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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.

The Coolest NASCAR-Related Video I’ve Seen… Today

9 Jun

This is awesome.  Thank god that professional sports (including NASCAR) have cameras covering every angle of the field/track/playing surface so we can re-live strange moments like these forever:

 

My favorite part was the slow-mo near the end.  Priceless.

(If nothing else, I now can say I’ve heard of Stephen Leicht).

The Most Popular* Driver In NASCAR Is…

9 Jun

* Admittedly, Twitter isn’t the be-all, end-all of popularity contests, but it’s a pretty good indication of how popular (or influential) an athlete or celebrity is, based on their number of followers.

With that caveat in mind, here is the list of the Top 30 Most-Followed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers on Twitter:

Car # Driver Followers Twitter Handle
10 Danica Patrick 601,119 @DanicaPatrick
42 Juan Montoya 553,457 @jpmontoya
2 Brad Keselowski 267,074 @keselowski
48 Jimmie Johnson 237,856 @JimmieJohnson
29 Kevin Harvick 219,981 @KevinHarvick
24 Jeff Gordon 212,654 @JeffGordonWeb
5 Kasey Kahne 186,723 @kaseykahne
18 Kyle Busch 186,099 @KyleBusch
55 Michael Waltrip 162,150 @mw55
11 Denny Hamlin 148,580 @dennyhamlin
21 Trevor Bayne 126,872 @Tbayne21
88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 126,829 @DaleJr
109 Kenny Wallace 105,201 @Kenny_Wallace
33 Elliott Sadler 100,445 @Elliott_Sadler
17 Matt Kenseth 99,834 @mattkenseth
39 Ryan Newman 99,437 @RyanNewman39
14 Tony Stewart 99,220 @tonystewart
1 Jamie McMurray 96,965 @jamiemcmurray
56 Martin Truex Jr. 83,026 @MartinTruexJr56
55 Mark Martin 79,204 @55MarkMartin
16 Greg Biffle 77,833 @gbiffle
20 Joey Logano 77,366 @joeylogano
47 Bobby Labonte 63,573 @Bobby_Labonte
22 AJ Allmendinger 62,317 @AJDinger
55 Brian Vickers 57,647 @BrianLVickers
31 Jeff Burton 54,211 @RCR31JeffBurton
7 Robby Gordon 49,377 @RobbyGordon
34 David Ragan 43,353 @DavidRagan
78 Regan Smith 41,667 @Regan_Smith_
33 Hermie Sadler 40,646 @HermieSadler
Notes: Number of followers recorded ~ 12:00 EDT on 6/9/12… List of drivers taken from http://www.nascar.com/drivers/list/cup/dps/ (“Driver Table” tab)… Not all Twitter handles listed above have been “verified” by Twitter…

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Let’s delve into these numbers a little bit.

Danica Patrick leads the list, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, considering she recently made the cover of ESPN Magazine’s Women in Sports issue.  She’s in those pesky Go Daddy commercials on TV, and has posed for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Collection (twice).  Danica Patrick is not a driver, she’s a brand.  If it comes as a shock that she has more followers than any other NASCAR driver, you probably live under a rock.

Next is Juan Pablo Montoya.  He hasn’t had a great deal of success in the Sprint Cup Series so far (and is currently 20th in the standings), so I’m assuming his popularity is based on the fact that he used to drive in Formula One and had some success there.  He probably gets a boost in followers due to the fact that he’s Colombian and bi-lingual (he frequently tweets in Spanish).  As an sports figure with global appeal, this isn’t a huge surprise either.

Third on the list is Brad Keselowski.  Keselowski certainly got a boost in followers when he tweeted this at the Daytona 500 in February:

During the two-hour red flag, with the field stopped dead on the track, Keselowski gained 100,000 followers (going from 85,000 to 185,000).  Due to his strong performances this year, and frequent interactions with fans on Twitter, Keselowski now has more followers than five-time Cup series champion, Jimmie Johnson.

Considering his high level of success in NASCAR (and his overall likeability), I would have expected Jimmie Johnson to have more than ~237,000 followers (by comparison, Lebron James has over 4.7 million followers).  Johnson is a member of Team Hendrick (which has been called the “New York Yankees of NASCAR”) and is a lock for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Maybe the (comparatively) low follower count for Johnson is an indication of the total number of NASCAR fans on Twitter.

Kevin Harvick rounds out the Top 5, which surprised me only because I expected four-time Cup series champion Jeff Gordon to be closer to the top of this list, (although Harvick only has 7,000 more followers than Gordon).

Some final comments:

The @DaleJr Twitter account has not sent a single tweet, yet it is the 12th most-followed driver account in NASCAR.  Can you imagine if he actually tweeted from the account?  Ditto for the @tonystewart account, which has sent just one tweet (a PR one), yet has almost 100,000 followers.

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I think I’ll revisit this list at the end of the season and see which drivers have gained or lost the most followers since this point in the season.  It will be interesting to see whether winning races gives drivers a boost in followers from week to week.

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The Four Categories of NASCAR Commercials

29 May

If you’ve ever watched at least 20 (consecutive) minutes of a NASCAR race, the commercials you saw likely fell into one of these four (manly) categories…

(1) “SPORTS”

Category includes:

  • commercials for products that promise to make you look and feel younger (but mainly just erectile dysfunction pills)

Likely target audience:

  • middle-aged men

Sample brands featured:

  • Viagra, Cialis, Androgel Testosterone, etc.

Sample commercial from this category:

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(2) “TRUCKS”

Category includes:

  • commercials for off-road vehicles, motorcycles, cars, boats, and what everyone else refers to as “truck”

Likely target audience:

  • middle-aged men

Sample brands featured:

  • Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Dodge, Nissan, Buick, etc.

Also included in this category:

  • commercials for car/boat/motorcycle/motor home insurance companies such as Geico, Farmers, State Farm, Progressive, and Nationwide

Sample commercials from this category:

 

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(3) “TOOLS”

Category includes:

  • commercials for home improvement stores and all kinds of “tools,” from lawn mowers to drills and wrenches

Likely target audience:

  • middle-aged men

Sample brands featured:

  • Husqvarna, Kobalt Tools, Lowes, Home Depot, Aarons, etc.

Also included in this category:

  • cell phones (the tools we use to communicate), featuring companies such as Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint

Sample commercials from this category:

 

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(4) “BEER”

Category includes:

  • commercials for products that can create an altered state, such as beer, or Golden Corral (this altered state is intestinal in nature)

Likely target audience:

  • middle-aged men

Sample brands featured:

  • Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bud Light, Golden Corral, Pizza Hut, KFC, etc.

Also included in this category:

  • energy drinks and sodas such as Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew, and 5 HR Energy

Sample commercials from this category:

 

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By the way… I honestly considered adding a fifth (bonus!) category called “Jimmie Johnson Commercials.” He’s in a ton. Here are some more:

 

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So, what do you think of these categories? Did I miss any?

Also, did you notice a common theme with the target audience? Companies that advertise during NASCAR events sure seem to target their advertising at the male demographic, especially middle-aged men… Do you agree?

Feel free to respond in the comments section below or tweet your comments/suggestions to me at @NASCARneophyte.

Thanks for reading!

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NASCAR Announces 2013 HOF Class

23 May

NASCAR announced its 2013 Hall of Fame Class today, and the only driver I’d heard of before was Rusty Wallace. (Apparently, it’s because he’s a NASCAR broadcaster/analyst on ESPN).

The other four Hall of Fame selections were Buck Baker, Cotton Owens, Herb Thomas, and Leonard Wood.

The class will be officially inducted on Friday, February 8th, 2013, in a ceremony at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Check out NASCAR’s press release here for more information.

Congrats to all the selections!

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NASCAR’s Equivalent Of CliffsNotes

15 May

If you’re a NASCAR fan and you don’t follow the official @NASCAR Twitter account, I completely understand; they tweet a LOT.

Pictures, videos, news articles, driver press conference schedules… you name it, they tweet it. And they don’t just cover the Sprint Cup Series, but the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series as well.

Leave Twitter for a few hours on race day, and you could easily come back to 50+ tweets from @NASCAR on your timeline.

Having said that, I’m sure you’ll excuse me if I don’t read every tweet or click every link posted by @NASCAR. (I’ve learned to skip past most of them).

On Monday, however, as I scrolled through my timeline on Twitter (@NASCARneophyte), I noticed a tweet that piqued my interest (see below).

As it turns out, after every race, the folks at www.nascar.com come up with a highlight video called “Race Rewind” that cuts down the ~3 hour marathon race into ~15 intense minutes of racing highlights.

They hit all the key race moments, without any of the boring fluff.

In high school English class terms, the Race Rewind is the equivalent of CliffsNotes.

(Where has this been all my NASCAR-following life?!?)

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Below is the tweet that introduced me to the Race Rewind. It links directly to the 15-minute recap of the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington (and yes, if you were wondering, I did watch the whole video).

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Less useful for my purposes is the “Weekend Top 5” segment, which recaps the Top 5 NASCAR moments from each weekend’s races.

(From what I can tell, it includes Nationwide AND Sprint Cup Series moments, although I’m not sure if the Truck Series is also included occasionally).

Below is the @NASCAR tweet that links directly to the Weekend Top 5 for Darlington.

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I know one thing for sure. If I have to miss another race in the future, I’ll just check out the Race Rewind afterward and get all the highlights I need without any moments I don’t.

I have to hand it to NASCAR; they did a great job with this video series. I’ll be sure to watch the next one, too!

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