Posted in NASCAR 2011

Remembering Dale

Today begins qualifying for the 2011 Daytona 500.  But as I wait for the qualifying session to begin, I am watching “The Day” on Speed TV.  It first aired on Friday, but I had Tivoed it because I was out celebrating Valentine’s Day with my mom and my fellas.  I was going to wait until Saturday to watch it because I was very tired, but I just could not wait.  I had heard this was going to be a powerful story about that day back in 2011.  I didn’t follow NASCAR back then as much as I do today.  I knew of NASCAR and I usually watched the Daytona 500 on occasion.  I remember watching Dale win his only Daytona 500.  I remembering just crying my eyes out at the respect everyone in the garage gave him that day on pit row.  I knew this story was going to be tough to watch. 

I cannot recall what I was doing that day.  Like I said, I didn’t follow the sport back then as I do today.  But I do remember watching my local news coverage about the death of Dale Earnhardt.  I immediately called Postman (at the time we had just started dating) to tell him.  I then spent the next few days trying to wrap my head around the whole thing.  I was looking for any kind of news coverage on the story.  I wanted to know everything I could.  Media coverage wasn’t like it is today–no Facebook, no Twitter, etc.  But as with anything, I continued on with my life.  It wasn’t until I went to Las Vegas for my honeymoon in June of 2001 did I realize how much fans were still paying tribute.  We stayed at the Sahara which happens to be the home of NASCAR Cafe.  Inside the gift shop adjacent to the restaurant was a #3 car on display.  Surrounding the car was cards, signs, flowers, etc. in tribute to Dale.  It was surreal.  I think it was at that moment I fell in love with NASCAR.

“The Day” was very powerful.  I found myself emotionally drawn to the story.  It was the first, I can recall, seeing Ken Schader discussing that day.  Even now you still see how much that day has affected him emotionally.  Everything about what we know about NASCAR changed that day.  The person I feel for most is Michael Waltrip.  Michael Waltrip up until that day had not won a race.  He started 462 races and never finished first.  Dale Earnhardt took a chance on him and hired him to drive #15 for DEI.  But what should have been the most important day of his racing career turned into one of his worse.  He should have been celebrating his victory but inside was grieving for loss of his owner and friend.  Michael Waltrip has put his story about that day into the book, “In the Blink of an Eye” which was just released. 

As many of you know I am not a Dale Jr. fan.  But as someone who follows the sport I feel I can be objective when it comes to this post.  I would not want to walk in Dale Jr.’s footsteps.  NASCAR may have lost one of the best drivers of all time, but bottom line Dale Jr. lost his father.  I can’t even begin to understand what it is like to lose a parent.  But Dale lost his father with the nation watching.  He has been dealing with the loss since then.   Do I think it has affected his success in NASCAR?  I can’t answer that.  I am sure in his quiet moments he ponders this question.  When he made the decision to leave DEI, the company his father created, it probably was one of the hardest decisions of his life. 

On Friday, February 18, it will mark 1o years since Dale Earnhardt’s death.  It will be marked on Sunday with a silent lap on Lap 3 of the race.  A #3 will also be painted in the grass at Daytona the night before the race.  All of these things will be to honor not only the racer, but the man known as the “The Indimidator”. 

Note from qualifying…it looks like a HMS front row for the Daytona 500.  How appropriate that Dale’s son and friend & race rival Jeff Gordon, will be leading the pack as the green flag flies on Sunday.

Posted in NASCAR 2011

Pre Season Thunder-Day 3

I caught a little of the preseason testing today.  Sometimes it’s hard when you have a 2 year standing in front of your say “Momma” to focus on things.  That’s ok though.  I turned the television on to Speed TV and he saw the cars going around the track and well…he was memorized.  He’s most definitely a NASCAR fan in training.

The last few days have got me so excited for the season.  I haven’t been this pumped for the season to start for the last couple of years.  I don’t know if it was because I didn’t get to see the whole Daytona 500 from start to finish the last two years.   Perhaps I was just not looking forward to the fact that Jimmie Johnson was the defending champion.  But this year is different.  I have purchased a couple of preseason magazines so I can get even more pumped about the season. 

Well, NASCAR fans the boys won’t be back on the track until February, but there is plenty of NASCAR to discuss between now and then.  Have a great week everyone!

Posted in NASCAR 2011

Pre Season Thunder-Day 2

Another day of testing, but not as much as yesterday.  Testing was a little delayed this morning due to Mother Nature.  I guess she is getting her hits in early for 2011.  But the boys were able to get out on the track this afternoon for some more testing.  Several teams were practicing the drafting process.  I can’t believe we are under 30 days until Daytona 500. 

I was able to watch several of the media interviews this afternoon.  I enjoyed Kevin Harvicks’s interview I think the most today.  It was insightful to see how he handled things after Dale Earhardt Sr’s passing.  It is hard to believe it has been 10 years since NASCAR lost Dale Sr.  Sometimes I like these kinds of media events.  You get to learn a little bit more about the driver and to be honest I have a little bit more respect for Mr. Harvick.  The funniest response was from Jeff Gordon.  They were discussing how being a father has changed how he does his job, etc and he related a story about Ella.  He arrived home late  (3:00 am) from the fall Texas race.  He said Ella had awakened and realized Daddy was home.  She asked her father were you wrestling with a man?  Jeff responded and said yes.  She asked why?  He explained that Daddy was upset/angry.  Why?….Little kids say the darndest things.  He then told everyone that he called Jeff Burton a couple of days later.  Jeff has older children I believe 12/14.  They told his dad they wanted to kick Jeff G’s butt, but Burton had to example to them he was the one who did something wrong.  I just thought it was very funny. 

It was good to see Brian Vickers back in the race car and on the track driving the #83 after his health scare last season. 

I saw part of the press conference with Mike Helton, Robin Pemberton and John Darby.  It was rather interesting on what they had to say about the changes with regards to what championship drivers can compete for as well as possible changes to the points system and other things.  I am sure there will be more to come in the new few weeks.  I can’t wait.

Some of the teams probably will not be at the final day of testing.  But I am still going to check it out tomorrow.  I have to get in my fix until February 12 where the boys go racing in the Bud Shootout.  Of course, I will be watching the 24 hours at Daytona next weekend.  This has been somewhat of a tradition with me over the past several years.  I do not know a whole lot about all the drivers participating but it is fun to watch.

Well…another day of testing is under our belts fellow NASCAR cars.  I am looking forward to tomorrow because that means we are one day closer to full fledge racing!

Posted in NASCAR 2011

Pre Season Thunder-Day 1

The first day of testing at Daytona is over.  It wasn’t real exciting by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn’t care.  The boys were back on the track.  The cars weren’t all stickered up but you really didn’t need all the stickers to know who was who.  There are a couple of changes to keep track of though.  Kasey Kahne is now driving for Red Bull in the #4.  Kurt Busch is now in the Shell Pennzoil #22.  It was strange to see Kurt in the yellow/red firesuit instead of Kevin Harvick.  Brad K. is now the driver of the #2 car.  I was glad to see Brian Vickers back behind the wheel of the #83.  I bet he has been itching to get back into his car and racing.  I see that Trevor Bayne is driving the #21 for the Wood Brothers.  Both Paul Menard and Marcos Ambrose are settling in their new teams with RCR and Petty Motorsports respectively.

I was happy thrilled beyond belief that Speed TV was streaming video from Daytona.  It was a little difficult to keep my mind on my work, but I managaed.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one today who was multitasking.  It has been a few years since any kind of pre season testing had occurred.  I don’t know about other NASCAR fnas, but I am pumped for the 2011 season!

Speed TV did show some of the interviews in the media room at Daytona.  I did get to see Tony’s interview.  It was pretty much what I expected from Smoke.  He was calm and very direct when it come to questions about the incident in Australia.  I felt like he was honest with his answers about everything.  In my opinion, he seemed ashamed of his behavior in Australia.  But I have to give the press some credit, they didn’t constantly ask the same question over and over.  But as we all know, I sure as Daytona gets closer and with the demands of Media day, these questions about the incident will come up again.  For this Tony fair it is over.  Turn the page and move on to better items about Smoke. 

I like the look of the new nose on the cars.  I was a huge fan of those metal splitters in the front of the car.  Now it looks like a normal race car.  How it will react one cars begin drafting one another is another story.  Speaking of drafting, I was a little disappointed that several of the teams weren’t going to work on drafting today.  But there are a couple more days of testing and perhaps they will try out things tomorrow or Saturday. 

The nose isn’t the only thing that is new for the 2011 season.  Drivers now have to declare which championship they want to race for.  There is no longer an option for drivers to race for multiple championships.  I am sure this is NASCAR’s way of preventing Cup regulars from winning the other championship more specifically the Nationwide championship.  Cup drivers can still race in all three series, but can only use their points towards one championship.  How this will all shake out is still left to discuss for another post.

There is possible changes coming to points system.  On the surface it seems easy to follow.  If a driver wins a race, he will receive 43 points, for 2nd place-42 points and so on all the way to the 43rd driver who will receive one point.  I am thinking NASCAR wants to make the racing more exciting by reducing the amount of points the drivers can receive on any given Sunday.  But these things haven’t all been “officially” announced by NASCAR.  I like this idea.  I would like a few more changes to the points system however.  I would like points for leading a lap either under green or caution to go away.  I don’t mind give points for the most laps lead, but just a lap, no.  If NASCAR has to leave in the poinst for leading a lap, give them only 1 point for a lap led.  Give the person who leads the most 3 points, and if you win 5 points.  I am not a fan of the 10 points bonus for a win because not all drivers can take advantage of those bonus points.  If you give them 5 points the day of the win, boom…you may have drivers will to drive just a little bit harder to get those 5 extra points.  So on any given Sunday, a driver could possible end up with 52 points if they max all the bonus points from the race.  

Now onto the Chase…I think the leader of the first 26 races should be in first.  That should be his reward for winning the regular season.  I think all the drivers should be reset to the same amount of points at the start of the Chase.  It puts everyone on the same level.  The regular season allows the driver to into the Chase.  If you are winning in the first 26 wins and running consistently, you will be in the Chase.  Can you imagine the first race of the Chase where all the Chasers have the exact same points?  It would definitely create some excitement.

Well…that’s about it for now.  Tomorrow is Day 2 of Daytona testing and this race fan needs her rest.

Posted in NASCAR 2011

Hello 2011 NASCAR Season!

Loving it…it is very cold and windy outside my window, but I don’t care.  The boys are back on the track!  Granted it is testing at Daytona, but I don’t care!  This is getting me pumped for the 2011 season! 

There is I’m sure a lot of work slow down and/or stoppage today for all of us NASCAR fans.  But here is what I say to all those non-NASCAR fans who don’t get it…IT’S A NASCAR THING!