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Tony Stewart and the 14 team made a great effort at the race in Chicago. The qualifying went not so good again- which Tony qualifying 28th. However, he was able to bring the car up the field in dramatic fashion twice. Tony was knocking on the door of the top ten (He was 11ths).  Tony was brought down pit road for 4 tires and fuel- when in the middle of the pit stop crew chief Steve Addington called an audible thus changing the stop to a two tire stop and sending Tony back out into the field under caution. Tony was then forced to come back after feeling a vibration and the team changed the other two tires- then sending Stewart to be the back of the lead lap- ironically in position he started in: 28th.

Tony Stewart and Steve Addington on the grid at Chicagoland Speedway in Jolliet, IL. (photo credit: Found on Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page- click for the original)

He worked his way through the field AGAIN though and was able to break into the top ten this time.  Addington and Tony even kept the car out awhile during one round of pit stops just to get a bonus point for leading a lap.  Tony ended up finishing the race 6th and is currently 3rd in the championship standings 8 point behind race winner and current points leader Brad Keselowski.

Tony Stewart is presented with his plaque on the Chicagoland walk of fame for his 2011 win. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Facebook Page- click for the original)

NOTES About Chicagoland:

  1. The first race of the Chase (NASCAR’s Playoffs) and the scary thing is the big news for Tony Stewart fans is the Tushy Grab Seen Around The World? My Facebook feed this morning is filled with Tony’s good luck grab. I can’t believe it even made cnn.  Serious Stewart fans know that this is his pre-race ritual.
  2. Fascinated to read in an article that when Tony Stewart won the Chicago race last year he left Chicago with 2047 points. This season he came in sixth and leaves Chicago with 2048 points – thanks no doubt to the seeding bonus his 3 wins got him (the article here- the part about the points is at the bottom)
  3. I usually love Tony’s helmets- but I wasn’t a big fan of the one he ran at Chicago this last weekend. (see picture tweeted by Stewart-Haas Racing here). Although I did like the spark plug with wings.
  4. HotPass needs to reconsider their audio. They only play SOME of the driver audio- I want to hear EVERYTHING! There were times I know that Tony’s spotter at Chicago HAD to be talking to him- yet hot pass wasn’t playing the audio at all. Grr.
  5. What? Say it isn’t so but sounds like Jeff Gordon shaved the infamous stache!

Next race: Chase Race 2: New Hampshire

As a Tony Stewart fan, I went into the 2011 Sprint Cup chase extremely pessimistic.  After all, Tony Stewart went into the chase saying he thought the team was wasting a chase berth with the way they had been performing.  Of course we all know what happened; Tony Stewart went on a tear- won FIVE of the ten Chase races (something that had NEVER been done before)  including the season closer at Homestead-Miami, thus winning the Chase by TIEBREAKER.  It was both exhilarating and stressful to be a Tony Stewart fan towards the end of the 2011 chase.  I was AT the Phoenix race and spent most of the race perched on the patio of the media center- watching the race through my fingers.  I don’t even remember much about the Homestead race- except that I was so stoked that I promised my family that if Tony won the championship I would treat them to dinner at the Outback. Guess you all know what I had for dinner that night.  What made the chase so great last year- especially during Homestead was that it was so CLOSE- and to win it Tony Stewart HAD TO WIN THE RACE- a second place wouldn’t cut it.

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: (L – R) Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Martin Truex Jr, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Clint Boyer, Denny Hamlin, Kaey Kahne and Tony Stewart pose in front of “The Bean” as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. They are the twelve drivers competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

This year however, I feel EXCITEMENT going into the chase because this year NASCAR’s Chase for the 2012 Sprint Series Cup could be brought home by ANY of the 12 drivers. I personally do not count ANYONE out.  Sure Tony’s the reigning champion and I would LOVE to see him become a FOUR time champion. Denny Hamlin goes in to the Chase seeded first and his crew chief Darian Grubb no doubt feels he has a point to prove. But I can’t count out Jimmie Johnson- he’s won five and is looking hard for 6. With FOUR of the 12 cars being Hendrick Motorsports cars that means mathematically (and I am NOT good at math people) there is a 1/3 chance that winner could be a Hendrick car- and Junior has been looking strong and CONSISTENT all season. And Jeff Gordon has been driving like a maniac (in a good way) these last few races.  And Kasey’s had some bad luck but pretty much had that first Wild Card spot in the bag in Richmond. Kenseth no doubt would like to leave the 17 team with a Championship before jumping over to Joe Gibbs Racing next season.  Harvick is tenacious and they didn’t give him the nickname THE CLOSER for anything.  Then we have dark horses like Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer who have also been RIGHT there all season long.  And I would NEVER ever ever count out Brad Keselowski. In my mind- right before we go into the first race of the Chase it is ANYONE’s trophy right now.

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Front row L-R The Next 9 drivers Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Cameron Hayley, Dylan Kwasniewski, Daniel Suarez, Sergio Pena, Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace and Corey LaJoie, back row Eleven of the NASCAR Chase drivers L-R Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

As a NASCAR fan, the fact that it is anyone’s championship right now is EXCITING. Of course I still want Tony Stewart to win it!

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Tony Stewart (C) speaks with young drivers who are from the Next 9 at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

Who do YOU think will win it all?

My nearly weekly list (only nearly because occasionally I don’t do one for whatever reason- my last excuse reason- things have been kind of crazy) of NASCAR related articles out there in the interwebz that I think you should read.

Before I get to the list though- let me know if you like the new “freshened” BadGroove layout. I personally LOVE it (I was getting tired of the all the red but still loved the basic idea of the design so Karah-Leigh fixed it up nice for me). Now on to the stories of the week:

2012 NASCAR Chase Media Day: Drivers Gather In Downtown Chicago- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com

Tony Stewart Knows His Prognostication Limitations- Joe Menzer for NASCAR.COM

Happy Hour: Who’s To Blame For Kyle Busch’s Downfall- Jay Busbee for Yahoo!Sports

Jeff Gordon Working On His ‘Stache, Crew Chief Alan Gustafson Shaves His Head- Bob Pockrass for SportingNews.com

NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers Have Family Support- Fox Sport Photo album

Johanna Long Interview: Please Don’t Compare Me To Danica Patrick- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com

Dale Earnhardt Jr Says He Feels Like A Championship Contender Heading Into Chase- Bob Pockrass for SportingNews.com

Gordon Rejuvenated Going Into Chase- Andrew Seligam for SI.com

 

And of course the gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony Stewart Poses With The 2012 Sprint Cup Chase Class

Tony Poses with the 2012 Chase Class at Richmond. (Photo Credit: Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

 

 

I don’t know about you but knowing that Tony Stewart is running the WE DO PRINTING paint scheme on the #14 Office Depot/ Mobil 1 Chevy this weekend at Chicago just like he did last year, when he WON the opening race of the 2011 Chase excites me! I can only hope that the WE DO PRINTING paint scheme will bring the same results as it did last season! #GoTonyGo!

We Do Printing! Tony won Chicago last year in this paint scheme. Can he do it again? (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, INC)

Also- to help you DO PRINTING better – just visit OfficeDepotRacing.com to score a 20% off coupon for same day printing services (coupon is good through September 29th).

We Do Printing Same Day (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, INC)

Okay- so I set my dvr to record CBS This Morning because when I caught wind yesterday that they would be airing Dale Jr Writes A Letter To Himself at 16 I was extremely curious and wanted to watch it. Not even because it was JR- but just because the idea of writing to yourself at 16 fascinates the heck out of me. I couldn’t help myself this morning and during a brief lull at work I started checking the CBS This Morning webpage because I wanted to watch it (now you know- I am impatient sometimes). I found it on their website and have to say…WOW. I highly suggest you watch- even if you aren’t a JR fan…because it’s telling and makes me wonder what I would tell myself at that age:

I am still wondering what I would say. Do you know what you would say?

Hey Illinois Smoke Fans- Tony Stewart will be doing a store appearance at the Office Depot located at 392 East Rand Road Arlington Heights, IL THIS Thursday September 13th, 2012!!   The autograph session will take place after Tony Stewart assists the Office Depot Foundation in donating 6000 sackpacks filled with school supplies to nonprofit organizations that support school-age children in the Chicago area.  The donation ceremony and the sack packs are not available to the public.

The autograph session  however IS for the general public and will start at approximately 4:45 pm local time. You must have a wristband to get an autograph. Wristbands will be distributed starting at 8:00 am local time the day of the event at the location of the event on a first come, first serve basis. One wristband per person, one autograph per wristband.  You must be in line with your wristband by 5:15pm.

I strongly urge all Tony Stewart fans who can go to show up to show their support for their favorite driver and congratulate him for making the CHASE! WHOOHOO!!!  #ImWithSmoke #GoTonyGo!  Have fun for me- I wish I were going!

Two days later and my head is still spinning from the drama that was the Richmond race.  The race at Richmond on Saturday night had more plot lines than a soap opera on a Friday afternoon. Since Tony Stewart was pretty much guaranteed to make the chase- even if he fell out of the top ten- I was strangely relaxed at first.  When I turned on the TV to settle in for the race and saw college football and that it was only in the 3rd quarter I didn’t even freak out as I normally would have.  Nothing ticks me off more, usually, then when I turn on the TV to watch a race and some other programming is on instead. It didn’t bother me Saturday for some reason- possibly because thanks to Twitter I realized that there was a rain delay at Richmond- but I can’t be sure.

By the way- I don’t watch college football ever but I kept the game on as background noise while I did some household chores- because frankly- there wasn’t much else on anyway .  I heard the announcers of the game (it was USC and Someone- see how little I paid attention) talking about how NASCAR was currently in a rain delay which was good for them because they were running late because of a lightning delay.  So they bantered back and forth about The Chase a bit and how it worked.  Or I should say how they THOUGHT it worked. How many drivers they THOUGHT made it to the chase- it was a little sad that they didn’t know.  I mean like I said I don’t watch much football or baseball but I still know for the most part how the games are played. But I digress.

Tony Looks Befuddled At Richmond

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 7, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

(more…)

So it’s been awhile since I talked about any initiatives the Tony Stewart Foundation is doing to raise money- so I thought I would talk about a couple of EBay Auctions going on right now and the Chevy Raffle.

First- remember back when Tony Stewart ran the Back-To-School / Office Depot Foundation paint scheme in Pocono just a few weeks ago. Well Tony also had a Back-To-School/Office Depot Foundation firesuit and helmet to go with that spiffy paint scheme.  And now you have the chance to bid on one or both of those items via eBay.  The proceeds to the firesuit and the helmet go to The Office Depot Foundation. The auction stated today and goes through September 14th.  Click here to see the Firesuit auction. Click here to see the Helmet auction. Happy bidding if you choose to bid on it.

This is the helmet you can bid on- the Back-To-School/Office Depot Foundation helmet Tony wore at Pocono just a few weeks ago. (Photo Credit: the Tony Stewart Foundation Ebay auction)

Also there are still tickets left for the Tony Stewart Foundation Customize Your Ride Chevy raffle. Tickets are $100.00. Winner get’s their choice of a chevy vehicle plus customizations up to $50,000 (Chevy VOLT is not included). Two lucky runner ups get a Wallhanger autographed by Tony Stewart.  (For those who don’t know- a Wallhanger is an authentic piece of aluminum door from a race car- there are pictures of them on the website).  The raffle ends October 1st. Only 3000 raffle tickets will be sold and currently there are over 2,000 tickets left.  Visit the Tony Stewart Foundation Customize Your Ride Chevy Raffle page now for more details and to purchase your ticket.