Aaron Tippin had a #1 single back in 2000 called “Kiss This.” If I remember correctly…one of the lyris went to the effect of “Well kiss this and I don’t mean on my rosy red lips.” Everyone has their own opinion…but I think he was talking about kissing the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I had the chance to do so back in 2006 and it was the dirtiest, grittiest kiss I have ever had. I’m not saying it was the best kiss I’ve ever had but it definitely wasn’t the worst.
Before we preview Sunday’s Crown Royal Samuel Deeds 400, let’s recap the action at New Hampshire and the newsmakers during the off-week including an event that had not been heard of in 43 years.
Brian Vickers and the #55 Michael Waltrip Racing team visited victory lane in New Hampshire. The win was the first for Vickers since 2008. In an interview with the Associated Press this week, Vickers expressed how that win could help with his 2014 plans and beyond. "It definitely helped," Vickers said. "How could it not?" Vickers, who won last Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race for MWR at New Hampshire, is in discussions with the team about a full-time ride next season. He has been driving part-time for Waltrip's team for the past two seasons, and has a full-time ride with Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series. Vickers says he's optimistic about a deal coming together because he, Waltrip and sponsor Aaron's all want it to happen -- but he knows it would be unwise to assume anything until a contract is in place. Vickers says the team is exploring the possibility of adding other sponsors to help split the bill with Aaron's.
Vickers’ win also had an Owensboro connection on more than one level. Of course, the team owner Michael Waltrip is from Owensboro but so is a crew member, Denny Chandler. Denny is one of three Chandler brothers in the NASCAR community. Tommy Chandler is with Roger Penske’s engine department and Jeff Chandler is a long time employee of Joe Gibbs Racing. The Chandler family is currently facing a difficult time involving their father, John Chandler. With that said, John was in victory lane with his son Denny at New Hampshire as the team had a “Thinking of You Chandler” logo on the race winning car.
Last Friday, NASCAR suspended the use of aerial cameras by television networks in response to the accident involving Fox Sports’ camera during the Coca-Cola 600. NASCAR’s statement was as follows: "Pending further investigation of the cable camera system incident during the NASCAR race in Concord, North Carolina in May, NASCAR has decided, in collaboration with its broadcast partners, to suspend all media partner usage of aerial camera systems that hang over race tracks during its sanctioned events. The safety of our competitors and our fans remains NASCAR's number one priority, and until total evaluation and analysis have been completed, usage of this particular technology enhancement and any similar enhancements, has been suspended."
There was another major announcement this week involving NASCAR’s television networking. It was announced that ESPN and Turner Sports would not return in 2015. The NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series events will be split between Fox Sports and NBC Sports. NBC is reportedly spending 4.4 billion dollars on television rights over a 10 year period. More information will become available as the network change gets closer. ESPN will begin their 2013 coverage with this weekend’s events at the Brickyard.
NASCAR fans all over the country have waited with excitement since last year to see one of NASCAR’s top series back on dirt. That happened on Wednesday night as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series took to the dirt bank of Eldora Speedway. The Rossburg, OH track which is owned by NASCAR Superstar, Tony Stewart was the first track to hold a dirt race in 43 years. The winner of the last dirt race was also car 43 driven by Richard Petty. Austin Dillon held off a hard charging pack on Wednesday to score the victory.
The 20th annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motorspeedway is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. The Brickyard 400 is one of the crown jewel events of the series and one of the most sought after victories, a close race with the Daytona 500. Jeff Gordon won the inaugural race at the Brickyard in 1994 and is one of 4 drivers who have competed in all 19 Brickyard 400’s. The other three drivers are Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin.
At the opening of the article, I mentioned “kissing the bricks.” That was a tradition started by Dale Jarrett and crew chief Todd Parrott after they won the 3rd annual Brickyard 400 in 1996. Since then, it has been a tradition for the race winning crew to kneel down at the yard of bricks located at the start finish line and kiss the bricks.
For the 2nd year in a row, the NASCAR Nationwide Series teams will join the Sprint Cup Series cars at the “original speedway.” The Nationwide teams used to race across town at O’Reilly Raceway Park on the Saturday night before the Cup race on Sunday. Now, they race on the coveted Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
The 45 entered Sprint Cup Series teams took to the track on Friday afternoon for their first practice of the weekend. Juan Pablo Montoya paced the field with a lap of 185.410 MPH. The rest of the top 10 in Friday practice were Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Saturday’s schedule involves a 2 hour final practice for the Sprint Cup Series prior to their qualifying session shortly after 1 PM. In the past, qualifying was held early Saturday morning which meant you wanted an early qualifying draw for cooler temperatures. With the session being held in the peak of the afternoon sunlight, it would be best to go out late in the qualifying session and hope for the track to be partially shaded.
This weekend, Moon and I both picked 2 drivers who definitely know how to get around the Brickyard. My pick has led numerous laps in both the Sprint Cup and Indy Car Series at the Brickyard. I think come Sunday, Juan Montoya will be right on “Target” in victory lane. I don’t even have to tell you the name of Moon’s pick, but she will be making her first Brickyard 400 start and also the first woman to ever race in the Brickyard 400….DANICA!!!
My good friends at the IMS Radio Network will have live coverage on WBKR beginning at 11AM on Sunday. Tune in on air or online at WBKR.com!