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September 20, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, My Show, NASCAR, Teams, Trackside.
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Claire B.log

“On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of millions who when within the grasp of victory sat and waited and waiting, died.” William H. G. France, 1979

Dover International Speedway
Saturday – September 20, 2008……….3:00 p.m.

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m in the radio room right behind the stage in the deadline room here at Dover International Speedway. NASCAR just held a news conference announcing their new substance abuse policy. NASCAR will do random testing of team members, officials and drivers beginning next year. Drivers have been in support of random testing in general for some time now.

“NASCAR has taken a lot of steps to elevate our sport to the level of the “Big Four” leagues. We’ve entered new markets. We draw hundreds of thousands of fans each weekend. So it’s time that we police ourselves as one of the biggest sports leagues in the country. The new drug policy is another step in the evolution of NASCAR and the safety of the sport. Make no mistake, what we do is dangerous. We need to make certain that the competitors are clean when they hit the racetrack. NASCAR did a great job in outlining the rules, what is legal and illegal, and it’s up to the drivers and their doctors to make sure they are within the guidelines.” -Bobby Labonte, driver, No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge

The reporters in here are debating the new policy because it doesn’t specify the substances that are banned from NASCAR. There are two sides of the room – one says that a policy that doesn’t tell a guy what is banned specifically is open to lawsuits etc. Some say those media members are totally missing the point. Which is that NASCAR prohibits the misuse or abuse of any drug period – could be cough syrup could be anything. The problem with lists of substances, NASCAR says, is that it restricts what you can look for – this policy is open to abuse of anything that would affect a driver’s ability to be safe on the race track. Drivers are saying this is not shooting hoops or hitting a fast ball – that anything that affects a driver’s ability should be off limits because it’s life or death.

The saying above from Bill France, Sr. about hesitation is well documented – it’s painted on the wall at Pocono Raceway. Somehow on a cool Saturday in Dover the part about bleached bones for those who hesitate within the grasp of victory is compelling. It’s a motivator for sure to kick the cobwebs out and make something happen. That’s just what some teams need to do to stay in the chase this weekend. Jeff Gordon and the 24 team are on the pole and I have gotten so many calls on air and emails from Gordon fans saying they hope that the pole is a sign of good things to come. I have to say that there was some confusing information circulated regarding Gordon testing with his team this past week at Kentucky. After qualifying Gordon confirmed that he was, indeed, at the test himself despite a trip to Washington DC.

“We had a test in Kentucky this week. I wasn’t scheduled to be there. Brad Keselowski was going to drive the car and I was able to work my schedule around to be there. You know we tested until 9:00 p.m. over there on Wednesday night. so it’s things like that. It’s going in the shop it’s showing up early for practice and it’s putting a big lap out there like we did today” Jeff Gordon Media Center Post Pole Dover

Good for Gordon. I still maintain that they have a better test session and are more successful if Gordon can get to the test himself. It’s a positive move that he rearranged his schedule to be at the test instead of letting Keselowski do it for him.

Sunday with The Fallen Firefighters at Dover!

I volunteered to pitch in and emcee hospitality tomorrow for the over 500 supporters of the Fallen Firefighters Foundation —-in support of the over 100 firefighters who lose their lives each year in the line of duty. The track asked if I’d help out and how cool is it that guys like Jeff Burton and Richard Childress volunteered to speak to them on their own time. Of course I’ll pitch in – I’d be honored. It’s a small, small thing to do to pay back those who serve and protect. At the races here at Dover, by the way, over 250 fire and EMS Crews work to keep drivers, crews and fans in attendance out of harms way.

Hallam Moves from Formula One to NASCAR and Joins Michael Waltrip Racing

Steve Hallam, a 56 year-old-Englishman will leave his post as Head of Race Operations for McLaren Racing and join MWR’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Operation following the conclusion of the Formula One season. Hallam has established himself as a respected engineer and manager of the past 27 years in Formula One, participating in 430 Grand Prix, winning five World Championships while working for only two teams: Team Lotus and McLaren Racing. Hallam has worked as Race Engineer with such world-class drivers as Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Michael Andretti, Gerhard Berger, Mika Hakkinen before moving on to become Head of Race Operations. In this role he developed a group of the most capable trackside engineers in Formula One resulting in Lewis Hamilton’s current challenge for the Formula One title, a four-time winner this year who is leading the World Championship Driver Point Standings.

I talked with MWR’s Cal Wells about Hallam and what he lends to the program. “We’ve been talking with him for a long, long time. He’s been at the same place for twenty plus years so it’s a pretty big leap for him but he has been to a six pack of races in the past. He’s got some friends that work in the garage one that drives. So I flew over and spent some time with him, and then Rob and I spent some time with him and then Mike and Rob and I spent some time with him and we just thought that this guy would be the right guy to really fully leverage all of the assets that Toyota has as they start to blossom. Cause you know they really haven’t yet. When their Salisbury facility is just opening up this week. We won’t actively be allowed in there for I don’t know how long – a month or two or three -I’m not sure yet. But whenever that really gets going we need to be able fully exploit all of that. We’ve got to have somebody on the ground that’s at the track every week extracting the maximum of our engineering group extracting the maximum amount of what they can provide and really making the cars faster every single week.”

TED MUSGRAVE – HT Motorsports – Las Vegas – What is the deal?

Ted Musgrave crashed in the second lap of the first practice for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Las Vegas and in the half hour break between the first and second practice – he and the team GM Donnie Baden I am told had a heavy conversation and they apparently agreed they should part ways and another driver was brought in to qualify and race the truck. Talk that someone thought he intentionally crashed the truck was flying around the garage – you know how garage talk spreads. Team sources say that there was not a feeling that he had crashed the truck on purpose at all- but rather that some stress had been building the last couple of weeks and that the events today “just brought the situation to a head,” and they mutually agreed to separate. Here’s the team release that was issued shortly after the conversation:

Musgrave and HT Motorsports Part Ways Effective Immediately

Ted Musgrave and team owner Jim Harris, owner of the No. 59 Team ASE/HT Motorsports Toyota Tundra, have mutually agreed to part company effective immediately. Stacy Compton will replace Musgrave for Saturday’s Qwik Liner Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Stacy Compton will drive the No. 59 for tonight’s race in Las Vegas,” said HT Motorsports team manager Donny Vaden. “We will evaluate our options once we get back home and make an announcement on our driver or drivers for the rest of the season then.”

Compton was HT Motorsports’ first driver in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition, competing in four races in 2001 and three races in 2002. He scored top-10 finishes in his first five starts with the team, including a fourth-place finish after starting from the pole at Phoenix in October 2001.

Compton has started 16 NCTS races in 2008 driving for the BHR-VA team for which he is a co-owner. His best qualifying effort of the season was a second at Nashville in August and his best finish is a sixth in the season opener at Daytona. Overall he has four top-10 finishes and although he’s missed the last two races he stands 21st in the series championship standings

-o-
The drama is everywhere in NASCAR. I’ll keep you posted. I put up some new emails in the Claire’s email bin above. Check it out.

Thanks for finding me on the new XM channel # 148 and new time 3-6 EST. You all rock! Greetings from Dover!

Claire B

Friday Fun- NSCS Dover Kyle Busch Notes and Quotes May 30, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, Transcripts.
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Kyle Busch - One of my least favorite driver personalities, but he knows how to drive.Image via WikipediaHey: It’s been a little crazy today at the track. I will post tonight – have a bunch to tell you. In the mean time – here’s what Kyle Busch said today. I thought you’d like to read it for yourself. I’ve gotten tons of emails from all of you and I appreciate it. Tonight I’ll post some of what is in my mailbox. You all have been writing a lot and I love hearing your take. This (below) includes what he said about his little conversation with Jeff Gordon last week. More coming later – but for now I thought you’d like to read this……in its entire form. Read on:
Enjoy!
Claire B

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Combos Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How has the Joe Gibbs team enabled you to reach your potential?
“Well, I think they just gave me the leeway to go out and sort of be myself, I guess — be who I am. That’s kind of been the biggest thing. And just talking with Joe (Gibbs) and having conversations with him off the race track. He’s a pretty cool, laid back guy. He just keeps telling me to do what I’m doing and we’ll take care of the bad stuff when it happens later. So, the thing that’s just made this year a little bit easier is that, and transitioning to Joe Gibbs Racing and being able to get along with all the people and everybody. Especially, my teammates with Denny (Hamlin) and Tony (Stewart) — being able to work well with those guys, too.”

What do you think of Joey Logano?
“There’s been a lot of hype around him, so hopefully we’re not all too disappointed. I don’t think we will be. I think Joey’s got a great future in this sport and he’s young and he’s upcoming and he’s ready for it right now. He wants nothing but to bite at a chance at it. I feel like he’s going to do a fine job. Hopefully, this weekend is just a telling story of how good he’ll really be.”

What advice would you have for Joey Logano?
“To me, I didn’t have all this hype around my debut as Joey (Logano) does and I finished second in mine. I hope Joey can do just as good if not better in his debut here. I feel like he has a good car. The biggest thing about Joey is that if he keeps a good head on his shoulders because he knows he’s in great equipment — (he) doesn’t go out there and try to make up for what it is not, and take a second or third instead of trying to get a win.”

What did it mean for Braun Racing to get a Nationwide Series win at Charlotte?
“It definitely meant a lot to myself to win for Braun Racing — to have those guys. They work just as hard as anybody else out there. To have the ability to go out there and have the care capable of being able to win was pretty fun. I wish Trent (Owens, Braun crew chief) and those guys were with me, but it was with Todd (Lohse, crew chief) and the third bunch of guys. But, still we made the most of the opportunity there. I felt like — we tested pretty well, we weren’t as good as we wanted to be. Then we started the race and we were just really, really tight. I did not expect that. We made some lofty changes during the race and got it better and better and got track position at the end. So, it was pretty cool.”

Can you win again with Braun Racing this weekend?
“I don’t know. We’ll see. We were battling the car all through practice. We were so tight and then a little bit loose. So, kind of battled back and forth a little bit with it. Hopefully, we can have a strong showing tomorrow. We just need to keep racing here. If we can get a win great, if not we’ll have a good points day.”

What do your post-race celebrations mean?
“It’s just fun for me to be able to win races in general. You never know when your last win is going to be and you always want to make them as memorable as you can. Yet, you go out there and celebrate with the fullest extent that that is your last win. To me, it’s not about getting out of the car and going; ‘Yeah, we won.’ It’s about getting out of the car and really celebrating and doing it as a team.”

What happened with you and Jeff Gordon last week after the race?
“I felt like when I was coming back through traffic there after we changed our battery we got to the 24 (Jeff Gordon) and everybody else wasn’t really racing and Jeff (Gordon) just raced me a little bit harder than anybody had all day. I wasn’t sure if he meant something by that or if it was just the way his car was acting or what. I tried to get a reasoning there after the race and it was just the wrong time to do it. All is cool now. We talked in Pocono and he just told me that his car wasn’t balanced the way it needed to be and he was just fighting for position. I recognize that and feel for him there that he didn’t have quite the car he wanted to pass people so he just had to fight a little harder to hold onto it.”

Was Jeff (Gordon) upset because you approached him while he was being interviewed?

“No. He wasn’t getting interviewed or anything like that. There was just media around. I think he was just — the adrenaline was still going after the race and whatnot. My mistake, but I learned from that. He gave me a bit of advice if there was a next time for that.”

What allows you to use less brake than most people?
“I don’t know — maybe that I roll out of the throttle a little bit sooner getting into the corner. I start the slowing down process a little bit sooner. Brakes with these things you tend to heat up the front tires too much so the cars don’t like that. For me to go out there and just run my laps and stuff like that, I can learn a little bit from whose at the top of the board like Jimmie (Johnson) says. It’s really not much. You just have to try to figure it out for yourself.”

Is the braking something you’ve learned from over the years?
“The bullring where I grew up, when I raced there I would always try to use brake and it really wouldn’t work. Anytime that I would get out of the gas early and not use any brake whatsoever I always turned faster lap times. There was times when my dad was my spotter and I was maybe a quarter or half straightaway ahead he told me to slow down a little bit and I’d pick up time not using any brakes. So it’s kind of weird. People talk about saving fuel and fuel mileage and stuff and people will pick up lap time by saving fuel. It’s just a way of racing sometimes.”

How satisfying is it for you to have the kind of season that you are having?

“It’s definitely satisfying and also I’m pretty grateful to be having a season like this. It doesn’t come all the time and it doesn’t come for everybody so certainly you’ve got to hold onto it when you do have it. Hopefully we can keep going the way we are. I looked at it the other day and if it wasn’t for mechanical issues the worst finish we’ve had all year was a fourth-place finish. It’s pretty phenomenal. We just got to keep going the way we’re going and hopefully we can just keep getting our points and keep leading this thing.”

Are you surprised that people call you a villain?

“I guess there have been villains over the years so if that’s their word that they are going to call it, then that is what it is. To me it doesn’t bother me. I don’t feel like that’s who I am but that’s, I guess, the role that I’m portraying.”

Do you prefer to win in the Craftsman Truck Series more than the Nationwide Series?
“What tweaks the veteran guys is that they’ve been there so long and they’ve been doing it for so long and they feel like they are on their way out and they want to get as many wins as they can. To me, you just never know when your last win is going to be. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a Cup car or a Nationwide car or a truck or a late model or a damn mini-stock. That’s the part of this sport, to go out there and win and be known as one of the best. That’s how I partake it and that’s how I go out every week — just trying to win races.”