Tag Archives: Danica Patrick

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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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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Race Recap: Coca-Cola 600

28 May

With the F1 Grand Prix at Monaco, the (IndyCar series) Indianapolis 500, and NASCAR‘s Coca-Cola 600 all happening yesterday, this past weekend is known across motorsports as “Racing’s Greatest Weekend.”

In Sunday’s late race – the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor SpeedwayKasey Kahne won his first Sprint Cup Series race as a member of Team Hendrick.

Kahne led 96 laps total, including the final 42 on the day.

Before the race, yesterday’s CBS Sunday Morning segment on Jimmie Johnson referred to Team Hendrick as the New York Yankees of NASCAR. Well, after back-to-back Sprint Cup Series victories, Team Hendrick sure seems to be back at the top of the sport.

It now seems like just a matter of time before Hendrick team members Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. make it to victory lane this season.

A few notes from yesterday:

  • The 600 is NASCAR’s longest race, but this one turned out to be the quickest 600 in history at 3 hours, 51 minutes, 14 seconds.
  • Dale Jr.’s winless streak continues… It is now up to 141 races.
  • Danica Patrick struggled in her third Sprint Cup Series race. She finished five laps down, in 30th place.

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As always, I picked up some new NASCAR knowledge this weekend thanks to Twitter, and the announcers on FOX. Here’s a summary:

  • According to DW (during the broadcast), NASCAR’s cars don’t have speedometers, but it sounds like they do have tachometers:
  • I always wondered how teams make adjustments during pit stops. Here are some explanations:
  • Yahoo!’s NASCAR blog is called “From The Marbles.” I never knew why until today, when I read the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. In the article on IndyCar driver JR Hildebrand, they mentioned the small pieces of rubber from tires that build up as debris on the track. These pieces of debris are known as “marbles.”

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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 or tweet @NASCARneophyte.

Brad Keselowski bumped into Tony Stewart on pit road, which caused Stewart to have to spin his car around in order to get to his pit box. Two questions:

1. Are the spotters really tasked with directing drivers while on pit road??

2. I’m assuming (since Stewart did a burnout/spin-o-rama to get to his pit box), that these cars don’t have a reverse gear?

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Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series will move to Delaware for the “FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks.” What a mouthful.

And finally… Happy Memorial Day! Thanks to all who serve, or have served.

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Race Recap: Bojangles’ Southern 500

15 May

On Saturday night in Darlington, Jimmie Johnson won his first NASCAR race of the season (and the first for Team Hendrick this year).

The win also happened to be Rick Hendrick‘s 200th career victory as an owner in the Sprint Cup Series.

Johnson (right) hoists the trophy with crew chief Chad Knaus in victory lane after the race.

Some other notes from the race in case you missed it:

  • Danica Patrick raced with the big boys again(!) …but she finished 31st. Meh…
  • Jeff Gordon‘s miserable season continued, as he cut a tire on two separate occasions, eventually went to the garage, and then finished 35th. On team radio after his second flat tire, he didn’t even sound upset. At this point, it seems like he’s used to the bad luck…
  • Apparently there was some post-race drama on pit road involving Kurt Busch which earned him a pretty hefty fine. (I’m sure he’ll appeal the decision and, knowing NASCAR, they’ll probably reverse it. Or maybe not, since his name isn’t Jimmie Johnson… zing!).

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As always, I picked up some new NASCAR knowledge last week thanks to Twitter. Here’s a summary:

  • Darlington is a difficult track to race on because it’s fast and narrow:
  • NASCAR Nationwide Series cars are pretty different from Sprint Cup Series cars, so Cup drivers can’t learn much from watching the Nationwide races held at the same track:

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Here’s a question that came up last week. If you can answer it, help me out in the comments section below or tweet @NASCARneophyte.

1. Why is Darlington called “The Lady In Black” and “Too Tough To Tame“?

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My First NASCAR Race Experience

6 May

Saturday, April 28, 2012 – Richmond, Virginia

I left my house around 9:00 AM on Saturday, picked up my friend Tom (name changed), and drove south on I-95 to Richmond. A little north of Richmond, Tom said:

“Well, I just saw my first confederate flag of the day. I guess we have arrived.”

We got to Richmond shortly before 11:00 AM, met up with my friend Phil (name changed), and headed to the closest Kroger to load up on tailgate essentials. As we walked into the store, I noticed a lot of people wearing their NASCAR gear (mostly #24 hats and jackets).

Next, we headed to Jimmy Johns to grab some lunch. (Clutch decision of the day #1: buying two extra #5 VITO sandwiches for later in the day).

After lunch, we jumped in Phil’s car and drove to the track. We arrived around 12:30 PM and were able to park for free. (ALL sporting events should have this). As we got out of the car to set up our tailgate, we heard someone nearby yell:

“LET’S GET DRUUUUUNK!!!”

…and then the rain started.

The “open flame a few feet from the gas tank in the truck bed” idea seems unsafe to me, but why not?

After sitting out in the rain for all of 20 seconds (just enough time to throw on my poncho), we decided we’d prefer to be dry when the race started in 6+ hours, so we got back in the car and continued our tailgate rain-free.

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The family that parked next to us was very nice and we exchanged the usual pleasantries when we first arrived. Unfortunately, I had no idea what they were saying, so I just smiled and nodded.

One of their kids had a rattail, which I thought was outlawed after Y2K, but I guess not.

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Close to our parking spot, we noticed a large group of students from James Madison University (my alma mater) setting up their tailgate behind the pickup truck that they had all apparently piled into to get to the race.

(Side note: I believe this area is where the “Let’s get drunk!!!” scream came from earlier – no surprise considering JMU‘s reputation as a “party school”).

Several of the girls in this group quickly climbed onto the roof of the pickup truck and began dancing on it, drinks in hand. (This would continue throughout the day).

I should have realized at this point that a large majority of this group (if not everyone in the group) did not actually have tickets to the race and simply came to tailgate.

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At one point, Tom came back from a restroom visit and shared this awesome one-liner he overheard in the parking lot:

“It’s shakin’ worse than Jello on a dirt road.”

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Each time the rain stopped over the course of the afternoon, we took the opportunity to walk around the parking lot and “people-watch.”

Almost everyone was playing corn-hole and/or grilling, and we saw plenty of UVA and Virginia Tech tailgates. Pretty much every tailgate was rocking out to country music.

We noticed several “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and quite a few confederate flags hanging proudly above various tailgates. It was also hard to miss the anti-Obama group in the parking lot.

(How could I forget to include “conservative republicans” in my NASCAR stereotypes post??).

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As we walked through the parking lot, Phil observed:

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many F-150s in one place.”

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Later in the afternoon, I ran into a girl I knew from JMU. Her friend told me that the fly-over was the coolest part of the pre-race festivities, and that we definitely shouldn’t miss it.

Thus, around 6:30 PM, we left our car and headed toward the track, walking past the huge Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. merchandise trucks on our way in.

The security check was non-existent. They simply scanned our tickets and allowed us to walk right in. No one checked my drawstring bag, or the cooler bag I had with me. Ditto for my two friends.

We got to our seats in time for the fly-over, the invocation, and the “Gentlemen: Start… Your… Engines!” command.

I really wasn’t that impressed by the fly-over, and neither were Tom or Phil. I’m pretty sure the two planes had propellers, and they looked like they were from World War I. (I was expecting F-16s, but no dice).

There were a significant number of empty seats around us in the stadium, which surprised me a little bit, considering how many cars were parked outside. Of the fans I saw inside, I’d say at least 50% were wearing their favorite driver’s gear, and maybe 25% of them had rented the race scanners. I didn’t notice anyone without ear plugs or ear-muffs.

There was a guy a few rows in front of us wearing #2 gear from head to toe. Every time Brad Keselowski drove past us during the race, the guy stood up and fist pumped 3 times. No more, no less. Always 3 times. With oomph.

If you look carefully in the bottom-left corner, you can see Brad Keselowski’s #1 fan (in blue).

The race itself was pretty repetitive. The coolest parts (for me) were the beginning of the race, and the restarts. Every time the cars went from real slow to real fast (really quickly), it looked really awesome live.

I wore a set of ear-muffs during the race to block out the noise, and inside the ear-muffs I had a set of ear buds that allowed me to listen to the race on the radio. Unfortunately, I was dealing with a lot of static since it was an AM station, and I quickly gave up on this endeavor.

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Two people texted me during the race to ask how the race was. I answered both texts the same way:

“LOUD!”

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Halfway into the race, Tom, Phil, and I made the decision to leave at Lap 300 (of 400), for two reasons:

  1. Someone told Phil before the race that it could take up to 3 hours to exit the parking lot if we stayed until the end of the race, and
  2. We were pretty bored. (Tom even fell asleep for a few seconds when we first arrived at our seats, believe it or not).

As we exited the stadium, we walked past Danica Patrick‘s merchandise truck, and several others that we had missed earlier in the day. When we got to Phil’s car, we turned on the radio to listen to the end of the race, and we got out of the parking lot without fighting any traffic.

Tom had been raving to me about a fast food place called “Cookout” that he discovered while at school in North Carolina, and it turned out that there was one in Richmond, too. We decided to go there after the race and pulled into the parking lot just as Kyle Busch took the checkered flag. In his honor, I ordered an M&Ms “fancy shake” at Cookout, along with some very greasy, very disgusting fast food.

Finally, we drove back to Phil’s place and crashed for the night. It had been a pretty exhausting, but fun day.

You can get pretty darn close to the action at Richmond International Raceway.

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A few final notes about my experience:

  • Judging from the amount of #24 and #88 gear I saw around the track, I’d say Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr. have to be the two most popular drivers in NASCAR. Jimmie Johnson is a close third.
  • Having experienced a NASCAR race without the race scanners or personal television sets, I now understand why people pay $50 or more to rent them. When you are watching cars racing in circles and suddenly they slow down for a caution, it’s impossible to know what is going on without the scanners.
  • Overall, I found most of the NASCAR stereotypes to be true. The crowd was over 95% Caucasian and mostly southern, and almost everyone was listening to country music before the race (just to name a few examples).
  • Richmond is one of the smaller tracks on the Sprint Cup Series circuit, so we could see the whole track, which was cool. If I go to another race, I think I’d like to experience one of the larger (1.5 mile or larger) tracks.

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People have asked me since the race: “Would you go back?”

Short answer: Yes, I would.

If I ever go to another NASCAR race though, I’ll either rent one of the portable TVs and watch the race from my tailgate with a group of friends, or buy tickets and rent a race scanner to use at my seat inside.

My friends and I enjoyed the race, but we all thought it would have been even more fun with better weather and a bigger group of people.

Hmm, maybe a road trip to Daytona is in order?

NASCAR Neophyte’s Unofficial Daytona 500 Drinking Game

26 Feb

Today is the 54th running of the Daytona 500, and because everyone needs a reason to drink more… Monster Energy Drink (support those sponsors, people)… I present to you:

NASCAR Neophyte’s Unofficial 2012 Daytona 500 Drinking Game!

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ONE DRINK

  • Someone points out that Trevor Bayne was the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 in NASCAR history.
  • Someone refers to Jeff Gordon as a “three-time Daytona 500 champ.”
  • Someone points out that Tony Stewart has never won the Daytona 500.
  • A driver/crew member refers to their car as: “The [car sponsor] Chevy/Toyota/Ford” (Example: “The M&Ms Toyota”).
  • An announcer refers to a car as: “The [car sponsor] Chevy/Toyota/Ford” (Example: “The 5-HR Energy Toyota”).
  • There is a Golden Corral commercial during the race.
  • There is a Wrangler jeans commercial with Dale Earnhardt Jr. during the race.
  • Someone points out that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on a 129-race winless streak.

TWO DRINKS

  • There is a “wreck” and/or the caution flag is out.
  • Someone points out that Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch are brothers.
  • Someone points out that Jeff Gordon and Robby Gordon are NOT related.

THREE DRINKS

  • A car goes airborne during a wreck.
  • Your favorite driver is knocked out of the race.
  • Darrell Waltrip says he has “fond memories” of racing at Daytona International Speedway or says he “misses NASCAR.”

CHUG

  • An ambulance is needed at the track after a wreck.
  • The announcers say something ridiculous, like:

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Note: From searching YouTube videos, it appears that this happens at the beginning of every race, but it was new to me when I watched my first NASCAR race last weekend.

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TIP

To counteract the potential ill effects of whatever you choose to drink, take a drink of water every time Danica Patrick is mentioned.

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Enjoy the race everyone!

(Ed. Note: NASCAR Neophyte in no way endorses the use or abuse of alcohol, the consumption of alcohol by anyone under the legal drinking age, or the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The above is meant for entertainment purposes ONLY.)

Daytona 500 4-1-1

25 Feb

We’re less than 24 hours away from tomorrow’s Daytona 500!

The “Great American Race” officially kicks off the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and is the first race in which drivers are awarded points in the standings.

Here’s some background about the event to help get you ready for tomorrow:

  • Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Track name: Daytona International Speedway
  • Lap length: 2.5 mi.
  • Race distance: 500 mi. / 200 laps
  • Last year’s winner: Trevor Bayne (@Tbayne21)

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Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) is the only driver in the field tomorrow who has won the Great American Race more than once (he’s won it 3 times).  Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) and Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) have each won it once.  Veteran driver Tony Stewart (@tonystewart) has never won the Daytona 500.  Could tomorrow be his first?

Danica Patrick will be racing in her first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race tomorrow and will become only the third woman to race in the Daytona 500 (the first was Janet Guthrie in 1977).  Danica’s teammate, Tony Stewart, says she has the talent to win the race.  Can she win her Sprint Cup debut on NASCAR’s biggest stage???

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Once again, I’ll be tweeting my questions and comments about the race tomorrow from my Twitter account (@NASCARneophyte).  Follow along and answer my questions if you can.

Enjoy the race everyone!