I spent four hours live on NASCAR.com interviewing some of the biggest names in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at NASCAR Media Day with my TNT NASCAR colleague Marty Snider. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere since nobody has turned a wheel at Speedweeks in anger yet, and it allows for some great conversation.
Matt Kenseth said the lessons he learned racing the short tracks through out the Midwest have been invaluable. One thing he learned was to never mess with Dave Marcis. He told a story about making Marcis mad one time on the track and Marcis making it very clear he didn’t appreciate it. Matt said to this day he still doesn’t know what he did wrong, doesn’t care either. Just knows to never mess with Marcis.
He told me the best lesson he ever learned came from Joe Shear the legendary Midwest stock car racer. Matt said it was more about what not to do on and off the track and that he still thinks about Shear’s words to this day.
Matt loves Starbucks. Even though he rode his Harley to Daytona he didn’t have to go without his favorite liquid refreshment. He has an app on his phone that allows him to find a Starbucks no matter where he is.
Kasey Kahne mentioned that even though he violently flipped his World of Outlaws Sprint Car last year he isn’t done racing the winged wonders. In fact he has an off Cup weekend when the Sprinters return to the famed Williams Grove oval, the site of his wild ride last season. Mr. Hendrick has given Kasey the ok to keep slinging the mud so he plans on heading back to the Grove.
Carl Edwards won over a ton of fans last year with how he handled himself in defeat at Homestead. I asked him where and how he developed that much poise and grace. Carl said he doesn’t know. However, he remembers thinking before he climbed out of the car that he wanted to act in a way that would make his kids proud. Don’t worry Carl, you did!
Carl also said they held a big meeting at Roush recently and that Jack wanted to know what they could have done differently to have won the title. He said he was nervous and started thinking of all sorts of things until his Crew Chief Bob Osborne spoke up. Bob said he wouldn’t change a thing! He said they raced hard and just got beat and that he could live with that.
Ryan Newman discussed all of the different animals that roam his property. He has a wide variety of cows, steers, etc and says they don’t name any of the ones they plan to eat.
He also gave us a lesson in barns. He recently built what is known as a bank barn out of old wood from a barn in Ohio. Apparently a bank barn has a dirt ramp built up to the front of it to help load things into the barn.
AJ Allmendinger was the one guest with the most shocking revelations. Did you know he is an ordained minister? Neither did I! He admitted that he got the call to join Penske Racing while he was in Reno to perform a wedding! I guess it’s always good to have a plan for a back up career.
AJ told us a hilarious story about a Go Kart race he was in recently. Apparently there was a “racing incident” between AJ and a 14 year old boy who was battling with the NASCAR star. When they got back to the pits AJ said the kid came up to him all upset and crying and really let him have it. Called him a NASCAR hack and said that’s why he never wins in the big leagues! Ouch!!! AJ was laughing about it and poked plenty of fun at himself.
Dale Earnhardt JR. said he won’t miss talking to other drivers on his radio. He said the only driver he ever worked with on the radio was his teammate Jimmie Johnson.
Dale is a guy who is always into different things outside of the race car. I asked him what his latest passion is and he said it’s buying vinyl. Junior has always been into music and says that he finds the sound of vinyl records to be much richer. One of his most recent purchases was a copy of Michael Jackson’s famed “Thriller” album.
Newly crowned NASCAR Sprint Cup Champ Tony Stewart talked about going over to England during the off season to shoot some new commercials with F1 star Lewis Hamilton. While he was there he spent time at Hamilton’s McLaren team shops. Smoke was amazed at what he saw in comparison to today’s NASCAR shops and picked up plenty of ideas on future plans for his facility.
Tony said for the first time in a long time he did a lot of racing during the off season. Smoke ran midgets, Go Karts and anything else he could get his hands on. He said he is a driver who races his way into shape for the season. After this past off season he feels he is more mentally and physically ready to go then he has been in recent seasons.