Monday, November 26, 2012

Why I Love NASCAR: Championship Weekend by Chief 187™

Another NASCAR season is put to rest. A champion was crowned, a team rejoiced, and a field of teams went back to the drawing board to figure how they could be the victors next year.

For the first time in my life I was afforded the opportunity to attend the championship races for all three of NASCAR’s top series. I was able to cover all of the races as a member of the NASCAR media, this time as a radio personality instead of a writer. The following are my impressions, opinions, and observations of my time at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Friday – The Trucks. Friday was the day I felt I had the most access and the people were most available. I wandered the pits, the garage area, the haulers, and ran into such NASCAR greats as Richard Petty, Richard Childress, and Rusty Wallace.

Speaking to Richard Petty
Credit: Andy Delay
What was most fun and telling, however, was my time walking down the pits during the NCWTS practice. The accessibility of these young drivers was vast and they were all approachable. There was no wall between me and the drivers. They were happy to talk to me.

The trucks do a one day show at Homestead-Miami Speedway. They practice, qualify, and run all in the same day. Upon completion of the race the teams all leave for another venue or, in this case, home.

Camping World Truck driver Dakoda Armstrong speaks to Candice.
Credit: Andy Delay
 Some do not follow the trucks; others do not see these competitors as stars. They are the real deal and, as their championship race proved again on Friday night, they offer the best racing in any of NASCAR’s top series. Cale Gale racing Kyle Busch hard and winning by .014 seconds for his first win was as heart-pumping, adrenaline-fueled as racing can be.

James Buescher won the championship and is sure to be a name in Cup one day. But all of the drivers I spoke to – Timothy Peters, Joey Coulter, Parker Klingerman, Ross Chastain, Dakoda Armstrong – will be superstars in the sport in the near future. To me they already are.

Saturday – Nationwide. Saturday was far more crowded at the track than Friday with throngs of fans filing in to spectate.

Speaking with Brendan Gaughan, who drove RCR's Nationwide No. 33 entry at Homestead.
Credit: Andy Delay
Some Nationwide racers were as generous with their time as the truck drivers whereas others were too busy or distracted to talk to the media.

A vibe was different on Saturday. Jovial moods were replaced with focused minds. Immediacy was ever-present in the garage-area. There was a definite feeling of edginess and an overwhelming desire to compete. Waiting, it seems, is the hardest part for some.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the Nationwide championship for the second year in a row. He is off to Cup to run for Roush-Fenway Racing in NASCAR’s top series.

Unlike the majority of the NCWTS, the Nationwide Series is filled with drivers who may never get to – or get back to – Cup. It is littered with a hodgepodge of drivers in different stages of their career.

I was fortunate to have a good smattering of drivers talk to me within the Nationwide Series, but the access was far more difficult than the trucks.

Sunday – Cup. If Saturday was crowded then Sunday was wall-to-wall people. I arrived early and was able to amble around the pits and garages of the Cup teams. I was unable to speak to any drivers – I understood as it was race day – but some of the team members talked to me and I was able to speak to Roger Penske and Jack Roush as well as NASCAR Hall of Famer and eight-time champion crew chief Dale Inman.

What was the most pervasive thought within the garage was that this was the end of a very long season.

Thirty-six points races, 10 months of work (12 really), and a laborious routine that tasks the best takes its toll.

Brad Keselowski won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship giving his team owner, Roger Penske, his first Cup in his long career in NASCAR.

Sticking around until late on that championship night gave me my just rewards. For the second time in the weekend I was able to talk to the newly crowned champion. The second time he also shook my hand.

Overall I had the time of my life reporting on the top three NASCAR series championships. I met incredible people, future stars, and NASCAR legends.

Mostly I got to do my job at the races – something every NASCAR journalist/columnist hopes to do. I am as enamored as ever with NASCAR.

Candice speaks with Kenny Wallace (l) and Darrell Wallace Jr. (c) and Sergio Pena, (r).
Credit: Andy Delay 
Attending the championship NASCAR races at Homestead-Miami Speedway and experiencing the sights, sounds, and feel of the weekend are yet more huge reasons why I love NASCAR.


Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.




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