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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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Kyle Busch- Formula 1? February 27, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Drivers.
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Talladega, AL 4-08 arriving for nascar race
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Kyle Busch came into the media center today and everyone wanted to know what he thought of the though to going to F1.since the new F1 team to be based out of Charlotte mentioned his name. I thought you’d like to read exactly what he said:

Do you have any thoughts of running in Formula 1 anytime in the near future?

“I have not been talked to, no. I don’t know if (Jeff) Dickerson (business manager and spotter) has or not. I toss the idea around — it’s definitely something I wouldn’t shoot down but I don’t think it’s the right time yet in my career and where I’m at. I’m happy with where I’m at. And, obviously the focus here is to go for Nationwide and Cup wins and championships and compete for championships – try to dismantle Jimmie (Johnson) off the top of the thrown so we have to work on that. It’s something that I’d love to give a shot at one day. Toyota gave me the opportunity to go over there last fall and do a test in Fiji (Japan), but we weren’t able to get there. Hopefully one of these days maybe I’ll get a chance to drive one and see if I’m any good at it.”

Did you ever think F1 was something you could do and was it ever on your radar?

“It was never on my radar, no. Open-wheel stuff wasn’t but it’s something that I wouldn’t mind trying. I wouldn’t mind trying IndyCars and running the Indianapolis 500 or Formula 1. It’s not quite the time for me to do that yet. I’d like to – if I could win a championship here in the next two or three years then I wouldn’t mind going over there and doing that, trying it for a few years and coming back. I think I’d still be young enough that if I could win a championship by 25, go run Formula 1 for a few years, be back by 28. I still have plenty of time left to run in NASCAR. It’s just what I see but a lot of things would have to work out for that to happen and you’d have to be guaranteed a spot with a team to come back with. That’s not always possible.”

Do you think your love of racing (always likes to race a variety of vehicles) is why you might look at driving a Formula 1 car?

“It’s just trying other things — doing something different. You kind of probably get dull sometimes and that might be why you see guys make moves from their teams. Granted Jeff (Gordon) has been at Hendrick forever and Kenseth and Biffle have been at Roush forever. It’s just a different form of racing, it’s a different auto sport. (Juan) Montoya looked to be like he was doing that. He went from CART to — I don’t know if he went to IRL or not — but then he was in Formula 1 for a while and then he came back and ran NASCAR. I think it’s just racers want to race different things all of the time and see what it’s like.”

Claire B

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On to Vegas! If You Don’t Want To Watch – Don’t February 25, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Trackside.
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Hey all! Here’s my broadcast schedule this weekend:

Wed. (Feb 25) 7-10 p.m. EST (“Dialed In” – LIVE from Satellite Studios at Claire’s House)
Thurs. (Feb 26) 7-10 p.m. EST (“Dialed In” from Las Vegas Motor Speedway LIVE)
Friday (Feb 27) “Dialed In” – On after Sprint Cup Series Qualifying until 11 p.m. EST

Saturday (Feb 28) 2-4 EST – “Dialed In” pre Nationwide Race
AND “Dialed In from the end of the Nationwide Race until 10 p.m. EST

Sunday (Mar 1)
CBL Anchors pre race with Steve Post 12:30 -2:30 p.m. EST pre race

Post Race: CBL live in victory lane — with SIRUS TEAM until 11 p.m. EST

NOTE TO ALL: Thanks for all the emails at insidercbl [at] aol [dot] com. I have gotten a bit behind from my normal mode of answering all emails just because of the trip from Daytona to California and back to Vegas. Be patient if you have not had an answer yet – and keep sending the emails I love them. Thanks – great conversation and I appreciate it.

Here’s something to chew over:
If You Don’t Want To Watch – Don’t
Covering Auto Club Speedway – On to Vegas!

Ok – I’m going to say it – and it’s unlike me to be so up on the wheel. I am not afraid to say what the heck it is that is on my mind. No one has ever told me not to. But in the world of cynical journalism – I have looked around and I guess that I have figured that I am simply the eternal optimist.

I usually see the best in people and while I relish good hard questioning of the values and rules and officiating of our sport each week, which is good healthy discussion, and callers who might ask the hard questions, which is also good, I am not one to want to spend hour after hour of my life on national radio being unduly negative.

I want to hammer home the truth, ask the question others may not and dig deep for the real story –even when its tough tickets or may cause uneasiness – it’s the job of a journalist. I just am interested in doing it in a way that does not include bashing for the sake of bashing. Salt in the soup is good. A vat of salt is too much to take. Enough said.

I have a new philosophy. That is this – if anyone listening doesn’t like the racing, or a particular track or our sport– then don’t watch, don’t listen and don’t come. Let folks who have saved their money to go, finally got a day off work, or carved out precious time in the week to enjoy the sport they love have some fun.

I repeat, I am not looking for a ban on great discussion- even rants and arguing or mentions of dislikes and fan to driver rants— not at all. In fact, bring it on. I don’t even expect you to understand how I feel – because it’s hard to explain. If I’m wrong tell me – black flag me – and tell me to my face on the radio.

Here it is. I get calls occasionally from race fans who are going to their first race, taking their wife to their first race, or going to the race they have gone to for twenty years. I hear the excitement in their voices as they call in on the air and they sound like people I could be friends with. I’d love to sit next to them or camp next to them cause I can hear right through the radio what genuine people they are and I only know them from what they say from the heart and it touches me.

Occasionally they will tell me that they are having hard financial times but they found a way to go to the race and they are so excited they almost can’t stand it — that their race weekend has started. I actually get to feeling happy for them that they are going to have some fun in these tough times. They are packed up, they are on their way, they are at the campground, they are hunkering down at home in front of the TV to watch and they love racing.

Mind you- I am not trying to sell tickets with the above comments or to fill up race tracks. I cover what happens. I don’t try to make the news. I am telling you, though, that I hear such excitement and happiness in the voices of these callers and I am so happy for them and so appreciate that they would call my show and I want to be able to talk racing with them, have fun doing it, enjoy the discussion – and leave them less than beaten down and depressed for planning the trip and calling or tuning into my show.

Ok – yes, I know I’ll get letters from people who had a problem and didn’t have fun because of a logistic issue – and when you gather that many people in one spot that happens. I also know that I was working in the media center and had media access so I enjoyed it from a different level. I always seek to find the story of the race, that no one thought of –and I really enjoy trying to find that ever elusive nugget that will make following the race more interesting. It seems I am never bored with trying to find that story – and dig deep into it.

You know – I’m just the kind of person that covers what is there – I work to bring what is happening to life. Maybe that is it – I’m not trying to change it – I am simply covering it and I find our sport fascinating every single minute of every single race. Some races are more exciting than others – but I really never ever am uninspired by what there is to cover.

I can always find a story waiting around the next turn.

Talk to you on the radio!
Claire B

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