Richmond Ramblings...

Thursday, April 29


RICHMOND, Va. – The more I get to do this, the more I find out how much it’s changed.

When I first came to Richmond International Raceway, it was the year after they built the current track. What was here before was Martinsville, a little farther east and north, and had guardrails instead of walls on the outside of the track.

It was a paperclip, too. Dragstrips and turnarounds. Paul Sawyer and his family built this edifice and they were ahead of their time. It’s homey and big at the same time, and once you actually get in the place—it’s in the middle of city residential areas—it’s easy to get around.

Well, let me rephrase that. It’s easy when the crowd is down. When the crowd is up, it can take 45 minutes to go 100 yards. Easy in a golf cart; in a van or car, not so much.

Anyway, it’s a great place to watch the race. The track is easy to see from nearly every seat, and amazingly well-designed for it.

Anyway, today was an endless procession of drivers into the media center to talk about Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, how to beat the 48 car and, oh yeah, how their car was running that day. It’s bordering on the ridiculous.

One day real soon, one of the drivers is going to snap…Kanye West snap. Microphones will fly, voices will be raised, and so on and so forth. I do this for a living and I’m disgusted by it. I refuse to ask any driver what it’s going to take to beat the 48. As Smoke says, “if I knew that, I’d have done it by now.”

Juan Pablo Montoya is a hoot. Love him or not, he’ll tell you what he feels, and if you don’t like it, tough. He’s not into the whole reverence thing about NASCAR, either. Asked what he thought of RIR earlier today, he replied, “Not a big fan.”

Before you go all indignant, remember; he grew up in Colombia and followed Formula One. Nigell Mansell, Damon Hill, Felipe Massa, etc.

Asked if he liked Darlington, JPM said, “I don’t really care too much about it, to be honest. It’s a race track.”

Blasphemy! Somewhere, Harold Brasington is doing Ryan Newman rollovers in the old casket.

Really not a big deal, I say. Ask a NASCAR fan what he thinks of Kyalami or Jacaparagua, and they’ll ask you what soccer team he plays for, so keep it in perspective. BTW, Kyalami is a road course in South Africa and Jacaparagua is the old Brazilian GP track.

On Darlington, JPM was blunt. “When you don’t have the history behind the place, it’s very hard to say, ‘Oh my God, this place is magical.’ I don’t want to sound like an arse about it, but it’s hard. Let’s be honest, it’s a very cool race track and they repaved it and changed it a lot. It’s always been a very tough place to run, but it’s in the middle of nowhere. I don’t think about it. I go there. I get in the car, drive the car and whether we go to Indy or Daytona or Talladega or Darlington or Richmond—you get in the car, do the best you can and go home.”

Montoya is very direct, you might have noticed. Asked about the recent flap with immigration law in Arizona, Montoya didn’t bite. “I live in Florida. I don’t get with politics, I don’t answer politics. None of my business. I’m a NASCAR driver. I race for the Target team, we drive a Chevy and that’s all I know.”

Asked if he’d ever boycott a race, like Major League Baseball is being asked to for its All Star Game in July, Montoya was sharp. “Hell no. If my boss told me I’m not racing, then I’m not racing. If my boss tells me I’m racing then I’m racing.”

Lord, please keep Juan Montoya in NASCAR for years to come. There’s no better source for telling it like it is. Amen.

Speaking of telling it like it is, Dale Jr. got the chance to address a National Enquirer article that accused him of breaking up the marriage of a University of Kentucky football assistant.

Long story short, this young lady was seen riding in a golf cart with Dale Jr. once, and that spawned the story.

“We’ve been in there [the Enquirer] a lot,” he said. “I don’t know why we keep popping up in there. I guess we are relevant in some realm. You learn a lot of new stuff about yourself that you never knew before.

“There’s no truth to that particular story or any of the other ones for that matter if we want to set the record straight.”

Consider it straight, Junior.

Junior is as guarded about his personal life as his father was, once upon a time. “The Enquirer is pretty creative,” Junior said. “I have to hand it to them.”

So much has been said about the 48-24 feud that I’m not going to add to it here. It’s a racin’ deal, as they say. When Jeff finally beats the 48, all will evaporate into so much hot air…oh, wait. It’s already done that!

Qualifying is on the track now, Kyle Busch is on the pole as we speak. “That’s what I’m supposed to do, right?” is how KyB put it on SPEED. See you tomorrow with some more info on Twitter (@NASCARfansonly).

RICHMOND, Va. – The more I get to do this, the more I find out how much it’s changed.

When I first came to Richmond International Raceway, it was the year after they built the current track. What was here before was Martinsville, a little farther east and north, and had guardrails instead of walls on the outside of the track.

It was a paperclip, too. Dragstrips and turnarounds. Paul Sawyer and his family built this edifice and they were ahead of their time. It’s homey and big at the same time, and once you actually get in the place—it’s in the middle of city residential areas—it’s easy to get around.

Well, let me rephrase that. It’s easy when the crowd is down. When the crowd is up, it can take 45 minutes to go 100 yards. Easy in a golf cart; in a van or car, not so much.

Anyway, it’s a great place to watch the race. The track is easy to see from nearly every seat, and amazingly well-designed for it.

Anyway, today was an endless procession of drivers into the media center to talk about Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, how to beat the 48 car and, oh yeah, how their car was running that day. It’s bordering on the ridiculous.

One day real soon, one of the drivers is going to snap…Kanye West snap. Microphones will fly, voices will be raised, and so on and so forth. I do this for a living and I’m disgusted by it. I refuse to ask any driver what it’s going to take to beat the 48. As Smoke says, “if I knew that, I’d have done it by now.”

Juan Pablo Montoya is a hoot. Love him or not, he’ll tell you what he feels, and if you don’t like it, tough. He’s not into the whole reverence thing about NASCAR, either. Asked what he thought of RIR earlier today, he replied, “Not a big fan.”

Before you go all indignant, remember; he grew up in Colombia and followed Formula One. Nigell Mansell, Damon Hill, Felipe Massa, etc.

Asked if he liked Darlington, JPM said, “I don’t really care too much about it, to be honest. It’s a race track.”

Blasphemy! Somewhere, Harold Brasington is doing Ryan Newman rollovers in the old casket.

Really not a big deal, I say. Ask a NASCAR fan what he thinks of Kyalami or Jacaparagua, and they’ll ask you what soccer team he plays for, so keep it in perspective. BTW, Kyalami is a road course in South Africa and Jacaparagua is the old Brazilian GP track.

On Darlington, JPM was blunt. “When you don’t have the history behind the place, it’s very hard to say, ‘Oh my God, this place is magical.’ I don’t want to sound like an arse about it, but it’s hard. Let’s be honest, it’s a very cool race track and they repaved it and changed it a lot. It’s always been a very tough place to run, but it’s in the middle of nowhere. I don’t think about it. I go there. I get in the car, drive the car and whether we go to Indy or Daytona or Talladega or Darlington or Richmond—you get in the car, do the best you can and go home.”

Montoya is very direct, you might have noticed. Asked about the recent flap with immigration law in Arizona, Montoya didn’t bite. “I live in Florida. I don’t get with politics, I don’t answer politics. None of my business. I’m a NASCAR driver. I race for the Target team, we drive a Chevy and that’s all I know.”

Asked if he’d ever boycott a race, like Major League Baseball is being asked to for its All Star Game in July, Montoya was sharp. “Hell no. If my boss told me I’m not racing, then I’m not racing. If my boss tells me I’m racing then I’m racing.”

Lord, please keep Juan Montoya in NASCAR for years to come. There’s no better source for telling it like it is. Amen.

Speaking of telling it like it is, Dale Jr. got the chance to address a National Enquirer article that accused him of breaking up the marriage of a University of Kentucky football assistant.

Long story short, this young lady was seen riding in a golf cart with Dale Jr. once, and that spawned the story.

“We’ve been in there [the Enquirer] a lot,” he said. “I don’t know why we keep popping up in there. I guess we are relevant in some realm. You learn a lot of new stuff about yourself that you never knew before.

“There’s no truth to that particular story or any of the other ones for that matter if we want to set the record straight.”

Consider it straight, Junior.

Junior is as guarded about his personal life as his father was, once upon a time. “The Enquirer is pretty creative,” Junior said. “I have to hand it to them.”

So much has been said about the 48-24 feud that I’m not going to add to it here. It’s a racin’ deal, as they say. When Jeff finally beats the 48, all will evaporate into so much hot air…oh, wait. It’s already done that!

Qualifying is on the track now, Kyle Busch is on the pole as we speak. “That’s what I’m supposed to do, right?” is how KyB put it on SPEED. See you tomorrow with some more info on Twitter (@NASCARfansonly).