If NASCAR fans were shocked by the appearance of the Monster Energy Girls’ outfits this weekend, they clearly didn’t hear the promises that the company’s vice president of sports marketing, Mitch Covington, made earlier this year when discussing Monster Energy’s debut as the title sponsor of NASCAR’s Cup Series. “Monster, we were built on girls, music and racing,” Covington said in January. “We think that fits with NASCAR really good.’’ And they’ve clearly never looked at Monster Energy’s Facebook page, which is littered with women in outfits they might find offensive. Or think about that the company is referring to grown women as girls in its title of its brand reps. But what they mostly missed?
“This is by far the best we’ve run speed-wise … in the race since I’ve been at Stewart-Haas Racing,’’ Harvick told NBC Sports. “I’m really looking forward to a really strong week.’’ NASCAR’s opening weekend proved to be a good one overall for Stewart-Haas Racing in its debut with Ford. Danica Patrick finished fourth in the Clash with Harvick fifth. Clint Bowyer, who joined the team this year, was fourth in qualifying. Harvick was seventh. It wasn’t a perfect weekend, though. Kurt Busch wrecked in the Clash after he was turned by Jimmie Johnson. Busch was 22nd in qualifying and Patrick was 24th. Still, it could have been much worse after all the work to switch from Chevrolet to Ford in the offseason.
Darlington Raceway on a Wednesday in December is vast and cold and empty. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew works alone in the garage, making last-minute tweaks to his race car. The car is stripped of paint and decals, down to bare primer -- gunmetal gray. There are no fans, just a NASCAR official and a Charlotte neurosurgeon. Today is not about money or trophies. It's about whether Dale Jr.'s brain has healed enough to do what his heart needs so bad. A helicopter comes in low over the rim of the track and lands with a kiss in the infield. Dale Jr. climbs out. His soon-to-be-wife, Amy Reimann, was supposed to be with him, but there was a mix-up over the time, and he couldn't wait on her -- the chopper