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Ty Pennington Joins Claire B. Lang on “Dialed In” Tonight! April 8, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season.
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Jeff Gordon’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Visit

Extreme makeover Home Edition’s Ty Pennington will join me tonight (Thursday, April 8th – 7:15 EST [time edited] p.m. EST ) LIVE on “Dialed In”. I’m mostly a news junkie and don’t watch much television since I’m always on the road or at a race track. I have a weakness for this show- mostly because it takes seemingly impossible situations that average folks find themselves in and it rewards them with help that they so desperately need. Most of the time the people who are chosen for the program look at life with a glass that is half full instead of half empty and despite being faced with major adversity find a way to help others and see life through a positive light. The fact that Jeff Gordon will be featured on this weekends’ installment of the ABC program (Episode will air SUNDAY, APRIL 11 -8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) brings it even closer to home. I want to find out about Jeff Gordon on the set, and although I get to interview a lot of celebrities in my job I have asked to interview Ty Pennington for quite some time, ever since I heard Gordon was going to do a segment. I’m looking forward to the interview tonight. Wonder if Ty Pennington is a race fan?

The challenge: On January 11, 2010, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” traveled to Loris, South Carolina – with race car driver Jeff Gordon as the celebrity volunteer — to meet Amanda and Derrick Suggs, a young couple who had just started their own family when they adopted Amanda’s younger siblings to keep them from being separated in foster care. When Derrick and Amanda got married, they moved into the home Derrick inherited from his grandfather, who built it in 1953. The home came with a long list of needed repairs: a leaking roof, outdated and exposed electrical wiring, rotting foundation and cracked asbestos siding. Did Jeff Gordon grab a hammer? Stay tuned.

Phoenix International Raceway Challenges
Longer race, day to night, spoiler, green-white-checkered, have at it!

The challenges of this race track are many. It’s the first Saturday night Sprint Cup race of the year. This weekend’s Sprint Cup Race here will be an additional 63 laps and miles up from 312. The new distance will be 375 laps/miles.

Some Notes:
-Sam Hornish had a career best PIR finish (9th) in last year’s spring event.
-It’s Brad Keselowski’s second acareer start at Phoenix here and he improved six positions in NSCS driver standings in the last two races. Crew chief Jay Guy says “The new car we are bringing to Phoenix is one of the lightest cars that we’ve produced to date and we’re excited to see how it races.”
-Phoenix was Ryan Newman’s first ever NASCAR start.
-It’s not a self-cleaning track, expect a lot of excitement when an accident happens
-This weekend kicks off a long stretch in the season where we don’t see a break until July. Teams need to stay prepared because if you get behind in this stretch it’s hard to make up.
-You need to be up on the wheel and really drive this track.
-It’s Carl Edwards 200th Career Sprint Cup Series Start. They’ve had very fast cars in the past at Phoenix but Carl has yet to win a Cup race here.
-Qualifying is key – it can be hard to pass at PIR
-This track combines the speed of some of the bigger tracks and some characteristics of short tracks. Some have said it’s a small superspeedway with long straightaways and really aggressive restarts.
-As soon as the sun goes behind the suites in turns one and two, the temperature really drops and the track gains quite a bit of grip. The sun and the track temperature will be an issue. Jeff Gordon says the sun entering turn one during qualifying will be an issue. “We only get two looks at it while trying to set a very quick time,” he says of qualifying here.
-Three of the 27 Sprint Cup races here at PIR have been won from the pole.
-In 15 Sprint Cup Series starts at Phoenix, Dale Earnhardt Junior has scored two wins, four top-five finishes and seven top 10’s. He has led 460 laps. The 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No 88-586. This is a brand new chassis that has never been tested or raced.
-Engineering Challenges: Howard Comstock, Dodge Motorsports Engineering says, “With the new longer distance and a new earlier starting time, teams will face two new engineering challenges at this year’s Subway Fresh Fit 600. The change from 500 K to 600K will mean new fuel strategies and concerns of brake attrition. The earlier the start time for this race creates a daytime to evening race environment that is always unique when you come to the desert and race.”

Everybody but Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson!
I’ve got the field…except Kurt, Kyle and Jimmie, oh my!

Jimmie Johnson’s average finish at Phoenix is 5.1, Mark Martin’s average finish here is 8.8, Jeff Gordon’s average finish here is 10.8, Kurt Busch’s is 12.0, Kyle Busch’s is 14.5.

I had Tom Busch on the air last night, the father of Kurt and Kyle. He talked about bringing young 13-year-old Kurt Busch to Phoenix on November 3 of 1991 to watch his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at this race track. “We got to go down into the pits before the race and I thought that was so cool,” said Kurt. “When they fired up the engines for the race it was something like I had never heard or seen before.” Hard to believe that just over 18 years later Kurt is one of the favorites to take him on here at Phoenix International Raceway. Busch is second to Jimmie Johnson in NASCAR’s “loop data” statistics for the four most recent seasons. For example, Johnson’s leading average running position here of 5.066 to Busch’s second place 8.063 and Johnson’s leading driver rating of 123.0 to Busch’s runner up 104.6 rating. Even with one fewer race (Kurt did not compete in the Nov 2005 race) Busch is still second in laps led leading 411 (14.6 percent) of the laps.

Somehow I convinced Tom Busch, just for fun of course, to take Kyle and Kurt to win here at Phoenix this weekend in the Sprint Cup Series race. I mean I wasn’t going to pry the man’s boys from his arms for a mere sporting bet. We threw out Jimmie Johnson (neither of us could pick him) but I have the rest of the field. How did I pull that one off? I had FOX analyst Jeff Hammond on the air as a guest last night and his choice to win, he said, would be someone unexpected – like a Marcos Ambrose or a David Reutimann. It should be an interesting weekend.

Is Running the Nationwide race a greater advantage here?
Paul Menard thinks so! ” I think that running the Nationwide race will be an even bigger advantage than usual this weekend,” Menard says. “The schedule for Friday is pretty tight and the Cup Series doesn’t get any practice during the part of the day we race. So, I’m sure (crew chief) Slugger Labbe will stick around for the Nationwide so both of us are able to get a good feel at to show the track will change during the course of the evening.” “The good thing for us is that Paul is running the Nationwide race, so he’ll be able to tell us how the track changed and we can be ready for it Saturday night,” says Labbe.

I’ll be on the air tonight (Thursday) 7-10 EST LIVE from Phoenix International Raceway on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio. Catch you then.

Claire B

STOP Stereotyping NASCAR Fans: NASCAR Fans and Starbucks November 13, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season.
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Starbucks logo
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Claire B. Lang, Phoenix International Raceway, November 13, 1:00 p.m. EST

I’m sick and tired, honestly of NASCAR fans being typecast. I live my life at NASCAR tracks and I look into the stands and walk with the crowds at the races and talk to fans on the air during my “Dialed In” show and they come from all walks of life, all incomes and yes, they do drink Starbucks.

Starbucks dips their corporate toe into NASCAR this weekend – with Starbucks and Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew logos on the TV Panel of the No. 1 Chevrolet driven by Martin Truex Jr., an associate sponsorship. In addition, a fleet of Starbucks branded golf carts will be combing the PIR property passing samples of Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew.

This associate sponsorship led Caleb Hannan who writes for Seattle Weekly to blog a story with the headline, “Attention Starbucks: NASCAR Fans Might Not Be In Your Target Market.” The story featured the back of a fat, hairy race fan with the #3 carved in the hair in his back and a caption that reads, “Dale Earnhardt’s biggest fan can’t start his day without a carmel Macchiato.” Of course the caption was tongue in cheek. Caleb who admits he has never been to a race, says that the few NASCAR fans he has befriended all looked alike, “White dudes with ball caps and empty Mountain Dew bottles half-filled with their Skoal backwash,” he writes. He says Starbucks might not be able to interest most NASCAR fans in the product they sell, and refers to the fact that $4 does not describe what NASCAR’s average fan might spend on a cup of coffee, but says since they love themselves some chew maybe they can use the Starbucks cups as spit receptacles.

I read Hannan’s blog and frankly – it really set me off. So I discussed it on air and asked for fan reaction. Whew, still getting emails today, and all from well-educated, smart , non-dipping NASCAR fans who want a piece of Hannan so they can tell him how uninformed he is on the NASCAR fan base.

Three hours of calls later, one of the final calls on my “Dialed In” show was from a trucker whose daughter runs a Starbucks. He said on Sundays they drag a big screen TV over to the local Starbucks and all gather there to watch the race.

I’m sick of references to NASCAR fans as if they are stupid -because they are not. They follow one of the most complicated sports in America with mechanical issues and rules that have been created to beat out the most brilliant of engineers. I have discussed this with engineers who came over from F1 who say that the engineers in NASCAR would rival the engineers in any auto sport in the world.

According to Marketing Research the average NASCAR fans has completed a higher level of education than the average American. Now I’m not saying some fans don’t fit the perception that some of America has of this sport’s fan base…but the NASCAR fan base is a cross section.

And that cross section called in to my radio show for three hours straight last night.

Below are some of the emails that I have received. I think they speak to folks like Caleb Hannan whose father is a race fan, but who has not backed up his story with any stats, interviews, background or information. He’s simply trying to pass is one sided bias from Seattle.

EMAILS :

I think its great that starbucks is going to be on a nascar car! Like a whole lot of your listeners I am a truck driver. I drink a lot of starbucks coffee but I’m not overweight or scruffy faced although I do have long hair. Anyway I think we should take this guy 1 of those 10 cent instant coffee machines like they have at a lot of shippers! Hell the way you described that pic he probably thinks earnhardt sr is still racing!

————-

Mmm. Starbucks. Good stuff.
V-ger

————-

It would be cool if you got the president of Starbucks on
I bet they know exactly what they are doing
I think it a smart move
Two big brands makes sense to me
Eugene needs to write for mad magazine

————

If NASCAR fans stopped drinking starbucks they would have to close more stores.

Rush
Va
———–
Claire B:

I am looking forward to getting the email address for the Seattle goober. I am really going to give him a piece of my mind. After spending 5 days in the campgrounds at Talladega, a small piece is all I can afford to. In a way he’s right. I don’t drink Starbucks, but I have been known to by a double espresso or a good friend of mine, who came rushing in off the road and had to go right on the air.

Heck Claire, I don’t drink coffee at all anymore. I gave up tobacco products going on 10 years ago. Some people just feel the need to bash the NASCAR nation. I think it’s a good idea to get this clown on your show and let him find out first hand how wrong he really is.

Your friend in speed
Dennis from Missouri
—————

………………….My wife and I live in North Central Nevada though my wife is originally from the Seattle area. Being as she still has family in the area we spend plenty of time in Seattle drinking ……. yes “Starbucks Coffee“. Oh by the way our entire family are all NASCAR fans.

I find it all rather ironic. The way I see it some 80 to 90 % of the NASCAR fan base makes more annually than this guy, as well they have been exposed to more culture than this guy will ever know. I do understand where he might get this impression though as many of us toothless, barefoot, moonshine run-n heathens travel thousands of miles to camp in a parking-lot in our quarter million dollar Coaches and RV’s just to watch a bunch of cars go around in a circle.

These days ignorance is no excuse for this kind blasphemy. The NASCAR Culture is like no other and is as broad as the world is wide. For this small minded simpleton to express himself and his Starbucks Coffee as somehow better than those of us who are the fans of NASCAR is a travesty. Ultimately I feel sorry for him and his small view of the world we live in.

Thank you,
Scott
……………………….

Claire my family are huge Nascar fans from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.For the past 8 years we’ve made the 2400 mile round trip to the August Michigan race.( Driving)
I was even chosen one of their “Fan of The month” contest winners for October 2006.
Over that time we have met some incredible people. One such couple we like to call the “4 rows over & 3 cars up” people. It seems every year we park in lot 11 our friends usually show up at our car within 1/2 hour. It”s like magic. There’s a huge parking lot but somehow we always manage to find each other.
In 2007 our Nascar friends invited my wife, son & myself to come visit them in Iowa the week before the race of which we accepted. No one knew what the other did for a living & the only common thread was theirs & our love for Nascar. I was shocked to find out my friend was an Attorney at Law. The way he was dressed there was no telling what he did. Turns out he is what I like to call a “weekend Redneck”. Beer & a tee shirt on the weekend & a business suit for the rest of the week. My wife is the same way. Business suit all week & race nut on the weekend. See even Canadians can be “Weekend Rednecks” & know what Clair we love it & wouldn’t have it any other way.

……………

Hey Claire,

Now that my blood pressure has returned to normal, I would like to elaborate on a couple of items regarding this “article?” in the Seattle paper.

Firstly, I certainly sure that a corporate giant like Starbucks would not invest time or money in a venture that would not be beneficial to their bottom line. To that end, many of your callers (self included) are big coffee drinkers, regardless of profession. Therefore, Starbucks’ step into NASCAR appears to be a nature fit. Here in Canada, many of my coffee buddies are dyed in wool “Tim Horton’s” drinkers, but their passion for the sport is none the less there. These fans included fellow provincial government employees, military personnel, truck drivers (both local & long haul), CPA’s and the list could go on forever. My point is that NASCAR appeals a very WIDE portion of the population.

Secondly, if this gentleman (and I’m trying to be polite!) was to actually step-up and face the fans, he would find his face covered with egg. Tom from Texas (or was it Mike from Cali) said he would be run out of town on a rail. Frankly, I really doubt that Mark (your producer) will convince him to get on air with you and the fans.

Thirdly, for him to say that NASCAR fans would not pay Starbucks’ prices is foolhardy. You know very well how far some of us travel to attend races. Las Vegas for my granddaughter and I is approximately a 3 DAY DRIVE (that’s one way because I’m the only driver, Alyssa is only 7)! Just getting off the island (Vancouver Island) the ferry costs are about $50 + each way. Add in accommodations, meals and GAS, and this calculates to about $1000 just to get there and then home again. Then there’s hotels, meals and tickets (not forgetting souvenirs) once we get there. $4.00 for a coffee seems pretty reasonable, don’t you think!!!!!!!!!!! (Needless to say, this is a once a year trip.)

Anyways, I will get off my “soap box” and will close for now. I would, however, like to say how much I enjoy the 128 Sirius NASCAR station. On my way to work and the drive home is made far more enjoyable because of Sirius. My best wishes to all and keep up the good work.

………………

Hi Claire,

I am going to search for that journalist’s contact info to let him know how ridiculous and ignorant is his narrow minded, uninformed and insulting view of NASCAR followers. I only caught a part of your show tonight but was totally outraged. I am one more example of everything that contradicts the NASCAR stereotype: I am an Assistant Principal with four college degrees (one at the graduate level and one post-graduate), working in a community that pays $33,000+ in school levy taxes alone. My salary is obviously not very chintzy, in the 6-figure range; and I am a NASCAR nut. My car has Tony Stewart personalized plates (2 DEGA), there is a big #14 on my rear window as well as a bumper sticker proclaiming myself a “Long Island Redneck.” I own and drive a high end RV and love nothing more than living on the road and tailgating on the infield. I can mingle at any black tie affair with a martini on one night and then hang around a campfire sucking down a longneck on the next. How dare this guy suggest that NASCAR fans are uneducated and Starbucks is above us. His article does nothing more but perpetuate the stereotype of how ignorant is the non-NASCAR fan as they have not clue to how intellectually stimulating is our sport.

Thank you for this opportunity to vent. Thank you, too, for another great show!

Sincerely,
Michele
…………….

I drink starbucks am a 35 year NASCAR fan

Daland

…………………

On behalf of all humans who love Nascar I would like to invite the seattle weekly human to the woodshed for a cup of Starbucks with a lot of Happy Jack in it. Ie. Jack Daniels. Lol
Respectfully
Jeff
Grand Rapids MN
…………..

Hey claire i’am clean a trucker and a NASCAR fan i refuse to pay for coffee at truck stop but I will spend money on a STARBUCKS.Tony TX
……………

Kaleb. Put down the Seattle Best coffee. Borrow some money and buy a cup of Starbucks. Take a drink and wake up and smell the coffee. If you had been drinking Starbucks you’d be awake during the races to be able to actually write something of truth about our sport. Any new sponsor in Nascar is awsome. It even helps expand our fan base. It is the perfect TARGET MARKET for Starbucks. What we save on ticket prices compared to NFL or MLB or NBA we can buy STARBUCKS. And lots of it. Many fans already do. Don't write about things you don't understand. We have all colors and nationalities of fans. Not just white rednecks. Wake up Idiot. Why don't you go write about something more up your alley like SLUG RACING ON SALT FLATS. I really hope your computer gets a virus and melts. Sincerly a very pissed off TRUE FAN of Nascar. Chris in Montana. Thanks for letting me vent Claire B.

……………

And the emails keep coming in. I’ll post more.

What’s your take?

Claire B

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Welcome to Phoenix! April 17, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Trackside.
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PF Chang's Signboard
Image by Alaivani via Flickr

It’s absolutely beautiful here today. Here’s my broadcast schedule for this weekend. It’s a crazy short weekend with everything scheduled so tightly and we’re all rushing from one thing to another here in the media center and garage. .

I’m on the air tonight (Friday April 17) for “Dialed In” LIVE from the media center at Phoenix from the end of Sprint Cup Qualifying (Qualifying begins at 7:00 p.m. EST) to the start of the Basha’s Supermarkets Nationwide race (coverage on MRN Radio heard on Sirius NASCAR Radio).

Tomorrow – “Dialed In” will air from 2:00 EST to the start of the SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Pre Race Show at 4:46 p.m. EST at which time I will be in the booth and Steve Post in the garage for the pre race show. Following the Sprint Cup Series Race (Subway Fresh Fit 500) and following the race I’ll be in Victory Lane for the post race show.

Kasey Kahne – like clockwork!

I never miss a PF Changs visit near my hotel in Peoria Thursday evening near the sports complex and neither does Kasey Kahne. When I got off the air last night I stopped by PF Changs for a late dinner and, once again, there was Kasey and a group of his buddies seated at the adjacent table. It seems every year at Phoenix when I arrive at PFC – there is Kasey. The wait staff gets pretty excited because they know he will be there. A woman at the next table with a cute little toddler kept passing Kasey things to sign – the baby’s block , the babies bottle – I was waiting for them to pass the baby over for a signature. The waiter had a sharpie ready to hand to the family while Kasey ate. The young family thanked Kasey and then exited with a baby bag full of signed merchandise. Kasey, who is always great with signing for fans, was extremely accommodating, as always.

Kahne is currently 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points standings, 112 points behind fifth place Tony Stewart. He’s got an average start of 12th and an average finish of 21st here at PIR. Tonight (Friday night) Kahne will be on hand for the “Grand Opening” of PIR’s New Budweiser ROLL-BAR. Tickets to the Budweiser ROLL-BAR can be purchased on line at http://www.phoenixraceway.com or on the phone at 1-866.408.RACE).

Matt Kennseth – Doesn’t think anyone knows for sure the status of McMurray team – assumes the out team will move across the street to Yates.

Matt Kennseth is on the podium right now….talking to media here in the media center. . “I don’t know and I don’t know that anyone knows what’s going to happen or how they are going to move that team or whatever,” Kennseth is saying. “But with the Yates Racing Team being right across the street and sharing an engineering department – car builds are the same, engine departments the same you know really those guys are really two more team mates so I imagine and I don’t know I imagine that whatever team has to move out of Roush under the new four team cap that goes into affect next year…I would assume it would just go to the Yates team and it really wont change that much.”

I have to get out in the garage I’ll have more for you later.

Enjoy the day!

Claire B

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Race Day – November 9, 2008 November 9, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, In The Garage, NASCAR, Teams, Transcripts.
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Blog – Phoenix International Raceway
Race Day – November 9, 2008
Claire B Lang

Brian France – NASCAR Chairman and CEO Q and A with the media heart at Phoenix pre-race today:

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France came into the media center for Q and A’s this morning. We were given about a ten minute notice and told we could ask anything. The topic of conversation revolved around the economy and the stress on NASCAR with the tough economic times with the auto manufacturer’s being in dire straights.

France said NASCAR is not immune to a tough economy but the sanctioning body is working at trying to understand what the partners are going through and how it relates back to the team owners and teams.

I asked him about what Rusty Wallace said here Friday in an interview about the Nationwide car of tomorrow (COT):

Here’s what Rusty said:

Rusty Wallace: “Unfortunately I think that NASCAR is going to put a rule out that we are going to go to the (Nationwide) car of tomorrow and a lot of people will say we’re NOT going to do it. Under this economy and as hard as it is to find sponsors you simply can’t take 21 cars and throw them all away with nobody finding any sponsors. Right now is the wrong time to do that.”

CBL to Brian France: “Rusty Wallace …yesterday said he though that some Nationwide teams might refuse to run the Nationwide Car of Tomorrow or that the cost was just too much. Can you maybe talk about whether that is a reality or not and whether you intend to continue the Nationwide Car of Tomorrow program?”

Brian France answer: “Well we’re not there with deciding that the COT is going to appear in the Nationwide series. What we said is that the Nationwide series will evolve and it needs more of its own identity quite frankly. It has a new sponsor in Nationwide and we’re going to do a number of things that we need to do to keep reestablishing – it’s the number two motorsports series in the US. And I certainly heard those discussions… We do an unprecedented amount of background and working with the team owners before we make any significant moves. We’ve done that on my watch the last five years – more so than we’ve ever done. So the car of tomorrow was as an example two or three years of discussions. Mike and I both led those respectively. We met with every team owner, every crew chief, multiple engineers. We heard all the issues. We didn’t just make a decision in six months. We took a long time to do that. We got an unprecedented amount of feedback. That’s what we will do on any major initiative. The difference is we’re not going to stand up here each week and announce the progress report on that. But that is the progress report for significant rules that affect them.

France had a lot to say- mainly that NASCAR is meeting with not only the manufacturers but also the TV partners related to ad revenue and looking and continuing to look at cutting costs that might help the teams, manufacturers and partners. He said that if a manufacturer pulled out of NASCAR, which he doesn’t think will happen, the sport could survive.

Ray Evernham- What’s Next?

It is not a shocker that word is out that Ray Evernham would look at selling his share in Gillette Evernham Motorsports as he investigates where his passion for racing will take him.

I spoke with Ray this (Sunday) morning and I am including the full transcript for you. Because, unless you hear all of what he says – it might be easy to miss the point.

CBL: Ray it’s not a surprise that you are looking at these options and at pulling back:

“Quite honestly we’d been working in this direction. As I said I’m enjoying TV, I’m enjoying helping the Gillette family and it’s something that you know I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I want to slow down a lot. I’ve been having a good time with Ray Jay and doing a lot of different things. With that said I still have commitments to Gillette Everham. I am on the board – I’m still a minority owner but I’m just not as actively involved as I was. So – you know Mr. Gillette is a guy that knows how to win championships. I mean right now he owns the winningest hockey franchise in history so the best way I can assist him the way I can and kind of stay out of the way.

CBL: So what would you like fans to understand as they read about you and chat about this on the internet:

“I’ve had a great career and I really appreciate the fans and I appreciate – I have been really blessed to have been able to do everything that I’ve done in the sport. But there also comes a time – you know like as did Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace and I thought Mark Martin or Bill Elliott you know people want to walk away a little bit not totally. It’s just time for me to do that. I have had a good run but nothing lasts forever. So I would hope that people would look at me and say, ‘wow this guy has been good for the sport.’ I feel like I’ve brought a lot of innovations. I think that we did a great job bringing Dodge back when you look at overall what was going on and helped with a lot of charities, done a lot of different things and have always tried to give back to the sport. I’m going to continue to do that through the grass roots programs. I’m working with short tracks, I’m working with kids, I’m doing all those things to try and help short track racing across America. So, there’s not always some big conspiracy when somebody just wants to slow down a little bit. This has been part of a long term plan. I have said over and over again that at some point the business side of this sport was going to grow much bigger than a) either I was capable of doing or wanted to do. And I think it’s reached that right now. I think it’s going to take people that are as powerful as George Gillette, Rick Hendrick and guys like that to continue to grow it. At this point in my life right now I want to enjoy racing again. I don’t want the stress. I don’t want to have to listen to family worried about all the stuff that is being written on the internet. I’m a racer, I’ve always been a racer. I started my career as a racer and hopefully I can end it that way.

Again, I made a 10 year commitment to Dodge you know and then certainly now – next year will be the ninth year of it. But we’ve had a great run a great partnership. RIght now, the economy is making people change and do things and what not and it’s just best for me to be in a position where I can help. Because if I thought I could engineer the redesign of something of a company I would have done that but right now I’m not at that point in my life.

When will you pull out totally?
We don’t know. Right now my plan is not for me to be totally out of it for a while. It’s just a matter of how much George (Gillette) needs me to do and what exactly we are going to do.

I’ve visited a lot of short tracks. I’m looking at helping some of the diversity programs I am working with some people to do that. I’m looking at purchasing a short track in North Carolina. We’re doing a lot of different things to get back to the grass roots to see now again – you’ve gotta be able to give something back. When you look at Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and guys like that you know they are at the point in their career where they are looking at giving back. I’ve always said – I ‘ve been on the diversity council with NASCAR before and I’ve always said that I would love to be able to help where I work with people like Ingersol Rand and Stanley Tools and all those people. We’re going to be looking at doing programs around various vocational schools to get kids involved in racing. I want to have a little bit of fun and hopefully transfer some of the knowledge and give somebody the opportunity that people gave me

Everybody reaches a point where it’s time to retire you know. Whether you are at any sport – and I don’t know that I’m 100 percent at that point in my life but you know I’m 51, not 21 you know there’s a big difference.”

JACK ROUSH:
Pick your friends as carefully as you do your enemies
Which does Jack Roush like least – Toyota or Ron Hornaday? Answer Toyota

When Ron Hornaday crashed in Friday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race here at Phoenix Jack Roush sent some of his guys over to help repair the truck. Hornaday was really touched. “I had more tears in my eyes to see them guys working on that truck,” he said. But – why did Jack send his guys to help? Below is Roush’s answer

Jack Roush:
“Well the thing about Hornaday is that he’s Drew Blickensderfer’s father in law. And so every time Hornaday has run into one of our guys – in the truck series which has happened repeatedly Drew has paid the price. I’ve thrashed him pretty hard for it and so I felt that I owed Drew that (Friday) night since we had capacity – we had fabricators and we didn’t have anything involved in the wreck. Kevin Harvick flagged me down when he was in the Nationwide car ready to qualify and I had walked up to watch one of our guys qualify on the line before they went on pit road. He flagged me over and he wanted to thank me and he did thank me and I appreciate that. I said, ‘Don’t misunderstand, I do NOT like Ron Hornaday. I don’t want anybody to get that impression but he was definitely the lesser of the evils that I was confronted with. You need to pick your friends as carefully as you pick your enemies and I had a chance to define some space there and I think I made the right call.'”

The Politics In Racing – JGR Gibbs Racing’s #11 team:
Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin made a comment here at Phoenix as he talked with reporters about the chemistry on his race team. Interesting – read closely what he said –

Do you feel like a little shake up with the team management on the No. 11 car would give you a fresh start for 2009?
“I don’t know. I think we know what our problems are. It’s just real political in the shops. It really is. Just because we know what we want to fix within our race team, there’s other departments, there’s other heads of departments that have been there a long time that think maybe there’s a better way to do it than the way we’re doing it. It’s tough to say. A lot falls on Mike Ford’s (crew chief) shoulders to go out there and help this car perform. I think he’s done a great job of that. I’m behind him, I really think that Mike’s one of the best crew chiefs in the garage with the things he has to work with, I guess you can say. We’re trying to do everything we can and we’re not performing the way we were at the beginning of the year. The No. 18 team isn’t performing the way they were at the beginning of the year. As a team we have to get better. I think to do that we’re going to have to have everyone within that race shop be a little bit more open-minded.”

Roush Driver -Jamie McMurray Pops the Question:
“She Said Yes!”

Jamie McMurray is engaged. After qualifying second for Sunday’s race he said the week was special for another reason. In the media center he gave all the details…..

McMurray: It’s been a really exciting week for me, getting engaged – what about that? That’s pretty exciting stuff, huh? So, it’s been a fun week.” DID SHE SAY YES? “Yeah. Actually, what her words were, ‘Are you kidding? Are you serious?’ ‘Yeah, I’m serious. What are you thinking?’ So, to come here, it’s cool. Qualified second here before and on like the fifth lap I had something on the grille and had to pit, and hopefully Sunday will go better.” WHERE AND HOW DID YOU PROPOSE? “Actually, I did it at the Phoenician, at the hotel here in town. Christy and I stayed there, three and a half years I’ve known her, so every year we’ve stayed there. Did it after the race on Sunday, we got back and went and hung out and went and had dinner and went back to the room. I had it planned out, and I really didn’t get nervous, but I wanted to wait another day, and I’m, like, ‘I can’t wait another day. I’ve got to do this right now.’ It was cool. We’ve had so much fun this week. It’s exciting for me because it’s certainly a big deal to find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, but to see, Christy’s been glowing, that’s been so cool to me to see how excited that she’s been. I think she likes me.” WHAT DAY? “Monday, November 3rd.” WHAT’S CLICKED ON FOR YOU? JUST CIRCUMSTANCE? “I don’t know. I was just talking to the engineer about that in the trailer, and our cars have been very good over the last, like, three months. We’ve been a lot faster the second half of the year; things just haven’t worked out – whether you just got caught up in accidents, things have just clicked. There’s been a little more fortune on the race track. They just have made really good adjustments to my car, and I think I’ve probably been a little better driver explaining what I’m feeling. When we unloaded at Texas, you kind of know the tone of your weekend when you run your first few laps, like if it drives good we can work on this or you have weekends where you think, “We’ll never get this right,’ and at Texas we unloaded and I thought, “This is going to be tough.’ And we came into the garage and made we made a few adjustments and I pulled back out and I’m like, ‘There you go. It feels great again.’ So, they just have done a really good job of being pretty methodical on the adjustments, and they seem to work.” DID YOU GET ON A KNEE WHEN YOU PROPOSED? “Yeah, I was pretty nervous. I did. Yeah, I got on my knee. Christy and I have been together for so long that it’s weird when you’re talking to your friend. You picture that as a child, I think, doing that, and you don’t know what the person looks like, but we’re sitting there, and I’m, like, ‘Gosh, this is my best friend.’ I kind of felt corny. Do I have to get on my knee? Because I’m certainly not Romeo, by any means, you know? Not even close.”

    Drivers Meeting:

Pit Road Speed: 45 MPH
Caution Car Speed: 50 MPH
Pit Road Speed Begins: 250 feet before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed Ends: 105 feet past the last pit box
Minimum Speed: 31.87 Seconds

Time to go out to the grid. More later – stay tuned.
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Enjoy the day.

Claire B

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