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Friday, June 15, 2012

Dale Earnhardt Jr. racing Batmobile at Michigan Speedway; Kurt Busch called out by team owner James Finch

CAPTION: Dale Earnhardt Jr. shows off the No. 88 Diet Mtn Dew/The Dark Night Rises Chevy Thursday in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Dale Jr. has a very cool look this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, promoting the new Batman flick The Dark Knight Rises.

“It looks pretty cool. I’m interested in going up there and taking a better look at it myself. But, it’s pretty exciting. I think it’s a great cross-promotion for Hollywood and NASCAR and hopefully they enjoy it and I’m sure we will.”

It’s a rare turn in a black car for Dale Jr.

“Yeah, I normally wear white suits because of the heat in the summertime, but I’m going to see how it goes. I never remember driving a black car before, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Jr. said he’s OK with the super-fast speeds at MIS this year.

“Well, they’re fine. You don’t really feel like you’re going that fast. They’re really high and they look big on the sheet and they look impressive on the stats, but the speeds really don’t feel that fast. The car is real comfortable and it’s really surprising to hear the speeds that we’re running because it doesn’t feel like we’re going that fast.”

And oh, by the way, in case you forgot, this is where Dale Jr. got his last win – 4 years ago. Who knows, maybe the Batmobile will be his ticket to a return to Victory Lane? We’ll find out Sunday.

Finch calls out Busch

One story that quietly broke this week is that Kurt Busch, known lately for his antics and getting suspended, was called out a bit by his team owner James Finch.

In a radio interview, he said all his friends told him to fire Busch, but he’s sticking by him. He said the easiest thing to do would be to fire Busch. He said Busch should stop complaining, as he drives a racecar for a living and makes more money in a week than the shop guys make in a year. This was needing to be said to Busch, so I applaud Finch for mentioning it.

He then threw in the subtle note that if he doesn’t get some more sponsorship soon, he might just pack it up and stop racing – leaving Busch without a ride.

The message I get from him speaking out – he’s tell Busch to stop talking, start finishing better, wreck fewer race cars, and do everything he can to attract a sponsor. Acting out won’t attract a sponsor, so if he does it again I’m guessing Finch won’t be as supportive.

Random notes
-- So I just found out that Vanilla Ice drove the pace car last week at Pocono?
As someone who still knows all the words to “Ice Ice Baby”, I’m stunned I didn’t know this until now.

-- With laps near 202 mph Thursday, the top speed recorded at Michigan Speedway was 218 mph. Scary stuff for us, but it’s probably fun for the guys behind the wheel.

-- Will the old Bristol come back when we return, or something close to it? Driver who tested there said that the third groove is gone, meaning we’re down to 2. It’s more than the old days, when there was just 1 groove, but this now means that fans will see more tight racing and bump and runs, as it will be harder for drivers to pass each other. That’s good news for fans, though many drivers are not happy.

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