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Unwritten NASCAR Rules…… September 14, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Controversy, Drivers, NASCAR, Trackside.
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Claire B. Lang – New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008
There are a set of unwritten rules in NASCAR – amongst the drivers and the crew members and one of them, I think, played out on Saturday after the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race as team members from two teams fought. David Starr was confronted inside his car on the grid after the race by a crew member from another team. Anyone who knows me knows how much I respect the NASCAR crew members and how much I work to tell their story as well as that of the drivers. However, I can see why Starr drew his fist and used it.

My understanding has always been that the cockpit of a guy’s race machine, car or truck, is his sanctuary and it’s his area. For another driver to come up and pull him out would be setting up for a fight – and I think all drivers would agree to that. For a crew member from another team to go to a driver’s vehicle and grab or confront him- is beyond an unwritten rule – it’s fighting time. In an argument about racing – the crew member and driver are not on the same level. It’s driver to driver and even then there are set areas of acceptable confrontation. David Starr immediately drew his fist – and used it after he was pulled from his truck angered that a crew member would pull him out of his vehicle. In the NASCAR Sprint cup garage today I talked with crew members and drivers about the unwritten rule and the above is how they saw it exactly.

Members of several teams said that they are not even to confront another driver – or ask him why he did something verbally and that the level of pulling another driver out of his vehicle would definitely result in them being fired. The team haulers of the 48 and the 18 teams are parked next to each other in the garage here. The team guys said to me that they get along really well and that if their drivers got in a fight they would not think it was their place to get involved in it…unless a driver came to their pit area- and then that is their turf. What happened violated an unwritten rule. You fight for your team – you’d do anything for your team – but a crew member does not confront a driver. It’s just not how it’s done because the argument was between two drivers. That, despite the fact that the team guys build the cars and trucks and have a lot invested themselves. So, there will be much said about this. I likened it to someone coming up to a guy in a bar and flicking his cowboy hat or baseball cap off. There’s something about that that every guy knows is so over the line that it is violating a “guy” unwritten rule.In this case the crew member violated a driver unwritten rule. He went over the line – and Starr reacted. So, does star get punished for the punch? Does the crew member get fired? “When a crew member comes to a driver and wants to fight…man that driver needs to kick the tar out of him,” Joe Nemechek told me after the drivers’ meeting. “That’s wrong, that’s the worst thing that can ever happen.”Nemechek said that additionally, “In my opinion that crew member should be fired from his team and banned from NASCAR.”

Drivers Meeting:
The drivers’ meeting was over and the prayer was said. No questions were asked but the doors were locked and no one was allowed out. We were waiting for a “special guest” who was, of course, US Senator and presidential candidate John McCain. He came into the drivers’ meeting with the media corps that follows him on the campaign trail. The media who were ushered in looked confused being in a steamy and humid drivers’ meeting garage with the drivers and crew chiefs prior to this race with McCain. McCain thanked the group in the drivers’ meeting for supporting the US Military – and the men and women who are serving…”I thank you, they thank you and God Bless America,” was the basic message McCain delivered. He received a standing ovation from those in attendance at the drivers’ meeting.

Crew Chief Handout Info from Drivers’ Meeting:

Pit Road Speed today: 45 mphCaution Car Speed: 50 mph
Pit Road Speed begins: 185 feet before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed ends: 75 feet past the last pit box
Minimum Speed: 33.93 seconds

The race may be influenced by the weather. Let’s hope not. We’ve been soaked all morning and it’s supposed to clear up so – let’s go racing and stay racing through the completion of the entire race.

I’ll keep you posted Claire B



***REMINDER “Dialed In with Claire B Lang” will air 3-6 ET beginning Monday, Sept 15th XM Channel 148 (not 144)

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POSTCard from Dover May 31, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, Fun Stuff, In The Garage.
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Dover International Raceway
POST-Card -Saturday – May 31, 2008
dover monster

Scott Speed Rocks the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Garage!!
Welcome to Saturday afternoon at Dover! It’s so funny – I interviewed Scott Speed yesterday on my XM “Dialed In” show and he told me about his blue- tipped pedicure. I asked him to take his socks and shoes off and show me right then and there. He had the French pedicure with blue tips on the top of each of his toe nails. Wild! I laughed so hard I almost fell off the chair. Here’s a transcript:
ScottSpeed
CBL: You’re way different than anyone else in the garage!
SPEED: Yea – I mean I don’t know many guys who got a pedicure before they came here!
CBL: What? You take your shoes off and show me! He’s got striped socks. (laughter)
SPEED: (Showing CBL his toes) How awesome are those?
CBL: Why did you get the blue tips on them? (laughter)
SPEED: Ahh- just because I guess. They look cool I mean – You gotta take yourself lightly (laughing)
CBL: I can guarantee you that if you do kick some butt (today) they’ll be left with a little blue nail polish on.
SPEED: It just makes it worse for them. If they’ve got a guy beating them with blue nail polish tips on his feet – it makes it harder to deal with on Monday.
CBL: Can I just say thanks for showing me those.
SPEED: Hey no problem

The funny thing is that Speed went on to win the darn race. I got so many OMG emails on that one –fans enjoyed it. Here’s the part that cracks me up: In the garage after the Speed interview and before the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race I talked with a few other NCTS drivers. They joked that if Speed won- they’d have to paint their toe nails for the same kind of luck. They were kidding, of course, because they never thought Speed would win the race here in Dover. LOL on that one.

Mike Skinner:
SKINNER: I gotta find out who is giving Scott Speed all these pedicures and manicures and stuff. Obviously it’s working, he keeps moving up the charts every week you know Doug and those guys are giving them awfully fast stuff – I am starting to get a little jealous.
CBL: Maybe you should try it. Have you ever?
SKINNER: I am going to. We’re talking about – we’re going to show up somewhere – we haven’t figured it out yet. I’m going to wear those glasses and some of that outfit and get my toe nails done and stuff. He’s going to wear Justin boots and a cowboy hat and we’re going to confuse the whole NASCAR world!

Johnny Benson:
BENSON: Well -I mean his trucks blue so that would have been the color I would have went with. Maybe with my truck I should go with Red. Scott is just sooo funny. What you see with him here maybe doing interviews and out this and that is totally different than him in the truck and it’s totally hilarious…..I have enjoyed hanging out with him – but I did NOT get a pedicure with him….Apparently I have to get on the band wagon here or something.
CBL: Well if he wins or something you’ll run right and get one right?
BENSON: Well yea – there’s some weird stuff that happens if you win so if he goes out and wins there will be a lot of guys going out and doing it (a pedicure) I’m sure. (laughter).

Speed won. He gave short one-word answers after the win on the broadcast. He was more talkative in the media center after the race.

“Well, to be honest, whether we win or not, it doesn’t really affect my confidence. I don’t let results control how I feel about myself. I said a thousand times, I mean, today we had a good strategy and we had an awesome truck. We got everything we could out of it. But if our truck was a fifth-place truck and we did the race and finished fifth I’d be just as happy with myself. Hats off to the team. They are really the ones that won this race. I’m pretty confident that anyone in this truck the last 50 laps of this race after the pit stop would have done the exact same thing. So, for me, I’m learning step by step. It’s going to be a long process. I mean just to have the experience to know what to do on the trucks or on the cars when I go to the COT. You can’t just learn it right away. It’s something you have to feel and you have to learn and the learning curve that I’ve had is amazing. I’ve learned a ton every time I go out on the track for a race I definitely come away with a lot of feeling, a lot of experience and knowledge. I’m certainly looking forward to continuing on and looking forward to my first Cup race but I’m not in any rush. I’m having the time of my life just coming over here and trying to learn this sport. And it’s awesome. Red Bull has given me an incredible opportunity to do this and my hat’s off to them. Without them none of this would have been possible.” HORNADAY SAID HE HAD AN ENGINE PROBLEM AT THE END OF THE RACE. DID YOU HAVE ANYTHING FOR HIM IF HE DIDN’T HAVE THAT PROBLEM? WERE YOU WORRIED ON THE RESTARTS? “It’s hard to say. He took four tires at the beginning so we expected him to be quite a bit stronger than he was. It really didn’t take much to pull away from the field so it wouldn’t surprise me if someone did have a problem. That’s how it plays out and that’s why I said it’s not this win that has made me feel great about myself because it just happens. It’s circumstance. Today it was our day.”

Several competitors told me that while Speed is low-key and almost calm and non-competitive out of the truck with comments about savoring meals and living the European life style – he’s just as competitive – with just as much racing edge as the rest of the drivers once he straps the helmet on.

Speed is definitely fun to hang out with. I never laughed so hard-during the interview I had with him. He’s a little off the beaten path – ok at times way off the path from the norm in the truck garage. That mix of drivers on the track makes things even more interesting.

Just don’t be surprised if a few NASCAR Crafstman Truck Series drivers have pedicures hidden under their fireproof racing shoes in the coming weeks.

They’ll do anything for luck.

It’s raining here…practice delayed. Now Nationwide back on the track.

More later –
Enjoy the day!

Claire B
XM Satellite Radio