Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2013 Sprint Cup Banquet: Best and Worst

Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson and his wife Chandra hold another trophy - daughter Lydia Norriss -
before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Banquet at Wynn Las Vegas on Friday in Las Vegas, Nev.
What happens in Las Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. Nor should it!

Sin City has hosted the NASCAR Sprint Cup banquet the last few years. The sport’s best and brightest came together Friday to honor six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson at the awards ceremony at the Wynn in Las Vegas. The annual event is a favorite among fans.

Four of our editors at Skirts and Scuffs - site creator Katy Lindamood, me (Lead Editor Rebecca Kivak) and Associate Editors L.J. Cloud and Beth Reinke - watched the banquet at our respective homes so we could critique the best and worst moments from this year’s ceremony.

We’re glad we did. For an event that’s known to be uneven, this year’s banquet was the strongest yet. The well-paced event featured good speeches, good comedy and good entertainment.

“All in all I felt like this banquet was the best we've seen,” Katy said.

Without further adieu, here’s our Best and Worst of the night’s speeches, performances, skits, jokes and of course, the fashion.

Best speech: Jimmie Johnson

The six-time champion paid tribute to Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr., the only other two Sprint Cup drivers to claim six titles, and ended with a quote from the recently deceased Nelson Mandela. The emotion that's evident when Johnson talks about “his girls” - his wife Chandra and their two daughters, Evie and Lydia - touched the Skirts and Scuffs editors.

“When I see the expressions of true love between Jimmie and Chandra or Kyle and Samantha (Busch), it makes me choke up,” Beth said. “They are blessed in many ways.”

Worst speech: Greg Biffle

The Biff not only looked uncomfortable onstage, but his comments toward Johnson about their on-track run-in came off as awkward and disrespectful.

“Maybe the teleprompter was moving too much, but it looked like he was shuffling back and fourth on his feet and wanted to run from the stage,” Katy said.

Runners-up: A very uncomfortable looking Robin Pemberton, and the awkward Brian France.

Host Jay Mohr tries to start a new fashion
trend. Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Most heartfelt speech: Kurt Busch

After the most embattled years of his career, Kurt Busch brought Furniture Row Racing their first Chase berth. Busch seemed very genuine in his remarks when he thanked company and race team owner Barney Visser for giving him a chance, and his girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, for helping him become a better man.

“Kurt was humble and articulate. Kurt seemed to be the most comfortable in front of the microphone,” Katy said.

Most entertaining speech: Kyle Busch

The younger Busch brother was in a great mood at Friday’s banquet, joking how he "made it past dinner" to give his speech due to his fourth-place finish in the Chase standings, a career best. Busch also thanked the woman many believe is responsible for his personal growth and maturity: his wife, Samantha.

“I loved Kyle Busch's ‘She's always there to pick me up. I love you, baby!’ in thanking Samantha,” Beth said. “Aw!”

Classiest moments: Military tribute; Betty Jane France award recipient Don Post; Jeff Gordon mentioning those in the NASCAR industry who passed away this year, including Jason Leffler, Dick Trickle and Marcy Scott; Johnson's Nelson Mandela quote.

Best skit: Drivers' tryouts for banquet hosting duties

Kurt Busch and bubbles - need we say more? Kasey Kahne’s line of "Just looking good, man. Just looking good" played on his popularity with the female fan base.

Best Jay Mohr moment: Adding Jeff Gordon to everything jokes

After a seven-year hosting absence, Jay Mohr came back much improved. Though some of his jokes bombed, Mohr returned overall funnier than the last time, as well as more knowledgeable and respectable about the sport. His "adding Jeff Gordon to everything jokes" - the BCS title game, the Oscars' "Best Picture" category and a 13th month, "Jeff Gordonary" - had us in stitches.

Worst Jay Mohr moment: Calling Matt Kenseth "Mark Martin," mispronouncing Brad Keselowski’s last name as “Kowzlowski.”

The miscues didn’t go over well with NASCAR fans on Twitter. But LJ said that Mohr has terrible stage fright, which could explain the lapses.

Mohr’s Danica jokes: In good or bad taste?

Ricky Stenhouse and Danica Patrick smile -
but not at Jay Mohr's jokes.
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Mohr incurred the wrath of Danica Patrick’s fan base on Twitter for his jokes about her sub-par performance on the track during her first full season in Sprint Cup. But Patrick also received flak for not laughing or smiling during Mohr’s pointed jokes. Patrick’s boyfriend, Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Ricky Stenhouse, was clearly not amused during the ribbing.

The editors of Skirts and Scuffs were divided over the issue.

Though Mohr has the right as a comedian to pick on drivers’ vulnerabilities - and yes, Danica’s on-track performance was lacking this season - I thought his jokes toward Danica came off as mean-spirited. I cringed during Mohr’s jokes, and I wasn’t surprised by Danica or Stenhouse’s icy stares.

LJ pointed out that all the other drivers Mohr picked on took the ribbing in stride. She rehashed the following jokes Mohr made about the sport’s top drivers: Mohr said Gordon “quit” after winning four titles; called Clint Bowyer a “bad actor” after asking him about his poison oak; said Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s GPS couldn’t find victory lane; mentioned the Phoenix pit stop that cost Kenseth the championship; and said Michael Waltrip's nickname was "Darrell Waltrip's brother."

“Those were all sore points, but that's the kind of humor Mohr does,” LJ said. “In my opinion, if Danica can't take what everyone else was taking with equanimity, then she's in the wrong business.”

Beth wasn’t amused by Mohr’s comments, and saw the situation differently.

“When her Sprint Cup performance has been sub-par (and other than Daytona, it has) to me it seems almost like bullying to make jokes about it,” Beth said. “I think she's really trying on the track and it's probably hurtful to have jokes made about her lack of success. If she had a couple of decent years first, then they made jokes about a bad year, that would be OK. Pretty much everybody else who was ‘roasted’ already is an on-track success, so it's probably easier for them to take the ribbing.”

Katy noted, “Ricky looked more annoyed than Danica anytime she was mentioned.”

Best sport: Jeff Gordon on being added as the 13th driver in the Chase.

Katy had an interesting observation: “Gordon laughed at Mohr's jokes but Logano was the funniest to watch because he seemed to get a ‘belly laugh’ everytime Gordon was roasted.”

Runners-up: Dale Earnhardt Jr. about lack of wins, Kevin Harvick about asking Gene Haas if he has any grandsons.

Lines of the night

It was too difficult to pick just one line from Friday’s banquet, so our editors compiled the lines we liked the most:

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. The power to unite people in a way little else does.” - Jimmie Johnson

"I have amazing fans ... and I think it's pretty safe to say Jay Mohr's not one of them." - Danica Patrick during her Sprint Fan Voice acceptance speech

"I have no idea what the hell you were thinking when you said yes, but we bought the ticket so we might as well take the ride." - Clint Bowyer to his fiancee Lorra Podsiadlo

"Just looking good, man. Just looking good." - Kasey Kahne in drivers' host tryouts bit

“It felt like an episode of 'Law and Order: NASCAR.'" - Kasey Kahne during the Erin Andrews bit

"We'll all chip in!" - Matt Kenseth suggesting Johnson should retire

Jimmie Johnson wonders how his Sprint Cup trophy
managed to grow overnight. Tom Pennington/Getty Images
“I knew we were gonna be great friends after he said I was ‘number one’ out the window at Dover at my first Nationwide start, my first practice. I mean I didn’t even get out of third gear and here comes the finger.” - Joey Logano referring to his teammate Brad Keselowski

“What does his pillow look like? Does he just go to Mattress Warehouse and say I'll take that?" - Jay Mohr on the size of Ryan Newman’s head

"I come home with hardware. Really?" - Danica Patrick on the Sprint Fan Voice award

“The 2013 season was good, solid and consistent for us, right up until that little spin for the worse  - and let me tell you something, it was bad, really bad!” - Clint Bowyer referencing the Richmond spin

“By the way, you saw Jay Mohr’s Twitter handle, @JayMohr37? That was his dad's car number, on his dad’s racecar. So he’s invested.” – Mike Joy

Best performance: Pia Toscano singing “Threaten Me with Heaven”

All of the banquet’s acts appealed to the NASCAR fan base. John Mellencamp and Dierks Bentley did a terrific job. Sara Bareilles' performance of "Brave" ended the night on a high note. But Toscano’s performance captured our hearts.

“Toscano's song during the tribute to NASCAR folks we've lost this year was touching and beautiful,” Beth said. The former “American Idol” contestant’s vocals were a perfect match for the song.

Worst performance: None. Thank goodness NASCAR learned after last year not to bring back Cirque du Soleil.

Best presenter: Michael Rooker, who played Rowdy Burns in "Days of Thunder," introducing "Rowdy" Kyle Busch.

Best date: Little Evie Johnson, who accompanied her father's crew chief Chad Knaus. Sheer cuteness!


FASHION POLICE

We’ve covered the ceremony, so let’s get down to the fashion.

Best dressed female, non-broadcast: Danica Patrick. Her classic black dress was simple and understated. Beth liked her “cool, strappy-up-the-ankles shoes.” Katy said, “She went the simple route and it worked well.”

Best dressed female, broadcast: Danielle Trotta, who looked glamorous in a black gown with cutouts.

Kurt Busch: "You're not the only one looking
good, Kasey." Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Worst dressed female: There was no clear-cut choice here as a few gowns had us raising our eyebrows:
  • Chandra Johnson: We love Chandra’s classic beauty, but the editors were split on her black and white print dress. While LJ liked it, I thought it was too busy. Katy admitted, “I just didn't know where to look.”
  •  Patricia Driscoll: I was mixed on Patricia’s blue dress with a big, bold gold design. Katy liked the color, but when Patricia stood next to Kurt Busch’s striped suitcoat, she thought the dress was “too much.”
  • Linda Hendrick: “Her dress looked like drapes from a funeral home,” LJ said.
  • Kaitlyn Vincie: We love Kaitlyn, but her rhinestone-studded dress “looked like the drivers' daughters got loose with a Bedazzler,” as LJ put it.
  • Ingrid Vandebosch: The model’s black dress covered in silver studs “made her look like she was wearing a costume from Tron: Victoria's Secret,” LJ said.
  • Alyssa Milano: Katy thought the presenter’s red, ruffly dress was the night’s biggest offender. “The red was just too bright for my taste and the ruffles were too much for her small frame,” Katy commented.
Best dressed male: Kurt Busch, hands down. All four Skirts and Scuffs editors liked Busch’s blue-and-black striped suitcoat. “Kurt's suit was quirky so he gets my vote,” Katy said.

Runner-up: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. “Stenhouse Jr.'s black-on-black looked really sharp,” LJ said.

Worst dressed male: Matt Kenseth looked, as LJ put it, “rumpled.” “You'd think he could afford a suit that fits,” LJ said.

What was your best and worst from the 2013 banquet? Let us know in the comments below.

4 comments :

Perhaps Matt was ascribing to the 'Brian France' school of dress...always looking rumpled?

not to be picky, but I was constantly shocked at JJ's wife's hair, a ponytail that looked like it was pulled together at the last minute by her, does she own a comb? As for the dress, that dress, what the heck was that??? A disaster.

I am still amazed when people write about DP saying "fan base", I can only surmise its the Kardashian 15 minute mindset type. These people if they were fans of "Nascar" rather than a manufactured hyped up celebrity would know there is zero to be a "fanatic" about, she hasn't done a darn thing, but let's not talk about that elephant in the room.

Bullying, Beth? You've got to be freeking kidding me!!! Danica and Ricky are a match made in humorless hell. You couldn't pull a pin out of their butts with a tractor. If they can't stand the ribbing then stay home !!!

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