Top 10 Moments of 2012

25 Nov

It’s been a long, crazy season (my first following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series), capped off with a Brad Keselowski championship last weekend.

Without further ado, here are my Top 10 Most-Memorable Moments of the 2012 season…

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10.

Stephen Leicht (who??) sends a groundhog airborne during practice

June 8, 2012 at Pocono

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9.

Jimmie Johnson rocks colored afro in victory lane

June 3, 2012 at Dover

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8.

Kevin Harvick’s car dented by parachute jumper during pre-race festivities

November 4, 2012 at Texas

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7.

Dale Jr. ends 4-year, 143-race winless streak in the “Batmobile”

June 17, 2012 at Michigan

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6.

Jeff Gordon makes Clint Bowyer angry, prompting priceless YouTube spoofs such as this one:

November 11, 2012 at Phoenix

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5.

Denny Hamlin calls his victory, then delivers

September 23, 2012 at New Hampshire

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4.

After leaving race, (lunatic) Tony Stewart launches his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car

August 25, 2012 at Bristol

 

[Afterwards, Stewart said: “I learned my lesson there—I’m going to run over him every him every chance I’ve got from now until the end of the year, every chance I’ve got.”]

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3.

Brad Keselowski tweets from inside his car during the Daytona 500 jet dryer incident

February 27, 2012 at Daytona

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2.

Kurt Busch rocks the Ricky Bobby paint job

May 6, 2012 at Talladega

(Here is an article on how he got permission to use it).

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1.

Bad Brad wins championship; gives (awesome) sponsor-fueled interview afterwards

November 18, 2012 at Homestead

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When you think back on the 2012 season, are these the moments that stand out for you, as well?

[Here is a 2012 recap that the folks at the Yahoo! Sports blog “From the Marbles” came up with.]

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Announcing My Favorite NASCAR Driver

17 Nov

So, I’m curious: how do most NASCAR fans pick their favorite driver?

I did some brainstorming and came up with the following list of reasons people support certain athletes or teams (and – let’s be honest – political candidates as well).

(How many of these factors did you you take into consideration when you picked your favorite driver?)

2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers

Do you support someone…

  • from the same state or town as you?
  • who wins a lot? (Jimmie Johnson)
  • who has won a lot? (Jeff Gordon)
  • with family history? (Dale “Earnhardt,” Jr.)
  • who breaks the mold? (“Danica“)
  • with a cool paint scheme?
  • who is “good-looking”? (“Danica“)
  • who shares your beliefs/views/opinions?
  • whose car number is your favorite number?
  • who is similar to you in age?
  • whose car sponsor you support?
  • who is outspoken/unapologetic/rude?
  • who is honest/reflective/intelligent?

More than one of the above?  Or something else entirely?

Below, I’ll tell you how I picked my favorite NASCAR driver, and it involves several of the above.

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I’ve been following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since the season started back in February.  I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere over the summer (mid-season), I settled on my favorite driver.

(If you’ve been following my Twitter feed – @NASCARneophyte – over the last few months, you may have guessed my favorite driver based on a lot of my tweets and re-tweets).

So that I’m not accused of picking the guy that may win the Sprint Cup Series Championship this season, I wanted to get this in writing before he wins his first Cup Series title, whether that’s tomorrow or years down the road.

That’s right, you guessed it: Brad Keselowski has become my favorite driver.

Bad Brad, driver of the Blue Deuce: the #2 Miller Lite Dodge.

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If I had to summarize my reason for that in one word, it would be: Twitter.

As a young adult myself who is always “plugged in,” Twitter is a pretty big part of my day, and Brad makes Twitter fun and informative.

It started at the Daytona 500 with “the tweet:”

(Here’s that picture):

Keselowski’s tweet from inside his car while stopped on the track at the Daytona 500.

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That night, I became one of the thousands of people who followed Bad Brad on Twitter for the first time, and I’ve been following him ever since.

Number of Twitter followers gained by Keselowski over a two-hour span during the Daytona 500.

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Over the last ~10 months, I’ve enjoyed Brad’s insight into what it’s like to be a NASCAR driver (celebrity, even?).  From the victory lane photos, to the room full of items waiting to be autographed, Brad’s Twitter feed is a great behind-the-scenes look at the NASCAR world:

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I like Brad because he answers more fan questions than any other driver I follow, and he tends to avoid sarcasm, which several other drivers seem to use a lot (*cough,* *cough,* Kevin Harvick!).

Brad is definitely opinionated and sticks up for his beliefs (both on Twitter and in his media interviews), but he doesn’t come across as an ***hole (*cough,* *cough,* Kyle/Kurt Busch!).

I’ve learned a lot during my first year watching NASCAR, and much of that has come from Brad.  His tweets range from:

  • the funny:
  • to the informative:
  • to the opinionated:
  • to the behind-the-scenes variety:

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Looking at some of the other reasons I listed above for why fans support certain drivers, I’ll comment on a few other things…

  • Brad’s main sponsor is Miller Lite, which I drink (mainly because Eat This Not That lists Miller Lite as one of their best beers in America), but not very often, because it tastes like water (let’s be honest)…
  • One of Brad’s sponsors is Adidas, which happens to be my favorite athletic wear company…
  • Brad won consistently this year, winning 5 races (so far)…
  • Brad’s car is blue, which is my favorite color…
  • Brad is 28.  I’m several years behind him, but same generation…

So did any of these factors influence my decision to support BK?  I don’t think they did, consciously, but perhaps subconsciously they did influence my decision…

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No matter how this season ends for Brad, and whether I continue to follow NASCAR after this season or not, I will definitely continue to follow Brad on Twitter and cheer for him as my favorite driver going forward.

Brad celebrates a victory with the traditional post-race burnout.

Race Recap: AdvoCare 500

12 Nov

Wait, did I say last week was an awesome race?  I think yesterday’s AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix topped it.

By a lot.

Kevin Harvick celebrates his victory at Phoenix in the AdvoCare 500. (Grab some Buds).

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If you weren’t able to watch, you missed Jeff Gordon intentionally wreck Clint Bowyer on Lap 311 and set off an all-out brawl between their crews.  Then, when Bowyer got out of his car, he SPRINTED to Gordon’s hauler and had to be restrained at the entrance as he yelled (no doubt) some choice words at the four-time Cup Series champ.

Oh, and did I mention that Jimmie Johnson crashed (due to a cut tire), hit the wall, and needed extensive repairs in the garage, causing him to lose his lead over Brad Keselowski in the overall Chase standings???

On top of all that, Danica Patrick wrecked just before the white flag dropped and started leaking oil all over the track, but NASCAR declined to throw a caution, allowing Kevin Harvick to take the checkered flag as cars crashed behind him.

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Cars crash to the checkered flag after Kevin Harvick wins the AdvoCare 500.

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What madness!

[By the way, here is the Race Rewind for Phoenix, courtesy of NASCAR.com].

But perhaps the greatest thing to come out of yesterday was this spoof commercial for 5-Hour Energy featuring Bowyer’s sprint to the #24 hauler:

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Also, there’s no way you missed this, but since I know you want to watch it again, here is Bad Brad‘s post-race tirade on the incident between the 15 and 24:

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Here’s a NASCAR question that came up during the race:

  • When a driver heads down pit lane, do they have to stay outside the white dotted line until they get near their pit box?

Help me out – if you can – in the comments section below or on Twitter @NASCARneophyte.

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Tweet of the weekend:

There were some outrageous, passive-aggressive tweets this weekend, but I’m a big hockey fan, so this one wins TOTW:

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ONE RACE TO CROWN A CHAMPION!

Next weekend, the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead will decide your 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion.  If Keselowski finishes 15th or better, the championship will be his.

Sunday at 3:15 PM on ESPN…  Don’t. Miss. It.

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Race Recap: AAA Texas 500

5 Nov

What. A. Race.

The last 10 laps of yesterday’s AAA Texas 500 were, in my opinion, the most intense of the entire NASCAR season.  (If you have 10 minutes, check out the Race Rewind here).

Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski, numbers 1 and 2 in the Chase standings, respectively, zoomed around the track, banging and bumping until Johnson got his break and sneaked past “Bad Brad” for the victory at Texas.

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Jimmie Johnson celebrates in victory lane after winning the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

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As always, there was a bit of drama in this one, as Keselowski and Johnson were both accused of jumping a restart near the end of the race for an unfair advantage.  NASCAR has since dismissed the charges.

[There is a great explanation here of why a small lead at the line by the 2nd-place driver is acceptable on a restart.  Essentially: it’s impossible to tell whether the race leader slowed down on purpose to get the other driver penalized.]

There was also (maybe) some drama on Lap 320 when Kasey Kahne hit the wall to bring out a caution (see below).  A later restart allowed Johnson (on four fresh tires from his previous pit stop) to pass Keselowki, who had elected to go with only two fresh tires on his previous pit stop.

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Brad Keselowski talks to the media after his second-place finish in the AAA Texas 500.

Some comments on the race:

  • I was really impressed by Keselowski’s levelheadedness after losing 8 spots (and the lead) on pit road on Lap 275.  As he left pit road, he said on the radio: “Stay cool here guys.  Stay cool.”  That attitude brought him back to the lead a few laps later and almost produced a victory.
  • This Jimmie Johnson post-race interview on NASCAR.com is worth 3 minutes of your time.  He’s so dang nice; he’s like the quarterback of your HS football team that you’d love to hate (because he gets all the girls and everyone worships him), except that he reads to blind kids in his spare time.
  • Here’s a sample from Keselowski’s post-race interview, regarding the two-tire call:  “I stopped short of saying it was my call because we’re a team and we make decisions together […] and Paul and I made the decision together.”
  • Wowww.  Kyle Busch hates Bad Brad, huh?  From KyBusch’s post-race interview: “I guess there’s no restart rules.  I mean, I think Brad went early – I think – the last two times. […] From my experience with Brad, it doesn’t surprise me.”
  • If the two-tire change for Keselowski on Lap 312 had worked, he would have looked like an absolute genius.  It didn’t, but only because of some bad luck (read: multiple cautions) at the end.

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I picked up some new NASCAR knowledge this week, thanks to some awesome folks on Twitter.  Here’s a summary:

  • Per NASCAR regulations, all cars have the same size gas tank.  This leads to pretty equivalent gas mileage across the board, with some exceptions:
  • Team Hendrick are a bunch of cheaters!

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Tweet of the weekend:

(If you aren’t sure why this is funny, check out this article and associated pictures at “From The Marbles” blog on Yahoo! Sports).

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Only two weeks left before a 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion is crowned…  Next weekend, the Chase for the Sprint Cup moves to Phoenix International Raceway for the AdvoCare 500.

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Race Recap: TUMS Fast Relief 500

1 Nov

As much as I’d like to blame the Frankenstorm for making me miss last weekend’s TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville, I can’t.

I was out of town last weekend watching – in person – my favorite (black-and-yellow-colored) football team defeat the sorry football team from our nation’s capital.  (Was that too specific??)

Therefore, once again, I’ll analyze the race highlights courtesy of NASCAR.com’s superb video series known as the “Race Rewind.”

(Here is the NASCAR.com race recap, if blog-quality journalism isn’t your thing…).

P.S. – This is the blog post of awesome pictures. Prepare yourself…

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I told you there were awesome pictures in store for you.

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Some comments/questions on the race:

  • If my math is correct, this was only the second time this season that the race winner started from the pole, as Jimmie Johnson did on Sunday (the other time was at Pocono, where Joey Logano won on June 10th).  –Is this normal in NASCAR??
  • How quickly things change at the small tracks, eh?  Denny Hamlin went from 30th at Lap 48 to first at Lap 165.  –Wow.
  • Hamlin got two(!) speeding penalties???  –Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice…
  • No major wrecks in this race.  –Yawn…

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So the Top 5 Chase drivers remained the same after the race, but there was some shuffling at the top:

Jimmie Johnson moved past Brad Keselowski for first overall, and both Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne moved passed Hamlin after his struggles on Sunday.  Bowyer now stands in third, Kahne fourth, and Hamlin fifth overall in the Chase standings.

With three races left before a champion is crowned for this 2012 season, it’s looking now like a two-man race (no pun intended) between Jimmie and Brad.

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Definite “Tweet of the Week” winner:

Yep, that’s Jeff Gordon there on the left dressed as King Arthur?  One of the knights of the Round Table?  Who cares… it’s awesome!

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BONUS PICTURE:

If you thought the Jeff Gordon Halloween picture above was awesome, check out his 2005 Halloween costume (when he attended Heidi Klum‘s Halloween party in New York City with then-girlfriend Ingrid Vandebosch):

He is (they are?) dressed as a One Night Stand! Get it? Hahaha

Happy Belated Halloween!!

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Next Sunday, the Chase for the Sprint Cup moves to Fort Worth, Texas, for the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

I will be watching.

Hopefully.

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Race Recap: Hollywood Casino 400

23 Oct

Okay, full disclosure: I didn’t watch this past weekend’s race.  I rented “The Hunger Games” instead, and it was pretty awesome.  Best 74 cents I’ve ever spent (thank you, Redbox!!!).

I just got caught up on the race highlights, however, thanks to NASCAR‘s wonderfully produced “Race Rewind” (which as I’ve mentioned before, is a must-watch any time you miss a race).

Here’s the tweet that sent me to the Race Rewind for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas, by the way (so I knew right off the bat that Matt Kenseth won):

…and here is the NASCAR.com recap of the race.

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Matt Kenseth celebrates in Victory Lane after the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas.

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Some thoughts on the race (or more accurately, some thoughts on the Race Rewind for Kansas):

  • Did you hear the announcer say (Race Rewind, Lap 32) that they were expecting “maybe half a dozen” cautions? HA! (There were a track-record 14 on Sunday).
  • Everyone knows that Tony Stewart is a psycho, right?  RIGHT???  (See Race Rewind, Lap 74: “Feel free, at any point guys, to get your heads out of your @$$es.”)
  • Check out the Race Rewind at Lap 147 after Brad Keselowski almost hits the wall.  The dash cam has a perfectly placed Dodge logo that looks suspiciously computer-generated.  Here it is:

Check out that Dodge logo. Looks Photoshop’d.

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Here’s a question:

  • When Greg Biffle hits the wall and slides across the grass into Pit Lane (Lap 174), he was allowed to go straight to his pit box without entering Pit Lane at the beginning???

Greg Biffle takes a shortcut to his pit box on Lap 174.

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EarlyTweet of the Week” candidates:

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So, another week of the Chase down, and the Top 3 remain the same: (1) Brad Keselowski, (2) Jimmie Johnson, and (3) Denny Hamlin.

Everyone else better start making moves or one of these three will win the championship this season.

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Next Sunday, the Chase for the Sprint Cup moves to Ridgeway, Virginia, for the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway a.k.a. “The Paperclip.”

Now… we’ve already had a “Fast Relief” race name this season (The Goody’s Fast Relief 500, also at Martinsville), so couldn’t we have been a little more original, Tums??

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Race Recap: Bank of America 500

15 Oct

NASCAR racing under the lights.  There’s nothing like it, am I right?

Clint Bowyer celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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The big news around the NASCAR world heading into the weekend was that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would be out two weeks due to his second concussion in six weeks.

The first was suffered during a crash while tire testing at Kansas on August 29th, and the second was suffered during the last-lap wreck at Talladega last weekend (after which he drove Jimmie Johnson back to the garage, oddly enough).

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (88) gives Jimmie Johnson (left) a lift back to the garage after the final lap wreck at Talladega.

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The two-week absence effectively eliminated Dale Jr. from Chase contention, as points in the standings are awarded to drivers, not their car or team owner.  It also marked the first time in 33 years(!) that a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was run without an Earnhardt in the field.

In the end, Clint Bowyer came away with the victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which marked the half-way point in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  Thanks to his win, Bowyer moved up a spot to fourth in the Chase standings.

With five races left in the Chase, it’s looking more and more like this year’s Sprint Cup Series Champion will be Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, or Denny Hamlin.  Overall, the trio remained in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, respectively, after this weekend.

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Some thoughts on the race:

  • Great job by Matt Kenseth avoiding major damage when he spun out after the cut tire early in the race, no?
  • During that Kenseth spin-out, wasn’t it funny listening to Keselowski’s spotter?  “In the middle… on the bottom, on the bottom, on the bottom, on the bottom, on the bottom… caution’s out.”
  • Wasn’t it odd watching someone other than Dale Jr. in the 88?
  • Did the 24 car look awesome this weekend, or what?

Jeff Gordon’s #24 car advertises the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie during the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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Tweet of the Weekend:

-Mario Kart reference, ftw!

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Next Sunday, the Chase moves to Kansas City for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.  Don’t miss it!

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