Archive | March, 2012

Race Preview: Goody’s Fast Relief 500

31 Mar

The Sprint Cup Series shifts back east to the hot-bed of NASCAR this weekend with the Goody’s Fast Relief 500.

These race names continue to get weirder and weirder… and the NASCAR stereotypes continue to prove true. (Or maybe not… I just discovered that “Goody’s Fast Relief” has nothing to do with flatulence. It’s pain relief.)

This week, the “500” in the name refers to the number of laps in the race. Last week, the number in the race name stood for the number of miles. (It’s confusing, I know).

The Goody’s Fast Relief 500 is race #6 (out of 36) on the Sprint Cup circuit. Race coverage on Sunday starts at 12:30 PM on FOX.

Below the logo, find everything you need to prepare for this weekend’s race.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Goody’s Fast Relief 500

  • Location: Ridgeway, Virginia
  • Track name: Martinsville Speedway
  • Track shape: Oval
  • Banking: 12 degrees
  • Lap length: 0.526 miles
  • Race distance: 263 miles / 500 laps

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As always, I’ll be tweeting my comments and questions about NASCAR during the race from my Twitter account: @NASCARneophyte. If you can answer my questions, please do.

Enjoy the race everyone.

Am I Really Going To A #NASCAR Race? (Yes).

29 Mar

Well, I just bought tickets for my first NASCAR race, and I already know it’s going to be in-sane.

Take, for example, my conversation with a friend earlier today:

  • Me: “Hey, do you have any interest in going to a NASCAR race?”
  • Friend: “Yeah, sure……………… as long as alcohol is involved.”

NASCAR and beer. They go together like Sonny and Cher... or something like that.

Another reason I know my first race experience will be “insane” is because of the warning posted on the ticket-buying site:

Children’s tickets (12 & under) start at $25 in Family Sections presented by Virginia 529 College Savings Plan. In these Family Sections presented by Virginia 529, drinking alcohol is prohibited. Call the Ticket Office at 866-455-RACE (7223) to order.

This warning leads me to believe that everyone gets absolutely hammered at NASCAR races, and they have to set up “safe zones” to keep the children out of harm’s way.

I’m sure that NASCAR tailgating is about as intense as it is at college football games or, maybe, even more intense. I guess we’ll see.

Since the race I’m going to is under the lights at Richmond International Raceway (April 28th), that just means even more time for NASCAR patrons to load up on jet fuel before the race (“jet fuel” = alcohol). This, in turn, will allow me to see their true colors and paint an accurate portrayal of them when I blog about this cultural experience afterwards.

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I’m really excited for the race because not only did I get a great deal on tickets, but I convinced TWO friends to go with me (or maybe the promise of alcohol did that).

This should be fun…

Race Recap: Rain-Shortened Auto Club 400

26 Mar

So… full disclosure:

Yesterday I fell asleep while watching a NASCAR race for the first time.

No, it wasn’t because of the drone of the engines. And no, I didn’t fall asleep because watching cars turn left for 3 hours is a boring way to spend an afternoon (it’s actually not that bad)…

Why I fell asleep really doesn’t matter, but I woke up just as the race was called and Tony Stewart was declared the winner – since he was leading when they called it – at Fontana.

Again, it seems luck played a huge role in this one, as other drivers went to pit road, thinking the race would continue for several more laps, and Stewart stayed out, thinking the race would be called soon due to the rain. As it turned out, he guessed right, and he earned his second Sprint Cup victory of the season because of it.

There's that pesky Coke again...

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Here’s the two most important/craziest things you (and I) missed during the race:

  • The guy who puts gas in Jeff Gordon’s car during pit stops got dragged down pit road when the gas tank got stuck to the car… which caused Gordon to earn a penalty of some sort (it sounds like they said a “stop-and-go“?).

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As always, I picked up some new NASCAR knowledge during the limited time I was awake yesterday during the race:

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Some questions also came up during the race yesterday, and today as I was looking back on the race. If you can answer them, help me out in the comments section below.

1). They showed Mark Martin on the in-car cam on FOX, and from how hard his head was shaking back and forth, it’s hard for me to believe these guys don’t have really bad headaches when they get out of their cars. Are they just accustomed to the vibrations after (presumably) so many years of driving?

2) What is a “stop-and-go” penalty?

3a). What’s the deal with “start-and-park” teams?

3b). Who in their right mind would sponsor a driver they know is going to quit after ~10 laps?

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Regardless of how you feel about the quality of Stewart’s victory in the rain-shortened race (here is how I think it must have felt), it was Stewart’s third win in his last six Sprint Cup races, which continues to blow my mind.

Congrats, “Smoke.”

Race Preview: Auto Club 400

23 Mar

The Sprint Cup Series heads to the west coast this weekend for the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, California (not to be confused with Anchorman stud Brian Fantana). This week, the “400” in the name corresponds to the number of miles in the race, but I’m sure that will change next weekend, so don’t get used to it.

Last year, the race distance was shortened from 500 to 400 miles, which shortened the race time by about an hour (great news for viewers with short attention spans). For the first time in Auto Club Speedway history last year, there was a pass on the final lap, as Kevin Harvick passed Jimmie Johnson for the win. It was the only lap Harvick led on the day.

Apparently, this track features 5-wide racing, which is completely unfathomable to a NASCAR noob like me. I’m pretty excited to see what that’s like.

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The Auto Club 400 is race #5 (out of 36) on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. Race coverage on Sunday starts at 2:30 PM on FOX.

Below the logo, find everything you need to prepare for this weekend’s race.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Auto Club 400

  • Location: Fontana, California
  • Track name: Auto Club Speedway
  • Track shape: D-shaped oval
  • Lap length: 2.0 miles
  • Race distance: 400 miles / 200 laps
  • Banking: 14 degrees

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As always, I’ll be tweeting my comments and questions about NASCAR during the race from my Twitter account: @NASCARneophyte. If you can answer my questions, please do.

Enjoy the race everyone.

Race Recap: Food City 500

19 Mar

Congrats to Brad @Keselowski on his victory in the Food City 500 yesterday. It was Keselowski’s second straight win at Bristol (he also won the Irwin Tools Night Race last August), leaving him “only” 10 wins behind Darrell Waltrip, who holds the record with 12 wins all-time at the track.

As you can see in the photo below, Keselowski took a picture with his phone as soon as he got out of his car in Victory Lane (which means he had his phone in the car with him again during the race).

The guy definitely knows the importance of social media these days…

Keselowski actually took two pictures from Victory Lane (and tweeted one of them). Here is the one he tweeted last night:

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As always, I picked up a ton of new NASCAR knowledge during the race yesterday, thanks to the announcers on FOX, and a little help on Twitter. Here’s a summary:

  • Actually, this one I learned before the race: I turned on @SPEED on Saturday and saw a motorcycle race at Daytona International Speedway. Turns out, tracks are operated independently of NASCAR and need to make money somehow when there are no NASCAR races going on. Therefore, they run events such as professional motorcycle racing, and also open to the public for different kinds of racing.
  • Whenever there is a wreck during a race, NASCAR officials around the track communicate by radio to determine whether or not there will be a caution at that time.
  • These cars have exhaust pipes in the middle of undercarriage, which stick out to the side a bit. Gordon’s car was actually out of the race because his rear left tire exploded when teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. bumped into him and sent him spinning. The resulting wreck caused enough damage that he couldn’t get back in the race right away.

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As always, some questions came up yesterday as I was watching. If you can answer them, help me out in the comments section below.

1. A friend of mine told me that the pit road speed limit depends on track size. The larger the track, the higher the pit road speed limit. Can anyone confirm? (By the way, the pit road speed limit yesterday was 30 mph).

2. When a driver participates in Nationwide and Sprint Cup races, does he use the same crew/crew chief for both events?

3. Where is lap length measured from? The middle of the track? Or the lower edge?

4. It sounds like 6 or 7 crew members are allowed over the wall during a pit stop. Can anyone confirm?

5. When the drivers do burnouts after winning, doesn’t that just mean more work for the crew to prepare the car for the next race???

6. Jeff Burton’s nickname is “The Mayor,” and Kyle Busch’s nickname is “Wild Thing”?

7. It sounded like the announcers said the first car that is one lap down at the time of a caution lap gets a “free pass” to rejoin the lead lap?

8. Bristol Motor Speedway is called “Thunder Valley”? Because of how loud it is?

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Keselowski seems to be heating up lately, as ESPN anchor John Buccigross tweeted this morning:

Let’s see if Keselowski can make it two races in a row next week…

What is Food City? (I’m serious).

17 Mar

“There are no FoodCity Locations Near [my zip code]”

Not only did I not know that “Bristol” meant Bristol, Tennessee, but I also had no idea what Food City was. Based on the name, I was able to (correctly) guess that it was a grocery store, but beyond that, I was clueless. Since I was curious about this Food City place, I “googled” it and went to their website to learn more…

From the “About Food City” section:

The Food City banner dates back to 1918 when a store opened in Greeneville, TN but K-VA-T Food Stores real beginning was in 1955 when Jack C. Smith (founder), his father Curtis, cousin Ernest and uncle Earl opened their first store in Grundy, VA. Since that time, Food City has grown in leaps by acquisitions of several Piggly Wiggly operations in Southwest VA and Eastern KY, along with Quality Foods/Food City, White Stores, Winn Dixie and BI-LO units in east Tennessee[…]

…which brought up the question (at least in my mind), why would you buy race naming rights for your company if you don’t have nationwide locations?

I can understand Subway sponsoring the “Subway Fresh Fit 500” or Kobalt sponsoring the “Kobalt 400,” because you can buy Subway subs or Kobalt tools all across the country, but you can’t shop in a Food City unless you live in a very geographically limited part of the country east coast.

To me, this just enforces the stereotype that NASCAR is dominated by fans in and around Tobacco Road. (If you were to claim that 50% of NASCAR fans live in Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, I bet you wouldn’t be that far off).

So far, in my limited NASCAR-watching experience, it seems that NASCAR sponsors certainly know their target audience… and market specifically to it.
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Side note: the FAQ section of the Food City website is pretty informative if you’ve always wondered why potatoes turn green after you buy them, or how to pick a good watermelon. You’ll also learn that Food City customers at their southern-most stores prefer to buy coffee in bags, whereas their northern region customers prefer to buy coffee in cans. Who knew?

Race Preview: Food City 500 (brought to you by Food City)

17 Mar

I’m starting to learn that there is no rhyme or reason for the way NASCAR races are named, or more specifically, numbered.

Two weeks ago, we had the Subway Fresh Fit 500 (502.115 km); last week, we had the Kobalt Tools 400 (400.5 mi); and this week, we have the Food City 500 (500 laps).

So, to recap: in a three-week span, we went from calling races by the number of kilometers, to the number of miles, to the number of laps. What the…?

The Food City 500 is race #4 (out of 36) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. You can catch the race Sunday on FOX at 12:30 PM.

Below the logo, find everything you need to prepare for this weekend’s race.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Food City 500

  • Location: Bristol, Tennessee
  • Track name: Bristol Motor Speedway
  • Track shape: Oval
  • Banking: 36 degrees
  • Lap length: 0.533 miles
  • Race distance: 266.50 miles / 500 laps

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As always, I’ll be tweeting my comments and questions about NASCAR during the race from my Twitter account: @NASCARneophyte. If you can answer my questions, please do.

Enjoy the race everyone.