One of the things that I adore about Bristol is that the drivers get introduced during intros to a song of their choosing. Some drivers open it up to a fan vote, some just pick a song that they love, some pick songs by the same artist. I LOVE seeing the range of songs. There were some good songs and good fits to their drivers this year (for a complete list of drivers/intro songs from Sunday check out this article). THE best song/driver combo? Tony Stewart’s choice of “Back In The Saddle Again” by Aerosmith because it could not have been more apropos.
Practice and qualifying typically happens when I am at work- and Bristol was no different- but it doesn’t mean that I am not paying attention. I am. I was sad at the results of qualifying for Tony. The car was obviously not handling well. At a track like Bristol- if you sneeze you go a lap down. So it is not the track you want to fight an ill handling car because you can get laps down before you hit on that something that makes a difference- and by then it can be too late. So going into the race on Sunday- I was not optimistic frankly. Even though I had seen that Tony felt better in the car on Saturday after Happy Hour practice- but still- starting 37th? That isn’t an easy place to over come from.
Silly Amy! Why you worry so much?
Looking through my notes from the race there is basically just a lit of lap # and position as Tony steadily worked his way up through the field. Here is an except- typed for legibility but verbatim otherwise): Lap 15- 32nd, Lap 19- 31st, Lap 39- 28th, Lap 40- 27th ***10 positions!!***, Lap 43- 26th, Lap 44- 25th, 25th at competition caution (and so on- I think you get the idea). When I do this and don’t take notes about much else (except the occasional interjection on things Tony says the car needs on the radio) it means I am cautiously optimistic for the race or maybe nervously excited is a more correct assertion.
All during the daylight portion of the race I kept saying to myself- A Top 15 finish would be an awesome improvement. Top 15!! Come on top 15. The next thing I know he has broken into the top twenty and weeded his way up to 19th! (That’s almost 20 positions!) And then the rain came. Crap, I thought to myself. So much for momentum. I sighed and went for a Starbucks run because I had a hankering for an ice tea and knew that I had plenty of time to get one once the car covers went on.
Then the rain stopped and we were finally racing again. Whoo! By lap 284 he was up to P12. I was ecstatic. And well as you know by lap 503? He was 4th. YEAH 4th. I honestly think it was a good think that there wasn’t a green-white-checker because the front four were all hungry for that WIN and I am pretty sure that Tony was ready to battle hard for it. Funny thing is- is right after they flew the checker/yellow I said to my dad “Well I don’t know about how Tony feels but I FEEL like that was nearly as good as a win.” Obviously from his post race comments he felt that way too.
What encouraged me most about the race? Not just that Tony and Chad (and crew- I don’t forget the crew) kept digging and working together but that the things that they were doing to the car seemed to be working for the most part. Even towards the end of the race when it seemed like Chad was having trouble hearing Tony on the radio (I don’t know what the issue was- but personally I blame it on the rain)- they still worked hard to make sure that Tony got what he was needed in that car. The communication in this team is good and I think that Chad and Tony are starting to get the hang of each other a bit. I hope this is just the tip of the iceberg!
Tony finished 4th, and is now 23rd in the championship points. Race winner was Carl Edwards.
Notes on Bristol:
1. My favorite piece of radio communication? When that whole battery/toliet paper caution went down? Was Tony’s reaction to what happened: “What the fuck was that on the backstretch? It looked like someone hit a black and white pinata down there.”
2. I loved Tony Stewart’s little interview during the mid-race rain delay- he seemed like he was in a good mood. I should have known that he was happy with his car then and that good things were in store for us fans!
A slightly humorous edition of The Gratuitous Tony Stewart Pictures:
The Hell You Say?
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