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After an abysmal start to the season that includes a mechanical DNF at Daytona, a team mate spurred DNF (don’t even get me started) at Bristol and a couple of mediocre finishes in Phoenix and Vegas, it was AMAZING to see Jeff Gordon’s terrific run at AutoClub Speedway this weekend. After qualifying 21st for Sunday’s race, he quickly moved up the leader board finding himself firmly in the top 5 by the time the race reached its half-way mark. The Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet was strong and Jeff was able to take positions seemingly at will. It truly was AMAZING…amazing right up until it got messy!

With rain imminent and only green flag laps, cars were reaching their fuel window and had to pit. Jeff stayed out on track the longest leading a few laps before coming down pit road for his scheduled stop. This is where it got MESSY (to say the least). After receiving the GO signal from his crew, Jeff pulled away dragging the gas man and the still engaged gas can out of the stall with him, resulting in a pass through penalty that left him a lap down in P19. Even so, his car was fast and strong; he quickly passed some lap down cars and moved up to 16th. His lap times were equal to and at some times quicker than the dominant leader, Stewart. In fact, it looked as if Jeff had a decent shot of racing his way back to the lead lap until Mother Nature intervened and opened her skies over Turn 3, bringing out the Yellow.

Now had the 24 stayed on track and taken the wave around the bleeding could have at least stopped there, but oh no! A poor decision to pit under caution (did the team not have access to the same report we in the stands had? Once the rain started it wasn’t going to let up until Monday, so there was absolutely no chance the race would go back GREEN).

Another pit stop resulted in another penalty when the tire changer lost control of the front tire and went bouncing across pit road. I sat in the stands watching in horror! I could not believe this kind of epic fail from a team of this caliber.

Sure enough within a few laps the race went Red and was shortly called due to the torrential down pour, which everyone knew was coming! Jeff finished P26, and slid two more positions in the points to 25th! I hate to be Debbie Downer, but unless this team gets it together and quick they are not likely to recover from this atrocious start to the season and may just miss the Chase and that is more than enough reason for me to mess my unmentionables!

Hey Texas- three time Sprint cup champion Tony Stewart is coming your way tomorrow to do an Office Depot Grand (re)Opening event celebrating the remodeling of 13 area Office Depot locations.

Tony will be signing autographs at Office Depot in Houston Texas (address: Office Depot
10311 Highway 45 North (NW Corner of I-45 North and West Rd) Houston, Texas 77037) at 4:30 local time TOMORROW (March 28th, 2012).

You will need a wristband for the event- wristbands will be given away on a first come, first serve basis starting at 8:00 am local time. One wristband per person, one autograph per wristband!

Have a great time. The show car will be there!

Shock Ruling: Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus Win Final Appeal- Dustin Long for USA Today

Team 48 Wins Appeal of Daytona Penalties- The AP for FoxSports

Ryan Newman: I’ve Changed How I Race The Competition- By Jeff Gluck for SBNATION.com

The infamous pre-race interview with Tony Stewart from Bristol where he was…um distracted by some shenanigans (I wanted to embed it but that option is not available so i thought I would share it anyway).  http://www.nascar.com/video/post-race/highlights/120318/cup-bri-high-stewart-prerace/index.html

Bristol Driver Intro Songs List- by Jeff Gluck for SBNATION.com

Tony Stewart Dominates off the line for his first career Vegas win- Jay Busbee for Yahoo!Sports

For the love of pete will someone please teach Denny Hamlin how to Dougie:

Your Gratuitous Tony Stewart Pictures:

Blatantly stolen from the official Tony Stewart Facebook page: during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee on March 18, 2012. Copyright, CIA Stock Photography, Inc.

Also blatantly stolen from the Tony Stewart official facebook page: Tony Stewart speaks to members of the media during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee on March 16, 2012. Copyright, CIA Stock Photography, Inc.

After what was an extremely hectic race weekend from Vegas (I know I still haven’t posted about it- don’t worry I will-but I want to get Bristol out of the way before I get too far behind), I was looking forward to watching the racing action at Bristol from home.  I love me some Bristol and it was a blustery and stormy day here on the central coast.

It just so happens that Tony Stewart was one of the hot pass drivers this race (his first time this year that I can remember) so I decided to watch on his DirecTv Hot Pass channel.  I knew he hadn’t qualified too well (23rd) and that he didn’t seem to be all that spectacular in practice so I figured it would be one of those days where I was hoping he didn’t get a lap down too early (so easy to go a lap down at short tracks like Bristol and Martinsville).

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images North America)

(Side note: The photographer in me LOVES the above picture…LOVES it).

I happened to catch Tony’s (comical) pre-race interview and one of the questions was about how he and Steve were clicking this early in the season.  He said that they seemed to be getting along quite well and the only issue Tony could even think of was that Steve is soft spoken and sometimes hard to hear on the radio- I have always heard that it is LOUD at Bristol and teams have trouble hearing each other’s radio communications anyway- so I thought that this might be an issue. I was wrong.

Tony started the race by thanking the team for busting butt to make all the changes they made on the race car (uh-oh said my gut that means that the car WAS crap out of the box and what they had was probably hit-or-miss). He also told his spotter to reign him in if he felt Tony was getting easily frustrated.  I wonder how one reigns in their own boss? (Spotter’s jobs fascinate me but that is a story for a different day).  It also didn’t sound to me like they were having any issue hearing each other during the race from what I could tell from the Hot Pass.

I will say this though…yes this is Tony’s third crew chief in however many years he’s been doing this in NASCAR but it means it’s my third crew chief too…and it was different listening to Steve Addington on the radio.  Thanks to my lack of Sprint Cup Mobile on my phone now, this was my first time really listening to their radio communications and my ears (and brain) were use to Darian’s voice and now I have to get use to Steve Addington’s voice.  I do like the way he calls Tony into and out of the pit box though…it reminds me more of Zipadelli.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images North America)

My favorite part of the race was seeing Tony battle Brad Keselowski to stay on the lead lap. It was an epic battle and you could tell that Tony was driving his ass off to keep Keselowski behind him.  He eventually succumbed to Bad Brad but thankfully a caution soon after gained Tony a “Lucky Dog” and he got back on the lead lap.  Between attrition and a better handling car Tony had worked his way up to 9th and was battling for 8th. Tony ended up getting hit by Brendan Gaughan in the #33 and damaging the rear of his car fairly severely.

Another favorite part of the race (thanks to Hot Pass) was this gem between Tony and his spotter Bob Jeffrey (@eyeinthesky14):

Tony: WHO THE F@(K JUST HIT ME?

Bob: Gaughan

Tony: WHO?!?

My second favorite thing was MY witty tweet after Tony got wrecked…that no one seemed to catch:

Ok so I spelled Gaughan wrong but it was STILL damn funny if I don’t say so myself.  Seriously people- I am not usually this witty so soak it up while you can.

Anyway, as my tweet above mentions, Tony ended up having to take two pitstops under the caution to fix damage on the car and was able to not only stay on the lead lap BUT finish a fairly respectable 14th (he would have been 15th but Junior cut a tire on the last lap…perhaps karma was paying him back for cutting Jeff Gordon’s tire early in the race).  Tony is currently 7th in the points standings.

NOTES ABOUT BRISTOL:

  1. I really HATE knowing that the drivers are getting introduced to a song of their choosing and introducing themselves and we don’t get to see it happening on the TV.  In case you are wondering- Tony Stewart picked a different song this time. One of my favorite Toby Keith songs actually- How Do Yo Like Me Now?  so YEY Tony for picking something non-Kid Rockish.  Other songs of note: Brian Vickers- Back In The Saddle Again by Aerosmith (so fitting don’t you think?), Jimmie Johnson- Jimi Thing by Dave Matthews Band, Jeff Gordon- Theme to Flash Gordon by Queen, Kevin Harvick- Save Water, Drink Beer by Chris Young, and Dale Jr picked my second favorite Pantera song by choosing Walk.
  2. The “shit for luck” up there in the title is NOT something I called the race- that was taking words out of Tony’s mouth.  He said on his radio after the race something to the effect of that he was pleased with their performance at Bristol despite having “shit for luck”.

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, is interviewed in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

Next race: AUTOCLUB in CALI…and yes I WILL BE THERE.

Ok California Smoke fans…this one is for you!  Three time cup champion Tony Stewart will be doing an autograph appearance at the Office Depot in Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday March 22nd at 3:45 pm local time! Wristbands are required and 300 will be given away starting at 8:00 at the Office Depot in Rancho Cucamonga!

The address for the appearance is:

8160 Day Creek Blvd, Rancho Cucamonga, California 91739

ALSO- after the autograph appearance Tony will be participating in a Q&A Session from the Office Depot in Rancho Cucamonga (5:15pm local time)!  Fans can submit questions outside in a dropbox near the showcar before the session and watch the Q&A live at Office Depot!  The coolest thing is that if like me, you can’t attend you can still watch the Q&A Live on OfficeDepotRacing.com!!!!

It’s Time To Bring Back “The Six”- Marty Smith for ESPN.COM (I LOVE almost anything Marty Smith does…seriously!)

New Crew Chief, Stewart Clicking Fast- Jeff Hammond for FoxSports

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Frustrated With Mark Martin, Finish in Vegas- Bob Pockrass for Sporting News

Tony Stewart A Calming Influence?- Eddie Gossage for ESPN Dallas

Tony Stewart Composed, Confident- Terry Blount for ESPN.COM

At Bristol Dale Earnhardt Jr Says He Was Foolish In Last Week’s  NASCAR Race- Jeff Gluck for Sbnation.com

Your Gratuitous Tony Stewart Photos:

The Future’s So Bright- He’s Gotta Wear Shades

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 9, 2012. (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America)

They Call Him Smoke For A Reason

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 11, 2012. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America)

(that one is because while yes I was at the track and saw him win…I missed his burn out!!! (WHOT? How could that possibly happen??  I will explain soon…I am almost done with that post).

Far and away the most amazing thing about Race 3 in Las Vegas was Jimmie Johnson’s runner-up finish after crashing in Happy Hour Saturday and having to start from the rear of the field in a backup car.  Within minutes of Jimmie losing control and hitting the wall Saturday afternoon, Chad and the 48 team were unloading the backup car. Amy and I had the privilege of witnessing much of the hardwork that went into getting the car race ready – I am sure it was a long night for the 48 team, but it paid off with that awesome finish.

Where There's a Chad , There's a Way (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany)

Now, the messy moment of the race for me probably didn’t even make it into the TV coverage, but it was a moment that brought out my potty mouth and made me bite my nails literally.  I think I may even have embarrassed Amy by my exclamation!  About 80 laps in, my driver was racing mid pack for P15 (I think) and a certain driver that I have had issues with before decided to go three wide into turn 1, causing my far more sensible driver to fall back a few places, where he then seemed to struggle the remainder of the day!   I wish that someone would pass out my “space bubble memo” at the next Driver’s Meeting, so that my driver can maintain a safe space bubble in which he can freely race however he wants and the heck with the other 42 cars.  :)

I just got back home to the central coast of California from my race weekend in Vegas. I have A LOT to share with you (I took hundreds of pictures spread between two cameras. I know I will like only about 5 of the pictures but I haven’t even had time to take my cameras out of the bag yet).  I know Misty has some stuff to share too.

I wanted to get this out there first!  One of the first things we did for the site was interview Tony Stewart before his Office Depot appearance on Thursday March 8th in Las Vegas.  Now Misty and I had this interview planned for awhile, and we had been batting question ideas for Tony back and forth one day when Misty came up with the idea…why don’t we try videoing our interview.  I LOVED the idea.  I am always up for trying something new.

Fair warning- I hate the way my voice sounds…but doesn’t everyone? And yes I KNOW I SAID UM a lot – it’s been pointed out to me several times after the interview (like it even had to be…I am my own worse critic and noticed it right away). So…just ignore that.  I mean he is a three time Sprint Cup Champion after all and I may have been a wee tiny bit nervous!   So without further ado enjoy our video interview:

Special thanks to Misty for filming it with her steady hand!