Kyle Busch’s “spin-catch-spin catch” move was by far the most amazing moment of the race for me. Love him or hate him, that was some great driving and certainly got my attention. The fact that he later went on to win the Shootout was just icing on this moment in the race.
Author Archives: Misty
In Misty’s perfect world, here is how the 2011 Chase would shake out.
- Jeff Gordon (no explanation needed)
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (Come on underdog!)
- Jimmie Johnson
- Tony Stewart (would be equally happy if Tony were 2nd, but then the HMS sweep would be slightly compromised)
- Ryan Newman (only cause he completes the HMS linked sweep)
- Kyle Busch (would be higher except for my HMS dream)
- Matt Kenseth (super nice guy)
- Carl Edwards (let’s keep the Fords together)
- Brad Keselowski
- Kevin Harvick
- Kurt Busch
- Denny (“Silver Pen”) Hamlin
However, as much as I like to think the world revolves around me, I know it doesn’t and here is where I would put my money if I were a gambler.
- Jeff Gordon (hey he has the momentum and the Drive for Five is alive!)
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kyle Busch
- Brad Keselowski
- Tony Stewart (not a stellar season so far, but his consistency is going to get him a solid spot)
- Matt Kenseth
- Carl Edwards
- Kevin Harvick
- Ryan Newman
- Kurt Busch
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
Misty wrote this piece about her annual involvement in the NASCAR blood drive at Las Vegas Motor Speedway…it ranat the end of August but I just wanted to republish it as timely this week as well as let you know that many tracks will be doing blood drives this week: including Daytona International Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway, Martinsville Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Dover International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Richmond International Raceway and Darlington Speedway are hosting annual blood drives. Amy
One of the things I admire and respect about NASCAR is the emphasis it gives on encouraging fans to give back. There are numerous ways fans can do this: buy a NASCAR day pin, a NASCAR Unites bracelet, participate in a track walk, donate time or money; but one of my favorite events is the annual blood drive hosted by many tracks. I am lucky to live in Las Vegas and be able to easily participate in the event hosted by the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR instituted a new points system at season’s beginning in an effort to make it easier for the average fan to understand and in theory increase viewership. For those of you who read my thoughts on the change at the beginning of the season, you know that I was not a fan of the change, but I didn’t think it would make much of a difference. On that point I could not have been more wrong. While I still say it wasn’t needed, I now believe the change is a pure detriment to the sport that I so enjoyed watching and following each week.
Allow me to explain, I don’t think I am that much of an anomaly among fellow racing fans in that I have a favorite driver that I follow and root for. While I may like most of the drivers, on race day there is only one driver I am thinking about. Well, unfortunately this season has not gone so well for my driver and each week he seems to get mired further and further down the points standings. Under this new, but definitely not improved system, with each mediocre or, heaven forbid, bad week that transpires my hopes for him to pull himself out of the muck and mire of this points abyss dim.
OK, so maybe you’re saying, “well that’s how it goes”, and I bet if you are your driver is in the top 10. Am I right? But, I digress…
Under this new points system watching races and following a driver stuck in a points deficit becomes sheer frustration. When I see a twenty point separation between my driver and the next position in the standings I feel hopeless, understanding that he’ll need to finish twenty spots ahead of that guy in the next race to catch up. This hopelessness leaves me feeling like a frustrated vulture, hoping the drivers above him suffer calamities of all sorts. It has taken a sport I loved to watch and turned it into something I dread. I want to say, wake me when the Chase starts and hope that my driver is still lucky enough to have a shot at the wild card position for the Chase. Now, I won’t do that (just yet), so for now I watch and hope and prey for calamity and pray for success, but with each week my enthusiasm is giving way to despair and hopelessness. Watching is no longer fun but perfunctory at this point.
I am sure NASCAR’s decision to change the points so that “average” fans could understand wasn’t meant to dim the enthusiasm and support of the fervent fan, but it has for me.
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!
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!!!!
If I had been able to flash forward to the end of the Daytona 500 and watch my reaction I would have bet everything I have that Jeff Gordon had just wheeled his Chevrolet to victory lane, because what else would have me on my haunches, screaming, shouting and pumping my fist in the air as the checkered flag waved?! Good thing my flash forward button doesn’t work cause I would have lost my pants in that bet, since Gordon crashed along with a good portion of the field on lap 30 ending his shot to drive to Victory Lane.
So what else could possibly cause me to have such an enthusiastic and heart-felt reaction to this year’s Daytona 500? It’s the kind of ending that we usually only see in Disney movies, but this time we got to see it all unfold for ourselves during this year’s Speed Weeks. It is the story of part-time, rookie driver, Trevor Bayne.
D.W. said it best at the end of the race when he held up a blank piece of paper and said that it was the bio he had on Trevor Bayne before the race. Few people had heard of Trevor before this race. He had only one other Sprint Cup Series start, in last fall’s Texas race, and here he was in Daytona proving himself. First by laying down the fourth fastest lap during Qualifying and then in his eagerness throughout the week leading to the race. He quickly became the talk of the media by being the first in his garage everyday, the first on the track to practice. He wore his eagerness and excitement on his sleeve throughout Speed Weeks.
I, personally, took notice during his Duel race when he waited after his driver intro to talk to Jeff Gordon, presumably to seek advice from the veteran driver. Throughout their Duel Gordon and Bayne worked together, Bayne pushing Gordon in the two car tandem that characterized this year’s races on the newly re-paved track. Despite a last lap crash in the Duel, Bayne clearly earned credibility among the other drivers. Time and again, seasoned drivers looked to Bayne in the 500 as a drafting partner. Again, I took notice when mid-way through the 500 Carl Edwards got on his radio to ask Bayne if he needed someone to push him. Many rookies would have leapt at the chance to work with a proven driver like Edwards, or simply been too intimidated to turn him down, but Bayne showed his intelligence and integrity and told Carl that he was a better pusher and preferred to continue pushing David Ragan. Bayne’s demonstration of integrity, intelligence and independence are all qualities that will serve him well in his career.
So when it came down to the final restart and Bayne looked like he could pull off what had really never been done before – winning the Daytona 500 on his first Daytona 500 start (Lee Petty won his first start at the 500, but since it was the very first 500 does not count), I was on the edge of my seat, screaming for this kid. When he actually pulled it off, I the felt the kind of sweeping emotion and pride that I usually only feel for truly great moments in sports, like the U.S. winning another Gold in the Olympics or the Yankees winning another series. Then again, this is another great moment in sports history.
I admit that I usually do not watch post race, especially when my driver finishes 35 laps down, but today I watched and I continued to be impressed by Bayne. Earlier in the race, D.W. had mentioned that Trevor had taken time before the race to pray with his team and the first thing that Trevor said when he climbed out of his car in Victory Lane was to mention the prayer and the power that God had. What is not to like about NASCAR’s newest hero?
I watched his reaction as David Ragan came over to offer his congratulations and saw Trevor’s genuine concern and empathy to Ragan, who’d been his drafting partner most of the day and had nearly pulled off the win himself, when he prematurely switched lanes during a restart and got black flagged by NASCAR. This is the kind of personality that NASCAR and this country needs – a good hearted, genuine, eager, talented young man to invigorate the fans and make us feel good.
NASCAR promised just such a driver a few years ago in rookie Joey Logano (“Sliced Bread”), but Logano never quite lived up to the hype and you can’t market this kind of a moment and you can’t create this kind of honest emotion.
Before this 500 no one knew who his kid from Knoxville, Tennessee was and now with his remarkable victory, the publicity machine will undoubtedly roar to life, like the engine of his #21, but at least it does so as a response to a hard earned achievement versus a contrived, marketing ploy to draw in fans. This NASCAR fan will take fresh, homemade bread over commercialized sliced bread any day. It’s good for the sport and good for the heart of NASCAR.
2011’s Daytona 500 will go down as one of the greatest moments in NASCAR history and I wouldn’t be surprised if a Disney movie isn’t already on the drawing board. Here’s to a fantastic and unbelievable start to the season that proves that anything can happen!
WARNING: NASCAR is addicting, may lead to loud outbursts at television set, wild jumping and clapping after lap lead, pass, or victory by favorite driver; avoidance of social commitments and other activities on race day, to name but a few of the side effects of becoming a NASCAR fan.
I had no idea the depth to which I had been plunged into NASCAR, until this past weekend. I mean I rarely do anything half heartedly and NASCAR is no exception. Though I have only been following the sport for the last few years, it did not take me long to learn the terminology, get acquainted with the drivers, the rules, the point system and the myriad of changes that NASCAR has thrown to all of that in the last few years. I shouldn’t have been surprised by what transpired this past weekend, after all I have broken blood vessels in my hands from clapping so hard during a race, I nearly gave myself a concussion once by jumping up from my stability ball at the end of another race when my driver won and I fell back, slamming my head on a tile floor, and I have caught the attention of more than one fellow race enthusiast at the track when my driver’s “personal safety bubble” is being ignored on track making the racing a little too close for my liking and causing me to perch on my seat and bite my nails, quite literally. Sometimes I will watch a pass through the palms of my hands until I am certain my guy came out of the hornet’s nest unscathed and the position was won. But despite all these obvious signs at being what some might very well call a nut, er, I mean super fan, I didn’t get it until I leapt off of my chair after a commercial that aired during the Bud Shootout advertising the upcoming Gatorade Duels, which were scheduled to air the following Thursday. The reason for my jubilation… the Duels were airing on Thursday, the same day I was scheduled to have my wisdom teeth removed, meaning I would be home from work and able to watch the races. Only a true diehard NASCAR fan would be excited to have scheduled their oral surgery for a race day. My jubilation was only partially dampened by the thought that I would likely be a little out of sorts due to the pain meds I would undoubtedly be consuming.
So here’s to the Duels on Thursday and the beginning of a fresh season with unlimited possibilities for my driver and unlimited opportunities for me to incur injury in my fervent following of this sport!