Okay- So our latest trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway was jam packed and full of fun. And I just wanted to use this space to tie everything together between the different postings Misty and I wrote regarding the weekend. (more…)
Well since it is an off weekend I decided to be a little lax about posting my weekly race report. I have been thinking about the race at Las Vegas. Usually when I am settling in at home on the couch with my phone within arms reach to watch a race I silently think to myself, Please let us have a good day…a top ten would be GREAT! A top ten finish would be even better! Of course I want a win for Tony. I definitely want a win. But I don’t want to be too greedy- I just don’t want anything too devestating…no damaged cars or people.
When I am at home I have my phone (NASCAR SPRINT CUP MOBILE) and sometimes I have my computer on my lap too. But in person, we were sitting up in our seats- not even a scanner. I think the scanners take away from the experience. I can’t explain why. I can tell you what I DO love…I love being able to see the drivers being driven around the track waving to the fans. I love to watch the teams gather in little circles for private prayer/peptalks before prerace. I LOVE the fly over. But there is nothing like standing and watching 43 cars take the green flag at a race. The sound of the cars, of the fans- it’s like nothing I have ever experienced.
So I am sitting there in the Petty Terrace and the race starts and Tony was STRONG and it wasn’t long and Tony was in the lead. And not only would Tony lead but he would pull AWAY. I don’t think I have ever watched a race where his car seemed so strong. I sat there and I was nervous. By lap 90 I was parched but like hell was I gonna get up and miss something. By lap 100 I had to pee but I wasn’t about to leave my seat so I just put it out of my mind and concentrated on watching Tony go round and round. If I had been at home I would have been pacing the living room.
I didn’t actually SEE what happened that caused the pass through penalty. Our seats in the terrace were at pit road out and I couldn’t really see Tony’s pits stops all that well. But I heard it over loud speaker. Ahh the disappointment. The Smoke fan in the row behind me was disappointed too. He grabbed his 14 hat and pulled it down over his face in disappointment. Oh I feel ya man. I feel ya.
However- one thing that you HAVE to love about Tony is that he does NOT give up. Now as I mentioned I did not have a scanner. So I can only imagine what he was saying. And honestly he might not have been even saying it over the air. But I know what I would have been saying if roles had been reversed. It might even make Tony Stewart blush! You never know. Anyway…what you have to love about Tony is that he doesn’t give up. He was moving through the field pretty well. Between that and a two tire stop pit stop for track position he was back towards the front of the field by the end of the race. I think that if the race had been longer or if there had been a caution- no question in my mind Tony would have won. None at all. But these are things that were not. And a second place should be celebrated. Especially when it means that Tony is now tied for the points lead with Kurt Busch. That is something that should be exciting.
But I have to say after seeing Tony with such a strong car I can not just reiterate his post race comment to Matt Yocum but I can feel it: Second sucks. Second indeed does suck.
My next post will showcase some of my pictures from the LAS VEGAS race weekend.
Starting today, through midnight (ET) on March 17th, NASCAR fans have the chance to help pick the paint scheme of two special cars that will be showcased in the pre-race show for the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 run on April 3rd, 2011.
As part of the Pick A Powder campaign rivalry between Richard Petty (representing Goody’s and The Victory Junction Gang) and Trace Adkins (representing BC and The Wounded Warriors Project), two sets of cars (two cars for the Victory Junction Gang Camp and two for Wounded Warriors Project) were designed by representatives chosen by the charities with the help of accomplished NASCAR artist Sam Bass.
The Victory Junction Gang Camp cars were created by Eleanor Bolton, a Victory Junction Gang camper and second grader from Davidson, North Carolina. She is eight years of age and has a medical condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a motor neuron disease that affects the voluntary muscles that are used for activities such as crawling, walking, head and neck control, and swallowing. These are her designs:
The Wounded Warrior Project cars were created by Cory Collins who was wounded 27 days into his first tour of duty in Iraq in 2005 when the truck he was in ran over a 500 lb IED. Collins was the only survivor in his truck. He spent five years going through surgeries and treatments trying to mend 30 broken or shattered bones, he ended up having to have his leg amputated in 2010. Within 34 days, Collins was walking again with the assistance of a prosthetic leg. These are his designs:
NASCAR fans can vote for their favorite paint scheme for each car by going to either the facebook page for Goody’s or the Facebook Page for BC. Like the page and click on the PICK A PAINT SCHEME link. You can then vote for one of the Victory Junction Paint schemes and one of the Wounded Warriors paint schemes.
You will then get to check out which cars won on the pre-race show at Martinsville Speedway on April 3rd.
Fans who live in areas where Goody’s and BC Powders are sold (they aren’t sold here on the west coast), fans have yet another way to support both charities. Adkins and Wounded Warrior Project are currently featured on specially-marked boxes of BC, and Petty and Victory Junction on select boxes of Goody’s. With each purchase made until March 31 of the BC and Goody’s specially-marked boxes, fans will help to give back to the organization affiliated with each brand.
When Badgroove.com was presented with an opportunity to meet with one of NASCAR’s most controversial drivers and talk to him about the sport that he is so passionate about, we welcomed the opportunity. Little did we know that we would get to take part in one of the coolest sponsor promotions for fans that I have heard of in quite some time. Early Friday, Miller Lite sent some reps out to talk to fans in the campground and gauge their interest in Miller and Coors. The reps promised they would return with some free beer later that evening, but what they didn’t know was that the beer would be delivered by the driver of the Miller Lite Dodge, Brad Keselowski. Badgroove got to ride along for the surprise deliveries and it was a blast.
In total we surprised three lucky camp sites and Brad met with numerous fans, some stunned, some amorous, but most impressed and excited to get a chance to talk to the driver, get some free beer and a memory that will surely, last a lifetime.
At the first site, as Brad held court in the center of the make-shift camper quad, one older man, approached and whispered with what can only be described as both awe and disbelief, “Is that Brad Keselowski?” Yes, sir, it is. Things heated up at the second site, when an amorous and adoring lady took a liking to Mr. Keselowski and wanted to show him that “rubbing is racing”, but the last site was the ultimate, as fans from other camp sites poured in to see what was going on and get a chance to talk to Brad and take part in this unique experience. The excitement level was off the charts and even as the cart pulled away, fans continued to run over asking for a picture. Brad was more than accommodating to everyone and impressed me with just how personable and open he truly is with the fans.
On the way back from the event, we did indeed get more than a few minutes to talk with Brad and what I learned is that this young man is in the right profession. His love of the sport comes through in every answer he gives, and even more impressive to me was how he described his competitors. Read for yourself and I think you, too, will be impressed by a driver that is sure to make a lasting mark in NASCAR.
Misty: Tell us a little bit about what you thought about doing this [the Miller Lite promotion for the fans]?
Brad: Well, it’s fun you know. This is like the grass roots of the sport. People that come out to races and camp out, just hang out and enjoy it as a weekend. Have some fun with the guys, or girls, the family and watch a great race, ya know? Racing has a huge allure to it because of just the campground lifestyle, so it’s great to kinda rejoin it and have some fun with it.
Misty: You get to see some fans and be a part of it?
Brad: Absolutely! The fans are the life blood of our sport, without them we are nothing.
Misty: You have the new sponsor, new number this year. We heard Kurt say earlier that for him it’s a whole new vibe this season. Do you feel the same way?
Brad: Oh yeah, absolutely! Lots of changes, and I think they are mostly good (chuckle). So hopefully we will continue to pick up on the performance side. I think that is the heart of the sport and uh, from there we will see where it goes, but I feel good about everything and the way we are going, and we will just kinda play it one day at a time.
Misty: Absolutely, and we heard a lot today in the media center about how drivers are surprised at how aggressive it has gotten in just the early part of the season, and early on in the races. What do you attribute that to?
Brad: We are all just ready to race. No testing, no off season, we are all just hungry. The competition level is unprecedented. You know, there are so many drivers, the same age, the same talent level, that the only way you are really going to make a mark in this sport is by being extremely aggressive, because you are not going to out talent anyone. Ya know, you are not going to out work them. You just have to be more aggressive, and make smarter decisions. So that is really, really tough and when people get really aggressive that is when accidents happen.
Misty: We have seen the slogan on the back of the car, “Have At It Brad”…
Brad: Yeah, yeah (laughs) that was cool, wasn’t it?
Misty: Yeah, definitely. So it sounds like that is a characteristic you are willing to embrace and run with?
Brad: It’s a core, uh, it’s part of the core of the sport…the whole boys have it and basically we kinda got away from it the last few years and now we are kinda coming back to it, and I think it is starting to pay dividends and I think the fans are starting to recognize just how fun racing is.
Misty: Yeah, that was my next question; do you think the fans like this a lot more?
Brad: I think so; I like it a lot more. Hell, a couple years ago I wouldn’t even watch one of our races and now I watch ‘em all. So, that’s cool.
Misty: Alright, and last question is what would you want our readers, or NASCAR fans in general, to know about you?
Brad: Oooh… what would I want them to know about me…uh, well…you know basically that the biggest thing and the message that I try to get across whether verbally or non verbally is that I am all in to the sport, I eat it, drink it, sleep it, and leave everything there is on the table on the race track, and uh, that is what I am all about. That’s why I love this sport; it has that ability to get that out in me. And sometimes different people might disagree with different things I have done, but they are all done in the name of the sport and trying to honor it and the opportunity that was given to me.
Misty: Alright, I actually lied ’cause I have one more question for you, what’s your primary goal this season?
Brad: Just continue to get better, and everything I do, everything we do as a team affects the racing.
Misty: Alright, well thank you very much.
Brad: You got it!
Our race weekend started on Thursday with a quick interview with Tony Stewart. If you have been around here any length of time you know two things about me. First is that I am a Tony Stewart fan. Secondly is that during the race season I will mention every one of Tony’s Office Depot Appearances that I know about (and any other appearances as well) here on the blog. The reason I do this is that I genuinely like going to Tony’s appearances and I like to suggest that if you are fan you go to one if you can possible swing it. They are fun I promise. I got the worst sunburn ever standing in line at the parking lot of a Home Depot in Rancho Cucamonga. Let’s just say the next day at the track multiple people told me I was sunburned and needed to put on more sunblock. It was weird telling them that I knew I was sunburned and had gotten it at the local home improvement store NOT at the track. But I have to tell you if you are going to go to one of the appearances of ANY driver get there early….real early. Most appearances are limited to a set amount people- so usually wristbands or tickets are handed out and they can go early. I personally know someone that wanted to see Carl Edwards at a local store appearance in Vegas the same day as Tony’s appearance. She went only a couple hours before he was suppose to be there and there were NO wristbands left. So get to the store as early as possible to get your wristband. You usually don’t have to stay in line after you get your wristband…but many people do:
It looks crazy I know. But there is a camaraderie that builds when you are standing in line. How can it not? You are standing in line usually for several hours. You end up talking to your neighbors in the line. Now it’s been my personal experience that this happens in the lines for other drivers too- but the Tony fans just seem extra friendly and welcoming but that might just be my bias there.
I have mentioned this many many times- but I LOVE that one of Tony’s sponsors is Office Depot because I have always been far more likely to wield a pen then say a drill or a hammer. It’s a better fit for me personally. I have spent quite a bit of time hanging out in the office furniture section of various Office Depot locations because we have been giving the awesome opportunity to interview Tony when we go to races where he is doing an appearance. It’s always fun to stand there with the other people who are going to interview Tony and watch the customers wander through our area looking at us like WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON? This last time, there was a man pushing his basket right through our area with the Office Depot backdrop looking at us like DO YOU PEOPLE ALWAYS JUST HANG OUT IN THE FURNITURE SECTION OF THE LOCAL OFFICE DEPOT OR WHAT?
When Tony gets to the Office Depot he usually works with the television media first:
See told you we are just standing in the furniture department. Bet you didn’t envision THAT when you contemplate us interviewing Tony.
Then it’s on to print and internet media for Tony- which includes us. At the Office Depot this time, it started with Valli from The Fast and The Fabulous presenting Tony Stewart with his 2011 Hottest Driver award. It was fun to witness her presenting the trophy (an adorable basket of different hot sauces) and explaining the bracket system to him and showing him how he won (by a landslide I might add):
It was fun because if you remember I mentioned The Fast and The Fabulous Hottest Driver Tournament several times during voting. I got to see it from beginning to end. You should definitely pop over to The Fast and The Fabulous to read about the presentation.
Then it was our turn to talk to Tony.
Amy: Tell us about driving the cab in Las Vegas. How did it go?
Tony: It was interesting. It’s not very often that you can semi have free reign to drive a stock car around the city but we got to take Elvis Presley, David Copperfield and one of the Miss Sprint Cups for a ride yesterday and a couple of fans too. It was definitely a cool experience.
Misty: Did the fans know what was going to happen?
Tony: No. That was the best part about it. We met at Lucky Cab and did some of the skits there then went straight to the casino. Seeing the look on people’s faces as the car went by was pretty cool. Then as we were driving people around, we kinda made the same route instead of taking people to random spots we took people around the same lap. Every time we went by there were more fans lined up to take pictures so it made it pretty fun.
Amy: We also wanted to know about the F1 swap that is happening. Can you tell us about that?
Tony: That’s going to be fun. It’s a great chance to live out a dream of getting in an F1 car. We are doing it at Watkin’s Glen where we have had a lot of success. I know two-thirds of the track that we are going to be running but we are going to be running the whole course so there’s a part of the track that is going to be totally different that I have never ran before. I met Lewis when we did a Mobil 1 shoot here recently- he’s a great guy. I am really looking forward to working with him out there.
Amy (who has to totally give credit to this question from her Facebook friend Beth for the suggestion): Can you tell us your favorite thing about owning Eldora?
Tony: My favorite thing probably is when we have a big event and we have a packed house and I go up on top to watch the races and I watch the fans having a good time. Especially when the sprint car races are there or the late models are there and you can tell they have their favorite driver that they love and their driver that they love to hate and it’s fun to watch. It’s like the whole crowd will react. Some of them will be on one side of the fence and some will be on the other side of the fence. When things happen you can see both groups reacting . It’s fun to be on top of all that and be able to kind of look and oversee everything and see that everybody is having a good time. That absolutely makes my day when I got to the track- just seeing everybody having a good time.
Misty: We are from central California- right near Laguna Seca Raceway and wondered if you had ever had a chance to race there?
Tony: I have never even been there. But any time, especially when the Indy cars ran and the GT cars use to run, we use to watch the races there a lot. It would be a track that I would LOVE to have an opportunity to do something at. It’s on the bucket list of tracks that I want to run at.
Misty: What would a win at Las Vegas mean to you?
Tony: It would be huge because this a place we haven’t won at yet. So we definitely want to win a race here. It doesn’t put more pressure on us to do it but we won at California last year at the cup race there- and we hadn’t won at California so that knocked that off the list. So now we are down to Vegas and Darlington. It would be nice to get that checked off the list and get that done. Those two tracks are the only two we haven’t won at on the whole circuit. I think we have potential to do something that no one else has done and that’s be able to say we have won at every track.
(I have to note that it was incredibly disappointing when transcribing this last part of the interview because Tony sounded so excited about the possibility of winning at LVMS. It was hard to transcribe especially after watching him race at Las Vegas with such a strong car and NOT win)
We thanked Tony and left Tony to begin to take on the throngs of people standing outside waiting for their autograph. Misty and I stood by the show car area outside with Valli for awhile just chatting about the race weekend ahead of us when we spotted this little boy who had just gotten his car autographed by Tony. He was so excited that he ran out to the show car handlers to show them. It was absolutely adorable:
Reminder Tony Stewart will be at the Office Depot in North Las Vegas signing autographs for fans TODAY:
12:30 at the Office Depot in North Las Vegas at 1435 West Craig Road
Wristband distribution has already started and you must be in line by 1:30 to get your autograph. One autograph per wristband.
Here it is three days since “my driver” snapped his 66 race winless draught at PIR and I have yet to comment on the race. It is not that I don’t have a lot of thoughts in my head about the event. In fact, my problem is just the opposite, I have so many thoughts and emotions surrounding Jeff’s long awaited return to Victory Lane that I am not quite sure where to begin.
What I can say is that my reaction during the final 8 laps of Sunday’s race was nothing if not enthusiastic, so enthusiast that had I been in the media center at PIR I not only would have been fired (from a job I do not have), I would have undoubtedly been escorted off the track and possibly out of the city and state. Each lap seemed to last an hour and every second I feared a caution, an engine issue, a calamity of some kind. I breathed a small sigh of relief at the white flag and when the checkered waved that was it- full on celebration ensued. I did stop just short of spraying Pepsi around my living room, but not much short of it.
Here’s the long story short of my reaction: YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!
Well I am heading off to Las Vegas today (Wednesday)- so posting here might be a little light until I get back. If you are wondering what I am up to you can follow me on twitter.
One of the reasons I LOVE the race at Vegas (besides the fact that it was my first NASCAR race and my first oval race) is because that there seems to be a lot of driver appearances there. A lot of time getting an autograph from your favorite driver isn’t that hard- as long as you are willing to do some sleuthing and stand in lines.
I have found if you take your favorite driver - we will take Tony Stewart for instance and pay attention to things like their website (TonyStewart.com), their team website (StewartHaasRacing.com), any team social media (StewartHaasRcng on Twitter, StewartHaas Facebook, Tony Stewart Facebook) , major sponsor websites (officedepotracing.com, mobil1racing.com and social media (officedepot on Twitter, Mobil1Racing on Facebook)…you can usually find out if your driver is doing an event near you. There are other places on the web to look – one of my favorite sources is Jayski. For the Vegas weekend appearances I also found this great guide of driver appearances over on SB NATION. Also check your favorite drivers merchandise trailer at the track…if they are going to do an event at their trailer there is usually a sign posted at the trailer. Track websites will sometimes have listing of fan events that are local to that particular track.
Taking Tony Stewart as my example again…he is actually a very busy man in Las Vegas this week. He will be doing an Office Depot appearance Thursday starting at 12:30 at the Office Depot in North Las Vegas at 1435 West Craig Road (this is probably your best bet at getting an autograph from him and I have to say that these events are usually GREAT fun- I reccomend them if you have the time. Wristbands will be given out starting at 8:00 am local time Thursday), He is holding a poker tournament to benefit the Tony Stewart Foundation at the MGM Grand on Friday in the Poker room at 7:00 pm and doing a Fan Q&A at the MGM Grand (in the lobby) on Saturday at 6:00 pm. Plus as we all know from the pre-race show that at some point Tony will be driving a cab around Las Vegas…which I hope that I can see that video because that is bound to be hilarious. So you might get lucky and end up with Tony as your cabbie.
You just have to know where to look. If all else fails find a fan decked out in your driver’s gear and ask them if they have heard of any appearances- you never know. You might make a new friend and get your driver’s autograph.
Of course just don’t shoplift near the track - or Morgan Shepherd may run you down and sit on you until the cops come for you. (I HAD to work this in somehow because I think this is AWESOME)!