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Hard-Earned Post Win Vacation For Kevin and DeLana! Body Shop for Most of the Field! July 6, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season.
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Greenhouse Down!

“Greenhouse Down” is a race shop term that means you leave the the roof and the A, B and C pillars on the race car but replace the rest. That’s what will happen to the cars that made it through the carnage at the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. Kenny Francis, the crew chief for Kasey Kahne (finished second) says their car will get the greenhouse down treatment.

For many of the teams more will be required, as much of the field ended up being towed off the track after multi car accidents.

Meanwhile, the perfunctory, “What happened?” that reporters normally ask drivers at the care center after a big wreck- resulted in a number of unclear answers simply because of the close racing and the melee on the track.

Jeff Burton: “No, I can’t (tell you what happened) I know the two car had a really big run coming and I was just coming down and I don’t know we just hit one of those bad wrecks that happens at Talladega and Daytona but I don’t really know what happened to be quite honest.”

Kyle Busch “I don’t know ……..the 42 was on my quarter panel and the air on both of our cars just started steering me right, right across the nose of his car. I mean I didn’t turn right to wreck myself why would I do that?”

You’ll have that….when racing at Daytona at high speeds.

The list of “I don’t know” answers just kept on coming because, frankly, the cars were nose to tail and the average speed was 130.814 miles per hour. There were 9 cautions for 37 laps, 47 lead changes among 18 drivers, ad the margin of victory was .092 seconds.

Happy Birthday DeLana

Meanwhile, Kevin and DeLana Harvick, who celebrated in Victory Lane, are enjoying a long-awaited vacation this week. “We are actually going on our vacation, a vacation we have not been on together in several years. So, (a win) is the best way to kick off a vacation. We are going straight to Chicago, not even going home,” DeLana told me in Victory Lane. “My birthday is Wednesday so if (Kevin’s) trying to get out of getting me a birthday present, it’s not going to work,” She added smiling.

The Club House in Victory Lane!

Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway is, as Dale Earnhardt Junior said Saturday night, a special place to be. “Victory Lane is like when you are a little kid and you got a tree house or you and your buddy has got a club house in the woods or whatever,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “That is what Victory Lane is to me and I like going there.”

I’m lucky enough to be LIVE in Victory Lane each week on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio after the race is over. There’s always a lot going on, and it is, as Dale Junior explained, not only something extremely special but for a brief few minutes one of the happiest places on earth.

Even the son of Crew Chief Gil Martin got in on the victory lane action – as Kevin Harvick dumped a bottle of champagne on the head of Martin’s son Ford. “That’s the first time I’ve been to victory lane in my life…14 years, and the first time I’ve ever been to victory lane,” young Martin told me.

Ford and his family went off to Universal Studios to celebrate after Saturday’s win. The young Ford said he was “praying like crazy” as the race was drawing to a conclusion.

You just won the Coke Zero 400 presented by Coca-Cola, what are you going to do now?

Going to Universal Studios!

Mail Bag:

Below are some of the emails that I got over the past few days. Write me at insidercbl@aol.com:

The Golden Horseshoe

Claire, I guess we still know that Harvick has that Golden horseshoe I sent him at the beginning of the year.

Jeff in California

(Note: Jeff, sent Kevin Harvick a gold horseshoe after hearing the comment about the strategically placed horseshoe of Jimmie Johnsons.)

Letter to Brian France from a Fan:

Dear Mr. France,

If you are looking to update or tweak the Chase format… I have the BEST way to do it.

You want to reward drivers for winning races, but if a driver doesn’t make the chase then those 10 bonus points don’t mean a thing. So first adjust the weekly race scoring. Make it so the winner of the race score a least 25-30 more points than second. That is incentive to go for the win. Make it so first place receives 210 points and second gets 180, then as usual from there. And still add on the bonus points for most laps and laps led. Then the driver receives an immediate reward for winning. And that winning helps him get into the playoffs.

Then for the chase, take the points they’ve earned and cut them to 10%. So if the driver in first leads second by 210 points, he starts the chase leading by 21. and if third place is 279 points behind, he starts 28 points back. In this fashion, a driver who is 570 points behind doesn’t start ahead of other drivers just because he won a couple more races. The drivers are rewarded for their performance for the ENTIRE regular season, not just a few races. It makes no sense for drivers to get a better position in the playoffs when they performed at a lower level during the season.

I’ve been a fan for years, and I appreciate you consistently trying to improve the sport. Some fans say “leave it as it is”, but they probably don’t like the forward pass in football either. If you don’t always look to improve, look to make things better, you will never get new fans and casual fans will lose interest, and eventually you will die.

Thank You
Stephen W Barnes

From a Jeff Gordon Fan:

CBL:

Talk about some hard racin’! Jeff survived by driving like he was on
a dirt track. It was awesome. He was sooooo close once again. He
just didn’t have all his teammates up there supporting him, like the
RCR guys. Several times tonight Jeff tried to get the 48 to help him
and JJ would either jump to the other lane or cut him off. The last
time JJ cut Jeff off, Jeff got shuffled and then the big one
happened. Where Jeff had been, there was JJ. And, therefore, the 48
got in the big one and not Jeff. Bravo to the 48 crew for pulling
Mark Martin out of his burning car! Hey! Jeff is second in points!!
Woohoo!!! I know it’ll get him a glass of yesterday’s ice water once
the Chase starts, but it’s still great. He seemed genuinely surprised
when someone told him at the press conference.

Ann from Indiana

List of thoughts

One listener sent me this – a list of things that he was thinking

This is bigger than Jr:

1. What a shot in jr’s arm he can win if he or his fans thought different.

2. Should he re think running both races the drivers that do win more often ? U might have the % done for the radio.

4. Will a lot say it was the # and not the driver.

5. If I was jr I would drive out were dad died and got out and walk away from the car. What u think.?

6. If he wins tomorrow what are they going to say then? (sent after Junior’s win but before he finished 4th in Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Race)

7. Was the noise louder than most wins ? It could have been the mike but it sounded like other fans were jr’s fans at end of race.

Thank you Ron

NOTE: Ron, the noise for Dale Junior is always loud at Daytona so it seemed very loud. But probably no more than it always is. I don’t see Junior getting out of the car and paying special note to his dad – I think he prefers to hold that close to the chest and mark it in his own private way. I think that is how he usually carries himself. Thanks for the note.

Email from Jennifer

Claire,

You do not know how happy I am to wake up….turn on my Sirius Radio…and hear you this morning! I am so happy to hear you on here! Too often, I have to work in the evening and I miss your evening edition on Dialed In Wednesday – Friday so I am really enjoying this opportunity this morning! Thank you so much for agreeing to do your show this morning!

In regards to Dale Jr and the 88 team….Dale Jr is doing the very best that he can out there and he is driving his ass off every week…but I am so fed up with Lance McGrew and his attitude during, and in some cases, after the race. The comment that Dale Jr made after the Cup race about the setup that was under his and Mark’s car…that really caught my attention. He knew what setup was under his car and he knew it was different than what the 24 and the 48 had and even he wondered why that was.

After all, he said they ran the same setup in February and they did not run well then either, several timely cautions just allowed Jr to move up through the field and finish 2nd in the 500. Why put that same setup in the car again?…especially under such different conditions because the weather was very different. Use the setup that the 24 and 48 were using…it couldn’t have hurt. It really makes you wonder if the 2 shops are truly sharing because if they were then they would all be working off the same setup.

Instead, Lance just seems to throw something up into the air, hoping that it works for them. It seems to me that his attitude is…if it works that’s great…if it does not work…oh well! Lance does not seem to care at all because he acts as if the way Jr ran at Daytona Saturday night is no big deal. Well, I want to let him know that Dale Jr running well at Daytona and Talladega…leading laps…contending for the win most of the time…is a very big deal. It is a very big deal to Jr and it is a very big to us as his fans! It’s time Lance figure that out and if he has not figured that out then somebody needs to tell him!

I know Jr cannot win them all at Daytona and Talladega. I realize things are going to happen to keep him from always winning or always running well so I am not asking for perfection….I just think the effort is not always there on the crew chief’s part to make him the best he can be at those tracks. I do not believe that Lance believes in Dale Jr like he should…that is a shame!

I know that Friday night’s Nationwide Race was perfect…Dale Jr won and it was perfect!…and I know that will not happen every time. However, I was…and still am…so impressed with the overall effort from Tony Jr and that entire team on the Nationwide side. I am not only just impressed with their performance Friday night…I am extremely impressed with the effort that Tony Jr and the team put forth leading up to the race as well. They were well-prepared….they were truly a very cohesive team and they all seemed to gel so well. I am just so proud of the effort and all of the hard work that Tony Jr put into the race. They worked hard and it shows in the finish. Tony Jr was truly so happy after that race was over with and it showed in his emotions!

I just wish Dale Jr had that advantage on the Cup side…unfortunately I do not see it out of Lance McGrew. Every week on that 88 Cup car something else goes wrong…there is another excuse for a bad practice…a poor qualifying effort…or a poor race or finish. Something broke….somebody made the wrong adjustment….something was put on the car wrong….somebody messed up a pit stop. It seems to me a lot of crap goes on over on the 88 Cup car and it seems to me that Lance puts up with it and shrugs it off. Something tells me that if it was happening to the 24 or 48…it would not be “put up with”….heads would roll over there! I just wonder what HMS has to say about the fact that the 88 team is lagging behind every other HMS team, and the crew chief does not seem to care??? It is just a shame to have a driver so upset about how he ran but yet nobody else sees a problem with it. A crew chief who truly cared, would see a problem with it.

You know, Friday and Saturday night there were a lot of similarities with the 2 races Jr was in. The driver, of course, was the same…Dale Jr drove in both races. The pit crew was the same. According to the drivers, the new Nationwide COT drove a lot like the Cup COT does. There was one difference between the two races….the crew chief! Tony Jr Friday night and Lance McGrew Saturday. Friday night Jr seemed to do very well with Tony Jr…an crew chief it was obvious was giving his all to winning that race….obviously so because he won!

Saturday night it all falls apart under the so called “leadership” of Lance McGrew. To me, that speaks volumes and it tells me that Tony Jr should still be leading Jr’s Cup team. It may not ever do any good put I will always be a Tony Jr supporter and a big supporter of him being Jr’s crew chief. From where I stand, Jr was in a much better position when Tony Jr was leading his team because Lance McGrew seems to be grasping at straws out there! I just wonder when Rick Hendrick is going to come around to seeing this and actually do something about Lance McGrew because it is not working!

Thanks Claire….I have so enjoyed listening to you this morning!

Jennifer in SC

July 5th “floating holiday”

(much discussion on air over whether July 5th is a real holiday and who was working on this day versus whom is taking the day off).

Claire,
Your schedule is insane. After that crazy Saturday/Sunday, now you are driving to Chicago tomorrow?
I know that is why we get all the news but you are only human. Really you need some rest this afternoon.
By the way, I am off today. I am a software engineer for an aerospace company and it was a legal holiday for us.
Paula

Points Discussion – One Word – “Golf”

Claire,

With all the hubbub about the points, I’ll throw my 2 cents in–1 word–GOLF scoring format..Take away all the bonus points and give the driver and owner the points of their finish..1 point for 1st —
2 for second and so on…..At the end of the year..THE LOWEST SCORE WINS!!!! The chance of a tie is almost impossible but if it happens use a no points race to break the tie…Its just an idea but I guess its as good as any…

I drive a truck coast to coast hauling meat and listen to your show all the time–Keep up the good work and Love your show.

I root for the Busch brothers—-go 2 and 18.

Steve Neece

CBL On the Road Again:

I’m on the road again, and heading to the Midwest tomorrow. I’m traveling on the road to Chicago today (Tuesday) and then staying in the Midwest between Chicago and Indianapolis for the running of the brickyard.

I can’t wait to be in my home stomping grounds again for a while, see some family and cover the racing at the same time.

You can catch me on “Dialed In’ on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio or email me at insidercbl@aol.com.

Enjoy the day! Thanks for listening and for emailing.

Claire B

Victory Lane at Darlington May 10, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season, claire blang, Trackside, Transcripts.
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What a wild Saturday night – Sunday morning at Darlington. Victory Lane is the size of a living room at Darlington Raceway, fitting for the kind of down home atmosphere that makes that track special. Everyone is packed in for a really fun, tight-knit celebration. After interviewing Denny Hamlin’s Mother, his crew chief, his team president and team owner – I took a golf cart ride to the media center (hitched a kind ride with the folks rushing crew chief Mike Ford to the media center) and appreciate the lift greatly. We’re all squeezed on the golf cart and there was a Victory Lane Champagne bottle on board which became the topic of discussion during the ride. It was totally empty but going on the shelf at Mike Ford’s house and Ford talked about perhaps having to build a new shelf for more hardware and souvenirs of wins.

Finally, Denny Hamlin, stepped out of the media center and well into the early morning hours of Sunday I interviewed him live. I noticed something that I had not noticed before about him. For some reason Denny reminded me of Jeff Gordon. After all that had transpired, Hamlin was calm and focused during the interview as if he was devoting that several minutes entirely and with complete attention to what I was asking, even after a long day and on a night into early morning where all kinds of things were now being thrown at him. It struck me that this characteristic is something I have always noticed in Gordon. When you have those few minutes with Jeff either behind his hauler or after qualifying or racing – he pays complete attention to the moment and is not distracted. He is remarkably able to isolate each of the moments he dedicates entirely to what he is doing at that moment and he doesn’t give standard answers but truly answers what you are asking giving completely of himself to the moment. I have always notice this in Jeff Gordon and it struck me that this is why I like interviewing Hamlin, because from the interviews of him after his first pole to his firt win to now, he is the same way and it is a characteristic I see in the champion drivers.

Honestly, I am not sure if it is coincidence or the mark of great talent, but I have to believe that inner calm and stress free focus into the moment, allows a driver to enjoy what he’s doing more and excel in focus on the track. Interesting.

In interviewing the team after the race for the “teardown” to be broadcast on “Dialed In” this week – it was easy to pick up on the teams support of Hamlin, even in the tough times, certainly after a win. In the media center Hamlin said he has to believe his faith in his team demonstrated by staying in the car when he injured his knee has paid off with the team. “We have those good pit stops at the end. Is it coincidence?,” He asked. Talking with the team, their confidence and admiration of him was through the roof. This is a team that will not gloat but they feel they are championship level – without a doubt in their being.

Struggles – Dancing with the Lady in Black:

Interaction between driver and crew chief who appear on the same page – even after a frustrating run. it was a long night.

DALE EARNHARDT JR., AND CREW CHIEF LANCE MCGREW, NO. 88 AMP ENERGY /NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – Finished 18th:
SO YOU’RE NOT FRUSTRATED?

JUNIOR: “We ran really good at the beginning. Lance will go home and work on what he can.”
MCGREW: “I think the best thing is that now we have a notebook. We didn’t have that. And now we can go back and we can look and we see.”
JUNIOR: “We ran better this time than we did last time here. I think this has been one of the worst races I had last year.”
MCGREW: “Yeah, it was horrible.”
JUNIOR: “We see that we can do it. We’ve just got to be able to finish.”
MCGREW: “We overcame a cut right rear tire and that was good. You have nights like this.”
JUNIOR: “I enjoy working with Lance every week.”

Tony Stewart finished 23rd – on a frustrating evening for the #14.

From the start of the 367-lap race, Stewart had a racecar that was loose back to the gas each time he came off the track’s corners. Track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments were used throughout the race to alleviate the car’s ill-handling ways, but adding to the team’s headaches was a slew of problems that only compounded their original difficulty in navigating the track’s tight confines. There was a chain-reaction crash that saw Stewart get into the back of Paul Menard’s Ford on lap 63, when traffic stacked up in between turns one and two. While Menard spun to the apron, Stewart received some cosmetic damage to the nose of his Old Spice/Office Depot machine. Then, on what was supposed to be the team’s third pit stop on lap 85, Stewart missed his stall when traffic clogged pit road and prevented him from angling into his box. The non-stop did have one benefit as it put Stewart into the lead when the race restarted on lap 89 – Stewart and team kept fighting. On lap 336, Stewart lost a lap to eventual race-winner Denny Hamlin, and it was a deficit he could not overcome. When the checkered flag mercifully dropped, Stewart was 23rd.

Note: I got a kick out of the writing of Stewart’s PR guy Mike Arning who gets full credit for noting that the checkered flag “mercifully dropped,” for Stewart. Touche Mike.

Bad night for AJ (and Jimmie Johnson)

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet – At the infield care center after being caught up in AJ’s Brake rotor mess (see below) Johnson wasn’t sure what happened. He was wacked out of nowhere and calm as could be. I was surprised how a guy could be so laid back after being what he called “drilled” with no notice. When I asked him about it he said that they were running good times, and called it an “adventurous” night. He told me he felt like they were “doing their best,” and was positive that they were fast before being taken out. Not a good night for the 48 – but situation out of their control. He’s a master of not wasting time worrying about what is out of control and moving on.

So what did happen?

AJ ALLMENDINGER – No. 43 Insignia/Best Buy Ford Fusion (Finished 37th) – “The brake rotor exploded. The last 40 or 50 laps we were struggling with brake problems and just no brakes. We took all the brake cooling off and thought maybe we were gonna fix it, and when that yellow came out I went to hit the brakes to slow down and the brake rotors exploded. I’m not sure which one, but I was just trying to aim for the bottom and try to miss everybody. I’m sorry to Jimmie. It wasn’t his fault, but I had no brakes and couldn’t do anything about it.”

Looking ahead to Dover:

Hang on to your clothes –

Grammy-nominated country music artist Joe Nichols will sing the national anthem prior to the start of the “Autism Speaks 400 presented by HERSHEY’S Milk & Milkshakes” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on May 16, 2010 at Dover International Speedway. Nichols’ hit song “Gimmie That Girl” currently sits at No. 1 on the Billboard country music chart. The singer of country hits “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” ooh boy did you catch that race fans –it should be a wild weekend. LOL.

Jeff Gordon – #24 Dupont Chevrolet -“It’s high speed, really high banked — Dover is just one of those white knuckle experiences that you really feel the sensation of the speeds that our cars are capable of probably more there than any other track that we go to. It’s one of my favorite tracks. I love Dover because it’s got those big, fast high banked corners, but it’s great racing as well. The groove has really widened out. You can run high, you can run the middle and you can run low. We’ve seen a lot of different lanes there to race on. It’s challenging. Every lap, you’re on the edge.”

DOVER 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – (SIRIUS NASCAR Radio) 5:00 p.m. EST Friday

Interesting Note: Elliott Sadler returns to Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) to pilot the No. 2 Best Buy/Insignia Silverado for the second time this season. Despite the fact that Sadler has been competing in NASCAR’s top-3 series for over 15 years, he has NEVER made a Truck Series start at Dover International Speedway. Sadler has, however, made a total of 27 combined starts in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series at the one-mile concrete track. Sadler has led a combined total of 189 laps at the track, and has earned a best finish of sixth in both series (Fall of 2005 in Cup, Fall of 1997 in Nationwide). Is there any added pressure in returning to the truck that currently sits first in the owner’s points? “No pressure at all. I know it’s a great truck and I’m really looking forward to being behind the wheel of the Best Buy/Insignia truck at Dover. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

Did you know?

According to NASCAR’s Loop Data statistics, over the past four Truck Series races at Dover International Speedway – Ron Hornaday has gained more points than any other Truck Series driver. Hornaday has picked up a total of 771 points at the Monster Mile over the last four race events. Hornaday also holds the title of driver fastest early in a run at Dover.

Catch the Heluva Good! 200 NASCAR NASCAR Nationwide Series -(SIRIUS NASCAR Radio) 2:00 p.m. Saturday

Thanks for your Crown Royal #17 Pit Crew Name Suggestions!!– The #17 team is looking for a name for their pit crew, a creative challenge that is fun – especially with the new sponsor. I opened up the phone lines and email and got a ton of suggestions including, Royal Knights, Kings of the Road, Gold Diggers, Crown Over-The-Wall Bangers, The Barneys, The Royal Wrenches, The Purple Reign, Purple Predators, Purple People Eaters and more. Some of them were a bit royal and snobby in nature for a down and dirty pit crew, one that is not included to step out on pit road acting like they are more regal than everyone else. There lies the challenge of naming the crew with a name that matches a “Crown Royal” type hook. Hmmm. Send an email at insidercbl@aol.com if you have a suggestion. I interviewed Robbie Reiser, the GM of Roush Racing who reminded the listeners that the “Killer Bees” earned their nickname – and that the #17 pit crew earned that initial name they didn’t create it. Reiser is tough. I like that.

Newly Posted Photo: The Stewart Haas team guys with the ARMY Team at Fort Benning, with driver Ryan Newman. The trip to Fort Benning last week was beyond worthwhile – and we all had great pride over the pit stop that the team busted off before being thrown into the training course with the US ARMY Rangers. The Stewart Haas guys held up their end of the deal, they may have been pushed to the limit by the Rangers but they didn’t buckle. To the Army guys – thanks for all you do! Meeting some of America’s finest and chatting with them at Fort Benning – filled all of us with pride in what America represents.
Claire B.

US Army Racing Team at Fort Benning

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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California and Auto Club Speedway Weekend February 18, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season.
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Main grandstand at Auto Club Speedway
Image via Wikipedia

Hey!

Before I leave for California and Auto Club Speedway (fly out at 7:30 a.m. EST Thursday) I wanted to drop you a quick note. How are all of you? I’m working through emails – I got so many after the race at Daytona. Whew…the opinionated nation is up and at it.

Here’s my personal broadcast schedule from Auto Club Speedway:
(of course I am on Wed Night (tonight) (SIRIUS NASCAR Radio – Best of SIRIUS Package on XM – Channel 128 – 7-10 EST)

Thursday: “Dialed In” 7-10 EST live from Auto Club Speedway
Friday: “Dialed In” with Claire B. Lang- End of Qualifying until 11PM EST
Saturday: “Dialed In” with Claire B Lang -2p-2:30p EST (Camping World Truck Series pre-race)
Saturday: “Dialed in” with Claire B Lang End of Camping World Truck Series race until 7PM ET, handing it off to MRN Nationwide Series coverage
Sunday: 12p-2:15p ET “Dialed In” with Claire B Lang
Sunday: 2:15p-4:15p ET (SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Pre-Race Show with myself and Steve Post), straight into MRN Cup Series coverage/race.
Sunday: End of Cup Series Race until 12AM ET (SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Post-Race Show)

Rain Shortened Daytona 500:
I have had so much email with folks asking me if I didn’t wish the Daytona 500 had gone to the full length before the checkered. Of course, who didn’t? Here’s my story:

I anchor the rained delay coverage for Sirius NASCAR Radio. That means that if the network (MRN) throws it back to affiliates and says they will return later – I pick up the coverage. I also am LIVE from Victory Lane once the race ends. With about 20 laps to go I walk to the MRN trailer to pick up my live gear and then head to Victory Lane.

I was between a rock and a hard place. If MRN threw it back I had to be in the studio in the media center..if the race was to be ended early I had to be in Victory Lane. I decided when the race was red flagged to go to the MRN trailer and see if I could pick up the equipment early. I was able to do that and as I was headed on the long walk from the MRN trailer (near the care center) I heard the word via a phone call from the program director that the race had been declared over.

With all the gear on in the rain I began running the long distance to Victory Lane from the MRN trailer. I wanted not to be out of breath when I got there and opened the post race show. I got there and was set to go when – my equipment did not seem to be right. Soon, a voice in my ear told me that they had forgotten to put a battery pack in my equipment so although I could hear them they would not be able to hear me.

I began running from Victory Lane back to the MRN trailer….and an engineer met me about half way and walked with me to Victory Lane to test the pack.

Good to go – I felt like I had been hit by a truck lol. I was soon caught up in the energy of the moment and as I interviewed Matt Kennseth his eyes began filling with tears and then turning red. Then, his chin began to quiver and I was like woah I’m going to remember this as one of the moments I have covered that will stick with me for a long time.

Earlier I had been at the care center when Kyle Busch came out – and as the national media waited for him to appear he flew by in a golf cart. “Look,” I told the group, “There goes Kyle.” In the blink of an eye the media group turned and jogged towards the garage where Kyle was dropped off and began walking into the garage.

He stopped for an interview and I was walking right behind him. The press of the media group against me I thought, “Good Lord, Don’t let me knock him over!” LOL.

It struck me how he talked about Brian Vickers and Dale Junior without using their names…he called them “lapped cars,” and when talking about Dale Junior did not use his name – not once even though he was angry. That sort of struck me.

I’m busy packing for the Auto Club Speedway and will have plenty of time to blog on the airplane…..so stay tuned for some inside stories.

What’s my take on the deal between Vickers and Junior? Not smart –both of them lost and someone should have backed off. It took a lot of cars out – and restrictor plate racing is a bit insane to me anyway. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy watching it cause I do. We see some pretty crazy stuff at these races. How can you judge one incident sanely and not all that have transpired over the years with the “big ones” caused by bonehead moves. It’s plain insane to me so how do you judge any of it with any sanity? Answer is I’m not sure you can. You can comment, wrangle, argue and put your two cents in but really – how crazy is talking about two guys going that fast racing that hard that close and who should have done what? Insane.

Agree or not?

For now…I’m getting the show ready – and packing.

More once I arrive in California. I’ll be blogging on the airplane so get ready.

Thanks for listening.

Claire B

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Sunday Blog – running back into garage – transcript of Darby with media June 29, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, NASCAR.
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NASCARImage via WikipediaNH Sunday Morning –
Caire B. Blog – 6/29/08 8:30 a.m.

NASCAR IS ASKING CREW CHIEFS TO RESEARCH THE TEAM’S PREFERENCES REGARDING 2009 TESTING POLICY –

NASCAR Series Director John Darby was talked to the media after calling a crew chief’s meeting in the garage here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Here’s the full transcript of the media session outside the NASCAR hauler in the garage after the meeting yesterday.

Q: So – what did you and your buddies (crew chiefs) meet about?
Darby: “Typically it’s about this time of year when we start talking to the teams about the next year’s testing and that was today only to start off looking at 09 with instead of handing them survey of tracks that they would like to test at we offered up redoing the whole test policy. What you know is every year it changes, the evolution of the teams change, the amount of resources in regards to seven post rigs and sim tests and rolling floor wind tunnels and all of that all comes into play and the only ones that can actually tell you what they need in regards to testing are the guys that are doing it.

NASCAR is the policy maker but if there’s one thing that is really reliant on the teams input it’s what we test, how many times we test and where we test. In the past it’s just been a matter of here select your race tracks and let’s go. This year, I felt it was time that we just sat down with everybody and talked and said look we’re open to whatever, any suggestions you have from leaving our testing policy exactly like it was in 08 all the way to what I’m going to call wide open testing – no limits -any track any week any time as many times as you want to go.

We’re prepared for either way – it doesn’t matter to us – we’ll listen to what all of the teams come back with for suggestions and formulate a test plan for 09 and go forward.”

Q: What was the reaction that you got?
Darby: “There was a pretty good gasp of air when you got to talking about wide open testing because the immediate perception is holy cats we’re going to be testing 38 weeks a year. After you talk to everybody for a little bit and then ask them to count the actual number of tests that they currently do at all the places they go to test and apply that to a wide open test policy for example or taking those same amount of days and applying them to tests where we race – there probably isn’t a whole lot of difference at the end of the day. But – that’s just food for their thoughts and I told them we’d get back together in a couple of weeks and see what kind of reaction they have and start putting it together.”

Q:Did you have any reference to cut down based on the economy and $5 a gallon for gas -is there a need for some teams to keep expenses down in that area?

Darby: “I don’t know because most of the testing that’s done today it’s under their own guidance anyway. The organized testing that NASAR has is a very small percentage of the amount of testing that’s done so it would be hard to answer that question. These type of plans or meetings or anything obviously the crew chiefs from all the teams are my easiest connection to talk to. Now, being good soldiers of good faith obviously they’ll go back to their organizations and sit down with the car owners and discuss them as an actual full blown team – they’ll make the decisions on their own.”

Q: What does Goodyear have to say about this – have you discussed with Goodyear the need for more tires if there is more testing?

“Darby: Goodyear is flexible. Goodyear can provide the tires for all of the tests if it went the direction that everybody chose to go. All they ask are the simple things like can you set it up with a 45 day advance ordering type situation so our staff can make sure we produce enough tires. All that is the easy stuff. I guess if there are any downsides to the whole thing if you look at what we are doing today to just a simple unlimited testing policy. Todays NASCAR testing because it is organized and is participation by all of the teams the effective cost of a test in regards to the bill you get from the racetracks is split by many more hands and that helps. The safety standards at a NASCAR test are much much higher than they would ever be at an independent test, a team test for example because with the NASCAR test we provide a full medical staff, medivac copters, a full staff of firemen, emt’s all of that and we do that because it’s an organized effort there’s 50 people feeding the kitty so you can afford to do that. A lot of those things wouldn’t be present at the individual tests but they aren’t today if you chose to go outside NASCAR’s testing policy anyways.”

Q: Why did NASCAR feel the need to propose this?
Darby: “Typically the way you really find out what a group of people want is to offer something as large as you can large to them and they’ll either say yea that’s perfect or they’ll say well you know that may be a little too much how about doing something like this instead.”

Q: Was there a consideration about going the other way and saying you can’t do any (testing)?
Darby: “Yea – but we already know – we can’t make that happen.”

Q: A lot of these current tests are not under NASCAR’S Supervision so by changing this would bring them under NASCAR’s supervision – would that be a factor as well?
Darby: “No I don’t know if it’s a relevance really. The relevance I guess would be today you can go to Milwaukee and work really hard for two days to try to simulate being at New Hampshire. If all of your correlation of data is right and if all of your wisdom and educated guess is correct it could potentially help you here at New Hampshire. Is that the right way to do it? I don’t know – maybe the right way to do it is to test at New Hampshire for New Hampshire.”

Q: Why does it matter. With all the computer technology that the teams have – why can’t they test New Hampshire all they want on computer sim. What’s so special about coming to NH to test when they have the ability to get all that data in the shop?

Darby: “Those are all good tools they are all good guides. There still is not anything as accurate as making laps on a race track and testing for multiple purposes. If (Dario) Franchitti had an opportunity to test at Sonoma last week for example – knowing he’s a good road racer anyways he could have potentially lessened his chances of going home. If a driver or a team constantly struggles at Martinsville for example – if they could go back to Martinsville once or twice or three or four times maybe they could get better. The simulation will only give you – a computers a computer – if you put crap in you get crap out you know what I mean? It’s that simple.”

Q: If you get all this feedback back and it comes back a split decision do you throw it back and say ok you guys vote?
Darby: “Were still not a democratic society yet. We listen a lot but somebody’s got to (make the decision) (laughter)”

Q: The car of tomorrow – is it an effort to get these guys a chance to have more time with these cars on the tracks they are racing on to add to the body of knowledge on the new car?

Darby: “No – this piece honest to God doesn’t have any relevance to the new car. I mean this is something that we would have headed to regardless cause we were almost there two years ago and almost there a year ago. Not that what we are doing today is broken but testing should be at the needs of the competitors in the garage and the only way we know what best suits them is to ask them and hopefully we’ll get enough information back.”

Q: All other racing series have been very tight – very restrictive in testing – has there been a lot of consideration that we have some new guys coming in – and we’ve had some people struggled that brought this on or what is more let’s see what happens?
Darby: “I think a lot of it surrounds you know that we’ve always hated doing anything that we can’t police properly and the teams have grown in our sport so large today that if a Roger Penske or a Jack Roush or a Rick Hendrick wants to build a race track or buy one they’re going to. So us having the absolute ability to say nobody’s going to test period is just not realistic. So what you do is try to manage a testing policy that satisfies the needs of the majority of the garage but still isn’t just so insanely crazy that it’s going to put people out of business.”

Q: Would one option be for teams to come in on Thursday to tracks and open the day to testing?
Darby: “That’s a very unpopular choice for a lot of reasons. You can’t plan a test agenda properly knowing that you are going to have to take that same car and race it the next day you know what I mean? The teams look at that more as an extended practice than they do an actual test.”

Q: Will you maintain the tests that you have scheduled the rest of the year?
Darby: “Yes, there’s only one left so yea.”

Q: Did it grow out of any criticism of the new car?
Darby: “No because the new car – there’s more work being done in the lab settings than there is race track stuff. What I mean by that is that’s where the gains on the 7-posts and the computer simulation and the engineers go to work. The teams know what they want for loads and pressures and all the rest of that- this is about testing and testing only.”

Q: If for some reason Kentucky ends up on the Cup schedule next year would they still be able to use Kentucky to test at Kentucky like they do now?
Darby: “Ahm – I can’t speak for what may or may not happen with Kentucky. I know there are no plans – they are not on our 09 schedule now -the only thing I can really talk about are the race tracks that currently hold Cup sanctions and their restrictions which – you’re right they can’t test on a sanctioned track unless it’s organized by us today for 08”

__________________________________________

Tony Stewart Doesn’t Want To Be Asked

The journalists here in the deadline media room and at dinner here in New Hampshire have been talking about Tony Stewart not wanting to be asked about his contract status until he’s ready to announce it. I got a kick out of his quote that at least one entity reported as serious news:

Can you comment about the rumors regarding your future?
“I’ve still got two ARCA teams I’m talking to, a truck team and now the 5 car is available today so I still have a lot of work to do.” Are you negotiating with sponsors to try to get set-up for next season? “I don’t even know who I’m driving for yet so it’s kind of hard to pick a sponsor when you don’t know who you’re driving for yet. It’s kind of like, ‘which comes first the chicken or the egg?’

Stewart’s tongue in cheek reaction to a question about his future is far from breaking news as to what he may do – and, trust me, he’s not going to tell us all that he’s working on until he’s ready. The problem is that doing live radio three hours a day on XM – I get continuous questions about where Tony may go and basically as I gave two team members from another team a lift into the track this morning even the race team guys love to talk about who might go where. It passes time in the garage and, basically even for those inside the sport it’s fun.

I have never been much of a contract-stalker – but I do understand why folks have to ask him. Also, in a sense I don’t blame him. With Tony -you know if he doesn’t want to tell you anything – or has nothing to say – you’ll get a silly tongue in cheek reply (above) or the person with the question will be cut to the quick in no uncertain terms. While people talk about Tony Stewart wanting the media to not ask him about his deal- he’s not the only one who doesn’t want to give regular updates on what’s going on.

Dale Earnhardt Jr was asked over a month ago about the status of Nationwide Series racing and his JR Motorsports effort he mentioned that one day he might look at taking his team racing at the Cup level because it might at that time make more financial sense. Ever since then – the rumors of silly season have included Junior owning a team with someone. Almost every day that rumor gets brought up on the air – and it grows with every chat room mention and fan email. But Dale Jr says that his answering that question led to more attention than the comment warranted.

DALE JUNIOR Comment: New Hampshire Friday, June 27th
“I should have not said that man because I should have just kept that to myself. But I don’t really want to talk about it in the press you know. That’s personal to me – what I do for my business and I damn sure ain’t going to air my time line out over the media. So, you know, if we feel like we’re going to do that we’ll do it and we’ll let you know and that will be that. But I don’t want to answer questions about it every week because it’s really not that big of an issue. My teams doing great I’d be foolish to make too many changes right now….you know keep things where they are while they’re working.”

Remember, Dale Junior did not bring up the issue of moving his nationwide team to cup. He was asked a while back and on that day he answered honestly. From there – that grew to his fans asking regularly about it so much that it required asking him again.

_______________________

EMAILS:
Hi Claire…
I listen to your show every afternoon on my way home…. Love it!!!! I also saw you in the Chevy tent at the MI race on Father’s Day-when you introduced Clint Bowyer and grabbed the kids in the audience to ask Clint questions! You did a great job, and the kids lined themselves up perfectly!!!

I do have one nagging question regarding the Dodge Cup cars….. They went back to the Charger this year, but the grill decal is still the Avenger’s! I am a diehard Mopar fan and it aggravates me to see that grill every week! The reason I say this is the Charger grill is narrow at the top, and the Avenger grill is narrower at the bottom….. The new Charger has the Avenger decal with the Charger R/T emblem. The headlights look ok. Can you ask someone associated with Dodge and find out when they will correct this???

I know, it’s petty, but I notice stuff like that and it drives me crazy that I’m that way!

Thanks for the show and keep up the great work!

Randell
Microsoft Certified Professional

CBL: Thanks Randell – your question is a good one.

The new Charger nose is not approved by NASCAR yet for use in competition, as soon as Dodge is given approval to use it, they will. As of right now they do not know exactly when that approval will be given.

More later – off to the drivers meeting and into the garage.

Enjoy the day!

Claire B
XM Satellite Radio

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Quick post for today May 6, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Coffee with Claire B., Drivers.
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Testing Note: Good morning everyone! There was an interesting comment at testing yesterday from Brian Vickers – Here’s a transcript of the question and answer. I thought you’d like to read it. Claire B

What was it like to have ‘Junior Nation’ upset with you following your incident two years ago at Talladega?
“As far as the situation you’re referring to — I didn’t really think much about it to be honest with you. It was a racing incident and obviously the fans are passionate. I believe it was Humpy (Wheeler) that put out a press release about security and that he offered us security and he never actually offered it to me, he just put it out in a press release. I think that Lowe’s Motor Speedway does a good job promoting the race track and supporting the event, but that particular instance with me personally that you’re referring to — it kind of pissed me off to be honest with you. It was really more about publicity than anything else and that’s a shame. As far as the fans themselves, like I said then, I have a lot more respect for our fans than to think that just because I got into Jimmie (Johnson) and (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. or Kyle (Busch) got into (Dale Earnhardt) Jr., his life is in danger. There’s a lot of nuts in the world and I’m sure if you took a big slice of it, there’s a couple floating around here. Maybe even me included, nobody’s perfect and I understand that, but for the most part I’ve met some fans that love one driver and hate me. I’ve never met one that I felt for my safety. I’m ok with that — they don’t all have to like me, they don’t all have to like (Dale Earnhardt) Jr., but most of them like (Dale Earnhardt) Jr., but they don’t all have to like all of us and that’s just part of the sport. I’ve never felt for my safety and I think that whole safety thing is blown out of proportion. Kyle (Busch) is probably going to get a lot more boos, in all honesty, he got a lot anyway and he’s probably going to get even more now. I got a few more after the whole Talladega thing too.”