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PENALTY TALK September 24, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season, Teams, Trackside.
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Clint Bowyer
Image by TheGeekiestMark via Flickr

The aftermath of the RCR New Hampshire Sprint Cup Series #33 Penalty – Reaction here at Dover!

As you can imagine the discussion here at Dover with many of the drivers and crew chiefs is about the severe penalty  for the #33 after New Hampshire. Below is what Clint Bowyer had to say about the matter this morning here at Dover in the deadline media room in the media center. Also listed below are comments from Jeff Gordon

Clint Bowyer (Media Center Appearance at Dover International Speedway)

TALK ABOUT YOUR WEEK

“You always want to win races. You’re very proud to win races and I’m still proud of that win. I don’t believe that we did anything wrong. I guess I’ll go on record and say that, first and foremost, in my opinion. I want my fans to know that. There is a lot of integrity that goes into this sport. I’m damn proud of being a part of this sport. I love this sport and I wouldn’t cheat to win a race in this sport. We have a lot more integrity for myself and our race team at RCR. Hopefully I only have to do this once. I woke up about 6 o’clock this morning, which is uncharacteristic for me. I just grabbed a notebook and wanted to make some notes. You know, for myself and for you guys. I know a lot of you guys have a lot of questions; trust me; there are a hell of a lot of questions that I have too. And I’m going to go through them. I like to have facts when something like this comes down. I’ve got a timeline of facts.

“I’m going to start with number one: We were warned after Richmond that the car was too close to tolerances. Number two: We were told by NASCAR they were taking the car after New Hampshire, no matter what; first or 43rd. Number three: The car passed pre and post-race inspections at the race track. Number four: Monday, the rumors started about all this and in my opinion, forced NASCAR’s hand to do something about it. Number five: Wednesday came and it was a 150-point fine. And the sixth thing, and at least an answer, you know, I’m looking for answers too. There are several things but one of them is a two-ton wrecker pushed me to victory lane.

“I’m going to elaborate on them. I think the first one (is) we were warned that both sides of the car were high after Richmond. Both sides. After the race in New Hampshire, after it got back to the Tech Center or whatever they call that place, just the left side was high. I think this shows that we definitely had it fixed; something within that race happened.

“Number two: after being told that they were taking the car, we made double-sure before it went to New Hampshire that that car was right. Who in their right mind, knowing that they’re going to take that car, wouldn’t have made triple sure that thing was right before it went to the race track? I could have hit the wall doing a burnout, I could have done a lot of things that other drivers have done and that other teams have done in a post-race celebration this year. I didn’t. We didn’t want to push that in NASCAR’s face. We appreciated them warning us on the fact and we tried to fix the situation. They told us about that situation Wednesday. Wednesday the car leaves. We had about two hours to jump on that car and make sure that thing was right.

“And number three:  The car passed pre and post-race inspection, and three days later get such a huge fine? They take the car apart, completely apart to measure this thing and in my opinion that’s not the way the car was raced on the race track. I think that’s something to be said.

“Number four: Once the rumors started it wasn’t long before the penalty. I think NASCAR has a lot of problems with a lot of cars on the race track being out of the box and I think they needed to set an example with something.

“Number five: I don’t think the penalty fits the crime. Sixty-thousandths of an inch, folks. Grab a quarter out of your pocket (holds up a quarter). That’s sixty-five thousandths of an inch thick. Less than the thickness of that quarter right there resulted in a 150-point fine. Before or after this, grab that and ask yourself if that was a performance-enhancing thing right there.

“And the last thing, my question is, is it possible that a two-ton wrecker could bend the quarter panel of this thing sixty thousandths of an inch? You have to ask yourself that. I got hit during the race, turned a couple of times; racing is tough. Now if this thing was knocked out a half of an inch, I could see something being made. But if it passed the height sticks afterwards, the very height sticks the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) did not pass, then miraculously enough when that same pit crew pushed it back around after 20 minutes it passed, that was pretty amazing. You know it passed those same sticks.

“And, you know, my dad owns a towing business and has since I was born in 1979. I know a little something about wreckers. About 15 years ago they took them push bumpers off the front of them for this very reason. I remember back when people used to come (during) a snow storm and (say) please, push me out of the snow bank. You push them out of the snow bank and two days later they’d show up with a body shop bill in their hand, wanting you to pay the body shop bill for the damage you did to the back of their car. This could happen. That’s the only question I had for you guys (media) is to ask yourselves if it is possible for that to happen. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

YOU SAID YOU FELT LIKE NASCAR’S HAND WAS FORCED BY THE RUMORS THAT STARTED TO FLOW MONDAY MORNING. DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD NOT HAVE GOTTEN THE PENALTY HAD THOSE RUMORS NOT COME OUT? THOSE RUMORS COMING FROM AN INSPECTION AT THE R&D CENTER, WHERE DO YOU THINK THOSE RUMORS BEGAN AND HOW DID THEY GET OUT AND ARE YOU ANGRY ABOUT THAT?

“I’m angry about the whole thing. This tarnished my win. It’s something you’re very proud of. I’m very angry about it. I’m angry for my fans for our sponsors. I’m angry about it. I think that there are a lot of things a lot of people don’t know about, media included, and I don’t understand it about as much as you do. So I found myself all week, instead of celebrating a win, trying to figure out what the hell they were talking about. The rumors, in my opinion, I truly believe that these rumors forced their hand in making a decision.

YOU SAID YOU THINK NASCAR HAS A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH A LOT OF CARS BEING OUT OF THE BOX. WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE CARS ARE ILLEGAL EACH WEEKEND? HOW DO YOU RESOLVE THAT ISSUE?

“I think NASCAR does a great job of policing and maintaining common ground. Look at the racing.

”Now last year and the last two years, when an organization was as dominant as they were, do you think they had something up on the competition? This year it’s as close as it’s ever been. I think it’s pretty damn good racing on the race track. I think it’s the best as we’ve had since this car was put into inception. So, I think they do do a good job. I respect the fact that what they have to look at each and every week. My personal opinion, I don’t like the R&D Center. I think what you bring to the race track is what they inspect. And, you know? Three days later the car the car (is) completely taken apart from something that you haven’t even raced. I mean it’s a completely different vehicle, you know? You take the suspension off the thing; these are all components that bolt on. It ain’t a decal you took off. These things are bolted on and could interrupt the way the car is measured. How can that possibly be kept in the same box?

“So I think there is a lot of cars that are close to being on the out of the box side. I think that’s what crew members and crew chiefs are paid to do and you know, yeah; I do think there are a lot of cars that are very close. I think they do a good job. I appreciated the fact that they warned us, you know? That’s why we tried to fix the thing. That’s why we did fix the thing before it went to New Hampshire so this wouldn’t happen. Not to rub it in their face and say well you know what you’re talking about, we’re going to continue to do this and don’t think you’re going to do anything about it. I mean you’ve got to appreciate this sport and respect the sport and we darn sure did and it bit us in the rear for it.”

THAT WIN HAD BEEN A LONG-TIME COMING FOR YOUR SPONSOR, CAN YOU JUST TALK ABOUT THEIR REACTION AND HOW MUCH OF A CONCERN THAT IS? “I hope they are happy. Like I said, if of any of you guys, or anybody else, think I won that race because not the quarter panels are high; not because the splitter is this much higher; because of some measurement that nobody even understands in this room or watching on TV, if that won me that race, I would gladly give it back to them. We won that race on fuel mileage is what it ended up being. If you want to start looking at something, look at our fuel cell. How could the quarter panels have won that race? I’m proud of that win. I am proud of giving General Mills their first win in this sport. They’ve sponsored this sport for a long time and that was a good win for all of us.”

WAS ANYONE WITH RCR ALLOWED TO GO TO THE TECH CENTER AND WITNESS THE INSPECTION EARLIER THIS WEEK? ALSO, HAS THERE BEEN ANY DIALOGUE AND WHAT HAS THAT BEEN LIKE WITH NASCAR OVER THE CONTENTION THAT THE TOW TRUCK PUSH ACTUALLY CAUSED THIS INFRACTION? “They do call you down there. At what point in the inspection do they call you down, who knows. Had they looked at the car before? Probably. That is the thing about the R & D center that I don’t like. It’s, it’s…who knows. You don’t know. To answer that question, I don’t have a clue. They were down there at one part of the inspection. I don’t know if it was the part that mattered or not. I do know, one other fact, the left rear quarter panel was split. The bumper cover from the quarter panel, the rivets were pulled out of it and the rear quarter panel was kinked. You know. We have a picture of that. I know that if it was hit hard enough to have split that…like I’m saying, it wasn’t a half of an inch. You are talking less than the thickness of that quarter right there. Could it have moved it that much? I would say that was my only explanation of the whole mess.”

ON THE DIALOGUE WITH RCR AND NASCAR OF THE TOW TRUCK DOING THE DAMAGE: “IN OTHER SITUATIONS LIKE THESE, WE HAVE SEEN DRIVERS GO THE PC ROUTE, NOT REALLY GO ON THE DEFENSIVE. WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO MAKE A STAND? “Because I feel like we were warned. We were told they were going to take the car. We had no reason to take that thing there out of the box. We knew they were taking that car and we knew that was our good shot at winning the race and it didn’t matter whether we finished 43rd or won. They were going to take that car and they were going to look at it. And after being warned, if it was out of the box again, they were going to penalize us. They already told us that. Why in the hell would you take a car to the race track knowing that they are going to take the car and they are going to penalize you if it is out of the box?

“We fixed the problem and that is the only reason I am defensive about this. Richard grabbed everybody, I’m telling you it was an ugly meeting after that warning. This isn’t something that was taken lightly. He took everybody involved with that thing from the fabrication shop to me to Mike Dillon…everybody. Scott Miller, crew chief and it was a butt-chewing and it was a make sure, make damn sure that car passes tech when we go. I’m telling you, everybody did that. That is why I am defensive.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THE DOVER CAR THIS WEEKEND DID YOU TAKE IT TO R & D TO MAKE SURE IT WAS OK? “Good gawd, I’m talking about last week. It is hard to even focus on this week. That is what sucks. We are riding a momentum wave, huge boost of confidence over the last month and we get to Dover and all this mess. This is a good race track for me. Won two Nationwide races here and love this race track. I think we can win again. I sure hope so. I can’t wait to be back in this very room talking about ‘wonder if this thing is illegal?’. I bet not.”

DO YOU KNOW IF THE CAR’S ALREADY BEEN?

“I just answered that. I don’t know.”

DOES APPEALING THE PENALTY TAKE ENERGY FROM RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING RIGHT NOW? DOES THAT PULL CHAMPIONSHIP EFFORT THAT NEEDS TO BE MOUNTED WITH ALL FORCES?

“You know, it could. And that’s where all the frustration is. I apologize for coming in here and being stern. This isn’t me. This is completely out of character for me. I don’t like being in this situation. But if it paints you into the corner you’ve got to be able to react to it. Does it take away? I’m sure it does. I apologize to Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton and everybody at RCR for that very reason. This is something that shouldn’t have happened; something that’s completely complicated. I think there is about probably 80 percent of the people in the media and everywhere else that don’t understand what the infraction even was.”

JEFF GORDON:

GIVEN WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NO. 33, CLINT BOWYER AND THAT TEAM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, DOES THAT PUT YOUR TEAM IN ANY HEIGHTENED AWARENESS OR HEIGHTENED SECURITY TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS BUTTONED UP? “You have to remember, we have experienced what they have gone through in the past. So, we kind of feel like we were the first ones that were made aware of how tight the tolerances are and I’m not exactly sure of what are all the details of what went on there. I know there is an appeal. Because of we’ve been through this, we already are aware that this can happened to any of us at any time and that you really have to build the best race cars you possibly can but they have to be able to go to that (NASCAR) Tech Center and come back to your shop without the phone call from NASCAR.”

IF A CAR PASSES HERE ON SUNDAY, DO YOU THINK THERE ARE OTHER CARS HERE IN THE GARAGE THAT ARE PROBABLY ILLEGAL AND DO YOU THINK THAT DURING THE CHASE, ALL 12 CHASE CARS SHOULD GO TO THE NASCAR TECH CENTER? “I really wish that I had Steve Letarte (crew chief) up here to answer that question because he knows so many more details about the processes, how close those tolerances are. And that is the difference. Here at the track, the tolerances they can only get so close. When they go to the NASCAR Tech Center, they are checking it with lasers. I think that is when they can really get into the details of everything that is going on with those cars. All I can tell you is that since they started that process, it’s made it a whole different ballgame and a whole different process of inspection and how you build your cars. These days for us, we can run a car and we basically have to rebuild the sheet metal on that car just from a race without ever touching a wall. Without ever being hit by the two truck, anything. The body flexes and moves just from the banking or just from the torque, all those things. So, it’s tough for certain areas of the car to meet those tolerances just after a race. I think what I see with this situation, I guess there was something that they noticed after Richmond and so they focused on that area. If you notice, these cars now-days, they are going down the straightaways sideways. We have obviously learned that putting a lot of side force and twisting, we used to twist the bodies, now we are trying to run the car sideways through the toe of the rear-end housing; how we setup the straight line from front to back to basically run the body sideways on the car and that is all legal. We have all figured out how to do that within the rules. Because you realize that is helping the car, then you want to push everything maxed out to figure out how to get more side-force, more down-force. So, there is no doubt that is going to push everybody in the garage area to try to find out where that limit is. I’m not sure if that is what happened with the No. 33. I really don’t want to speculate. There is no doubt that this is racing and teams are always trying to find an edge. I wouldn’t be surprised I if…they don’t take ever car every weekend. It is hard to say how many would pass and how many would fail.”

THE PRECEDENT WAS SET YEARS AGO THAT THEY DON’T TAKE WINS AWAY. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THAT IS AND DO YOU THINK THAT THERE IS A GOOD REASON FOR THAT IN CASES SUCH AS THIS? “I’m sure there is a good reason. I don’t know what it is though. I’m not really sure. In my opinion, taking points away, might as well take the win away. I don’t know if I have ever asked that question before to be honest with you. I try to stay pretty clear of any discussion that have to do with points, fines, wins taken away. Those are usually not conversations I have with them.”

DO YOU AGREE THAT A WIN SHOULD STAND IN A CASE LIKE THIS? “There is still an appeal process going on. I think at this point, who knows what is going to happen. But, I don’t know. I have just felt like this is the process that we go through. This is what we know goes on in our sport and that is just the way they do it. Do I agree with it or disagree with it? Gosh, I mean I don’t know. I really don’t know. I would have to think about it a little bit more. Like I said, in my opinion, they’ve already taken the win away. I’m sure if you ask Clint, he would probably say ‘Might as well’ because the penalty is certainly very extreme. I don’t know. It seems like to me like there at least should be an asterisk next to the win.”

OTHER TOPICS:
THE DIFFERENCE -CONCRETE TRACK

ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 DELPHI/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET: The good thing about a concrete track like Dover is that we’re not out chasing the track due to temperature changes. That just doesn’t affect concrete like it does on asphalt. The big challenges are where the rubber builds up on the racetrack and the joints where the concrete was poured. Dover is really bumpy. We tend to fight making the car run well over those bumps more than we fight the simple fact that it’s concrete

THE GAME PLAN (KYLE BUSCH)

Kyle Busch has two Sprint Cup wins at Dover. What is his game plan this weekend? Kyle Busch (Driver of the #18) “Our game plan is to try to repeat what we did in the spring. Obviously, we had a good race going. We qualified well. We raced well all through the event. Toward the end of the race, it came down to the final pit stop between Jimmie (Johnson) and myself and we were able to get out of there smoothly and cleanly. Jimmie didn’t. He got caught speeding on pit road. We’ll just go back there with our Interstate Batteries Camry and try to make the most of the event and the weekend and get a good, strong finish and keep our momentum rolling here and try to get through the final 10 races strong in order to get a shot at the championship come Homestead.

Back Stage at “Sound and Speed” January 14, 2010

Posted by claireblang in Off Season Fun.
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American country musician Taylor Swift perform...
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Nashville, TN – 1/9/09 – Claire B. Lang

Once a year I dedicate one of my few off weekends to giving back via “Sound and Speed” in Nashville, an event that I have contributed my time to since it began. I’m proud to help in any way that the event needs. I always come away from Sound and Speed with more than I give. My heart is full when I leave Nashville after this event and it takes me to a place of a great spirit and in the right frame of mind to hit the long and winding road again to cover yet another NASCAR race season. It’s like a spa for the brain in an incredibly competitive business in an insanely competitive sport. At this event, everyone arrives and says, “How can I help?”

There’s something about Nashville, something about the NASCAR drivers all unselfishly contributing their time, about pitching in on the event not just covering it and the association with the huge hearted folks who make country music that, all together, gives me the big click. I leave Nashville full of warmth and good feelings about our sport, about the drivers and about life in general.

I thought I’d take you behind the scenes at the event and let you see some of what I saw at Nashville – in the drivers and in the sport.

Friday
Friday, I got on a 7:55 a.m. EST flight to Nashville and arrived as folks were just getting up on a cold winter day in music city. I decided to head over to the hotel to check in and get breakfast. Kyle and Patty Petty arrived a few minutes later and sat down for breakfast themselves and the staff at the hotel could not have been more excited. Kyle and Patty and their business manager had breakfast and began the task of making sure that everything would go smoothly for those celebrities who were on their way, for the stage shows that were being prepared and for the fans who were beginning to arrive in Nashville.

I headed over to the SIRIUS XM Studios in the Sommet center a beautiful facility with a picture window that looks down over the honky tonks of Nashville. If I were to compare doing a show in this studio to driving a sport’s car it would be like being given a Lamborghini to drive for the evening – it was so incredible. I got word that the fans had already arrived at the Municipal Auditorium and were planning to camp out to be in line for autographs the next morning. The officials of the event allowed the fans inside for the night because of the cold weather. I took a car over to the auditorium and headed for the basement to talk to the fans. They would have camped outside in near freezing temperatures all night long for a chance to see their favorite driver up close. Welcome to Nashville! God bless the NASCAR race fans.

Saturday
As I have done for many years, I emceed on the stage in the afternoon at Sound and Speed. I met many race fans and got to meet a good number of the artists and enjoy some non- race track time with the drivers who arrived to pitch in.

Country music sensation Taylor Swift surprised everyone in the green room by showing up in the late afternoon to just say hi. She was as beautiful as ever and twice as friendly. Everyone wanted a photo. I heard she was interested in coming to get a photo with Dale Earnhardt Junior. She performed on stage at previous Sound and Speed events and wanted to drop by in support of the event. She wore a white beret and was laid back and totally cool.

The group that I introduced on stage included Chuck Wicks who into the mainstream country music world with the hit “Stealing Cinderella,” but he burst onto the national scene as the handsome guy who was paired with Julianne Hough on “Dancing With the Stars – and who was linked off stage with her too. I had forgotten that they had a personal relationship when I asked if he’d do dancing with the stars again – he replied (on stage) that he’d maybe consider it with a different partner. I said, “Come on, Julianne Hough…wow!” Later I told him I hoped talk of DWS was cool…and he was as nice as can be, saying, “Naw, no problem it’s all good.” Nice guy.

Danielle Peck was in the country group that I introduced on stage– amazing that a lot of these artist began writing music at 5-10 years of age – similar to the age the race car drivers on stage with them were beginning their driving career. I got a kick out of her – her personality was just as big as her talent. It’s refreshing to meet people like Danielle.

Just before I went on stage, on the steps heading up to emcee, I ran into the guys from Fast Ryde (“That Thang”) singer-songwriters James Harrison and Jody Stevens. They told me that I was “wearing” it –loved what I picked out for the event. Ha!. I hear they may be coming to a track near you soon for anthem singing. I kind of saw them as the Kyle Busch of Music City. They got some push back from “That Thang” (a butt song) for another junk in the trunk song. They didn’t seem to care about the push back, in fact I got the idea that they maybe even liked it. Up on stage we went – you gotta love being in a totally new environment and meeting folks from a completely different perspective. I laid back on the stairs so that the guys wouldn’t see my back side on the way up the stage, lest I have anyThang extra on the backside. LOL.

Inside reflections/stories/catching up:

Former NASCAR great Ernie Irvan was at Sound and Speed and I spent some time catching up with him in the green room. He’s never been better. He and wife Kim moved to Charleston – but Ernie says they Miss North Carolina and are going to move back as soon as they can. He moved there to support his wife’s desire but seemed thrilled that now they both want to move back.

Kerry and Renee Earnhardt were at Sound and Speed and we had fun catching up behind the scenes. I wish more folks could meet Kerry and Renee –in person as they are an incredible couple. Kerry is the kind of guy who is extremely sensitive to others feelings and he’s about the most down to earth person I know and I’m not just counting racers. I hadn’t seen the two of them for a while so it was fun to sit around in the green room and laugh, which we did. When he arrived, Kerry left the green room to go say hi to the show car drivers out in the main arena area. He did this on his own – said they had driven long distances to get there and that he wanted to go meet them. That’s just like Kerry. The show car drivers were beyond thrilled that Kerry Earnhardt would come talk to them – almost speechless. People still come up to Kerry and, because he’s an Earnhardt, just want to hug or touch him. When I spilled a cup of coffee, it was Kerry who went to get the napkins, helped me not worry about the stain on the leg of my jeans and helped me figure out how to get it out. I asked him where he got that sensitivity – he smiled and said honestly, my dad.

Kyle Petty took to the stage at the Ryman Auditorium and sang several songs he had written himself. Earlier in the day he told me that he had not practiced much with the band and that he wasn’t sure how good it would be. He was definitely being humble because the man is a born entertainer who rocked the house. Watching him perform I wondered how the Opry band could play with him as if they were regulars when the songs were songs written by Kyle and they had very little practice time. He described the process for me in which the band sat with him and in a matter of minutes while he played, they assigned number categories to each cord and in minutes sounded as if they were a band who had traveled with them for years. Amazing, that’s why at the Opry no matter who was performing the band and the artist had the big musical click. “The King” Richard Petty who has been a part of this event in years past was not in attendance this year.

Michael Waltrip said on stage that he wasn’t trying to make a fashion statement with his calf length coat – he was just trying to keep warm. Fans told them they loved his new hair cut (short) and he told them how excited he was to be heading to Dubai to race. Waltrip told me he was thrilled to meet Hank Williams Junior in person back stage at the Opry.

Dale Earnhardt Junior seemed to enjoy the visit to Sound and Speed this year – and, as always, got a lot of attention from fans. One thing struck me as I stood in the green room and a local media person, accompanied by his son approached Junior for a photo back stage. The boy was about 12-13 years old and had long hair that swept around and covered his eyes. Junior was kind in posing with the boy and his dad for the photo, even when the first take didn’t happen. Junior had his arm behind the kid for the photo. I was standing behind them and noticed as he patted the kid on the back after the shot, as if he understood what it was like to be a 13 year old kid back stage with his dad and in that awkward stage of life. For a guy who gets so much attention you could just sense how nice he was to the kid, making him feel comfortable. I know it’s a small thing but to a kid that age it means a lot. These sorts of things never show up in print or on camera but when you’re there back stage you notice them. Even the country music stars wanted photos with Dale Junior.

NASCAR (racing) News Notes from Sound and Speed:
Here are some comments from some of the talk from drivers at Sound and Speed that I thought you’d like to read:

MORGAN SHEPHERD/on 2010 and a new car coming into Nationwide and how that affects him: “…..We operate with a very small amount of money. The race fans help us. Of course, Tony Stewart helped us last year. He won’t be able to do that this year. He bought us tires and all. We’re going to go out with the same goal of going and making every race. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. So we’ve got the will, and we’ll find the way.”

ELLIOTT SADLER/ on the possibility of going back to blade spoilers, doing away with the double yellow line at Daytona and Talladega, and any other changes that might be coming down the pike?
“Going back to the spoiler, if that happens, I’ve heard the same thing as you have, I would be happy to see that as a driver. It will give us more vision, especially on restrictor plate tracks and things like that. So I think it will help as far as the racing is concerned.
As far as the look of the car, I think it will bring some identity back to the manufacturers, identity back to NASCAR racing. It looks more like a NASCAR if it has a spoiler on it. So when I heard the news that might be happening, I was

Dale Earnhardt Junior ( Hendrick Motorsports)/ Do you think Danica Patrick is going to struggle? Do you think she’s going to adapt? Will it take her long? Are you the perfect person to be a car owner for her because you understand the attention she’s going to be getting?
“Yeah, I’m kind of going into it with an open mind. I mean, it’s going to be an uphill battle for her to do well. But I think she can. She’s a racecar driver. She should be able to adapt and do whatever she needs to do.
We’re going to give her the best tools we can. I don’t know if there’s a perfect owner or whatever. But, you know, we’ll just do the best we can for her. She has been in a car. Pretty happy with how that’s gone. Pretty happy with what we’ve seen. I love her attitude. She gets along great with Tony, Jr. All that stuff is going better than planned. We just need to get to the racetrack. I mean, she’s been around Daytona. Went to Orlando tested. Need to run some laps.
I hate testing myself. But, you know, the policy as it is now, it’s difficult for someone like Danica to come in and really try to understand the cars, get to know them. We’re going through that challenge, trying to help her as much as we can.
But feel pretty good about it. I don’t know what she’ll do. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to sort of guess on how her performance will be or what her stats will look like. We’ll just have to see.”

MIKE SKINNER (Camping World Truck Series)/ With your record of poles in the Truck Series, Mike, what is the secret to being a good qualifier? What gets you up on the wheel? What do you do different that’s better than other guys? What does it take to make one perfect lap?
“I think the desire and the willingness to scare the hell out of yourself for two laps comes into play. You know, when they came out with I call ’em restrictor plates, but we run a spacer plate under the carburetor now that takes about a hundred horsepower or so out of the engine. We got to making so much horsepower, these trucks got to running over 200 miles an hour at some of these places. They’re just not aerodynamically sound for that. NASCAR slowed us down to keep us from flying up and hurting somebody in the stands or hurting ourselves.
Nowadays, these big tracks like Texas, Atlanta, places like that, a few years ago, there might have been only three or four of us in the field that was crazy enough, brave enough, stupid enough, I’m not really sure which, to try to hold it wide open all the way around of the racetrack. I’ve been blessed to have the ability to be one of those people that has been able to do that.
Nowadays, everybody holds it wide open qualifying. So there’s no real advantage to being a great qualifier any more in this day and time, except when you get to places like Martinsville, Virginia, Bristol. Anywhere you have to lift off the throttle, then it’s really still important. But a lot of the racetracks we go to now, everybody runs wide open.”

MIKE SKINNER Have you pleaded with NASCAR to take the taper spacer out of the Nationwide and Camping World trucks and cars?
“Yes, we have. I have to say that I would hate to be in NASCAR’s position because it’s a double edged sword. They take those plates out of there, we put a truck up in the grandstand somewhere and harm our fans, now we’ve got a really big black eye in our sport. You know, we go out, a couple drivers lose their lives, we’ve got a huge black eye.
It’s a double edged sword. I totally understand NASCAR’s position, but I do think we need to put recovery and acceleration back in these things. I still think that the Camping World Truck Series is the best show in NASCAR as far as the time of the race. It’s about half the distance. We race every lap from green to checkered. But we’re still the third tier series, and that’s okay. I enjoy it. I enjoy it just the way it is.
I would vote for putting the horsepower back in the motors, though.”

Aric Almirola (racing in the 09 Phoenix Racing car in Sprint cup in 2010/Aric, is that a full season in ’10?
“Well, I talked with James (Finch) about it. I mean, his plan is to go full time. Still working on a lot of things. At this point, when I got off the phone with him just the other day, it was, We’re going racing, and the rest will take care of itself. Hopefully we can get everything situated in the next couple weeks. But, yeah, I mean, we’re going to go to Daytona. I’ve asked them, Are we going to race, start and park? What’s our plan? He told me, Just get in and drive it. So I’m excited. I’m looking forward to 2010. I’m ready.”

Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip/on the possibility of NASCAR eliminating the yellow line rule?
Bowyer: “It’s a mistake. The yellow line, like he said, at the end of the straightaway, there’s 10 foot of runoff over there between the yellow line and the grass, say. You get down there and you don’t get back up before the bank starts again, you’re just gonna launch up there. You’ll turn right, wipe everybody out.
At least the yellow line keeps everybody on the bank as you get into the transition of the corner. I think it’s important. It’s a good rule. It’s tough. Like David Ragan or whoever it was that lost that race, you know, got blocked down there. Probably if that yellow line rule wouldn’t have been there, he would have won the race.
It’s unfortunate, but I think it’s a good cause. It’s done its job, what it was intended to do. I hope they keep it.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: By the way, that was my idea, too, the yellow line.

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That’s just some of the conversation with the drivers and behind the scenes at ‘Sound and Speed”. I’ll catch up with you later. I can’t wait to go back racing in 2010.

Enjoy the day!

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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Bristol Motor Speedway Blog- August 23, 2008 August 23, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, NASCAR, Teams, Trackside.
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Bowyer's 2007 car.Image via Wikipedia Hi all – Welcome to Bristol Motor Speedway! Sorry I’ve not blogged more – these two days are, seemingly, the fastest in motorsports. Thank you for all your kind emails and instant messages. I wish that all of you could be here to be a part of this race event. It’s one of the special races on the circuit and the fans are charged up – but with the two-race, two day schedule it’s fast paced. I just got back from the Wypall stage where I emceed interview sessions with crew chiefs from across the Sprint Cup Series and in between I went up to emcee Chevy hospitality with Regan Smith (starts 4th) .

I have to say I’m impressed with that kid. He and I talked about how he needs a nickname to differentiate him from David Ragan (starts 27th) and he told me that a couple of his team guys were working on that but they haven’t come up with it yet. I told him maybe my listeners could help – he liked the idea so start thinking. His middle name is Lee by the way.

I have had emails from some of you looking for information on the announcement today on the fourth driver for RCR – so here are the details.
RCR Names Drivers for ’09 Jack Daniel’s & General Mills Programs

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 23, 2008) — Richard Childress Racing announced today that Casey Mears will drive for its No. 07 Jack Daniel’s® team and Clint Bowyer will move to its new No. 33 Cheerios®/Hamburger Helper® team for the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

With focus on having all three current RCR teams making the 2008 Chase for the Championship, RCR will continue its on-going process of evaluating team performance throughout the year to determine the crew chief, engineer and crew member lineups for the 2009 season.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve RCR and feel strongly that this driver lineup will improve our company as a whole with our move to four teams next year,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. “These changes will continue to raise the bar and we have every intention of getting all four teams into the Chase in 2009 with the ultimate goal of one of our teams winning the championship. RCR is very fortunate to have partners like Jack Daniel’s, Shell-Pennzoil and AT&T, in addition to new sponsors Cheerios, Hamburger Helper and Caterpillar, that work with us and support our making the competition decisions necessary to provide them with the best on-track performance possible.”
ears will join RCR for his seventh season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. The Bakersfield, Calif., native earned a dramatic victory in the 2007 Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and also has three poles to his credit.

“This is a great opportunity and I’m honored to become part of both the Jack Daniel’s family and the RCR family,” said Mears. “Richard Childress and everyone at Jack Daniel’s have put a lot of faith in me to continue the winning tradition that’s been established by the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s team over the last couple of years and I look forward to the chance to live up to those expectations.”

Jack Daniel’s® has been a primary sponsor partner of RCR since its first year of involvement in NASCAR in 2005. The Jack Daniel’s Distillery, located in Lynchburg, Tenn., is the oldest registered distillery in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We thank our friend Clint Bowyer for all of his efforts to bring Jack Daniel’s and our responsibility message to the forefront. We remain committed to Clint and are excited to watch him race his way in to the Chase in the No. 07 and vie for a 2008 Championship,” said Tim Rutledge, VP, Brand Director, Jack Daniel’s Americas. “We look forward to providing our support to Casey Mears, the Jack Daniel’s Racing team, and our responsibility message in 2009. Casey is a seasoned veteran that is primed for great success in the No. 07 in 2009.”

Bowyer, the current leader in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings, made his Cup Series debut in 2005 and has been with RCR since 2004 when he ran a partial Nationwide Series schedule. The Emporia, Kan., native has earned two victories and two poles since being named the full-time driver of the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet for the 2006 season.

“I’m proud to be joining the General Mills family,” said Bowyer. “Cheerios and Hamburger Helper are brands my family and I grew up with. General Mills is a great sponsor and has been in NASCAR for many years. I look forward to driving the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet Impala SS to victory lane.

“At the same time, I have to thank Jack Daniel’s for taking a chance on a rookie Cup Series driver and giving my career a great platform to build on. My focus now is to get into the Chase and again compete for the championship.”

The 2009 season will mark General Mills’ 13th year of sponsorship involvement in NASCAR. Based in Minneapolis, Minn., General Mills is one of the world’s leading food companies.

“We are thrilled to welcome Clint as our new driver,” said Pat Simmons, Vice President of Customer Marketing for General Mills. “Clint is a top-tier competitor. His performance on and off the track fit with the family-friendly values that Cheerios and Hamburger Helper are known for. We’re excited to build a winning partnership with RCR and Clint Bowyer.”

————————————–

It was an interesting news conference. Clint was most positive about giving up the Jack Daniels sponsorship for General Mills – but initially it seems hard to associate Bowyer with a cereal and easier to associate him with Jack Daniels. Boyer is a team player, that is obvious, and he understands that to have a sponsor and a ride with RCR is something that is enviable and that there are many racers across the country who would trade places with him in a skinny minute. Bowyer gets this – and he’s doing what he’s been asked to do for the good of RCR. Knowing Richard Childress – he won’t forget it.

More later…enjoy the day

Claire B

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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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