BABY MAKES THREE — There is no creature as clueless as an adult male who is about to become a first-time father. Unless you’ve had a baby, there’s just no possible way of explaining about what happens in the first few days of parenthood. So Ryan Newman can be forgiven for his answers about wife Krissie, who is due to deliver the couple’s first child any day now.
“I think she is good,” Newman said Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. “I just texted her and she is doing filing back at the house, which is a big event for her. I guess — I don’t really know how women work — when they are pregnant, they are hormonal and they do different things. Her midwife called it ‘surging.’ She said she is going to have some surges and I asked what that was. She said that is when the hormones are going to race at different times. I said, ‘Well, that explains everything for the last nine months.’ She is doing filing right now, she is good.”
But Newman was just getting started.
“She is craving ice, which I guess is typical but there are certain smells that are driving her nuts. I had a house full of deer jerky this week and that is not on the list of good things.”
Newman has NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Ron Hornaday Jr. on standby, in case he’s called home, but Newman was fuzzy about the particulars.
“I don’t think the bell is going to get rung that hard when God makes the call,” Newman said. “I don’t know exactly what is going to happen in respect to Ron, but he is on standby, yes.”
Asked if he would leave if Krissie goes into labor, Newman actually laughed.
“I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know,” he said. “It all depends on the timing of things. Obviously, if I am in the car, another few laps may not hurt. I’m just sayin’. I have a couple people in line to delay the message as it gets to me, just in case. Obviously, that is really important in my line. Our first baby. I don’t know if you can say first baby or last baby or whatever, but, it is important to be there. To be there for her. She has her mom by her side so that is really good too. I told her when she was filing, not to get any paper cuts, just be careful.”
BUSCH’S BEEN THERE — Kurt Busch knows all about close races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He prevailed in the first, and so far most exciting Chase, back in 2004, outdueling Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to win the championship. Busch sees some similarities between his epic title battle and this year’s shootout among Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.
“I hope that the switch has been turned on for the last few weeks because it’s been a great Chase,” Busch said Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. “The more guys that are in it, that’s what creates this excitement and the element of the unknown. Keeping up with one guy or two guys, three guys, it’s just exciting and we should be talking about it now. It shouldn’t be saved for next week. ... This has the makings of ’04 and ’04 had the makings of what it was in 1992. It’s what everybody likes to see, a great points battle all the way to the end and it’s just not the final race, it’s the weeks leading up and how they’ve handled the pressure for the weeks leading up.”
BURTON GOOD FOR BIZ? — Jeff Burton, known as “The Mayor” in the Sprint Cup garage for his intelligence and political savvy, said he’s still trying to weigh whether his much publicized crash and subsequent on-track confrontation with Jeff Gordon last week at Texas was good for the sport because it made headlines, or bad for it because it cast the drivers in a less-than-favorable light.
“The whole debate about what's good for NASCAR, what's not good for NASCAR, I don't know,” said Burton. “I know that fans on the back straightaway thought it was cool. I could hear that. I'm torn between what is good for NASCAR and what is not good for NASCAR. I try to conduct myself in a way that will make me and my kids and my sponsors and everybody proud of me even when things aren't good. You can certainly cross a line. I come to the race to race. I don't come to the race to be part of the show. When I hear people describe these events as ‘shows,’ that perturbs me a little bit; I'm here to race. I understand that this is entertainment for people. I get it. I'm a sports fan. Sports are entertaining for me. But, I'm not here to create a show. I'm not here to be involved in that stuff. I'm here to race. I want the race to be the show.”
T. STEW DOWN UNDER — Just as he did last season, Tony Stewart plans to head to Australia soon after the NASCAR Sprint Cup season ends and do some sprint car racing, as well as just plain relaxing. “I get to get away from the media. For a whole month I get to race and I don’t have to do media at all,” said Stewart. “It’s just going over and relaxing. Its summer over there and I don’t have to sit around in the winter and not be able to be outside and I get to race and visit a real beautiful area so it’s the best of all worlds.”
Stewart, of course, raced open-wheel sprint cars long before he raced NASCAR Sprint Cup cars.
“You have got to remember I am going over for a long period of time and I am only running on the track five days,” said Stewart. “I am doing something that is totally different and it gets me away from this and it’s something I like to do and when I get off days it’s something that I want to do and it’s not like I feel like I have to go do it so it’s definitely what I want to do.”
KYLE LIKES BEING THE BOSS — Kyle Busch has made headlines for winning races and made headlines for his displays of emotion and temper when he doesn’t win races. But less conspicuous has been the fact that he’s built a championship-caliber NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. Busch’s No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra is 120 points ahead of the Todd Bodine’s No. 30 Germain Racing Toyota in NCWTS owner points with just one race to go on the season. Not too shabby for a first-year team.
Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway, Busch finished second to fellow Sprint Cup regular Clint Bowyer in the Lucas Oil 150 Truck Series race. Frequently, when Busch fails to win in a Truck Series or NASCAR Nationwide Series race, he can be a difficult interview, as he proved a week earlier at Texas Motor Speedway.
But Friday at Phoenix, Busch’s dominant emotion was pride with his team, not disappointment in the race results.
“Not having anything a year ago at this point and coming as far as we’ve come — it means quite a bit to myself and to Eric Phillips (crew chief) and Rick Ren (general manager) and all the families that we have that work for us,” said Busch of his truck team. “All the dedication that they give and the time that they’ve put in this year.”
For all intents and purposes, KBM didn’t even exist at this point last year. “Rick came on, he didn’t start until Dec. 7th (2009) because he decided he wanted a vacation before he got involved in starting a race team,” Busch recalled. “We had three guys working for us up until Christmas and then after Christmas, from Dec. 27th or whatever it was until New Year’s, we had about seven guys. Then we had 14 guys on Jan. 5th. We came from nothing. ... It’s come a long ways and it’s been a lot of hard work but yet there’s still a lot more work to do in order to get fully funded for next year.”
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.