A day in the life of NASCAR driver Cole Whitt

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The best things in NASCAR thrive under pressure. Whether it’s the engine, pit crew or driver, it’s a game of constant pressure, a game of endurance that lasts from February to November. And the team that handles it the best wins the Sprint Cup.

“Typically, you’ve got several things to do,” said 24-year old Speed Stick driver Cole Whitt about his routine for each race weekend. “Each day, you wake up around nine, go to the track and take care of all of your pre-race track duties.”

The demands placed on a NASCAR driver throughout the season are intense. The idea that drivers get to the track, turn left for three hours and then resume their day-to-day life is false.

“After a race, you recover the rest of Sunday. You only get three days at home a week. Then you rest on Monday and try to tax your body with workouts Tuesday and Wednesday, travel again on Thursday – we’re constantly travelling or moving.”

But time at the track, both pre-race and during the race, are only two components of a busy schedule.

“You usually have media obligations both days, whether its interviews or appearances, and then the race. From the minute the checkered flag finishes, you’re essentially preparing for the next Sunday from that moment on.”

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This weekend, one of those appearances was for Speed Stick, signing autographs and giving away #35 T-shirts at a local Kroger grocery store, where the temperature reached the mid-90s. “I typically lose between 10-12 pounds per race. Sitting in a car is like being in a sauna for four hours.”

A test of mental endurance as much as physical, doubt can also creep into the mind of a driver during the grueling season.

“It’s really easy to get down on yourself, to doubt yourself, especially as a smaller team,” said Whitt about his crew, which is roughly half the size of the larger teams they’re competing against.

“It’s a different mentality here. If we’re Top 25, we are proud of our team. The team has to work as hard with half as much of the support as the big teams. But the biggest thing is staying mentally healthy and not feeling doubt.”

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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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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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Riding shotgun with Speed Stick driver Cole Whitt and Playboy’s April Rose at Talladega

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Confidence opens doors that nothing else can. But confidence can also be misplaced. How do you know if the shirt you’re wearing is completely ridiculous until you actually wear it outside the house? Thanks to Speed Stick, at least I had confidence in my underarm scent.

But confidence was definitely not lacking for driver Cole Whitt. Even though Front Row Motorsports is at a distinct disadvantage, operating on one-eighth the budget of its competitors and Whitt’s highest previous finishing position this season a modest 22nd, Whitt was ready.

A Top 20 finish at Talladega would’ve meant a lot, as Cole explains in our interview below, shot immediately before the race. But Whitt was able to #DefyTheDoubt and lead the entire field with under 40 laps remaining en route to his best performance this season. Speed Stick is all about giving you confidence for the moment you shut down the naysayers, as Whitt did finishing a career-best 13th in the race.

I got a little excited during my interview, and it isn’t completely my fault – there’s so much energy at a NASCAR race, it permeates the grounds and is as real as the guy with the Dale Jr. shirt on next to you.

There is no other major sport that allows fans’ access the way NASCAR does. No one is too big or too important. The mix of American pride and Bible Belt-bred Christianity adds two additional layers that don’t exist north of the Mason-Dixon.

That ethos permeates the grounds and is exemplified in a myriad of ways, from the ease in dealing with on-site officials, to the random mix of cool people you meet while watching the race, to the drivers themselves.

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Joe Gibbs on the return of Crispy M&M’S and the forgotten Redskins’ dynasty

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For an unknown reason, NFL history has robbed the Redskins dynasty of the 1980s and early 90s of the recognition it deserves. But the real question is, why?

NFL fans remember the Packers championship teams of the 60s, the Steelers of the 70s, the 49ers of the 80s, the Cowboys of the 90s, and the Patriots of the present day. But no one remembers the Joe Gibbs-led Redskins.

From 1982 to 1991, the Redskins appeared in four Super Bowls and won three of those games, and in each game, they won with a different starting quarterback and a different starting running back.

Not content with one of the most successful coaching careers in NFL history, Gibbs created his Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR team in 1992. The team has won three Sprint Cup championships since 2000 with stud drivers like Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.

At this Sunday’s Daytona 500, the Joe Gibbs Racing Crispy M&M’S #18 car will return to the track after a 10-year absence, piloted by Kyle Busch.

We spoke to Coach Gibbs about flourishing in both sports, the upcoming Daytona 500, his relationship with Jack Kent Cooke, and why he thinks his success with the Redskins has been largely ignored. You can listen to the interview via the audio player or read the full transcript below.

Let’s talk about Crispy M&M’S making their return to the track after a 10-year hiatus, kind of like you making your return to the Skins the second time.

Just about the same; I was 11 years, Crispy’s been out 10 years. We’re excited to have them back. And on Sunday’s Daytona 500, every time that Toyota Camry comes off the corner with Kyle Busch driving it, it’s going to be bright green and it’s gonna represent the return of Crispy. So we’re excited about that and I’m excited to be part of the M&M’S team.

You’re an absolute titan in two of the biggest sports in North America, in the NFL and NASCAR. It’s almost like you’ve lived two different lives, really. What’s it been like for you?

I realize I’m one of the most fortunate people in the world. Because rarely does anybody get to have a dream as an occupation, and I’ve had two of them. It’s a thrill for me. I know how fortunate I am and I appreciate being a part of two great sports.

And what I’ve found, is they are very similar, football and racing. Amazingly, they’re almost exactly the same because it’s what? It’s people. It’s picking people, putting them on a team and getting them to sacrifice their individual goals for the goals of the team. It’s teamwork. And that’s a big part of life. I’m thrilled to be a part of the M&M’S team and it’s a thrill for us to race in a place like the Daytona 500 this Sunday.

Can you talk about (former Redskins and Lakers owner) Jack Kent Cooke and what it was like to work with him? 

Mr. Cooke I think was a great owner, and for this reason: Many times he had a strong opinion. He’d stick that finger out and say, “You need to do this.” But what he always said before I left the meeting was, “But it’s gotta be your decision; you decide.” Many times, if I did something and it turned out to be he was correct, he’d definitely let me hear about it. But Mr. Cooke always said to me,  “It’s gotta be your decision; you make the decision.”

The other thing about Mr. Cooke, he was always at his best when things were at their worst. He would come in, he would visit me, I figured he was going to be upset when we’d be going through a bad streak of losses and he would say to me, “Hey Joe, we’re going up and we’re going down together.” He had a favorite saying: “I’m going to lay down and bleed a while, and then we’re gonna get up and fight again.” He was special, I think, for me, just like Dan Snyder was the second go-around for me. I had two great owners.

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