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Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Night May 19, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season, Crew Chiefs, Crew Members, Fun Stuff, Pit Crew Challenge.
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The Boys Are Back In Town!!

It’s a highlight, back-home, bragging rights night in Charlotte, North Carolina tonight for the pit crews of NASCAR who are back in town for the All-Star Race activities and who will compete in the Sprint All Star Pit Crew Challenge. Opening ceremonies are at 6:45 p.m. EST at Time Warner Cable Arena.

There are 24 eligible teams who will each be able to bring five sets of tires and their own lug nuts to the event as well as air guns and jacks. Teams can bring four support members in addition to the seven competitors. The teams supply their own “push” car with tech requirements stipulated by NASCAR in the NSPCC Technical Bulletin. This stuff is serious!

All drivers, car owners, crew members and team members must have a valid NASCAR license that has not been suspended or revoked. Participating crew members have to be licensed to the team they are competing for and must be active on the current roster of “over the wall” crew members.

Seeding is done through the 2010 Sprint Cup Series Car owner point standings through Dover, and the top eight teams in points will receive a bye into the second round of competition. In addition to the fastest team in the event receiving the honors of champion, the fastest crew member at each station will be crowned as the individual champion and each of the winning individual crew members will receive a $10,000 cash prize.

The key to the event is the 40-yard push – where after completing their duties as jack man, tire carrier, tire changer, gas man, etc., the team must push their 3,200 pound race car (steered by their driver) across the finish line.

Speeds Coverage of the event begins at 9:00 p.m. (tape delayed) “Dialed In” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio will begin LIVE coverage as the event begins at 7:00 p.m. EST

Last year, the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet pit crew outpaced the No. 43 US Air Force Dodge team to capture the team title. While doing so, the team set a new event record with a time of 22.115 seconds and earned a $70,675 payout, which equates to $10,096 per crew member or $3,195 earnings per second.

Individual winners in 2009 were:

Dennis Terry, Front Tire Changer No.1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 14.855
Shannon Keys, Front Tire Carrier No.1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 14.855
Jake Seminara Front Tire Changer No. 18 M&M’s Toyota 14.900
Kenny Barber Rear Tire Carrier No. 18 M&M’s Toyota 14.900
Preston Cordell Gas Man No.1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 10.072
Eric Hoyle Catch Can No.1 Bas Pro Shops Chevy 10.072
Jeff Kerr Jack Man No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 5.666

Take a look at the bios of the team guys on the roster for tonight’s event and you’ll see many of them are racers or who knew people who were in racing. These guys first jobs range from commercial fisherman, to golf course manager, log cutter, steel tower construction, air craft refueler, commercial driver and firefighter, to name just a few of the interesting occupations these guys held before their current team role in NASCAR. Trevor Lysne the Front Tire Changer for the No. 42 Target Chevy worked in a treatment center for troubled children before racing. Kenneth Purcell the jack man for the No. 48 Chevy used to work at his dad’s animal hospital before joining the team.

The team guys have nicknames within their teams, like Jeff Patterson the two-time individual champion gas man from the No. 14 Office Depot Chevy whose nickname is “Gooch” and Mike Morneau the rear tire changer for the No. 14 who the guys call “Shrek.”

And their teams have nicknames too. The over-the-wall teams nickname for the No.333 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevy is the “Helping Hands pit crew.” Each crew member has the Hamburger helper hand on their firesuit doing their respective position. The jackman has the Hand holding the jack, the fueler has a gas can, etc.

Some, come from a long line of crew member or racing families. Take, for example Jeremy West from the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet. He and his father worked on David Gilliland’s car in the Winston West series. They won the championship in 1996. Jeremy changed and his dad, John, carried.

These guys have played football and rugby, wrestling, baseball and soccer in college and several have been semi-professional athletes. Shaun Peet the jack man for the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota is a former professional hockey player. Some of them have been carrying or changing tires for a race team for over years. Their pit crew coaches train them hard with everything from weights to yoga, aquatic and heat training.

These guys have seen their share of close calls on pit road and some have been hit in the line of duty. Eric Maycroft the rear tire changer for the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota said, “Yes, (I’ve been hit) by AJ Allmendinger, the wing caught me and flipped me into the next pit stall head over heels.”

The pit road warriors who have their time in the spot light tonight at the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge are an integral part of winning in NASCAR Sprint Cup series that most of their drivers will attend tonight’s event to show support and these guys are scouted, under contract, and in the pressure-cooker that making up time on pit road presents must be at the top of their game physically and mentally to have made it to the level of pit crew member for NASCAR’s elite division teams.

Tonight, is their night. These guys are the best of the best and their families and their team members and their drivers and their fans will be there to cheer them on.

It’s a great event. For more information check http://www.pitcrewchallenge.com.

Media Pit Crew Event!

On Tuesday national and local media members competed in the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge at Time Warner arena. The event, just for fun, pitted media members from various national and local broadcast and television entities against each other in the media pit crew competition. For the second year in a row as the driver of the car for the winning team, after surviving two heat races and the final face off against a team from the Carolina Panthers (pushing the car like it was Super Bowl Sunday) I felt just a slight sensation of what these guys will feel like tonight. Just as the final heat race was about to begin while filing a report, it was a rush to get into the race car in the nick of time, secure the steering wheel and be pushed to the line. The key to driving the car in this event (a role a number of driver’s wives will handle tonight) is to not brake while you are pushed towards a brick wall, and then just in the nick of time slam on the break. Ah, sweet victory!

See the photo of the winning crew, including my team mates Ray Dunlap, Phil Parsons and Jeff Hammond from Speed and Fox.

Hope you can make the event or catch it on Speed or SIRIUS NASCAR Radio tonight. It’s well worth it and one of the fun events of All-Star week in the heart of racing in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Claire B Lang

Memorial Day – Coca Cola 600 – Take 2 May 25, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season.
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Standing By In the LMS Garage

I’m here in the Lowe’s Motor Speedway garage talking with team guys about the chances that we’ll get this race in and that it will indeed be the Coca Cola 600 and not the 500 or less. The weather is teasing us with moments that appear brighter with dark clouds on the horizon and green blobs on the weather radar. Many of the team guys told me that they were to be working Monday anyway so they might as well be at the race track. Others were planning family or team cookouts and several said that if this race gets done soon enough they are going to head to cookouts that will be several hours delayed. Several team guys told me that their marriages depended on days like this Memorial day off to hang with the family. Instead, they’ll be racing because that is what they do.

Tuesday NASCAR Meeting – R&D Center

Everyone here is talking about the Tuesday meeting that NASCAR has called with primaries on the teams. While everyone is talking about what the meeting might mean related to tweaks to the car of tomorrow there’s no indication that has anything to do with the meeting. Crew chiefs are not a part of the meeting because it’s not about nuts and bolts. The meeting’s to be held at 10 and 2 p.m. will include drivers, team owners and team general managers if they’d like to come. It’s an open forum and the conversation in the garage is who might speak up and who are the leaders in the sport who might stand up and express their thoughts openly. Names in the garage being brought up, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton and Michael Waltrip. Some drivers told me that they do not feel it is their place to stand up and that they will go and listen but that they miss a guy like Dale Eanrhardt who would have NASCAR’s ear. With E it was a two way street – he’d not only go tell NASCAR what he thought – they’d come to him to solicit advice. Let’s not forget though that NASCAR has had these meetings several times a year recently when they feel it just might be a good time to lend an ear and an open forum to the teams. NASCAR has always said that their door is open and that drivers do come in and vent and offer suggestions. From within the garage – there is conversation today that they miss Dale Earnhardt at times like this because they trusted him to speak up on their behalf behind closed doors.

H.A. Humpy Wheeler – “It’s just how you treat people”

I was on the air with “Dialed In” for the rain delay coverage here at LMS and talking about some of what Speedway Motorsports CEO Bruton Smith had to say in a sit down with the media here on Saturday. You could have heard a pin drop in the room when he addressed the controversial topics of the day and talked about why he and former track president H.A. Humpy Wheeler and he parted ways on the worst of terms.

Humpy, who retired, had been invited by Tony George to go to Indy for the Indy 500 this past weekend….and there was word that Humpy had not been invited to attend the 50th running of the Coca Cola 600 here at LMS.

While discussing what Bruton had to say my cell phone rang. I was on air – which makes answering a cell phone difficult but managed to get the phone answered off air while on air which is kind of like walking a tightrope while dancing. It was Humpy Wheeler, calling and I asked him if he’d come on air with me and open up about his side of the story. He agreed and I appreciate it.

For 45 minutes, Humpy answered my questions and talked about not only how he felt about not being invited to LMS for the 50th Coke 600 (Bruton says he does not invite people and that Humpy has a NASCAR hard card to get in) but also how he felt about other issues of the day.

Humpy Wheeler is the real deal. I got laid off of a job at one point in my career and it was not easy. Funny how your phone rings when you are all that – but when you are down and out for one brief moment in your life (even if it lasts an hour a day or a month)- the phone calls come only from those who really are your friends. You never forget who it is that is there for you in tough times.

Humpy called me at my house while I was languishing in self pity and feeling pretty down and out the day after I got laid off. I had no idea that he even knew how to reach me. He talked me through the time in his life when he lost his job through no fault of his own (because of tough economic times) and how it felt and advised me to never look back. I had never figured a guy like Humpy would have had that sort of moment in his life but he did.

This rift between Humpy and Bruton is sad and private, because none of us knows what actually goes on behind closed doors. Both of these guys love racing and the two made magic together. Bruton is a hugely successful man who has always been kind to me on his property covering this event and Marcus Smith is working hard to carve his own niche as president of this track and to serve the fans in a way that will make the guests to his dad’s track proud.

But Humpy should not feel that he is not welcome at LMS (whether it’s intended or not) and Humpy Wheeler is valuable to the sport.

I will tell you one thing – Humpy taught me a valuable lesson – I now call everyone I know who is laid off, fired, or looses a job due to the economy or for any other reason if I have their number. We often feel the person will be bummed out and that they will not want the call – but I have never found that to be the case.

Humpy will survive – he doesn’t need an invitation to LMS to continue to be called on for quotes and respected for what he accomplished in this sport and Bruton says he doesn’t invite folks and that Humpy could come with his NASCAR hard card. Maybe so.

Like I said – no one knows what actually went on behind closed doors and we’ll never know for sure.

All I know is that these are two powerful guys in the sport and I wish they could get along.

I also appreciate the call from Humpy.

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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All-Star Bachelor Party May 31, 2008

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Hey Racers! – Remember the guys who came to Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the All-Star race to celebrate a bachelor party. They sent me a picture this week- check it out (below) – They had a heck of a good time. Guys, thanks for the postcard! I’m passing it on to the web site 😉

Claire B

Claire B-
Attached is the 7 of us from the Bachelor Party in Charlotte.
L-R , Rob “Dorrman” Dorr, Rick “the TRickster” Shea, Wayne “Scrap” Applebee, Top: Chris “Wheezit” Leavitt, Woody “Woodman the Bachelor” Bailey, Carl “Kool Breeze” Urquhart. Dave “Live Cheap or Die” Withee. Thanks again!
-Rick Shea


Friday of Race Week 2008- Charlotte- Lowe’s Motor Speedway May 23, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, Items of Interest, Tracks.
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It’s been “As the World Turns” type of drama in the deadline room of Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s media center this week. First, H.A. Humpy Wheeler (SMI President) retires and holds an impromptu news conference that has reporters racing to the track – with little advance warning. The word “rift” has been used in more than one story headline – yet Bruton says that Wheeler has been talking about retirement for a year. Wheeler says he didn’t quite leave on his own terms. Calling his own news conference – was a signature Wheeler move and we haven’t seen the last of H.A. Humpy Wheeler who will continue to be a force in the industry. Could he work for NASCAR? He says it’s not out of the question and he has had a conversation with them.
Humpy pic

Then, Bruton Smith (Chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc) holds a news conference and announces that SMI has purchased Kentucky Speedway. The former owner of Kentucky Speedway says he feels certain that the Speedway will get a Sprint Cup Series date – and as litigation is still in the air with the Kentucky Speedway lawsuit NASCAR says don’t jump to conclusions any realignment of dates has to have their approval and they don’t appear to want to add a date or to move a date to that part of the country at this time.

With all the SMI goings on there was little space in the daily rag to fit some of the other “good stuff” in. I thought I’d pass on some tidbits this morning on the blog before I head out to Penske Racing, Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing and then Speed Street where I will do today’s broadcast from the Chevy XM “Dialed In” Mobile Broadcast Unit.

Catch some of these nuggets:

Dale Earnhardt Jr
The Role of NASCAR Villains:

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A VILLAIN IN NASCAR? JR: “You got to wreck people. You got to be mean. You got to work the crowd and get them mad. Do what villains do, kind of like wrestling. The bad guy comes in wearing black, flipping the crowd off and cheating doing things like that.”
WHO DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN THE BEST VILLAIN IN NASCAR? JR: “It changed. Everybody had their moments. There were times when dad was a pretty good villain. Jeff Bodine turned into a villain there for a while in my opinion when I was a little kid. ’88 was a good year for that, him and daddy wrecking each other. Darrell (Waltrip) never was a villain, Darrell just whipped everybody. You know Kyle (Busch) whether he wants it or not has sort of become that. He could end up using that to his favor. There are people who will cheer for the villain. There are people who like that mentality and pull for the bad guy.”
On Joey Logano/DEI Mgmt.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT JOEY LOGANO THAT MAKES EVERYONE EXCITED ABOUT HIS POTENTIAL? Martin: “I don’t know what it is. Joey is magic, take my word for it. You will see soon.”

DO YOU HAVE MUCH INPUT IN TO THINGS AT DEI OUTSIDE OF THE NO. 8 CAR? Martin: “Max, Teresa and John have been more interested in my opinion than anywhere else I have ever been. It still isn’t very much, but they are very interest in my opinion. I have a great relationship with Max and respect. The same with John Story and of course with Teresa as well. It is pretty cool, it makes me feel good that they are interested in my opinion on things from time to time. But, I don’t have a big role in it. I feel really good about where the organization is today versus where it was in October. I think it is very sound and made a lot of progress from where it was in October.”
Elliott Sadler
On Sucking Oxygen and AJ

WHAT DO YOU DO DIFFERENTLY NOW TO PREPARE FOR 600 MILES? Sadler “I eat (laughs). I make sure that I eat a lot on Saturday night. I make sure that I eat a lot on Sunday afternoon, a big lunch to make sure that my body has a lot of energy and stuff to pull from. It’s a long race. Five-hours in a race car is very long. I take car of my body this whole week to make sure that I’m good mentality and physically for this weekend. I just make sure that I’m really hydrated. I’ve got a lot of fresh oxygen in my system and everything before the race starts on Sunday.”

WHY THE OXYGEN? Sadler: “There are a lot of guys out here that do (oxygen). Different guys either do it with the mask or in the (oxygen) chamber. It’s something that I learned from Dale Jarrett six or seven years ago. I take in a lot of fresh oxygen. I’m in a car for an hour-and-a-half today and another two or three hours Saturday. By the time Sunday rolls around on the weekend, you’ve got three or four hours of carbon monoxide in your system. So I try to take in some fresh oxygen Saturday night and definitely Sunday morning before the race just to make sure that my blood cells are as pure as they can be. When you’re in a car for five hours, you’re definitely going to get some carbon monoxide in your system. I’m just trying to take care of myself for longevity in the sport.”

DO YOU TAKE IN THE OXYGEN WITH A MASK? Sadler: “I do it with a mask because it’s just easier for me. I don’t really want to lie in a chamber; I’m kind of claustrophobic so I do the mask thing.”

HAVE YOU TALKED TO A.J. ALLMENDINGER THIS WEEK? Sadler: “I’ve got better things to do and more things to worry about than talking to him (Allmendinger). The Coca-Cola 600 is a big race here in NASCAR and I want to be focused and ready to go. Let’s just try and qualify and worry about that, I’ll worry about him another time.”
Coca-Cola Pole Sitter Kyle Busch:
On Stuff:

What have you done this week racing so close to home? Busch: “Fortunately I have had a little bit of time off. I went out on the lake yesterday and finally got to enjoy my Centurion boat for the first time this year. The water is still a little cold, but it felt nice. I was able to do some wake boarding and was able to have some fun. I’m sore as all can be right now and I’m hoping that will be better for Saturday night. Other than that, it’s been a pretty calm week. Fortunately they haven’t had me doing too much stuff. It picks up now with today ………and Saturday and Sunday again. I get a day off on Monday and then we go test Tuesday and Wednesday in Pocono so back to it.”

Jeff Gordon:
OK Fantasy Racers – His Chances for A Win on Sunday

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF ON THE SHORT LIST OF FAVORITES FOR THIS RACE ON SUNDAY? Gordon: “I wouldn’t even put myself on the list. I think that we’ve got some work to do, performance-wise, but we’re such a good team that anything is possible. So I guess maybe you could put us way at the bottom of the list. When I think of favorites I think of people that show dominance or a lot of speed. To me it’s a very short list of people that are on the list that can win.”

THIS WEEK WILL BE THE LAST RACE HUMPY WHEELER IS IN CHARGE AT LOWE’S MOTOR SPEEDWAY. WHAT’S THAT GOING TO BE LIKE FROM A DRIVER’S PERSPECTIVE? Gordon: “That’s huge. To not really hear anything about it and for that to come out like that, I’ve never thought of this sport or Lowe’s Motor Speedway without Humpy Wheeler. He’s just constantly pushing the envelope. All the creativity and excitement and entertainment he’s brought for the competitors as well as for the fans, is definitely going to be his legacy. He’s set a high bar, for sure.”

Gordon: “Oh, man. I can remember back when I was a rookie in the Cup Series, he used to use us rookies quite a bit. I can remember we did human bowling up there near the Speedway Club one time (laughs). Probably the one that stands out the most was when we did a stagecoach thing where we came out in a stagecoach in a Western theme and there were like bank robbers and we were shooting little cap guns. I would have never done that today (laughs). Back then it was pretty comical.”

Gordon: “Not at all. I don’t expect him to. I’m not asking him to. It’s just that we have a better understanding. My goal as a driver is, I don’t car if it’s my teammate or not, to not allow them to make the pass. My job is to make sure my line is going forward and I’m using my mirrors. I’ve always said that. I did expect for that type of move to maybe happen later in the race; not at that point in the race. So now I know and it just allows us to work together and know that when those things happen, don’t take it personal. It’s just part of the way the race is unfolding at that point. And we’re competitors who want some position and sometimes that means working with your teammates and sometimes that means not working with your teammates. I’ve been in this thing long enough to know that I haven’t always made my teammates happy by everything I’ve done. But I think I’ve gained a little more patience over the years and know how much I want to have those guys on my side towards the end of the race. That’s way I try to make as many friends as I possible can If it’s possible.”

That’s a wrap for this blog. I had better get up and at it. It’s going to be a busy day – and while there’s no action on the track at Lowe’s Motor Speedway I’ll be checking on the trucks at Mansfield Motorsports Park and spending the day kicking around the race shops in Charlotte.

Enjoy the day!
Claire B

Pennzoil Burn Out Contest Blog! May 17, 2008

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Lowe’s Motor Speedway

Hey: I guess you deserve a quick note on the burnout competition since I talked about it a lot this week.

I just got back from the grid from the Penzoil Burn Out competition prior to the Sprint All-Star Race. Who would have imagined that Jimmie Johnson would have decided to just break the rules and blow the tires? I figured that it was Kevin Harvick that would have done that- but it seemed Johnson got to it first.

How about Harvick getting to the “victory lane” area and then taking the car up to the wall and sending smoke to the grandstands. And Kyle Busch – who bowed to the crowd after a mild burnout but got the fans booing and steamed the stands with the bowing. It was all for fun with charity money on the line. Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, was declared the winner. Outside the deadline room just now the Pennzoil executive was looking for ideas should they do it next year. Here are some suggestions:

1) Let the drivers bring their own stuff
2) Let more drivers participate
3) Let fans vote.
4) Include the trucks!

Biffle won $10,000 for the Greg Biffle Foundation. Down on pit road afterwards he was still enjoying the moment – Here’s what he said:

GREG BIFFLE “It was pretty fun. I wish it would have started a little bit better because I dumped the clutch over there to get the tires going and the clutch slipped. The clutch just started spinning and didn’t get the tires spinning, so I had to stop and rev it up again to get the back tires spinning. These things don’t have a real heavy race clutch in them, so it was hard to get the tires spinning. They had a lot of grip, but once I got them spinning it was just kind of donuts as usual, I guess – a burnout after the race. I haven’t had much practice this year, but, hopefully later tonight I’ll do another one.”

WHAT ABOUT THE FAN REACTION? “It was awesome and I gave them a little slide job over here around the Legends track, so the fans loved it. They want to see the smoke and the excitement and I think they saw that.”

HOW WOULD YOU RANK YOUR BURNOUT? “Kind of a D- taking off, but I would say after that a strong B, I guess, maybe a B+. It definitely wasn’t an A burnout, but it wasn’t bad.”

YOU GET $10,000 FOR YOUR CHARITY AS WELL. “Yeah, that’s great. We’re gonna give the money to the Greg Biffle Foundation. We support a lot of animal shelters. We’re getting ready to build a shelter in South Iredell County right now, in the Mooresville area, so Friends of the Animal Board, we’ve been working on it for about a year-and-a-half. We’re excited and just getting ready to launch that thing and get it going.”

JOHNSON BLEW OUT SOME TIRES. “Yeah, he definitely put on a show for the fans. We had to follow the rules a little bit and he knocked some cones down and some other things, but it was good fun for the fans.”

SHOULD THEY DO IT NEXT YEAR? “Yeah, I think they should do it next year. I don’t know how to make it better. Kind of change it up and maybe give us a little more room or something and start the cones back a little further, but it was a lot of fun.”

HOW ABOUT BRING YOUR OWN STUFF? “I want to bring one of my cars because I think the fans would get really juiced up about us bringing our stuff out here and doing it. That would be pretty cool for them to see that. I’m talking about one of my personal cars. If Goodyear would bring us some tires, I would bring my Shelby GT500 car. It’s got a lot of power and it would look cool out there laying down some rubber and some smoke.”

If you have ideas for next year’s contest post them here!

Topic: What are your thoughts on the burnout competition and what would you add?

Enjoy the All Star Race!
Claire B

DRIVERS MEETING: Sprint Cup All Star Challenge May 17, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers.
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Lowe’s Motor Speedway
CBL Pre-Race Blog

Hey! Well the driver’s meeting is over. Nothing major but a whole lot of reading of rules and because the rules for this All Star night are so different – everyone listened intently.

When David Hoots, the race director, was finished going over the rules – there was a question only from one driver. Kurt Busch asked if on restarts the leader has the choice of the lane he wants to use? Hoots replied that no the leader must take the inside.

There were secret service guys in the drivers meeting as well – North Carolina Governor Mike Easley showed up at the driver’s meeting and I assume that is why there were secret service checking out the media center today. Guests in the drivers meeting included a Major General from the National Guard, General of the USAF, John Walsh from America’s Most Wanted and the owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

The most significant moment in the driver’s meeting was the mention of Dale Jarrett’s last race…and a long, very long and meaningful standing ovation.
Congratulations DJ!

Now – it’s off to the burnout competition.
Claire B

Saturday Coffee Break: from Lowes Motor Speedway May 17, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, In The Garage.
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“Saturday Coffee with Claire”
Greetings from Lowe’s Motor Speedway!

Wish you could be here too. It’s beautiful, an absolutely beautiful day – blue skies and sunshine. I got to the media center, as usual way before it opened at 1:30 p.m. (avoid the traffic)- and so I wrangled my way in to get set up and started working – feeding the XM Sports Nation with reports etc.

I think we’ll see a presidential candidate here today – a bunch of secret service looking guys in dark suits with sunglasses and pins on their lapels were escorted in here by a security guy before the media center opened. They were given a detailed tour of where the deadline media room is and the layout of the place. I told them that they were pretty obvious with their dark suits on and asked who was coming. They tried to be all serious at first- but, finally ,with me poking at them they laughed, actually I joked with them for a while, but I didn’t get the full story on that one.

Last night of course Kyle Busch won the pole for the All-Star Race and then had to rush off to get to the truck race. Some of the print media were frustrated that they hauled him off after the qualifying and did not bring him in the media center.

I headed to a party last night – something I rarely do because I’m always working it seems but what the heck. During race weeks here there are so many things going on – all at onetime – next week is going to be insane. I guess that tomorrow is for sleeping and then it’s wide open.

Here’s part of what Jeff Gordon said about Kyle Busch. I thought you’d like to read it:

IS KYLE BUSCH’S AGGRESSIVENESS ON THE TRACK REMINISCENT AT ALL OF DALE EARNHARDT’S AGGRESSIVENESS? Jeff Gordon: “In a youthful way, yeah. I think that Dale Earnhardt, he was a little more stubborn (laughs), which I find myself doing as I get older too. That’s how he was. He was aggressive but I never saw Dale out leading the race with the car that could just lap the field, bounce a car off the wall every couple of laps, never saw him do that. If he was trying to make a pass on the guy for the lead, I’ve seen him go in there and get loose underneath the guy and take the guy out and possibly even himself, seen that happen. But to me there’s a big difference between the two and I think that Kyle is an extremely talented driver and we all recognize and know that but I still think that sometimes his aggressiveness and his youthfulness does get the best of him and when he balances that out and if he ever really truly balances that out he’ll be unstoppable. He’s almost unstoppable now, but those times he hits the wall, if he hits it a little bit too hard that car might not be quite that good.”

Kyle is the pole sitter for tonight’s All-Star race. Here’s what he had to say to reporters about the pole and the race. I figured you’d like the short transcript editorial free:

Kyle Busch – Post Qualifying:
Was your qualifying run a great team effort? Kyle Busch: “It definitely was — I’m surprised. I thought I got busted speeding there. If it wasn’t it was that close — very close. Man, I can’t thank these guys enough at Joe Gibbs Racing. Steve Addington (crew chief) and all these guys that work on this do such an awesome job for me. That thing is humming this weekend. If (Kevin) Harvick thought the Toyota had motors before, watch out now because we’re coming big time. This stuff’s nice. We just keep clicking them off and keep going. It’s obviously paying off really, really well. I just have to thank M&M’s, Toyota and everybody that’s been involved on this whole deal.”

Does the All-Star race lend itself to your style? Kyle Busch: “I don’t know about the race, but qualifying I was as nervous as I’ve ever been in qualifying for anything. That was pretty nerve wracking. This race, it lends to my style and I’d have to say yes, being able to start out front and hopefully get some clean air and see what these guys behind us have for us. We know the 99 (Carl Edwards) style, but we know he’s going to come from a long ways back.”

How important was your crew in qualifying? Kyle Busch: “This M&M’s team and everybody at JGR do such an awesome job. They gave me a great race car that ran three laps phenomenal and gave me great pit stops — they were solid on pit road and that’s all you need in this kind of deal. I was nervous as I ever was today. I guess it’s probably because if I knew, I would have screwed up just a little bit, which I thought I did coming to pit road, I would have got busted. Proud of the effort.”

Can you talk about your entry to pit road? Kyle Busch: “I don’t know, it was awfully, awfully close. I knew that if I could get it to the maximum limit and I had a spot in turn four where I was going to start braking at. My car was so much faster than it was in practice. We ran over a second faster lap time, so I was going faster. I just misjudged by a little bit. I guess I didn’t over misjudge, so it was pretty good.”

Well I’m going to get back to work here. Expect more when the garage opens. Take care….enjoy the afternoon. I have to admit I like the concept of a burnout contest – I’ll probably be right on pit road laughing my butt off while those boys burn the tires down.

Take care. Have fun today!

Claire B
XM Satellite Radio

All- Star Race – Lowe’s Motor Speedway