RACEDAY! Sadler’s Motivation, Bayne’s Fast Bear

SPEEDWAY, IN: The NASCAR Nationwide Series, back for year two, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hopes to put on another memorable event today. Last year’s contest ended with a controversial penalty call against Elliott Sadler, which will certainly change his mindset for this afternoon.

“Let me tell you, this is definitely a race that I have had in the back of my mind since last year. The last race at Indy was definitely a tough one to swallow, however, we are going to use that as fuel this season. We feel like a win was taken from us, and that will serve as motivation to get this OneMain Financial Toyota into Victory Lane (today) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway”, said Sadler.

One of the series’ young stars, Trevor Bayne, had a strong practice during yesterday’s sessions and is confident that his new bright pink Pillow Pets Mustang can back it up in the race.

“I didn’t know a rainbow bear could go so fast around a race track. Mike Kelley and those guys have built me my first new car for the whole seas and it is really fast. We are looking to get that race started and looking forward to qualifying. I think qualifying is very important here for track position. We are going to work on that and see if we can start and finish well.”

Today’s race is on ESPN and starts at 4:30 ET.









Editorial Trucks

Benning Gets His Day in the Sun. At Night. On Dirt.

He’s made 103 starts in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, but you’d seemingly never notice. He’s probably had just a handful of finishes on the lead-lap and when the faster trucks approach, he respectfully stays out of their way. I doubt he’s flagged-down for autographs on his way to pit road for qualifying and it’s unlikely that he’s had many dinners interrupted while on the road. But 61-year-old Norm Benning is somewhat iconic as a never-give-up , see-ya-next-week competitor. If there’s a truck race to be run, he’ll be there.

It always struck me as odd, that guys like Norm Benning even show up. It’s like, you know you’re not going to win; you’ll be lucky to finish on the lead lap and you’re using earning from one race to get to the next. What’s the point? Well, I kind of figured it out last night.

Not everyone can drive like Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart. Not everyone is going to be planted with an organization that virtually has unlimited resources. And not everyone is going to be someone who sponsors are clamoring for to hawk their products. Not everyone can be that guy. Someone has to be the “rest of the field.” I think sometimes we lose sight of the fact that some of us are here for the raw love of the sport; the race-to-race traveling and the fellowship we look forward to. There are some that are just happy to be here. Norm Benning is that guy.

So here I am, Chinese take-out on my lap watching the heat races. As I lifted a fork-full of Lo Mein to my face, I see Norm Benning and Clay Greenfield battling door-to-door for a transfer position into the main event. Let me repeat that: Norm Benning and Clay Greenfield battling door-to-door for a transfer position into the main event. HUH?

I thought it would be a quick camera shot of two back-markers bouncing off each other and then back to the leaders. Instead, it became an epic battle of two guys who rarely even get a mention. The next thing I know, I’m on my feet. Chinese food flying across the room (to the delight of the dogs) and I’m rooting for Norm Benning to get into the race. Again, I’m going to repeat that because I can’t believe I just wrote it:  I’m on my feet. Chinese food flying across the room and I’m rooting for Norm Benning to get into the race.

I was a fist-pumping moment. And it was awesome.

The crowning glory for me, as you may expect, was the heartfelt moment when Norm flipped off his nemesis. He may not have a lot of speed, but he sure has the passion.

So, on an evening when NASCAR made history and a definitive statement to the fans, Norm Benning shines brightly in a manner which he’s never likely to shine again.

Good for him.


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Editorial NASCAR Cup Series

The Pain of Winning

Different things motivate different people. For some it’s glory, for others it’s money. For me, it’s pain.

Now before you let your mind go where it shouldn’t, I can tell you that my threshold for pain is low – probably lower than most. If I get a paper-cut, the world knows about it. And just to further illustrate my lack of immunity and inability to sometimes control my emotions, I’ve been known to tear-up, on occasion, watching a sappy Lifetime move.

Yep, my Man Card should have been revoked when I was an adolescent.

In the fall of 2003, I took a leap of faith on a Wednesday, November 5th. It was just prior to the second-to-last race of the season and we were headed to Rockingham Speedway to try and clinch the season championship with Matt Kenseth. It was a really good season for us. In fact, in August we had a 400-point lead over second place, but it had diminished significantly as we approached the close of the season – going into Rockingham we had to finish in the top-10 in order to secure the trophy.

But I had confidence. We had a stellar team with an outstanding driver who just happened to love the track. I felt good about the day.

So on the preceding Wednesday, with virtually no adult mindset, I walked into a tattoo shop with a picture of the 2003 Championship logo and said, “I want this. ”The ink-covered artist said, “Well that’s cool – congratulations.” I honestly didn’t have the nerve to tell him that this was a speculative decision in fear that he’d try and talk me out of it.

Two hours of excruciating pain and $150, I limped to my car and went home. And for the next 4.5 days had the ‘what-if’ knot in my stomach.

We finished fourth in the race and clinched the title by, at that time, a mere 90 points. Still in pain — don’t ever let anyone tell you that tattoos don’t hurt — I ran from the spotters stand to pit road to celebrate our accomplishment. Standing next to Matt for the photos, I gingerly pulled up my pant leg and said, “Check this out!” He bent down, took at peek and said to me, “You’re an idiot.” That was fine, we had start calling each other name since his rookie year – so I thought it was kind of an endearing moment for us.

The after-party at Matt’s house was attended by our entire crew and several drivers, including eventual 3rd place points finisher, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Upon his arrival, Kenseth motions for him to come over to us. He said, “show him”, referencing the tattoo that still hurt. Earnhardt said, “is it real?”. I nodded and he said, “You’re an idiot – what would you have done if I won the championship?” I said that I’d color in all the red and put a white No. 8 on it. He laughed.

In 2009 when we won the Daytona 500, Matt asked me, sarcastically of course, if I had gotten the tattoo yet. And the next morning I went straight my guy and had it applied.

Since then, I’ve added the 2012 Daytona 500 and the 2011 Nationwide Championship commemoration with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. I didn’t get one for the second consecutive title with Ricky because I was running out of room; although, I did consider adding to the first one with “And 2012 too”, but thought better of it.

The only other tattoo that I have which doesn’t boast a huge accomplishment is from the 2011 Spring race at Dover, where Matt called an audible for two tires, just three stalls away from our pit box. I know have Miles the Monster embossed on my right calf. Not only was it a special win because of strategy, but the resemblance of Miles to my ex-mother-in-law was striking.

The glory of winning is great. The financial rewards are pretty sporty too. But, the pain of the accomplishment far outweighs anything else. I always tell people, “You can lose a commemorative ring, but you can’t lose a tattoo.”



My Final Project

I have to say that I’m sort of proud of myself. Not so much for conceptualizing the site, but for keeping my mouth shut about it for over seven months. I tend to get anxious when I start something new — which lately has become far to often. Just ask my mother who constantly asks, “Is that buzzing thing you do making any money? Because I never hear from you.” For obvious reasons, she was one of the last to know — I mean, like yesterday.

The truth is, I really don’t need anything else on my plate. 140 BUZZ, ENCORE 140 and Mike Calinoff Management & Development keep me quite entertained. But, I saw that one door was closing and decided to open a new one. This is my final project – of the month.

I think POPULAR SPEED is going to be really cool. We’re trying some unconventional website stuff — things you won’t see anywhere else. Aside from the regular fare of news and recaps, you’ll get great editorial and opinion content. There will be lots of behind-the-scenes insight and photos. We’ve got a live Twitter feed where you can see tweets from Drivers, Crew Chiefs and some popular NASCAR personalities all in one place — without having to follow all of them. We’ll have contests and giveaways for race tickets, pit passes and other swag on a regular basis. And we’ve got plenty of things planned to give race fans the ultimate digital experience.

Our staff is awesome! Matt Weaver is at the helm of the site. His writing style and ability to get the “story behind the story” will bring you right to the heart of the matter. He’s truly an “in the trenches” guy who will post stories, videos and photos as they’re happening.

Unique Hiram was a great catch for us. Not only does she have depth in the sport, but will mentor our corps of “Development Journalists.” Another motivation for starting the site was to give aspiring writers a national platform to express themselves to the masses.

Jerry Bonkowski has been a staple in the NASCAR media community for many years. His work at Yahoo! Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will offer a great perspective to both veteran and rookie fans. We’re really lucky to have him on the team.

I’m excited to have my good friend Reid Spencer provide us with newsworthy content through the NASCAR Wire Service. It’s a great advantage to the race fans for timely information. And Reid is an on-time guy!

With our site being very social media driven, it was a no-brainer to enlist @TheOrangeCone and @nascarcam. These guys are two of a handful of people who can actually make me laugh out loud — and that’s with a 140-character limit. I figured I’d let them loose to do their thing in a few paragraphs. I’m laughing already.

So, here we go! Let’s have some fun and see where it goes. I’m always interested in your thoughts, requests and ideas. Feel free to contact me at — the email goes directly to me.

Green, Green, Green…

~ Calinoff

PS: You Got It! ™