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Race 25: Bristol Night Race (aka The Helmets Will Roll)

Posted by Amy in General | NASCAR

I was wondering about what kind of racing the “new” new Bristol would produce. I wondered about how the grinding would effect the track and the grooves.  I was working when practice was happening on Friday so didn’t really even get to see any cars on the track.  I had no idea what to expect. During pre-race some drivers kept stating that it would be hard to pass. That is never any fun to watch- so I honestly worried that the race would be terribly boring. Qualifying had been rained out so Tony started 21st, that being his position in first practice.

Tony's Friday Media Availability

Tony Stewart addressed the media on Friday at Bristol. (Photo Credit: The Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page- click the picture to be taken to the original)

Personally, I thought the actual racing action on the track was pretty good. While passing appeared to not be easy by any means it didn’t seem impossible. There were many spectacular passes and the racing action was actually three wide multiple times. I am not sure if this racing action is because of the grinding per say- but it seemed like a good and enjoyable race to me from a television viewer’s stand point.

Tony’s race was a race of ups and downs.   For awhile towards the beginning of the race he was a lap down.  He finally got a lucky dog and got his lap back and some pit strategy even had him up towards the front of the race.  Of course, the BIG topic of conversation is Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth getting into it on the track while racing for the lead. It looked to me like Matt came up into Tony.  Let’s just say the pair RUBBED quite a bit. They rubbed themselves right into a spin and tapped into the inside retaining wall.   Tony’s car was apparently damaged worse than it looked (see picture evidence below) and wouldn’t re-fire.  Tony then got out of the injured 14 car and threw his helmet at Matt Kenseth in a fit of rage.  You can see the great animated Gifs of the event here (via Brian Floyd/SBNATION) and of course it’s on youtube as well.

Tony's damaged car fixed and getting ready to roll back out at Bristol (Photo taken from Official Tony Stewart FaceBook Page- Click image for original)

The points obsessing watching fan in me worries that Tony will be fined for his little outburst- which will no doubt drop him out of the top 10 in points.  The Tony Stewart fan in me gets that Tony was pissed.  I understand why he threw his helmet- and honestly it didn’t really hurt anything or anybody (except the helmet maybe) that he threw it.  I have long been of the opinion that drivers ARE HUMAN BEINGS and as human beings they get upset when they work hard all night to get in a good position only to have it later ruined. I have no problem when any of the drivers show that emotion as long as they don’t put others in jeopardy doing so. I think that by showing the emotions shows the driver’s human side- the side that the fans can relate too.   Jimmie Johnson not talking to the media was one of those events after Michigan. Tony Stewart throwing his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car was another. I do NOT thing these are actions that are detrimental to stock car racing as long as other people are not put in harms way.   A helmet went bouncing off of Kenseth’s hood- NO harm, no foul- except to maybe the helmet. Really it was one of those “boys have it” type of moments that draws people to NASCAR and shows that the drivers actually HAVE personality and emotion.  I guess we will have to wait until  Tuesday (the day fines are typically handed out) but I really hope that NASCAR doesn’t take action.

Tony Stewart's Helmet

Tony Stewart's helmet sits abandoned on pit road after bouncing (artfully I may add) off of the hood of Matt Kenseth's ford. (Photo Credit: Photo is from TonyStewart.com- click on picture to be taken to the original).

After he was taken to the infield care center for the required check up, Tony said that he would run down Matt Kenseth the rest of the year.  Of course there are two sides to every story and Matt Kenseth’s side can be read about here (via Marty Smith’s FB page). Race winner was Denny Hamlin. Tony did return to the track with an albeit injured race car- he finished 27th (29 laps down).

Notes About Bristol:

  1. I will also say this: ABC’s coverage of the race? Lacked. During the first 15 laps or so? I was unaware of anything going on that didn’t involve the first three cars of the race.  Most people watching the national broadcast probably had no idea that Tony Stewart tapped the wall- run up there by a loose Kurt Busch.  I only knew this because of twitter.  The commercial breaks seemed to come far too quickly and one time they went to commercial green, came back from commercial yellow with pit stops happening. While I appreciate play-by-play of the pit stops, I REALLY WANTED TO KNOW WHAT THE CAUTION WAS FOR.  Seriously- the coverage lacked a bit.
  2. One of the the features of races at Bristol that I have a love/hate relationship with is driver introductions. The drivers get to pick a song (often kept top secret until they come out on stage before the race) and get to say a little something. I LOVE the concept of this because it shows us fans a little bit more of our favorite driver’s personality. I hate it because as a fan who is watching it on TV- we only get to see very selected highlights of it. I won’t post a list of who picked what song- but here is a link to the complete list of what songs were picked by the drivers at this Bristol on Saturday night (via Jeff Gluck/SBnation).
  3. Night races always bring out the fun alternate paint schemes. I LOVED Jeff Gordon’s Farmville car.  That was an awesome paint scheme…and no I don’t play Farmville. It was just a cool paint scheme.
  4. Conversely, I didn’t like the Brad Keselowski Retro Rusty Wallace paint scheme. I don’t know why but I just don’t think it really worked on the car.
  5. Did anyone else kind of think that Danica was going to throw her helmet at Regan Smith after he caused her to crash into the wall?
  6. Speaking of throwing helmets- after Tony’s helmet toss there have been some funny stuff out there…including this LOL entitled The WindUp (via LOLracepics) and this picture of Tony’s latest award (via SBNATION & NASCARasm). My dad even said that he thinks Tony needs to make a bumper sticker (Misty then amended the idea that the proceeds could go to his foundation) that says: Watch For Flying Helmets (instead of finger).
  7. Misty and I were chatting on Sunday about some things we had been seeing on Facebook recently and it really got her on her soapbox about driver’s personal lives. It brought to mind the very first time we interviewed Tony Stewart and some things he chatted with about with us AFTER the interview was over.  I really suggest you read her latest post: Why Bloggers Scare Tony Stewart.

Gratuitous Angry Tony Stewart Picture:

Don’t poke the bear.

Tony Stewart watches repairs on his 14 car after a run in with Kenseth

Tony Stewart watches repairs on his 14 car after a run in with Kenseth. He looks angry. I would NOT pick this time to approach him for an autograph or an interview FYI. (Photo Credit: TonyStewart.com - click picture to be taken to original)

Next Race:  Atlanta on Sunday Night.

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