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The Autism Speaks 400 (sponsored by FedEx): Steady Improvement…

Posted by Amy in General | NASCAR
The 14 Crew services the #14 Code 3 Associates Chevy

The 14 Crew services the #14 Code 3 Associates Chevy. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

First off I like seeing that the NASCAR race at Dover fully embraces the name of the race: The Autism Speaks 400. It’s not just a race sponsor- many drivers ran special Autism awareness puzzle piece decals on their cars for the race, and Denny Hamlin even ran a special FEDEX Autism awareness paint scheme! I love to see that, but what I loved seeing the most? They had special suite seating for families with autistic children, complete with special toys and a place to get away from the overstimulation that a race track can bring. LOVE THIS! This was the best picture I could find of Denny’s special paint scheme- it’s hard to tell from this picture but the entirely of the blue on the car is comprised of puzzle pieces with names on them- very cool:

Denny Hamlin's Autism Awareness Paint Scheme

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Autism Speaks/FedEx Freight Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on May 30, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America)

I have to say that I was genuinely impressed with the whole 14 team (driver and crew) in their performance at Dover.  Tony seemed to have okay practice speeds, yet only qualified 20th, so I admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my team.  What I saw at the drop of the green flag was impressive to say the least. Tony had quickly moved up a good five spots into the top fifteen and continued to move forward.  That’s what I like to see! Even when they lost ground a couple times during a run- they would talk about what changes to make on the next pit stop and it seemed to be better than the last time (thank goodness).

My favorite points in the race this week happen to be two moments of scanner chatter taking place during the two red flags. First bit took place during the first red flag (I believe it was around lap 135) that was short red for track clean up and safer barrier repair after an accident involving several cars including Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Tony was chatting back and forth with crew chief Chad Johnston about the car’s handling issues. Chad asked Tony if they had fixed a couple of the issues Tony was talking about earlier and Tony replied that they had fixed the first set of issues actually. Chad came back on the radio and said “Uh -you sound surprised about that!” and kind of chuckled.

Tony Stewart in his car at Dover

Tony Stewart in his car at Dover. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/Brian CzobatAutostock USADover International Speedway Brian Czobat / autostock)

My second favorite happened during the second red flag (the one for track repair after Ryan Newman kicked up a loose piece of concrete that Jamie McMurray hit, breaking his splitter and disintegrating the hunk of concrete into gray powder and small projectiles).  Tony was a bit upset that (at least twice that I saw) cars did the equivalent of cutting across the front of the nose of his car and was chatting with Bob his spotter about it. Tony asked if he was being “chickenshit” (his word not mine) about the issue. Bob replied that he didn’t think he was and that he had already talked to one of the offending cars about it (I am unclear if it was Edwards, Armirola or both) but that the point didn’t seem to get through.  Tony replied with “Don’t worry about talking to anyone else about it. I will just take care of it.” The point must have gotten across because I didn’t see Tony lay a chrome horn into anyone.

Tony’s main complaint throughout the race all they way through the end was having trouble on restarts with the car’s grip.  This seems reminiscent of a problem that Jeff Gordon was having several weeks ago. The 24 team seemed to work through that so I have hope that Tony and team will work through this issue.  Tony was all the way up to 3rd at one point. He finished 7th at Dover and is currently up to 21st in points. The race winner was Jimmie Johnson…I love that- if not just because just a couple weeks ago they were pounding the “What is wrong with Jimmie Johnson/Chad Knaus/HMS” Um I would say nothing.

Notes About the Dover race:

1.Congratulations to Tony’s crew chief Chad Johnston who got the MOOG Problem Solver of the race award for the team’s performance at Dover. YEY!

Chad Johnston at Dover

Chad Johnston at Dover (Photo Credit: Stewart-Haas Racing Facebook)

2. I have said this for years now- Tony has some of THE coolest helmet designs I have seen in NASCAR. This one is deceptively simple but I really like the colors (and they matched the car)! I think it’s the matte black base and the sparkle flames/smoke logo combo that makes me love it:

Tony's Helmet at Dover

Tony’s awesome Dover helmet. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/Cyndi Grassmann/CIA STOCK PHOTO Copyright, CIA Stock Photography, Inc.)

3.There have been some changes announced today to the MudSummer Classic Camping World Truck race that will be held at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway on July 23rd. These changes are as follows: Pit stops during competition cautions are now optional (last year they were mandatory),  each qualifying race will now be ten laps each instead of eight (hey more racing YEY), random draw will determine qualifying order where last year qualifying order was determined by practice speeds, and owner points will be awarded to the top five team owners whose trucks do not transfer to the main feature (last year there were no points awarded if you didn’t transfer into the main).

4. I have a list of tracks that I must attend a NASCAR race at “someday” and Dover was not on it until SUNDAY when I found out about those bridge over the track seats! That has to be an awesome experience so now my list of races has just grown by one.

5. Here is an awesome article about Tony Stewart by Ed Hinton on ESPN- check it out if you haven’t already. Also Beth Reinke of Skirts and Scuffs lets us know that Tony Stewart isn’t worried- check out their article too.

The Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture(s):

Tony Stewart at Dover

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Code 3/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, looks on from the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on May 30, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images North America)

Tony Stewart making TV magic

Tony Stewart being interviewed by Race Day / Fox Sports (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Store/ Anna Sherrill/CIA Copyright, CIA Stock Photography, Inc)

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#GoTonyGo #StandWithSmoke

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