Saturday, May 31, 2008

5 days and counting...

It's five days until I leave for my first weekend as an intern for the Motor Racing Network and Sprint Vision. Five days until I go from being a fan to a... whatever the opposite is. Employee, insider, whatever you want to call it. The scope of my life will be different when I take off from Columbia Metro Airport on Thursday.

As I'm writing this I'm thinking that it's crazy to think my life will change because of this experience, but honestly it will. This is what I want to do. I guess there's a reason now why I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life back in high school and my early days in college.

Let me go back a second. I say that I am no longer a fan. That's not entirely true. I think that in order to enjoy working in a sport that is in Charlotte one weekend and Dover the next, you have to be a FAN. I'll never forget when Darrell Waltrip retired back in 2000 that he said he got into the business because he was a fan. That's something I've taken with me ever since and will continue to do so.

I got into the radio business by accident. Growing up, I never really wanted to do what I've been doing for the last five years, but as everyday goes by there is no doubt in my mind that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. People tell me I'm good at what I do. I don't really know if that's just being nice or if it is a truth. When you live in a small town, people will say nice things sometime. Now that I'm moving into a national setting, it might be the time to find out if I've actually got it, or if people have been nice. I would like to think that the latter is untrue.

As the summer heats up, I'll be exposed to things I never thought imaginable. I'll be going places and meeting people that I've only known from watching them on my television.

That being said, could Junior win at Dover so I can be a fan for a few more hours.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

600 miles is a long race...

And I must emphasize the word long.

I don't know what exactly Bruton Smith was thinking when he decided that the May race at his racetrack would be 600 miles long, or 400 laps whichever way you prefer to think about it. It will take over four and a half hours to run that race Sunday night. This will be my first Coca-Cola 600, and really my first point paying Sprint Cup race at Charlotte, so I really am looking forward to it.

But think about it... 600 miles. 400 laps. 4 and a half hours.

There's a lot you can do in that amount of time.

You could learn to speak some foreign language. You could practice derivatives for Calculus. Or you could write a 12-page history paper that your professor determines as elementary information that could have been gotten out of a child's encyclopedia (I'm still mad about that by the way.)

But I digress. 600 miles is still a long way.

This is the kind of race where strategy really can come into play and actually make for something entertaining to follow along with as the race plays out. If you get behind early, there is still a chance to make up for it late.

The teams will be making somewhere between 10-15 pitstops depending on how cautions go. That's 10-15 potential mistakes per pit crew member. But, it also gives time to work on a car's handling and actually get better... or in some cases get dramatically worse.

This is the kind of race I enjoy. Charlotte is a high-banked oval, set in the Carolinas, that usually produces great racing. Now that being said, the new car could (although I really hope not) take away some of the exciting and breathtaking racing that Charlotte is traditionally known for.

So as the 500 mile race from Indianapolis (those sissies) concludes, you better be ready to go. They start racing at 5:45 in Charlotte and won't be done until well after 10 o'clock.

Of course once the 600 miles is done it's time to start the race out of the parking lot. I need to get alot better at being patient through that particular race. But that is another story.

Monday, May 19, 2008


After this past Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race at the Lowe's Motor Speedway, my record for going to races without seeing an Earnhardt win in person has moved to 0 and 44. (Yeah, I know there were some races that an Earnhardt wasn't actually racing, but for my purposes 0-44 is the record. )

I brought that up while sitting in traffic for two and a half hours the other night and my friend Christian replied with "yeah, but think about the probability of going to a race where he actually could win." 

My response?

"Yeah, but I've seen Jeff Gordon win 7 times."

I don't know. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I'm actually within a one-mile radius of an Earnhardt that causes them not to win a race. The closest I ever got was in 1998 at Darlington when Junior finished a close (and I mean close) second to Dick Trickle. Back that up with a 2nd place by Junior in a 2005 Gatorade Duel race at Daytona. 

My dad got to see Dale Jarrett win at Darlington three times. I've seen Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch win twice. I saw Jeff Burton win at Darlington twice in the rain. But never had I ever seen an Earnhardt win in person. 

I imagine its karma or something that causes this. I think back to the times I've booed the guy who actually won each race I've been to. Saturday night, when both the Busch's were introduced, I didn't say anything. I actually clapped when Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon were introduced. Yeah, I clapped for Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. I'll give you all a minute to soak that up. 

Junior took the lead mid-way through the second segment. Then, karma caught up with me after I cheered ecstatically when Kyle Busch's engine started going south. That's what I get. Next week, I'm going to sit in silence for 600 miles.  

So for now, my streak continues right along with Junior's losing streak. He's now 0-72 in point races. With my upcoming internship, my streak could be 0-50 by summer's end. 

I've got an idea. Howabout Junior just win on Sunday night. That'd be great. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kyle Busch can ruin anything...

As I made my way to the Darlington Raceway this past Saturday night, I thought there was absolutely no way that Kyle Busch was going to win the Dodge Challenger 500. I sat in the car, I walked down Souvenir Row, I watched driver introductions and every second of my time before the green flag fell, I knew he wouldn't win.

That feeling was backed up when Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead from Greg Biffle on lap 2. Then, a few laps later, something happened. Busch took the lead away from Junior.

Here we go again.

As Busch led early on, my idea that he couldn't win was vanquished with thoughts of him taking the checkered flag and going to Darlington's victory lane. Then, when he was penalized for a lug nut infraction, I absolutely knew he was going to win. I turned my attention from Junior and his Hendrick teammates to the 18 car, watching as he slashed his way back to the front. I would have rather watched Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson lead every single lap.

I am baffled as to how Busch has been able to dominate not just the Cup series but also the Nationwide and Truck series as well. The last couple of years Jimmie Johnson has dominated the Cup Series and Gordon was untouchable in the 90's, but never before have I seen a single driver win multiple races in the top 3 touring divisions this early into a season. I cannot explain what is going on. I have no doubt that Busch's streak will eventually end and I have no doubt that Junior will win this season.

I just wish it would go on and happen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Busch is an idiot and why I love Darlington

Yes, you read that correct. Kyle Busch is an idiot.

I'll give you all a moment to reflect on the fact that I would call a "professional" racecar driver such as Mr. Busch an idiot.

Anyway, if you want my opinion of the events that occurred in the closing laps of last Saturday's Crown Royal 400 at Richmond, then here goes: I'm a Junior fan. Junior got wrecked. I'm mad. The end.

Busch "lost control" of his car at the most convenient time of the race. Coming to three laps to go, Busch slid up in turn three at Richmond, hitting Junior and sending the 88 car into the wall amongst a barrage of obscenities and one fingered salutes from the grandstands. I say Busch lost control at a convenient time. Yeah, that's the best way I know how to put it. Busch and Junior raced side by side for several laps prior to the travesty that occurred without so much as touching once. Then when it was go time, Busch picked the time to lose control of his car.

Anyway, long story short. I'm mad that Junior got wrecked. The end.

Moving on to Darlington now. This weekend the Sprint Cup Series heads to "The Lady in Black" for the Dodge Challenger 500. This race, although not the former Southern 500, is still a race at Darlington, which is a way for younger fans such as myself to connect to the past history that is Darlington Raceway. 59 years of history almost wreak from the place whenever you go there. The names of Petty, Pearson, Yarborough, Waltrip, Earnhardt, and Gordon are synonomous with Darlington. Everytime I go to a race at Darlington, I try to get there early just so I can walk around the place and take in the atmosphere.

Why do I love Darlington? Because it's Darlington. They absolutely broke the mold when they built the track in 1950. Never again will a racetrack be built like Darlington, and there is no other place in the world that is as difficult and non-forgiving as that track is.

South Carolininians are lucky to have this place in their own backyard. I've been to every Cup race at Darlington since 1996, and I don't plan on missing one anytime soon.

And when Junior wins on Saturday night, it'll be even better.

Did I mention that he'll be driving a retro Mountain Dew paint scheme?