Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dale Jr's No. 3 Wrangler Tribute - Smartest Business Move of the Year

Today's announcement that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet at Daytona this summer may have been the worst-kept secret in all of NASCAR.

But the lack of shock value at the car's unveiling didn't seem to matter to the tried-and-true Earnhardt fans watching the live webcast streamed by DEI this afternoon.

If online chatter is any barometer, Earnhardt  fans and Junior Nation alike were thrilled to the gills about Dale the younger driving his father's famous number (and the old-school paint scheme) on the Daytona asphalt. Many watching the web cast commented they had already pre-ordered the diecast, t-shirts and other merchandise that will be available as part of the special car's promotion.

It's just such fan reaction that will make this unexpected collaboration between the oft-maligned Teresa Earnhardt, Dale Jr. and Richard Childress go down as racing's smartest business move in 2010.

Let's face it. Ticket sales are down. Merchandise sales stink. Fans have less income and are highly particular about how they spend it. In this economy, you have to offer spectacular product to make big bucks.

And with the Daytona race coming on the heels of Earnhardt's induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, nobody could argue that the No. 3 Wrangler tribute, and all that when into making it happen, is pretty darn spectacular.

Per the offical Daytona International Speedway press release -

The legendary No. 3 car with Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel will be returning to the historic high banks of Daytona International Speedway in the Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Friday, July 2.

"The No. 3 car has always been a favorite among our race fans here at Daytona,” said Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig. “Having Dale Earnhardt Jr. competing at the ‘World Center of Racing’ with the storied No. 3 will be an exciting moment that all race fans will want to witness in person.”

Tickets for the race are available online at or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Photo: The Earnhardts and Richard Childress pose with the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet which Dale Jr. will drive this July at Daytona, from @MikeDavis88 via Twitter.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chat Live With Busch, Hamlin and Logano

The M&M’s Most Colorful Fans Facebook Page will host a live video chat with Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano on Monday, May 3 at noon.

Fans will have the chance to submit questions during the chat. To join the conversation, just “like” the Most Colorful Fans Facebook page and head to

The live chat kicks off the launch of the new M&M’S Most Colorful Fan Virtual Tailgate Zone on NASCAR.COM. Fans can visit www.NASCAR.COM/MostColorfulFan for news, tailgate recipes and share their passion for NASCAR with each other via posts, photos and videos.

In addition, 2010 marks the third year of the M&M’S The Most Colorful Fan of NASCAR Contest, giving fans the opportunity to show their colors by uploading photos to starting on Memorial Day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Little Dega Eye Candy

For those of you who weren't present at Sunday's Talladega race, my sincere condolences.  It was NASCAR Nirvana.

Unpredictable. Exciting. Dramatic. You name it, this Dega race had it. And after such a fantastic day of racing, it's hard to get back to workaday reality.

Here are a few of the sights I captured before the race.  Enjoy the photos and take my advice - order your ticket for the Fall Talladega race as soon as you can.  No self-respecting NASCAR fan should miss this.

Tony Stewart's Old Spice Chevy - I didn't get close enough to sniff him, but I wonder if Smoke actually wears this stuff?  My granddad used to ...

In the words of Martina McBride, "This One's for the Girls". NASCAR hunk Carl Edwards takes a moment in the garage to talk to broadcasters and sign a few autographs.

Talladega is a heartless mistress.  And no driver has suffered her scorn more severely than Ryan Newman. I wonder if he'll take the advice screen-printed on his shirt when he returns to Dega this autumn?

Roll Tide! University of Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore served as the Grand Marshall Sunday. He's Bama diety, but even he seemed impressed with the boys of NASCAR. I heard him ask one of the photographers if he could get copies of his photos after the race.

The inside of Dale Jr's National Guard No. 88 Chevrolet, as it sits on the starting grid.

A.J. Allmendinger, David Reutimann and Jeff Burton chat it up before driver introductions.

Brad Keselowski may have exited the Cup race with an oxygen mask strapped to his face, but he rebounded in grand style to win the Nationwide race later that day.  Not too shabby.

Future teammates talking about 2011? Or two buddies catching up pre-race? Only Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman and Rick Hendrick know for sure ...

My favorite Talladega snapshot - is Kyle Busch giving big brother Kurt some driving lessons?

Talladega's favorite son, Dale Earnhardt Jr.  And rest assured you Junior fangirls, that hand with the wedding ring isn't Junior's. It belongs to Kurt Busch.

Jeff Gordon's Dupont Chevy on the starting grid. Such a promising start.  Such a disappointing finish.

Greg Biffle wins the day for the driver who signed the most autographs. Say what you will about The Biff, he knows how to treat the fans.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Talladega Highlights - As Ranked by Grandstand Reaction

For fans assembled at Talladega Superspeedway to witness one of the most exciting races in recent memory, there was only one thing wrong with how the race went down.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't win.

But with a record-breaking number of lead changes, three green and white checkers and a simmering feud between Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon that's come to a rolling boil - even the most stalwart Junior fan couldn't complain too much.  And if you looked across the mostly No. 88 clad multitude at the race's end, they weren't.

Compared to last November's Dega race, in which there were long patches of single file racing and an atmosphere of boredom through much of the green flag runs, Sunday's contest was a bona fide barn-burner.

I've judged the highlights by the amount of hooting and hollering going on in the stands at any given point. Here are the top five Dega moments as ranked by the folks in the grandstands -

5. Jeff Gordon wrecks. When the No. 24 Dupont Chevy rolled by the grandstand in a less exalted state than it had begun the race, the Dega fans (who typically don't think of Gordon too highly) cheered their pants off. Literally. One guy in front of me nearly lost his shorts, he was jumping around so much over Gordon's demise.

4. Jimmie Johnson wrecks. Johnson's spin into the wall caused quite a bit of exultation among the NASCAR congregation. I think I even heard a "Hallelujah" and an "Amen Brother". That's what you get for beating the competition handily nearly every week. Sometimes folks love to see a practically perfect person get their comeuppance.

3. Kevin Harvick dumps Jamie McMurray for the win. Normally, a last-minute bolt to the front and a few heart-stopping seconds to the checkers would outrank anything else on the cheer-o-meter. But this is Dega. Even Harvick's fantastic finish couldn't outdo Dale Jr's decent day for what was probably the largest assemblage of Junior Nation in history.

2. Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. - together again. Maybe it was a brief glimpse of the good ol' days when Mikey and Junior were DEI teammates, or maybe it was simply the fact that Junior was going to the front at Talladega. Whatever the reason, when these two re-united for a little push in the draft, the place went electric.

1. Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. hook up. When Smoke and Junior went nose to tail, fans went nutso. Not only was it sheer pandemonium in the stands, but my buddies at home watching the broadcast said you could hear the roar on TV. Talk about Talladega thunder. If Junior had actually managed to win it at the end, things could have gotten as loud as an F5 tornado.

Friday, April 23, 2010

No Break in the Weather for NASCAR

They say April showers bring May flowers.  But it sure would be nice if those April showers would stay away on race weekends.

For the third weekend this season, the odds are good that yet another race is going to fall victim to the whims of Mother Nature.

The Saturday forecast for Talladega is pretty dire - severe thunderstorms, hail and possible tornadoes.  Not necessarily racing, camping and partying weather.

However, NASCAR officials decided today that the Saturday show will go on - hopefully.  Here's the details from -

NASCAR official Jim Hunter said if the Nationwide race is postponed by weather Saturday it would be rescheduled as part of a doubleheader Sunday or on Monday.

Lynch said weather officials told him there is the possibility of one to five inches of rain falling in the track vicinity Saturday. But there also is the possibility of sunshine, he said, and the severe weather could bypass the track.

Hundreds of Alabama state troopers and many emergency services personnel and vehicles will be on speedway property during the weekend.

“The decision was made somewhat easier for us because a huge percentage of our crowd is already here,” Lynch said. “They’re going to be here whether we run this race or not. We will tell them to take precautions and secure everything at their campsites that could blow around. They have to take the necessary precautions that they deem reasonable.”

There are no shelters of significant size in the speedway area.

Hopefully Talladega will be spared any major weather, however, if storms do hit - there are some safety precautions racegoers can take. The below information is courtesy of FEMA:

"If you're in a vehicle, trailer, or mobile home - Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.

If you're outside with no shelter - Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding.

Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.

Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries"

Hopefully, the Darrell Waltrip School of Meteorology is correct in their assertion that speeding cars create a climate vortex which keeps inclimate weather away. 'Cause it sure would be nice to get a break in the weather.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Whisky River Take My Mind

The feud between Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon might be headline news in Charlotte this week. But down here in the wilds of North Florida, everyone is talking about Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Last night, Earnhardt hosted a "private" grand opening party at his new Whisky River location in Jacksonville, Fla.

I use the term "private" loosely, as folks were packed in hip-to-hip and the line of private pass holders wrapped around the building at one point.

However, as advertised, Dale Jr. showed up just before 9 p.m. His entrance was very low key - he walked into the VIP area without any fanfare or a large entourage. In fact, his entree into the club was so inconspicuous, that many of the partiers on hand didn't even know he had entered the building - which is his usual M.O. if you've ever seen him at the track.

Still, word did spread and pretty soon the VIP section had transformed into a fishbowl with Junior the main guppy. Even after the driver took the stage to welcome the crowd and introduce country music up-and-comer Luke Bryan, lots of fans remained focused on who was clearly the real star of the night.

But even though he was playing second fiddle, Bryan rocked the stage in grand style. Having just been named Top New Artist by the Academy of Country Music, Bryan knew how to keep the buzz going. In addition to his hits "Rain Is a Good Thing" and "Do I," Bryan treated the crowd to a sing-a-long version of the old Nitty Gritty Dirt Band classic "Fishin' in the Dark."

Earlier in the night, one of the bartending "Whisky Chicks" told me that Junior was expected to make only a very brief appearance and not stay for the show. Interestingly, this ended up being false. The driver stayed long after I left - and per the folks at Whisky River - even participated in a late-night pizza cookoff with the boys in the kitchen.

And the Junior buzz didn't quite die down today either. The driver was barely out of town before news broke courtesy of FOX and ESPN that Junior will be driving the #3 in this summer's Nationwide Daytona race. Reports say it won't be the black #3, but the Wrangler paint scheme. We shall see.

We shall also see about Talladega this weekend. With all this drowning in Junior-ness, I can't help but predict that he'll win at Dega this Sunday. After all, the spoiler is back, he and the #88 team seem to have their act together, and Junior Nation is hungry for a win.

Who knows? Maybe this week's foray into the Florida sand will bring him some good luck on Sunday.

Photo info: Top - Invitation to Whisky River Private Grand Opening Party. Middle - Dale Earnhardt Jr. welcomes the crowd and introduces singer Luke Bryan. Bottom - Junior and the guys in the Whisky River kitchen compete in a pizza cookoff (photo courtesy of Whisky River Jax).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rain Delays Make For Good Reading

To paraphrase "The Old Perfesser" Casey Stengel, "Now there's three things you can do in a NASCAR race: You can win or you can lose or it can rain."

You can say that again.

While fans watched and waited and watched some more, the radar over Texas played the NASCAR faithful false, promising clear skies and an end to the wet while delivering only more drops and and puddles at the track.

After napping through much of FOX's extended Texas broadcast, this fan awoke to the news that both the Cup and Nationwide races would be postponed 'til Monday - leaving me feeling cheated out of some green flag gratification.

However, life is all about how you handle Plan B.  So, with Plan A a wash, I turned to Twitter to read how the drivers were coping with the downpour.

I discovered that the guys at Red Bull Racing were participating in some sort of infield Olympics. Kevin Harvick left the track to hit The Cheesecake Factory and a movie.  Juan Pablo Montoya was just plain bored. And Dale Earnhardt Jr. was devising ways to get NASCAR PR girl Jen Powell to work the word "knockers" into an official e-mail bulletin (I kid you not).

For me, there's nothing better on a rainy day than curling up with a long book and some hot tea.  And, when I'm wearing my NASCAR hat, I swap my book for a laptop and catch up on my racing reading.

Below are a few of my favorite NASCAR blogs- ones I try to read on a regular basis, or a least when I have a spare minute (like rain delays for instance):

The boys at The Spotter Stand do one heckuva job on their self-made web site.  I especially enjoy reading their Catch Can feature - can't wait to meet them in person at Talladega.

The folks at Rubbings Racing cover the sport carefully and well - and their podcasts are fantastic. If you've never checked them out before, do so immediately. You won't be disappointed.

Another one of my fave racing blogs is Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie - they've always got some  interesting opinions to share. To wit, this post on Ryan Newman's recent surge.

For those of a more literary inclination, my buddy Ovalscream has some of the most comprehensive and well-written posts on the web. He's the New York Times of the NASCAR blogosphere. USA Today fans take heed!

Finally, there's no better site to find out the revised NASCAR TV schedule than The Daly Planet - John Daly's informative, up-to-the-minute blog about all things relating to NASCAR's TV coverage.  The site is slam-packed with info., plus he's a nice guy to boot.

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just One Month 'Til the Premiere of Red Dirt Rising

During a week in which the future of NASCAR is the hottest topic, the folks behind the new film "Red Dirt Rising" are thinking about the sport's past.  It's beginning, actually.

One month from today, "Red Dirt Rising" will premiere at a special event at North Wilkesboro Speedway.  On May 15, the Speedway will re-open after 10 years.  Flathead Fords will take to the track for a 20-lap race, and afterwards fans can get a first look at the movie.

"Red Dirt Rising" tells a tale of love in the time of moonshine, when racing’s earliest heroes were born. The story follows the lives of three young men who come of age to find escape from life’s challenges on the track, ultimately shaping the future of their families and stock car racing during the Fightin’ Forties.

Tickets for the premiere are available in advance at . Keep up with all the happenings by joining the fan site on facebook or

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Martin Integral In Naming His Successor

It's official.  Kasey's coming to Hendrick Motorsports.

Kasey Kahne will drive the No. 5 car  for HMS in 2012 and Mark Martin will run his final full season in 2011.

The ink on the deal is still wet, but Rick Hendrick told the media today, via  teleconference, that Kahne has been in his sights since Ray Evernham hired the youngster back in the day.

More intriguing is what Hendrick revealed about Martin's role in the deal. Apparently, Martin was key to naming his own succssor.

"Mark came to me a year ago saying that’s the guy you oughta put in the car," Hendrick explained. "It’s been on the radar for a good while."

About a year ago, Martin was also encouraging Kahne to take a serious look at Team Hendrick.

"I talked to Mark Martin and learned a lot about the place from Mark and talked to him about things," Kahne explained. "He had a lot of really good advice."

Kahne's ride for 2011 has yet to be announced.  Hendrick declined to give any specifics today regarding where Kahne will go during that one-year interim.

However, the team owner did say fans will have the answer to this and other questions soon enough.

"I don’t think it's something we've got any deadline on," Hendrick said. "But surely we should have something done in the next 90 days."

Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kahne's Move Begs a Couple Questions

You may think it's a bit early for silly season - but don't tell that to Kasey Kahne.

News broke today that Kahne will leave Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of 2010. And the early word is that he'll join Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, as the driver of the No. 5 car.

Which begs a couple questions.

First, what's Kahne going to do in in that pesky year between 2010 and 2012?  The speculation has begun, with most folks opining that Kasey will take his curly-headed good looks over to the tough guys at Stewart-Haas Racing for 2011.  This theory makes sense given that SHR is, for all intents and purposes, practically an extension of the powerhouse that is HMS.

Second question - does this mean NASCAR fans have just one more year to cheer on Mark Martin?  Martin hardly seems ready to  replace his race car with a rocking chair.  However, Martin has already almost retired before.  Maybe he's finally ready to hang up his firesuit.

OR will Kahne not take the No. 5 car at all?  There have been online rumblings that ever since Gordon found himself in the family way, he has decided against racing into his dotage. It sure would be something if Gordon was the driver to exit HMS instead.

One thing's for certain.  If Kahne wants to fit in at HMS, he's going to have to try to grow a beard.

Photo Info: Top - Kasey Kahne signs autographs at Talladega last Fall.  Bottom - Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson pose at Daytona 500 practice in 2010.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Weekend for the Good Guys

Phil Mickelson wasn't the only good guy who had one heckuva weekend.

It may not have been The Masters, but Ryan Newman's Saturday night sure was nothing to sneeze at.

To say Newman has had a tough couple of years is an understatement.  And that's probably why when Newman hopped out of his car after his Phoenix win, his joy was palpable.

"This is the most emotional victory I've ever had in my entire career just because it's been so long," Newman said.

As of late, Newman's career has been highlighted by a two-year winless streak and and a heart-stopping flight through the air at Talladega last Fall.  Not what you'd call a lucky streak.

Yet as the Subway Fresh Fit 600 wound down, Newman ran his No. 39 Tornados Chevy to the front in a late-race move, and held off a hard-charging Jeff Gordon during the final two laps.

Seeing Newman back in Victory Lane gave fans the warm and fuzzies. It always puts a smile on your face to see an athlete that hasn't won in a while get back his mojo.  But it's especially cheering when that athlete is a certifiable good guy.

Just ask a Phil Mickelson fan.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fireball Gets His Due

Edward Glenn "Fireball" Roberts is what you'd call a legend.

The Floridian driver, who got his start on the hard-packed Daytona sand, racked up 33 wins in his NASCAR career - including one at the 1962 Daytona 500.  He finished second in points in his rookie season and set an impressive 400 NASCAR records all told.

Roberts' outstanding career was much too short.  He died 37 days after being pulled from a fiery wreck at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1964.

Today, the folks at the NASCAR Hall of Fame announced via Facebook that Roberts' jacket and its contents will be displayed at the Hall's Heritage Speedway exhibit when  it opens next month.  And my guess is that the driver will officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the next couple years.

But Fireball recently received another more subtle tribute, courtesy of a pre-eminent American songwriter.  The John Hiatt-penned "Fireball Roberts" is track number 10 on Hiatt's new album "The Open Road." 

"Got a 57 Ford baby, paint it Fireball Roberts white and red
Got a 57 Ford baby, paint it Fireball Roberts white and red
Got a 57 Ford baby, paint it Fireball Roberts white and red
I haven't run my last race darlin', but I sometimes wish I did."

As is the guiding principle of John Hiatt's music - this song is more than worthy of a listen.

In addition to Hiatt's blues-tinged tribute, my buddies The Cedar Creek Boys included a Fireball-inspired tune on their CD "Ain't Nothin' But Music" - you can check it out on their Facebook page.

Photo info: Fireball Roberts drove this 1957 Holman Moody prepared Ford for NASCAR.  However, the car was supercharged, and NASCAR later banned supercharged cars from running, so Roberts later ran the car in the USAC circuit.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Smokes Goes Green at Phoenix

Check out these pix of Tony Stewart's lean green Phoenix machine. Smoke's No. 14 car is "goin' green" for Earth Day - and for a new partnership between his sponsor Office Depot® and EarthEra®.

Stewart will run the special car Saturday, April 10, during the Subway Fresh Fit 600 race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Office Depot's new Greener Shipping Program encourages eligible Office Depot customers to “grow greener” by changing how they buy office supplies. When eligible customers eliminate small orders, increase average order size and help reduce delivery frequency, Office Depot will provide rebates on certain green products and purchase EarthEra products on the customer’s behalf.

To watch the special paint scheme being wrapped on the No. 14 car, check out this link.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Thank God for Nationwide

After the Martinsville race was delayed to Monday, Easter weekend seemed like the second consecutive off weekend for Sprint Cup competition.  And two non-NASCAR Sundays in a row, just don't cut it this early in the season.

But, luckily, as is becoming frequently the case, the Nationwide Series saved the day. And so far this year, the boys in Nationwide are providing the best show in NASCAR. 

Every NNS race is exciting.  There's more than one feud to keep things dramatic. And the rivals du jour (Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski) are leading the points standings - with only a mere 16 ticks between them.

Talk about good television.

Saturday Jason Leffler got parked for reckless driving.  Mired in the back, Brad Keselowski sliced through the field - passing five cars in one swoop.  And Kevin Harvick took only two tires during a late-race caution to hold off a hard-charging Reed Sorenson and claim the guitar trophy for his own safekeeping.

Not bad for a Saturday afternoon in Nashville.  I just wish the Cup races were this exciting ...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

TV Guide NASCAR Edition On Sale Now

The TV Guide Magazine: NASCAR Special Collector’s Issue, is on newsstands now. The 88-page, special interest publication will be sold online and on newsstands for two months.

Capitalizing on the magazine’s 50-plus years of television content, this Special Collector’s Issue features unique content from NASCAR journalists, insider access, and the latest up-to-the-minute information and news features on NASCAR.

What will you find inside?  Here's a sneak peek:

It’s Showtime! – Go behind the scenes of  Showtime’s eye-opening new series, "Inside NASCAR". The new weekly series delivers fast-paced, inside-the-cockpit commentary from the sleekest set yet. Take a look at what’s in store and meet the all-star talent set for center stage.

Get With the Program – Season predictions from FOX, ESPN, TNT, SPEED, and BET’s on-air experts.

Catching Up With the Past – The NASCAR Hall of Fame salutes 60 years of legends, history and spectacular success on a road well-traveled. Get the first detailed look at the soon-to-open NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Leaders of the Track – Who are the top 25 best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racers?

Rush to Judgment – Get the latest road map to success in the 2010 chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. A graphic and statistical overview of each of the top 25 drivers in the Sprint Cup Series.

On Tracks – Take a look at the venues that power the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - each NASCAR track venue is featured along with maps and info.

Jr.’s Season on the Brink – Dale Earnhardt Jr. is driving to win again, and putting last year’s struggles in the rearview mirror. Here's what Dale Jr. and his fans expect this season.

Switching Gears – A look at the debut of Danica Patrick on the stock car scene. Can the Indy sensation generate the same heat in NASCAR?

Fans can purchase the issue at stores nationwide for $6.99. The guide is also available now on’s Superstore for $7.99 or free with a $50.00 purchase.