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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Watching Jr. drive #3 car will be exciting, eerie

It was a slightly bizarre scene this week as NASCAR Nation’s favorite son and his oh-so-hated stepmom appeared together at the unveiling of the car. But in the name of something nobody can disagree with – honoring Dale Earnhardt – Dale Jr. will get behind the wheel of a car that looks exactly like the one his father drove to championships in the 1980s.

The most bizarre, and I suppose appropriate, aspect to the story is that he will drive this car at the track where his father lost his life.

I was at Daytona in 2001 and still remember watching the #3 car making that final lap that now lives in infamy. (Still have my notepad with my scribblings saying “3 into wall, 15 wins”). I’ll be willing to bet that when Jr. drives his #3 this July, amid the cheering a few people will be fighting back a tear as they remember the man they cheered on for so many years.

Few people have had the impact on NASCAR that Dale Earnhardt made, and his name will probably never be used again, unless Dale Jr. decides to take it on fully one day in the future.

But for one night in July, NASCAR fans will be able to relive the glories of the #3 car’s past. Even if it’s not the man himself behind the wheel, it’s as close as you’re going to get. I can only imagine the emotions that will be going through Jr.’s head when he gets into that car. Some will say it’s just a number on a racecar, but we all know it means a lot more than that.

And if Jr. can manage to win the race in the #3 car, it will probably be the most popular win in NASCAR history.

Another great run for Keselowski
Usually when you turn into a Nationwide race, you watch Kyle Busch and Joey Logano dominate the race. This week was a slightly different story, as Brad Keselowski had the car to beat all night at Richmond, staying up front nearly the entire race. Even after pitting late in the race, he immediately burst back to the lead position and held off a surging Greg Biffle.

Brad seems determined to win Roger Penske his first championship, and two straight wins and a hold on the points lead are a good start toward that goal.

True hero is race’s namesake
Heath Calhoun’s name is all over the track at Richmond this weekend, as he is the namesake of Saturday’s “Crown Royal Presents the Heath Calhoun 400”.
I’m proud to have cast a vote for his name being on the race, as Calhoun is an example of the great things people in this country can accomplish.

Calhoun lost both of his legs in an explosion in Iraq, but didn’t let his life be ruined by that. He works with the Wounded Warrior Project in an effort to help others affected by the war, and recently competed on the US Paralympics Team at the 2010 Paralympics Winter Games, where he scored an 8th-place finish in the Super-G and a 10th-place finish in the Men’s Super Combined alpine skiing events.

His tale of success against tough odds is inspiring, and he deserves all the recognition he will get this weekend. (He’ll even deliver the trophy in Victory Lane.)

Talk to Gibbs drivers online
The M&M’s Most Colorful Fans Facebook Page will host a live video chat with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano on Monday, May 3 and noon Eastern time (9 a.m. Pacific). Fans will be able to submit questions for the drivers during the chat.
The page is located at

Guaranteed excitement?
Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, California, must be confident they’ll put on a good show this month, as they have kicked off May with a bold guarantee: If you don’t enjoy the racing, you get your money back.

The ticket must have been purchased for that evening’s event, and there is a 15-minute window to take the track up on this full ticket price refund. This offer is in effect for all five events from May 1 through May 29.

The action this week includes Club Late Models, the King Taco Super Trucks, the Southwest Tour Truck Series, the Ken Porter Auctions Classic Stocks, the Pick Your Part Outlaws Figure 8’s, and something called Auto Soccer, which is played with a 400-pound steel “soccer ball”.

For more details, check out

Become a fan of the Facebook page NASCARBeyond


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