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.
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.
Inadvertently, the above shirtless NASCAR fan, with a canister of what we can safely assume is “Purple Drank,” a southern beverage of choice, dangling from his loins, summed up the entire three-day NET10 Wireless NASCAR event.
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Bullz-Eye spent three days in Charlotte, North Carolina and immersed our senses in the intricacies of both NASCAR and the #FreedForSpeed lifestyle of NET10 Wireless. It was the fastest three days we’ve ever experienced.
Within 20 minutes of getting to the hotel, I was in the lobby meeting the group of fellow drivers. 10 minutes later, we headed to Charlotte Motor Speedway to drive a NASCAR under the tutelage of the Richard Petty Driving School. Once we got there, we ate a tremendous lunch.
We were fitted with some fire retardant driving suits (Who you calling a retardant?) and met NET10 Wireless Camping World Truck Series driver German Quiroga, who gave us an idea of what to expect on the track.
Then, we went through a safety briefing lead by our Crew Chief. It was in-depth and complex, and though appreciated, I zoned out for most of it and dreamed about having the fastest MPH in the class.
I have never been a NASCAR fan. For a guy who loves sports, I knew more about curling than I did NASCAR. I could never understand why watching cars making hundreds of laps was so popular.
Then I attended the 2014 Daytona 500 in Jacksonville, Florida courtesy of Lowe’s and my life changed. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve watched each of the ensuing races in Phoenix and Las Vegas, intently. We interviewed 21-year old rookie Kyle Larson since then and my respect for him, and the sport, is through the roof.
The highlight of the trip? Meeting six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and Lowe’s driver Jimmie Johnson.
Prior to meeting Jimmie Johnson, I had no frame of reference for his level of success or how historically dominant he has been working alongside Crew Chief Chad Knaus.
It was only after someone aptly explained that Knaus is the Bill Belichick to Johnson’s Tom Brady (though they’ve been twice as successful in terms of championships) did I realize how much they’d accomplished as a team. Here’s Jimmie and I, laughing about our favorite recipes:
After I met and briefly interviewed Johnson, I was fortunate to be invited into the Lowe’s pit for the start of the race.
The thing that impressed me the most was the sound. When you’re standing in the pit, you hear this groaning sound in the distance, like a gathering thunderstorm, and then all of the sudden… BOOM! The entire field explodes right in front of you, a mix of colors and shapes that you can barely discern. Then, they’re gone again and the sound dissipates to a low hum.