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Martinsville Victory Lane! March 30, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season.
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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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Home From Vegas But Barely March 3, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season.
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Vegas was just sick!

Did you hear me interview Jamie McMurray this weekend? He was sick as a dog – said that last Wednesday he was so sick he could not have driven a race car. He actually had to have the hotel doctor make a room visit. I interviewed him – and a bunch of other race car drivers who were sick. Sunday night – about an hour before I finished the post race show I felt like I was hit by a truck filled with the flu. I was on the air when it came on and it is the only time in my life I felt like I knew exactly within the hour when I got ill. I barely left Vegas. If you were on the Vegas rental car shuttle and you saw a girl with her head on the rail of the shuttle that was me and it wasn’t a party that put me there . Honest, I was so weak that I had to ask people to help me. I ran into a listener who introduced herself and since she didn’t have bags she asked if she could help pull my bag, it was obvious I was about to keel over. I usually would say. “No thanks I can handle it,” but this time I could not. It was a good lesson cause I have never had to lean on others — I hated the feeling. So I let people help me get my luggage on and off the shuttle, and onto the airplane and the overhead. Blessings to everyone who helped me seeing how sick I was. I really don’t know how I got home without the help of others so thanks to the unnamed to helped. I was never more thankful to get home.

Where are you Atlanta?
I met the nicest people on the West Coast and they seemed so happy. Not trying to create anything artificial – I just felt as I met the fans on the West Coast that they were so appreciative and happy that it put me in a good mood and I just totally felt it when I met them. They came out late at night to watch the haulers, they screamed and jumped and got excited and were thrilled to be there and soak up every single small moment of the NASCAR circus being in town.

I’m wondering if we’ll see the same at Atlanta this weekend. I know it’s a different market. To me- it’s not all just about numbers of people –it’s the fans’ enthusiasm. Atlanta is a market that I would assume would embrace NASCAR as NASCAR has it’s roots in the deep south. Maybe that’s why sometimes it seems as if Atlanta takes NASCAR for granted. If you live in town maybe you don’t go to see your parents much as if you treasure moment with them when you live close. I live in Charlotte, NC and my parents and brothers and sisters live in Wisconsin so I miss them all the time and stay in touch more than they do even though they live closer. Maybe it’s that kind of thing. If the weather is nice I would hope Atlanta would show up big time this weekend- and have some fun – the kind of fun I saw people having in California and Nevada.

I’m not selling this – I’m simply observing. You can’t fake pure joy– and boy is it catching. I am just interested in what we see in Atlanta this weekend. By the way the weather forecast looks pretty good. Subject to change of course.

Observations – Check it out!
Scott Speed: I caught up with him at the care center after the Nationwide race on Saturday- at LVMS and was so impressed with his presence. The first few times I interviewed him he said he’d do his best in this sport and whatever came to him came to him and he wouldn’t worry about it. I was like “yea right.” I never saw a racer who made it with that attitude. But you know after getting whacked on the track and starting from the pole and just getting our of the care center- he had an inner peace I don’t usually see of drivers there and I have seen a lot of them there over the years. It was pretty impressive. I ran into him pre race and walked with him. He was so focused and had an inner calm. This guy seems to keep his head together and stay focused when the world is swirling around him. Could that translate to success on the track? We’ll see. Interesting to cover him this year.

Jeff Gordon: His fans have sent me so many emails. Have I seen a change in him? Not really – he’s always been appreciative of being in the sport – and he’s always had the fire to win. He is felling better this year and I think it shows in his driving. His back was an issue – no longer. Can it be true that Jeff Gordon was 23rd in points after Las Vegas last year. Woah. The SMI tracks are starting fan (PRN up to Speed) events with drivers on stage and when Jeff Gordon was asked about it he was the first to say yes he’d do it. I heard a story told to me the other day from a track official about Jeff and a guy who had a terminal disease. Not only did Jeff meet the guy but knew exactly what to say to someone who was dying…..the track official was in tears telling me how Jeff handled the situation with grace and deep sincerity and kindness but also with a deep faith, from the spirit, the heart. It’s good to see him figure into the story lines this year.

Carl Edwards: The man is really made of steel. He doesn’t flinch his timing is perfect (It’s the one characteristic I see in all champions). They don’t laugh at the wrong time or say the wrong thing at the wrong time or miss the timing in an interview. Sometimes in a pack of reporters when I leave the pack after getting what I need he will tap me on the arm as if to say thanks Claire for coming. He doesn’t miss anything. He’s always pleasant and on his game. The other day, I interviewed Carl while walking and fans noticed him – they came running and were talking to him and handing him things and we changed directions twice and he kept talking doing an interview. I always notice how his focus is about as strong as anyone I’ve ever seen.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: I have been covering him since he began in this sport. Usually I would use the word “respect” to define him. In previous years I would have always used that word when asked about him- more than any other driver. I am not seeing Dale Junior as the poster child for respect this year -yet. That is not a knock at all. He’s still a really nice and decent guy up close. I think he’s testing the lines of “too nice” and “I gotta show respect -not act a fool” that he learned as a child afraid to knock anyone around and pushing into “Damn I gotta get the job done and nice might not get me there.” Dale Junior has always been true and real -as I have seen in covering him and I would guess that he might be figuring out who he really is and how he wants to be as he grows at Hendrick so that he can be real about it. Cause he’s not going to give us anything fake. We’ve never seen any less from him. I remember the day that Martin Truex got his first Busch series championship and I went up on stage. Not bothering him I figured as owner I would not ask him too many questions. I said, “I hate to be a pain – but I’d like to talk with you.” He said quietly, “You’re not being a pain.” I never forgot the kindness because he didn’t need to say that. It was years ago – but it stuck with me. Or the sunglasses he designed that had the word “respect” on the tag. I knew that word was ingrained in him. Dale doesn’t like loud but if you are not asking for much he usually will do what he can to make time and he digs deep usually. I hope he doesn’t change that as he grows up. He’s a really decent guy. He’s just stretching.

Well that’s about all the observations I have now. I’ll talk to you more later. I need to get some sleep and fight this flu so that I can be ready to leave Thursday crack of dawn for Atlanta.

Thanks for all the emails to insidercbl@aol.com

To the anonymous people who I had to lean on getting home from Las Vegas: Thanks. You can’t imagine how sick I was and how much you helped me get home. You helped a stranger and I send you many blessings.

Claire B

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Greetings from the Big Apple! December 2, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d better get back to the seminar.

Enjoy the day!

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

Claire B.

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Race Day Blog – Lowe’s Motor Speedway October 11, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, NASCAR.
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Claire B Lang – Pre Race
Race Day Blog – Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Saturday October 11, 2008

The Edwards Harvick Argument Photograph……Has Been Outed

Welcome to Lowe’s Motor Speedway. I just saw a photo of the Carl Edwards/ Kevin Harvick scuffle in the Nationwide garage on Thursday here at LMS. The photo series has started to make it around to the various web sites. There are various accounts as to how the photos got out.

We knew that, eventually, the photo would get out somehow – it was just a matter of time. It always does somehow. I’ve heard various stories of why the photo of the argument was not released and was kept under wraps by a handful of photographers.

Several media members covering the race here at Lowe’s Motor Speedway noted that, in their minds, the photo would have been rushed to Associated Press immediately if H.A. Humpy Wheeler was still on staff here at LMS because, of course, he’d know how good it was for business and would have seen to it that the photo got out. Maybe some think that the photo is bad for the drivers involved or their sponsors but traditionally photos like this are good for ticket sales.

Last night here at LMS several of us in the media corps talked about why the several photographers who got the shot, who are photo and commercial journalists, would have agreed to not publish the photo. This usually happens due to pressure from sponsors that the photographers double dip for on side jobs or from the track or the Roush team. The discussion was that it was no different than someone getting a story off the record and deciding not to use it.

Also, many of the photographers who shoot in the sport do other jobs -and make extra money shooting for corporate and sponsor entities that might conflict with a shot like that getting out. Then are they not photo journalists? Some in the photo room say that the photo was in the garage, a place that is not the same as on pit road and therefore should not be released. Others in the photo room disagreed – saying that there are a lot of fans in the garages now and that while you would hold a photo of two drivers fighting in the motor coach lot, which is their neighborhood, the garage is more public. Now, the photo series is out.

I am asking you this. How much of an impact does a series of photos like this have on your support of a driver or sponsor. Here’s what I think – I think if you are a Kevin Harvick fan you do not change your thoughts about him related to this photo series and you support and back Kevin. If you are a Carl Edwards fan you support him and see the photo series a different way. It all depends on who you support how you see this series of photos right?

Bottom line – these photos will not change fans opinions of either the sponsor nor the driver.

Not one bit.

Am I wrong?

You can find the photos on any of the racing web sites. Let me know what you think

Claire B

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

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Breaking News, NASCAR.
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Hey! Well penalties are out on the Kyle Busch – Carl Edwards post race bumping. I thought that I’d post them right away. We’ll definitely talk about this today (4:00 EST) on “Dialed In”

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

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

——–

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

Claire B

SATURDAY INDY BLOG July 26, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, NASCAR.
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two drivers have ...Image via WikipediaClaire B.log – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
July 26, 2008

It’s been too long since I’ve written and I’m sorry I’ve been on the run. I’ve been on the road trip of a lifetime back to the midwest broadcasting from Chicago to Wisconsin, seeing family, and then off to Indy.

Friday at Indy was insane – there were so many interesting stories developing. Tony Stewart’s news conference across the street from the track kicked off the day and the action didn’t stop for a second until air time. Between Rusty saying that Ryan Newman was fired by Roger Penske to Ryan denying it strongly to Jack Roush omitting Jamie McMurray’s name when mentioning the drivers who were secure with him – well it was a wild day.

I’m here in the media center now overlooking the track and I’m about to head down to pit road for qualifying – I will have more for you when that gets done but I wanted to write a few things before I headed down to the grid.

Everyone’s talking about what Mark Martin said about racing here. Was it a guarantee of a win here at Indy this weekend or just confidence. Here’s the Mark Martin quote:

“I’m planning on winning the Brickyard in the 8 car. We’ve got the stuff, we’ve got the team, the cars are awesome on the flat tracks – Phoenix and Richmond and I have never planned on anything any more than my plan is for the Brickyard. That’s the crown jewel and if you look at how that car ran at Phoenix – I believe that we can adapt that set up to work there and make that — ah the team is strong enough on pit road and Tony Gibson and those guys who work on that car are due a win. You know they got several disappointments last year when they had great race cars and had failures and what have you. Nothing would make me happier than to see their face in victory lane.”

Anyone who knows Mark Martin knows that is quite the statement. But later – yesterday when asked about his statement (above) – Mark Martin said this:

MARK MARTIN: I’m not sure I said exactly what you guys take and run with. I’m not sure I did a Mohammed Ali. You know, I do feel very confident that we’ll have a car here that will be strong enough to be a contender to win this race. I might say that every week – maybe. But, you know, believing it deep down inside I usually know that’s a bigger challenge than it might be here this week.

I believe that you can run the same stuff here that you can run at Phoenix. And I believe that we had the fastest car on the racetrack at Phoenix. It’s that simple.

My translation is that while Mark is confident – his first statement earlier was not a guarantee of a win – which some of the headlines read his statement as saying. It was just confidence in his team and his car and a strong desire to turn that into a win.

Kevin Harvick had a few interesting comments yesterday. I laughed loud when he answered a reporter asking him about the excitement of racing here at Indy. LOL:

Reporter: DO YOU AGREE WITH ALL THAT HAS BEEN WRITTEN AND SAID ABOUT THE RACING NOT BEING AS EXCITING AS IN THE PAST WITH THIS NEW CAR AND WON’T ALLOW FOR ANY SIDE-BY-SIDE RACING HERE AT IMS? Kevin Harvick: “That is why I don’t read anything you guys write or talk about. (LAUGHS) I try not to pay attention to people who don’t necessarily understand how our sport works. I think the races have been as good as races as we have had in a long time at Daytona, Chicago. I think in the garage, everybody is getting a better handle on the car. I don’t there has ever been any side-by-side racing here. The opinions come from a lot of people who really don’t understand the sport. Unfortunately, some of our amateur fans that haven’t attended a lot of races, have to the read that stuff and get kind of a false opinion of what they should expect when they come to this particular race track. This track promotes single-file racing, not necessarily this car. You can take an Indy car, you can take a stock car and you are not going to run side-by-side. If you want to blame something for single file racing, I would blame it on the track and not the car

And KH’s answer on a question about the engine modifications in the Nationwide series:

Reporter: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ENGINE RULE CHANGE MADE IN NATIONWIDE SERIES? Kevin Harvick: “When is the Truck Series rule coming? (LAUGHS) If you look at most of the engine stuff that they have from all the other types of race tracks, I think, it is pretty evident that the No. 18 was on the chip and doing a lot of things after the race that probably affected those chassis dyno numbers and the No. 20 car went high right off the bat so I think they did the right

Clint Boyer had an interesting note as well – his about how they have been running about him being in the rumor mill and his being discovered by Richard Childress:

Reporter: EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT HOW YOU GOT YOUR BIG BREAK IN THIS SPORT, RC (RICHARD CHILDRESS) WATCHING THE ARCA RACE AND EVERYTHING. GIVING THERE’S NO SCOUTING, NOTHING LIKE WE SEE IN THE NFL, HOW MUCH OF MAKING IT IS TIMING AND LUCK AND JUST BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE? Clint Bowyer: “It is a lot timing and luck. You only get one shot at it unfortunately. I’ve seen a lot of guys get an opportunity that I thought they’re going to set the world on fire and for whatever reason didn’t rise to the occasion and racing late models or dirt cars whatever their background was they were the heat. Then it got to that opportunity to where maybe it wasn’t the right opportunity. Things went wrong. It’s seems like if you’re not running good in those first couple of races you’re pushed by the wayside pretty quick. It’s unfortunate. Sometimes guys come in so far behind in experience they don’t even get a chance to showcase their talent. Unfortunate but it is a very competitive, very close form of racing in any sport. It’s hard to get inside and then we get so much experience, so much seat time inside the car with testing, practice, racing Nationwide, racing cup you’re just in the car so much a new kid that grew up racing late models, it’s hard for him to catch up to that.”

YOU ARE 13TH RIGHT NOW, BAD LUCK IT SEEMS, ARE YOU HURTING REALLY?
Clint Boyer: “We’re not running well. We took a step backwards. We really did. We started out this season with seven straight top-10’s, more than anybody at the time. We won at Richmond and then the bottom fell out. The short tracks have been well for us. We’re running good. It’s the 1.5-mile tracks that have really, really been the dagger right now and we’re trying to figure it out. We’re working harder than we ever have testing. We don’t have the answer right now. It doesn’t fall in your lap. It’s due to hard work, what got us here and the hard work is going to get us out of this slump. It’s definitely crunch time, we’ve got to get going. Top-10’s are what will put you there, but we need to start running in the top five and contending for wins. At the beginning of the season I was happy with the way that my team was running. We’ve answered the call and been doing the things that we need to do to get things turned around.”

THE 07 HAS BEEN IN THE MEDIA RUMOR MILL FOR MONTHS, DOES THAT CAUSE A DISTRACTION FOR YOUR TEAM? Clint Boyer“Richard and I were talking about that. It doesn’t help anything. When everybody’s wondering is the driver going to be there and whatever else and we got that taken care of. I think it can hurt you a little bit but that doesn’t make the car handle better. Still things have got to work, the car has to handle and you got to do your job inside the race car. It’s not like I’m a distraction, I forgot how to drive. It’s an unfortunate deal that we all have to go through. It’s uncomfortable. Nobody likes going through that especially the people that have given you everything, given you the life and everything else. They are uncomfortable times and things I don’t like to go through. Thank God you only have to do it every three years or so. I really enjoy this sport. I enjoy the challenge. It doesn’t matter what kind of racing it is at what level there’s always challenges. The challenge has presented itself, now we’ve got to answer the call.”

I I didn’t have time to tell you much about the Aflac news conference regarding sponsorship of Carl Edwards. Aflac will be the primary sponsor for his car and Aflac will sell the primary spot out for a number of the races but will still have presence on the car.

In the question and answer session – Carl enjoyed cutting up about driving with a Duck on his car – and Edwards answered a question about making the Aflac commercial:

“I can’t tell all the secrets to it but it’s amazing how they make the duck do all that stuff. It’s hard to get a duck to talk and to scream and to look at Jamie when we go by him in the car. You know the driving part is tough for him cause he doesn’t have thumbs and that’s kind of the thing that helps…… It really was pretty neat. We had a really good time.”

In the move “Stroker Ace” the driver was sponsored by a chicken company and had to wear a chicken suit. A reporter asked if Edwards would ever be seen in a commercial wearing a duck suit. Here’s what Carl said:

“That was Clyde Torkle’s Chicken Pit and Aflac’s been much better than he has been. We actually talked about that last night. There’s a lot of potential for that Carl in a duck suit commercial but I don’t know don’t give him any ideas. That was a pretty fun part of that movie yea!”

Carl helped design the look of his new Aflac race car….something that was new for him and he was asked about what that experience was like:

“We just talked about it. The way it usually works is they say -hey here’s our paint scheme here’s what we’re thinking about doing. Everybody looked at it – everybody from Bob (Osborne) to the crew guys to Randy (Pr person) to my assistant Angela. Everybody just looked at it and said hey here’s what we think and then we got with Paul and all the guys and everybody just said hey we want it to have this color this aspect and then they came up with a bunch of designs and it kind of became a pretty cool process but it wasn’t a plan where we set out like hey said hey here’s how we’re going to figure it out. Everybody just kind of tried different things.”

That is it for now. I’ll be back with you but am headed to Gasoline Ally and see what I can find out down there. Then, to the grid for qualifying.

Hope all is well were you are at.

Enjoy the morning!

Claire B
XM Satellite Radio

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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Coke Zero 400 – Sprint Cup Series Drivers Meeting July 5, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Trackside.
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Todays driver’s meeting was typical for pre-Daytona.

Rule change regarding suspension changes announced at driver’s meeting:
“Crew chiefs – any major suspension parts must be changed behind the pit road service work wall and this will include springs and that’s a change. Major suspension parts must be changed behind the pit road service work wall,” Hoots explained.

Race Director David Hoots gave drivers the normal pre superspeedway warning:
“I would remind you drivers that this is your warning about racing above the yellow line. You’ve had this rule down here for several years and you understand it and abide by it and we’ll enforce it. Along with that there is an aggressive driving zone that will be considered all the way around the race track – and we’ll be watching it very closely. Any questions?”

This week two questions were asked – one by Jeff Gordon the other by Carl Edwards – interesting questions from the drivers. When drivers ask questions sometimes it’s not just because the don’t know – but sometimes because they want NASCAR to make it clear to others in the room or to look at a rule to clarify something that others are not following. The answers came from Sprint Cup Series Race Director David Hoots who leads the Drivers Meeting.

On coming on to Pit Road side-by-side:
Question: Jeff Gordon: “If it just so happens that two cars come on pit road side by side – even though we’re not supposed to but if we do -Does the car that’s ahead when they get to the yellow line have the position and the other guy has to get in behind?”
Answer: David Hoots:”If that happens -You should attempt to make every attempt to come on single file. You are the worlds greatest race car drivers..this should be a very easy task…and I have all the confidence in the world…we’ll police it you come on single file. There’s no reason to try to come on two wide You know that you are planning to pit in turn three and four.”

On going past timing loop to avoid a wreck (what happened to Carl Edwards in the Nationwide race Friday night).

Question : Carl Edwards: “If we were to avoid a wreck and go past one of those timing loops or whatever is there a video replay thing that you guys can look at?”
Answer: David Hoots: “Last (Friday) night when we had an accident on the back straightaway -the car went below the timing loop and was not picked up and we incorrectly positioned Carl on a restart. We have taken some steps to correct that – if there’s a miss we’ll go back and look at it under a caution for that one particular instance.Good luck to each and every one of you…Tim are you going to lead us in prayer?

And we prayed for a safe race for all competitors

Pit Road Speed : 55 mph
Caution Car Speed: 70 mph
Pit Road Speed Begins: 190 feet before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed Ends: 88 feet past the last pit box

Media Center/Drivers Meeting Highlight:
Actor/musician Kevin Costner was at the drivers meeting. He sat on the stage off to the left and wore a red cap – and his band played pre-race. He came into the media center prior to the race and addressed the media. We got a chance to ask questions and I had to ask him what was on my mind. Well part of it anyway 🙂 :

Question: What do you think about NASCAR and NASCAR drivers in general especially racing at places like Daytona as you watch that?
Costner: “You know… I’m going to go back to that word DNA you know when you don’t grow up with it – it’s hard to grasp it. But, you know, my wife came in and we brought our one -year-old and we drove through here and our eyes were just like we were looking for a new home – we ended up with a pool. We thought, these people are really smart we’re going to get a little pool for Cayden so Cayden is swimming right now he’s 13 months old. There seems to be, like with anything great, a lot more than just the race. But the passion is really strong and it’s a phenomenon to me. You know somebody told me – the first time I heard about how popular the sport was and, forgive me, was about seven, eight years ago when somebody said, ‘You know, that’s the most well attended – its the biggest thing in the United States.’ And if you grow up kind of playing the national pastime you almost can’t believe it but I do and I have. There’s another problem – I’ve never been a speed guy ok? I never had to get that out of my system in high school. In fact ,nobody wanted to go with me because I was like 20 mile-an-hour-Costner. I was the guy that got everybody kinda home. So speed has never been a thing so even they asked me today, ‘Do you want to go around the track ?’ and I went , like, ‘No, I don’t think so. Are you going to go fast?’ and they said, ‘We always go fast.’ I was, ‘No am not going to do it -I’d rather go to the press conference.’ I know most everybody in the room goes – what a weasle – why would you not take the opportunity to go…..I think weasle is the wrong word..woosie.”

Commentary on Costner:
Kevin Costner was clever and funny and seemed humble and appeared as if he was just checking out the phenomenon that is Daytona in July at the Coke Zero 400. He seemed to be having a great time. It’s fun to watch these celebs come to the infield and soak it in. There are pools everywhere, and the set ups that the infield race-watchers have assembled is, in itself, a sport to view.

Enjoy the race!

Kyle Petty on driving the pace car said he might not go back to the booth because, “This is the first time I have led anything for about 20 years,” which drew loud laughter from the journalists working on their computers here in the deadline room.

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Morning from Daytona July 5, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season.
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20080217-kab-1392Image by kBasarab via FlickrGood morning from Daytona. I hope you all are enjoying the 4th of July weekend.
The garage doesn’t open for hours so I thought I’d write you a quick post -ramping up to the start of tonight’s race. I’m in my hotel room writing you a quick blog before heading to the track.

Race Couch Notes:

Tonight’s Coke Zero 400 Sprint Cup Series race will be televised on TNT, beginning with a 90-minute prerace show at 6:30 p.m. EDT.

Sprint Cup Garage opens -3:00 p.m.
Driver Crew Chief Meeting -6:00 p.m.
Driver Introductions -7:30 p.m.
Green Flag 8:00 p.m. -(160 laps – 400 miles)

PACE LAP: Kyle Petty:

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran and TNT analyst Kyle Petty will serve as the honorary pace car driver for the 50th running of the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Petty, who is a member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family of Drivers will pace the 43- car field in a Chevrolet Corvette Z08 before the race goes green.

Oh No – Thunderstorms!

Check out the weather – the Garage opens at 3:00 p.m. – the rain chances start at 1:00 today (scattered thunderstorms) and build up to 50% by race time (depending on which weather forecast site you use – the chances could change.) Please tell me that this race will not be delayed by rain into the early morning hours. I always wonder with the race taking so much mental focus how those delayed Daytona nights are not grueling for the drivers mentally.

NATIONWIDE SERIES RACE OBSERVATIONS FROM LAST NIGHT:

What was Carl Edwards upset about?:

Carl Edwards (finished 11th) was upset after he got out of the car after the Nationwide Race last night right? Carl Edwards:
“Yeah, real upset. When Colin Braun wrecked on the back straightaway, I was 100 feet in front of Clint Bowyer and then on the restart, because I drove through the grass, I didn’t go through their timing loop there, so they scored me behind Clint, which was very frustrating. I felt like we had a chance to win. And then on the restart, it just didn’t work out for us. Very, very frustrating. Congrats to Denny and those guys, they did a great job, and I hope the fans enjoyed the race tonight. It was a lot of fun out there on the race track.”

Who the heck is racing against me?

Dale Junior (finished 3rd) thought Tony Stewart was in the #20 Nationwide car – Hamlin (race winner) got a kick out of it when told in the media center after the race that Dale Junor thought he was racing Tony Stewart all night: Denny Hamlin:
“I think honestly a lot of the confusion probably is cause it’s the same colors as what Tony usually runs but – I don’t know – my head is a lot smaller than his (Tony’s) so you couldn’t see that – but ahh I don’t know you could take it as another thing as I was driving a lot like Tony which is a compliment in my eyes. If I was driving like Tony on a super speedway that’s pretty dang good so I’ll take it. (Pause). Maybe he would not have helped me if he woulda knew it was me.

Missed Pit Stop Communication – What was that about?

What happened with the missed communication on the pit stops with Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin? Kyle Busch:
“We were going down the back straightaway and it was 78 or 77 — one of the two and we were either supposed to be on pit road on lap 78 or 79 — I don’t remember which one. But anyways, we were going down the back and it was one lap shy of when we were supposed to come in and Denny was waving like, ‘I’m pitting this time, I’m pitting this time.’ And so I figured if he was going to come this time then I’m just going to come with him and he came off of turn four and kept digging and I was slowing down so I don’t know what happened there. I don’t know why he was waving unless he was just saying hi. Somehow we just missed communication there. It didn’t really matter much. I got out in front of him after the pit stops were over and he charged right back through the field and had one lap fresher tires, which really didn’t make the difference. He just had a faster car and got by us all.”

The Nationwide Cup Freight Train:
Brian Clauson was the top Raybestos Rookie in the Nationwide Series Winn Dixie 250 last night. Did he have drafting help during the race?

Clauson: “For a little bit. In the beginning of the race a lot of the Cup guys banded together and it looked like a Cup freight train rolling by me for a while.We kind of settled back in there and picked our way towards the front and you just kind of all of a sudden got pretty loose and I’m not sure if we were off a little bit on air pressure or what but about 20 laps into a run we’d just get real, real loose. It’s hard to really pass a guy unless I had him cleared mid-corner, kind of use up the racetrack because anytime I have to pinch it off the rear end would come around on us. But like I said we had a good car and I threw it away there at the end. We had a really strong car there and the driver made an error on that restart and missed a shift and cost us. I’m really disappointed for my team. They gave me a great car. We kind of fell off there in the middle of the race, got real loose. Not sure what happened there but we were still a top-five, top-10 car there. Just made a mistake and cost us a good finish.” He finished 19th after starting from the pole.

That’s it for now. Time to get over to the race track. More later. Enoy!
ClaireB

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Carl Edwards signs deal May 2, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Drivers.
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Bristol Motor SpeedwayImage via WikipediaHOT NEWS FROM THE GARAGE – Richmond international Raceway: Carl Edwards announced (when asked today by reporters in the garage) that he has re-signed with Roush Fenway Racing – a multi-year deal that will keep him behind the wheel of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion.
Heres a quick update:

WHAT’S YOUR CONTRACT STATUS?
Carl Edwards: “I signed my contract yesterday, so I’m staying with Roush. I looked at everything and I talked to everybody and, for me, the number one thing is looking into the future and saying, ‘Where can I win the most races and have the most success?’ I was honored at the people who I got to speak with and I just feel like for me personally this is where I want to be for the near future and we got it done. It’s good. I’m real happy about it. It’s a huge relief. It really wasn’t that painful. Geoff Smith and I get along really well and we just pretty much sat down and he’s really easy for me to deal with. It took us about a week-and-a-half of going back and forth with just little things and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world for the contract I got.”

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO NEGOTIATE THIS YOURSELF – WITHOUT AN AGENT?
“It’s really neat. If I was dealing with someone that I didn’t trust or that I felt like I couldn’t just kind of air everything out with, then I’d probably have to have an agent, but dealing with Geoff from day one has been very easy at Roush for me, so it was really pretty simple. Besides, I feel like I know what I need more than anyone else. I know what I want to make me happy and this is cool. I’m very excited about being involved with Ford, too, because from what I understand about their corporate culture right now, they’re on their way up and it’s gonna be good here so I want to be a part of that. I want to help out.”

WHAT IS IT ABOUT ROUSH THAT’S WHAT YOU WANTED?
“There are a few things. Robbie Reiser running the place, that’s a big deal for me. More and more I’m understanding how important that is. Things we’ve been doing with this car of tomorrow to make it better, I feel like it’s very efficient how everyone is working and it’s making the cars faster, and I feel like our engine program has a lot in the near future that’s gonna be great. Plus, my pit crew, I’ve struggled since I’ve been here with changing people and having different pit crew guys, and I feel like finally with Robbie managing that I’ve got a group of guys that are going to be really good over the next three years. I kind of know everything and where it’s headed. We’re winning right now and I think it’s gonna be better, so that kind of made it easy for me.”

HOW MANY YEARS?
“I’ll just say it’s multi-year.”

LONG-TERM?
“A week is a long time around here (laughing). It’s a great contract. It’s a dream contract for me and I’m really excited about it.”

More later on this. Carl Edwards is now out of silly season talk and speculation
Back to the garage.

CBL