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Repercussions of the NASCAR “Nudge” June 29, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season.
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NASCAR’s Drivers Reevaluate How They Race Each Other

Imagine the choices that Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch had to make in the final moments of the Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire. There were milliseconds to decide what to do and anger involved as the two were fighting for the lead, for the money, for the points, for the pride, for the win.

Kurt Busch saw that he had a “last chance” opportunity to pass Johnson. He got in the corner deeper than Jimmie. He didn’t flat out wreck him, he didn’t drive over him. It was, as Busch called it, a “nice nudge.”

Meanwhile, the pilot of the 48 was red faced and, as he described it, was “livid” inside of his race car. That road rage, in which Johnson had “great visions” of causing a “spectacular crash,” almost had Johnson loose any opportunity to later pull off the win.

What is also at stake is that Jimmie does not want Kurt to think that he is soft, or that his peers can “Knock the 48 out of the way,” If Busch, “slipped and accidentally got into him,” Johnson says that’s one thing. But, if it was Bush’s intention, then that’s the first time in nine years of racing with Busch that Johnson has experienced that from Busch and then, Johnson says, it would have “definitely changed the way I race with him.”

Hmmm….

In the end, Busch did not wreck Johnson, so Johnson reconsidered. He filtered all sides in his brain, which holds a very specific racers’ Rolodex. Did Busch intend the move ? Heck yes. He “nudged” Johnson. Did he slip? No. But did he wreck him? No. So Johnson chose to “nudge” him back, pulled it off cleanly and won the race. No foul.

Now what? Does his view of Kurt change? Does he race him differently? Does he know next time that Kurt will “nudge” him and, if so, how does that change how they race together. How would this race end up if it was re-run with the two in the very same position in the fall during the chase?

Does Johnson now race everyone differently because of the nudge he got from Kurt? Everyone’s more aggressive now.

Was it a test Kurt applied to Jimmie and now that he knows how Jimmie will respond, coming back at him with a “nudge” does he still deliver the move. Or, knowing what he knows now, does Busch deliver the “nudge” differently or maybe not at all.

How to Race Each Other?

What happened with Jimmie Johnson was at the end of the race and was for the win. But drivers are racing each other differently early in the races as well. These drivers now have a choice to make.

After Pocono, Tony Stewart said that the “restarts were idiotic,” and chastised his fellow drivers. “For anybody who is looking for drama for the next couple of races start looking -cause I can promise I’m going to start making the highlight reel the next couple of weeks,” Stewart told us.

Stewart’s Crew Chief, Darian Grubb, says, of Tony’s comment, ” I’m pretty excited. That means that he’s just going to step up his game that much more every lap. He’s realizing now,” Grubb told me, “that you have to race that hard every lap. The other guys are going to do it and they are going to be idiots and wreck each other and stuff on lap one. Sooner or later, you are gong to do that too or you are going to be behind them before its over with.”

Grubb says he doesn’t want his driver to tear up equipment doing it but added, “Everybody’s starting to loose a lot of respect for each other as drivers and be in it early in the race because they realize how much track position depends on that. You have to decide how you’re going to run for the day, so they are starting to be idiots right on lap one. So, he’s just basically saying he’s going to be one of the idiots as well,” Grubb said.

Bobby Hutchins, Competition Director at Stewart Haas Racing told me, “We talked about it (after Pocono). I think the drivers will (change their style). If you’re going to be here to win races and stay up front – then you are going to try to change the thought process.”

As to the highlight reel comments – Hutchins says, “I’m hoping he will be a more little aggressive because if we give up anything it’s been on restarts this year. and we’ve been in a position a couple times in the top five, six or seven and we’ve lost six to seven spots on a restart and by the time you get it sorted back out you pass those six or seven cars back and then it’s time for a pit stop and you have a caution then you are in the same spot you were in or worse, so it’s a big part of racing and, hopefully, he figured that out.”

Stewart has begun to apply his new theory.

In the end

In the end – things have changed in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing. The new rules and related intensity have been forcing drivers to decide how much they will change and to reevaluate their style and the way they race each other.

Was Jimmie Johnson saying that after racing Kurt Busch for nine years, this is the first time Busch has raced him this hard, with a “nudge”. Or was he thinking the “nudge” was more than a “nudge.” Since Kurt pulled it off – Kurt does not get put into the fence. But – if he had messed up what would have happened? Would Johnson have destroyed his race car, being tested for the New Hampshire chase race to show that he can’t be pushed around. Likely not. Idle threat?

Are drivers just frustrated seeing Jimmie win all the time. So, if Johnson wins the title this year will it be the hardest won title he’s earned? No one will leave Johnson have a position on the track much less a win – they are not above nudging him out of the way. What about when others try it -and don’t pull it off like Busch did? Then what.

What about when we get to the end of the chase….when typically the drivers don’t take a guy in the chase out or drive “like idiots,” to coin a Stewart phrase, on the restarts early? What about when they now do drive ” like idiots” during the chase and everyone is doing it?

Drivers now don’t care about being so cautious and neither does NASCAR. The drivers have been unleashed. Things have changed.

It’s going to get interesting.

Krissie Newman Co-Hosting “Dialed In” with Claire B. Lang from Michigan June 10, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season, Fun Stuff, Live Show.
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Pit Road Pets – Show Thursday Night 7-10 EST SIRIUS NASCAR Radio

Krissie Newman has agreed to co-host “Dialed In with Claire B. on Thursday night from Michigan International Speedway. Stay tuned for some wide-open, kick back and have fun for a good cause radio time! From the minute Krissie came on the circuit and married Ryan Newman she’s been one of the most well-liked wives out on pit road. The team guys love her cause she’s fun, she’s honest, she’s smart and she’s using all of those talents to help make a difference for animals. She’s also helping Tony Stewart build his new house, so even the boss man likes her! The racing community has rallied around the cause that she and Ryan selected to lend their time to and the second edition of the book “Pit Road Pets” featuring the stars and fans of NASCAR will be featured in a special autograph session at the track this weekend.

The Photo Shoot!

Photographer Karen Will Rogers took her camera equipment on the NASCAR road and behind the scenes to capture the love of the NASCAR community for their pets. In some cases she went to the homes of NASCAR personalities, and in other cases she captured them behind the scenes with their animals at the track. Fans were included in the camera shoot and featured in the book as well. What resulted is a close up look at NASCAR, through the eyes of the pets that they love.

The Radio Show! “Dialed In” Thursday, June 10th.

Krissie will be in studio at the track to co-host the show Thursday night (June 10th) which will feature a guest list of NASCAR drivers, crew chiefs and media people who appear in the book, telling stories about their pets and the shoot. The show will be packed with guests and good times in support of the book and the autograph signing on Friday evening.

The Autograph Session:

An A-list group of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, crew chiefs and their family members will participate in an autograph session at Michigan International Speedway on Friday, June 11 from 6-8 p.m. in the speedway’s Budweiser Acceleration Club.

The autograph session is open to fans that purchase the “Pit Road Pets:The Second Lap NASCAR Stars and Their Pets” . Fans can buy the book at the Ryan Newman Foundation’s display tent located near the Kids Zone in the New Holland Fan Plaza. Fans that have already purchased the first or second editions of the book may also bring their copy and participate in the autograph session.
The session is limited to 400 fans and passes will be handed out Friday beginning at 10 a.m. at the Ryan Newman Foundation display tent following their purchase of the book. The Newman’s and others will sign copies of the Pit Road Pets book and one other additional item per person.
Scheduled autograph participants are as follows and subject to change:
Ryan and Krissie Newman
• Kasey Kahne
• Clint Bowyer
• Marcos Ambrose
• Martin Truex Jr.
• Max Papis
• Kyle Petty
• Regan Smith
• Casey Mears
• DeLana Harvick
• A.J. and Lynne Allmendinger with dog Misty
• Aric Almirola with fiance Janice Goss
• Chad Knaus (Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief)
• Steve Letarte (Jeff Gordon’s crew chief)
• Tony Gibson (Ryan Newman’s crew chief)
• Darian Grubb (Tony Stewart’s crew chief)

The Book:
The newest edition of the book will be on sale from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Friday, June 11 for $24.95 each. Books can also be purchased at Newman’s trackside merchandise trailer, the MIS gift shop located in the track’s administration building or online at http://www.ryannewman.org. Proceeds from book sales during the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 race weekend will benefit the Michigan Humane Society.

Check out some of the behind the scenes shots with SIRIUS NASCAR Radio host Claire B. Lang and dog Dakota Rose that did not make it into the book…..

IMG_3429
Photo Credit: Karen Will Rogers
Pit Road Pets The Second Lap – NASCAR Stars and their Pets

ClaireBLang
Photo Credit: Karen Will Rogers
Pit Road Pets The Second Lap – NASCAR Stars and their Pets

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PHOTO CREDIT: PHOTOS BY Karen Will Rogers
RYAN NEWMAN

Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Night May 19, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season, Crew Chiefs, Crew Members, Fun Stuff, Pit Crew Challenge.
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The Boys Are Back In Town!!

It’s a highlight, back-home, bragging rights night in Charlotte, North Carolina tonight for the pit crews of NASCAR who are back in town for the All-Star Race activities and who will compete in the Sprint All Star Pit Crew Challenge. Opening ceremonies are at 6:45 p.m. EST at Time Warner Cable Arena.

There are 24 eligible teams who will each be able to bring five sets of tires and their own lug nuts to the event as well as air guns and jacks. Teams can bring four support members in addition to the seven competitors. The teams supply their own “push” car with tech requirements stipulated by NASCAR in the NSPCC Technical Bulletin. This stuff is serious!

All drivers, car owners, crew members and team members must have a valid NASCAR license that has not been suspended or revoked. Participating crew members have to be licensed to the team they are competing for and must be active on the current roster of “over the wall” crew members.

Seeding is done through the 2010 Sprint Cup Series Car owner point standings through Dover, and the top eight teams in points will receive a bye into the second round of competition. In addition to the fastest team in the event receiving the honors of champion, the fastest crew member at each station will be crowned as the individual champion and each of the winning individual crew members will receive a $10,000 cash prize.

The key to the event is the 40-yard push – where after completing their duties as jack man, tire carrier, tire changer, gas man, etc., the team must push their 3,200 pound race car (steered by their driver) across the finish line.

Speeds Coverage of the event begins at 9:00 p.m. (tape delayed) “Dialed In” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio will begin LIVE coverage as the event begins at 7:00 p.m. EST

Last year, the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet pit crew outpaced the No. 43 US Air Force Dodge team to capture the team title. While doing so, the team set a new event record with a time of 22.115 seconds and earned a $70,675 payout, which equates to $10,096 per crew member or $3,195 earnings per second.

Individual winners in 2009 were:

Dennis Terry, Front Tire Changer No.1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 14.855
Shannon Keys, Front Tire Carrier No.1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 14.855
Jake Seminara Front Tire Changer No. 18 M&M’s Toyota 14.900
Kenny Barber Rear Tire Carrier No. 18 M&M’s Toyota 14.900
Preston Cordell Gas Man No.1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 10.072
Eric Hoyle Catch Can No.1 Bas Pro Shops Chevy 10.072
Jeff Kerr Jack Man No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 5.666

Take a look at the bios of the team guys on the roster for tonight’s event and you’ll see many of them are racers or who knew people who were in racing. These guys first jobs range from commercial fisherman, to golf course manager, log cutter, steel tower construction, air craft refueler, commercial driver and firefighter, to name just a few of the interesting occupations these guys held before their current team role in NASCAR. Trevor Lysne the Front Tire Changer for the No. 42 Target Chevy worked in a treatment center for troubled children before racing. Kenneth Purcell the jack man for the No. 48 Chevy used to work at his dad’s animal hospital before joining the team.

The team guys have nicknames within their teams, like Jeff Patterson the two-time individual champion gas man from the No. 14 Office Depot Chevy whose nickname is “Gooch” and Mike Morneau the rear tire changer for the No. 14 who the guys call “Shrek.”

And their teams have nicknames too. The over-the-wall teams nickname for the No.333 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevy is the “Helping Hands pit crew.” Each crew member has the Hamburger helper hand on their firesuit doing their respective position. The jackman has the Hand holding the jack, the fueler has a gas can, etc.

Some, come from a long line of crew member or racing families. Take, for example Jeremy West from the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet. He and his father worked on David Gilliland’s car in the Winston West series. They won the championship in 1996. Jeremy changed and his dad, John, carried.

These guys have played football and rugby, wrestling, baseball and soccer in college and several have been semi-professional athletes. Shaun Peet the jack man for the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota is a former professional hockey player. Some of them have been carrying or changing tires for a race team for over years. Their pit crew coaches train them hard with everything from weights to yoga, aquatic and heat training.

These guys have seen their share of close calls on pit road and some have been hit in the line of duty. Eric Maycroft the rear tire changer for the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota said, “Yes, (I’ve been hit) by AJ Allmendinger, the wing caught me and flipped me into the next pit stall head over heels.”

The pit road warriors who have their time in the spot light tonight at the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge are an integral part of winning in NASCAR Sprint Cup series that most of their drivers will attend tonight’s event to show support and these guys are scouted, under contract, and in the pressure-cooker that making up time on pit road presents must be at the top of their game physically and mentally to have made it to the level of pit crew member for NASCAR’s elite division teams.

Tonight, is their night. These guys are the best of the best and their families and their team members and their drivers and their fans will be there to cheer them on.

It’s a great event. For more information check http://www.pitcrewchallenge.com.

Media Pit Crew Event!

On Tuesday national and local media members competed in the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge at Time Warner arena. The event, just for fun, pitted media members from various national and local broadcast and television entities against each other in the media pit crew competition. For the second year in a row as the driver of the car for the winning team, after surviving two heat races and the final face off against a team from the Carolina Panthers (pushing the car like it was Super Bowl Sunday) I felt just a slight sensation of what these guys will feel like tonight. Just as the final heat race was about to begin while filing a report, it was a rush to get into the race car in the nick of time, secure the steering wheel and be pushed to the line. The key to driving the car in this event (a role a number of driver’s wives will handle tonight) is to not brake while you are pushed towards a brick wall, and then just in the nick of time slam on the break. Ah, sweet victory!

See the photo of the winning crew, including my team mates Ray Dunlap, Phil Parsons and Jeff Hammond from Speed and Fox.

Hope you can make the event or catch it on Speed or SIRIUS NASCAR Radio tonight. It’s well worth it and one of the fun events of All-Star week in the heart of racing in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Claire B Lang
CBL PIT CREW CHALLENGE PHOTO

Victory Lane at Darlington May 10, 2010

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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

Victory Lane at Phoenix International Raceway: Tears, Emotion, Celebration, First Win! April 14, 2010

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Tony Gibson sat down on the stage for my LIVE interview at PIR after the Subway Fresh Fit 600 – emotionally spent after his first Sprint Cup Series win. Sitting next to him – Krissie Newman, the wife of winning driver Ryan Newman.

Drivers sometimes sit down during the interview, after a race-hardly ever crew chiefs. But it wasn’t from lack of being in shape, nor from being tired, it was sheerly from the emotion of the moment. What was especially exciting, other than seeing the smiles from Ryan who, more than he lets on externally was bothered by the lack of wins since Daytona, 2008, it was the excitement from members of the race team. Many of the guys on this team came from DEI and many of them had not had a Sprint Cup Series win until this moment. After Victory lane I went to the teardown to talk to the team members – many of whom said that this day was a culmination of a dream that started for them when they were 8 or 9 years old. Later, as I went into the garage, Ryan Newman was back at the teardown getting a pat on the back from Series Director John Darby, who, like those who enjoy seeing history made in the sport, noted that we were seeing a historical moment as the #39 car got its first win in the series.

Ryan Newman is not an emotional guy, he’s a great, great guy. He doesn’t drink, at all, never smoked, makes himself wide on the race track, speaks his mind, is funny as all get out and extremely loyal to team and friends. I saw some emotion in him in Victory Lane that I rarely see – and it was sweet to see him showing that emotion in the winner’s circle – visited by the likes of Jimmie Johnson who along with Jeff Gordon stopped to congratulate him. He doesn’t throw his helmet or pitch a fit when he doesn’t win – but like many drivers who have been groomed to win since childhood – not winning is hard on the psyche.

There’s a moment that I wish the fans could see – it’s when the series director in the garage or NASCAR President Mike Helton in Victory Lane – walk to the victor and say “great race” and shake the hand of the winner. John Darby did just that to Ryan long after the race was over as Ryan visited his team tearing down the car in the garage. For the driver, no matter how seasoned, or not, no matter how few or how many wins, or how vocal the wheel man is – it always means a great deal to the driver to get the mark of respect and achievement from these guys.

One other note – It’s not often said how many team members have young children at home watching the race. Their kids call before bed on Sunday evening and say “daddy, how did you do?,” or watch the race on TV and think their dad at the track is a super hero and ask when he will win. Time after time in the garage at the teardown team members will tell me after winning how much it means to them to tell their kids that daddy was a winner that night – and many of them tear up while telling me that. Standing there looking at these guys busting their hump to tear the car down, full of sweat and grease and far from home, I am moved by the look in the eyes of the team member as he tells me about calling his kid to tell them that they won! It’s a special moment in the dark of the garage after the TV cameras have been turned off – that I will always treasure.


Texas Take – Spoiler Talk!

Spoiler questions will dominate at Texas

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the new spoiler. There were jokes at Martinsville from drivers who were making up funny statements on the supposed impact of the spoiler over the wing there to the, “It won’t make a difference until we get to Texas,” comment we are all familiar with. The spoiler, well and Denny Hamlin’s knee, has been the major conversation topic the past few weeks.

Well, we’re headed to Texas this weekend. So, get ready to hear endless questions leading into the race weekend on the new spoiler. To save some time, here’s the take of a host of drivers as to just how much of a difference the spoiler will make this weekend at Texas:

WON’T MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE:

Jeff Gordon, who will drive a specially-painted No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet at TMS: “The true test is going to be at the 1.5-mile tracks – Texas being the first one.But I don’t think it’s going to change who’s going to be fast and who’s going to run well.


David Gilliland – Drivr No. 37 Taco Bell Ford :
“I don’t think the spoiler will be a really big deal this weekend. Most people have an understanding how it has changed the cars. It’s not a huge difference. There are some small things that make the car handle differently, but we’re not reinventing the wheel with this change.

Matt Kennseth – Driver #17 Crown Royal Black Ford: “Texas to me is a track that’s more about real racing and making sure that you have a car that handles better than the rest of the guys, so that you can make sure you’re the fastest car around the track every lap. I’m a little unsure about how the spoiler change may effect the racing action this weekend heading into Texas. I don’t foresee any big changes, but we won’t know until we get all the cars on track for practice. Texas is a track that I really enjoy a lot and we’ve been very successful here, so I always look forward to racing at Texas Motor Speedway.”

ITS GOING TO BE INTERESTING:

Kurt Busch – Driver #2 Miller Lite Dodge – “I think teams will just really tip-toe up to speed there this weekend. It’s hard to know just how hard to push the car with it being the first time out. Then, we’ll make adustments from there. You may try to change some things and explore the aero situation. It’s not like we didn’t try some of the things when we did the tire and spoiler testing at Charlotte, but this will be the first real test..the first time that all the cars and teams will be there at the Texas track together.”

Martin Truex Junior – Driver of the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota: I think Texas will be the ultimate test for the new spoiler since it is one of the fastest tracks we go to. It will also come into play with all of the side-by-side racing we do. We’ll definitely see how this new change effects all of us and obviously, the teams that can figure it out should do well and I hope that is us.

Kevin Conway – Driver No. 37 ExtenZe Racing : “Texas is going to be a big test for everyone. We have to study what the car needs. It’ll definitely be the first test for us at a racetrack of that speed with the rear spoiler. Martinsville and Phoenix gave us some information, but nothing like Texas. It’s going to be interesting to see which teams can hit on something or not.”

NOT SURE – BUT NOT SO MUCH

Kasey Kahne – Driver #9 Budweiser Ford Fusion “Some of the cars have already tested there and didn’t say there was a huge difference. We (tested) at Charlotte and it didn’t seem like there was a huge difference. Once we get racing together and have a lot of cars on the track, whether it’s Sunday during the race or Saturday’s final practice, I think we’re going to all learn more than what we know right now. I’m kind of looking forward to that to really see what it changes, because it has to change something when you’re around 42 other cars.”

Jimmie Johnson – Driver #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet “From my standpoint, I feel that the cars drove very similar to the way that I have in the past. I didn’t even think about wing or spoiler on the back of the car throughout the (Phoenix) race. It seemed the same. The final test will be in Texas. And even to Talladega. There’s some things with this spoiler that should help the car stay on the ground and change the draft a bit at Talladega. So we have a nice progression in tracks to really evaluate what’s going on. But so far I think it’s going well and it’s driving a lot like it did before.”

Kyle Busch – Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry: “Not a whole lot of difference, but definitely some change. Whether it’s change for the good or the bad yet, we won’t know until we get into a pack at a race. My initial thoughts after the Charlotte test would be that it adds a lot of grip to the car, makes the cars comfortable to drive but, to me, it might make it harder in traffic. I’m very curious to see how it changes the handling during a race, since this weekend will really be the first big test for the spoiler on an aero track.”

————————–
We may have to wait , yes, even until race day to tell how much of an impact the spoiler will have.

Kudos to Denny Hamlin for driving his race car, not complaining on the radio despite the car not running up front. I’m sure between the spoiler and Denny Hamlin’s knee, oh and how everything is bigger in Texas we’ll have a lot to talk about this weekend.

Texas is always big, fast and exciting. Stay tuned.

Claire B

Ty Pennington Joins Claire B. Lang on “Dialed In” Tonight! April 8, 2010

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Jeff Gordon’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Visit

Extreme makeover Home Edition’s Ty Pennington will join me tonight (Thursday, April 8th – 7:15 EST [time edited] p.m. EST ) LIVE on “Dialed In”. I’m mostly a news junkie and don’t watch much television since I’m always on the road or at a race track. I have a weakness for this show- mostly because it takes seemingly impossible situations that average folks find themselves in and it rewards them with help that they so desperately need. Most of the time the people who are chosen for the program look at life with a glass that is half full instead of half empty and despite being faced with major adversity find a way to help others and see life through a positive light. The fact that Jeff Gordon will be featured on this weekends’ installment of the ABC program (Episode will air SUNDAY, APRIL 11 -8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) brings it even closer to home. I want to find out about Jeff Gordon on the set, and although I get to interview a lot of celebrities in my job I have asked to interview Ty Pennington for quite some time, ever since I heard Gordon was going to do a segment. I’m looking forward to the interview tonight. Wonder if Ty Pennington is a race fan?

The challenge: On January 11, 2010, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” traveled to Loris, South Carolina – with race car driver Jeff Gordon as the celebrity volunteer — to meet Amanda and Derrick Suggs, a young couple who had just started their own family when they adopted Amanda’s younger siblings to keep them from being separated in foster care. When Derrick and Amanda got married, they moved into the home Derrick inherited from his grandfather, who built it in 1953. The home came with a long list of needed repairs: a leaking roof, outdated and exposed electrical wiring, rotting foundation and cracked asbestos siding. Did Jeff Gordon grab a hammer? Stay tuned.

Phoenix International Raceway Challenges
Longer race, day to night, spoiler, green-white-checkered, have at it!

The challenges of this race track are many. It’s the first Saturday night Sprint Cup race of the year. This weekend’s Sprint Cup Race here will be an additional 63 laps and miles up from 312. The new distance will be 375 laps/miles.

Some Notes:
-Sam Hornish had a career best PIR finish (9th) in last year’s spring event.
-It’s Brad Keselowski’s second acareer start at Phoenix here and he improved six positions in NSCS driver standings in the last two races. Crew chief Jay Guy says “The new car we are bringing to Phoenix is one of the lightest cars that we’ve produced to date and we’re excited to see how it races.”
-Phoenix was Ryan Newman’s first ever NASCAR start.
-It’s not a self-cleaning track, expect a lot of excitement when an accident happens
-This weekend kicks off a long stretch in the season where we don’t see a break until July. Teams need to stay prepared because if you get behind in this stretch it’s hard to make up.
-You need to be up on the wheel and really drive this track.
-It’s Carl Edwards 200th Career Sprint Cup Series Start. They’ve had very fast cars in the past at Phoenix but Carl has yet to win a Cup race here.
-Qualifying is key – it can be hard to pass at PIR
-This track combines the speed of some of the bigger tracks and some characteristics of short tracks. Some have said it’s a small superspeedway with long straightaways and really aggressive restarts.
-As soon as the sun goes behind the suites in turns one and two, the temperature really drops and the track gains quite a bit of grip. The sun and the track temperature will be an issue. Jeff Gordon says the sun entering turn one during qualifying will be an issue. “We only get two looks at it while trying to set a very quick time,” he says of qualifying here.
-Three of the 27 Sprint Cup races here at PIR have been won from the pole.
-In 15 Sprint Cup Series starts at Phoenix, Dale Earnhardt Junior has scored two wins, four top-five finishes and seven top 10’s. He has led 460 laps. The 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No 88-586. This is a brand new chassis that has never been tested or raced.
-Engineering Challenges: Howard Comstock, Dodge Motorsports Engineering says, “With the new longer distance and a new earlier starting time, teams will face two new engineering challenges at this year’s Subway Fresh Fit 600. The change from 500 K to 600K will mean new fuel strategies and concerns of brake attrition. The earlier the start time for this race creates a daytime to evening race environment that is always unique when you come to the desert and race.”

Everybody but Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson!
I’ve got the field…except Kurt, Kyle and Jimmie, oh my!

Jimmie Johnson’s average finish at Phoenix is 5.1, Mark Martin’s average finish here is 8.8, Jeff Gordon’s average finish here is 10.8, Kurt Busch’s is 12.0, Kyle Busch’s is 14.5.

I had Tom Busch on the air last night, the father of Kurt and Kyle. He talked about bringing young 13-year-old Kurt Busch to Phoenix on November 3 of 1991 to watch his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at this race track. “We got to go down into the pits before the race and I thought that was so cool,” said Kurt. “When they fired up the engines for the race it was something like I had never heard or seen before.” Hard to believe that just over 18 years later Kurt is one of the favorites to take him on here at Phoenix International Raceway. Busch is second to Jimmie Johnson in NASCAR’s “loop data” statistics for the four most recent seasons. For example, Johnson’s leading average running position here of 5.066 to Busch’s second place 8.063 and Johnson’s leading driver rating of 123.0 to Busch’s runner up 104.6 rating. Even with one fewer race (Kurt did not compete in the Nov 2005 race) Busch is still second in laps led leading 411 (14.6 percent) of the laps.

Somehow I convinced Tom Busch, just for fun of course, to take Kyle and Kurt to win here at Phoenix this weekend in the Sprint Cup Series race. I mean I wasn’t going to pry the man’s boys from his arms for a mere sporting bet. We threw out Jimmie Johnson (neither of us could pick him) but I have the rest of the field. How did I pull that one off? I had FOX analyst Jeff Hammond on the air as a guest last night and his choice to win, he said, would be someone unexpected – like a Marcos Ambrose or a David Reutimann. It should be an interesting weekend.

Is Running the Nationwide race a greater advantage here?
Paul Menard thinks so! ” I think that running the Nationwide race will be an even bigger advantage than usual this weekend,” Menard says. “The schedule for Friday is pretty tight and the Cup Series doesn’t get any practice during the part of the day we race. So, I’m sure (crew chief) Slugger Labbe will stick around for the Nationwide so both of us are able to get a good feel at to show the track will change during the course of the evening.” “The good thing for us is that Paul is running the Nationwide race, so he’ll be able to tell us how the track changed and we can be ready for it Saturday night,” says Labbe.

I’ll be on the air tonight (Thursday) 7-10 EST LIVE from Phoenix International Raceway on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio. Catch you then.

Claire B

Martinsville Victory Lane! March 30, 2010

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Rear View Mirror: The Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500!

After going LIVE from Victory Lane I stepped into the broadcast studio in the Media Center, put the headset on, flipped on the microphone and the phone lines lit up after the running of the Good’s Fast Pain Relief 500. Callers from Arizona to Oklahoma and from Canada to Texas wanted to talk about the short track racing that we saw at Martinsville Speedway. The fans had a lot to talk about, from caution calling to fender bumping, but the one common element was how refreshing short track racing is, jam packed with action. Martinsville, after a brief pause for rain, delivered.

Jeff Gordon Almost Wins Again!
Feels he got a cheap shot – wanted to see the replay.

Jeff Gordon ( Finished 3rd -#24 DuPont Chevrolet) fans were upset that, once again, he was close but didn’t get the trophy. Here’s a portion of one of the many listener emails that I got after the race:

” My observation: how convenient of Kyle to cause a caution just when Jeff comes to take the white so his teammate can win. Besides, it’s the sympathy win, since poor Denny has to have surgery.”

As always, you’ll have conspiracy theorists – heck it’s part of the DNA of NASCAR racing to argue about conspiracies. It’s every man for himself at the end of this race though – and that’s what we saw. Of course. those who were not Gordon fans said he should not have complained about being hit when everyone was hit by someone at Martinsville.

Jeff Gordon was a little upset himself but didn’t erupt in anger, just said he was disappointed, not totally unhappy with a third place finish, and wanted to wait until he saw the replay. It’s amazing to me the restraint Jeff shows when he’s upset – never walks away from a media question, and even tried to say initially that “someone” hit him from the back – even though he knew it was Matt Kenseth and eventually did use his name, but even after that, one more time said he wanted to see the replay.

“I got an okay restart. Spun the tires a little bit, got going. I looked at my mirror, 17 was pretty far behind me. Made sure I didn’t drive in too deep. Next thing I know, I got nailed. I don’t know who got into me. I thought it was the 17. If it wasn’t, I apologize to him. I made sure he didn’t win the race down the straightaway,” Gordon said. Interesting, he didn’t want to name him before seeing the replay but he “made sure he didn’t win the race down the straightaway.” Yep Gordon Knew it was him, I just don’t think he wanted to call him out.

“The way he raced me today I didn’t think was the way I would have raced him. But we’ve had our ups and our downs. But I feel like we’ve been past that. I certainly didn’t feel like we had any issues. If somebody hits me, I’m going to hit them. If he hit me, I’m glad I did what I did on the back straightaway,” Gordon said. ” If a guy gives you a cheap shot like that, he doesn’t deserve to win the race, in my opinion. If that didn’t happen, and I have not seen the video, then, again, I’ll be the first one to call him this week and apologize.”

In the media center, after the race, it was interesting what Jeff Gordon said about whether he and his crew chief Steve Letart were able to improve his car during the race. This is a topic that I get a lot of calls about on air. Jeff said, “I did feel like we got off a little bit there towards the middle part of the race and made gains to get back up there. Yeah, I felt like we made gains. Today was all about where you restarted. If you restarted on the outside lane, you were done. I lost like five or six spots one time just being on the outside lane. I made two of them up. Caution came out. Went back to the outside lane, lost two or three more. To me, I almost wanted to like let off and let a car pass me on pit road or something just so I could come out odd to start on the inside lane. When I started on the inside lane, we drove right up there,” Gordon said. ” When we lost those positions, we lost track position and the car wasn’t the same. When we were out front, our car was just so awesome. We never really got a chance to see what it was like towards the front there at the end. So that was a little disappointing. I felt like we made gains to get up to third or fourth before the second to the last caution.”

Matt Kenseth’s Take:
I got into Jeff a little bit – really not that hard!

Matt Kenseth (Finished 18th -#17 Crown Royal Ford) was disappointed himself that Gordon that Gordon retaliated so strongly when he thought that the hit he gave him was not all that hard. “I guess it looked like it was my fault,” Matt said. ” I did go in there and I did get into Jeff a little bit, really not that hard, and I got under him and everything was fine and he just took a left as hard as he could take one and ran me down all the way into the marbles. I’ve got all the marbles on my rear tires and I slowed up to try to get in the corner real slow and I kind of got hit from behind and I got hit in the side and started wheel-hopping. I couldn’t hang onto it when I got to three. It’s nothing Jeff wouldn’t have done or hasn’t done to me, expect he’s wrecked me all the way out, so it was just an aggressive race for the end. We were gonna be side-by-side going into three and four, and the outside lane has actually been an advantage anyway, so it wasn’t gonna be that big of a deal, but, instead, he decided to run me down as low as he could because he knew I’d wreck when I got to the corner. That’s the way it turned out. It was a dumb move on my part. I should have just finished third and collected some points and got one of our best finishes at Martinsville, but I figured I’d go for the win, which, I guess in hindsight, was probably a mistake.”

Matt is a veteran of short track racing, and he knows how the game is played. He’s not one to complain he’ll usually say what he has to say behind the wheel and on the race track.

Jeff Gordon thought that the past short-track frustration history between he and Kenseth was over. Now he’s wondering. That’s what makes short track racing so much fun for the fans.

Carl and Clint Post Race Talk:
Edwards was the meat in the sandwich!

Did you see Clint Bowyer (Finished 7th, BB&T Chevy) and Carl Edwards (Finished 8th -Aflac Ford) talking after the race? So what were they talking about? “I had a guy pushing me and I was pushing him and almost got both of us,” Carl said. ” I just wanted him to know that I was the meat in the sandwich there. It’s good though and he was cool with it. We had a good laugh about the whole thing.”

Victory Lane!
Denny Hamlin remembers the race fans!

I’m LIVE in Victory Lane when the race is over, so I’m in the happiest place on earth every weekend. This weekend though, I watched a demonstration by the race winner as to how to celebrate a race WITH the race fans. As I’m standing in Victory Lane, with (#11 FedEx) crew chief Mike Ford, I look over to the #11 car. He totally blew the tires off that car with the burnout and the team was trying to lift the car (which was banged up like a demolition derby entry at the state fair) and get it up so they could get tires on it and get it off of the front stretch. After some red-faced lift attempts by the entire team, a NASCAR official jacked the car and the guys got it rolling and back to the garage.

Mike Ford told me that when he told Denny about taking four tires, Denny said “10-4″ indicating they were in it together on the decision. Ford told me that some drivers will give a vague answer so that the crew chief is the hero or the zero on a call like this -but in this case Denny gave his crew chief his total support, something that Ford appreciated.

After doing the hat dance, Denny bolted across the track to the race fans to spray champagne on them and the fans loved every single, champagne soaking moment. To do that Denny had to leave Victory Lane and cross the track go through the fence, up some stairs and to where the fans were pushing up against the fence in excitement.

I’m standing by ready to interview Denny LIVE on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio after he returned to Victory Lane for more photos, when Denny indicated I should come with him, and since I was just going LIVE and introducing him on air, I followed him as he returned across the track, back up the stairs, and to the fence where the fans were. He took a whole stack of Victory Lane caps and was signing them and handing them out to the race fans.

This is a Denny Hamlin that fans will get to know better over the years and a guy who knows how important these fans are. He’s good about giving tickets away during the week to race fans – but to remember them in the charged-up, everyone-wanting-something, crazy and frenetic excitement of Victory Lane is really something special.

I salute Denny Hamlin for what he did during his moments of celebration. I was standing there LIVE with him at the fence across the track as the fans screamed and shouted his name and, no matter which driver they follow, I’m sure they will never forget the moment. That was way cool of Denny, and we wish him good luck on Wednesday’s knee surgery.

Did Denny Hamlin bully his way to a win?
Come on people – it’s short track racing!

Some of the callers who were fans of other drivers asked about how fiercely Denny Hamlin battled it from his pit stop for fresh tires to win the race. Leaving the media center, I heard one reporter say, ” NASCAR the fans love ‘have at it’ unless someone is having at their driver – then it’s not so much fun.” That makes sense, it’s understandable. It’s called being a loyal fan. But short track racing has always been gouging your way to a win.

When a reporter noted to Jeff Gordon that Hamlin “bullied his way up there,” and asked how he defined a “cheap shot” as it related to his reference to the encounter with the #17, Gordon replied, “Denny had four tires. That’s different. He had a car that would stick and turn around, go underneath guys. He could out brake guys. Hey, he won the race. So it doesn’t matter. That’s the bottom line. You know, a cheap shot to me is when you don’t really have a shot at it, you just go and rub into the back of a guy. That’s what I think is a cheap shot.”

You’ll have that in short track racing!

Finally —–The Caution
A strike ball call by NASCAR

So let’s talk about the caution at the end of the race that took the Good’s Fast Pain Relief 500 into a green white checkered situation. Gordon cruised under green and Hamlin drove three-wide into Turn 1, battling his way to fourth on fresh tires. Then, another caution was thrown, this time it was for Kyle Busch’s spin in Turn 3 with just over a lap remaining.

Jeff Gordon’s fans and some who favored teams whose result was affected negatively by the caution were frustrated. “It was pretty obvious to me NASCAR wanted to do a green-white-checkered finish,” Gordon said. He was within reach of the finish line at the time. “There were cars blowing tires, hitting the wall [and] they weren’t throwing the caution. One spins out, and they threw the caution in the blink of an eye. I think it was pretty obvious what they wanted.”

NASCAR makes no bones about the fact that they want the race to finish under green and multiple green white checkered flags will be used to ensure that.

Ok, so at the end of the race cautions might not be called as quickly when NASCAR thinks the race will still end under green – and we can debate that all day long. As the race is nearer to conclusion – it does seem that the cautions are called more quickly if there’s a chance the race will end under yellow without the caution. The object is to end under yellow. Sometimes the late race caution will bite your team, sometimes it will favor your team.

While I won’t begin to argue constency when it comes to cautions, since it’s a judgement call, it’s about the finish under green in my mind, and not which driver might win, or not win the race as a result.

If Kyle Busch had not had wrecked Jeff Gordon probably would have won the race and without double file restarts Denny would not have had a chance anyway-as he came from fourth place to win in two laps. That’s to say nothing of the #11 team choice to pit for four tires, and the chance that Denny could have lost the race because of that call.

I love short track racing!

It’s a beautiful day in Charlotte, North Carolina – enjoy the day!

I’ll be in touch.

Happy Easter!

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Sloshing Around Martinsville! March 29, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season.
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We’re racing today here at Martinsville. The weather has lifted and, if we’re lucky, we might actually get this race completed in its entirety today!

Stay tuned for the race broadcast (starting at noon on FOX TV and MRN Radio carried by Sirius Satellite Radio). I’ll be on after the race in Victory Lane LIVE and until 7:00 p.m. EST will break the race down on Sirius NASCAR radio.

Some questions to answer :

What happened during the practice session between Travis Kvapil and Tony Stewart.

From Tony Stewart’s (Driver #14 Old Spice/ Office Depot Chefy) Perspective:

LOOKS LIKE YOU AND TRAVIS KVAPIL GOT TOGETHER AT THE END OF PRACTICE, WHAT HAPPENED, WE ONLY SAW THE END OF IT? “That is a really good question, I wish I knew the answer to that. That is all I saw was the end of it too when he checked up in front of us. Not sure why that happened.”
From Travis Kvapil’s (Driver #34 A#W All American Food Ford) Perspective:

CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENED IN PRACTICE YESTERDAY WITH YOU AND TONY STEWART? “Yeah, I don’t really think it’s a big deal. To me, it was just Martinsville. I was on new tires trying to get a qualifying run at the end of practice and the track was really crowded. On new tires it takes a lap or two until they get going and I was still slipping and sliding and trying to get my tires to hook up. Tony was on his last lap, I guess, and had a lot of speed. To cut to the chase, I was in his way. My plan was to get down the backstretch and move over to let him go, but I never got good enough traction off the corner to get going and get out of his way. I am sure he is upset and our guys are upset that the race car got beat up a little bit. To me, it isn’t a big deal, its just a product of things that happen when you go short-track racing.”

Look Out for Rubber In The Track:

Juan Pablo Montoya (Driver #42 Target Chevy): “The rubber in the corners. You start getting rubber on the green, you get lines of rubber. You really have to find a way to drive around that. You get there and it doesn’t turn. It moves the car or it steps out. It depends on which tire hits it. It is a challenge but it is exciting.”

Jeff Burton (Driver #31 Caterpiller Chevy) : “The rubber builds up on the exit of both corners. It starts to build up just past the center of the corner and through to the exit. You have three options—run all the below it with the right side tires, which means that your left tires are right up next to the curb, straddle it, or run with all four tires above it. You adjust your car to run whichever way you think is the best at that time, and then a caution comes out and the rubber goes away, and then you run for 40-50 laps with no rubber on the track. So then you have your car set up to run in a certain area that your car doesn’t want to run in anymore. It’s a constant balance between where the rubber builds up and where it doesn’t. It is important to understand where that rubber is and I see a lot of people in practice that forget that and practice with the right tires exactly where the rubber is going to be. So and when they have that setup starting the race, they can’t run anymore. The knowledge of that and how it changes your car is very important because it affects how you practice your car and how you set up your car.”

Denny Hamlin’s Surgery:

Denny Hamlin (driver #11 Fed Ex) will undergo surgery to repair the ACL in his left knee. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Patrick Connor with OrthoCarolina. Hamlin injured the knee in January prior to the start of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

The surgery was scheduled for today (Monday) but it has been moved until tonight or Wednesday due to the rain delayed running of the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 today. If Denny is able to get back to Charlotte early enough it may be tonight, but I am told it is more likely to take place Wednesday.

Is there any chance you get out of the car at Martinsville?
Denny Hamlin (Driver of the #11 Fed Ex Freight Toyota) “No, I don’t think so. I really didn’t feel much pain, a little bit, at the end of Bristol. Not much until afterwards when we got out and went home. There’s no chance this weekend.”

Crew Chief’s Corner. Penske Dodge Crew Chiefs perspective on today’s race:

The Penske Racing crew chiefs for the three Dodge teams offer insight on the “Keys for Success” at Martinsville Speedway.

STEVE ADDINGTON (Crew Chief, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
WHAT ARE THE KEYS FOR SUCCESS AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY?
“Keep the brakes on the car, stay out of trouble and stay calm all day long. That’s it.”

TRAVIS GEISLER (Crew Chief, No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger)
WHAT ARE THE KEYS FOR SUSCCESS AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY?
“First of all is patience. This place can really frustrate you. When you have a better car than the guy in front of you and you want to get past him and another guy is beating your bumper off from behind, you’ve got to be patient and not use up your equipment.

“Second is track position. It’s got to cycle through and you have to pit at the right time. During the race, some guys will pit this time while some will pit at the next caution. You hope that when the last one comes, you cycle through in the right spot. You will see a lot of two-tire stops. It’s pretty much the craziest pit cycles you have anywhere we go. Track position becomes so important, people do things that don’t really make sense, but they know they’re never going to pass the 20 cars if they come in and get four tires and get behind them. So, you just stay out and hope your driver can hang on and protect what you have. Track position is important.

“The third is drive off. That’s what everyone will be working on today. You tend to be so loose on exit here on throttle. That will be our focus in practice today, trying to give him (Sam Hornish Jr.) the ability to come to throttle hard (off the turns) so he can get underneath people and make passes.”

JAY GUY (Crew Chief, No. 12 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Charger)
WHAT ARE THE KEYS FOR SUCCESS AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY?
“If we can get good track position early in the race and be able to maintain that track position, that is very key to running well here at Martinsville. You have to have good pit strategy and have brakes at the end of the race. Those are biggest things you have to do to be successful here. I think with Brad’s (Keselowski) driving style, we can obviously do that.

“There will probably be a little bit of pit strategy involved, depending on how everything takes off at the beginning of the race. I can see maybe pulling a no-tire or two-tire stop early in the race just to see how it goes because you never know, you might need it for the end of the race if you are competing for the win. You just need to get a feel for how it’s going to play out. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“We’re disappointed qualifying was rained out. Brad hasn’t been here in quite a while, but we have a lot of information coming in from the 77 and 2 and all the folks at Dodge. We felt like we could do well, qualifying solidly in the teens or maybe a little better than that. Brad learned a lot in practice yesterday. We got the car a little better for him. We were disappointed for sure not being able to qualify and having to start 30th.”

Getting into a competitors head – or not!!
Jeff Gordon (Driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet) “I think that if you focus on that, you’re the one that can get messed with the easiest when things aren’t going your way. That’s not a way I’ve ever approached it. If you just go out there and win and do your job and just keep focusing on doing that, then I think that’s going to win your respect as well as keeping you focused on the important things with your team. There’s no doubt that when someone has been as dominant as they’ve (Jimmie Johnson and No. 48 team) been, you sit there and scratch your head and say man, what do they have? What are they doing? What do we need to do differently? And they’re just that good of a race team. If I ever question anything, it’s just how do we make small little changes to our team and our race cars to be that good. I see all the data. I see everything. And those guys know how to put themselves in position and capitalize on it when it counts the most. And they’ve just built confidence. There’s no doubt that they have a lot of confidence in their program and what they’re doing. Jimmie does in his driving and Chad (Knaus) does in his ability to be a crew chief. But nobody is invincible out here.

When you were the guy everyone else was gunning for:

“To me, it just made us work that much harder to try to stay on top of it. Those were the easiest weekends I ever had in this sport. When you have things going your way like that, you just go to the race track and it doesn’t matter where you’re at on the board. You feel like you’ve got a shot at winning the race. And you just focus on that and the cars are driving so good. It seems like the decisions that are made are always the right ones. At the end of the day, you’re driving into victory lane going, ‘Wow, we won another race!’ And you win the races that you shouldn’t be winning and you’re winning the ones that you should be winning. And it’s an awesome feeling. But I’ve never focused on how that affects the competition. I just really focus on how do we maintain that.”

______________

I’m headed out to pit road and ready for race time! I’ll get back with all of you after the race is run. Enjoy the race!

Claire B. Lang

Bristol Brawls -Feuds – and Fights. March 20, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season.
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You know this weekend has been insane – but I remember so many Bristol weekends that seemed to spiral out of control with stories of aggression and anger with hurt feelings, pushing, shoving, calls to the hauler and of course, in the center of it, media grappling for position as the intensity and frustration rises on this race track.
Fights at Bristol — As I left the race track after my “Dialed In” show last night in the media center, I walked up the banking and across the race track. The memories of skirmishes here in years gone by seemed to swirl around in the dark of night and in the empty race track their presence presented a reminder of racers who have battled here in years gone by.
Over the years, Bristol Motor Speedway has seen more than a few on-track skirmishes between drivers whose emotions have gotten the best of them.
Many times the differences of opinion began before they ever got to BMS and then, with the close-quarters action of the race itself at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, dispositions rapidly changed and emotions boiled over, resulting in some memorable scenes.

Some are forever etched in the memories of fans and drivers alike. So … in no particular order, a few of the most notorious BMS feuds follow:
Dale Earnhardt vs. Terry Labonte (Round 1)
Bristol Motor Speedway was Dale Earnhardt’s favorite playground so whenever he was racing at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, he was confident he would end up in Victory Lane.
During the August night race of 1995, Terry Labonte went to the point on lap 432 and stayed there. But it wasn’t easy. With just a few laps to go, Earnhardt, who was running second, got into Labonte’s car, spinning him. Labonte somehow managed to stay in front and crossed the finish line backward and beat up but still in front of Earnhardt. The Intimidator had to settle for the runner-up position, a mere .10 second behind Labonte.

Dale Earnhardt vs. Terry Labonte (Round 2)
Again it was the August night race, this time in 1999, and once again it was Dale Earnhardt battling Terry Labonte for the win.
From lap 300 on, the two exchanged the lead eight times. It appeared Earnhardt had taken control by lap 490 but on lap 499 Labonte was able to get around him. With a single circuit to go, Earnhardt drove deep into Turn 1 to move around Labonte and hit his car, sending Labonte spinning.
Earnhardt went on to win his ninth, and final, race at BMS to a mixture of cheers and boos, while Labonte finished eighth. Afterward, as Labonte seethed, Earnhardt said all he meant to do was “rattle his cage.”

Carl Edwards vs. Kyle Busch
In the waning laps of the Sharpie 500 in 2008, Edwards and Kyle Busch had an on-track scuffle that continued into the cool-down lap as Busch hit Edwards a couple of times and Edwards, who won the race, retaliated.
Neither driver was happy with the other’s tactics.
“He hit me getting into Turn 1,” said an irate Busch afterward. “Carl’s going to say he’s sorry, he didn’t want to race that way, because that’s what he always does.
“I couldn’t get by him and I couldn’t get by him,” Edwards said at the time, “and I had to ask myself, would he do that to me? And he has before, so that’s the way it goes.”

Rusty Wallace vs. Dale Earnhardt
Yet another heated confrontation on-track occurred in the 1995 Goody’s 500, the same race as the Earnhardt-Labonte incident, when allace threw a water bottle at Earnhardt while standing at the gas pumps in the infield after the race had ended.
Wallace’s actions came after he and Earnhardt made contact on lap 32, sending Wallace into the wall and ending his chances at another Bristol win.
Rusty Wallace vs. Jeff Gordon (Round 1)
Wallace started from the No. 1 slot in the 1997 Food City 500 and had every intention of finishing in the same place. Jeff Gordon had other ideas.
Despite dominating the event and leading 240 laps, including taking the white flag, Wallace finished second after a tap from Gordon between Turns 3 and 4 sent Wallace up the track and
Gordon to Victory Lane.
Wallace would win three more times at Bristol for a total of nine, but he strongly believes he should have been in double digits and this is one of the ones that got away.
Jeff Gordon vs. Rusty Wallace (Round 2)
The rematch came in the 2002 August race. Wallace was leading the race when, with just two laps to go, Gordon AGAIN applied the bumper, moved Wallace out of the way to take the lead and the win.
Gordon’s win was his fifth at BMS while a smoldering Wallace had to settle for second AGAIN.

Jeff Gordon vs. Matt Kenseth
At the 2006 Food City 500, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon had been battling all day long, getting into each other on several occasions.
In the late going, Kenseth touched Gordon’s bumper going into Turn 1, spinning Gordon and taking him out of contention.
Kenseth finished third. After the race, Kenseth approached Gordon on pit road. Gordon, helmet still on, went after a surprised Kenseth, pushing him backwards before calm was finally restored.
At least on the outside.

Greg Biffle vs. Kevin Harvick
During the 2002 Food City 500, Greg Biffle got into the back of Kevin Harvick’s car and sent Harvick into the wall.
Harvick climbed from his wrecked car, walked straight to Biffle’s pit, talked to some of his crew members and then just waited for the race to end. At the conclusion of the race, when Biffle pulled onto pit road, Harvick leapt over the hood of Biffle’s car and dove after him. After a heated exchange the two finally were pulled apart.
Tony Stewart vs. Kevin Harvick
On the last lap of the 2008 Food City 500, friendship was set aside and Stewart and Harvick, both starving for wins, got together between Turns 1 and Turn ending the chances for either to make the trip to Victory Lane
So close, but yet so far.

Kurt Busch vs. Jimmy Spencer
The first shot in a feud that would last for months was fired on the high banks of Bristol in the spring of 2002.
Battling for the lead much of the day, Spencer was going for his first Cup win in eight years and Busch for his first ever. With just 55 laps left, Busch “moved” Spencer from the racing groove and never looked back — except to see if Spencer was gaining. Spencer got back to second, but that’s as far as he made it as Busch earned his first win.
By the time the duo returned to Bristol in August, they had exchanged, barbs, bumpers and punches resulting in Spencer being suspended for the event and both being placed on probation by NASCAR.

Randy LaJoie vs. Buckshot Jones (Round 1)
Differences between drivers have not just been limited to Cup races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In 1997, it seemed two-time Nationwide champion Randy LaJoie and Buckshot Jones were tethered and neither often like the results. After repeated incident with each other throughout the year, it came to a head at Bristol in August at the Food City 250.
Both drivers led laps. Each, it seemed, was always near the other. With the laps waning, Jones found his car backed into the wall, courtesy, he thought, of LaJoie. As Jones began slowly limping his car back to pit road, he swerved suddenly as LaJoie went back by. He missed, however, and destroyed the front of his car. LaJoie finished fourth; Jones 26th. Both earned a trip to the NASCAR trailer.

Randy LaJoie vs. Buckshot Jones (Round 2)
In the very next Nationwide race at Bristol, with barely 30 laps to Jones’ car appeared to cut a tire between Turns 1 and 2 and turn sharply to the right and directly into the path of another car — driven by LaJoie.
It ended the day for those two and five other drivers as well.
There have been other heated incidents, some involving thrown items – like the heel pads Ward Burton fired at the car of Dale Earnhardt Jr. after the two clashed or the race where Dale Jarrett tossed his helmet through the window of Bobby Hillin’s car after a dust-up between the two. Jarrett, after having separate incidents with both Roger Penske-owned cars in the 2005 Food City 500 – the latter with Ryan Newman, which put Jarrett in the wall – returned the favor later in the race, ending Newman’s day.
With Sunday’s Food City 500 looming, and a number of rivalries heating up, anticipation is high as fans wait — and wonder — about what might happen next.
In the course of covering many of these incidents above, I have been knocked to the ground, dodged elbows as folks tried to pull the drivers back out of the way of each other, and in the case of Kevin Harvick had a driver flying over my shoulder as I reached out my microphone to interview the intended target (Greg Biffle). You gotta love Bristol baby.
Tickets remain available for the Food City 500. For ticket information for Sunday’s race call the BMS ticket office at 423-BRISTOL (423-274-7865).

KOBALT TOOLS 500 WEEKEND PIT NOTES March 5, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season.
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Welcome to Atlanta Motor Speedway! I’ll be blogging throughout the weekend and into the season now so stay tuned.

First: Here are some pit notes from today’s interviews at Atlanta Motor Speedway

KOBALT TOOLS 500 WEEKEND PIT NOTES
Friday, March 5, 2010

KYLE BUSCH,No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry,Joe Gibbs Racing
How would you describe yourseason so far this year?
“It’s finally good to seeeverybody.I’m finally back in the top-12 again, you know, it’s been awhile.So it’s always nice to get back in here and do some mediaavailabilities.Besides that, our year has been pretty consistent I guess– 14, 14, 15.We’d like to make it where it was more top-fives thantop-15s but we still need those finishes in order to make ourselves capableenough to run in the Chase.We’ve had some good runs this year sofar.We had a fast car at Daytona.We had a fast car at Californiaand the same thing at Vegas.In all three races we had circumstances notquite go our way so we’re hoping to change our luck around a little bit thisweekend at Atlanta and get back down to business with the No. 18 M&M’s Camryand hopefully have a good strong run.”

Do you have to take a second lookat how you race the 48 team this year after the way they’ve started theseason?
“No, it’s just the 48 (JimmieJohnson) team.That’s them every single week.So it doesn’t put aworry in our mind at all.We’ve got to be a team that can run with thoseguys.Right now, we’re a team that’s a few spots behind them in therunning but we’re definitely not finishing nowhere near where they are.Weknow they’re going to be tough every single.It’s not that we’re worried,but it’s a long season and right now we’re not racing the 48, right now we’reracing the top-12.We’ve got to be in the top-12 by the 26th race and thenafter that you’ve got to worry about racing the 48.We’ll see whathappens.Anything can bite you here in the next 23 races before we getthere so we’ll just have to try to make sure it’s not us.”

What has your experience been sofar as a team owner with your new Truck seriesteam?
“It’s been a challengedefinitely.We’ve had a lot of things that we were really excited aboutcoming into the year and then we got a lot of bad news and we’ve been strugglingtrying to find some sponsorship but at least the golden goose.We had somehelp from a great company, Heluva Good, for Daytona and we’re giving them somesupport here in Atlanta.They’re on the bed cover.Toyota hasstepped up.They’ve come to help us here for this weekend as well alongwith the 56 (Tayler Malsam) truck.It’s been a struggle just trying tofind the sponsorship dollars that you need to run the team.We’re going torun the year regardless but it would certainly make it nice to pay off all thenotes I got outstanding on buying everything.It’s going to be maybe atough challenge for this year but hopefully down the road it will pay off andtwo, three, four years down the road we’ll be stronger thanever.”

How would you size up the 48 teamright now?
“They’re the best of thebest.They’re the guys that you’ve got to beat every single week, everysingle year.There’s no question that the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) isn’t thebest team probably in history — that they have the opportunity to win everysingle week.They had the opportunity at California and they had a perfectcall go their way and they won the race.They had the opportunity to winat Vegas and they had another good call go their way and their teammate (JeffGordon) to take two tires and whatever, who was the best car all day but theywere the smartest and they won the race.As long as you put yourselves inposition to win some of these races, you’re not going to win them all.Just like myself at California — we put ourselves in position to win that raceall day.We ran second all day and we certainly weren’t the best car towin but we ended up winning.So that’s just how you’ve got to play itsometimes and the 48 is the best at it.”
Do you think the change from thewing to the spoiler will help your driving?
“It’s hard to tell.Ihaven’t been able to drive with the spoiler yet so I’m unsure about how exactlyit’s going to change the handling characteristics of the car.I’m lookingforward to the change.At least we get to test it I think at Charlottebefore we get to go to the race track with it.It will be good to testwith it.As far as what the guys have been doing in the shop, I’munsure.I know they’ve been to wind tunnel testing some numerous things –not just the spoiler but some other things to try to see if we can’t find alittle bit more downforce out of our cars as well too.The rules are sotight, you have such a small area and a small window to work in that you doeverything you can.We’ve been working everywhere trying to findstuff.I know they’re doing their due diligence on what to do and where tofind some more downforce and stuff.That’s not what’s going to make ourcars go faster but it certainly, hopefully will make it better for racing and alittle bit easier to drive in traffic.”
What are the new challenges youface being a team owner and driver during raceweekends?
“To be honest with you, we wentthrough the truck race at Daytona and really nothing was different.It wasjust different because you’re driving your own equipment.You don’t treatit any differently really.I went out there and crashed on the first lapand put it back together and went back out there.We made a name forourselves, at least we had a fast truck that could compete.I might’vemade some other people mad that I was up there 18 laps down or whatever racing,but they’ve got to recognize that I’m trying to work for sponsorships and tryingto get stuff sold so I can be out there and make the series stronger.Thatwas the whole goal in Daytona.Here this weekend it’s going to be the samething.We’re just going to go out there and do what we can, try to sit ona pole and win the race in the truck and of course just learn as much as we canfrom the truck to the Cup car.The same as I would any other time so tracktime is always crucial.”

What does winning 50 Sprint CupSeries victories mean to you?
“I think it’s verysignificant.I think the more significant number — and this might justtell you how long Jimmie Johnson is still going to be around — is somewhere upin the 80s.That’s definitely a more significant number.Jimmie(Johnson) is now at 49 or 50 or whatever it is so he’s right there at the top-10brink.You want to win as many races as you can in anything and of coursethe more wins you get the closer you get to the 200 whether it’s Truck orNationwide.Cup wins, the more wins you get there, the closer you get tothe 50 (wins).Once you get to the 50 then you shoot for the 80s.Ithink I’m at 16 or 17 right now.There’s a long way to go and fortunatelyI’ve got time on my side right now so hopefully we can start punching thoseout.It would be nice if it was as easy as Jimmie (Johnson) makes it lookbut it’s certainly not.”

What has your teammate JoeyLogano improved on this year?
“All around Joey (Logano) hasjust been better.He’s been a better communicator in the teammeetings.He looks like he’s a lot smoother on the race track.He’slearned how to drive these cars.He’s been a lot better — it’s all aboutinformation.It’s all about telling your crew chief what you need and whatthe car has done for you or what you need it to do differently.Joey(Logano) has done a great job and obviously he’s leading the team right now withthe good finishes and leading the point standings for the JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing)drivers.I’m real proud of him.And I think that if he just keeps itgoing and keeps doing what he’s doing he’s got a great leader with GregZipadelli (crew chief).I’d like to say that Denny (Hamlin) and I are goodteammates and that we’ve been able to help him and get him to where he’s at buthe’s got to be the guy that gets himself better so he’s done a goodjob.”

ALLMENDINGER GOES GREEN: AJ Allmendinger’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford will have a new look for this weekend’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Instead of the traditional Best Buy and Petty blue, Allmendinger will sport a green Insignia logo, representing Best Buy’s own line of affordable consumer electronics. “Best Buy’s been very excited with the name recognition it’s gotten through NASCAR,” Allmendinger said. “They’re using that to take their Insignia brand and boost that, use it as a stepping stone. It shows what NASCAR can do for a great product.”

JOEY LOGANO IS BACK AT HIS SOUTHERN HOME: Joey Logano ruled the quarter-mile Thunder Ring at Atlanta Motor Speedway as a youngster, spending most of his childhood dominating the Legends and Bandolero divisions he raced in. A decade later, Logano is back with the big boys of NASCAR to try to change his stock car luck at what he calls his “second home” track.

“It’s cool to come back and see some of your friends, and this is Home Depot’s headquarters too,” said Logano, who originally hailed from Connecticut but spent his formative years in Alpharetta, Ga. “In the past, this race track been kind of tough for me.”Logano has competed in two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta, finishing 22nd and 30th“ This track’s fun, because it’s so wore out,” Logano said. “It makes it tough as a driver and crew chief to try to make things good on the long run.”

EMAIL BAG………………….

Here’s a look at some of the mail in my email box on a number of topics –

On SPEED Channel’s new TV show “What’s the Deal” with Jimmy Spencer
(Spencer was a guest on “Dialed In” to talk about his new show which airs Monday nights)

I would be interested in the show If jimmy can back his statements then I am okay with it.
I would be curious how long the show would last and if he would have enough material week to week

By the way the only thing the 48 team needs to do is brush up on their
vocabulary

Other then that they are top notch for now

On Kyle Petty being on the NASCAR Victory Lane show on SPEED

listener email: I have been some what critical of him (Kyle) from time to time based on his families position.Now that he is on Nascar victory lane and Jimmy Spencer is not even though he has has a new program. I can not help but feel there is some politics behind it.Kyle made the remark ,that every time he gets a new gig,people think i got some one fired.I can not help but think that that is more that a off the cuff statement…just curious…thx

On Jimmy Spencer:

Still trying to figure out why no driving Jimmy Spencer hit Dale Earnhardtr’s car a Bristol after Dale spun out Terry Labonte

On Ann in Indiana who has written and called frustrated over JJ and 48 wins (she’s a Gordon fan)
Claire, As I a long time Jeff Gordon, I really can’t figure out for the life of me why another Jeff Gordon fan could be upset with Jimmie Johnson. I guess they forgot the days when Jeff ran over the competition the same way or better. I can remember going to the track and feeling like I was on a lone island unless I was around a bunch of other Gordon fans. I was not a easy feeling and wouldn’t want to do it to anyone else. The old saying applies what rises to the to the top will eventually fall down to the ground. And I’m not saying Gordon isn’t good anymore, I’m just saying he’s not at his peak anymore were as Johnson is! I think most Gordon fans don’t like Jimmie Johnson winning because it reminds them of the good ole days!
Chris
From Ann in Indiana (who called in to “Dialed In”)

Thanks for having me on. You know you- and Jeff- are the only reasons
I’m sticking around, because I truly am fed up. You would probably
know this. Do the drivers, crew chiefs, or someone on the crews
listen in on the radio feeds to what is going on with their
competitors? Do they have private channels for communication that we
can’t hear? I’m on the computer now and my radio is in another room,
so I can’t listen and type at the same time.

Ann from Indiana

Email from a hard working transport driver:

I delivered in Mc donough,ga last night. I drove by speedway. Looked ready For you. passed few RVs on there way. And few speckled in RV lot. Looks like a party to me. Brewing. But wife and 2 children in Peoria,IL got priority so headed that way I go. And a new trumpet for my 15 year old is on plans so enyoy the fun and be safe Ron piper
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

On Jimmie Johnson and 48 team wins.

I am a tony stewart fan but i say good job to jimmie johnson. however, having him win over and over again is killing the NASCAR audience. it getting boring. I used to have a deal with my mother (a johnson fan) that every time jimmie wins i buy her something from nascarsuperstore.com but i had to stop because it was making me go broke.

Jay in NH

On the Driver for Five:

Claire

Jeff has been doing the “Drive for Five” for awhile now. So we will keep that tag line for him.

Jimmie will be “Strive for Five” or “Stride for Five” so we can keep them separate from each other.

Rush
Va

From Shawna Robinson, who has a new web site – and has started a chair business: Way cool

She writes: Check out new website!

http://www.shawnarobinson.com
Many Thanks!
Shawna
I asked Chad Knaus in Victory Lane at Las Vegas if he commiserated with Steve Letart who took two tires while he took four. He joked that he didn’t know the meaning of the word. Haaa! Here’s an email on that.
Hey Claire:

Maybe Chad did know what it meant!
Here is what the Merriam Dictionary says is the definition of commiserate.

Entry Word: commiserate with
Function: verb

Meaning: to have sympathy for
Also see pity.

—————————————————–

Love your show. I am working tonight on my laptop and enjoying the NASCAR talk!

Steve
Greensboro, NC
AFTER Daytona win by Jamie McMurray:

Hi Claire B.
I’m stoked I stayed Loyal to Egr. And the 1 team and they did not dissappoint….It’s Awesome Daytona 500 winner.. Jamie and Bono and the team were Awesome…
RandyHenry
Old School With An Attitude
Go Jamie McMurray and the Whole Team….KICK ASS AND TAKE CAR NUMBERS