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I mentioned this in yesterday’s Chase Race post- but I fear that it may have gotten buried in the “YEY Tony won!” and “Look Tony went fishing” pictures and video: If you go to the I’m With Smoke Office Depot racing page you can enter to win tickets to Homestead-Miami race (along with some cash and other goodies). You only have until November 11th 2011 to do this- so enter today. FIVE people will win!! While there you can also download the I’M WITH SMOKE avatar for your Facebook/twitter accounts or the I’M WITH SMOKE Wallpaper to show your support for Tony and the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 race team!

I'm With Smoke...from the OfficeDepotRacing.com website

You also have through November 11th, 2011 to bid on the race worn Office Depot back to school paint scheme firesuit and/or a helmet of Tony’s.  Proceeds to benefit the Office Depot Foundation! Visit the Office Depot Racing Auction page for more information.

And you have until November 14th, 2011 to enter the monthly 14 for 14 contest from Office Depot Racing. This month it’s a 14 mouse pad autographed by Tony Stewart. You can’t win if you don’t enter!! Enter today!

So 4 wins in the last eight races is pretty awesome right? I think so.  You know what else is awesome? That this is the fifth season that Tony has had four wins!  GO TONY!  I will admit though, Jeff Burton did have me a little worried though yesterday. The last 12 laps or so I was standing right in front  of the TV hoping Jeff Burton would run out of gas.   Luckily he did- with just 5 laps to go resigning the lead to Stewart who went on to win the race at Texas Motor Speedway….putting him a mere 3 points behind points leader Carl Edwards with two races left (Phoenix and Homestead).  I think I need a really big bottle of Tums and for next week most likely a muzzle.

The best part about the win at Texas was that Tony totally backed up his smack talk from his win at Martinsville Speedway the week before.  I am the first to admit that when Tony got out of the car and during his post race press conference said “my adrenaline has worn off and I still mean he better not sleep too long these last three weeks” I cringed a little.  I mean that is some major smack talking but Tony and Stewart-Haas Racing was prepared to back it up and  I  LOVED that!!  After Smoke’s win at Martinsville the race at Texas Motor Speedway was billed as a sparring match between Stewart and Edwards so I also loved that TMS Track president brought out the boxing gloves to have Tony’s picture taken with in victory lane:

Tony Stewart (right, with Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage) wins the boxing match...er the AAA Texas 500 race at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography)

That's right Tony...show 'em Stewart-Haas Racing has muscle! (photo credit: Action Sports Photography)

And WHOO FREAKING HOO:

Tony wins Texas! (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography)

 

Notes On Texas:

  1. Cute story – at about the 10 laps to go mark I was standing there watching (and hoping Burton would run out of gas) when my 3 and 1/2 year old nephew walked in.  He wasn’t sure what was going on and he stood by his grandpa.  My dad tried to explain it to him- that there was a race and we were rooting for Tony. So he stood next to me and kept saying Go Tony! everytime I would say Go Tony! If you asked him who Tony was he would say  “Tony our friend!”  Now since Tony won- he thinks that Tony is Lightning McQueen because he won and his car is red.
  2. On the Wednesday before Texas- Tony went to Lake Okeechobee again to fishin the third-annual Office Depot Foundation Charity Fishing Tournament:

Tony with his catch (Photo Credit: Corporate Image Photography)

Tony shows off his mad fishing skills for the Office Depot Foundation. (Photo credit: Corporate Image Photography)

Also Office Depot Racing is doing an I’M WITH SMOKE promo where you can download the “I’m With Smoke” icon to use as your twitter/facebook avatar as well as a wallpaper. Plus you can enter to win a trip to the Homestead Miami race (you must enter by November 11th, 2011). Next week’s race is at Phoenix. GO TONY GO! KEEP DIGGING TONY! See ya there!

By now most, if not all, race fans know that NASCAR’s sanctioning body parked driver Kyle Busch all weekend for an incident involving Ron Hornaday Jr. during the Camping World Truck series race on Friday night.  Instead Denny Hamlin piloted the Nationwide race car Kyle was suppose to run on Saturday and Michael McDowell drove the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car in today’s Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in Busch’s stead.

I don’t often watch the truck series races and that was the case this past Friday night. I only heard about the dust-up after the face. I’ve seen the replays multiple times. I’ve heard Kyle’s post race words and read his open letter of apology.  I’ve listened to Mike Helton’s explanation of the penatly. I’ve listen to Coach Gibbs. I’ve read parts of the letter from sponsor Mars. I’ve listened to commentators and drivers and fans.

I do realize that Ron Hornaday Jr is/was running for a championship. So was Matt Kenseth at Martinsville when Vickers repeatedly wrecked him last weekend. NASCAR took no action there- after all isnt it “boys have at it?” Is the idea not that the drivers are to police themselves? I also realize that Kyle did wreck Hornaday intentionally under a caution. A caution that had just come out and there were no safety vehicles in their vacinity.

I am not saying that Kyle didn’t take it too far. He did, afterall, wreck a championship contender intentionally under a caution.  NASCAR should not look the other way and I am not suggesting that they do.  Parking the truck for the remainder of the race was a good start. Points and monteary fines for Kyle Busch and Kyle Busch Motorsports should probably follow.  My big issue is parking Busch for the Sprint Cup race.  At the time of the incident Kyle was not driving for Joe Gibbs racing during the truck race.  It’s no different then when Tony stewart or Kasey Kahne go racing for their own dirt teams on friday nights.  Their actions at those tracks should not effect their current sprint cup rides much in the same way that Kyle’s incident in the truck series should not effect his Sprint Cup ride. Sure penalize and fine the everloving hell out of Kyle Busch and KBM but not JGR. This is the same stand that I took when Kyle got in trouble for his excessive speeding in North Carolina earlier this year. That had nothing to do with Joe Gibbs Racing either.

I admit I am surprised that according to the ESPN pre-race pole that 55 percent of those polled think that Kyle Busch should be let go by Joe Gibbs racing. I wholeheartedly disagree with that, which should not be a surprise.  I have a feeling that many of the NASCAR fans voting for the pro-firing must be the Kyle Busch haters. You know the ones. The booers. The same fans who write things like Kyle Busch Crash HERE X on the Safer Barrier by the start-finish lines at the tracks. The same fans who boo his crew as they push their car onto the qualifying grid. The same fans who harassed his wife on twitter- which is so beyond not cool to me.  It’s one thing to use social networking to call out a driver for their actions – it’s a completely other thing to call out or harass their spouse, girlfriend, or other family member or loved one.  That is not cool at alll.

Taking Kyle out of the race effectively ruined any remote chance at a decent chase finish. He is now mathematically eliminated from the chase. It also pretty much ruined the race at Texas Motor Speedway for both Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano- his teammates. They spend the weekend sharing notes on their cars and handling. Kyle is very obviously a BIG part of that looking at the finishes by both Hamlin and Logano.  Joe Gibbs Racing has already suffered enough for Kyle Busch’s actions while racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports. I don’t think any further action is necessitated by NASCAR or any of the JGR sponsors.  I keep hearing the voice of Kyle Busch singing in the newest Toyota commercial “Everybody wants a second chance.”

Have you heard of B.R.A.K.E.S? Its a non profit started by NHRA top fuel driver Doug Herbert in memory of his sons who died in a traffic collision in 2008. It stands for Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe and it’s mission is to train and educate teen drivers in the hopes of preventing other parents the pain of losing their children in automobile accidents.  I was first made aware of  B.R.A.K.E.S. when Kyle Busch teamed up with them after his traffic violation in North Carolina.

I was recently made aware of the B.R.A.K.E.S. raffle that is going on. For the price of a $10.00 raffle ticket, you are entered in a drawing for one of eight prizes (including an autographed Office Depot Pit Crew Shirt signed not just by Tony Stewart but the entire #14 pit crew and the same goes for an Army Pit Crew Shirt signed by Ryan Newman and the entire #39 pit crew). Not only are you getting the chance at several really great prizes (a pair of Oakley race shoes autographed by Tony Stewart, race gloves autographed by Ryan Newman, a $50.00 Visa and more) but more importantly know that through the proceeds you are helping train and educate teens to be  safe responsible drivers.  Be sure to check out www.brakesraffle.com today to find out more about the raffle and get your ticket to win some great prizes now.

Hello Texas Tony fans!  Tony Stewart will start off the Chase Race weekend in Texas at an autograph appearance in Plano, TX on Thursday November 3rd.  Tony will be greeting and signing autographs for 600 fans starting around 4:00 pm local time at the Office Depot located at 1701 Preston Road, Plano, TX 75093. To get an autograph you must have a wristband. Wristbands will be distributed starting at 8:00am local time at the location mentioned above. One wristband per person, one autograph per wristband.  You must be in line by 5:00pm to get your autograph.  Get there early, wear comfortable shoes and have a blast.

Give Tony some encouraging words to help his championship berth (he is only 8 points out of the lead now.  GO TONY GO or #GoTonyGo as we say on twitter).  Speaking of twitter- be sure to look for Billie and say hi..she will probably be the one at the front of the line- right Billie?

And while we are on the subject of Tony in Texas. Tony will be running a special Office Depot Copy & Print paint scheme:

WE DO PRINTING adorns the hood of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy that Tony Stewart will pilot in the 8th race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Texas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography)

Printing Done Right- The rear "TV Panel" of Tony's #14 Chevy (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography)

The WE DO PRINTING Chevy at an angle (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography)

And as a reward to his fans- if Tony should take the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday- the following Monday fans will be able to go to the Office Depot Racing website and download a coupon for 14 free color print outs good for that day.  Who doesn’t love free color copies? Hell I will think of something to copy! GO TONY GO!

“We’re not giving up (expletive)” could be heard on Tony Stewart’s radio near the midway point in the race as he battled hard to keep the race leader at the time, Denny Hamlin, behind him and himself on the lead lap.  Stewart’s car had been brough to Martinsville with teammate Ryan Newman’s race set up in the hopes of hitting on something that would work better for Stewart. Unfortunately with only one practice because of weather the set up was mostly an unknown. It’s frustrating because Martinsville is my favorite track. I love it’s close quarters, the bumping and rubbing, the short tempers. It makes for good racing but I can only imagine that 500 laps of fighting an ill-handling car can take a toll on a driver physically and mentally. I know at the point during the race that Stewart was fighting so hard to keep from going a lap down I was disheartened that he was in that position (but proud as hell he was putting up a right good fight).

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America)

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Several of the Chase drivers were asked in their media session today at Martinsville Speedway if they were going to attend a NASCAR themed Halloween party- what would they dress up as and why?  The answers are pretty funny….so I had to share the video with you.

I love the look on Tony Stewart’s face when he is asked the question is priceless- I think he was nearly speechless and it was obvious that the question caught him kinda off guard.  His answer is pretty darn funny too.   Also? Dale Earnhardt Jr’s answer cracks me the heck up.  Just what I needed on a Friday afternoon. Enjoy:

In his NASCAR video conference this last Tuesday, Tony Stewart was asked about the danger involved with racing. One of the many things he said was “It really boils down to the basics of, it’s auto racing. Auto racing, football, hockey, they are all dangerous sports. But we all love to do it and the fans love to watch it.” As racing fans struggle to make sense of the recent deaths of racers Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli due to injuries sustained in on track incidents, it only makes sense that we, as fans,  reflect on what we know and love about our sport as well as the level of danger and risk our favorite drivers deal with every time they race. These are the words of  fellow Tony Stewart fan, MaryAnn Holtz, who agreed to share her thoughts with us here on BadGroove.com. Thanks MaryAnn— Amy

In the days following the horrific accident that took Dan Wheldon’s life, Tony Stewart has been true to his character by answering question after question honestly and thoughtfully.  In short, saying racing is racing…drivers need to be responsible for what takes place behind the wheel…racing is safer than ever but there will always be an element of danger….

Now, we have all heard that Tony’s boyhood dream was to compete in the Indianapolis 500.  But younger fans or NASCAR aficionados that didn’t follow Indy may not realize just how early in his IRL career Smoke was faced with the ultimate dangers of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In May 1996, rookie driver Stewart qualified second alongside his teammate Scott Brayton for Team Menard.  The elder, experienced, successful Brayton and the smiling Rushville Rocket were thrilled to be taking on the famed 2 ½ miles they loved so much – at over 230 miles an hour!

Suddenly, during a Friday practice, a flat tire put Brayton’s backup car into the Turn 2 wall and he was gone.  The young rookie’s friend, mentor, and teammate was…gone.  Tony was moved to the pole position; fulfilling a lifelong dream; bringing him instant fame; and facing a roller coaster of emotions, I imagine.

A few short years later, while running the 2001 NASCAR’s Daytona 500, Smoke’s Home Depot #20 became airborne and flipped several times.  Tony was being examined at the hospital and had no idea what had occurred on Turn 4 at the end of the race.  Another driver was brought in – it was Dale, Sr. and it was bad, very bad.  Smoke called his mom and asked her to pray for Dale.  Another friend and mentor lost to the sport he loves.

So when asked if racing is dangerous, I expect the owner/driver of #14 would answer “Sure, always has been, always will be.”  But then that’s why racers race and why fans love to watch them.  To quote a fan on Twitter the night of Dan’s passing, “Sometimes we hate the sport we love so much.”  And so we go on to cheer for our favorite driver as they tighten up those belts one more time and race on to the next checkered flag.
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For more on the events of the 2001 Daytona 500, read this insightfully honest interview with Tony by Holly Cain, from AOLNews.com, Feb. 9, 2011.

MaryAnn Holtz can be found on twitter: @AzSmoke14fan