Post Chicagoland Race

July 14, 2008

I am the kind of person that stumbles upon a new song and plays the heck out of it, at my house, on my ipod, in my car, until I can’t stand it anymore. Right now, its John Mayer’s “Say”.. I play it when I’m running and right now, its what I have on as I’m on my plane headed back to DC. I even stop it before it gets to the second verse to start it over because I like the beginning so much.


I like the meaning of the song because its about not being scared to say what’s on your mind. In a way, and this is gonna seem like such a stretch, but that is part of why I love NASCAR so much – because people just say what they’re flat out thinking. It might be a driver, steaming mad after getting out of their car, or it’s a crew member telling me a little more than I wanted to hear when I ask what he did over the weekend.. but it seems around the garage, people just tell it like it is and that honesty and openness is part of the allure of the series. 


We, the TNT bunch, did our last race Saturday night in Chicago. Thank goodness that we ran our story on Kyle Busch here at NBC 4 last Thursday because we would’ve had to edit it again since he keeps winning.  My first impressions of the race is that it was not eventful during the middle hours – I really think NASCAR should do something about these new cars. I know it would take a lot but whereas I am all for the safety advancements, they need to improve the setups – make them able to race better. But back to the race, I was directed to go down to Jimmie Johnson’s pit where I was going to interview the winning crew chief, expected to be Chad Knaus. I was in their pit with 2 laps to go, gearing up for my questions to Chad just like my co-worker Marty was getting ready to interview Jimmie Johnson in victory lane. That’s why I could not believe the move Kyle pulled on Jimmie. He nudged him to go and then took off around him. I am so grateful to have witnessed 3 of this drivers wins this season because it is history. Love him or hate him, he’s every bit as good as people say and the truth is he drives his crew NUTS! Absolutely crazy – he demands so much perfection. He is never satisfied with the car when it unloads over the weekend and in fact, he says it openly… that’s pretty bold for a guy of 23 years but the man can back it up and I love that. I predict he wins more than 12 races by the time this season is through.


Back to the finish.. after Kyle won, I climbed on top of the pit box to grab a word with Steve Addington,  his crew chief. Steve is a phenomenal guy – very even keel…. enjoying every second of his success this season and after I asked him the question, he hopped down to walk down pit road towards the car. Myself and my crew followed him because I was heading for the drivers that finished 2nd through 5th anyway. It was special to see, though, because Steve was walking about 12 feet in front of us normal, like a man walking down the street. In the distance, on the front stretch, he was watching his driver do burnouts that clouded up the night sky. Then, as he watched Kyle on top of that car stick his hands to the side in a gesture of “what, you’re booing me?” and then take his signature bow to the fans, Steve took both his fists and pumped them hard in celebration towards the night sky.  That moment took my breath away. I had never been able to watch Kyle do that in person because I am usually running around tracking down drivers but the moment of it all made me want to cry and this is cheesy but that is what happens sometimes when you realize a moment and something that you’re watching is truly history.  Last year, at my last race in Chicago, I remember talking to Steve Addington in his hauler about what he future held inheriting Kyle Busch this season as his driver replacing JJ Yeley. He didn’t know what to expect and hadn’t had success with JJ so it was a big question mark. To see his hard work paying off this year, that’s what its all about.  I’ve learned from this 23 year old that its ok to demand perfection. He’s like George Michael in that way and I will respect the heck out of him for that until the day I die. They might make other people roll their eyes at times and say “you’ve got to be kidding me” but the bottomline is they get it done.  


I love this sport so much because of the richness of everything – the colors around the racetrack, the smells of the bacon early on a Saturday morning at the racetrack – and more than anything, because of the conversations you can have with just about anyone that is there. Everyone in that garage has a story that is worth the time to listen and I feel really lucky that I have been able to be a part of it for this small chunk this season… also that I’ve been able to share some of it with you.  I’ll put on pictures later but for now, I’ve gotta go… it’s great to be back in DC!





One Response to “Post Chicagoland Race”

  1. Nils said

    Great job with the 6 races. I can understand why you’re bummed. Being around NASCAR is pretty cool, and there really are a lot of inspirational(sp) stories there. I can feel it from the stands when I go.

    Kyle is unbelievable. The guy must be good, not just lucky. I’d still rather have lunch with Jr though. I’m the same way, I find a song I like and hammer it, drop it for a while and come back. I currently like Metalica’s “Unforgiven”

    Good luck with the Redskins this season.


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