I’m playing DraftKings this season and will be posting my picks here each week. Disclosure: If you want to play and sign up using this link, DraftKings will give my website a commission. Disclosure No. 2: I might be America’s worst daily fantasy player.
Last week’s results: Played the $0 entry Daily Free Contest with $250 payout (because of Arizona gambling restrictions) and finished around 1,800th out of 18,000. Not bad, but still won $0.
Season results: $1 wagered, $0 won in four contests.
This week’s contest: I’m in a state where I can play DraftKings again, so I’m making up for lost time by playing the $4 entry “Pedal to the Metal” contest that pays $50,000 to first and $300,000 in total prizes. Yes, please! I also entered the free $10,000 contest DraftKings is running this week because why not? It’s free.
This week’s picks:
— Joey Logano ($10,300). He didn’t get out to qualify because his car had trouble getting through inspection, so there’s massive upside for a driver starting 35th.
— Jimmie Johnson ($9,800). After wrecking in practice, Johnson had to go to a backup car and didn’t even attempt to qualify. That means last year’s winner is starting 37th. I’m not going to pass that up.
— Erik Jones ($7,700). Fastest in the first practice on Saturday and fastest for 15-lap average for both practice sessions (according to FOX, since NASCAR does not release those numbers). I’ve had him on my team almost every week, and there’s no reason to stop now.
— Jamie McMurray ($7,500). Those Chip Ganassi Racing cars are red-hot lately, and McMurray was second-fastest in 10-lap averages for final practice. You gotta ride the momentum, right?
— Austin Dillon ($7,300). Dillon was my last pick here, but my salary cap dictated I decide between drivers like him and Aric Almirola, I lean slightly his direction, though I’m a little shaky on the pick.
— Trevor Bayne ($7,200). I picked him for exactly one reason: He didn’t get to qualify and has to start 36th. I feel like the positions he could make up during the race will offset what could be a mediocre finish.
This week’s Social Spotlight interview focuses on the always-entertaining Spencer Gallagher of GMS Racing. You can follow him on Twitter @23SpeedRacer.
It seems like you choose your spots when you tweet. Sometimes, you only tweet every few days but try to unleash a gem. Is that your basic strategy?
I’m all about quality over quantity, you know? Twitter is full of enough noise as it is, so I try not to add too much to that. If I’ve got something valuable to say, I’ll say it. But I just try not to let people know what my breakfast was every single morning. I find most people find that boring. So I’m the kind of guy that tries to focus on having a real thought. When I have something to contribute to the conversation, that’s when I speak up.
So are you not on Twitter all the time? Or do you look at it and decide not to chime in?
I check somewhat sporadically, but I will say I’ve gotten more frequent with its updates. It really is my source of NASCAR news. So I get on there and I check it, but you know, opinions are kind of like elbows — everyone has them and they’re all really awkward. (Laughs) You like that that was a good modification, wasn’t it?
Yeah, you really saved that there.
Thought I was going somewhere else with that, didn’t you?
We could have bleeped it out if you needed me to.
That’s actually a good idea. What the hell am I saying? You run your own independent site; you can do whatever you want right now, right?
But I try to check often. Whenever I feel my opinion is going to be valuable on a subject or I can contribute some insight, that’s when I try to chime in. I don’t need to tell everyone what’s on my mind at all times, because usually it’s as much nonsense as the rest of ‘em.
What type of reaction do you typically get from your Twitter followers? Do you read all your replies?
I do. I try to go through every single one of my replies and give back to the fans. That’s the real strength of Twitter. That’s why I like it a lot as a platform — it lets you have a direct connection to the people who are putting their butts in seats to go watch you race around on a Saturday. So that’s something I like to do.
Everyone loves seeing that little notification come up. That’s that little hit of dopamine in the arm, when you see that notification come on that someone has touched one of your tweets in some way. It’s really cool. That’s why I like it — it lets you talk to the fans in a very direct way. I think that’s a really cool thing.
That’s a very good analogy. You get that little notification and you’re like, “Ooh, somebody wrote back!”
It is, man! Honestly, that’s why I try to kind of limit my social media usage a little bit, because I see people getting sucked into that a whole lot, and I think it can be a very addicting process. That’s a little piece of noise that sometimes I try to keep out of my life a little bit, but it’s a very valuable thing, and you’ve got to have it. But no lie: Whenever you get that little notification, whenever that little red circle comes up, it’s like, “Ooh! Piece of candy! What have I got now?”
So how do you deal with the negative side of it? Do you have haters? Do people take shots at you sometimes?
Oh God, yeah. Listen — if you’re going to be in the public eye, there’s going to be someone out there that doesn’t like what you’re doing. But I’ll be honest, my way of dealing with it? I remind myself tomorrow I’m going to wake up and drive a race car and they’re not. That’s how I avoid getting too mad about it.
If you get mad on the internet, you lose. So I’ve developed a couple strategies for being very zen about my interactions. Everybody is always going to have an opinion and not everybody is going to like you, and that’s life. But at the end of the day, I still get to do what I love. So how much am I going to let their opinion affect me?
Do you ever go with the block button?
Honestly, no. Because most times, I make it an exercise to find the entertainment in someone like that. That’s my way of helping myself stay zen. If it’s getting really out of hand, then yeah, the hell with you; I don’t need to hear from you anymore. Honestly, most times, I get a laugh out of it.
Do you ever mute people, particularly those who you follow but don’t want to offend by unfollowing?
I think if the mute function had been around when I was following Kenny Wallace, it might have gone onto him. But no, honestly. If I don’t have the inclination to see what you have to say, I don’t need to follow you. I don’t care about hurting feelings that way.
Let’s talk about some other platforms. Do you not have Instagram at all?
I keep that one pretty private. I like to keep a couple platforms just for friends and family. I think that helps you create more meaningful moments and more intimate conversations with the people around you. I do post some public stuff to Instagram here and there, but that’s something I try to keep between my friends and family and my close circle.
Do you treat Facebook the same way?
Yeah, I’ve got an alternate Facebook account (to his fan page). I post sometimes to the public one, but Facebook is the social media platform of record, if you will. So that’s somewhere where I like to be at home, in my loafers — not out in the public eye, so to speak.
I get that not everyone likes that. People love overexposure, but that’s something I really do try to avoid in my life. I like to keep my public things public and my private things private. But don’t get me wrong: It’s a great platform for communicating with your fans. But I think a lot of drivers do that, because honestly, dude, you don’t know how many random requests and, frankly, creepy things get sent over Facebook. I think a lot of drivers keep alternate, private profiles — whether they’re willing to admit it or not.
Like on Facebook, even if you’re not friends with someone, they can slide into your DMs, essentially. You might not look at your messages every day, but you look at it eventually and you’re like, “Whoa!”
Yeah, “Who the hell are you?” Facebook can be a real deluge of people trying to get in contact with you. And a lot of it, you need to reply back to, because it’s a fan legitimately and earnestly reaching out for some communication — and a lot of times, all they want is a card, so I try to get that sent out whenever possible. Some people are a little more obsessive, and that is when they go in the trash bin. But hey, that’s the nature of what we do. You’re a public figure. You’re going to get that kind of exposure.
Where does Snapchat fit into that for you?
Snapchat is friends and family right now. I’ve considered making it public — I’ve gone back and forth on it. I’m really more of a passive Snapchat user; I just love seeing what my friends are doing at any given time. And I do love recording some moments and sending it out.
But as a person, I’m a very in-the-moment kind of guy. I go to a concert and I see all these people holding their phones up, recording, and I’m like, “What the hell are you doing?” You’re missing the whole show because you’re looking at a screen. As much of a nerd as I am, I’m really kind of a technophobe. It’s weird — I know that’s a contradiction — but I’m someone who believes this is a short life and our number of experiences in it are limited, so I try not to experience it through a screen when possible.
I’m making up terms here, but essentially you’re a “soaker” — you want to soak everything up — instead of a “sharer,” where you think, “I want to show this through my phone and share everything that’s going on.”
Yeah. And you know, I don’t want to pass value judgments, but I see a lot of people getting sucked into their screens. I just try to be present in the moment, man. That’s just me.
If you keep parts of yourself off limits, does it create more interest in you? Because you’re not completely out there as much to where people are like, “Yeah, we get it.”
I think it certainly could. When you never shut up about yourself on social media, eventually people get tired. You kind of said it right: It’s supply and demand. When you oversaturate people with information from yourself, you can turn them off. That’s why I try to keep my postings to things I think are valuable and insightful. Because when I speak, I want my voice to be something that provides clarity, something that provides a laugh or entertainment. It’s easy to ruin that by sharing too much. It’s easy to ruin that by oversaturating the people that are listening.
As you’ve moved up to Xfinity, I feel like you’re getting more TV exposure. Are you seeing a rise in your replies and more people trying to interact with you?
Definitely. The other week, I was on Twitter and I posted something and it instantly got like 10 retweets and I said, “Oh my gosh. Well, would you look at that? I actually have a little following. That’s nice!” It’s one of those humbling things that comes along with rising in the ranks, that people are really looking and listening to what you’re saying — which is again another reason to make sure what I say is valuable.
How much do you get in trouble — if ever — for your tweets? Do you ever get slapped on the hand like, “Spencer, you shouldn’t have tweeted that” from your family or PR people? For example: My mom doesn’t like it when I retweet drivers’ curse words from the radio.
I’ve been lucky enough that recently, I haven’t been slapped on the hand for any of my social media escapades. There was a time there when I was, dare say, a little more adventurous. Certain people in the room (his PR people) recall an incident involving me saying something about Tony Stewart covered in chocolate sauce wearing a banana hammock. (PR people laugh nervously)
But no, I’ve kind of learned where the line is and isn’t. And if I think there’s some fun to be had on the other side of it, I ain’t scared of it. But that’s one of those things you save for few and far between.
So would it take to get you to do some public Snapchatting?
Actually, I have to say, I feel a little guilty about not using my Snapchat more publicly, because I’ve got a pair of the Spectacles that were gifted to me.
Oh my God, what a waste!
I know, I know. Hate me, hate me. I don’t blame you. But I really need to start incorporating those more. It’s just one of those things: I leave them on my desk and I forget about them. But they’re so cool when I use them. I really need to start getting more (snaps) out. And Snapchat is a great platform for that, honestly. They’re cool, little disposable snippets of life that you can share. So you’re right: Guilt me into it, everybody. I need the encouragement.
You seem like an old soul, but you’re still a Millennial, and they say Millennials are down on Twitter and less of them are using it. Do you think there’s a future for Twitter still? And what’s the future for social media overall?
I guess I am an old soul, apparently. I rather enjoy Twitter still. I find it an informative, instant platform. It’s a great platform for news, for public conversations, for people to air their thoughts out in a very public way. I like the openness it has. I hope it’s got a future. Apparently the Silicon Valley class to disagree a little bit, but I’ll hope against hope that it keeps going.
As far as the future is concerned, Snapchat is trying to get on strong, but man, Instagram is trying to steal their thunder real hard (with stories). It’s becoming more and more difficult to deal with the juggernaut that is Facebook, if you will.
I think you’re going to see a continued evolution toward more integrated messaging. There was a grand experiment in network design that really Twitter sort of founded where everybody wants things public, right? I sort of see a little bit of a reversal of that trend; people are trying to bring it in, make it more private circles, more intimate content. I think that’s kind of what Snapchat is bringing along, and Instagram, to a certain extent.
Why do you use the @23speedracer name? Did someone already have your name, or did you just think that was cool?
Apparently there’s a Spencer Gallagher that’s in the technology industry over in the U.K. I never have contacted him; I really should. We should have a Spencer Gallagher meet-up. Once I saw that wasn’t available, I’ve always like the “Speed Racer” moniker. It speaks to me a little bit, just my career and how I’ve come to be here. So I took it and ran with it. 23SpeedRacer — it’s distinctive and it’s as good as any name, so use it.
My No. 13 pick was eliminated last week, so that wasn’t a surprise. But it was a surprise how it happened — at least to me — proving you never know when someone is going to get the boot.
Here’s how I see the players with the best chances to win Survivor: Game Changers headed into Week 3.
1. Brad (last week: 16). Bravo, Culpepper. From worst to first in two weeks. He seems like a completely different player and made a great move to manipulate Tai into voting off his closest ally.
2. Zeke (Last week: 2). He hasn’t really done anything yet to earn this spot, but I’m trying to maintain some consistency with my rankings (despite my Culpepper pick).
3. Troyzan (Last week: 4). Loving Troyzan this season and his idol snatch at the immunity challenge was an awesome moment. I know he doesn’t have the numbers right now, but this might buy him time until another swap.
4. Varner (Last week: 3). Still liking his position, and he needs to continue to let the bigger targets take each other out.
5. Hali (Last week: 10). Giving her some props here because I had her ranked 18th to start the season. She made a great argument at tribal and showed she really understands the game, though I recognize she currently is in a very bad spot on her tribe.
6. Cirie (Last week: 6). As much of a threat as she is, it seems like other people aren’t talking about her at the moment. That could buy her some time.
7. Andrea (Last week: 3). She got labeled as a liar by Troyzan (which was accurate), and that might hurt her. But she’s still in a decent position for now.
8. Sierra (Last week: 7). People aren’t going to come after her as long as there are more visible threats, so I’m starting to think she can make the merge.
9. Aubrey (Last week: 11). For as much talk about big players as there’s been — and she is one — people seem to be sort of looking at others before her.
10. Debbie (Last week: 15). She’s slowly moving up after starting the season 19th here. Yet another person who has changed their style early in this season.
11. Michaela (Last week: 14). She rebounded from a sloppy first episode, so maybe there’s still some hope.
12. Sarah (Last week: 9). It doesn’t seem like she’s on the radar for any reason, so I’m not sure that’s a good sign for a winner.
13. Malcolm (Last week: 5). With the loss of two meat shields right away, it’s time to start worrying about Malcolm. He simply won’t have cover for much longer, and they’ll be coming for him soon as a major threat.
14. Ozzy (Last week: 10). As soon as I heard him say he was going to have to take a leadership role on his new tribe, I knew he was in trouble.
15. J.T. (Last week: 12). Yeah, so great job with the whole stranding your tribe on the raft — that was a good little play — but now everyone knows he’s a schemer and is sneaky. Not exactly a long-term trust play.
16. Sandra (Last week: 18). She only moves up a spot because Tai played so bad. She’s a huge threat and won’t make the merge.
17. Tai (Last week: 17). Tai, Tai, Tai. Oh man. Brad totally talked him out of sticking with Caleb, showing once again how easily he can be manipulated. For as great of a human as he is, he’s not a great strategist on Survivor.
The 12 Questions interview series continues with Phoenix race winner Ryan Newman, who spoke with me earlier this month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
1. How much of your success is based on natural ability and how much has come from working at it?
50-50. I guess you want to me to elaborate.
If you don’t mind.
I think you have to have a natural ability, otherwise you just aren’t ever going to get it. It’s no different than any other sport or any other pastime or any other job. But at the same time, in order to be as good as other people, you have to work at it. And that all depends on how gifted you are from the beginning. So the most gifted don’t have to work at it as much.
2. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have all retired in the last couple years —
Carl didn’t retire. He has not said the ‘R’ word.
He’s gone for now.
When you quit, you stop. Which means you might come back. So he hasn’t retired.
So let me rephrase this. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards are not here —
Correct. Even though I just saw Jeff in the bus lot.
OK, let me try this again. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards might be here, but —
They’re not driving. They aren’t driving this weekend.
They might be driving a rental car though, to you use your logic.
They aren’t driving a race car. They aren’t competing on the racetrack this weekend.
OK, that’s fair. What’s your pitch for fans of theirs to become fans of yours?
There is no pitch. You either enjoy racing and you like to watch a good race and you pull for the winner, or you don’t. That’s how Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and Carl gained their fans. It wasn’t because they just combed their hair a certain way. Really, it’s not. It’s about who you are and how you win.
3. What is the hardest part of your job away from the racetrack?
It’s a loaded question, because the “hardest” can be the hardest physically or the hardest mentally. To me, it’s more about all the other things that go along with it. As much as I looked forward to signing my first autographs when I started at Penske, it’s not that I hate it now, it’s just that I dislike it. It’s just too redundant; I don’t like redundancy. So I’d say probably redundancy in what I do is probably the thing I dislike the most.
4. A fan spots you eating dinner in a nice restaurant. Should they come over for an autograph or no?
After I’m done eating, absolutely. That’s what it’s all about. But I enjoy my meal just like they do and don’t want to be interrupted.
So if you have food on your plate, come back a little later.
Right, yeah. There’s a lot of people that get it and there’s a lot of people that don’t get it. And the ones that get it, we appreciate.
5. What’s a story in NASCAR that doesn’t get enough coverage?
I would have to say the depth of what it takes to put on a race. So you talk about the cars, you talk about the spoilers, you talk about the aero package or the restrictor plate or whatever else, but you don’t talk about everything that goes into making it happen — every facet of our shop, the people, what goes into it. It’s more than just a race car showing up on a hauler and 15 guys making it happen. I think that depth is always lost and will probably be always lost to the extent that it needs to be detailed.
6. Who is the last driver you texted?
I think it was Stewart.
Does he still count as a driver? You might dispute that logic.
He’s still a driver. He drives.
He’s not a NASCAR race car driver.
No, you said driver. You didn’t say (NASCAR).
See, right there — Monday. (Newman shows a racing cartoon they texted. It’s a picture of a small desert island and one of the guys has a sprint car. The caption says, “Almost every other guy I know would have built a boat.”)
7. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers?
Yeah. I think the byproduct of what we do is entertainment; therefore, we are entertainers. I don’t think it’s our intention to go out and be an entertainer.
I like your logical approach to these answers. You just break it down very precisely.
Well that’s what questions are for — logical approaches.
8. What is your middle finger policy on the racetrack?
I use it when necessary.
How often is necessary?
I’m still confused on if you get penalized for it or not. I think it has to be direct. Is that the rule now? Maybe you can clarify.
I don’t think you can get penalized for using your middle finger on the track. If you use it outside the car, I bet they might say something.
You’re still flipping it out the window, so you’re broadcasting it. If you’re flipping off the official, then…
Well, the official, yeah.
Either way, it’s still in the car. There’s a little gray area in there still. They leave it open to potential income.
So if you got some clarification on the rule, you might use it more often.
I don’t like to use it, so…but yes. I would at least like to know what it wouldn’t cost me.
9. Some drivers keep a payback list in their minds. Do you also have a list for drivers who have done you a favor on the track?
Oh yeah. I mean, that list is way shorter than the other list, but yeah. I remember watching races, when Stewart won his championship there at Homestead, it just seemed like everybody was like, “Go for it, man — it’s all you.” Not to say that was wrong, but there’s times when it definitely looks like your payment comes back to you all at once.
10. Who is the most famous person you’ve had dinner with?
I don’t know. My wife. (Laughs)
11. What’s something about yourself you’d like to improve?
That’s a real good question. I would have to say if I could control my own social media without getting in trouble for controlling my own social media, that would be good.
You’re looking at Traci (Hultzapple), your PR rep.
(To Traci) Right? I mean, you’d like that, but then you wouldn’t like that.
12. The last interview was with Dale Earnhardt Jr., and his question is: “Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?”
Punchable, as in you just want to punch them in the suckhole? I think the majority — and when I say majority, I mean the fans — would say Kyle Busch.
Would you like to punch Kyle in the face?
I have no reason to punch him in the face, but I think if you just go off the majority, then he’s the one.
The next interview is with AJ Allmendinger. Do you have a question I can ask AJ?
AJ, if you could build a racetrack — either a road course or an oval — what would the ideal racetrack be in your mind?
But now I’m getting a lot of tweets along the lines of: “Hey, that was funny, but we actually do want hats. When are the hats coming?” On top of that, no less than nine people (some very reputable!) have already reached out in the last 24 hours with offers to help me create and produce hats.
That’s all very nice, and I’m certain many of you are serious that you would actually buy JeffGluck.com hats. Super cool of you to be so supportive!
But here’s the thing: I don’t feel totally comfortable with selling hats. Or T-shirts. Or any merchandise, for that matter.
Look, I’m absolutely THRILLED people are so pumped about my new adventure, and it’s going amazingly well so far. At the same time, though, I’m still a journalist covering your favorite sport; I’m not in the sport.
As a media member, I’m supposed to be a go-between linking you with the drivers, so you can find out more information about them and get insight into their personalities. My job is to observe the show, not to be part of it.
I know at times that line has been blurred — especially after the Las Vegas fight video put me in a brief spotlight — but the mission with this site remains a journalistic one more than a business one. I want to have fun with you while watching everything unfold together.
So for now — and I say this despite much respect and appreciation for your wishes — there aren’t going to be any hats. I don’t want to rule out merchandise at some point in the future, but we’re only two months into this whole thing and I want to keep building the website/podcast in a respectable way — not cheapening it with JeffGluck.com coffee mugs and keychains.