jump to navigation

Hello from Talladega April 24, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Live Show, Trackside.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
3 comments

Hi all! Hope your day is going well. My broadcast schedule for this weekend – is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Gordon on Aggressiveness at Talladega:

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

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

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

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

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

Phoenix International Raceway- Rear View Mirror

Stewart’s Eyes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Did alright, got 5-points $56”

“Blew up, second lap, no points,”

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

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

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

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

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

“I got run over by the #7 on purpose”

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

“28 put me in the mud hole”

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

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

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

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

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

The challenges were there and Mark Martin persisted.

Now, he’s just getting started.

Look out!

Enjoy the day.

Claire B.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Bristol Motor Speedway Blog- August 23, 2008 August 23, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, NASCAR, Teams, Trackside.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Bowyer's 2007 car.Image via Wikipedia Hi all – Welcome to Bristol Motor Speedway! Sorry I’ve not blogged more – these two days are, seemingly, the fastest in motorsports. Thank you for all your kind emails and instant messages. I wish that all of you could be here to be a part of this race event. It’s one of the special races on the circuit and the fans are charged up – but with the two-race, two day schedule it’s fast paced. I just got back from the Wypall stage where I emceed interview sessions with crew chiefs from across the Sprint Cup Series and in between I went up to emcee Chevy hospitality with Regan Smith (starts 4th) .

I have to say I’m impressed with that kid. He and I talked about how he needs a nickname to differentiate him from David Ragan (starts 27th) and he told me that a couple of his team guys were working on that but they haven’t come up with it yet. I told him maybe my listeners could help – he liked the idea so start thinking. His middle name is Lee by the way.

I have had emails from some of you looking for information on the announcement today on the fourth driver for RCR – so here are the details.
RCR Names Drivers for ’09 Jack Daniel’s & General Mills Programs

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 23, 2008) — Richard Childress Racing announced today that Casey Mears will drive for its No. 07 Jack Daniel’s® team and Clint Bowyer will move to its new No. 33 Cheerios®/Hamburger Helper® team for the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

With focus on having all three current RCR teams making the 2008 Chase for the Championship, RCR will continue its on-going process of evaluating team performance throughout the year to determine the crew chief, engineer and crew member lineups for the 2009 season.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve RCR and feel strongly that this driver lineup will improve our company as a whole with our move to four teams next year,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. “These changes will continue to raise the bar and we have every intention of getting all four teams into the Chase in 2009 with the ultimate goal of one of our teams winning the championship. RCR is very fortunate to have partners like Jack Daniel’s, Shell-Pennzoil and AT&T, in addition to new sponsors Cheerios, Hamburger Helper and Caterpillar, that work with us and support our making the competition decisions necessary to provide them with the best on-track performance possible.”
ears will join RCR for his seventh season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. The Bakersfield, Calif., native earned a dramatic victory in the 2007 Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and also has three poles to his credit.

“This is a great opportunity and I’m honored to become part of both the Jack Daniel’s family and the RCR family,” said Mears. “Richard Childress and everyone at Jack Daniel’s have put a lot of faith in me to continue the winning tradition that’s been established by the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s team over the last couple of years and I look forward to the chance to live up to those expectations.”

Jack Daniel’s® has been a primary sponsor partner of RCR since its first year of involvement in NASCAR in 2005. The Jack Daniel’s Distillery, located in Lynchburg, Tenn., is the oldest registered distillery in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We thank our friend Clint Bowyer for all of his efforts to bring Jack Daniel’s and our responsibility message to the forefront. We remain committed to Clint and are excited to watch him race his way in to the Chase in the No. 07 and vie for a 2008 Championship,” said Tim Rutledge, VP, Brand Director, Jack Daniel’s Americas. “We look forward to providing our support to Casey Mears, the Jack Daniel’s Racing team, and our responsibility message in 2009. Casey is a seasoned veteran that is primed for great success in the No. 07 in 2009.”

Bowyer, the current leader in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings, made his Cup Series debut in 2005 and has been with RCR since 2004 when he ran a partial Nationwide Series schedule. The Emporia, Kan., native has earned two victories and two poles since being named the full-time driver of the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet for the 2006 season.

“I’m proud to be joining the General Mills family,” said Bowyer. “Cheerios and Hamburger Helper are brands my family and I grew up with. General Mills is a great sponsor and has been in NASCAR for many years. I look forward to driving the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet Impala SS to victory lane.

“At the same time, I have to thank Jack Daniel’s for taking a chance on a rookie Cup Series driver and giving my career a great platform to build on. My focus now is to get into the Chase and again compete for the championship.”

The 2009 season will mark General Mills’ 13th year of sponsorship involvement in NASCAR. Based in Minneapolis, Minn., General Mills is one of the world’s leading food companies.

“We are thrilled to welcome Clint as our new driver,” said Pat Simmons, Vice President of Customer Marketing for General Mills. “Clint is a top-tier competitor. His performance on and off the track fit with the family-friendly values that Cheerios and Hamburger Helper are known for. We’re excited to build a winning partnership with RCR and Clint Bowyer.”

————————————–

It was an interesting news conference. Clint was most positive about giving up the Jack Daniels sponsorship for General Mills – but initially it seems hard to associate Bowyer with a cereal and easier to associate him with Jack Daniels. Boyer is a team player, that is obvious, and he understands that to have a sponsor and a ride with RCR is something that is enviable and that there are many racers across the country who would trade places with him in a skinny minute. Bowyer gets this – and he’s doing what he’s been asked to do for the good of RCR. Knowing Richard Childress – he won’t forget it.

More later…enjoy the day

Claire B

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

SATURDAY INDY BLOG July 26, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, NASCAR.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two drivers have ...Image via WikipediaClaire B.log – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
July 26, 2008

It’s been too long since I’ve written and I’m sorry I’ve been on the run. I’ve been on the road trip of a lifetime back to the midwest broadcasting from Chicago to Wisconsin, seeing family, and then off to Indy.

Friday at Indy was insane – there were so many interesting stories developing. Tony Stewart’s news conference across the street from the track kicked off the day and the action didn’t stop for a second until air time. Between Rusty saying that Ryan Newman was fired by Roger Penske to Ryan denying it strongly to Jack Roush omitting Jamie McMurray’s name when mentioning the drivers who were secure with him – well it was a wild day.

I’m here in the media center now overlooking the track and I’m about to head down to pit road for qualifying – I will have more for you when that gets done but I wanted to write a few things before I headed down to the grid.

Everyone’s talking about what Mark Martin said about racing here. Was it a guarantee of a win here at Indy this weekend or just confidence. Here’s the Mark Martin quote:

“I’m planning on winning the Brickyard in the 8 car. We’ve got the stuff, we’ve got the team, the cars are awesome on the flat tracks – Phoenix and Richmond and I have never planned on anything any more than my plan is for the Brickyard. That’s the crown jewel and if you look at how that car ran at Phoenix – I believe that we can adapt that set up to work there and make that — ah the team is strong enough on pit road and Tony Gibson and those guys who work on that car are due a win. You know they got several disappointments last year when they had great race cars and had failures and what have you. Nothing would make me happier than to see their face in victory lane.”

Anyone who knows Mark Martin knows that is quite the statement. But later – yesterday when asked about his statement (above) – Mark Martin said this:

MARK MARTIN: I’m not sure I said exactly what you guys take and run with. I’m not sure I did a Mohammed Ali. You know, I do feel very confident that we’ll have a car here that will be strong enough to be a contender to win this race. I might say that every week – maybe. But, you know, believing it deep down inside I usually know that’s a bigger challenge than it might be here this week.

I believe that you can run the same stuff here that you can run at Phoenix. And I believe that we had the fastest car on the racetrack at Phoenix. It’s that simple.

My translation is that while Mark is confident – his first statement earlier was not a guarantee of a win – which some of the headlines read his statement as saying. It was just confidence in his team and his car and a strong desire to turn that into a win.

Kevin Harvick had a few interesting comments yesterday. I laughed loud when he answered a reporter asking him about the excitement of racing here at Indy. LOL:

Reporter: DO YOU AGREE WITH ALL THAT HAS BEEN WRITTEN AND SAID ABOUT THE RACING NOT BEING AS EXCITING AS IN THE PAST WITH THIS NEW CAR AND WON’T ALLOW FOR ANY SIDE-BY-SIDE RACING HERE AT IMS? Kevin Harvick: “That is why I don’t read anything you guys write or talk about. (LAUGHS) I try not to pay attention to people who don’t necessarily understand how our sport works. I think the races have been as good as races as we have had in a long time at Daytona, Chicago. I think in the garage, everybody is getting a better handle on the car. I don’t there has ever been any side-by-side racing here. The opinions come from a lot of people who really don’t understand the sport. Unfortunately, some of our amateur fans that haven’t attended a lot of races, have to the read that stuff and get kind of a false opinion of what they should expect when they come to this particular race track. This track promotes single-file racing, not necessarily this car. You can take an Indy car, you can take a stock car and you are not going to run side-by-side. If you want to blame something for single file racing, I would blame it on the track and not the car

And KH’s answer on a question about the engine modifications in the Nationwide series:

Reporter: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ENGINE RULE CHANGE MADE IN NATIONWIDE SERIES? Kevin Harvick: “When is the Truck Series rule coming? (LAUGHS) If you look at most of the engine stuff that they have from all the other types of race tracks, I think, it is pretty evident that the No. 18 was on the chip and doing a lot of things after the race that probably affected those chassis dyno numbers and the No. 20 car went high right off the bat so I think they did the right

Clint Boyer had an interesting note as well – his about how they have been running about him being in the rumor mill and his being discovered by Richard Childress:

Reporter: EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT HOW YOU GOT YOUR BIG BREAK IN THIS SPORT, RC (RICHARD CHILDRESS) WATCHING THE ARCA RACE AND EVERYTHING. GIVING THERE’S NO SCOUTING, NOTHING LIKE WE SEE IN THE NFL, HOW MUCH OF MAKING IT IS TIMING AND LUCK AND JUST BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE? Clint Bowyer: “It is a lot timing and luck. You only get one shot at it unfortunately. I’ve seen a lot of guys get an opportunity that I thought they’re going to set the world on fire and for whatever reason didn’t rise to the occasion and racing late models or dirt cars whatever their background was they were the heat. Then it got to that opportunity to where maybe it wasn’t the right opportunity. Things went wrong. It’s seems like if you’re not running good in those first couple of races you’re pushed by the wayside pretty quick. It’s unfortunate. Sometimes guys come in so far behind in experience they don’t even get a chance to showcase their talent. Unfortunate but it is a very competitive, very close form of racing in any sport. It’s hard to get inside and then we get so much experience, so much seat time inside the car with testing, practice, racing Nationwide, racing cup you’re just in the car so much a new kid that grew up racing late models, it’s hard for him to catch up to that.”

YOU ARE 13TH RIGHT NOW, BAD LUCK IT SEEMS, ARE YOU HURTING REALLY?
Clint Boyer: “We’re not running well. We took a step backwards. We really did. We started out this season with seven straight top-10’s, more than anybody at the time. We won at Richmond and then the bottom fell out. The short tracks have been well for us. We’re running good. It’s the 1.5-mile tracks that have really, really been the dagger right now and we’re trying to figure it out. We’re working harder than we ever have testing. We don’t have the answer right now. It doesn’t fall in your lap. It’s due to hard work, what got us here and the hard work is going to get us out of this slump. It’s definitely crunch time, we’ve got to get going. Top-10’s are what will put you there, but we need to start running in the top five and contending for wins. At the beginning of the season I was happy with the way that my team was running. We’ve answered the call and been doing the things that we need to do to get things turned around.”

THE 07 HAS BEEN IN THE MEDIA RUMOR MILL FOR MONTHS, DOES THAT CAUSE A DISTRACTION FOR YOUR TEAM? Clint Boyer“Richard and I were talking about that. It doesn’t help anything. When everybody’s wondering is the driver going to be there and whatever else and we got that taken care of. I think it can hurt you a little bit but that doesn’t make the car handle better. Still things have got to work, the car has to handle and you got to do your job inside the race car. It’s not like I’m a distraction, I forgot how to drive. It’s an unfortunate deal that we all have to go through. It’s uncomfortable. Nobody likes going through that especially the people that have given you everything, given you the life and everything else. They are uncomfortable times and things I don’t like to go through. Thank God you only have to do it every three years or so. I really enjoy this sport. I enjoy the challenge. It doesn’t matter what kind of racing it is at what level there’s always challenges. The challenge has presented itself, now we’ve got to answer the call.”

I I didn’t have time to tell you much about the Aflac news conference regarding sponsorship of Carl Edwards. Aflac will be the primary sponsor for his car and Aflac will sell the primary spot out for a number of the races but will still have presence on the car.

In the question and answer session – Carl enjoyed cutting up about driving with a Duck on his car – and Edwards answered a question about making the Aflac commercial:

“I can’t tell all the secrets to it but it’s amazing how they make the duck do all that stuff. It’s hard to get a duck to talk and to scream and to look at Jamie when we go by him in the car. You know the driving part is tough for him cause he doesn’t have thumbs and that’s kind of the thing that helps…… It really was pretty neat. We had a really good time.”

In the move “Stroker Ace” the driver was sponsored by a chicken company and had to wear a chicken suit. A reporter asked if Edwards would ever be seen in a commercial wearing a duck suit. Here’s what Carl said:

“That was Clyde Torkle’s Chicken Pit and Aflac’s been much better than he has been. We actually talked about that last night. There’s a lot of potential for that Carl in a duck suit commercial but I don’t know don’t give him any ideas. That was a pretty fun part of that movie yea!”

Carl helped design the look of his new Aflac race car….something that was new for him and he was asked about what that experience was like:

“We just talked about it. The way it usually works is they say -hey here’s our paint scheme here’s what we’re thinking about doing. Everybody looked at it – everybody from Bob (Osborne) to the crew guys to Randy (Pr person) to my assistant Angela. Everybody just looked at it and said hey here’s what we think and then we got with Paul and all the guys and everybody just said hey we want it to have this color this aspect and then they came up with a bunch of designs and it kind of became a pretty cool process but it wasn’t a plan where we set out like hey said hey here’s how we’re going to figure it out. Everybody just kind of tried different things.”

That is it for now. I’ll be back with you but am headed to Gasoline Ally and see what I can find out down there. Then, to the grid for qualifying.

Hope all is well were you are at.

Enjoy the morning!

Claire B
XM Satellite Radio

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Zemanta Pixie