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When it comes to collecting NASCAR stuff I do not have a large collection- mostly because I don’t have a place to store or display a large collection. What I do collect, therefore, are usually special and have a place of honor on my shelves.  These will be up there next to my bottle of Jeff Gordon Wine that is for certain:

PepsiMax Jeff Gordon Collector Bottles (Photo Credit: Ralph X. Marbach)

Three collector PepsiMax bottles featuring Jeff Gordon. (Photo Credit: Ralph X. Marbach)

These Jeff Gordon PepsiMax bottles are freaking AWESOME!  The bottles feature three different Jeff Gordon designs- including two of Jeff’s likeness and one of the PepsiMax 24 car.  They are coming to stores in the next week or so but will only be out for a limited time- so be sure to snap some up for your collection before they are GONE!

(What? You were expecting a report on the Coca-Cola 600 today? I actually went out of town this long memorial day weekend (love that scheduled post feature of WordPress)  for some non-NASCAR related fun (yes, there is such a thing) and am driving back home today…I will get the Coca-Cola 600 post up as soon as I can this week. Oh and HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY everyone!)

Well we are what 12-13 weeks into the race season and already there is silly season rumors floating around rampantly.  You know- the who is going where next season with what team/sponsor thing that usually starts towards mid-late season as contract negotiations are winding down for those drivers who suddenly find themselves in “free agency.” Everyone likes to play the were will they end up game.

So far this season I have heard rumors (and that is just what they are of course rumors) of Kurt Busch going over to Joe Gibbs Racing to join brother Kyle. The rumor does not specify (as most rumors don’t) whether this ride for Kurt is in a fourth car for the team or in Joey Logano’s 20 car. It’s been rumored for a couple seasons now that Joey Logano may be ride-less at the end of this season.

The other rumor is that Home Depot (current primary c- sponsor of the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Joey Logano) may be interesting in sponsoring Ryan Newman.  I took that to mean that JGR is wooing Ryan Newman who is in the last year of his contract with Stewart-Haas Racing.  However after batting it back and forth with Misty,  it could also mean that Home Depot is looking to go with Stewart-Haas Racing. They did, as Misty kindly pointed out, win the 2011 Sprint Cup Championship after all (and in an impressive fashion I might add). Not to mention the fact that Tony recently said (forgive me for not having a link) that he was really hoping to retain Ryan as a driver.

And then there is the story of Danica- will she be going cup as soon as next season? And will it be with Stewart-Haas?  And just how do I feel about that? (Mixed feelings would be the answer).

Of course, representatives for Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Home Depot, Joe Gibbs Racing and other entities involved in these rumors would deny them if asked. It would only be prudent as negotiations are no doubt still taking place. After all when rumors that Tony Stewart was thinking of leaving Joe Gibbs to start his own race team started rearing their head in summer of 2008- I, along with most, chalked it up to ridiculous silly season rumors. Especially since at the time, Joe Gibbs vehemently denied it.  Of course, we all know what happened there.

So tell me do you have any thoughts on silly season? I usually don’t put too much into the rumors just due to the fact that they are rumors. My interest is always piqued when it has to do with Stewart-Haas Racing though.  So have you heard any good silly season rumors? Do you even pay attention to them?

I have no idea why- but I am compelled to share this picture from Stewart-Haas Racing that they tweeted complete with their caption from last weekend’s All-Star Race.  It humors the heck out of me and I just thought you all should see it:

@StewartHaasRcng posted this picture before the All-Star Race with the caption: This bird is on the right side of #TonyStewart's car. It's scared cuz it got so close to the wall!

Here is the latest suggested readings from the NASCAR world that I thought were interesting. Hope you like them

Speak Your Mind: Analyzing The All-Star Race Format- Skirts and Scuffs Staff

I Like Sentiment When It’s Not Mine: Heart Gladdened By Latest Hall Inductees- By Monte Dutton for the Gaston Gazette

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Has An Offer For Bill Backing Republican- Dustin Long for USAToday.com

Five Things I Learned From My First Real Go-Kart Race- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com

Jeff Gordon Opens Up About Racing And His Other Passion: Helping Kids- Greg Bailey for News Channel 36

In the Infield, They’re Not Fans– They’re Family- David Caraviello for NASCAR.COM

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony Stewart and Steve Addington at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Tony Stewart and Steve Addington discuss All-Star Set ups (Photo Credit: Blatantly stole from the Tony Stewart Facebook page- click picture to be taken to original).

So let’s talk about the Sprint All-Star Race. What did you all think of the new 5 segment format (20 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps, 10 laps with the winners of segments 1-4 coming in P1-4 during the last mandatory pit stop before segment 5)?  I didn’t like it one bit. I felt it was about 2 segments too long and the winners of segments 1-3 sandbagging to stay out of harms way was ridiculous.  I do not think that should have been allowed- however this format encourages that.  My thought on the matter is that there should be 3 segments and 3 segments only: 20 lap, 30 laps, 50 laps with one mandatory pit stop between segments 2 and 3 that require a 4 tire change from everyone.  There would be no reason to sandbag during this race.  Now you can argue with me that what Jimmie and the other guys were doing was strategy- but I still say they weren’t racing…and that really isn’t fair.

Tony’s All-Star race was anything but stellar (get it?). The car had handling issues and then the nose was damaged during segment 3 (I think it was maybe it was four?) and the race just seemed to get worse.  Tony started the race 9th and finished 17th.  Since it’s a non-points race there was no change in points.  The race winner was Jimmie Johnson.

Notes on the All-Star Race:

  1. Speaking of race winner Jimmie Johnson- how CRAZY was it for him to take Rick Hendrick out for a ride on the track after winning? That was crazy. And poor Rick Hendrick looked uncomfortable.
  2. Dustin Long wrote about a GREAT idea he had for the All-Star Race! In a nutshell he proposes that the winner of the race be given the option of the $1 million dollars or an automatic spot in the chase.  I LOVE IT.
  3. Speaking of LOVING things…I also really liked the fan videos introducing the All-Star drivers…maybe next year they can have fans do it in person.

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, walks during pre-race for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America).

I don’t know what it is- but the Pit Crew Challenge on Thursday this year did nothing for me.  It’s something I usually LOVE to watch but I just couldn’t get into it this year. I think it’s because it doesn’t move fast enough between rounds for me and really what these guys are doing is not a real pit stop. I want it to be a REAL pit stop.  Speaking of REAL pit stops have you seen this from Quicken Loans Racing (Ryan Newman’s Primary co-sponsor?)? It is a really visual of what a pit stop looks like through the eyes of the different crew members: Pit Crew Experience. I love this and highly suggest you check it out!

I also want to share a gratuitous Tony Stewart picture from the event:

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot-Mobile 1 Chevrolet jokes with a crew member during the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

And this humorous picture from the winner’s (the 48 crew) celebration:

Crew chief Chad Knaus celebrates with a member of the No. 48 My Lowe's Chevrolet after winning the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Hey Smoke Fans- if you are lucky enough to be in Charlotte NC next week (and I envy all of you that are there- let me tell you) – Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman are doing a rare joint Autograph appearance at the Office Depot located at 8658 JW Clay Boulevard.  You will need a wristband for the event. The wristbands will be distributed starting at 8:00 am local time on May 23rd at the Office Depot on JW Clay Blvd (one autograph per wristband one wristband per person).  The event will happen at 3:45pm local time (autograph seekers with wristbands will need to be in line no later than 4:15pm local time).

While you are there you may want to stick around because BOTH Tony and Ryan will be participating in another Office Depot Racing Ask Tony (AND RYAN) LIVE event at 5:00pm at the same location! I am looking forward to this one because I *should* be able to watch the stream of this one on the net….so wave at the camera if they show you because I will be watching you all!

Inside A Helmet, Everthing Can Seem Different- David Caraviello for NASCAR.COM

Will Ryan Newman Return To SHR In 2013- Jeff Gluck for SBNATION.com

Whittling Crew Chiefs Down To Top Ten- Terry Blount for ESPN

Newman’s Gone Fishing- Ryan Newman for NASCAR.COM

TV Reporter Juggles Motherhood, NASCAR’s Grinding Road- Nate Ryan for USAToday.com

NASCAR At Darlington: Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman Teams Scuffle After Southern 500- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com

If I Were A NASCAR Owner, I’d Hire Kurt Busch- Jordan Bianchi for SBNATION.com

Faith On The FrontStretch: A Speedy Apology Calms A Conflict- Beth Reinke for SkirtsandScuffs.com

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony and Danica in the garage at Darlington (Again photo blatently stolen from the Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page. Click on Photo to see the original).)