Tag Archives: Kyle Busch

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: 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: 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 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 All-Star Day?

19 May

I’m confused by tonight’s NASCAR festivities. Apparently there are two races at Charlotte Motor Speedway this evening, but they don’t count for anything in the Sprint Cup Series standings.

The first one is the Sprint Showdown, starting at 7:30 PM, and running 40 laps long. That race has 22 drivers in it, but only one (really) big-name driver: Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

The main event is the Sprint All-Star Race, starting at 9:00 PM. That race has 20 drivers in it, including all the big-name drivers (like Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, and Jeff Gordon). Unlike the Showdown, the All-Star Race will be 90 laps long.

Don’t look for these races on FOX; tonight, television coverage is on SPEED, starting at 7:00 PM.

Below the logo, check out your Charlotte Motor Speedway/Sprint All-Star Race essentials.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Sprint All-Star Race

  • Location: Concord, NC
  • Track name: Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • Track shape: Quad-oval
  • Banking: 24 degrees (turns), 5 degrees (straights)
  • Lap length: 1.5 miles
  • Race distance: 90 laps / 135 miles
  • Pole sitter: Kyle Busch
  • Last year’s winner: Carl Edwards
  • Here is the complete list of past winners in the All-Star Race (Showdown winners are listed as well).

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Here is the starting order for tonight’s All-Star race, and here is the starting order for the Showdown.

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I’ll be following the race(s) on Twitter tonight since I won’t be able to watch, but I’ll post questions and comments after the race(s) from my Twitter account: @NASCARneophyte. If you can answer my questions, please do.

Enjoy the race(s) everyone!

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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?

Race Recap: Capital City 400

29 Apr

[Note: I was at the race yesterday, but I’ll recap my first NASCAR experience separately]…

After running in the top 10 for most of the day, Kyle Busch overtook race leader Tony Stewart during a pit stop on lap 388 of 400 and never looked back on his way to grabbing the checkered flag under the lights at Richmond International Raceway.

Incredibly, it was Ky. Busch’s fourth-straight victory(!) in the Richmond spring race. (The guy dominates short tracks).

Earlier this week, when I wrote my race preview, the race was still without a sponsor. Well, at some point this week since then, the Richmond race was sponsored and given a name: “The Capital City 400 Presented by Virginia Is For Lovers.” What a mouthful.

I’m not entirely sure about this, but I think the last-minute sponsorship helps explain why the trophy above is so hideous. It looks like it was designed by a five-year-old.

Anyway, congrats to Kyle Busch on his first win of the season. I’m sure he doesn’t mind the hideous trophy and was just happy to add it to his trophy case.

I’ll post a full recap of my first NASCAR race experience soon. (Spoiler: drunk college girls dancing on top of pickup trucks are involved).

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If you’re already looking ahead, the Sprint Cup Series will stop in Alabama next weekend for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.