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Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Briscoe, Allmendinger take us for a ride


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I'm pretty sure Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe said I was a great writer. I'm pretty sure Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger said I was a combination of Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

You be the judge. Here's what they said when asked what they took away from Monday's media go-kart challenge in which the Penske Racing drivers were team captains for five hapless scribes and one IndyCar rep:

Ryan Briscoe
Two days after celebrating winning the pole for the Indianapolis 500, Ryan Briscoe was racing go-karts with the media in Charlotte.

"That maybe journalists can stick to journalism and drivers can stick to driving," Briscoe told me after I finished fourth out of six karts at Victory Lane Karting.

"That you've just got to get to a gym more," said Allmendinger after I complained that winner Nate Ryan of USA Today was 50 pounds lighter. "My dad does that to me, too. He says, 'Well, you're lighter.' Well, work out more. You can fix that yourself."

OK, after considering more carefully, I'm pretty sure they weren't trying to get on my good side.

And I think by that "dad" reference Dinger called me old, too.

It is true that I'm like Stewart in that I may need to lose some weight and that I don't get to the gym much more than NASCAR's most popular driver. It's also true that my writing skills outweigh my driving skills, although Kyle Busch might disagree judging by his "this is trash" comment earlier this season.

But the more important question: What did I get out of this test of man versus machine? A test, by the way, that was won by Team Briscoe despite my derriere, which fit tighter in the kart seat than most, thanks to a super-fast and super-light teammate in Ryan -- as in Nate, not Briscoe.

The top 10 things I learned:

• That it's more prestigious to win the pole for the Indianapolis 500 than for the Showdown for the Sprint All-Star weekend. Sorry, Dinger, not even close.

• That Allmendinger apparently doesn't want me to write good things about him. On the first restart -- which became necessary because Jenna Fryer of The Associated Press took off waaay before the green dropped -- Dinger told Jeff Gluck of SB Nation to pass me quickly because my kart would take off slow due to excess weight. And did I mention he's ruthless? He made Briscoe's wife, ESPN's Nicole Briscoe, his first selection of the media draft. "I think I'm in Briscoe's head a little bit," Dinger said.

• That the Australian-born Briscoe does a pretty bad Southern accent imitation, at least the one where he mocked NASCAR drivers and their terminology while Dinger was coaching his team with constructive criticism.

• That clean air and downforce don't matter in go-karts, particularly when you have another kart beating the heck out of your back bumper.

• That Nicole Briscoe looks better in Ryan's helmet than he does. Still waiting to see if Ryan looks better in Nicole's 6-inch stilettos she wore to the White House.

• That even in karts sometimes you have to go slower to go faster. Never quite figured out how to handle a couple of those hairpin turns, losing way too much speed sliding my fat rear end around.

• That wrecking really is more entertaining than long green-flag runs. Most fun I had all day was sending Fryer into the wall during practice.

• That restarts really are the craziest part of the race. There were more people trying to be Kyle Busch on the first three turns than the rest of the 10-lap race.

• That I have worse helmet hair than Kurt Busch.

• That Roger Penske probably won't be calling if he decides to add another Sprint Cup or IndyCar team to his stable, and that journalists really should stick to journalism and drivers to driving.