What a drama filled race weekend both for Tony Stewart and the #14 Team and for NASCAR in general. There is A LOT to talk about for Daytona- so let’s get right to it. Tony qualified 2nd. YES 2nd! I was so stoked because from what I could tell at work, his practice just seemed mediocre. As a Tony fan, I know he doesn’t always qualify well- so any front row qualifying effort means that the car is on rails to me and the field better watch out! I was stoked! Then I checked my FaceBook a little later on Friday and I saw an esoteric status update one of my “Smoke” friends posted that made me think “uh-oh” so I logged into Twitter and that is when I got the full information. Because of a uncapped cockpit air hose, Tony’s qualifying was disqualified and he would be lining up 42nd in a field of 43. I literally banged my head on my desk and yelled ARG I KNEW IT WAS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Luckily for me- there was no one around when I did it because I even did it with my office door open.
I always tend to watch restrictor plate races through my fingers anyway because they tend to be the type of races that when the cars wreck- they wreck BIG. The only time I wouldn’t worry too much is if my driver was in the first row- anything after that I worry my driver will get caught in “the big one.” I was sure that the race was going to be yet another disappointing race for us. I posted on Facebook that missing the hose cap was a “devastating” mistake by the team and one of my favorite Smoke friends posted this comment as a reply: “Maybe he’ll come back like a beast with an f*ck you attitude and win it. Worst to first…it HAS been done!”
I shouldn’t have doubted it (at the time I did- I thought- wow that is optimism at it’s best).
By the time the pre-race show rolled around I had it on but was really only half listening to it while I tied up other chores so I could sit down and enjoy me some racing when the time came. Then I got a text from Misty (who was traveling and by my best guess was somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Arizona) that broke the AJ Allmendinger news that he had been temporarily suspending for failing a drug test (she has sirius radio). Then like minutes later they were talking about it on the pre-race show and Misty was calling me because she literally WAS in the middle of nowhere and didn’t think her texts were getting out! (I will have more to say about the Allmendinger situation in a later post). There was also a lot of confusion on twitter on whether or not Kevin Harvick would actually be starting the race (he did- and he finished it as well). So there was the “would Sam Hornish Jr make it in time to pilot AJ Allmendinger’s car or would they have to use Kenny Wallace. Kenny who was back up to Kevin Harvick should he need to get home to Delana. Drama drama drama. Good thing the airport is close to the speedway or Sam wouldn’t have made it.
I didn’t even realize Tony Stewart was a HotPass driver until well into the race- so I missed out there for awhile- but I was also kind of ambivalent towards the race at this point because Tony started in the back. But Tony seemed to spend the first half of the race maybe still towards the back. I don’t know if this was by design or if they were working on the car or what was going on. Then it seemed slowly and steadily he was coming up the field. Each time he did I would get a little bit more excited. Ooh he’s in the 20s now. Ooh his top 15 now. Then the wrecks started happening. It seemed to me like every single wreck that happened right around Tony but each time he was able to skate through it without damage getting caught up. I think part skill and part luck got him in the top five. His luck being that most of the other cars around him seemed to crash!
Still at the end of the race- it was anyone’s race- especially with the way restrictor plate racing can go. It could have been Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton or Tony. Somehow Tony managed to escape the last lap mele and out power the Fords to come in First!
You should have heard me cheering those last laps- I am sure I was loud! I was on my feet- yelling for Tony (I am lucky I didn’t blow out my voice completely because I was already having some voice cracking issues for two days) and thinking in my head…if he can at least get a top 5 he might be able to move up in the points a bit. Oh I cheered and when he pulled out into the lead after the last restart I was so excited! So excited that I would have probably been embarassed to hear myself. Then it looked like Kenseth and Biffle would pass him and they did a little bit but then Tony powered back. Then the last lap melee happened and Tony not only go through it- but was able to somehow break up Kenseth and Biffle just enough that he could pull to the lead and avoid the last lap crash. Whoo! Not only did he win but he gained back all four positions in the points standings that he lost the week before in Kentucky and is now back up to 5th in the standings.
(I love this picture for it’s non-traditional angle of victory lane. Its a win!)
Notes on Daytona:
- Damn that looked like a hard hit to the wall Jimmie Johnson took! Yowch!
- Congratulations to Kevin and Delana Harvick on the birth of their first child, son Keelan Paul. Also congratulations to Darian and Yolanda Grubb on the birth of their second child Gabriella Grace.
- I misunderstood the simulcast of the NASCAR broadcast on TNT and TruTV. I thought the purpose was to have it so that you could switch over during commercials on one station and the other would be on an alternate commercial break schedule. I don’t understand why it was on both channels if they were going to do mainly side-by-side coverage. Which, by the way, I found distracting more than anything. Also I hated that TNT had that big band at the bottom of the screen most of the time- it is hard to see on a tiny TV! Especially when that tiny TV is using hotpass.
Some Gratuitous Photos since Tony WON!
Look it’s my favorite driver being interviewed by my favorite reporter after his WIN WIN WIN!
I call this picture: The unfortunately jack placement picture (or whatever that pole is). Or maybe it’s fortunate:
Next race: Louden NH.
* Not only did that come from my Smoke commenter on Facebook but my oldest nephew (4) has recently taken to calling anything that was a bear of a task “a beast”
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