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Daytona Postscript 2: Some things are worth repeating

by Dave Grayson
Friday, March 02, 2012

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During that gap of NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and team members trying to leave Daytona to get home just long enough to repack suitcases to leave for Phoenix there were several comments that deserved to be repeated. It was a time when one needed a sense of humor to get through a schedule that had been hopelessly complicated by rain delays in Florida and intense fog in North Carolina. 

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Let's start with Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth. Equally as large as winning the Great American Race is the national media tour that comes with it. Kenseth's travels eventually found him in Los Angeles where he video taped a segment for "The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno."

Leno had the Daytona champ performing the duties of a stand up comedian. The famed television host played the straight man and set up Kenseth's comedy lines. The topic was the current price of gasoline. Leno repeatedly yelled "how high are gas prices?" followed by a one line response from Kenseth.

One of my favorites one liners was Kenseth saying "the last time Tim Tebow filled his tank, he fell to both knees."

I keep hearing and reading about how stoic this driver is while, at the same time, I keep seeing examples supporting the fact that Matt Kenseth is actually very funny.

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Mother Nature demolished the Daytona 500's original Sunday green flag starting time and sent the start to late Monday and the finish into the wee hours of Tuesday morning. It also created havoc with travel and personal appearance schedules. Adding insult to injury was the fact that airline flights bound for Charlotte-North Carolina, the home turf of the majority of the NASCAR teams, were delayed to the presence of intense fog.

That just added to the frustration of getting home but many of the weary travelers still managed to keep a sense of humor. That was evident in a "Tweet" sent by Joey Logano that read "just finally got home, the Daytona hostage crisis 2012 is over."

However, the Daytona related weather delays weren't quite done for Logano. The very evening he returned to North Carolina, he had to honor an obligation to have dinner with some Toyota representatives. This was following by repacking his suitcase, a short power nap and then back to the airport to catch a flight to Ohio for a scheduled personal appearance at the Cleveland Car Show. Afterwards, it was back to airport for a flight to Phoenix because it was time to return to the serious business of driving a race car.

Following their extended stay at the Daytona International Raceway, many team members checked out of their hotels completely unaware that airline flights were delayed and even cancelled due to intense fog in Charlotte. Many of the stranded travelers found themselves catching power naps in airport lounges during the long wait.

Taking a more philosophical approach to the situation was driver/team owner/TV broadcaster Michael Waltrip who sent out a tweet that read: "when you own the plane, it's okay to be late."

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The one group of weary travelers that everyone felt sorry for was, without question, the drivers of the Sprint Cup team's car haulers. They rolled out of Daytona during the pre dawn hours and arrived in Charlotte late Tuesday morning. During the process of unloading Daytona cars and equipment, and then replacing them with Phoenix equipment, these drivers managed to catch a little sleep before it was time to make the cross country run to Arizona.

Earl Barban, aka "BigEarl48," wanted to let his Sprint Cup driver know that everything went just fine. Barban took a picture of the #48 Hendrick Motorsports' car hauler parked in front of the race track backed with a tweet that read: "Jimmie Johnson, your race winning car has safely arrived at the Phoenix International Raceway."

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There's more than enough evidence the indicate that the social media has become a way of life in NASCAR. Even the sport's officials are encouraging the drivers to use "Twitter" and "Facebook" to reach out to their fans. The theory really hit home during the two hour red flag delay, in the Daytona 500, following that now famous accident with the jet dryer.

That's when we discovered that Brad Keselowski had a smart phone in the pocket of his driver's uniform that he used to snap a picture of the burning jet dryer. After sharing his pictures and comments on "Twitter," it was later reported that Keselowski actually tripled his "Twitter" followers who wanted to see his photo gallery.

In the aftermath, Jeff Gordon sent a tweet that read: "just like most of u I was entertained by Keselowski's tweets during the red flag but always knew NASCAR didn't approve of Smart Phones in the car."

Then, later, Gordon changed his mind about telephones inside of a race car and, referencing his wild wreck during the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, wrote "spoke 2 soon about phone in race car. I'll be sure to have mine w/me in case I'm hanging upside down again so I take a pic and tweet it."

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NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr has been offering his racing colleagues elaborate gifts for their help in improving his status with the social media. This was confirmed via a Tweet from Danica Patrick who said: "Stenhouse Jr said he would get me a really nice belt buckle if I could get "any", (his quote), followers. Please help my friend and me."

Driver Casey Mears was very happy to get away from the rain and fog from the east coast and found the Arizona weather much more to his liking. He confirmed that in a tweet that read: "gotta like the weather out here in AZ. Anywhere you can wear shorts, a T shirt and flip flops is a good place." 

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The down time, albeit brief, between Daytona and Phoenix did provide at least some opportunity for the drivers to enjoy some quality time with their families. When Jimmie Johnson returned home from Daytona, he took his daughter to her swim lesson. Sharing the Dad moment with his "Twitter" followers Johnson wrote: "I just got home from Evie's swim lesson. It's always interesting to be the only dad, (in attendance). I'm sure a few husbands will get an ear full tonight."

Ryan Newman was yet another driver running a tight schedule due to a scheduled appearance at the aforementioned Cleveland Car Show. But, during the airline connections, Newman was able to share some good news with his fans. A "Twitter" message informed us all that he and his lovely wife, Krissie, are expecting a baby girl in July.

On the topic of sharing with the fans, have you read "Delana's Baby Blog" yet? It's a chronicle of Delana and Kevin Harvick waiting for the arrival of their baby boy. The blog is a blend of cute, heart warming and often very funny. You can follow the baby's arrival on www.kevinharvick.com.

In the week 19 blog, Delana talked about being stuck at a Florida airport, due to the Charlotte fog, and not getting home until 630 am. She managed to get a few hours of sleep and, while singing the praises of window covers, wrote: "man, black out shades kick ass! "

Delana also noted that normally she takes extreme travel issues in her stride but, being five months pregnant, long waits in an airport can now be extremely draining. In fact, she said it took her most of the week to recover from the Daytona schedule and wrote: "I'm pretty sure the black circles under my eyes were a dead give away to Kevin that he should avoid pushing my buttons, (and that can be extremely hard to do). Fortunately he's gotten good at reading me and he was on his best behavior this week."

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