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Happy Memorial Day- Coca Cola 600 May 25, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, NASCAR, Teams.
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I’m here in the deadline room at Lowe’s Motor Speedway – and I figured I’d drop you a line. John Force and the NHRA racers just left the deadline room. I interviewed him yesterday – but Force was in the media center today and he had the group, as always, In stitches. I’ve never known him to be less than entertaining in all the years I’ve seen him and interviewed him off and on at tracks and events, even in private when the cameras and microphones are not on – but it was classic Force today. I swear the man looks better since he’s been through his injury than he did before his accident – He’s amazing.
Soldiers are everywhere. I have never seen so many soldiers and God bless them! There are like 1,500 soldiers here at the track who will participate in pre-race activities and I never saw so much young promise in uniform – or told so many young people thank you as I have this morning. They are everywhere – it’s totally cool.
Hey the Coca-Cola Olympic promotion brought Yao Ming to the race today and he is the largest human being I have ever seen. He was in victory lane this morning shooting basketball with drivers Kyle Petty, Michael Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton and others. After the basketball demo – Yao and two-time US Olympic Taekwondo gold medalist Steven Lopez took their turn at a pit stop with the Kyle Petty team showing them how to change tires and jack the car. Yao Ming jacking a NASCAR race car..now that is a hoot.
Note: I am doing a “best of” show tomorrow on Memorial Day! It will open with a live to tape (recorded) intro that is fresh and I did my best to say what I really meant to the men and women in uniform. It’s the one real way that I can give back is to say thank you on air for those who wear the uniform or who have worn it in years past and have been in harm’s way to protect  us. I will have a debrief of the Nationwide Race and the Nascar Craftsman Truck Series race on Monday taped – but with some interesting audio – and then will dedicate Tuesday to the debrief on the Coca- Cola 600.  I needed a down day before picking it all up again and heading off on the circuit. So, I wanted you folks to know that I will not be taking live calls on Monday. I’ll miss you but the couch has been a stranger – and I plan on camping out on it on Monday.

Happy Memorial Day!
News in the Garage:

I was the first one on the scene yesterday when the Haas CNC cars were parked at the entrance to the garage and then declared to have illegal rear wing mounts. It was actually another team that alerted me to what was going on and I went over to check it out. I called a reporter or two and said “get down here” something odd is going on. I went over to the NASCAR hauler and waited for Series Director John Darby to come out of a meeting -but the meeting continued so I left.  Later, I went back to the other NASCAR hauler and there was John Darby sitting on the stair of the hauler with Haas Crew Chief Booty Barker and driver Scott Riggs in deep discussion. A source on the team told me that the teams had used the brackets all season – and that the timing of getting pulled for them now was wild. NASCAR says that’s what they all say when they get caught, basically.
I was on pit road when the scuffle happened between the pit crew members of the Brad Kezelowski team and the Denny Hamlin team post race. I saw a whole lot of people standing like billboards trying to protect their drivers and I also saw an official being carried away limping after having injured his leg. I saw no actual punches thrown but it was hard to see beyond the crowd of team members that I was surrounded by. I literally could not move – and was being pressed into the bodies that were making the situation tense. Security was everywhere – and on top of the situation.  I went to the Nationwide hauler after the race and Denny, Brad, JD Gibbs, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge were all in the hauler. Later Coach Gibbs came up and had a discussion with JD – and later with Elledge.  I’ll detail more of this on Tuesday but Keselowski is not backing down – and cannot be pushed around even by a veteran such as Hamlin.  The media corps was impressed that even when he was seated next to Hamlin in the deadline room and Hamlin critiqued him – Keselowski didn’t crumble.
You’ll have that (In big time stock car racing). 🙂
This is Memorial Day weekend. Salute the troops and enjoy the day.
More later.
Claire B
XM Satellite Radio