Monday, February 23, 2009
and moved all the way back due to the transmission being changed. Towards the end of the race, Dale Jr had a cylinder go down, and with 45 laps to go, he had his first DNF of this year when a second cylinder go down. What's odd about the first cylinder going is that Junior's teammate Mark Martin had a cylinder go at the same exact lap as Junior. Junior fought so hard this week, getting as high as 14th. I'm not going to post the points standing until later on in the season. Next week, our Junebug heads to Las Vegas, where he'll be driving the #5 GoDaddy.com Chevy in the Sam's Town 300 Nationwide Series race. Brad will join Junior as a teammate on Sunday, driving the #25 GoDaddy.com Chevy and from what NASCAR.com is telling me, Junior will have the National Guard car for Sunday's Shelby 427. I'll be checking Youtube to see if any of Dale Jr's new commerials for this year are up on there yet. If so, you'll see them here. Have a great week and I'll talk to you later!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Congrats to Matt Kenseth on winning the race after it was red flagged for rain and then called because of the weather.
Now in the past I've mentioned reasons why I'm such a big Dale Jr fan. Well, I have another one for you. Dale Jr was honest and blamed himself for the wreck today. To prove my point, here is the article from NASCAR.com.
Pit mistakes, controversial wreck damaging to Junior
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The first 55 laps of Sunday's Daytona 500 went just fine for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
But those last 97 laps of the rain-shortened event eventually won by Matt Kenseth? Um, to call them disaster-filled for Earnhardt almost doesn't do his performance the injustice it deserves.
The trouble for Earnhardt and his No. 88 Chevrolet team started long before he and Brian Vickers triggered a controversial wreck that took out several contending cars. They blamed each other, but consensus in the garage area leaned heavily toward it being mostly Earnhardt's fault.
"One guy that had problems all day on pit road made his problems our problems, and then our problems a big problem," driver Kyle Busch (*see below) said in reference to Earnhardt. Busch's No. 18 Toyota, which led a race-high 88 laps and earlier in the race seemed to be the dominant car, got caught up in the wreck caused by Earnhardt and Vickers, ending his day and relegating him to a 41st-place finish.
And it was a horrendous day for Earnhardt. Make no mistake about that.
But it didn't start out that way.
Earnhardt actually took the lead in his No. 88 Chevrolet on Lap 53, although he held it for only one lap before being passed by Tony Stewart. Three laps later, he still was running third when he headed in for what was supposed to be a routine pit stop.
That was when Earnhardt's promising day turned for the worse. Inexplicably, he couldn't find his pit stall. He drove through pit road without ever stopping, forcing him to go around the track one more time and enter the pits again before he found his stall and received the service he needed.
That dropped him from third to 36th at the time.
"If you look down this pit road, my sign's pink," Earnhardt said. "And every other sign is pink -- so it's hard to see when you're going down there [because] they're all about the same color.
"So everybody says, 'I'm going to make mine yellow' -- and two weeks later, everybody will be yellow."
Then, perhaps, Earnhardt actually shed more light on his dark day and finally was honest -- with himself, probably as much as with anyone else.
"I was under a lot of pressure, too," he added. "I was putting a lot of pressure on myself trying to get up in there and lead laps and all that. I just wasn't thinking good enough. I can't lay it on anybody but myself."
Earnhardt attempted to recover from that mishap, only to encounter another costly pit-road mistake on Lap 120, when he pitted just outside his box. Crew members already had changed his right-side tires before a NASCAR official signaled that he was outside the box, resulting in an automatic one-lap penalty.
"We had a pit stop where I was told the right-front tire was only an inch over the line," Earnhardt said. "I was held a lap for that and I don't feel like that was a fair trade. Maybe it's time to re-evaluate that rule."
That set up the biggest disaster of the day for Earnhardt. Battling with Vickers desperately to get his lap back, the two tangled coming down the backstretch on Lap 123. Earnhardt went low to attempt a pass and Vickers went low to block him, appearing to force him below the double yellow line that represents out of bounds at Daytona International Speedway.
Vickers later charged that Earnhardt apparently wrecked him intentionally to bring out a caution and insisted that it was "really kind of dangerous." Earnhardt, naturally, saw it differently -- blaming Vickers for pushing him down on the track to where he could not control his car as well as he would have liked.
Finally, there was another incident where driver Jeff Burton apparently felt that Earnhardt did not race him cleanly. Again, Earnhardt deflected the criticism and made it clear that he believes he simply was doing what he had to do.
"I was trying to get my lap back and I made it three-wide, putting him in the middle some type or another on a restart," Earnhardt said. "He got shuffled back and got in a wreck and he was upset at me for making it three-wide. [He thought] I should have worked with him and all that.
"The rain was coming, it was time to try to win the race and I was trying to get back on the lead lap. So I had to run hard."
He ran hard, all right. He even finished on the lead lap, albeit in 27th place. He also ran into some people and ran into other troubles during a Daytona 500 that he no doubt would like to forget.
*I watched the wreck on NASCAR.com and all I have to say to Shrub is this - Dude look, you will probably do that to who knows how many drivers this year, and I lost count as to how many you did it to last year. Not only have you done that, but even if you weren't have a bad day, you still did it. It's called karma pal, look it up in the dictionary.
Lastly to Junior I say this, "Look Junebug, I'll stand up for you no matter what, however, pressure or no pressure, you know the rules and had you been able to pass Brian Vickers, your pass wouldn't have counted. (I know you don't need me to remind you why) I have faith in you, as I always have and as I always will. I know you'll bounce back next week at California.
All I will say is Junior finished 26th, like I said to Junior after leaving a comment for him on Infieldparking.com - Daytona is over, Fontana is this week, forget it and move on, which is what I intend to do with this week.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Anyway, congrats to Junior's teammate Jeff Gordon!!! I am so happy he won the Gatorade Duel #1. To make it even more special for Jeff, (I had to post this picture, it was too cute to not post it) this was Ella Sophia's first time in Victory Lane with her Daddy.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Dale Earnhardt Jr. once said if you can have a good time doing business and break even you're doing well, but if you're not having fun you better be making some money.
Needless to say, the scrawny towhead kid from Kannapolis, N.C., raised on simple family values is having his cake and eating it, too; Earnhardt is having a blast and making too much cash to count.
The 34-year-old community-college graduate is a proven entrepreneur and can walk into a boardroom with the same confidence and passion he carries climbing into the driver's seat of a race car. He forges multi-million dollar partnerships and signs NFL-sized endorsements all while chilled out in a pair of jeans and the shelltoe adidas Superstars.
Earnhardt's face is virtually on every purchasable product in America from candy bars to clothing. Be it a Dale Jr. binky or a Dale Jr. garden accessory, the selection is so vast you could furnish your entire house with his likeness. He controls 40 percent of the marketplace for licensed product sales for NASCAR drivers and sold at least 20 million units last year.
But Earnhardt set a major tone for his business future and career in 2007 when he opened up the JR Motorsports shop in Mooresville, N.C. Housing not only his Nationwide Series team but his licensing, marketing, fan and brand initiatives, the building is 66,000 square feet of massive venture space. All while keeping the Earnhardt business model at the forefront: authenticity, common sense and a strong handshake. These are all the tools on which Junior relies to run his business empire.
"Heads will roll. No, that's my motto at JR Motorsports," laughed Earnhardt, waiting to answer dozens of reporters at Daytona International Speedway. "Heads will role, that's what we like to say."
Hardly. A narcissistic dictator is far from Earnhardt's in-the-office demeanor. His employees say he handles the day-to-day pressures with a "laid back grace" and maintains the down-to-earth persona fans have grown to love since the driver appeared on the NASCAR scene nearly a decade ago.
"They know I'm just a normal damn dude. I can't fool them," said Earnhardt, who just like his father wanted to pursue his own business. Both began their ventures through team ownership and grew their brands through marketing, endorsements and licensed merchandise.
Now, Earnhardt is expanding his portfolio into assets he knows will be around long after he retires from racing. It's a thought the driver is not fond of as the pressure and desire to win a Cup title is top of mind, but so is the future of JR Motorsports and the opportunities to follow.
Among the first has been Whisky River, Earnhardt's signature nightclub that opened last spring.
"It's more successful than I anticipated by three or four times. I had a pretty good idea where I felt like I was going to be but it just quadrupled," Earnhardt said of the club's overnight popularity in Charlotte's uptown.
A contracted management team runs the 10,000-square-foot watering hole where country stars and athletes come to play, but Earnhardt himself likes to keep his hands on the direction and feel of the club.
It's a direct reflection on Earnhardt's eclectic style and broad sweeping tastes. The ambiance inside is comparable to a scene from Urban Cowboy only updated with a uber modern décor and the swanky offerings that today's comforts demand.
"I think I enjoy the bar the most. I'd always wanted to get involved in ownership of a nightclub of some sort, because I really enjoy the entertainment side of it and I enjoy the camaraderie," Earnhardt said. "It's kind of fun to be there and to see the employees working and see them taking pride in what they're doing, the meetings they have after every night, hearing everybody, how uniform everything is, how structured it is.
"I take a lot of pride in it."
Pride in his work is what also led Earnhardt in 2006 to create his own production company, Hammerhead Entertainment. It's a small, unimposing building surrounded by woods and an unexplainable number of souped-up cars, but inside shows like Back in the Day and Shifting Gears are produced.
Taking a cue from John Madden's playbook, Earnhardt formed the production company to maintain more control over his footage and content in light of numerous video and commercial projects the driver performs each season.
"It was also a way to have direction over the production of footage. He loved watching Back in the Day and wanted to bring it to life and he did the pop-ups. That was his idea. Through Hammerhead, the production crew scripts it out so from a creative standpoint it's all Hammerhead and Dale Jr.," said Kelley Earnhardt, president of JR Motorsports.
"Dale doesn't attempt anything unless he is passionate about it. He can't script or make up anything. He is as real as they come."
Earnhardt also has real estate interests. Besides owning a company, he also has partnerships in two tracks: one in Paducah, Ky., and another in Mobile County, Ala. The Alabama Motorsports Park is under construction and boasts three racing venues: a road course, a karting track and an oval track that's being branded "A Dale Earnhardt Jr. Speedway." Gates at the 2,400-acre complex are expected to be fully operational by 2011.
"Having the right people in the right place to handle the business side of it, because, I mean, I like to do different types of things, but to be honest, my business experience isn't as good, I guess, as my racing experience," Earnhardt admits. "I have to lean on a lot of people, lean on some people's judgment. You put good people in the right place; they'll run those types of deals for you, where you can focus on the racing."
Kelley Earnhardt is her younger brother's counselor in all things professional and personal. She is the one woman that can keep him balanced between his two worlds: Dale Jr. the driver and Dale Jr. the entrepreneur.
Kelley, who left her career in the licensing industry and took a major pay cut to help Junior in 2001, oversees virtually every contract, project, agreement and appearance Earnhardt makes.
"My role grew," she said. "I almost see us as Siamese twins locked at the hip. I'm the one who carries it through and sees it through, because we want him to be able to concentrate on being able to drive."
But the balancing act begins on Tuesday.
"I try to give him Mondays to get back into this world, our world at JR Motorsports; we don't schedule anything for him on Mondays. And when he is at a race track we try not to talk about business of any certain kind," Kelley said. "We conduct our business during the week, Tuesday and Wednesday, so he has the ability to concentrate on racing."
Operating as two different entities can be a challenge and the hats Earnhardt wears tend to stack up and even topple over at times.
"Well, you sort of go into it real easy, I guess. I don't know," Earnhardt said. "When I first started doing any type of business venture, even if it was really small, you know, you really worried about how it might affect the driving, because the driving is my real passion and that's what I really like to do. I don't want to affect that in any way, because I want to do that as long as I possibly can. You go into it slow and you learn."
Thayer Lavielle, vice president of marketing and brand development for JR Motorpsorts, was hired in 2007 to grow and manage Earnhardt's image and steer the brand in the right direction.
"I represent more work to him. At the end of the day, it's a joke; I have a pile of work for him every time he comes in. With that, he's itching to get out of my office and spend hours in the shop with the guys. He and I figured out a way to work together quickly and I understand what makes him tick," said Lavielle, who along with Earnhardt formed the partnership with adidas and the personal clothing line.
"We sort of have a tug of war, me and her," Earnhardt said of Lavielle. "She comes up with some great ideas, things that we need to do, some areas that we may have opportunities in, success in. She doesn't really try to change the perception of me and what I think I am, what I like to do, what I like to be, how I like to act, what I choose."
Partnering with brands and companies that are true to Earnhardt and his persona is Lavielle's main mission, as well as taking the driver's brand into the future, which means reaching the youth fan base.
"We already have a lot of product for kids, but this will be beyond licensed products. We have a lot of different outlets and our own fan club," Lavielle said.
"One of the things that is exciting for her, in our sponsorship change in the last year, we're able to drive down a lot more avenues, do a lot more things, especially with the younger adults," Earnhardt said. "So that's exciting for her and we're working in that area a little bit. But for the most part, me and her have a lot of fun. You know, she's definitely a big asset to our company."
Another asset to Earnhardt's business plans was the 2007 hire of Joe Mattes, who as vice president of licensing at JR Motorsports oversees any and every piece of merchandise with Junior's name or likeness on it. From the tiniest No. 88 earring to the largest two-person tailgating chair and matching tent, Mattes manages and promotes the sale of these items with Earnhardt's approval and input.
Mattes first worked with the family in 1995, helping Dale Earnhardt plan, build, and launch his first souvenir company, Sports Image. He knows how great the demand is for the Earnhardt product and respects the position in which Junior finds himself.
"We have to keep in mind it's a business, a privilege and responsibility that commands such a significant part of the marketplace, your decisions affect the sport in total," Mattes said. "We also understand we have a responsibility to his sponsors and car owner. Dale Jr. sets the tone."
And that tone for this season is being mindful of the economic hardship NASCAR fans are enduring, Mattes said. Products are going to have to be functional in terms of lifestyle products.
"We are concentrating on functional licensed products that makes sense for day-to-day needs," he said.
The changing market and climate of NASCAR is something Earnhardt must always be aware as each of his business ventures is always tied to his racing career.
One might think it takes two very different people to be Earnhardt the entrepreneur and Earnhardt the driver, but really he is one in the same person and operates as such, Kelley Earnhardt said.
"He just slides in as Dale Jr. for whatever it is and wherever he is," she said. There are times when two or three different things are going on, a meeting with Big Mo' candy bar and then something else for adidas and he doesn't change. He's very adaptable, he's just Dale Jr."
Mattes said it's a trait all successful businessmen possess and one he saw in Dale Earnhardt.
"It's the Earnhardt factor. [Junior] does everything right," Mattes said. "He and his sister, Kelley, they've made the right decisions. They've been careful and done the right things."
More than that, Earnhardt said, "When you're a businessman you have to make decisions based on common sense and not emotion. It's so easy to choose something on an emotion."
When his business began with just one street stock car at Concord Motorsports and the shop was in his backyard, it didn't matter.
"When I started things, I could choose everything on emotion, because there were no real repercussions if I failed or if the company failed because we were so small. Well, now we are so big, you can't take those chances," Junior said. You have to choose wisely."
Choose wisely and remember "impossible is nothing."
"Once you get the ball rolling," he said, "the thing pretty much takes care of itself."
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
ESPN's Terry Blount reports that all is now hugs and kisses between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage.
At least that's what Gossage is telling ESPN. No word from the 88 camp.
Gossage told ESPN that Junior agreed to lower prices of some of his merchandise after insisting that track promoters lower ticket prices. Does that mean you can pick up a Dale Jr. bobblehead for half-price? Lord knows I could use a new set of PJs.
In any case, Gossage said the war of words (which really, was pretty one sided on Junior's part) is over.
The two have been at odds the past two weeks over comments made by Gossage and other SMI execs who said drivers need to do more to promote the sport. That led to Junior going off in a Sports Illustrated interview with Bruce Martin, then unleashing a profanity-laced tirade during last Thursday's media day at Daytona International Speedway.
"Earnhardt and I realize everyone has to do more to get through this," Gossage said. "He's setting an example for others to follow and being a true leader in the sport."
Monday, February 9, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
DAYTONA BEACH - As NASCAR's biggest star, Dale Earnhardt Jr. can say what he wants.
During Thursday afternoon's session at NASCAR media day, he did.
Junior once again took track promoters to task for demanding more of the drivers' time to promote races.
And this time, he didn't hold back.
"Somebody said that the track owners were complaining that the drivers are negative toward them," Earnhardt said at Daytona International Speedway. "That's not true. ... We're constantly going, constantly doing things every week for this guy and that guy to help racetracks.
"[Expletive], we were in Daytona for the fan-fest thing. I read off 20 [expletive] scripts about selling tickets. ... They gotta take a little responsibility for themselves."
When told of Earnhardt's comments, NASCAR CEO Brian France acknowledged that drivers and promoters have to do more — and said that it's necessary.
"My opinion is, everybody's gotta do more," France said. "... A number of drivers have said, 'I'm going to try to do more with my fan base, try to get my Web site more interactive.' Little things and big things.
"I just hear a general sensitivity that our sport does have to the economy."
Earnhardt's annoyance with track promoters started long before media day.
Early in the offseason, the promoters at Memphis Motorsports Park offered Earnhardt free ribs for life from the track-sponsored barbecue restaurant if he raced in its Nationwide race.
Earnhardt wasn't pleased that the track didn't ask him if it could use his name.
He also was annoyed it gave its track-sponsored barbecue restaurant a plug when his real favorite Memphis barbecue is a different restaurant called Rendezvous.
Other tracks like Texas and Las Vegas have pulled similar stunts without consulting Earnhardt.
Then track promoters from Speedway Motorsports Inc. held a roundtable meeting recently, during which they said they'd like to see drivers do more to help sell tickets.
"We categorically don't support the SMI position that drivers aren't doing enough," said Robin Braig, president of Daytona International Speedway, which is owned by the International Speedway Corporation. "In fact, we just enjoyed all the top drivers on their own nickel come down to preseason thunder when they didn't have to and help us sell tickets. ... We do not agree that the drivers need to do more.
"They're carrying more than their share right now."
Earnhardt thinks the real problem is how much it all costs.
"People aren't [not] coming to the racetrack because the drivers don't give a [expletive]," Earnhardt said. "People are not coming to the racetrack because it's expensive to do it."
Earnhardt pondered a suggestion for track owners that he thought might help lower hotel prices and encourage fans to attend races.
"I was thinking the other day they oughta build their own hotels," Earnhardt said. "That way they can bring hotel prices down and control the hotel prices in the region."
Ticket sales for races are down at nearly every racing venue in America.
The Daytona 500, which takes place in nine days, is still not sold out.
Because of that, track owners and promoters have lowered prices for some tickets and tried unconventional forms of promotion.
"The drivers do pitch in, the drivers do kind of go that extra mile and we're willing to do more," Earnhardt said. "It's very easy to sit down and shoot a [expletive] 30-second commercial these days. I can do it at home. We got that NASCAR tech center where we can do live teleconferences for a [expletive] hour.
" ... We can push all we can push, but they gotta get a little more creative.
"They can't expect people to come back and spend that kind of money in this economy."
"We're constantly going ... for this guy and that guy to help racetracks. #&$%!, we were in Daytona for the fan-fest thing. I read off 20 #&$%! scripts about selling tickets."
"People aren't [not] coming to the racetrack because the drivers don't give a #&$%!. People are not coming to the racetrack because it's expensive to do it."
"The drivers do kind of go that extra mile and we're willing to do more. It's very easy to sit down and shoot a #&$%! 30-second commercial these days. I can do it at home."
Monday, February 2, 2009
The “Ultimate Shine Package”, which features one 12-ounce bottle of Mojo, one 16-ounce bottle of Silq and two Jakd microfiber towels is available to all race fans for the special price of $29.95 (suggested retail price $39.95). The offer is available online only at www.voodooride.com. While visiting the site, download one of the free Voodoo Ride screensavers as an added bonus.
“With race season about to start, we wanted to give all fans a special offer to help celebrate the beginning of racing in 2009,” said Chris Ferraro, president, CEO and co-founder, along with Earnhardt Jr., of Voodoo Ride. “We hope this offer will get fans excited about racing and also about taking care of their own vehicles. Everyone at Voodoo Ride and Voodoo Ride nation wishes Dale Jr. a great 2009 season.”
Voodoo Ride manufactures a complete line of automotive surface care products including Mojo (all surface speed detailer), Shoq (tire and wheel cleaner), Hypd (high gloss tire finish), Silq (synthetic liquid polish), Hexx (scratch remover), JuJu (concentrated car wash soap) and Jakd (micro fiber cloths). To learn more about Voodoo Ride products, visit www.voodooride.com.