Points: 13th (2074 points)
When Sunday came I found myself in a quandary. I wanted to watch the race as I usually do on race day but a big part of me didn’t want to watch the race at Dover. Why? It was the stress of it being the last race before the cut to the round of 12. I understand that NASCAR things that these elimination rounds are exciting to watch but I find this chase format to be exponentially more nerve racking than any other chase format. Especially when at the start of the race your driver is ranked 15th out of the 16 chasers and only the top 12 advance to the next round of the NASCAR playoffs known only as The Chase. Oh and did I mention it’s Dover? The high banked concrete track can be unforgiving and Miles the Monster (the track mascot that adorns the trophy) looked hungry.
Miles the Monster it seems, however, was more thirsty than hungry- as qualifying and the Xfinity races were both rained out. Because qualifying was rained out starting positions on Sunday were set by points. Tony Stewart started 15th as he was 15th out of the 16 drivers in the Chase. While the car had handling issues and a feel that Tony didn’t like the team worked every pit stop to make the car better and by and large Tony didn’t lose too much ground. He even brushed the wall on lap 170 but luckily he only rubbed the lettering off the tires- it didn’t damage them or cause a body rub that would have damaged the tire. Talk about lucky. The team worked and the car kept up with the changing track conditions (it started out overcast and then the weather got a bit sunny). While Tony was able to work his way up the points latter to 13th- he was not able to make up the 11 points that kept him for being 12th in points. We all knew it would be a steep climb to make it to the round of 12 for our driver and he and his crew chief Mike Bugarewicz worked and worked to gain positions and not lose track positions and they did it- just in the end he couldn’t have made up enough points. When you are 13th and a lap down? It’s a hard row to hoe and the team tried everything in it’s aresenal including pitting Tony a bit early for his last pit stop hoping he would be able to take advantage of quicker lap times and maybe gain on the leader. Unfortunately when Jimmie Johnson lapped all but 4 or 5 cars gaining track position or even a lap back is nearly impossible.
The team should be proud though- they had limited practice and no qualifying. Yet were able to continually make the car better.
That said- we still have 7 NASCAR races with our driver. It would be kind of cool if he won at least one more race to have an even 50 races under his belt…but there is nothing wrong with 49 (especially for me since I got to witness it in person). The important thing is that Tony have as much fun as possible in his last 7 races and that we fans cherish the fact that the only reason he actually ran this season was for the fans. For you and me. That right there? Is awesome to me.
Oh and by the way? Was I the only one who loved the Nature’s Bakery Brownie paint scheme (and especially the firesuit)? Both were delicious looking. I mean brownies are my second favorite dessert (bonus points to you who know what my first favorite is…and if you have it in my office tomorrow well you get my undying love) but who knew they would look so tasty as a paint scheme.
This weekend we should be night racing in Charlotte on Saturday night…that is if Hurricane Matthew cooperates.
Gratuitous Tony Stewart photo:
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