Friday, October 16, 2009

Thoughts From A Rainy Day In Charlotte

With rain blanketing the area for much of Thursday, the main action at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway took place in the Time Warner Cable Media Center. With some of the sport’s biggest names taking questions from the room full of media, a few things stood out while others were just plain strange.

Jeff Burton on making his 850th career NASCAR start on Friday:

“I have always wanted to do this since I was five, six seven years-old. I look forward to being able to do it with really great people. It is a lot of fun. I still enjoy doing it. I love doing it for that matter. Every driver says that their goal is to do it for a long time. I have been real fortunate to get to do what I love to do. I am just real fortunate.”

Getting beat by Hendrick equipment kind of irks Jeff Gordon:

“We pride ourselves on being the best out there and winning and continuing that tradition, not only for our No. 24 team but also Hendrick Motorsports. It’s a great problem to have that you’re the best organization out there providing the best equipment and resources and people and that’s exactly what you’re up against each and every weekend. It’s been the philosophy of Rick’s since I first came to Hendrick that you hope that you’re battling against your teammate.

“And so we kind of know that going into it and while at times it’s tough, it’s very competitive, and it can be frustrating as well, when you get beat it’s just because of the way that competition is driving one another.”

Ryan Newman is hungry for a win…really hungry:

“We haven’t achieved all of our goals. We haven’t won that race. So yes, there is a huge desire to win that first race. I’m as hungry as an Ethiopian; they still aren’t getting fed are they?”

Carl Edwards is having a baby...well make that his wife Kate:

"I'm real excited," Edwards told the media Thursday. "Kate is pregnant and we're having a little girl and I'm really, really excited about it. It's crazy. You guys that have kids know this, but we went in there for the ultra-sound, the first one, and I had seen all the pictures of what the baby was supposed to look like and we were sitting there and all of a sudden she started moving and I almost passed out. It was just wild. We're due in the middle of February, so it's perfect timing. We'll call her Daytona," Edwards said to a room full of laughter.

Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon want to trick-or-treat in the infield of Talladega on Halloween:

“I think the coolest thing about Talladega is going to be Halloween,” Burton said. “I think Saturday night is going to be a pretty good time myself. I’m thinking about dressing up and nobody will know who I am.”

“I would just like to have a disguise that nobody could recognize me so I could go out in the infield to check out all the fun that is going to be happening out there on Halloween. Whatever costume that is, I don’t know. But I don’t want to give it away here.”

Greg Biffle still upset at Joey Logano, not so much his dad:

After last week’s on-track incident with Joey Logano in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Greg Biffle explained the young driver did not take to their discussion afterwards as Biffle would have hoped.

“That’s pretty disappointing because I got talked to by Sterling Marlin and a few other guys and I learned a lot from it because there were things I was probably doing on the race track being a younger guy and not realizing probably what I was doing.”

Biffle went on to say while he had not yet received an apology, he felt the incident with Tom Logano - Joey’s father – was blown out of context.

“No, he hasn’t (apologized) and I have to say that it really got taken out of context,” Biffle admitted Thursday. “Him losing his hardcard and that whole thing was maybe a little overbearing because he was jogging down pit road heading for Victory Lane, which was right behind us where we were all coming in to stop and get the restrictor plate off the car. There was a two or three-car length gap between me and the guy in front of me and he kind of swerved out into the lane and gave me the sign that I was number one, and kind of veered back over and continued on down to Victory Lane. That was it. I waived to him as he went by. I wasn’t gonna do that (give the same number one sign) because I didn’t want to get fined or anything like that, so I just waved out the window and went off. That’s all he did.”

Waiting around for qualifying was worth it:

Halfway through the day I would have bet the house there would be no on-track action at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Rain had lingered at the speedway for much of the day and it appeared I would be able to catch the 8:07 pm E.T. start of the Phillies-Dodgers game. However, NASCAR – never one to give up – continued the track drying efforts and were able to fit in an abbreviated Cup Series practice session, full Nationwide Series practice session and Cup qualifying – and let me say, I’m glad I stuck around.

With track conditions about as perfect as one could hope for, Jimmie Johnson laid down one of the quickest laps in recent history – and that was before qualifying. During the abbreviated practice session, Johnson pulled his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet out on the track and laid down a lap of 192. 486 mph – enough to get even Chad Knaus excited. By the time qualifying rolled around the track had rubbered up and gained a lot of grip.

Once he rolled out Johnson laid down a lap, while not as quick as his practice speed, still good enough to break the record for the fastest qualifying lap run in the new car. Johnson’s blisteringly fast lap time earned him his third pole at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and 22nd pole of his career.

Fact: Mark Martin will not admit championship hopes until after Talladega:

Despite the fact most Chase contenders feel he is one of the only guys capable of giving Jimmie Johnson a run for his money, Mark Martin is not quite ready to talk about the championship just yet. Citing his previous disappointments, the 50-year-old veteran admitted once the series has moved past Talladega, then he’ll start to consider the points situation.

“I'll see you after the race at Talladega and after the race at Talladega, we'll talk about our championship,” Martin said after qualifying Thursday. “I think everybody will know then who the real contenders are and a lot of things can change between now and then. If you'll look back, you will find that I led the points back in '90 from May, Phoenix was the next to the last race and then Atlanta was the last race, and I led the points from May until Phoenix. I really thought I was going to win. That ain't going to happen to me again. I am never going to think I'm going to win and it not happen. So, we'll race and we will let the racing decide the points tally. I'm not going to think about it and I don't have to. I won't change that points tally, so I refuse to look at it. I'm not going to look at it. I'm not going to be thinking about all that. I'm going to think about trying to win this race and then try to win Martinsville.”

While Thursday might not have been the most exciting or compelling day I have ever spent at a race track, it was definitely not without its moments. Some entertaining, some insightful and some down-right informative, Thursday went to show that even if the action on-track is slowed by rain, the action off the track is never dull.

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