Friday, December 17, 2010

What Do I Have To Do To Get You People Like Me?!

Meet Jimmie Johnson, the best NASCAR driver in the world for the past five years. Is he really that good behind the wheel? Oh yeah. Is he a nice guy? He is indeed one of the nicest and most genuine guys in the sport. But when he’s introduced before the race, do fans go crazy over him? No.

To many, it seems odd that Jimmie has not been as successful at capturing fans as he has been at capturing championships. Jimmie may have a lot to offer, but he’s missing something that keeps him from being a driver fans can really latch on to. Perhaps a trip to Oz is in order so that the wizard can give Jimmie what he’s missing: an imperfection.

Think back to the “good ol’ days” of NASCAR and you think about guys like the Intimidator, the Ironman, the Bandit, the Silver Fox, Jaws, and the King. Back then, drivers seemed more genuine and thus fans made connections with them. The drivers were regular people who had imperfections and weren’t afraid to show emotion on and off the track. Nowadays, drivers are “brand ambassadors” that are programmed to thank Chevy, smile, compliment their teammates, smile, and take a drink of Coca Cola (remember to turn the bottle so the logo is showing for those practicing at home). Fans aren’t ignorant, and they see through the charade, and I imagine that it only frustrates them as it does me. Stop talking like robots and tell us how you really feel before I change the channel back to Swamp People!

In the current crop of NASCAR drivers, only a handful of drivers break this mold. Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, and Kevin Harvick are three that come to mind, although Carl Edwards gets a nod for his creative sponsor plugs and occasional “choke hold”. You can hear signs of emotion from these drivers when they talk, and you see their tempers get the best of them on the track. Fans get this, and it is part of the reason Kyle’s fan base has grown so quickly. When someone cuts me off on the highway, I get mad and want to retaliate, although laws often prohibit this. When you see a driver do that in a race, it excites you because you understand his frustration.

Unfortunately for Jimmie he is just too perfect, and it’s hard for fans to relate. Jimmie is like that overachieving friend…the one who got his PhD and has a weekend house in the mountains before he turned 30. People that are “perfect” only make you feel bad about yourself, so we tend to avoid them. Think about your close friends. Are they ten times better than you at everything, or do you tend to surround yourself with people who have just as many faults as you? Being a fan works the same way. I like Carl because I get his sense of humor, I understand his rage, and he seems genuine.

In order for Jimmie to win over fans, I have decided to start a list of things he can do to prove he isn’t perfect:
  • Arm-wrestle Joey Logano’s dad
  • Start the tradition of doing a cartwheel after a victory
  • Do his victory burnout before the race
  • Thank Home Depot during post-race interview
  • Pay people to vote him as the Most Popular Driver (similar to Dale Jr’s method of winning eight titles in a row)
  • Divorce Chandra and propose to Danica
  • Kidnap Carl Edwards baby

We want to hear from you! Tell us what you think Jimmie should do to win over some fans. We may even pick the best idea and send you a prize…wink, wink!

Jesse Leadbetter

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


The 2010 NASCAR recently ended with Jimmie Johnson winning his unprecedented fifth consecutive championship. This was a little different for Jimmie because on the final race he wasn't in the lead and had to come from behind to win. The Chase for the Cup was created to help give the NASCAR season a bit more excitement towards the of the season but this was the first time it achieved its goal. I like the idea of making a playoffs for NASCAR but personally I'd wish that NASCAR would make it even more of a playoff atmosphere.

NASCAR is having a bit of a ratings slump and it carried over into the Chase as well. The races for the Chase had less ratings that previous year and even less ratings that earlier races in the season. The ratings were down even with three different drivers having a legitimate chance to win the championship on the last race. This is just a weird phenomenon to me, in other sports the playoffs and championship games or tournaments get much higher ratings.

I think the solution lies in the differences between other sports and NASCAR. In other sports it is win or go home in the playoffs. In NASCAR if you qualify then you get to race any of the Chase races, even if you aren't in the Chase. Why not make an actual elimination-style playoffs. You take the top 16 drivers and the last seven races and make it a true playoff tournament. The two lowest finishing drivers get eliminated every week and then the final four race in the last race to see who is crowned champion. Don't worry about points, the best finish takes the trophy. You could even have a wild card type event leading up to the last seven races so you could have ten races in the Chase.

In my opinion this would get more people to watch the Chase and help get NASCAR back some of the its lost ratings. It would also make for some great television.

Trevor McGregor

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One Race To Go!

Well folks, it’s down to one races and three drivers. With the excitement of the beef between Gordon and Burton two weekends ago in Texas, (Did you guys see the brawl? It was AWWWWE-SOME!) and the excitement in Phoenix fans are sure to tune into the Homestead events this weekend to see if Denny Hamlin holds onto the points lead or if Kevin Harvick or Jimmie Johnson can catch him.

Hamlin started off the year a little rough with him having to have knee surgery in April. Amazing everyone, Hamlin got in the car the next week and got his first win of the year two weeks later, all the while still nursing his knee back to health. Quite a feat I have to give him the credit for. Not quite sure I could’ve handled 250 laps with a “peg leg” that’s for sure.

Needless to say it’s going to be an interesting last race! Can the young overtake the old-er? Can Jimmie and the #48 crew do the unthinkable and take back the lead to win consecutive championship number five? A feat that’s never been done once in the history of NASCAR? Or will a quiet third place Harvick step up and capture the title? I for one will be glued to the TV watching to find out.

Tonya Clarkston

Monday, November 8, 2010

Life After Five...

Let me start off by saying this is not going to be your typical Press Pass blog about trading cards, die-cast or NASCAR racing, I have worked for Press Pass Inc. for about 12 years and have moved through the entire office working in all departments except the Art Department and trust me you don’t want me to go there! I am now located in the Customer Relations department and look forward to excelling there and making my knowledge stronger with this business.

With that said, I do enjoy my work at Press Pass Inc. although my greatest passion is animals. After a long busy day I exit the Press Pass building and head north on I-77 towards Lake Norman where I reside and I retire to taking care of my 2 dogs and cat Macy, Biff and my adopted dog Major whom I rescued from a neighbor from being PTS! Major was severely abused at the young age of 2 or 3 by a mean male person, so he has issues with certain men but loves women. Since I have adopted him he has changed so much and has become a great companion. His only flaw is that he is terrified of thunderstorms! During one storm back this summer he ran out of the house and down my neighborhood street. I looked for hours for him and just knew he was gone. I continued to call out his name over and over again and finally heard his cry coming from a home under their deck, he was so afraid he would not come out! So the homeowner allowed me to go under their deck and coax him out, it took a lot of time and reassurance on my part but he finally jumped in my arms like he was holding on for dear life. That’s when I knew I made the right decision to take him in.

Along with my animals I also care for pets working my second job “Pet Sitting”. When I got into pet sitting it was something I thought I would like to do in my spare time (what little I have) and boy have I loved it so far. I have been at it for almost 2 years now working week nights and weekends for clients that are on vacation or just have another occasion to be away from home. It is really rewarding to visit the pets at their homes or stay over night with them and make sure they are well and happy for the hour or night I am with them each visit.

Most of them are really glad to see you when you arrive, just to see someone, anyone since their masters are gone away. Its fun and relaxing for me because you get the calmness and unconditional love from these pets no matter what kind of day you are having and no matter how many times you have to poke them with medication or injections for what ever they may need it for. I have found myself on occasion saying I will feel a lot better about whatever is bothering me that day or night once I visit “Cody, Maddie, Roxie, Tinkerbell or any of the other 114 pets I care for regularly. They have become like my step children and I find you can have the greatest love for those little fur babies and miss them when its time to leave that visit, but knowing you will be back the next day, night or in a few weeks gives me a good feeling.

The pet sitting is not limited to just dogs and cats, I also care for a 40-50 pound pot belly pig named Daisy, who has finally warmed up to me and stopped charging at me when I let her out of her luxury room to go outside and an African Grey bird named Pickles that recites to me the “Meow” sound of the owners cat Spooky! The first time I heard that bird say “Meow” and “here kitty kitty” I thought someone else was in the home. I have had so many laughs and fun times with this part-time job to fill my spare time.

So there you have it my life outside of Press Pass trading cards! It keeps me busy and sometimes when I don’t want to be busy but I love it and knowing those little ones need the care of someone when they are home alone!

Lisa Shelby

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Five Star Autographs

I’m not a writer by any means. I don’t blog, I rarely tweet; it just isn’t something I do often. Funny for someone whose job is opening her big mouth everyday and communicating with people to get cards approved huh? Give TC a pencil to draw- I’m good for hours. Give TC a pencil to write – not only is the paper in front of me blank but so is my mind. Don’t ask me to write copy, EVER! That’s like asking Kyle Busch to quit whining, it’s never going happen! Because I love our PP peeps SO much, I’m going to take a stab at this thing called blogging and tell all you out there what I’ve been up to for the past month.

I’m sure you’ve all heard and are SO excited about the upcoming release of our Five Star product. Who isn’t right?! I know I am! Timing has been everything with this product. With the sport deep within the Chase and the year almost over, most of our drivers’ schedules are bombarded with public appearances and 2011 photoshoots. Not the most perfect timing to request an autograph session that’s for sho! Thankfully we have great licensors that we work with in the industry who’ve made it happen for us to get these special cards signed in time for the product release in November. What would we do without our licensors?!

Didn’t mean it hasn’t taken any sweat or tears on the PP side of things though…the tears, you’ll have to ask Jesse (NASCAR Product Manager) about. ;) Jesse and I have both worn the soles off of our shoes traveling around getting cards signed. We’ve been all over the South, as far as Daytona, FL and Palmetto, SC to smaller towns like Randleman and Kernersville, NC meeting up with drivers. I would still be lost in some small country town in South Carolina if it hadn’t been for my Garmin.

As a true follower of the sport since I was a wee one, I’ve had opportunities to sit down with some of the best ever in the sport the past few weeks. Something not many people can say they’ve had the chance to do or will ever do. Something I can’t wait to talk to my own chitlins/grand chitlins about. I’ve met up with Legends like Richard Petty, The Silver Fox, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough to current Legends like Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick. Yes I got to meet Danica Patrick! You can freak out now. I’ll give you a minute to calm down. ;) And yes, she’s as short as you think she is and a real fireball.

Most sessions have taken anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour to do. During this time, amongst the rumbles and grumbles of everyday shop talk, I’ve chit chatted about everything from the emergence of the Dodge Charger and Ford Mustang into the sport down to what local store serves the best hot dogs. If you’re ever in Charlotte for the race, Richard Petty highly recommends the dogs at Celebrity Hotdogs in Concord. Their walls hold as many autographs as our products do! And he’s right. The dogs are pretty dang good.

But I wouldn’t change all the hectic, chaotic work that has went into the project for anything! I grew up watching these guys fight it out on the track for years. Some of them were watched fighting it out off the track. But they are who have made this sport what it is today and with that said I am honored and very privileged to have worked with them all.

Peace and chicken grease my PP peeps,
Tonya Clarkston

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fall Spectacular

Aaah, fall. After 90 plus summer days of temperatures above 90 degrees, this is a long awaited time of year. This is my favorite time of the year – it’s brisk, cool and with that comes more energy and a desire to be outdoors.

I had a short time this weekend to experience up close and personal – a different kind of sport - Hot Air Balloons.

The first Hot Air Balloon flight was on June 5th, 1783 in Annonay, France by the Montgolfier brothers. (Did they play golf too?)

Fast forward 227 years . . . . . . .

My hometown hosted the 37th Annual Carolina Balloon Fest on Oct. 22 – 24, 2010. The National Balloon Rally got its start in 1974 at Aerial Ascensions in Statesville, NC. The owner at that time - invited Balloon Works customers from across the US to come to Statesville for a week of camping, flying and telling ballooning tales.

In 1978, the facility moved near Love Valley, NC – and thus began the week-long gathering of balloon enthusiasts, and local spectators. Curious about love Valley? Take a peek:

Anyway, late Friday afternoon I took a short ride up I-40 West, and like all the other cars around, in front, and in back of me – I had to pull over. There were 37 of the most awesome, and beautiful balloons – drifting right over the Interstate. More were coming! Some were low enough you could talk to Balloonist in the basket. What a color spectacular!!! What a breath taking experience.

If you’ve ever been to a Balloon Rally, you know what I mean – and it can’t really be described in words. It’s an experience. If you’ve never been to one – you just have no idea what you are missing. (Don’t think because you’ve seen “a” hot air balloon in the distance somewhere that you have an idea of what it’s all about. You don’t)

The next few Rally’s will be the Taos Mountain Balloon Rally 10/29 – 10/31 in Taos, New Mexico; Ballunar Liftoff Festival 10/29 – 10/31 Houston Texas; and Balloons Over Anderson 11/5 – 11/7 in Anderson, SC.

If these aren’t close to you, you can check the following site, and look up the schedule to hopefully find one near you:

You never know – you might find a new sport to watch.

Debbie Smith

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You Never Know...

I grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. Raleigh is the home of North Carolina State University and is the capital city of North Carolina. Athletes and coaches like Bill Cowher, Lou Holtz, Phillip Rivers, David Thompson and Jim Valvano have made their way through N.C. State. But Raleigh has also turned out some other celebrities as well. Emily Proctor (who currently stars in CSI Miami) and Sharon Lawrence (former NYPD star) are also from my hometown.

But two of the funniest people around today lived a few houses away from me. David and Amy Sedaris grew up a rock’s throw from my front door. Their older sister Lisa was my family’s babysitter. Never heard of them? Google the two of them and you’ll discover that they are both major celebrities. Amy pops up on David Letterman’s show with regularity and David is a staple on NPR. Both are playwriters.

My parents still live in the house I grew up in. Lou Sedaris (Amy and David’s Dad) still lives in the house they grew up in so our parents are still friends. Dad and Mr. Sedaris both worked together for years for IBM.

So what’s my point here? To let you know I know the Sedaris siblings? Nope…growing up I can honestly say I never in my wildest dreams would have predicted that either of them would become famous people. They just seemed like the rest of us kids. Okay that may not quite be the truth (Amy in particular was always very dramatic) but there wasn’t something that just cried out “a star is born.”

We all walk through live surrounded by extraordinary people (we ourselves may be extraordinary.) Extraordinary can be demonstrated in a number of ways but its meaning is obvious. Whether it is a famous doctor, actor or athlete they all come from somewhere. Perhaps the next Justin Bieber is hanging out at your local Mall…

I’m currently reading David’s latest book Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: a Modest Bestiary and that’s what prompted this blog. Every time I see Amy cracking up David Letterman I wonder when did it happen? When did she discover that she had “it”? Because when we were kids she was just a neighborhood kid like the rest of us. But read one of David’s books and you’ll wonder how in the world I did not notice that he was a bit different than the rest of us!

DJ Kazmierczak

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Sports Life

I love this time of year. It’s absolutely insane – for some reason life heats up to a crazy pace on October 1, but it’s worth it. Not only is does the weather improve (although I admit that I am not looking forward to the cold winter temps), but fall is the apex of the sports year.

I love sports. Not all of them equally, but I will watch just about anything on TV. It’s amazing too, when you consider the recent and not-too-recent track records of some of my favorite teams. I’ve been a Royals fan ever since I went to college – I’m dating myself, but it was 1985 and the Royals were at their peak. It’s been a long painful slide since then.

My two NFL teams are the Carolina Panthers and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are actually showing a glimmer of respectability this year, but it’s going to be a long cold winter in Charlotte.

The Charlotte Bobcats are (still) an expansion team – not much else to say about that.

I’ve had more luck with college sports…my beloved Jayhawks won the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship two years ago. They also won in ’88 when I was in college – it’s a feeling that is beyond description. The football team won the Orange Bowl in 2008. If you know anything about the history of football at Kansas, you know what an accomplishment that was. I’m not even going to talk about this year’s football team.

And then there’s NASCAR. It’s never been a sport that I followed or watched and when I started at Press Pass, I had to take a crash course in drivers, sponsors and fans. In my almost nine years here, I have come to appreciate, not just the skill and talent of the drivers, but the passion and enthusiasm of the fans. I believe that the people who buy our NASCAR trading cards are more than collectors – they are true fans of the sport and the drivers they follow.

I think that’s the best part about what we do. We help people who are already fans become even bigger fans of their sport. It’s why we have (sometimes) heated discussions in our office about who attends the National and other opportunities to talk to fans – it is an incredible feeling to find out how excited people are about the product we produce. It’s not an opportunity many companies have. Of course, the downside is when people are not happy about an experience with our product, but that is also part of the job. You listen, you learn and you make the next product better.

We love hearing from you. Keep the comments and thoughts coming – through phone calls, email, Facebook, etc. Good and bad, we want to hear from you.

Terri Rehkop

Friday, October 8, 2010


I’m sure this will shock most of you but before I came to work here at Press Pass I didn’t even know that NASCAR Trading Cards existed. I know, I know, for most of you that doesn’t make sense because you’re so passionate about NASCAR Trading Cards. Even though I lived in Charlotte, which to some is the center of the NASCAR world, I was blind to almost all things NASCAR and that included NASCAR trading cards.

I never collected trading cards myself and I didn’t know much about the trading card industry in general. I quickly learned that my husband, my father, my brother in-law and pretty much all the men in my family had their share of old shoe boxes and notebooks filled with trading cards that they collected during their youth; which I thought was pretty cool. They each had their favorite card and stories about how they got it. Listening to them talk made me realize that working for a trading card company was going to be pretty cool.

I had originally thought that the trading card industry had gone the way of eight-track tapes and pet rocks. It wasn’t until I started researching Press Pass and trading cards that I realized how alive and active the trading card industry is today. I didn’t know about all the blogs, forums and v chat sites that were solely dedicated to trading cards. It was quite an eye-opening experience and helped get me really excited for my new job.

On my first day at Press Pass I was given a box of 2008 Speedway to open. I will be honest, it was the first time I’d ever busted wax before...and it was great. I loved the rush and the excitement of not knowing what I was going to pull. I marveled at the amazing design and how the cards seemed to grab your eye. I was jumping for joy (on the inside of course) when I pulled an autograph; a Greg Zipadelli autograph which I still have at my desk and I will take with me on my future endeavors. Again I will state I didn’t know anything about NASCAR, but just the fact that I pulled an autograph I thought that was awesome. When I was done opening the box I realized how lucky I was because I had been given a new experience. It was that joy and excitement that I tried to think of every time I talked to a collector. For the last two years I talked to a lot of collectors and have truly enjoyed getting to know them and help them with their collections.

There are a lot of things that I have gained from working at Press Pass, but one of biggest things that I’ve gained is a love trading cards.

Thank you Press Pass and the Press Pass collecting community for everything over the past two years, I will miss you!

Allison Ranson

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Main Event Fight Nights

Press Pass set up the Main Event Fight Night to celebrate and promote the release of Main Event in September. I actually attended a few fight night events in the greater Chicago area. This was the fourth trip I’ve taken this year to visit stores in various parts of the country and it is easily my favorite part of my job.

I really enjoy the chance to get out and meet our fans. It is awesome to give out prizes to our fans while they’re opening packs looking for cards of their favorite driver or for a ‘hit’. I attended two Main Event Fight Nights, one at Matt’s Sports Cards in Joliet and one at Chicagoland Sportscards in Arlington Heights. Multiple rounds of prizes were given out at both locations for various criteria such as driver with the most wins or tallest driver (all based on the information on the cards you pulled in a pack).

Both events were well attended and I got to see multiple boxes of Main Event opened. I also visited a few other card stores in Indiana, Wisconsin, and in the greater Chicago area. Overall in four days I flew 1500 miles and drove another 750 miles to visit a total of seven stores in three states. I got to meet a few dozen fans NASCAR Trading Card fans.

This year I’ve also visited New Hampshire, Texas, California, and of course the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, Maryland. It was quite a fun year of meeting our great collectors throughout the country. Look for us to continue these trips in 2011.
Trevor McGregor

Here are some pictures from my trip to Chicago.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The NASCAR Trading Card Monopoly

We have a monopoly on the NASCAR trading card market. We have no competition. There isn’t another company making better NASCAR trading cards. If someone wants NASCAR trading cards, they have to buy our products. So we can just put the company on cruise control and churn out run-of-the-mill products, right? Wouldn’t that make our lives simpler?!

Earlier in the year amidst all of the discussions about the pros and cons of exclusive agreements with leagues and trading card companies, several people echoed the concern that if a company doesn’t have competition, they have no incentive to be creative and come up with new ways to excite collectors. As a Product Manager for a company that essentially has a monopoly on the NASCAR trading card market, this statement struck a chord with me, and I constantly find myself thinking about all of the reasons why that statement is wrong…and here are a few of them.

Competitiveness – I hate losing. I have to win the race off the line when the red light turns green even though the car next to me has no idea we’re racing. The term “self-motivated” is seen on résumés a lot, and to me it means “paranoid”…paranoid that somewhere out there someone is doing my job better than I am. That paranoia drives me, and as a result I want my products to be perfect, and I want you to love them. I want each release to win some sort of “Best Product in the History of Trading Cards” award, though that has yet to happen. This competitive drive is shared among many others in the office, and it keeps us on our toes and motivates us to constantly improve our business.

Customer Focus - Over the past two years, we have spent a lot of time talking to customers on the phone, through email, in focus groups, and in hobby shops. We have asked you to give us feedback on what we’re doing right and what we need to improve on. Many of you have praised our company for our customer service, and it is this customer-centric approach to our business that helps us produce products that you enjoy collecting. By focusing on what the consumer wants, rather than what another company is doing helps ensure our customers stay happy.

The Press Pass Family – Nestled a few miles north of the Queen City, Press Pass occupies roughly half of one floor of a six-story office building. There are 18 of us: Kevin, Kevin, Terri, Terri, Kristen, Kirsten, Allison, Trevor, Debbie, Lisa, Tonya, Eric, Robert, Aaron, Nick, Tom, DJ, and Jesse. None of us owns a Mercedes. We all just have one home, and $2.50 Healthy Choice meals are the preferred lunch fare. We are a family of simple, honest, hard-working, happy-go-lucky people, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Much like within a family, there is a bond between us that ties us all together. In fact, I see these people more than I see my own family. The members of this family are my incentive and motivation to produce good quality products. We all rely on each other to do our jobs and there is a sense of duty and accountability to make this company better than it was the year before. When the economy took a downturn a few years ago, I started thinking about my role in the company and how it affects everyone else. If I make a bad product, you don’t buy it. If you don’t buy it, people in my “family”, including me, may lose their job. That pressure motivates me to work harder and smarter.

Press Pass’ focus was never to become the exclusive manufacturer of NASCAR trading cards. We didn’t shell out millions of dollars to push other guys out of the sport. We didn’t undercut everyone’s prices to make them go away. We just built a business that people could rely on. We listen to our customers, and we make products that deliver value, excitement, and authenticity. Our products are our “kids”, and we love them all. However, rest assured that next year’s “kids” will be way better.

Jesse Leadbetter

Friday, September 10, 2010

“Playoffs? Playoffs!!?

As the NASCAR schedule continues with tomorrow night’s race in the smoking mecca of Richmond, it also signals the last race of the “regular season”. This is the last of the 26 races drivers can qualify for NASCAR’s version of the playoffs, “The Chase for the Cup”.

As you may recall NASCAR implemented “The Chase” back in ’04 to help drive excitement, intrigue and exposure during the end of professional sport’s longest season winds down during football season. It started with only 10 drivers qualifying for the postseason, but has since been expanded to 12 to increase the chances of popular drivers (i.e. Dale Jr.) making the field.

Personally I think 10 is the perfect number pun intended. Most lists are the “Top 10”, not 12 or 15. In college the number 10 works as The Big 10 conference has 11 teams, 12 next year, but they have kept the same moniker. X is cooler than XII, ten is easier to spell than twelve, most people have 10 toes and fingers, and, well you catch my drift.

While 12 seems a little high from a participation standpoint, it’s actually low when comparing playoffs against stick and ball sports.

With 43 drivers in the field for each race and let’s assume they are the same 43 for every race. For all intents and purposes, six to seven of the bottom 43 drivers are interchangeable. Can you tell the difference between J.J. Yeley and Michael McDowell? Using this math (12 out of 43), only 28% of drivers make the playoffs.

Consider the following sports:
NBA: 16 out of 30 teams: 53.3%
NHL: 16 out of 30 teams: 53.3%
NFL: 12 out of 32 teams: 37.5%
MLB: 8 out of 30 teams: 26.7%

Out of the so called four major sports, three (75%) have a higher qualifying percentage than NASCAR. NASCAR has floated the idea of expanding the field in future years and I for one hope it remains at 12 or decreases to the magic number of 10. I’m afraid if they expand the number, although making it closer to other sport’s participation %, it will dilute “The Chase” and will have Jim Mora proclaiming once again “Playoffs? Playoffs!!?

Kevin O’Neil

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Football Fan from the Beginning

Let me start off by saying that I love sports – all sports. I grew up in the country, and playing sports on the weekends or watching them on network television (we didn’t have cable in my community when I was a kid) was the way you filled your time. I really didn’t have much of a preference, either; baseball and basketball were my favorites, but I also enjoyed football and soccer immensely.

When I was 10 years old, my dad took me on the 30-minute drive to Knoxville, TN, and I attended my first real football game at Neyland Stadium. I’d been to see the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a preseason game in the same stadium when I was 4, but that doesn’t really count. I was too young to know what was going on and it was only an exhibition.
That Saturday, everything changed for me. As much as I enjoyed watching and playing the other sports, the electricity of the crowd that day, coupled with the speed and power of the game, led to football becoming my favorite sport to watch going forward, hands down.

As I began to follow the sport more closely, I realized how important every game was in college if you were going to have a shot at the national title, or at least a New Year’s Day bowl game. We also landed cable shortly thereafter and I began to follow my Dad’s beloved Steelers more closely and recognized again how important each win was in terms of playoff and Super Bowl aspirations at the pro level.

On top of the impressive athletes and enormous collisions, the importance of each weekend’s game was incredibly appealing to me, and that was the issue that further separated football from the other sports – where any single game was inconsequential – in my eyes.

Fast forward to today, and nothing has changed for me. I go into a funk after the Super Bowl ends, realizing that while I still have basketball and hockey to watch and although baseball is about to crank up shortly thereafter, my weekends will have a huge void for the next seven months.
I geek out over the draft in April, watch OTAs with bated breath through May and June and become giddy when training camps kick off in late July. Still, there is nothing quite like the feeling I get in early September when football returns to dominate the sports landscape. I love waking up on the Saturday before Labor Day to watch Herbie, Corso and the rest of the “GameDay” crew dissect the weekend’s games and, if possible (like last weekend), I’ll head into Knoxville and watch my Vols roll some undeserving opponent in the greatest college stadium in the country.
That’s just the appetizer, though. When the NFL returns the second weekend of September, things really get going. I’ve already made plans to watch the Steelers this Sunday, even though I’ve got some trepidation about how they’re going to perform while Dennis Dixon is under center. Every game is so important that the team has to play well over the next month – while Big Ben Roethlisberger is sidelined – if they’re going to have a shot at the postseason.

Between the college games on Saturday and the pro games on Sunday, I find it difficult to get much done this time of year. Heck, I’m having a hard time sitting here writing this. I’m ready to head to the house and get things ready for the Vikings/Saints kickoff game tonight.

That I have this much excitement and energy about a game featuring two teams in which I’m not emotionally invested just goes to show how passionate I am about this sport. It’s almost like . . . a sickness.

Yeah, a sickness! One that requires me to take the rest of the day off to, you know, “get better.”
Tailgating starts in 30 minutes. I’m outta here…

Nick Matijevich

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The NFL season is almost here!

Are you read for some football? I know I am, I love the beginning of football season. It means the beginning of fall and much better weather, it means my daughter is going back to school (she’s still young enough that likes going back to school) and it means almost every NFL fan has a chance to believe that their team can win the Super Bowl. Some teams in the NFL are clearly better than others and that also means some teams are not quite as good as others. Even with five elite teams and five rebuilding teams that leaves 22 other teams with fans all across the country excited about the possibilities for ending their season in Dallas with the Lombardi Trophy. The 2005 Steelers and 2007 Giants showed that if you make the playoffs then anything is possible including a Super Bowl win. The New York Jets almost followed the same path last year.

Like any other year in the NFL I’m excited about certain things going into the season. How will Brett Favre hold up at age 41? Will the New Orleans Saints be the first team since the New England Patriots to repeat as Super Bowl champions? Is it possible for the Indianapolis Colts to win 12 games again? Most importantly for my western Pennsylvania-based family, can Troy Polamalu stay healthy and return the Pittsburgh Steelers close to the 2008 defense as opposed to the 2009 version.

Only one week to go till the Saints open up the season at the Superdome against the Minnesota Vikings. Here’s to a great NFL season!

Trevor McGregor

Monday, August 23, 2010

Introducing Five Star

Introducing the ultimate in collectability, Press Pass raises the standard for super-premium trading cards with Five Star.

Five Star Highlights

Each 5-card Pack Includes:

One Base Card Numbered to 35 or less

One Dual, Triple, Quad, or Oversized Memorabilia Card Numbered to 25 or less

One Autograph from an Elite Driver Numbered to 35 or less

One Autograhed Memorabilia Card Numbered to 50 or less


Each pack also includes one Classic Compilations Book Card
Classic Compilations Book Card include:
Quad Autographed Memorabilia Cards

Cut Signature Memorabilia Cards
Dual Autographed Memorabilia Cards
Triple Autographed Memorabilia Cards
Autographed Premium 1 of 1 Patch Cards

Five Star is limited to an elite class of drivers. All Five Star cards are printed on exceptionally high quality, thick card stock and are accented with suberb foil treatments.

Check for more information. Press Pass Five Star releases in November.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Helping the NASCAR Foundation...One Pin at a Time!

The NASCAR Foundation announces its “Big Five” service projects and how you can help!

Last week, the NASCAR Foundation – which, for those of you who are not aware, is the charitable arm of NASCAR that embodies the compassion of the NASCAR family and its commitment to serving communities – announced that it will be organizing five keystone community service projects in five different cities throughout the U.S. as the backbone of its annual NASCAR Day event this year.

NASCAR Day, which was established in 2004 as the Foundation’s flagship community service project, is an annual celebration of the NASCAR spirit that enables fans, corporate partners and media outlets to join together to make a difference in the lives of children. Since its inception, NASCAR Day has raised over $8 million for multiple racing-associated children’s charities, including Kyle and Pattie Petty’s Victory Junction camp, the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma and the Speediatrics racing-themed pediatric units, among others.

What makes this year so unique, though, is that NASCAR Day is now going nationwide, creating awareness of children in need in five of the major racing cities throughout the U.S., including Atlanta, Daytona Beach, Fontana, Kansas City and Charlotte. This year marks the first time the NASCAR Foundation has taken on multiple service projects of this magnitude to raise awareness for children’s causes.

While the event is still trying to find its place among the millions of other charitable events associated with professional leagues, NASCAR Day has certainly come a long way since its early days. It started small, but has grown into an event of great magnitude that has had a lasting impact on the lives of the children and families it has touched for the past six years.

Annually celebrated on the third Friday in May, this year’s NASCAR Day will take place on May 21st.

Here's how you can help:

1. Purchase a collectible lapel pin for $5 by visiting:

2. If you live near one of the "Big Five" service cities, you can volunteer your time and do things like helping build a playground at the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City or renovating a room at the Aflac Caner Center in Atlanta.

3. Can’t spare $5? Then help spread the word about NASCAR Day! Call a friend who lives in one of these cities who may not be a NASCAR fan and let them know about the event, or post the link at the bottom of this post on your Facebook profile.

4. Become a fan of the NASCAR Foundation on Facebook at

To learn more about the NASCAR Foundation, NASCAR Day, and the “Big Five” community service projects, please visit