back next time. We are going to be better with it when we come back the next year.

“I think the thing that the teams and the drivers have become frustrated about is that NASCAR hasn’t been willing to change anything about the car. If you go back to six years ago, when they changed something every four months, that drove you nuts too.

“So, NASCAR is in kind of a tough spot. If they don’t change anything they ridiculed, if they change stuff, they get ridiculed. They are in a touch spot. I respect that. I do believe that we could make the car a little better. That we can make it drive just a little bit better, it might produce better racing, that is my opinion. Although, I don’t think the racing we have today is bad racing. That is the way I view it.

“I don’t sit up there though (points to the grandstands). I don’t have that perspective.”
__________________________________________

Personally, I like what Burton said about every driver reading the message from the meeting the way he heard it. It makes sense. Like I said, Jeff Burton is a good one to ask about what was said. I hope the above gives you more information to discuss on this topic.

Enjoy the day !
Claire B

Zemanta Pixie

Friday Fun- NSCS Dover Kyle Busch Notes and Quotes May 30, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, Transcripts.
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Kyle Busch - One of my least favorite driver personalities, but he knows how to drive.Image via WikipediaHey: It’s been a little crazy today at the track. I will post tonight – have a bunch to tell you. In the mean time – here’s what Kyle Busch said today. I thought you’d like to read it for yourself. I’ve gotten tons of emails from all of you and I appreciate it. Tonight I’ll post some of what is in my mailbox. You all have been writing a lot and I love hearing your take. This (below) includes what he said about his little conversation with Jeff Gordon last week. More coming later – but for now I thought you’d like to read this……in its entire form. Read on:
Enjoy!
Claire B

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Combos Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How has the Joe Gibbs team enabled you to reach your potential?
“Well, I think they just gave me the leeway to go out and sort of be myself, I guess — be who I am. That’s kind of been the biggest thing. And just talking with Joe (Gibbs) and having conversations with him off the race track. He’s a pretty cool, laid back guy. He just keeps telling me to do what I’m doing and we’ll take care of the bad stuff when it happens later. So, the thing that’s just made this year a little bit easier is that, and transitioning to Joe Gibbs Racing and being able to get along with all the people and everybody. Especially, my teammates with Denny (Hamlin) and Tony (Stewart) — being able to work well with those guys, too.”

What do you think of Joey Logano?
“There’s been a lot of hype around him, so hopefully we’re not all too disappointed. I don’t think we will be. I think Joey’s got a great future in this sport and he’s young and he’s upcoming and he’s ready for it right now. He wants nothing but to bite at a chance at it. I feel like he’s going to do a fine job. Hopefully, this weekend is just a telling story of how good he’ll really be.”

What advice would you have for Joey Logano?
“To me, I didn’t have all this hype around my debut as Joey (Logano) does and I finished second in mine. I hope Joey can do just as good if not better in his debut here. I feel like he has a good car. The biggest thing about Joey is that if he keeps a good head on his shoulders because he knows he’s in great equipment — (he) doesn’t go out there and try to make up for what it is not, and take a second or third instead of trying to get a win.”

What did it mean for Braun Racing to get a Nationwide Series win at Charlotte?
“It definitely meant a lot to myself to win for Braun Racing — to have those guys. They work just as hard as anybody else out there. To have the ability to go out there and have the care capable of being able to win was pretty fun. I wish Trent (Owens, Braun crew chief) and those guys were with me, but it was with Todd (Lohse, crew chief) and the third bunch of guys. But, still we made the most of the opportunity there. I felt like — we tested pretty well, we weren’t as good as we wanted to be. Then we started the race and we were just really, really tight. I did not expect that. We made some lofty changes during the race and got it better and better and got track position at the end. So, it was pretty cool.”

Can you win again with Braun Racing this weekend?
“I don’t know. We’ll see. We were battling the car all through practice. We were so tight and then a little bit loose. So, kind of battled back and forth a little bit with it. Hopefully, we can have a strong showing tomorrow. We just need to keep racing here. If we can get a win great, if not we’ll have a good points day.”

What do your post-race celebrations mean?
“It’s just fun for me to be able to win races in general. You never know when your last win is going to be and you always want to make them as memorable as you can. Yet, you go out there and celebrate with the fullest extent that that is your last win. To me, it’s not about getting out of the car and going; ‘Yeah, we won.’ It’s about getting out of the car and really celebrating and doing it as a team.”

What happened with you and Jeff Gordon last week after the race?
“I felt like when I was coming back through traffic there after we changed our battery we got to the 24 (Jeff Gordon) and everybody else wasn’t really racing and Jeff (Gordon) just raced me a little bit harder than anybody had all day. I wasn’t sure if he meant something by that or if it was just the way his car was acting or what. I tried to get a reasoning there after the race and it was just the wrong time to do it. All is cool now. We talked in Pocono and he just told me that his car wasn’t balanced the way it needed to be and he was just fighting for position. I recognize that and feel for him there that he didn’t have quite the car he wanted to pass people so he just had to fight a little harder to hold onto it.”

Was Jeff (Gordon) upset because you approached him while he was being interviewed?

“No. He wasn’t getting interviewed or anything like that. There was just media around. I think he was just — the adrenaline was still going after the race and whatnot. My mistake, but I learned from that. He gave me a bit of advice if there was a next time for that.”

What allows you to use less brake than most people?
“I don’t know — maybe that I roll out of the throttle a little bit sooner getting into the corner. I start the slowing down process a little bit sooner. Brakes with these things you tend to heat up the front tires too much so the cars don’t like that. For me to go out there and just run my laps and stuff like that, I can learn a little bit from whose at the top of the board like Jimmie (Johnson) says. It’s really not much. You just have to try to figure it out for yourself.”

Is the braking something you’ve learned from over the years?
“The bullring where I grew up, when I raced there I would always try to use brake and it really wouldn’t work. Anytime that I would get out of the gas early and not use any brake whatsoever I always turned faster lap times. There was times when my dad was my spotter and I was maybe a quarter or half straightaway ahead he told me to slow down a little bit and I’d pick up time not using any brakes. So it’s kind of weird. People talk about saving fuel and fuel mileage and stuff and people will pick up lap time by saving fuel. It’s just a way of racing sometimes.”

How satisfying is it for you to have the kind of season that you are having?

“It’s definitely satisfying and also I’m pretty grateful to be having a season like this. It doesn’t come all the time and it doesn’t come for everybody so certainly you’ve got to hold onto it when you do have it. Hopefully we can keep going the way we are. I looked at it the other day and if it wasn’t for mechanical issues the worst finish we’ve had all year was a fourth-place finish. It’s pretty phenomenal. We just got to keep going the way we’re going and hopefully we can just keep getting our points and keep leading this thing.”

Are you surprised that people call you a villain?

“I guess there have been villains over the years so if that’s their word that they are going to call it, then that is what it is. To me it doesn’t bother me. I don’t feel like that’s who I am but that’s, I guess, the role that I’m portraying.”

Do you prefer to win in the Craftsman Truck Series more than the Nationwide Series?
“What tweaks the veteran guys is that they’ve been there so long and they’ve been doing it for so long and they feel like they are on their way out and they want to get as many wins as they can. To me, you just never know when your last win is going to be. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a Cup car or a Nationwide car or a truck or a late model or a damn mini-stock. That’s the part of this sport, to go out there and win and be known as one of the best. That’s how I partake it and that’s how I go out every week — just trying to win races.”

Garage Update: Tums Ride, Stremme in for Dario April 27, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Drivers, In The Garage, Transcripts.
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Talladega Superspeedway- David Stremme Transcript

David Stremme who will fill in for Dario Franchitti and competition manager for Chip Ganassi Racing Steve Hmiel met with reporters at the Ganassi hauler in the garage this morning here at Talladega Superspeedway. Bottom line – Sremme is in for one race, Dario will see his Doctor in Indy and the team will look at other opions on Monday. Here are the key parts of the conversation:

Question: When did you get contacted and how do you feel about filling in for Dario today?
Stremme: “Obviously, right after the race yesterday people had started talking with Jeff Dickerson who represents me and there’s a lot of chain of events that had to go on. Obviously, I called Rusty and had to ask him and then we called Roger (Penske) and asked him which Chip (Ganassi) had already spoke to him in Kansas. So all that was approved and then it was just a matter of getting my seat insert down here and putting it in the car. But you know this is something we don’t like to see anybody get hurt and I didn’t know how bad Dario was. During the race I knew they were working on him down there but there were so many big wrecks yesterday. But it was just a misfortune. I went and seen Dario last night. His ankle was all wrapped up and stuff and you know we’ll just sit in for him today and try to help him out.

Question: Steve (Hmiel), what’s the deal looking ahead and how is Dario doing and that sort of thing how long will he be out?
Hmiel: I don’t know. He’s actually out here in his motor home and I’m sure he’ll end up going to Indianapolis this week to see Dr. Trammell and his group. Probably the best in the business at patching stuff like that up. They can perform miracles it seems like but you’d think an ankle injury like that would be at least two to three weeks even more.

David have they talked to you about filling in for other races?
Stremme: It’s just this weekend. That’s all we got.

Question: You really got an opportunity to show some people – that -you know you got something to prove that you still have a shot in these cars…
Stremme: It’s not really necessarily today that I have something to prove. I mean I proved that signing with Roger Penske and the opportunity they’re going to give me there. It’s something that I feel very strong on the situation I have there and looking forward and what I have with that organization. Nothing with Chip and them I left on good terms and that’s why I’m helping them out today.

Question – But you did very well yesterday and you’ve done well at this track so this would be an opportunity…
Stremme: Yea obviously – we could win today you never know – here. You know like yesterday we had a really good run and I like speedway racing. We finished seventh here in the spring last year with this same team. So, ahm…but there’s a lot of obstacles that we gotta overcome. They had to qualify the car in- there’s a couple of things that they got to do there. But at the end of the day you know anybody can win this race and I feel like plate racing – I have a lot of fun at it and that’s what we are going to do today is get them the best finish we can for Dario, Chip and Tums.

Hmiel: We don’t know. We’re very grateful that we have David for this weekend and after that it’s a matter of getting through today, seeing where Dario ends up and then sitting down as a group and deciding who’se the best option for where we’re going. Certainly we’d like to have one stand out guy like David Stremme do it all. He’s not available so we may end up picking and choosing a little bit based on the fact that we have to qualify this car into the race because we are not in the top 35 and we have to look at all our options in terms of getting the car into the race and then how good we’ll do in the race to stay in the top 35. So we may end up with multiple drivers. We may end up with one single driver. All that’s the kind of stuff that we’ll talk about on a Monday morning at the shop certainly with Chip and with everyone else involved.

Note: When asked about whether his contract would allow him more – Stremme repeated “This is a one race deal.” Steve Hmiel noted that they had asked for Stremme to possibly be available for more but it’s clear that that is not an option at this point and that this indeed is a one-off race for Stremme to help another driver out and to assist Chip Ganassi in a pinch.