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RYAN NEWMAN @ Richmond International Raceway – Friday, May 1, 2009 May 1, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Drivers.
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Ryan Newman Media Luncheon
Image by Bristol Motor Speedway & Dragway via Flickr

Hey all!

Interesting comments here at Richmond from Ryan Newman about the finish at Talladega and what he thinks should be done in the future. I thought I’d share them:

Ryan’s comments always make interesting conversation. Here’s what he said (Below):

Claire B

HAVE YOU WATCHED THE REPLAYS OF THE END OF TALLADEGA? “I’ve seen a couple of replays. I saw it firsthand so, I mean, it was scary enough then. It is part of racing. I was glad that everybody, within reason, was safe afterwards. Carl (Edwards) included, but I was more worried about the fans. Not to say that was a perfect situation. I’d say we escaped what could have been a worse situation.”

NASCAR SAID CARL’S CAR WAS ON THE WAY DOWN SO THE FLAPS WERE WORKING AND EVERYTHING LIKE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO: “No. Like I said, we saw two cars that got upside down, all by themselves basically. They got spun around, but they still got airborne by themselves. So, there is work that needs to be done. I’m not satisfied with it coming back down. It should never get air borne in the first place.”

SO WHAT DO THINK COULD BE DONE TO PREVENT THAT IN THE FUTURE? “Work, I mean work on it. I was talking to Don Miller, who is still a good friend of mine; they developed the roof flaps in 1992. Its 17 years later and they have not changed much at all. We’re dealing with a different race car. We’re dealing with a wing versus a spoiler. Just put some work in to it. I am not saying that they’re far from being perfect, but, I am also saying that it is something that needs to be looked at. Looking at the big picture, we go faster at other race tracks than we do at Talladega. We just don’t sustain it for the entire lap, so there is potential for crashes to be bigger at other race tracks.”

Enjoy the day!

Claire B

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Richmond International Raceway May 1, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season.
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Richmond International Speedway
Image by mlovitt via Flickr

David Poole’s Space Reserved

I arrived with a heavy heart in the media center here at RIR and here in the deadline room there is a spot reserved for David Poole – noted motorsports journalist who passed away this past week. A sign reserving his spot and his photo sits where he would be covering this event….right in front of the news conference stage. It just seems not right. Yesterday’s funeral was very classy, short and sweet, and left many of us with our own private thoughts and aches at the loss of our comrade. It was not about slide shows and music and speeches and tributes, it was about scripture and listening to the minister and private soul searching. I have many thoughts deep inside about all of this and like the rest of us am dealing with it both on the air but also much of it alone inside. It’s sad because this media group needs to support each other into healthy living which is tough on the road and I wish we could have gotten David to get healthy. It’s really tough because David was such a presence….but this is a tight group and it seems already that in the rough and tumble world of the media corps, press room here at RIR it seems that the media group is just a little bit warmer, with hugs and support to each other this morning. It’s a competitive group but where it really counts we are family.

Here’s my broadcast schedule for this weekend:

“Dialed In” – Today Friday, May 1
from the end of Sprint Cup Series Qualifying to the start of the Lipton Tea 250 Nationwide Series race (Qualifying starts at 5:30 p.m. EST)

“Dialed In” – Saturday, May 2
2:00 p.m. EST until the start of the Sirius NASCAR Radio Pre Race Show (Sprint Cup Series) at 3:45 p.m. EST. I’ll be anchoring pre race from the booth (Steve Post in garage) and in victory lane LIVE after the Sprint Cup Series Race on the post race shows.

I have gotten so many emails at ClaireBMail [at] ClaireBLang.com and it’s been such an insane week with the passing of David Poole that I have fallen behind answering…but am catching up and if you have not gotten a reply yet – I will definitely do that. I really appreciate your emails at the above address and will have more blogs from the media center this weekend. For now….I want to say thanks for your support and friendship. It’s been a tough week. I do know that David would have wanted us to move on to the racing as a way to get our minds off of the loss we all feel.

Claire B

PS – There are so many people grieving each in their own way. Some are not on the air public- editors, PR people, co-workers, track workers, officials. Some like Jim Utter from thatsracin.com worked with Poole for ten years..sat next to him, ate dinner with him, worked on story budgets and stories with him week after week, traveled with him and knows him better than anyone. He is holding up and putting on a brave front. We all had inside jokes….and our own private talks and things we teased Poole about and laughed with him about in the many hours we waited out rain delays that the next guy – could never know – could never understand or put into his own words. We will all deal with this in our own way….and we’ll get through it together in our own way. We need to support each other as much as we can right now.

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“Waiting Out The Storm” September 6, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, NASCAR, Trackside, Transcripts.
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Claire B. Blog
Richmond Hotel Room —– Saturday August 6, 2008

When I left you – I was on the air in the XM Chevy Mobile Broadcast Unit last night in pouring rain and because of the high winds and wet conditions with 7 minutes left in the broadcast we lost the broadcast line. Everyone moves fast into emergency mode when that happens. I was on the microphone with a crowd of listeners at the unit and NASCAR’s VP of Corporate Communication Jim Hunter in the hot seat – engineer Robert Morrison was in the co pilots chair engineering the broadcast – when bam the broadcast went down. I grabbed for the cell phone and finished the broadcast during the “White Flag Lap” with listeners lined up on the phone from across the country. It was crazy. The topic that callers wanted to talk about most was Joey Logano not being in the show.

Logano did not make it in the show due to rain and I promised an update. Officials of Hall of Fame Racing, a JGR ally, have already announced Logano would run that team’s No. 96 Toyota next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Here’s something I thought you’d be interested in a transcript of what Jeff Gordon said yesterday in the media center after being fastest in practice.

Jeff Gordon – currently 10th in points and right on the verge of getting that spot and clinching a position in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has been the topic of conversation on my show from listener call ins lately.

Race fans are interested to watch his progress week to week. Last night I went over to the Outback near my hotel for dinner and at the bar there amongst the race team guys the discussion was about Gordon and whether he’ll click in through the rest of the season as a real contender in the chase. He’s got two wins here at Richmond, 12 top 5s, 19 top 10s, he’s sat on the pole five times. There’s some interesting things to digest in what he said to media yesterday in the media center – so I’m passing along a transcript.

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT / NICORETTE IMPALA SS (Reporters Interview Transcript)

Yeah, it’s been a great track for us even here recently. There was a couple years ago when we struggled at this track, and a lot of it was with the brakes. We seem to have resolved that, and it’s got us back on track and back just being one of our best tracks.

Looking forward to it. Obviously we were pretty quick in practice, so not thrilled about this rain that’s on its way because I would have liked to have qualified. I think we could be better than 10th, where the points will put us, and just looking forward to tomorrow night or Sunday afternoon or whatever it may be.

I know weather is going to be a big issue this weekend, but we did what we needed to do in California and we’re thrilled about it, came here with a game plan, and it’s been paying off so far.

Q. This place has not always been an easy place for you, been kind of an anxious place. Looking at this thing, because every year you come here there’s some people hanging on or people trying to get in, could it be that this race has come down to where maybe there’s more drama here because this is the last chance to get in than maybe there is in any given race in the Chase itself? Is there more drama and focus and electricity right here than if you take any given race except for maybe Homestead itself?

JEFF GORDON: Well, I think, you know, in the Chase it just all depends on how the points are being played out. I think the Chase is still fairly new, and so we’ve seen some serious drama. I think it was the first year of the Chase when we had Kurt Busch, whatever year that was, Kurt Busch, when we had three of us going for it down to the last lap in Homestead. That was pretty dramatic.

This race is dramatic. It’s just about story lines, as you guys know. It’s important to make it into the Chase. It didn’t matter if it was 10 or now 12; there’s always going to be a tight battle of who’s going to be in and who’s going to be out, so it’s a good story line. But I still don’t think it stacks up to the story line of going for the championship. You know, I think that that to me is a lot more dramatic. There’s a lot more excitement that is potentially there for the championship.

But this race is an important race. I mean, a lot of us, I think, have been thinking about this race for a while, especially the guys that haven’t been locked in, knowing that this is a big race for us. And then you’ve got the guys trying to stay in the top 35. That race has really heated up and is a good story, and then you’ve got Kyle, Carl and Jimmie who have really been the guys to beat here recently that are trying to get those coveted bonus points and the momentum going into the Chase.

To me there’s a lot of good story lines here, and maybe that’s what makes this a great race, all the stories.

Q. The one thing you’ve really battled this year is consistency. You’ve had some weeks where you’ve run really well and some weeks where you haven’t run well. Assuming you make it into the Chase, what’s your personal forecast for — do you think you’ll have something for them, as they say?

JEFF GORDON: Yeah, you know, you’re right. It has been inconsistent for us this year. You hear drivers talk a lot about it. If you were in our debriefs and our meetings, you would hear me talk more about it probably than anybody. The inconsistency isn’t just with our performance, it’s with these bump stops that we have to run on. I can’t stand them, and trying to get them figured out is just near impossible.

Some have done a better job with it. Maybe it suits come guys’ driving styles better, but it’s one of the things that challenging us.

And especially this year — you can go off last year and say you were good at this track and this track and this track. Yeah, that’s true, but if we went back there with the same old setups, we wouldn’t be as competitive just because teams have gotten better and we’ve learned more about how we set these cars up.

Then you add in the mile-and-a-halfs, and it’s a whole ‘nother challenge. That’s the biggest inconsistency that we’ve had is whether we’re on the left front bump stops, right front bump stops, front bumps upright, both bump stops, the timing of the bump stops, we’ve just had one heck of a time trying to get the front of the car to be consistent in and through the corner at a lot of tracks. And when you see us running good, it’s usually because we’ve got those close and it allows me to do what I need to do.

You know, that’s — when I say we have a game plan, you know, we learned some things — we’re learning things every week. Ironic thing, last
Jimmie got a full day in, and it rained on Tuesday and we didn’t get any testing in, and those guys took some of that information that they learned, took it to California. Obviously that worked really well for them. We didn’t have the chance to test, so we didn’t want to race it.

That’s how close this stuff can be. Every week you can learn something and find something that can work the next week or a couple weeks down the road.

So I was very happy with today because I feel like we’re really starting to get some things figured out, and I hate that it’s coming this late in the season because we’ve had some missed opportunities, but all that matters to me at this point with the type of year that we’re having is that we’re making gains.

Q. Given what you experienced last year, finishing third, fourth every race in the Chase and not being able to make up ground on Jimmie because he was winning, does that lead you to think that whoever wins it all this year is going to have to win multiple races in the Chase, and if so, does that narrow the field of serious contenders?

JEFF GORDON: Again, that’s the thing that I think is exciting about the Chase is you just never know. I mean, a guy can go — Kyle Busch can go to New Hampshire and Kansas and crash both races, and all of a sudden this thing is wide open. Or somebody hits on something and starts a streak that they haven’t had before. I mean, we saw last year with Clint Bowyer, goes and wins the first race, and nobody expected that.

So there’s too many unpredictable circumstances. I think you can look at the teams that you think are going to be the ones to beat. I just think one of these years with the Chase format, somebody is going to be a surprise. You’re going to have guys with momentum, you’re going to have guys with an incredible record like those three I mentioned, and might not even be a factor because of whatever, bad luck, whatever it may be.

So I’m not saying that’s going to be the case; who knows. All you guys are going to be in the media center and that’s why we’re going to be out there racing is to find out. I do think this year with Kyle’s performance of getting all those bonus points, I think that that gives him a huge advantage going into the Chase over — not so much over Carl, but a little bit over Jimmie and then a tremendous amount over all the guys that have maybe one or two wins. And it’s going to make it much tougher for those guys — as good as the 18 is running, it’s going to make it tougher for those guys like myself to make up that ground. We need them to have some tough luck and we’ve got to get on a roll now, which we haven’t been able to do over 26 races or 25 so far. But we’re still optimistic.

Q. You touched upon the importance of the one-and-a-half-mile tracks. Are they really the make it or break it in the Chase, and can you talk a little bit about your team’s struggles to get your arms around the one-and-a-half-mile tracks?

JEFF GORDON: Yeah, there’s quite a few of them in the — yeah, because there’s so many they’re obviously very important. I still think even looking at our performance last year, it — I mean, what Jimmie did last year was pretty extraordinary, to win the number of races that he did. But to me he could have won that many races. Had Charlotte been a little bit worse for him — they had a tough run at Charlotte and spun. He kind of brushed the wall. But that could have been a much worse finish, and that might have taken him out. To me it’s about not having the big problem more so than going and winning four or five races.

So I think that while the mile-and-a-halfs are very important performance-wise, it’s how you come out of Talladega and the short tracks unscathed that I think can win you the championship.

Q. Talk about your team trying to get your arms around the one-and-a-half-mile setup

JEFF GORDON: Yeah, again, it just goes back to — at the mile-and-a-halfs aerodynamics obviously play a much bigger role than the short tracks, so you want to maximize the aerodynamics. But we’re also dealing with the mechanical grip. These bump stops that we all talk about, they allow us to get the car at the — basically get the car where we want it on the racetrack, but then it takes all the mechanical grip away from it. So we’re trying to get our hands around that. You’ve got hard stops, soft stops, stops that come in sooner, stops that come in later, you’ve got a stop with a spring. There’s just a million different scenarios, and some guys are making it work, some guys aren’t.

I think all of us are constantly trying to gain the edge when it comes to that. I’m not so sure, there might be some guys out there that aren’t on stops at all that might be making it work. Those are the things that we’re up against.

Q. You keep talking about the overwhelming disadvantage of the bonus points. Now, I don’t really get that. I mean, I know that 80 points seems like a lot, but it’s basically 15 positions. Well, that’s tough in one race, but 15 positions in ten races, and then you say, well, the way they’re running, but of the last ten races they’ve won seven of them, and you add Jimmie in, they’ve won nine of the last ten races. If they keep doing like that, then it wouldn’t matter if you were 80 points ahead. It just seems to me to compare the 680 that you’re behind right now that 80 points over ten races is not a crushing blow because you’re going to have to pick up your performance anyway.

JEFF GORDON: You’re absolutely right, we’ve got to pick up our performance. I didn’t say it’s impossible, I just said it makes it tougher. I think that going into anything behind those teams that are already performing well, have earned those bonus points, and they’ve earned the right to them. You know, it just makes it an even bigger uphill battle.

Let’s say we go into the Chase and we run consistent sixth, seventh place every single weekend, and those guys finish tenth and we outrun them with their average finish, those bonus points are going to make a big difference.

I just think that we’re capable of being very consistent in the Chase. We haven’t proved this year that we can go out and lead a lot of laps and win races. I hope for that and I know we’ve got to improve our performance to even compete with those guys. But I do think that we are capable of being consistent when this Chase starts and stepping up our game, and in order to beat those guys, as good as they’ve been, as well as the bonus points, we’ve got to step it up to a whole ‘nother level that we certainly haven’t shown all year long. And while I’m optimistic, I’ll be shocked if we are even able to do that. That’s all I was saying.

Q. I think you’ve been saying since just about the first test of the Car of Tomorrow at Bristol, you were pleading saying NASCAR needs to work with us on this thing and work with us and let us get it where we can drive it, and now you’ve got people like Chad Knaus saying that it’s rapidly becoming a spec series; we’ve been doing some fan samplings that are just absolutely beside themselves, upset with the Car of Tomorrow. Do you think natural law is going to make it — is NASCAR eventually going to have to work with you guys so everybody can get the cars drivable for you?

JEFF GORDON: You’ve got to ask them about that. I don’t have an answer for that. I’m just a dumb driver, go in, put my helmet on, get behind the wheel and drive the race car. That’s what I’ve been told and that’s what I’m living by (laughter).

Q. Weather permitting, it looks like Joey Logano could get his first start this weekend. What was your emotional state before your first race, heading into your first race, and secondly, what do you think of the scrutiny that’s been put on this kid going into the first race?

JEFF GORDON: Well, I think he’s tremendous. I think it’s great for the sport. He’s very talented obviously, and he was running good today. So I know that they don’t want to see this rain. I think any time a young talent comes into the sport, it’s good in every way.

I think the one thing, you can have all the talent in the world, you can have a tremendous amount of experience getting to this level. The one thing you cannot be prepared for is when you’ve got that much hype and that much focus on you coming in, of the demands on your time, the cameras in your face, the autographs, the fan base; all those things are not things that you can train for.

So that’s — it didn’t happen to me immediately. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody with as much attention coming into this series as Joey, so obviously he’s got a lot on his shoulders. He seems to have lived up to all of it so far.

But I do know, once you get to the Cup level, that’s what changes is that you start — there’s just so many factors. And for me, back in 1992 when I ran my first race, I felt like the whole world was watching me, even though they weren’t. I felt like I was under a microscope, even though I wasn’t to the extent that I — it was excruciating for me.

I was excited to be out there and get that opportunity. I wanted to do well. I questioned do I have what it takes to be at this level, to compete at the top in this series. So there’s just a lot of unknowns. He seems to have a lot of confidence, and that’s certainly good. But I’m more anxious to see — and certainly Joe Gibbs and J.D. are great at being able to offer advice and recognize those things and be able to help him through those things that I’m talking about, which to me is what the challenges are going to be. I think he’s going to do a great job in the race car. It’s how is he going to handle all the other things on top of it, especially with all the attention from the media that he’s getting. That’s when you really find out what you’re made of.

And that’s when scheduling and having good people around you helping you get through the PR aspect of it, the monetary side of it, you start making a lot of money that you aren’t used to, all those things that start to weigh on your decision-making and your focus of being able to get out in the car and go do your job.

Q. You hear drivers talk about how I wasn’t ready to win a championship those early years of a career. Jimmie said it before, too. Is Kyle Busch ready to win one, and why?

JEFF GORDON: Well, I will say this: I think Carl is more ready than Kyle. I think Kyle has — he has the ability to go really hard, really fast, and he’s made big improvements in my opinion this year over last year. Last year when he drove for us, there wasn’t a single practice that they didn’t have to knock out the right side on the car. This year it seems to be like every fifth race that happens.

So he’s still doing it a little bit, which isn’t a bad thing he’s pushing that hard; that’s why he runs fast and they’ve won a bunch of races so he’s gotten more comfortable. He’s close. He’s as good as anybody out there right now. I’d certainly put him at the top or in the top three or four guys in my opinion of who really has a shot this championship or the best shot at it.

But I would put Carl ahead of him as far as being ready experience-wise, and I’d put Jimmie ahead of both of those guys with just his experience of winning the last two.

Q. And one more thing: Do you still think the Chase is harder to win than winning the title under the old format?

JEFF GORDON: I do. I think that right now I think Kyle would have a lock on this thing. I think there’s a very good chance he’s not going to win this championship just because of the Chase format. In my opinion it really comes down, except for those bonus points, it really comes down to ten races, those specific ten races.

I guess maybe it’s more for me. I feel like I focused so hard for so many years that, okay, you had to be good at a short track, at a superspeedway, at a road course, at the mile-and-a-halfs, and we didn’t have as many mile-and-a-halfs, but that was my goal. I looked at the guys who won championships and they were good everywhere and they were great at some places. So that’s what I focused on was trying to be good everywhere that I possibly could.

And now I don’t think it’s — now it’s you’d better be good at those ten races, and you’ve got to get yourself into the Chase so your team has got to be solid. But to be on your game for those specific ten races, not have any problems, there’s just a lot of factors in there, and to win it I think is very, very challenging. That’s why I respect it and why I want one really bad.

You know, maybe it being easier or harder is not the right terminology for it. Certainly you can’t compare history of the old championship versus the new one.

Q. Do you think with so much focus being spent on the last ten races, if you’re up there running for the championship like you and Jimmie were last year, do you think we’re going to see a trend sort of like we did this year where those guys running for the top spots are going to remain focused where everybody else kind of has the leeway to focus on getting ready for next year? Do you think that’s something we’re going to see as years go past with the Chase, or is that something with the development of the new car that was a fluke?

JEFF GORDON: I think any time you introduce a new car, I think you maybe are going to see more of that. But I think it’s always going to be the case — I think anybody that doesn’t make the Chase, their goal is get ready for next year. That doesn’t mean that they throw away those last ten races. They might hit on some things and really think outside the box that works where they win a race or a couple races, who knows.

But I think that for us, I know when we didn’t make the Chase, that was definitely our goal was we use these ten — you can’t find a better testing session than those final ten races. You know, next year if we’re able to go to more tracks like they’re saying with the possible testing schedule, then those ten races as a test are still important but maybe not as important because we can actually go to the racetracks now.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, I think the strong teams are the strong teams, and they’re going to always be the guys to beat year in and year out. I think that what can happen is as a team — if you’ve got a teammate that’s outside the Chase or let’s say you get into the Chase a little bit and they’re outside the chance of winning the championship, then any of those thoughts that have been going through the crew chiefs’ and the engineers’ minds of things that they really want to try.

Just like today, we came here with a setup that we put it in our simulation on our computer, we put it on the seven post. All these things. Okay, we got it. We come here, and in the first 45 minutes we couldn’t get the heights worked out, the speed wasn’t there, and we had to abandon it. We had two hours to figure that out, get us ready to race, and then have to make sure we can qualify with it.

If you are trying to make the Chase or trying to win a championship, you can’t afford to do that. And that’s the advantage. If you’re outside of it, you can spend this whole two hours working on something if you want and then take it into the race and play with it for the whole race. You really in some ways have nothing to lose, unless it’s a sponsor situation where you’ve got a sponsor that’s bearing down on you or you’re in the final year of a contract and need to renegotiate or whatever, then you’d better get out there and shine. So all those factors play into it.

Q. At the risk of being overly simplistic and realizing that all sportswriters know just enough to be dangerous, isn’t it true that if you’re having a season like you did in ’98 or like you did last year where after 24 races you were 507 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson, it’s a lot harder to win the championship under this format, but if you don’t have any wins or you’re Clint Bowyer, it’s easier to win the championship? So as far as whether it’s harder to win, it depends on where you are, because many people — the reason it’s harder for the guy at the top is many more people are thrown into the mix.

JEFF GORDON: Here’s what I say: I think it’s harder to win it, but I think more people have an opportunity to win it, which is, I think, what you were saying. That’s what I’ve always felt like the Chase — you know, the excitement about the Chase is that if you’re not having a great year — let’s say your first half of the year is not very good, but you really start to get into your rhythm in the second half. Then the Chase is phenomenal for you because now you’ve gotten the opportunity to win the championship, where in the past you would have never had the opportunity. You were gone. You were too far behind.

There’s certainly plenty of pluses with the Chase. You know, I think you’ve got 12 guys that can win it, you’ve got people that haven’t had a great first half that can win it, you’ve got a lot of different factors that play out. You’ve closed the gap, so if one guy had a big lead, the guy in second, third or fourth, now, they’ve got a shot to win it. I mean, those are all big pluses of the Chase and why I support the Chase even though I won my championships under the old format and maybe would have, could have, should have had a couple more if we were still under the old format.

But I still am a big supporter of it because I think it’s the best show for the fans. I think it’s fantastic for the competitors all the way around I think it’s a good format for our sport.

But I still think that to win it, it’s seriously challenging because of those final ten races. Maybe I’m just saying that because — you bring Jimmie Johnson in here and he could tell you the exact opposite, because he didn’t win a championship under the old format. So he looks at last year, how far behind he would have been and wouldn’t have won the championship if the format had been — so for some guys, they might think it’s easier. For me I think it’s tougher.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JEFF GORDON: You’re taking the words right out of my mouth.

Q. You had a good season, didn’t you?

JEFF GORDON: I had a great season, we just didn’t win the championship, which is really what we’re all here to do anyway. But I certainly look at last year as a great season for me, and we were just lacking that one position, which is a big one, but still, a very good year for us.

Q. You kind of alluded to this earlier with a question about Joey Logano, but what do you remember about the weekend when you made your debut, because since you’ve started racing, no one has won more championships, no one has won more races than you, but you really came in super low profile that weekend in Atlanta. What do you think about when you think about that coming in?

Two things stand out to me from that weekend, maybe three. One is that we were fast in practice, went to qualify, and I blew the lap. We used to have second-round qualifying then and I was fastest second day, started at 21st, went to the drivers’ meeting, and Richard Petty’s final race, he hands out — I’ve told this story, I know. It was like a money clip, had his symbol, like his face and hat on it. I don’t know what it was made of, like silver or something like that, had 21 on it with my starting position, handed it out to every driver there. I still have it.

The other thing, the most important thing I remember, is crashing. I don’t remember what lap it was, I just remember backing into the wall pretty hard down in turns 1 and 2, which are now 3 and 4. That’s what I remember.

Q. So no media memories?

Not at all. To me, Richard Petty — that was his weekend. He was swarmed by media and fans, and I was nonexistent and happy about that. I wish that was the case every weekend. Just to come in here and do your job is what I like to do. But I also know that the sport wouldn’t be what it is and we wouldn’t have the sponsors that we have if you didn’t have that attention.

So that’s my point is that those are the things that you really don’t — even in the Nationwide series, it’s just not the same, the media attention, the fan base, the pressures, the competition. It’s just a lot more to deal with when you get to the Cup series and nothing can prepare you for that until you get right here and get into it, and then you’d better have a really strong upbringing, good people surrounding you, and people recognizing when it’s too much, when you’re doing too much.

A kid like him, especially if he does well, then they’re going to want to use him even more. I won my first championship my third season in, and until 1994 when I won the Brickyard, I really didn’t have a lot of things that I had to do, you know, like — I had a contract that said I was committed to do a lot of things, but I didn’t have a lot of demand. So I didn’t find myself constantly being pulled left and right, until I won the Brickyard. It was the 600 first in May and then the Brickyard, and that’s when all of a sudden things started changing for me, then we went and won the championship in 1995, and it’s literally never been the same for me. Every weekend is slam-packed full of stuff, every week is slammed full of things, and now it’s just part of life. But for those first couple years it was a huge, huge adjustment for me.

Q. I notice that six of the 12 Chase drivers are in the Nationwide race, including the two guys at the top and the two guys trying to stay in. It doesn’t apply to you, so maybe you have a good feel for it.

JEFF GORDON: You couldn’t — I can’t tell you how happy I am not to be in that race.

Q. I was going to ask you, why would a guy run a Nationwide race when he’s on the bubble for making the Chase? Would it be just too much to deal with?

It’s called commitment. They made a commitment that they wish they could all get out of (laughter). Or they’re needing to buy new bikes or they want a little bit nicer airplane. I can’t tell you. All I can tell you is that there’s not one driver I’ve talked to this year that said that they’ve enjoyed running the Nationwide races. With that spacer on them, they said they’re terrible, and they cannot compare the cars at all to the Cup cars.

You know, I think that the future of what they’re going to do with those cars is — I’m going to be curious to watch. I love sitting in my bus watching those races. You know, it’s a great place to be. Nothing is going to change that. I mean, who knows, I might run one or two somewhere down the road, I’m not going to say never, but to do it week in and week out the way some of those guys do and to do it on a big weekend like this one or in the next ten races in the Chase, I just don’t see where it makes any sense.

So I’m joking about why guys are doing it. You’d have to ask them.

Q. But you wouldn’t do it?

JEFF GORDON: Did I not speak clearly? I’m sorry, let me say it louder. Absolutely not. I have no desire to run back and forth — you know, I did the five or six races or whatever a few years back, and to me it was just — it took the fun right out of it. I mean, you’d go from one car, you run over to the other one. And it’s like being Rick Hendrick; he’s got four cars and two or three of them might be awesome but one of them is not going to be some days, so you can be in victory lane celebrating, and as soon as victory lane is over, you’re over there trying to figure out how to get that other car and team — that’s how it was for me, I’d maybe have one car running good and one car not running good. I didn’t feel like I was doing either job well. I felt like I did both of them mediocre. So I prefer to just focus on the one I think that I need to focus on the most and do the best job that I can.


Interesting comments from Jeff – – you talk with guys from other teams and they fully expect Jeff to make a surge at some point – they are definitely not counting him out. One thing is for sure – don’t expect to see him in a Nationwide car anytime soon.

Many of the drivers are here in town and hanging out in their motor homes watching football today. I saw a bunch of reporters at breakfast at the hotel. Most were planning to hole up with their computers and catch up on work or watch TV. Definitely a down day in the world of NASCAR and none of us have too many of them. Woah …. I swear to you power just went out in my hotel. This could get interesting. I’ll keep you posted. Here’s a revised schedule by the way as I promised listeners that I’d keep you all posted:





7:00 AM Richmond International Raceway Parking Lots Open


Track Credentials Office Opens


Ticket Office Opens

Press Box & MediaCenter Open

The Showplace Off-site Parking Lot Opens

Richmond Coliseum Off-site Parking Area Opens

Shuttle Service To/From The Showplace & Coliseum Begins

Hospitality Pavilion, Pit Stop & Green Flag Zone, TORQUE Club, Suites Open

Cup Pre-Race Pit Access

10:00 AM Grandstands Open










5:00 PM TORQUE Club, Suites Open

Nationwide Pre-Race Pit Access

6:00 PM Grandstands Reopen




Enjoy the day!

Claire B

Fun in Richmond May 6, 2008

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John Brown III and his buddies – take a bachelor party to Richmond International Raceway. You only have to look at the photo of the guys (pictured above) and you KNOW they made memories at this party. Bachelor party at a race track – what a GREAT idea! I met some of the guys while checking out of my hotel Sunday morning…Nice guys!
JohnBrownBachelor Party

Tech Note: From the Garage – #24 Won’t Crank! May 3, 2008

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Jeff Gordon pulls into the pits at Texas in 2007Image via WikipediaHey everyone! I’ll bet you can’t wait for the race to start. Here’s some news pre-race. The engine would not crank in Jeff Gordon’s #24 prior to pre-race inspection this afternoon and his car goes to the rear of the field here at Richmond International Raceway. Because tonight’s race is an impound race – any unapproved changes made to the cars after qualifying result in a loss of starting position. Gordon qualified 28th. Today, before inspection in view of an official, the engine in his car wouldn’t crank and the starter had to be replaced. I went to the Dupont hauler in the garage to get a few answers related to the starter issue:

Doug Duchardt VP of Development (engines – race builds)

CBL: So what happened to the #24 starter?
Duchardt: ” When they went to try to start up the car for inspection the bendix hung up and broke. That’s the part that goes out and engages the fly wheel. So we had to change the starter and had go to the back.”

CBL: There will be debate on how this. How common is this – other than right before a race?
Duchardt: “It’s probably more common than (fans) know. We usually don’t have it fail in that way. Usually it just – the solenoid won’t work it won’t engage. We have had it happen before. Not in an impound race. We have had it happen in practices. We continuously work with our supplier to try to improve it and in this case it caught us out.”

CBL: Has the supplier already gotten a message from you?
Duchardt: “Oh yea. There have been emails flying today back to the source so we’ll be working on it. As anything it’s always continuous improvement on every part we’re working on and that’s another one.”

CBL: If not for the impound you could have changed it.
Duchardt: “It never showed a signs of any issue until it catastrophically broke today so. It just happened today.
We were just warming up the car this morning when it happened. In a normal weekend we would have changed it (the starter) and would have gone through (inspection) so next weekend (at Darlington) it would not have been an issue.”

That’s it – back to pit road for pre race.
Claire B – Richmond 6:00 p.m.EST

Blog From the Garage:Richmond International Raceway May 3, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Drivers.
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Bobby LabonteImage by sidehike via FlickrI have all your IM’s and emails about what I know about Bobby Labonte and if he’s staying at Petty Enterprises. I came back from the drivers meeting to quickly post this and am returning to the drivers meeting now. Reports earlier today had said he had signed an extension. Talking to him today walking into the drivers meeting it sure doesn’t seem like he has made up his mind where he’s going.

Labonte Says He Has Not Made A Decision: 5:26 EST Saturday, April 3

Walking into the driver’s meeting today behind Bobby Labonte there was a chance to catch up with him on contract talks. Associated Press reported today that an unnamed source had said that he had agreed to a contract extension with Petty Enterprises.

Labonte said that until he says it nothing that is circulated is true. “There’s opportunities in a lot of things right now so I mean you know we’re just trying to weigh some options out and see what’s there.”

When asked if he had made a decision he said “No…I haven’t – Nothing from me from my mouth has come out to say that I’ve done that -so until then..stay tuned.”

I gotta run to the drivers meeting. More later. CBL

Good Morning – Garage at Richmond- Robby Reiser interview May 2, 2008

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Former logo of Roush Racing.Image via WikipediaGood morning from the Garage at Richmond International Raceway. I’ve been so busy on the air – I have forgotten to remind you to take the newest survey that I put up (http://www.polldaddy.com/p/548251/) about which female will make the first mark in NASCAR. I’m interested in your opinion.

Last night, I interviewed Robbie Reiser on my show – He’s the General Manager at Roush Fenway Racing. It’s no secret that Robbie misses being a crew chief but how much he wants out of the glass office and back on the pit box as Jack Roush would say, “Is the thing of which editorials are made.” Jack Roush has said there’s no room for another crew chief in his camp and that now that Robbie has moved up he’s not able to move him back. He simply doesn’t have another crew chief opening.

Bob Osborne returns to the #99 pit box after serving his suspension for pushing the grey area this week and Robbie returns fully to the upper management role. I called him up and asked him about his feelings going into this weekend here’s a small part of that interview aired on “Dialed In” yesterday (4/2/08):

CBL: So how do you feel about your current management job –
Reiser: You can’t take the racer out of a lot of guys and I’m one of them. You know I love to go stock car racing no question about it and I’m a pretty competitive guy and it’s hard to take competitive people out of competitive things. So, sticking me in a glass office is a little bit tough but it’s the direction of what we’re doing and where we’re going so that’s what I’m doing.

CBL: Ok so it could be like you could be trying to get the papers to the photo copy machine the fastest and you figure out the way to do it. You can be competitive in an office too you know. But you can’t take the racer out of a racer I know what you mean.
Reiser: It’s more fun working on race cars than what it is worrying about sick pay and safety glasses and who is here and who is not and all that kind of thing you know. It’s more fun working on things that go fast and working with the people that make them go fast. So, between that, that barrier that’s some of the issue that I have. But it will be ok. Ahm it’s just a different role and you gotta learn the different role and everything has it’s new challenges and if it was easy everybody would do it so that’s kind of all of it right there.

CBL: But this is what you wanted though wasn’t it – what you asked for. Or did you not know it was like this – you know what I mean?
Reiser: Here’s the deal. If you look back a few years ago Clint Eastwood ran to be mayor of this township in California and the reason he ran for mayor was because he wanted to change one of the roads in front of his house. You know – I wanted a lot of things changed but I didn’t want all the stuff that went with it. So as soon as he got the road changed he quit his job as being the mayor. So I guess the moral to the story is watch what you wish for you may end up with more than what you really wanted.

CBL: I got an email from a race fan listening who writes –‘So when is he going to be sitting on the 17 pit box again, we all know it’s going to happen – He still probably knows the dyno numbers on the 17’s engine. They all like you a lot you know:
Reiser: Well, I mean, you know in the last six weeks I had to fill in for Bob (Osborne) and help him along and Chris Andrews went down on the early part of the weekends and got the car running well and did all the things so we helped Bob as much as we possibly could and you know we have five teams here that we have to support and keep running and obviously we want to make them all run the best we can so, ah, this weekend I’m going to go along with Chip Bolin on the 17 and give him a hand a little bit and you know next week I might go and help somebody else so that is just how we end up doing it here.

CBL: I have emails what is wrong with the 17 – I keep hearing from fans who are concerned. Is too much being made of their early struggles this season?
Reiser: Hang on, the #17 has been the same as it’s been for the last ten years. It’s basically the same right now. The only difference is that I moved 40 feet up into the front office and Chip Bolin and the rest of the guys slid forward and are working on the car. There is really no change there. If you go back to 2005 we struggled a little bit to and had some days where it didn’t look like we were going to make the chase and middle of the summer we put it together and were able to get back into the deal and run for a championship by the end of the season. Not every season is perfect and there’s a lot of ups and downs and that team performance wise has run well. It’s just that they have been bit a few times with mistakes they have made and been at the wrong place at the wrong time. So I think if everybody just hangs tight. They are only eight races into this they are only 120 out of the top 12. They’ll be just fine and hopefully all that goes away. I mean, Chip has done a great job for the last ten years and done a great job being an engineer on the 17 and he deserves all the opportunity in the world to run that team and all those guy s that have been a part of that team deserve the opportunity to move up. Anybody that is in any type of job always looks for a promotion. So those guys deserve that and they need the opportunity to put everything together and get it running the way they need to get it running. And I think with all that said those guys will be just find and don’t be surprised if those guys go out and win Richmond this weekend.

CBL: What would be the chances that one day you’d go somewhere else and be a crew chief that you miss it that bad. Or is it not that bad that you want to be a crew chief again?
Reiser: Why are you starting with me today (laughter – kidding). You gotta weigh everything out you gotta do it for a while. You can’t just give up on everything that you start because you’ll never finish it. So it’s important to get used to this and do the right things. Obviously, if it doesn’t fit the style after a while then you probably gotta change directions and do something different. Where that is I don’t know.
You know I don’t think you ever know. I sure didn’t think ten years ago that I’d be doing this so..it’s ahm all just part of life and you gotta roll with the punches once in a while and if it doesn’t fit you then you gotta make that decision and I’m sure I’ll decide as I go.

Note: The above is a condensed segment of a longer interview transcribed into a shorter interview to post on this site. Reiser went on to answer my questions about the Green Bay Packer’s draft and the fact that he’s never been to a Packer Game at Lambeau. The visit to Lambeau field to watch his Packers play he said is something he plans to do if and when he gets a day off.