Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dale Jr. Breaks Ground at Victory Junction

You gotta love Dale Jr.

The driver visited Victory Junction Saturday to break ground on the camp's new Dale Jr. Corral and Amphitheatre.

Junior recently donated $1 million to the year-round camp which benefits children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. The camp was founded by NASCAR driver and racing analyst Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie.

I wasn't at Saturday's event, but a lot of campers and their parents were. And those in attendance were treated to autographs and a chance to thank Junior in person for his generous donation.  One camper even gave Dale Jr. a baby goat.

Our friends at the Kyle Petty Charity Ride were there to document the day, and they were kind enough to send photos my way:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down

There are few things more disappointing than rain on a Sunday afternoon.

Especially when raindrops are falling on the very track which is hosting the week's Sprint Cup race.

Such was the case at Martinsville Sunday for the NASCAR faithful.  After viewers waited through an extended pre-race show and umpteen weather predictions, officials postponed the race until noon Monday. So, though disappointed, I immediately set my DVR to record every show on the FOX network from noon to 7 p.m. Monday - just for good measure.

This afternoon, I carefully avoided Twitter, Facebook and all things cyber space on the off-chance I'd find out the Martinsville outcome before being able to see it for myself.  But alas, all my efforts were in vain.  I arrived home after a stressful day at the office, only to discover my DVR hadn't DVR'd anything - except for a Seinfeld rerun and an old episode of My Name Is Earl.

Such was my Monday.  However there is always the proverbial silver lining.  If, like me, you missed the live broadcast, the race will be re-aired in its entirety on Speed TV Wednesday at noon. 

And this time, I'm going to give my DVR a test drive first. Or maybe I'll just call in sick ...

Photo info: Sunday's rain postpones the Martinsville race to Monday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

NASCAR Needs a Cinderella

March Madness is in full swing.  It's the season of upsets and underdogs. Buzzer beaters and overtime. And nothing gets basketball fans' blood pumping like a team from outta nowhere that ends up beating the pants off a top-seeded school.

Right now, I'm watching those cornfed panthers of Northern Iowa rock through the big dance.  And, as of post time, these underdogs have their sights set on Michigan State.  It's exciting, heartwarming, and all the things that make college ball so flipping fantastic.

And then there's NASCAR. 

We're five races into the 2010 season, and the No. 48 team  is again dominating the field.  Jimmie Johnson and the genius of Chad Knaus have notched three wins thus far.  And  all signs are pointing to another history-making season for the Lowe's crew.

For Johnson fans (I admit, I am one), these early victories are satisfying proof that Johnson has taken the sport to a new level. But for the greater NASCAR universe, this year has been deja vu all over again - and not in a good way.

There are a multitude of reasons why fans don't cotton to Johnson and his brand of racing.  And these whys and wherefores can be much better explained by the same researchers who delved into the reasons why fans hate winning basketball teams.

To wit, this lengthy quote from Paul Damiano, organizational psychologist for GoodWorks:

 "I think teams follow a similar life cycle to the one that businesses follow, going from an entrepreneurial stage to growth and development to getting bigger and ultimately becoming a monopoly and undergoing regulation. In business, the entrepreneurial phase is young and exciting. In sports, these are the teams just coming onto the scene, and all of a sudden they start generating success.Then we go to the growth phase. In business, you begin to develop more consistent systems and procedures, and you can replicate your success. In basketball, teams start to get a 15- or 20-win season more frequently, and success breeds success because they're able to get better players. At that point we still like these teams, because we remember when they were nobodies and it's kind of cool watching them succeed. But then it turns ugly. Just like in business, the teams enter a cycle of dominance. This is the monopolistic phase. And we don't like monopolies. ...we start to think they've developed unfair business practices. They get to be on TV more, so they get more exposure, which lets them attract higher-caliber players, which gets the sports media speaking more highly of them. And then, just as people think monopolies get unfair business and trade advantages, people think the team gets too much of the benefit of the doubt from the regulatory agencies—a.k.a. the referees."

Sound like any race fans you know?

But regardless of whether they like Johnson or not, the average NASCAR aficionado will agree that the sport could use some of the unexpected competition which characterizes the world of college hoops.  The field needs a Northern Iowa -  a race team from quarters unknown that shows up and puts up a serious fight.  We need an under-hyped, underdog driver to give Johnson a run for his championship.

In short, NASCAR needs a true Cinderella to get the fans back in the game. 

Heck, at this point, we'll even take a  wicked stepsister.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stewart Puts Up the Good Fight

Tony Stewart's a fighter. Just ask any of his competitors, or even members of the NASCAR media. There's nobody like Smoke when it comes to puttin' up a fight or gettin' fighting mad.

Now Stewart is putting his infamous fighting spirit to good use. Today through April 11, Smoke will use his celebrity to help fight cancer.

Now through April 11, Stewart's sponser, Office Depot, will match every donation made to City of Hope – one of the nation’s leading cancer research and treatment centers – dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000.

That's a cause worth getting riled up about.

Visit to learn more or donate today.

Photo info: Tony Stewart talks to fans during a Las Vegas meet and greet.  Courtesy of Edelman.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Playing Nice Won't Last Long

When it comes to the Edwards/Keselowski feud, officials are saying the pair have made peace.  They've worked through their issues.  They will now race each other with respect.  The pair's heart-to-heart in the hauler worked its magic.

Don't believe it for a Bristol minute.

For all the articles proclaiming the two have reached a treaty of sorts, I remind you of the admonition  from the Biblical prophet Jeremiah - "peace, peace but there is no peace".

Though their on-track encounter Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway was more polite than a curtsy for the Queen, these two are going to ditch their put-on manners sooner or later.

Keselowski hinted as much during a pre-race interview in which he encouraged fans to "stay tuned".  He also hasn't been shy about assuring fight-hungry fans that his Atlanta run-in with Cousin Carl isn't going to change the way he drives.

And Carl? Well something about his 10-carat grin while answering questions about Brad leads me to believe a vengeful plan lies beneath that polished veneer.

He's probably just waiting 'til he's off probation. Which puts the date for the combatants' next dust up as April 18 at Texas. Or, if the two are really patient, April 25 at Talladega - which also happens to be the one-year anniversary of the crash that started it all.

As they say, timing is everything.

Photo info: Edwards and Keselowski leave each other plenty of room at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bristol Makes a Few Things Crystal Clear

I wasn't even there and I'm exhausted from this weekend's action at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Between the fiery craziness in Saturday's Nationwide race and the truly unsettling wreck during the EZ Seed Showdown, this weekend was a race fan's roller coaster.

However, now that Thunder Valley is quiet and the results are in, there are a few things on the Cup side that were made crystal clear:

It was a mistake for Joe Gibbs to fire Steve Addington - Since being shown the door by Joe Gibbs Racing, Steve Addington has joined the Penske fold to head up the No. 2 team of Kurt Busch.  JGR's loss has been Penske's gain.  So far this year, Kurt has raced circles around his little bro. Kyle Busch - Addington's former driver.  Kurt has out-performed Kyle in every race, leading 441 laps so far and notching one win, two top fives and one pole.  Kyle, on the other hand, has managed to eke out a top 10 and lead 37  laps.  Wonder if there are any regrets among the powers-that-be at JGR?

Jimmie Johnson gets it done - Lots of race fans may not like seeing Johnson's handsome mug in Victory Lane again and again, but they should be used to it by now. Johnson is the real deal.  His victory at Bristol - his 50th Cup win and third this year - can be chalked up to a sweet race car and his enviable knack for keeping cool under pressure.  The driver of the No. 48 can finish a race with the best of them - and if he's anywhere near the leader with 10 laps to go, he'll get it done (even if that means going three-wide at Bristol).  Will the loss of the rear wing throw JJ and company off their game at Martinsville? Perhaps. But haters shouldn't hold their breaths.

This year, Dale Jr. makes the Chase - It sure wasn't pretty, but the No. 88 team managed to leave Bristol with a seventh-place finish.  And though the driver/crew chief radio chatter was rather heated and rife with expletives at times, Earnhardt Jr. ended up driving his car toward the front, even after a speeding penalty on pit road punted him to the middle of the pack. All's well that ends well, and Junior's solid Bristol run gained him five places in points - he's currently in eighth spot.

Greg Biffle - not bad at making enemies - In addition to Joey Logano and his dad, Biffle now has Mark Martin and his fans to contend with.  Martin was racing to the front Sunday, only to get tangled up with Biffle, who claimed his radio became unplugged and didn't know Martin was there when he hit him.  The result? Martin got out of shape and went back up the track, which led to a 13-car incident.  Martin was about as angry as he gets after the wreck - and although he did finish the race, he ended up in 35th place. More importantly, Martin lost nine spots in the points standings.  We'll see if Martin sticks it to The Biff at Martinsville.

Photo info: Brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch chat in the garage.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

ESPN to Release Commemorative Dale Earnhardt Bookazine

As NASCAR prepares to welcome the inaugural class into its Hall of Fame, ESPN pays tribute to Dale Earnhardt, the sport’s greatest hero, with a collector’s edition commemorative bookazine: “Dale Earnhardt: The Legend Lives” – available nationwide March 30 for $9.99.

The 100-page book celebrates every step of Earnhardt’s rise through NASCAR’s ranks, from turning a wrench on his daddy’s late-model sedans to showing his youngest boy, Dale Jr., the quickest way around a track. The stories and rich photography show sides of Earnhardt rarely seen by fans, told by those who knew him best: his son, Dale Jr., his team owner, Richard Childress, his gas man, Chocolate Myers, and NASCAR’s CEO, Brian France; along with a team of the most respected motorsports writers in the business — Ed Hinton, Ryan McGee and Marty Smith, to name a few.


ALONG FOR THE RIDE Being a passenger with Dale at the wheel was anything but dull. BY ED HINTON

FIRST-CLASS DRIVERS Junior Johnson and Richard Petty remember their Hall of Fame classmate. BY RYAN MCGEE

THE WHOLE PACKAGE Earnhardt changed NASCAR with his mind as much as with his right foot. BY BRIAN FRANCE

FATHER KNEW BEST Dale didn’t finish school, but his daddy gave him a true education. BY RYAN MCGEE

RIGHT BESIDE HIM Teresa Earnhardt is the engine that’s kept DEI going. BY MIKE HEMBREE

THE DALE TRAIL Pilgrims flock to Kannapolis to uncover their hero’s roots. BY RYAN MCGEE

SON OF A GUN Add to the legend this tale of a boy, a dad, a toy car and a pistol. BY MARTY SMITH

TOTAL ACCESS: THE JUNKYARD DOGS No. 3‘s infamous gas man takes us over the wall. By CHOCOLATE MYERS

THE WINNING CUT Think Dale was intimidating on the track? Try cutting his hair. BY MARTY SMITH

“I WISH I COULD’VE RACED HIM” Today’s top driver remembers his first encounter with Big E. BY JIMMIE JOHNSON

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bristol Driver Intro Songs - Best, Worst and Huh?

As I sit here watching this week's American Idol elimination show, I'm reminded of some advice which is often proffered by the show's celebrity judges - "it's all about song choice".

That random bit of counsel wouldn't ordinarily apply to the realm of NASCAR.  But at this week's Food City 500 in Bristol, it is all about song choice as each driver will be introduced to the music of their choosing.

Today, the long awaited list of driver-selected tracks was finally made public.  I won't repost the entire setlist here, but there are several selections that warrant further analysis.

First off, you can't accuse Brad Keselowski of subtlety.  His choice of Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" speaks Keselowski's mind loud and clear.  Message received: don't expect to see a kinder, gentler BK any time soon.

Michael Waltrip wins the award for most personally appropriate track, with his pick of "Hillbilly Bone" by Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins.  Then again, Waltrip's Hillbilly isn't hidden "down deep inside" as the lyrics go - it's out there for all ya'll to see.

In the "won't my sponsor be happy?" category Martin Truex Jr. earns extra credit for his choice of the pleasantly repetitive "NAPA know-how" jingle (video below)  Yet he of Extenze fame (Kevin Conway), garners a close second with his double entendre-esque choice "Big Time" by Peter Gabriel.

David Ragan will do Unadilla proud with an homage to his home state courtesy of Charlie Daniels' "Devil Went Down to Georgia." And Juan Pablo Montoya scores for his 1990s throwback "Going the Distance" by Cake (one of my favorites, for sure).

Under the heading "things that make you go hmmm," I admit I'm puzzled by Kurt Busch's "Dukes of Hazzard" song selection.  Yes, the Duke Boys are ever-revered for their dirt road prowess in living rooms across America. But Busch with his Vegas swagger and glam line of sunglasses doesn't strike me as "just the good ol' boy" type.  However, maybe there's more to Kurt than meets the eye.

As of post time, the only drivers left to announce their intro tracks are David Blaney, Terry Cook, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin and David Stremme.  Stremme, who is often "#blamed" via Twitter for every wreck and fender bender on race day, might do well to choose a tongue-in-cheek tune, such as Milli Vanilli's "Blame It on the Rain".

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Few Bristol Predictions

Making predictions is a tricky business, especially for the psychically-challenged, like me. But be that as it may, I'm going to throw caution to the wind this week and offer up a few of my own Bristol prognostications.

I don't claim to have any insider information, but sometimes the future can be found just a easily by reading recent history as it can by looking at the stars.  And should I bat a thousand on the below predictions, I'm going to start playing the Florida Lottery, and pronto.

A milestone for Martin: If Mark GoDaddy Martin snags the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, it will be the 50th pole of his career.  And I think he's gonna do it.

Really, a pole isn't such a stretch, considering "The Kid" already has earned nine pole positions at the track - the most of any active driver (and tying Cale Yarborough for first all-time).

To top that, Martin did the Bristol sweep last year, earning both Sprint Cup Poles at BMS.

"Both times we went to Bristol last year, the guys gave me an awesome race car. We were fast right off the truck," Martin said. "I went out there and both times we were crazy fast. I remember thinking, 'This is crazy. I don't know how many more times I can do that to my heart!' But it's fun. And it's so rewarding to see the guys faces when we're at the top of the chart."

Carl keeps it clean - Given that Scotts is the sponsor of Saturday's Nationwide Race, I've no doubt that Carl Edwards will be on his best on-track behavior where Brad Keselowski is concerned.  After all, Scotts did release a statement post Atlanta that included a thinly veiled admonition to the driver they sponsor. 

To wit - "Scotts appreciates the support of NASCAR fans everywhere, and we have an excellent relationship with Carl Edwards, Jack Roush and the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing team. However, like many fans, we were very concerned about the on-track incident that occurred in Atlanta this past weekend. As a result, we have strongly expressed these concerns to both Carl and Jack, and we are confident that they have a clear understanding of the trust we have placed in them as ambassadors of our company, our associates and our brands. In addition, as a sponsor, we want to make sure that drivers, race teams and NASCAR focus on keeping these types of incidents and misjudgments from happening."

Ouch! Look for Carl to smile for the cameras, keep his nose clean at Bristol and get tangled with Brad a few weeks later down the line.

Special K stays in the top 35 - Speaking of Brad, even though Keselowski seems to have a nose for trouble, and Bristol is a track where trouble comes calling, I predict BK will sneak out of Bristol with a top 35 points standing.  I'm sure his detractors would like nothing better than for Keselowski to lose three positions on Sunday, but I don't think it'll happen.  He's got something to prove and my bet is, he'll have a strong finish this weekend.

Best race of the weekend won't be for points - If last year's "senior skins" race at Bristol Motor Speedway  was any indication, the Scotts EZ Seed Showdown on Saturday night will be the most fun race of the weekend.  NASCAR legends Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Dave Marcis, Harry Gant, Charlie Glotzbach, L.D. Ottinger, and more will be taking to the track Saturday night for a 35-lap sprint to glory. I, for one, can't wait. And based on last year's stellar third-place performance, I predict Ottinger will take the checkers.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Cure For the Off-Weekend Blues

The first off weekend during the season is always tough. You're used to inaction during the bleak months of  December and January - and the holiday season keeps NASCAR off your mind a bit.

But this weekend? Terrible.

After the Atlanta throwdown between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski - having to wait 'til Bristol to see the feud participants take the track seems especially cruel.

Thank God for the guys at Carey and Coffey. Carey and Coffey is a NASCAR radio show which airs every Sunday on 940 AM ESPN Radio in Connecticut and 1510 AM ESPN Radio in New York - and online.

Being on the show is a blast, and this week, I was the first guest to debut the show's new feature "Blogger Nation". 

If you're suffering NASCAR withdrawals this weekend like yours truly, maybe giving the show a listen will cure what ails you.  In addition to me, the guys talked to Tom Bowles from and  and Jerry Gappens from New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Get Your Tix for the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge!

Tickets for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge go on sale Saturday, March 13.

This year's Challenge is scheduled for Wednesday, May 19 at 7 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte and will air on SPEED at 9 p.m. that evening. Now in its sixth year, the competition precedes NASCAR Rev’d Up, a NASCAR-themed festival held in Charlotte, N.C. on May 20, and is a signature lead-in event to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Saturday, May 22 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

To qualify, teams must be eligible for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race or be the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Champion. NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race eligibility includes all NASCAR Sprint Cup race winners from 2009 and 2010, NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race winners from the past 10 years and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions from the past 10 years who are active drivers and have competed in at least one series event during the 2009 or 2010 season. Remaining unfilled positions will become available to the car owners ranked highest in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner points standings as of May 17.

The following teams are currently eligible: No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, No. 5 Chevrolet, No. 9 Budweiser Ford, No. 11 FedEx Toyota, No. 12 Penske Dodge, No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet, No. 17 Crown Royal Ford, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, No. 39 US Army Chevrolet, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, No. 71 Chevrolet, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, and No. 88 National Guard/AMP Chevrolet.

Ticket prices start at $15 and can be purchased online at or by calling the Time Warner Cable Arena box office at (800) 495-2295.

Photo info: The No. 29 Pit Crew compete in last year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Pit Crew Challenge

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Edwards Gets a Mere Slap on the Helmet

The much-awaited news came from the mustachioed lips of Mike Helton this afternoon - Carl Edwards will race at Bristol.  He'll be put on three weeks probation and he will not be docked dollars or points.

Not bad for a cheap shot that could have killed a fellow driver or a fan in the grandstands.

I realize Edwards didn't mean to send Brad Keselowski hurtling through the dirty air of Atlanta, but he did mean to hit him.  And he meant to hit him hard, and at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour to boot. 

Edwards is smart enough to know that the No. 12 car would do more than a graceful spin through the infield turf.  He was just too mad to care.

I've been a fan of Edwards for a while now, but his lapse of judgment on Sunday should have warranted more than a slap on the helmet.  And it's not the first time the driver of the No. 99 car has exhibited judgment of a questionable nature.  His attempt to fight Kevin Harvick in the Nationwide garage following Edwards' 2008 Talladega fiasco comes first to mind.  Then there was the dustup at Michigan with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2006.

So now Edwards is on probation and the boys in the hauler will be watching him like a hawk.  But he hasn't really been punished (unless you count the meeting he'll be forced to sit through with Keselowski and NASCAR before Bristol).

Let's just hope Cousin Carl doesn't retaliate in haste the next time he gets hot under the collar.

Headed to Bristol? There's an App for That

The folks who published Liz Allison's latest book - "The Ultimate NASCAR Insider's Track Guide" - have developed a few new iPhone apps designed to help fans make the most of their race experience.

From dining and shopping to lodging and tips for getting driver autographs, each app covers a lot of ground at the tracks of Bristol, Daytona, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Fontana. The home screen features an outline of the track layout - click on a car to get to listings of restaurants, hotels, and area attractions. There is a how-to for ticket purchasing, tips on what you can [and can’t] bring in to the grandstands, instructions for using a garage area access pass, and more.

The app also includes a section on what to do in case of an emergency, whether it’s you or your four-legged friend. All phone numbers will automatically dial when clicked for any establishment listed [iPhone only].

There's a separate app for each track listed above - and each one can be downloaded for 99 cents each.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Notes From Atlanta Motor Speedway

There are two things race fans should remember to pack before heading to future races at Atlanta Motor Speedway - earplugs and cash. 

First, the racing at Atlanta is fast and loud - and if you don't have protective earwear, sitting through the race is going to be tough/borderline impossible.  I tried it and then grew worried that I might develop a certain degree of permanent auditory damage.

Second, the concession stands don't accept credit/debit cards, so be sure you take enough cash to purchase food and drinks. If not, you'll have to find an ATM and then wait in line to use it, or else beg an obliging tailgater for a spare morsel or two.

I learned both of those lessons early on Sunday.  But other than that, Atlanta is a great place to watch a race. I don't think there's a bad seat in the grandstands - and for a girl who'se used to the behemoth venues of Daytona and Talladega, I appreciated the all inclusive sightline.

I also enjoyed the pre-race hours in the garage, meandering down pit road and hanging out in the infield for driver introductions.  And though I love NASCAR, the day's highlight for was getting a close-up look at the gold medals of the United States' Men's Bobsled Olympic champs.  Photos below:

Driver of the No. 12, Brad Keselowski signs autographs for fans on his way to the driver's meeting.  Little did he know he'd be sent on a high-flying wreck fest in a few hours by this guy:

A calm Carl Edwards is interviewed in the garage area before the race.  He wasn't so calm a while later.

Country music star Blake Shelton and Robby Gordon's car both hit the wall in the beginning laps of the Kobalt Tools 500.

The happiest looking tires on pit road ...

Olympic gold medalists in the men's bobsled - Steve Mesler and Steven Holcomb pose for photos back stage at driver introductions.  I asked Mesler if his was a real gold medal or just a fake one he used for events like this.  He assured me it was the real deal!

Dawsonville's  favorite son and NASCAR legend - Awesome Bill Elliott

Dale Earnhardt Jr. handed Kyle Petty a big check Sunday morning for $1 million. The generous donation will go to Petty's Victory Junction camp.  Before they took the stage however, the two spent a few minutes chatting.  From what I could hear of their conversation, it sounded like Kyle Petty was telling a racing story.  I would have liked to hear the whole thing, but it would've been ill-mannered to tell him to speak up...

Kasey Kahne is announced at driver introductions.

Catching Up With Joey Logano

It was a bitterly cold morning early Sunday in Atlanta.

And that's when I caught up with Joey Logano, the driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota.  Logano was waiting for the Coca-Cola Track Walk to begin, and there were hundreds of folks waiting on him and fellow Coca-Cola driver Bobby Labonte to get the walk started before the race.

Joey was bundled up against the chill, and confessed to having on  three jackets. But despite the weather, he was ready to hit track and was hopeful about his team's potential at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"I feel a lot better about this track in general, but I feel like this is one of my tougher race tracks I need more speed at,  but we had a good practice yesterday," Logano said. "We didn't qualify good but besides that we're pretty good in race trim.  We'll plug along. We'll be alright."

Unfortunately, Logano didn't have the day he had hoped Sunday - he tangled early on with Carl Edwards and ended the day in 35th place.  But Logano still has the highest points standing of all JGR drivers and he's ready to better that spot with a few good races.

He's also ready to put his much-publicized feud with Greg Biffle behind him.

"I really haven't talked to him," Logano said. "But we kind of move on and get past it. We just gotta race."

Photo - Joey Logano talks to fans before Sunday's Coca-Cola Track Walk at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Race Kenseth and Take Home the Bucks

After securing another top-five finish this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth will return to the Nevada track later in the year when the driver may face his stiffest competition yet.

Crown Royal will run a season-long “Race Matt” promotion, where fans (where legally eligible) will be able to enter to race the former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, prior to the season-ending banquet.

In all, three fans will be selected at various intervals throughout the season to compete in the finale in Las Vegas for the chance to win $17,000. Each of the three winners will also receive a trip for two to Charlotte , N.C. , where they will complete a mentorship program and tour the Roush Fenway Headquarters in an effort to prepare for their big day against Kenseth.

Adult fans (21 and over) can enter the promotion at throughout the season, and by entering will also automatically receive entry to a local market sweepstakes for a VIP at-track experience at a nearby track. The local program will be fulfilled at various tracks throughout the season, beginning on April 10.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Story Behind "Red Dirt Rising"

"Red Dirt Rising," a new film about the beginnings of stock car racing will make its world premiere May 15 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. A cinematic labor of love, "Red Dirt Rising" is the end result of a community of folks who love racing.  And the music video used to promote the film even features a cameo by NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson and his son Robert.

I caught up with Todd Morris, the marketing director for "Red Dirt Rising," and found out a little more about the film, where you can see it, and how the whole thing came together in the first place.

Tell me a little about the story behind “Red Dirt Rising”. How did the film come about?
"The film started with the vision of Gary Lewallen, racing legend Jimmie Lewallen's son. Jimmie is who the movie was based around. Gary grew up in a racing family and had been around many of these first legends his whole life. He realized quickly he was living in the midst of stock cars' earliest heroes and was driven to tell the story of what it was like for these first families. These first drivers never raced for money or trophies - they raced for the love of racing itself and it became a labor of love for everyone involved in making the film. This film would never have seen the light of day if it had not been for all of the support in the racing community and from the friends of Jimmie Lewallen. I'm not sure that another project will ever have as much heart behind it as 'Red Dirt Rising' does."

Why is this an important story to tell – who is your target audience?
"One of many reasons we wanted to tell this story is we want to open the eyes of many younger race fans to the fact that there was a whole generation of drivers that raced prior to NASCAR forming officially. We want them to see what drove these early legends - and why they were so passionate. We also are fulfilling the desires of many other old drivers and their families as well as old race fans to share this story as it was very similar to their own families' experiences with the history of racing."

What do you hope audiences walk away with after leaving the theater?
"We hope when they leave the movie they will have a much stronger appreciation of the first legends of racing and their families - these were the ones who paved the way to stock racing as we know it today and every last one of them, big names or small, really need to be recognized as true pioneering legends. These pioneers of racing were the initial foundation that stock car racing was built on."

What’s the release schedule for "Red Dirt Rising" ?
"Well, that question is asked often lately. We have lots of special events currently lined up to include a special fundraising screening with Racers Reunion/Love Chevrolet Columbia Speedway event on April 17th. May 15th, we have the world premiere at the North Wilkesboro Speedway. This event will be an all day at the track event for everyone to enjoy and includes the Buck Bakers Driving School day program, and then in the evening we have North Wilkesboro Speedway's first race since re-opening with the Legendary Flathead Ford' Racing Series. After the race, a live concert performance by Matt Dylan (Carolina Moonshine) and at dusk watch the movie on the track - this will be a big event and will also include cars from the movie, antique moonshine cars and many if not all of the cast and crew from the movie on hand to meet and greet and sign autographs. In June, we will be in Tennessee at the White Lightning Festival in Cumberland Gap showing the film Friday and Saturday at the Festival. We are currently in discussions with a major theater chain discussing both regional and national releases into their theaters. We are also in discussions with a distributor about releasing the DVD very soon.

How did you get Junior Johnson to do a cameo in the music video for the film?
"How did Junior get involved? Hard to be short on this question, but basically we just asked him! We asked if he and Robert (Junior's son) would like to be in a music video. We got them a copy of the song and they liked it. Carolina Moonshine mentions Junior, Lewallen and Blair (from Red Dirt Rising) in the song and they had all raced together in the past and knew each other. If anyone has met Junior then you already know how much of a gentleman he truly is and he would just about give the shirt off his back if you asked nice enough. It was an incredible experience for all of us making the video and having Junior and Robert as well as North Wilkesboro Speedway be a part of helping us to promote our movie - not to mention Junior fed all of us breakfast on his farm. We are all still talking about that!

How important is the music to this story?
"About the song and our music - we had basically finished our movie, completed, or thought we completed, the soundtrack back in the late fall and then we received a rogue e-mail from a one Matt Dylan telling us about his song about moonshine and stock cars called "Carolina Moonshine". He asked if we would be interested in using it in the film. I told him things were kinda locked up but send it anyway and I would at least share it with everyone since I was sure we would at least appreciate the song. It came in and when we heard it, it stopped us in our tracks. Matt's song truly captured how racing began. Our soundtrack includes Emmy and Grammy winning artists and songwriters and Matt's song fell right in place, so much so we got our crew and many of the race community as well as many noted, retired moonshiners and a retired state trooper together to pull off the music video shoot. It has been well received and has helped tremendously in promoting our film."

And one last note about "Red Dirt Rising" - a portion of the film and soundtrack proceeds will be donated to the Racing Legends Medical and Hardship Fund that was founded in 1991 by Jimmie Lewallen and Mike Sykes. The fund was established to assist drivers, mechanics, and team owners who qualify for assistance.

Monday, March 1, 2010

One Million Reasons to Like Dale Jr.

Victory Junction, announced today that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will donate $1 million to build and maintain the Dale Jr. Corral and Amphitheatre at the Randleman, NC camp.

Started by Kyle and Pattie Petty, Victory Junction is a not-for-profit camp that provides camping experiences for children with chronic medical conditions and serious illnesses.

An no matter how you feel about Junior's place in NASCAR, you've got to respect a guy who will donate that much money to such an honorable cause.

Per the official press release, "There are many reasons why we wanted to get involved with Victory Junction and build this amphitheatre, and it starts with the tremendous impact the camp has on these kids. It’s incredible how one week changes lives,” said Earnhardt Jr.

“Just as important to me is my friendship with Kyle and Pattie Petty, and the memory of my buddy, Adam Petty. Adam and I met each other at an early age, and from that point on our lives and careers were virtually parallel. He was as genuine as they get and a great friend. If I can play a small part in helping Kyle and Pattie keep his dream alive, it doesn’t require a second thought.”

Said Kyle Petty, "Pattie and I are extremely humbled by Jr.’s kindness and generosity. We’ve known Jr. since he was a kid and it means the world to us that he is honoring our son, Adam, by helping change the lives of these kids,” said Kyle Petty. “Adam is definitely smiling.”

And, for those of you who missed it, Junior was also busy in Washington, DC last week attending the Champions Gala for the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, a program which gives young people a second chance at earning a high school diploma.

Junior talked about his involvement with the program during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. You can see the segment here.

Photo info: Dale Earnhardt Jr. answers questions on the Chevy Stage before the Daytona 500.

Hit the Track with Labonte and Logano

This Sunday, before the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, fans can join 2000 Sprint Cup Champion Bobby Labonte and 2009 Rookie of the Year Joey Logano as they take the first lap of the day on foot.

The Coca-Cola Track Walk is free and open to ticket and credentials holders. Entry into the track will be at Gate 15, and the walk begins at 9 a.m.

After the walk, there will be activities for the whole family, including games, music, racing simulators, motivating lifestyle tips and Q&A sessions with drivers.

Photo info: This past Coca-Cola Track Walk attracted hundreds of race fans