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Mark Martin at NHMS

Mark Martin, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, looks on from the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at NHMS on September 20, 2013 in Loudon, New Hampshire.(Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

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).

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The 14 crew services the Mobil 1 Chevy piloted by Mark Martin at Chicagoland. (Photo credit: Stewart-Haas Facebook Page- click on link to be taken to the original)

Personally- I think that the over 5 hour rain delay was a bit much.  It has been pretty clear that mother nature is not a NASCAR far sometimes and she reared her head at Chicagoland on Sunday- just shy of halfway through the race.  (more…)

Team 14 services the #14 Bass Pro Chevy on pit road at Richmond International Raceway (photo credit: Stewart Haas Racing Official Facebook page)

I am purposely NOT going to mention the Richmond brouhaha that happened at the end of the race because I feel that I have given it enough of my time and energy as well as two blog posts.  Let’s talk about the task at hand: Team 14 and the Richmond race!

Qualifying was not stellar. However- I learned with Tony not to put stock in where they start- but in where they finish. The uber competitive race fan in me- who lives vicariously through my driver wants nothing less than a win every single race.  The points watcher in me always wants a top 5 finish. One thing that is kind of frustrating to me about short tracks (as much as I do love them)- is it is SO easy to go a lap down. And this happened again to Mark Martin in the first half of the race. I will admit it- I was a wee bit disheartened.

Mark Martin stands on the grid at Richmond

Mark Martin stands on the grid at Richmond. (Photo Credit: Official Stewart-Haas Racing Facebook Page)

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I really do NOT want to continue to beat a dead horse by going into the Richmond stuff again- but I feel that I have to respond to the penalties that followed the NASCAR race at Richmond especially after I posted my opinions on what happened during the race and what I thought NASCAR should do and what I thought they would do (which as I mentioned were two separate things). I posted an initial reaction to the penalties on my Facebook page, and retweeted several tweets if you follow me there- but I really feel the need to expound on what I said in both places.

Well, I think the first thing is all of us to remind ourselves, it’s a sport.  It has a tremendous amount of fun to it.  Occasionally, and particularly our role, is to regulate the sport and police it and officiate it so that everybody has got a reasonable playing field to participate in.  So we have days like today that we run across and have challenges that our role is to react to, and this is one of those days.-- Mike Helton, NASCAR President (source: 9-9-13 press conference transcript)

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2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase Field

The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase field as it stands from Saturday night after the race at Richmond International Raceway- but should two of the drivers in the field really be there? (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Richmond, a d-shaped 3/4 mile track in Virgina, is one of NASCAR’s crown jewel short tracks and the stage for the last regular season race of the Sprint Cup season or as NASCAR fans know it “The race for the Chase.” The chase- by design is a 10 race shootout of tracks for the championship where the points are basically zeroed out- with a seeding by number of wins for the top ten drivers with the including of two non-seeded, wild card drivers. Only the top 12 drivers in the regular season have a chance at the championship as the Chase currently stands- making these last ten “chase” races the play-offs of NASCAR.  One of the interesting effects since NASCAR went to a “play-offs” type championship seasons is that just making the CHASE becomes the main goal for teams. Also, as a result of this system- there is the “bubble” who is in and who is out.

This particular Richmond race- there were 11 drivers vying for the 6 remaining “non-clinched” spots in the chase (including the two wild card positions).  As the race was run- those drivers that were in and those that were out changed with each lap it seemed.  Ryan Newman was vying for one of those cherished wild card spots- most of the time against Martin Truex Jr.  Ryan pretty much had to win the race, or Martin Truex Jr had to have a tragedy because if they tied for the wild card the only way Ryan would win the wild card spot would be with another win for the tie breaker. Conversely, driver Jeff Gordon could not hope for a wild card spot- if he was to make the chase Jeff Gordon absolutely had to finish with in the top 10 in the points standings since he has no wins yet this season. (more…)

One of my favorite things that come with races are the sponsor events that drivers do for fans. One that happened today in advance of Richmond looks so FUN I wish I had been there (ok I admit it I wish I had been there despite the event- but it still looks REALLY cool)!  Kyle Busch and his wife Samantha as well as the #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry went to Colonial Williamsburg, VA! I would love to go to Colonial Williamsburg anyway but add to NASCAR?!  That sounds PERFECT to me! It would be fun to juxtapose one century with another I think!  One of these days I am going to finagle an interview with Kyle for BadGroove!

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Tony Stewart Press Conference

Tony Stewart, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, speaks to the media in his first appearance since his sprint car accident. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)

As many Smoke fans know- Tony Stewart gave a press conference today.  Since the announcement of the press conference last week- it’s been much talked about, much speculated about, and much rumored about.  All of which reminds me how social media is both great and terrible at the same time and I wanted to post about this when his accident first happened but never did. Before I go into the press conference details I want to talk about this a minute. You might be asking yourself what I mean by this. Let me explain: (more…)

#SmokeWillRise over the door of the #14 Chevy in the garage at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Charlotte Bray/SkirtsandScuffs.com)

Was it just me or was the constant talking about who where so-and-so driver was in the chase standings if it started right then irritating as all get out. That is all good and fine- but here is a little news flash for you (and by you I mean TV booth broadcasters) THE CHASE DOES NOT START UNTIL AFTER RICHMOND. I have a feeling that next Saturday night is going to be rifled with it. (more…)