There are only eight more races of the 2013 NASCAR season now- eight. Usually at this point in the season I am starting to dread the end of the season- but I find myself looking ahead to 2014 so much that I don’t have that usual foreboding dread about the season ending. The reasoning behind this is two fold I am certain. The big fold being I want to see (a healed, healthy, raring to go) Tony Stewart back at the helm of the #14 Chevy SS and leading the way for the new Stewart-Haas stable. I excited about the team dynamic for Stewart-Haas Racing next season- I have made no secret of that. Tony Stewart, Kevin Havick and Kurt Busch…I think that has potential to be HUGE because while I am a Tony Stewart fan- I see nothing but talent in both Kevin and Kurt and think that having them work together has AWESOME written all over it (and yes I know that I am in the minority here but I do think Kurt Busch has HUGE amounts of talent).
The other reason why I am looking forward to next season already instead of holding on tight to what is left of this season? Car performance. It’s been the rusty nail in my enthusiasm tire this season (can you tell I was at the tire shop recently…again?). All three Stewart-Haas cars seemed to struggle again at Loudon and Mark Martin was no exception. The 14 car started out loose in tight center okay off and it just went on and on from there. On the plus side at least for the 14 team they were able to make the car more drivable- but unfortunately the pit strategy was a bit off and Mark Martin was forced to come in for a green flag pit stop after running as much as he could hoping for a caution. This caused him to go a lap down. There was a wave around and a fuel only pit stop that had Mark Martin and team 14 as high as 12th but he was on really old tires and not able to keep position. Team 14 ended up finishing the race 23rd (but on the lead lap so yey for small things).
The race winner was Matt Kenseth again! Wow- that boy is on a tear right now! Also interesting to note that Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch finished one-two in both chase races so far. Matt Kenseth is leading the points in the Chase, with Kyle Busch on his heels in second 14 points behind him and Jimmie Johnson in third 18 points behind the leader with Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle rounding out the top five. Stewart-Haas driver Ryan Newman is currently in 9th in the Chase.
Notes About Chase Race 2:
1. This photo right here is the best sight I saw during Loudon’s race weekend and that is because Tony Stewart is upright!
It’s good to see him upright- and at the tracks. As much as I thought the scooter was adorable (shh don’t tell Tony) I much prefer seeing him upright and under his own power albeit with crutches! I hope that his therapy goes well (I think I read that it was starting Monday)…it won’t be fun I am sure! We are all thinking about you Tony!
2. I was reminded during the race several times about just how dangerous it is to be an over-the-wall pit crew member but especially during the first round of pit stops that happened under the first caution. Jeff Gordon nearly, through no fault of his own mind you, took out several of Mark Martin (THAT’S MY TEAM 14 GUYS RIGHT THERE!)’s crew member when contact with David Ragan (the 34 car) sent him sliding towards the crew as they serviced the right side of Mark Martin’s car. YIKES! Glad that Jeff was able to keep the car under control and not hit any of the crew!I wanted to mention how much I enjoy the commentary provided by Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett- I think of all the announcers we go through each season- these two are my favorite! I wish we could keep them year round. It’s easy to complain about the announcers- heck I do it all the time- but I really do love Andy and Dale especially!
3. One of the interesting things I noticed while listening in on the team transmission for team 14 this week is that the in-race scanner chatter is much more interesting. For instance- there was an instance during the race where Bob and Steve were talking about how many laps down Mark Martin was down- for some reason Bob thought Mark was 2 laps down and Steve confirmed that no indeed they were only one lap down. But I think that is the kind of chatter we didn’t normally hear when the spotters were allowed digital radios to communicate within the team. I kind of like it.
4. I know that when it was raining in Joliet, IL last weekend- many fans were wondering where Air Titan was when it came to drying the track, I know I was. Well according to this article here- Air Titan is actually quite costly- so many tracks are opting to stick with the Jet Dryers.
5. At one point during the race- I am pretty sure I heard someone on the national broadcast team state that they had spoken with Steve Letarte (Dale Earnhardt Jr’s crew chief) before the race and that Letarte had said something to the effect that they were just focused on wins and performance because they pretty much didn’t think they had a chance to win the chase. Please someone tell me that I misheard! Because it is only RACE 2 of the chase- that means that there is still 80 percent of the chase yet to run (look at me doing math and stuff). I really hope that NO one would be that defeatist this early in the race- especially considering that Jr moved up in the chase standings.
6. Was it just me or was Kasey Kahne’s post wreck interview with Dr. Jerry Punch awkward? I don’t know if it was just Kasey was still kind of dazed (although I would think if that were truely the case they would have kept him in the infield care center longer) or what but yeah- I get that Kasey couldn’t hear what was being asked of him but the whole interview seemed kind of awkward for the most part. Maybe he just should have declined the interview. I figure Kasey couldn’t have been too dazed since I think he DID end up back out on the track towards the end of the race.
7. Not really related to the race at Loudon but congratulations to Tony Stewart on his seventh silver crown car championship as a USAC owner…and congratulations to his driver Bobby East on his second as driver! Here is a quote from what sounds like a proud Tony Stewart: “Winning championships is the result of so many people working toward one goal,” Stewart said. “There is a tremendous amount of pride in winning championships from all of us at TSR and Curb-Agajanian. Bobby and the entire team did a great job again this season winning another USAC Silver Crown championship, which I consider to be one of the most competitive series in all of racing. To win another championship with Curb and our fourth with Chevrolet Performance makes this even more special. We can’t compete at a championship level without these partnerships.”
And now for your gratuitous Tony Stewart picture:
Next week: Chase Racing in Dover!
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