Tag Archives: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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: 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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Race Recap: Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500

8 Oct

Heading into yesterday’s Sprint Cup Series race, all the media talk was about how the Chase standings could be turned upside down if several Chase drivers got involved in a big wreck at Talladega Superspeedway.

Matt Kenseth celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, AL.

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[At NASCAR‘s largest tracks (such as Talladega), where the long straightaways and gentle curves allow drivers to mash the gas all the way around, a big, violent wreck is never far away – or at least never feels far off].

As I watched yesterday’s race, I kept waiting, and waiting, for “The Big One” to occur.  In the end, it took a green-white-checkered finish in lap 189 (of a regularly-scheduled 188) for “The Big One” to occur, but it was well worth the wait.

Here’s a video of the final-lap crash that wiped out almost the entire field and turned the race results completely upside down:

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Of the 12 Chase drivers, the two biggest movers in the standings were Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  Gordon gained four places in the standing by finishing 2nd in the race, and Dale Jr. dropped four places in the standings by finishing 20th in the race.

Brad Keselowski remained in the top spot, and Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin remained in 2nd and 3rd place, respectively, in the overall Chase standings.

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As always, I picked up some new NASCAR knowledge this week.  Here’s a summary:

  • Restrictor plates are a necessity at larger tracks like Talladega Superspeedway.  Here’s how they work and why they’re important (briefly).
  • The Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 race name comes from the Good Sam Club, which is an international organization for recreational vehicle owners.

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Tweet of the weekend:

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Next weekend, the Chase for the Sprint Cup moves to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Bank of America 500.  This one will be under the lights on Saturday night.  Don’t miss it!

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Race Recap: Quicken Loans 400

18 Jun

The (winless) streak is over! The (winless) streak is over!!!

(Can we stop talking about Dale Jr. now?)

It took 4 years and 2 days, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally returned to victory lane after a winless streak of 143 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (but really, who was counting?).

The media talked about him every week when he lost, and they won’t stop talking about him now that he’s won. My friend told me that Jr. even made Sportscenter today (with video highlights!), so you know this was a big deal…

Some other notes on this weekend’s race:

  • Is it just me, or is Matt Kenseth flying under the radar each week? The announcers never seem to talk about him, yet he now leads the points standings. The dude has eight top-5s and 11 top-10s in 15 races. Wow.
  • Denny Hamlin’s car caught fire, which led him to tweet this after the race:
  • For those keeping score at home, Jeff Gordon remains the only Team Hendrick driver without a win this season (but it’s coming…).

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By the way, I’ve determined that Jr. won the race solely because of his car’s paint job, which was an advertisement for the upcoming Batman blockbuster, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Here is a pic of the hood:

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Finally, here’s the tidbit of NASCAR knowledge I picked up this week:

  • Dale Jr’s girlfriend is pretty pretty. Not only that, but she stuck with him during this unending winless streak? He better put a ring on that ASAP.

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If you’re already looking ahead, the Sprint Cup Series will move to Sonoma, California next weekend for the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

(You would think Toyota has enough money to sponsor their own race, no? I guess not…).

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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