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48 Team Post Texas Motor Speedway Crash “Let’s Build Something Together” November 8, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Drivers, NASCAR, Trackside.
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Dallas/Fort Worth 11/08/09 – Claire B Lang 5:48 p.m. EST Sunday

As the Lowe’s team lifted the cover on the #48 team’s crash cart to begin work on Johnson’s destroyed race car – I noticed the Lowe’s logo and the slogan printed adjacent to it in large white letters, “Let’s Build Something Together.” That is exactly what the Chad Knaus (crew chief) and Ron Malec (car chief) led race team did – they rebuilt the 48 car after a second lap crash not of their driver’s making.

As I watched the Lowe’s team work on their race car, I was expecting Johnson to jump out and grab a wrench and Chad for to ask him ( as he does in the Kobalt tools commercial), “What are you doing Jimmie?” And Johnson would reply, “I’m helping fix the car Chad.” But Johnson stayed right were Knaus wanted him -inside the car ready to pilot it back out when the time was right, because Knaus had supreme confidence that this car was returning to the race track.

The team replaced the rear end housing, drive shaft, rear deck lid, mounts, front end, welded the chassis and the list goes on and on. It’s easier to list what this team did not do to their race car. Watching this team work exemplifies what makes the 48 guys so good.

It’s as if they had rehearsed this scenereo to perfection. There were some 15 Lowes guys working in sync, without speaking, on the points-leading race car while three NASCAR officials looked on. Knaus, as always, carried himself like the team owner, keeping calm and overseeing a major reconstruction project.

Twenty five media folks, local, national, print, broadcast, all standing around watching the one hour plus repairs on Johnson’s ride in the garage here at Texas Motor Speedway. Their comments initially ranged from, “He needs to man up and get out of the car and talk,” to “This is so smooth it’s like watching doctors work in the ER,” to “They’ll never get this car back out there,” to “that’s incredible.” Most of the comments were about how this team went to work, didn’t show even so much as a frown or a facial expression of any kind, any of them, and, like machines, went to work to get the car back on the race track.

There was Chad Knaus pounding sheet metal to bend it using the side of the garage stall’s concrete wall to bend the piece. They were welding, pounding, fitting, inspecting, and screwing metal, hoses, tape and wiring. They carefully used a broom under the car several times to clear the way for the tires as they prepared to pull out of the garage and at one point welded near the gas tank and a fire extinguisher and safety tarp were brought over.

Three times, they’d get close to being ready to take the car out and Chad or one of the officials would see something that needed attention. So, once again without expression, the appropriate member of the team, or Chad or Ron would move in and finesse the area one more time.

Chad would feel around the spoiler, or a rim or area he was concerned about and the team would watch him like a hawk, instinct telling them what they needed to do next. Watching this team work on their car –one just knows that most of these guys know this race car better than they know their girlfriends, wives and family members.

As the car pulled out to return to the track, I watched the members of the 48 machine run out like a football team chasing on to the field to return to the pits. Leading those running out of the garage towards the gate that leads onto pit road was car chief Ron Malec and, as he ran, he turned around quickly once and look back over his shoulder at the team guys running behind him. His face lined with grease and sweat, he gave them a thankful and confident warm smile, in a trademark 48 calm and focused way – he did so faintly but I’m sure they picked up on it because I did.

And on the 48 went to take, once again, the field of battle in a car many thought would never make it back on this race track today.

Over the years I’ve covered this sport I’ve seen many teams make incredible repairs to race cars that we thought would never make it back out onto the race track- so this is not a first.

It was something to watch though.

They made it seem easy.

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

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

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

museumshot--IndyCars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the day!

Claire B

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New York City- NASCAR Champions Week Schedule December 1, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, My Show, NASCAR.
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Jimmie Johnson in August 200...Image via WikipediaHey All! Greetings from New York City. Thanks for all the emails and for keeping in touch. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

I wanted to write you a note and let you know when I will be broadcasting on Sirius NASCAR Radio (Sirius Channel 128 and XM Best Of Package 128) here in New York City for Champions Week and post the schedule. I arrived today (Monday) in the city and will be on site and in and around the city covering and hosting live broadcasts at the events all week long – and I’ll be hosting a special wrap up show at the end of each day.

Did I tell you that the Sirius Studios are on the 36th floor of this building? Don’t look down 😉

My Schedule in New York City:

Monday, December 1

“Dialed In” with Claire B. Lang
Monday / 7p-10p ET
SIRIUS NASCAR Radio studios, Manhattan

Tuesday, December 2
“Dialed In” with Claire B. Lang
Tuesday / 8p-11p ET
SIRIUS NASCAR Radio studios, Manhattan

Wednesday, December 3
“Dialed In” with Claire B. Lang
Wednesday / 7p-10p ET
LIVE from the Sprint Champions Party, Sports Museum of America

Thursday, December 4
“The 2008 Stewie Awards”
Thursday / 6p-8p ET
SIRIUS NASCAR Radio studios, Manhattan

Then,

“Dialed In” with Claire B. Lang (Claire B Hosts Stewie’s After Party Show)
Thursday / 8p-11p ET
“Stewie’s After Party” — SIRIUS NASCAR Radio studios, Manhattan

“The 2008 Championship Year In Review”
Claire B Lang Back Stage LIVE at the Waldorf
Claire B – Friday / 3p-5p ET
Waldorf=Astoria Hotel
Featuring: Exclusive interviews with the entire #48 team including Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus, Rick Hendrick and the rest of the Championship team, plus the listeners will have a chance to call the show LIVE to talk with the team!

Remember: LIVE coverage of “NASCAR Awards Night / Banquet”
Friday / 7pm-TFN ET
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (Anchored by MRN Radio)

I am slamming getting the show ready and getting used to the different layout in this studio. I’m looking forward to hearing from you on air tonight and sure hope you can catch the shows from New York City.

Take care,

Claire B

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