Right now, I’m writing our “Countdown to Green” pre-race show, but I’ll update that tomorrow when we find out what video we have as far as scenery shots and driver shots that I can specifically write to. I’m really having a lot of fun doing that.
The day began with a cool opportunity to do a “ride-along” with driver Jeff Burton at 10 a.m. at the track. We hopped in a Toyota and he took me for a spin around the speedway they say races more like a short track.
Jeff’s a very cool guy -- he has won here more than any other driver (four times), but not since 2000. He also has been so close to winning this season but just hasn’t been able to seal the deal. He told me about the blind spots around the racetrack as he drove around, and one of the most interesting things from hanging out with him was talking to him about “paybacks.”
I have never seen tempers flaring as I have this season covering NASCAR. This week, mark my words, we will see some effects of earlier incidents on the track.
Jeff was really candid, though. He said that drivers “never forget” -- that they are like elephants. You can see more in a piece we’re airing in the pre-race show at noon Sunday, but the bottom line is: drivers do keep track of when they are done wrong, and its part of “sticking up for yourself” to handle it later.
I can tell you right now there are tensions lingering between Martin Truex, Jr. and Jeff Gordon, but also between Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon, and I would not be surprised to see someone pay the price.
After the ride-along, I covered Cup practice. The guys take a few runs in race trim and then swapped over to qualifying. What I learned today was that Denny Hamlin is NOT happy with his car, Matt Kenseth has a new crew chief to try to give the team a spark, and that once again, Jimmie Johnson was fastest.
I had a chance to sit down with Kurt Busch -- he’s won here three times. The interview will be seen on NASCAR.com. I wanted to know if he picked his brother Kyle’s brain when he knew he was going to be partnered with Kyle’s former crew chief Steve Addington. He wouldn’t budge. : ) Kurt did tell me that his grandmother cheers for him, not his brother.
What I do know is that this is going to be an action packed race -- it usually always is impacted by weather, but hopefully not this time.
I’ll keep you posted. Kyle Petty was giving me “advanced” tweeting lessons so I’m attempting to share more from down in the infield. I’ll follow up tomorrow.