Gillette Young Guns Fantasy Game Winner

Gillette has been running a fun (and rewarding) NASCAR fantasy game this 2008 season.

The object is to pick the two best Gillette Young Gun Drivers (Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch & Clint Bowyer) along with four other drivers from two groups that you think will score you the most driver points for that week.

Segment One of the game wrapped up after the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.

Gillette Young Guns

Segment two started with the Chicagoland race.

But, since the game lets you ‘throw out’ your worst three weeks there is still time to get in the game as this weekends race is just the second week.

Plus, Gillette is giving away weekly prizes, so you can join anytime during the remainder of the 2008 NASCAR season and still be a winner.

I had the pleasure to recieve an email from the segment one winner a week before that segment ended. His name is Jon Rodgers and he lives in New Jersey.

Jon is a friendly, easy guy to like.

As he shared with me the stress and excitement of winning the Gillette Young Guns game with his team, “AMOZONS”, I knew I wanted him to share his story with you as well.

Q: The Gillette Young Guns game site says you won:

  • 4-day/3-night trip for you and 3 guests to your choice of city in Florida including round-trip air transportation.
  • Hotel accommodations.
  • $500 spending money.
  • 42″ plasma television.
  • Home theater system.
  • Blu-ray DVD system.
  • Xbox.

That’s a pretty sweet prize package! Is that what you are getting?

Jon: I am sure that is what I will get. I would like to have been able to tell you things like the brand name of the TV and how much I have been enjoying everything but unfortunately it takes 8-10 weeks to deliver my prizes and that is after all the paper work is complete and I have filled out and returned the affidavit. So I have not received my prizes yet.

Q: Ahh, more waiting hunh? Well, where do you plan to go in Florida, and what do you plan to do on the Grand Prize trip?

Jon: I am going to Daytona Beach in February of 2009 so that I can go to the Daytona 500.

I have been to Daytona Beach once before and it is where I had the best vacation of my life. So I knew right away which city I would go to but then a family member reminded me of driving right by the Daytona race track when we were there and how we had said too bad it was not race season or we could go see a race.

Then they suggested that we wait until the February race to take the vacation so that we could go to the Daytona 500 while we were there, and my eye’s lit up as I knew that was going to be the plan.

How better then to spend the vacation I won playing the Gillette Young Guns challenge then to go see next years Daytona 500? I feel as I am giving something back to the people who got me there.

Q: Have you won other fantasy NASCAR games or is this the first?

Jon: No, I have never won anything playing fantasy NASCAR games.

I have only been playing fantasy NASCAR games for a few years now as there really has not been the same amount of options as there is to play the fantasy games from other sports.

I will tell you that I have been playing all kinds of fantasy games for many years now and have never won anything close to this.

Q: So there is hope for the rest of us to maybe win someday too? How long have you been a NASCAR fan?

Jon: Since about the mid 80’s.

What first got me into racing of any kind was the fact that I have lived in New Jersey my whole life I was not even a teenager yet in the very early 80’s and there used to be (and it still is played today) a radio advertisement where you would hear this crazy laugh and then a voice screaming “Raceway Park” followed by what ever that weeks attraction was by this unforgettable obnoxious voice.

Well, that was an advertisement for Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey which was and is still known for funny car races. There in lay’s the “funny” advertisement.

So ever since my parents took me to see that I have always been interested in racing.

I used to watch the IROC races in the 80’s and I am right now restoring the 1986 Camaro Z28 that my parents bought when it first came out. It has just under 90,000 original miles on it. I hope to have it fully restored by it’s twenty fifth anniversary.

I remember the day we drove it home and now I am thinking about the time when I can have antique licence plates on it. WOW.

Q: So, do you have a favorite driver or team or track?

Jon: It is weird, in every sport I am a true fanatic and live and die with my favorite teams but in NASCAR I like too many of the guys to pick a favorite.

I will say that if I had to pick one, because of his dad and the way he carries himself, I would say Dale Earnhardt Jr..

But, unlike so many fans who love some and hate some I can truly say that I do not dislike anyone and do not root for a specific team as well.

I may lose some fans right now but I like Kyle Busch and think what he is doing is unbelievable.

I do not have a favorite track, but I can tell you that I do not enjoy the road races as much so I would have to say the two road tracks are my least favorite.

Q: How about the Gillette Young Gun drivers? Who is your favorite out of them?

Jon: I like them all, but if you put me on the spot, I will say Denny Hamlin.

Q: How many fantasy NASCAR games are you playing this season?

Jon: I am playing three full-lineup, full-season fantasy NASCAR games this year. Plus, a bunch of the week-to-week games that you find on the Internet and of course the Gillette Young Guns challenge.

Q: How much time do you spend each week deciding who your picks will be?

Jon: That depends on many things like, which week it is, where the race is and so on.

There have been week’s that it only took about five minutes to decide who to play. Then, there were a few weeks that it took me days to decide who to put in, or who to leave in, as I have changed my team as many as ten times in a week.

Q: I’ve got to ask this. Did you use the statistics presented on the Gillette Young Guns website to help make your picks or just go with your gut?

Jon: Yes. I looked over them statistics every week because they are right there.

For the most part I do not go by statistics as anyone can win any race but it helps a lot when trying to decide between two drivers.

Q: How long were you in the lead on the Gillette Young Guns game?

Jon: I was tied with six others for the highest weekly score with 972 points for week 14 (Pocono).

I lost the weekly first prize due to the tie breaker method but that is when I got my team into first place and I stayed there all the way until it was over.

What was the biggest help was that I had my worst score for that CRAZY week 17 (New Hampshire) race but because my lowest score of the season up until that race was 668 points I did not have to use that week 17 score as one of my 15 best.

Q: At what point in the game did you realize that “Hey, I might win this thing!”?

Jon: It must have been around week 13 (Dover) when I got up to third place that I thought I had somewhat of a chance.

But, in my heart it was not until the last 2 races that I started to believe with a lot of luck that this dream may really be coming true.

Q: That must have been a crazy two-week wait. Just how tough was your competition?

Jon: Very very tough!!!

I know that there are people playing this game that know way more then me and could teach me a thing or two about NASCAR racing.

As well, there are some I am sure who just were taking a shot. I realized before I ever put my first lineup in, that there were going to be some players who really know the sport.

Q: So did you study your competition and try to anticipate how they would set their roster? Did you try to play conservative, aggressive, or just ignore them and play your own game?

Jon: I never cared about what any one else was doing.

I went to the site and tried to put the team that would score the most points in. At the end I almost went to see who the few players right behind me had in, but I realized if I looked and that changed my line up and I did not win, I would have a hard time living with that decision so I NEVER looked to see who any other player had in.

Now once the deadline had past for week 17 and 18, I did go see who my closest competition did have in. That was so when I was watching the race I would have a better idea of how I was doing, but I learned very young that in sports if you are out front, you are in control of your own destiny.

Q: That’s a great strategy, but how crazy was it knowing that you could make a wrong pick and get knocked out of first place?


I drove myself crazy every minute that I was awake for about three weeks.

No matter what I was doing I always had the challenge on my mind. It seemed like years. When it was over I just sat back and smiled as I am SO HAPPY THAT IT IS OVER!!!

Oh, and so is my family!!!

Q: You made it stressful on them too, hunh? So tell us, how did you celebrate winning?

Jon: The real celebration was in my head.

Once it went final I was able to think about other things again. I was able to concentrate on life and take a deep breath and relax. I got my small, very close family together and just had a nice time.

Q: Well, congratulations Jon. So, are you going to win segment #2 also?

Jon: HAHAHAHAHHA. Great question. Let me put it this way, I am going to try just as hard, but I know the odds are stacked against me and I am not the person who would ever answer that question by saying yes, but you also will not ever find me saying…No!!!

Q: Did I miss anything else you want to cover?

Jon: Well, I want to thank the best family in the whole world for putting up with me and supporting me at the same time. All the hours, time and effort that I put into this was never for me, it was for my family.

So to Mom, Dad, Harry, Carry & Aunt Dona THIS ONE’S FOR YOU !!!!!! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I love you and GOD BLESS YOU ALL. Thanks to Proctor and Gamble and to Gillette for running the Gillette Young Guns challenge.

Thank you to everyone who played and is playing in the Young Guns challenge. I know if it were not for you there could be no winner.

Thanks to everyone who made it possible. Thank you to and to

Thank you Darren for this interview and for all that you have done for so many. Thank you and GOD bless.