First of all, you're probably wondering how this blog jumped from Stop No. 4 to Stop No. 8. Let me explain.
The fifth stop was a breakfast where Michael Waltrip spoke about his new book and his recollections of Dale Earnhardt (if you hadn't heard, the 10th anniversary of Earnhardt's fatal accident is rapidly approaching). Stop No. 6 was a visit from Nationwide Series drivers, and Stop No. 7 was a trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway to see the site of the "World's Largest HD Screen" currently being installed there.
While all those stops may have been interesting (particularly the part where Bruton Smith discussed circumstances that may lead NASCAR to ditch the Chase), I had to catch up on some other work before re-joining the tour for Stop No. 8: Richard Childress Racing. My bad on that.
Childress usually serves the best food on the media tour, which is obviously irrelevant to fans but leaves the media quite pleased and attracts a big crowd to the team's shop in Welcome, about an hour away from Charlotte. If you aren't familiar with the inner workings of the media, trust me on this: These people LOVE to eat.
This year, Childress also provided Budweiser in addition to wine from his nearby Childress Vineyards. Let the record to show that I did not partake, lest this blog be filled with typos and the like.
Anyway, Childress started things off with a bang by making a guarantee that one of his teams would win the Sprint Cup championship.
"This year is the year to kick Jimmie (Johnson) off that throne," he said. "This is the year to do it, and it's going to be RCR – I feel certain. I'm gonna make that predicament."
(Editor's note: "Predicament" is not a typo from me drinking too much Budweiser at the lunch. As I said, I didn't drink on the job. Childress really did say "predicament.")
Childress' Babe Ruth moment raised some eyebrows among the crowd, and a reporter followed up by asking Childress about his "guarantee."
"I didn't guarantee it," Childress replied, "I just said we was gonna do it."
Either way, the point is Childress and his team feel very confident about their chances this season following a successful year in which they put all three cars in the Chase and almost won the whole thing.
Of course, now Childress has four cars – Paul Menard being the new addition. Since the team ran like crap the last time it had four cars, reporters had many a question about whether the company would be hurt by expansion again.
The drivers answered that the company was prepared this time – and more well-funded than the last go-round with four cars. Menard, as many fans know, brings sponsorship money from his billionaire family to help his racing efforts.
"He's proved he's a deserving driver in the Cup Series," Childress said of Menard. "It made me proud to get him over here."
And clearly, the team's best shot at backing up Childress' "predicament" is Menard.
JUST KIDDING! C'mon, you didn't think the Menard thing was for real, right?
Nah, the real favorite from the team is Kevin Harvick, with his awesome new Budweiser paint scheme (seriously...it really is awesome). It's obvious by the way he speaks and carries himself that Harvick is extremely confident about this season and truly believes he can win his first Cup title.
Don't count out Clint Bowyer either, though. Bowyer has performed well every time he's made the Chase (except for that pesky 150-point penalty that crushed his hopes last year. By the way, he said he's not over the penalty and it still "sucks.").
Could Bowyer possibly pull off a championship season?
"I think we can," he said. "I think I can win the championship someday. I don't know if this is going to be the year, but I feel like I get better every year, we get better as an organization every year and we get closer.
"(Harvick's title run) has to open my eyes. I realize he's in the same equipment as I am and did better with it. That wakes me up, makes me want to work harder."
And finally, this blog can't end without mentioning the well-liked, well-respected Jeff Burton. So there you have it – he's mentioned.
Next up on Day 2 of the "NASCAR Sprint Media Tour Hosted By Charlotte Motor Speedway Which Is Also Known As The Track Formerly Called Lowe's Motor Speedway" is a reception for TRG Motorsports.
Then it's a dinner extravaganza shared by both Red Bull Racing (woooo, Kasey Kahne, ladies!) and ESPN (woooo, Shannon Spake and Jamie Little, guys!).
Check back afterward for what's sure to be a wacky, Red Bull-fueled late night recap.