It's nearing 2 am (Tuesday morning). The 2012 NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway kicked off at 9 am with registration. So, yes, it's been a long day. But often times day one is just that way.
My typing skills...my speed on the keyboard...will be tested. With day 2 starting at 9 am, this guy needs to hit the sack.
I'm rooming with Chris Whitley. He works at WSLS-TV in Roanoke. Roanoke is often one of the markets well represented on this tour. Knoxville is always here. Richmond is here, as is Kasey Marler from WJHL in Johnson City. He's at our sister station up there. Kasey earned the nickname "Brahma" from last year's media tour. Last year, he unsuccessfully rode the mechanical bull at 'Whiskey River,' Dale Jr's bar & grill...hence Brahma.
My typing is now getting interrupted as Chris is telling me that Brahma was successful on the bull. I am arguing the point, saying he didn't get the full 8 seconds. I suppose "successful" in this case is just doing better than the others--which Kasey/Brahma did.
So the day started with Stewart/Haas Racing making its way to the hotel where we are staying. That's Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, and now Danica Patrick. As you might imagine, much of the talk was about Danica. She's running a full 33-race schedule this year in the Nationwide Series. That's a first for her. She'll also run a limited Cup schedule. The cup races are with Stewart-Haas, not to get confused with the Nationwide side--that's with JR Motorsports. It was at this visit, Danica announced that she won't run the Indy 500 in May, but instead, the Coca Cola 600. Big move for her. I think if anyone ever doubted her focus with NASCAR, not to run the Indy 500 is a big deal.
Stewart was adamant that he brought Danica on board because she is a top notch driver. Of course Smoke will admit without hesitation that it's a great deal to have GoDaddy.com come on board, but the agreement wouldn't happen if Danica didn't "have talent behind the steering wheel."
Next visit: Joe Gibbs Racing. Bringing Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano into the room. The big news with Hamlin is that he now has a new crew chief. Mike Ford is gone and Darian Grubb is now on the box.
Kyle Busch took several questions about his character and personality. No one questions Busch's talent, but many critics will say it's a lack of maturity that has kept him from winning a title.
When Gibbs left, that allowed a couple of hours to get things put together. I cranked out my 6 pm stuff, started on my 11 pm stuff, then got on the bus and we departed for Michael Waltrip Racing.
It's a fairly new shop. Rather immaculate, just outside Charlotte. The new guy at MWR is Clint Bowyer. He left Richard Childress Racing for MWR. It's a lesser team in terms of accomplishments and funding, so the move was a bit of a risk. I asked Bowyer if this move will define his career. He said most definitely, adding that if he can win, he'll come across looking like a hero. It's also worth noting that Bowyer once called Waltrip (his new boss) the worse driver in NASCAR.
After the bus ride back, did a little more work, took a break for dinner, and here we are.
Day 2 starts at 9 am. I think I've mentioned that. Juan Montoya and Jamie McMurray are our first two scheduled interviews. Trevor Bayne will also be on the docket tomorrow afternoon.
Look for my next report to be Tuesday at 6. The feature will be concentrated on Danica Patrick. If you don't like my voice, no worries, just turn down the volume. I think you'll still like what you see.