THE RECLINER REPORT!
Stop #8–Menards Heartland Nationals, Heartland Motorsports Park, Topeka, Kansas
Man, it’s Sunday, so you know what that means to the Recliner Report Staff. Yep, in previous entries, you’ve seen what gets these little maniacs excited: drag racing, some more drag racing, and then, even more drag racing, all while consuming mass quantities of Twinkies and Cheetos…
So, the stage was all set. The big screen was firing on all cylinders, the back table was full of every preservative-packed snack food a human could want, the La-Z-Boys were locked and loaded, and the Fox 1 coverage of the NHRA 2018 Mello Yello Tour was just about to hit the airwaves. Life was sweet!
Then, disaster struck. Hard. Like…really hard. Sort of like when someone grabs the last nacho hard…you know, the one that has the perfect bite of all the ingredients…guacamole, melted cheese, fajita meat…you’ve seen it. Maybe even experienced it. If so, consider yourself lucky!
The problem? Rain. Yep, rain, and lots of it. Now, the Kansas farmers in the area were dancing the hokey-pokey ‘cause they probably needed it, and the cows in the area were saying, “Dude, we’re stoked ‘cause these folks have been keeping us from taking our beauty naps”, but for the Recliner staffers, this was cause for some serious temper tantrums. One of ‘em even threatened to bash a bag of Doritos against the back wall, but he was talked down off the roof.
Next, we watched as Dave Rieff and Tony Pedregon put on their most positive faces and made the best of the situation, even while we watched the raindrops fall happily onto the asphalt, each one washing away the hopes and dreams of staffers. The staff lounge, just moments before full of the snacky sounds of crunching, dipping, and cellophane unwrapping, became deathly quiet and still.
Someone (Who will remain nameless) actually said, “Ummm…I’m not sure I’m going to live through this.” What a goober.
Anyway, Dave and Tony, along with reporters Amanda Busick and Bruno Massel soldiered on, interviewing willing folks as quickly as they could scoot around the track and pit area. You gotta give these Fox 1 folks big love, ‘cause they bring it no matter what the weather. Through the rain, we watched interviews with Steve and Billy Torrence, Cruz Pedregon, saw a teaser on an issue between Erica Enders and Tanner Gray, and viewed a “Walk With 1000 Feet” with Vincent Nobile. That dude is fun to watch. We’ll come back to that interview later.
Minutes later, the staffers’ room slowly came back to life. Tears stopped, the occasional dipping into the salsa began to take place, and chip-crunching was heard from all corners of the room. Finally, with the unmistakable crinkling sound of a Twinkie being unwrapped, a sense of normal returned to the place.
Later, with the rain still falling, Rieff delivered the news: racing would take place, but viewers would have to wait until 10pm to see the results of the day. Though a slight groan was heard, it was quickly overshadowed by the thoughts of several hours of more junk food possibilities. Life was good again. At that point, Fox 1 delivered a repeat of Atlanta’s Southern Nationals, and all the staffers were pacified.
BACK IN BUSINESS! So, 10pm rolls around, and we’re all thrilled to be back in Kansas. After an eight-hour delay, eliminations roared to life as Brittany Force immediately set the low elapsed time of the weekend in her first-round punchout of Richie Crampton.
DUDE, YOU CUT ME OFF! Not too long ago, at a raceway far, far away, we forecast a few rumblings within the Pro Stock ranks between a couple of racing’s stronger personalities. Well, apparently the rumblings got just a bit stronger as we watched a nice little conversation between Erica Enders and Tanner Gray. After Enders finished first in their head-to-head qualifying matchup, Gray cut directly in front of her at the top end turn-in lane. After exiting her car, Erica and Tanner were heard on camera having a little chat, and needless to say, they weren’t exchanging chocolate chip cookie recipes. A few bleeps here, a few bleeps there, and…presto! Well, we’ve got ourselves a nice little cookie club, folks! Stay tuned. Perhaps some shared ideas on the proper way to make apple pies are next!
WELL, LOOKY HERE! Guess what? We learned that we might be talking apple pies sooner than later, as the Pro Stock ladder showed that the cooking duo would meet in the second round of Eliminations, that is, if all the planets aligned just so. Well, the rain may have cooled off the track, but…
SOMEONE NEEDS TO USE SPELLCHECK–During first round of Pro Stock eliminations, Bo Butner was supposed to face Tanner Gray. Unfortunately, someone else must have taken his place, interestingly enough, by someone with name very similar to last year’s champ. See, the right-side window was adorned with the words, “Bob Utner.” Maybe a relative? A guy wanting to be like Bo? We’re not sure, but this guy Bob sure came out of nowhere! Message to crew guy who labeled the window: umm…gotta watch out for those B’s…they’re sneaky little devils!
WALKIN’ WITH AMANDA–This week’s “Walk 1000 Feet” with Amanda Busick featured a visit with “The Beast From the East”, that is, the one-and-only Vincent Nobile, and during their stroll, we learned that until his win at Las Vegas, Nobile was uncertain that he would even be competing in a full schedule, but a call after his victory from team owner Nick Mitsos gave him the news he was hoping to hear, prompting Vincent to ask Mitsos, “Is this Christmas?” After admitting that he cries at movies, he then proceeded to let the viewers know that brother-in-law and Pro Stock bike star Hector Arana, Jr. is, “…the worst. He’ll cry over anything, and he knows it!” Man, if these guys ask you to go with ‘em to see the classic “Ol’ Yeller”, you might want to let them know you’re washing your hair or something. That could get scary. We learned that “Half and Half” is not a dairy creamer, but a drink composed of half lemonade and half iced tea. A New York Giants fan, Nobile is a HUGE Yankee supporter, as well as a lover of “Grandma’s Pie”, which is a square pizza with a thin crust. Finally, for all of you heading out East someday and trying to find Long Island, you gotta pronounce it, “Lawn Guy” Land. Why? Because Vince says so! Finally, though admitting he’s not much of a dancer, his celebration at winning an event would involve him pretending to hit a baseball out of the park, after which he would, “…walk it off.” Cool stuff from an even-cooler cat!
A FUTURE BEHIND THE MIC–In addition to being an epic driver, Antron Brown has a great future in broadcasting. The Top Fuel pilot joined Rieff and Pedregon in the TV booth following his first-round exit against Leah Pritchett. His insights, stories, and energetic personality translate perfectly into TV Land. Dude needs his own show!
BRINGING THE BLONDE! Stevie “Blaze” Torrence must love him some Marilyn Monroe, ‘cause the back of his helmet is adorned with some epic artwork of the pin-up bombshell. Man, we’re not sure who does his artwork, but the dude (Or dudette) who designed that lid is killer with the crayons!
SUDDENLY…JUST OUT OF THE BLUE–Then, as quickly as it started, the broadcast ended. Jaws dropped, chips fell out of mouths, and sadly, guacamole fell onto the floor after the announcement by Rieff that returning rain had forced the semi-finals and finals to be completed the following day, with the broadcast of the results to be shown Monday night. Though momentarily quiet, a single voice brought staffers’ spirits quickly back to life, announcing, “Dudes, we get to do this again tomorrow night!” So, with refilled glasses, bowls, and a ton more guacamole, we’ll be back on Tuesday with Part 2 of this shindig! Till then, keep reclining!