NASCAR Insider Recounts Ingenious Idea That Helped Drivers Flaunt “More Personality”

Published 12/09/2023, 10:19 AM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

It is a demanding job to be a NASCAR driver. Putting in the hard yards with the hope of showering oneself with glory is the dream. At the end of the day, it is a competitive sport and only the winners get to tell their story and be heard by the fans and audience alike. At least that was the case for most of the drivers until motorsports journalist Jeff Gluck came in and changed the game forever.

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The Athletic Motorsports reporter has given the majority of his career to covering NASCAR and has seen the highest of highs and lowest of lows. With a perspective of getting to know the human aspect of the racers and getting to know more about their real personalities, he has done some of the best work to this date by any motorsports journalist. His 12-question interview column certainly sets him apart from the rest which ultimately fueled his rise as the most trusted and renowned NASCAR reporter.

Jeff Gluck explains how he came up with the idea of a 12-question interview

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The Former NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace recently invited Jeff to his ‘The Kenny Conversation’ podcast and they two took a stroll down memory lane. They talked about Jeff’s initial days as the NASCAR reporter as Wallace dived deeper to know his approach behind the 12-question interview piece.

Telling the story of how it all started, Gluck said, “I was working for SB Nation in 2010, [before that] I was working for NASCAR scene, NASCAR scene shut down, so I went to this blog site SB Nation and they said ‘we don’t know anything about NASCAR. Do whatever you want but get people reading’.”

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“At that time, it was the top 12 in points that made the playoffs. So I said why don’t I do something where I do 12 questions with all the drivers outside the top 12? Because we don’t get to hear from them that much.”

“I did this thing called ’12 out of 12′ originally, and then realized that, number one, that changes all the time during the season. And number two, I was running out of drivers pretty quickly, because I had to do a full season. So by next year, I was like all right now it’s just 12 questions. My goal was to… ask the questions that were never asked before. I was like… how can I get these guys to show personality? Let’s find out more about them, but not in the same way we always hear the same stuff.”

With this new opportunity, Jeff truly made the most of it. Not only did he shed light on drivers’ personalities but more importantly, a new story and chapter cropped up every time he interviewed the drivers, which made the whole NASCAR sport inclusive.

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Jeff Gluck never intended to start “Was it a good race” poll

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Apart from the famous 12 questions, Jeff also is very well known for his ‘Was it a good race’ poll on X. It all started back in 2016 but over the years it has become a bridge for NASCAR fans to express this unfiltered opinion online.

Stating his initial efforts, Jeff clarified, “It was 2016 and NASCAR was trying their new packages. It was a lower downforce package. They said we’re trying this so that we can improve racing at intermediates. So I just thought after the race why don’t I just ask people, was it good, did you like it, did it work?

“Maybe next week was Vegas or something and I just thought, well why don’t I ask it again and then compare it and so I asked it again. Like seriously, that was all it was at the time. I never had intentions of I’m going to start this thing and I’m going to do it for you know, seven years. It’s all about entertainment and all about the fans so that is my question.”

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The famed NASCAR journalist is now plying his trade at the Athletic, and the good old pattern that worked its charm years ago still does the trick today. His rather simple yet effective approach has helped him connect with fans, a prospect that is perhaps over thought and complicated these days.

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Written by:

Chintan Devgania

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One take at a time

It was the Fast & Furious movies that acted as my gateway to the world of cars and motorsports. Later, as I completed my undergrad in Journalism, I learned how to channel my thoughts and opinions, which only helped me kick-start my career as a sportswriter. Right now, I am looking to expand and contribute at EssentiallySports as a NASCAR writer, Informing, enlightening, and entertaining the fans with my stories.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh

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