Behind the scenes with NASCAR on NBC

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“The first event I ever announced was a women’s gymnastics meet at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln,” said Rick Allen, lead announcer for NASCAR on NBC. “The guy who was supposed to do it didn’t show up. And I just happened to be hanging around, so I did it.”

As the then-reigning back-to-back Big Eight (now Big 12) Conference decathlon champion for the Cornhuskers, as Allen was in 1991 and 1992, why wouldn’t you be hanging around the women’s gymnastics team? If charisma was a sport, he’d still be leading the league.

Allen’s affable, smooth, confident tone on the air transitions just as easily outside of the booth to the confines of the NBC Sports tent where we talked about his job as the voice of NBC Sports’ rejuvenated NASCAR franchise.

“Nothing about this position is easy, but I am privileged and very excited to be here.”

Allen got his start announcing races at Eagle Raceway in Eagle, Nebraska after getting a degree in speech communications.

He joined Fox Sports in 2003 and served as play-by-play man for Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity races until last year. Former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton and former crew chief Steve Letarte join Allen in the booth.

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“At any one time, I have five people in my headset, whether it’s my producer, our spotter, our stats guys… all providing me with information to make the broadcast as engaging and understandable as possible for the fans watching it. And that is on top of the conversations I’m having in the booth, with Jeff and Steve.”

Allen isn’t just a mouthpiece who acts like he knows what he’s talking about; the authenticity of his interest and enjoyment of NASCAR is palpable as he speaks. He’s the voice of the franchise and is excited about helping viewers understand the intricacies of the sport with the second biggest audience base, trailing only the NFL.

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On Location: Ball Up Streetball “Search for the Next” Tour with The Professor and Eric Gordon

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Streetball gets a bad wrap. After being exposed to the And1 Mixtape Tour, and occasional Rucker Park Tournament highlight, it’s easy to envision four guys standing around while one guy dribbles, each possession punctuated by a slam dunk with little or no defense.

But the Ball Up “Search for the Next” is completely different from its predecessors. It’s a 10-city tour looking for the best undiscovered player in the country that culminates in $100,000 and a roster spot for the tour’s winner.

In 2003, the most popular streetball player in the world right now, The Professor, was one of them.

While attending an And1 Mixtape Tour stop in Portland, Oregon in 2003, the 5’10,” 155-pound 19-year-old Professor competed in an open run competition prior to that evening’s game and did well enough to get invited back that evening to square off against Team And1.

After a solid performance in the game, he joined the team full-time and was suddenly getting paid to play basketball, literally overnight.

“Yeah, true story. We would’ve been fully content just watching the game,” said Professor about the experience. “I got there early and saw that there was an open run going on and that there was a chance. I hopped in as soon as I could and showed them what I could do.

“And next thing I know, I’m selected to play against the And1 Mixtape Tour team. I got the crowd excited again a few times in that game, and then that night, they asked me to go on tour with them, and I was just shocked.”

Ball Up started in 2009 and took the concept of touring streetball to a new level.

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Suave Men Heritage Edition and Dale Earnhardt Jr. want you to be a man again

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If NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith admit to doing it, then there’s no shame in admitting you have, too. So go ahead and unburden yourself – 80% of men have used their girlfriend, wife or spouse’s haircare products.

“We’re all guilty of getting lazy and grabbing whatever the girlfriend or wife is using,” admitted Earnhardt Jr., as he forced a room of roughly 40 men to confront a grim reality about themselves.

“And, you know, that stuff’s not made for men: It’s not made for your hair. Guys out there, stop being lazy. Get the haircare products for our hair and for our needs.”

The numbers are appalling. 70% of men are interested in their own personal style, yet only 20% actually use products made for men.

But Suave Men wants to change that. And they know that education leads to prevention, and ultimately, choices a man can be proud of.

The “Suave Men Heritage and Hair: A Discussion with the Icons of Speed and Style,” took place on the eve of the NASCAR XFINITY race in Brooklyn Park, Michigan.

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Bullz-Eye returns for another round of Bud Light’s Whatever, USA

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For the second year in a row, Bullz-Eye was invited to Bud Light’s Whatever, USA. Last year’s #UpForWhatever adventure took us to Crested Butte, Colorado, where they painted the town blue, literally. It was a weekend of epic proportions, and we couldn’t wait to see how this year’s event would compare.

For Whatever, USA 2.0, Bud Light took over the quiet town of Avalon on Catalina Island, California, throwing a two-day rager for some 1,000-plus contest winners from all across the United States who earned their invitations by proving that they were Up For Whatever.

Day One started painfully early, with a 7am flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Despite the fact that we had 10 other winners on the flight, it was pretty chill at first, as most of us were still half asleep at this point. But once we arrived in LAX and hopped on the party bus that would take us to our ferry in San Pedro, it was a whole other story! The Bud Light started flowing almost immediately, and everyone was amped up for whatever the weekend had in store for them.

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After getting checked in at the port, we boarded the ferry that would take us to Catalina Island, our home for the weekend. Once we got there, we dropped off our bags at the hotel, changed into our swim trunks, and immediately headed off to a pool party they were hosting, where there was plenty of food, Bud Light and a bevy of gorgeous bikini-clad women. Yes, suddenly that early wake-up call didn’t seem so bad anymore.

The festivities officially began Friday evening, with a crazy color-themed welcome parade and performances by Elliphant and T-Pain. People were having a blast, and the energy was contagious. Later that night, we went down the beach for a DJ show featuring Diplo and Jack Novak. It was pretty awesome, with a 42-foot LED dragon, electro hula hoopers, light shows and more. Eventually, we had to call it a night and get some rest for the next day’s activities.

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Burning nitro with Patron Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria

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To some people, Alexis DeJoria is the wife of “Moster Garage” star Jesse James. To others, she is the daughter of Jean-Paul DeJoria, billionaire businessman and co-founder of Paul Mitchell hair products and the Patron Spirits Company. But on the NHRA Mello Yello circuit, Alexis DeJoria is one of the best Funny Car drivers on the tour.

We spent two days with Alexis and her team from Kalitta Motorsports at the Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park in Topeka, and inadvertently found ourselves in the middle of the most exciting weekend in the history of the sport.

The day before we arrived, during the second day of qualifying, DeJoria ran the best run of her career, an Elapsed Time (ET) of 3.994.

During the weekend, there were a total of 15 three-second runs. There were 19 three-second runs in the entire 2014 season.

In this video, Alexis talks about how her car accelerates faster than anything on earth (yes, even a fighter jet), how she got into racing, and her career-defining victory in the 2014 NHRA U.S. Nationals, it’s 60th anniversary, a feat akin to winning the Super Bowl.

While ET (the time it takes the car to get from the starting line to finish line) determines qualifying order, it is not as important on race day.

On race days, the car that crosses the finish line first wins, regardless of ET. So the quicker car might not be the winning car, because that driver may have left the starting line slower.

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For any driver, a time in the low fours is considered a successful run. But in Kansas on this weekend, the perfect storm of weather conditions and high performance vehicles combined for the most sub-four runs in one weekend, ever.

So what does that even mean? Each run, or “pass” is 1,000 feet. Going a thousand feet in under four seconds means the cars are travelling at speeds in the 300-315 MPH range. Alexis’ car goes from a complete standstill to 100 MPH in less than one second.

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