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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

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Hello from Talladega April 24, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Live Show, Trackside.
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Hi all! Hope your day is going well. My broadcast schedule for this weekend – is as follows:

Friday (April 24) “Dialed In”
7-10 p.m. EST – LIVE from the Media Center at Talladega

Saturday (April 25) “Dialed In”
After Qualifying for the Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup Series Race until the start of the Aaron’s 312 Nationwide Series race at 2:30 p.m. EST on MRN

Then –enjoy MRN’s coverage of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 Camping World Truck Series race in Kansas after the Aarons 312

“Dialed In” continues after the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 until 10 p.m. EST LIVE from the media center at Talladega Super Speedway

Sunday, (April 26)
I’ll be in the booth for the SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Pre Race Show for the Aaron’s 499 beginning at 10:15 a.m. EST.

Here are some thoughts on a busy Friday – after many trips to the garage:

Jeff Gordon on Aggressiveness at Talladega:

Gordon is working out the issues with his back which he told me were more of an issue at a track like Phoenix than they will be here. He was not feeling well (was sick aside from the back) last week and told me that he felt he did not give his team good feedback.

Gordon had some interesting comments on Talladega recently as we gathered to chat with him about this race:

“Things have always been aggressive at Talladega. Go back the last 15 years and show me a race that they haven’t had a big crash (at Talladega). You know their might be one or two…but this car is really almost designed for Tallladega. The way that the bump drafting happens, the aerodynamics of the car the engine package – it’s perfect for Talladega. We put on spectacular races but when you run that tight together in those kinds of packs it’s easy to make a mistake and one little mistake happens and a big crash is going to come out of it.”

“I think the one thing that I would like to see happen is that the bump drafting be a addressed a little bit more. We all hear about the warning and where the no bump zone is and it’s all the way around the track and yet we sit there and just nail one other all day long and nothing really seems to happen until some guy gets way out of shape and gets wrecked and you know it doesn’t seem to me that there’s really a lot being cracked down on that. I’d like to see that but even with that being said if all 43 cars at the end of that race one lap to go it’s still going to be a mele you know cause now it’s time to go and you are going to take the risk of being aggressive whether you get a penalty or not.” Jeff Gordon.

Richard Childress – RCR Changes:
I asked Richard Childress (RCR) what would happen if the recent swap of teams between the teams of Kevin Harvick and Casey Mears doesn’t work. He told me “We don’t have an option – it has to work – No options.” Look in the mans eyes and you know that he means business.”

Phoenix International Raceway- Rear View Mirror

Stewart’s Eyes

Mark Martin was just pulling his car into victory lane when I headed out to the grid to talk to Tony Stewart. I like Tony – and I think that one of the reasons I have never had an issue with him, even in his “tormented” days, was because I’ve always found Stewart’s eyes to be the gate to his soul and a clue to how he’s feeling. The first time I noticed this was after he won his first Championship and came to the XM Studios in New York City for an interview. I had an hour with him, and he was testy at the time. The PR team brought him in the bldg and I could see his eyes darting around the room as if he was a caged animal – he seemed to be looking for an escape and felt anything less than comfortable. I began to worry. On Impulse, I pulled him to the side and told him from the heart that I took great responsibility in interviewing him in a way that would show the fans who he really was and wanted to do a great job of being real and I needed him to feel comfortable and I felt that he was anything but, which made it impossible for me to do a good job at what I do. As I poured out my thoughts from the heart – and trust me I was scared to be so honest- Stewart’s eyes, warmed and the thaw began. He converted from a guy who wanted to escape to a guy who wanted to give me a good interview because he knew I was worried about it and wanted me to be at ease. That’s Tony Stewart in a nut shell and he’s been great to me ever since. It’s hard to imagine that Tony Stewart when you see him today.

Since then, of course, Tony has warmed in general and has done his own radio show and is much more comfortable in his own skin. But the eyes still have it with him and what I saw from Tony talking to him as he got out of the race car at Phoenix was total complete and uncomplicated pure happiness and joy. The eyes connected and he was rattling off how happy he was with his new race teams’ success. It was if he was bubbling over with excitement and for a guy like Tony Stewart who downplays the cliche question and abhors over blown story- seeking media questions from anyone – he was almost giddy. I don’t think I’ve seen Tony happier.

You don’t interview a race car driver right after he jumps out of a race car and not get a glimpse into his soul. There’s something raw about that first few moments with a man after a race once he climbs out of the car that is hard to explain. I wish that every fan could have a chance to see the intensity that these guys put into these races. It’s pretty amazing.

Later, as I finished my live reports from Victory Lane – I walked into the garage to check on the teardown. Most of the transports had left and the garage was almost empty. There was Tony Stewart standing with a group of officials in the middle of the PIR garage, with his race uniform half way undone and the top part tied around his waist, in the dark at around 1:30 a.m. EST. I first thought maybe there was an inspection issue with his car – and then I walked over and got a closer look. Tony was cutting up and beaming, hanging out enjoying the end of the race day as if he was at a local short track race where the garage doesn’t clear out and racers savor the day.

Tony Stewart is a real racer. In Victory Lane Saturday night, Stewart was one of the first of the line up of drivers to come and congratulate Mark Martin. I was standing there as he arrived and he was, again, so happy for Mark that he stayed at the stage and seemed to soak in Mark’s victory as if it was his own.

I’ve always felt that Stewart was a sensitive guy with a big heart and a hard core on the outside. I’m really happy – to see that things are going so well for him because new teams like his are so good for the sport and he’s going to be exciting and downright fun to cover his season.

Oh yea, and the eyes go completely jet black like the dark hole when he’s furious and I haven’t seen any of that directed to anyone since he began his own team.

Mark Martin Victory Lane
I’ve covered many victory lanes – and, yes, they’re all addictive. It’s a euphoria place where, for a brief hour or so, you forget about the economic crisis, the shop hours and toil, what you gave up or lost to be there, and yes, even the times that through luck, or misfortune or someone else’s dumb move you deserved to be there but were not.

Before the race as I interviewed him on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio – Mark Martin told me he was nervous and had butterflies in his stomach. As the race was winding down I recalled those comments – because even for Mark they seemed out of character. After all he’s a seasoned racer – and this was not his first rodeo. I totally got it when I was watching him take the checkered flag. He was nervous before the race because his car was that good and he wanted to not screw it up. Note to fantasy racers – when Mark worries it’s when he has a good car not a bad one.

I reflected on Mark’s win at 50 years of age, by remembering the journal that Mark kept after every race as a 14-15 year old young racer. It’s on display at his Batesville, Arkansas Ford dealership and I couldn’t get enough of reading it when I was there for his fan days. Some of the postings give a real look into the talent, heart and competitiveness of a young Mark Martin. The comments below are just snippets thumbing through the journal, race after race.

“Did alright, got 5-points $56”

“Blew up, second lap, no points,”

“Bumped others, a lot – Second in overall points”

“Everyone was too rough. Didn’t place in money”

Locust Grove: “Not a good night. Too sticky for heavy car. three points, $33.”

“Car wouldn’t run…flag man screws up, and puts #10 ahead of me in third heat race. Seven points, $9 a point, $63”

“Blew it up in the third race – had local boys to strike”

“I got run over by the #7 on purpose”

“I got the sportsmanship award. I beat Wayne by a fender”

“28 put me in the mud hole”

“I tapped him and I went around and he went crazy and ran over everything $125”

“State Championship, won pole position – ran good race with #43 for 30 laps. He had to pull out then the sob started playing ping pong with me. I got third, left mad so we were disqualified.”

In the journal Mart lists yearly totals. Here’s one: “1975 season totals- 96 races – feature races won 20, 51 firsts 32 seconds eight thirds, three fourths and two fifths.

Mark Martin learned a tough, competitive business as a child – and didn’t make much money at it to start. He became a gentleman racer and one of the most respected drivers in the garage.

Standing in Victory lane with the Hendrick #5 car covered in confetti and champagne, with the admiration of the superstar drivers in the sport , lined up to congratulate him, I thought back to what Mark put into this to be where he is today. The mud holes, the disqualifications, the times the engine blew up or a local guy went out of his way to take him out the times he made mistakes or lost despite his talent.

The challenges were there and Mark Martin persisted.

Now, he’s just getting started.

Look out!

Enjoy the day.

Claire B.

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

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

The Edwards Harvick Argument Photograph……Has Been Outed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not one bit.

Am I wrong?

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

Claire B

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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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