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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!

Hey all! I am heading for LAS VEGAS today- because of that posting will be light to non-existent over the next week.  Be sure to follow me on twitter (and Misty too) as we will be tweeting during the race weekend in Vegas.  You can also follow me on Facebook (and Misty too).

In the meantime, here are some fun #NASCAR related things to check out:

Stewart  Not Alone Trying To Figure Out EFI Mystery – Joe Menzer, NASCAR.COM

NASCAR: Darian Grubb Took The High Road To Victory Lane With Denny Hamlin - Jenna Fryer, AP/Autoweek

NASCAR.COM’s Race Predictor and Chase Predictor – A fun page I stumbled upon Tuesday – provides picks for the race and the chase- says it’s “updated throughout the week.” Check it out.

If you can’t laugh at your driver- then you are far too serious. Kevin Boots made this for our friends over at LOLRacePics:

Not only is this funny (it might not be if you don't get the 2001 reference).

I love the new Coca-Cola NASCAR commercial (featuring all your favorite coca-cola family drivers like Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Jamie McMurray):

 

And finally- your gratuitous Tony Stewart picture of the day comes from the official Tony Stewart Facebook page…I think this one is just begging for a caption don’t you?:

What is Tony thinking about?

And this one just because:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, jokes with Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage during Media Day at Texas Motor Speedway on March 6, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America)

#GoTonyGo #ImWithSmoke

Oh EFI how you disappoint this Stewart fan.  Tony was within striking distance of the lead- and hanging out mostly right around 6th for most of the day.  Only to get quite the surprise when he switched his car off to save gas as requested by his new crew chief Steve Addington.

(R-L) Crew chief Steve Addington talks with Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/ Mobil 1 Chevrolet, in the garage prior to practice for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images North America)

However the car would not switch back on. It was sad to see him sink further and further behind the field as he tried to refire the car multiple times.  Unfortunately he had to be pushed back to the pits to have assistance to get the car fired back up.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/ Mobil 1 Chevrolet, is pushed down pit road during the NASCAR SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America)

URG.  He went from possibly in the hunt to 2 laps down in a flash. Unfortunately he finished 22nd, 2 laps down. He is now in 15th in the standings (but technically he is really in a four way tie for 12th with Brad Keselowski, Jeff Burton, and Paul Menard).

Notes on Phoenix:

- It didn’t take TIDE long to create a commercial based on their involvement in the cleanup efforts after the Daytona Jet Dryer Explosion did it:

My major thing is that it would flash across the screen and for a split second I would think MOLY! What just happened at PIR…but then I would realize…it’s that Tide commercial again.  You have to admit that was rather quick that they were able to take the footage from the wreck at Daytona (remember that happened on Monday night!) and make it into a commercial!

-Am I the only one who misses the dog-leg portion of Phoenix Raceway? I also hate that the drivers seem to cut across the apron now…it honestly looks like they are cheating and if they wanted the drivers to drive on that part – they need to re paint the yellow line.

- I totally admit that I was REALLY hoping that Tony Stewart/Steve Addington would get a win before the Denny Hamlin/Darian Grubb pairing did.  It’s because I am fiercely competitive when it comes to my driver…sigh.

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/ Mobil 1 Chevrolet, reacts from inside the garage prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 2, 2012. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

Next Race: Las Vegas Motor Speedway! I’ll Be THERE :-)

This was an appearance for Tony in 2012!!
Attention Vegas bound Tony Stewart Fans! The 2011 Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart will be signing autographs in advance of the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway!  The autograph appearace will be March 8th at 1:00 pm at the Office Depot located at 1435 W Craig Road – Unit B  North Las Vegas, Nevada 89032.

As always to get an autograph you need to have a wrist band. Wristbands will be given away starting at 8:00 am local time the same day of the appearance.  There are 450 wristbands. One wristband per person. One autograph per wristband.

Get there early, wear comfortable shoes, and most of all: HAVE A BLAST! These are fun events! There will also be a show car at the festivities.  I will see you there!

On February 17th (seems like ages ago doesn’t it?) the 48 car entered in the Daytona 500 field failed it’s initial race entry inspection because of illegal C-posts.  The C-Posts were confiscated by NASCAR and the team was allowed to repair the 48 car and go back through inspection and then into practice.  First thought is where the heck is the C-Post…well I found and stole this graphic from an old article on NASCAR.com:

Click graphic to be taken to the story on NASCAR.com that it was borrowed from.

Anyway- today NASCAR announced the “punishment” for the illegal parts. They were found to be in violation of three sections of the NASCAR rulebook*:

Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the rule book or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-2.1E (if in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance will not be permitted – unapproved car body modifications)

Chad Knaus, crew chief of the 48, was fined $100,000 and suspended for 6 weeks. Car chief of the 48, Ron Malec, was also suspended for 6 weeks.  Jimmie Johnson was fined 25 driver points. Jeff Gordon was fined 25 owner points.

Wow…is it me or is that a little heavy handed? I posted a sentiment like that on my facebook and I guess it might just be me. But never the less I stand by my initial reaction that it’s a harsh penalty…too harsh.  I have several reasons why I think the fines are a bit much:

  1. It’s my understanding that this particular car had been used several times last season. If that is the case- why did it not fail any of those numerous inspections? (Initial inspection, post qualifying inspection, post race inspection). I mean sure I suppose the car could have been completely changed during the off season- but really?
  2. NASCAR needs to be more consistant with it’s fines.  What do I mean by this? Consider this- Clint Bowyer’s car failed post-qualifying inspection.  Yet NASCAR did not offer any fines whatsoever there- not even a mention of possible fines the whole week between qualifying and race day. Yet as soon as the 48 failed inspection on Friday- it was news and talk of heavy fines floated around the team ALL week long.  While the parts that failed inspection are apples and oranges- the end result is this- the cars were both non-standard and thus failed inspection. Yet one team was heavily penalized and the other was let go without even a slap on the wrist.  This is unfair and unequal treatment between teams. NASCAR needs to decide whether or not they are going to be heavy handed rulebook thumpers or the nice “give a team the benefit of the doubt” kind of sanctioning body. It can’t be both.
  3. Since it was the initial inspection and the team never practiced or qualified with the offending parts on the car, I don’t think it should be fined at all. Technically the team gained nothing from the offending parts because they did not USE said parts- the car never touched track.  They removed them and I assume that the car that Jimmie raced in the 500 this past Monday had no technical issues (with the exception of the big technical issue of being crashed in lap two). This, going back to the Clint Bowyer senario mentioned in 2, is really unfair because if there was something unstandard on Bowyer’s car he practiced and qualified the offending part- having gained some possible benefit from it.

Now I am sure some people will argue with “But Chad has done this before- remember when he was suspended and Darian Grubb took the helm as crew chief?” Yes, I have not forgotten this.  My thought in this- Chad and the 48 team have already paid for those mistakes…Chad was removed and fined for those issues. That issue is closed. This is a separate issue. To that arguement doesn’t make any sense. It’s like a tardy student getting expelled instead of suspended this year because they had an unexcused absence and and an additional unexcused absence five years ago, that they already served a detention for five years ago.

So there you have my three reasons I think NASCAR was heavy handed with the fines.  Misty, while agreeing with me in general that the NASCAR punishment is too harsh, also has some good albeit different points about the situation and I highly suggest that you read her post about it as well: The 48 Smackdown: Overkill.

_______________

* I want a rulebook. Just because.

Since the Shootout I had been dreading the 500. The truck race and the NW race did little to curb the knot in my tummy. The rain delay only served to further my anxiety levels and when the race finally commenced at 4 pm Pacific on Monday, I found myself at work. Now, I am blessed to work in a friendly family office that is not only cool with me watching the race but actually accommodates us by having flat screens in each office. I turn on the race and didn’t have to wait long for the inevitable to happen. Sure enough at lap 2 a big wreck erupted. Forgetting where I was, I leapt up and screeched- searching the field to see if my driver was caught up in the mayhem and then I had to go apologize and explain to my co-worker that should he hear any screams or cursing to ignore them as it was just me watching the 500.  While this was just the start of the crashes and calamities that made up the Daytona 500, it was the moment when my pent up dread burst out and after that initial wreck, I was actually able to settle in and watch the race without as much trepidation.

I am glad the tandem draft is over and the “pack is back” at the super speedways – I think, but I have a feeling I am not going to get much sleep the night before the Dega races or the next Daytona race this season.

Hands down the most amazing moment of the much anticipated and long delayed (thank you very much Mother Nature) Daytona 500 was the explosive collision between Juan Pablo Montoya and the jet dryer. While certainly not an amazingly good moment- it is a moment that will go down in NASCAR history and will forever make the replay reels. From the collision, to the fire, to the massive cleanup to get the last 40 laps in, this was a truly captivating moment of the 500, but the most amazing thing is that everyone involved was able to walk away.

Personally I was secretly hoping that the race would not conclude and Blaney would have been deemed the winner- that would almost match last year’s stunning win by Bayne, but amazingly the track surface survived and Kenseth took the checkers. Despite the delays, this is a 500 to remember.

What a wild and crazy Daytona 500! Congratulations to winner Matt Kenseth!

I don’t know if I am a big fan of the “pack” racing being back.  To me “pack racing” is just asking for crashes that damage multiple cars.  It’s scary and dangerous and I am glad they don’t race super speedways more because THIS type of racing is what made me watch super speedways through my fingers to begin with.  The drivers seem to like it though- because I guess they feel more in control of their own destiny during the course of the race.  I don’t know about that though…let’s ask Tony Stewart how in control of his own destiny he felt right about here:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6, spin after an on track incident during the Daytona 500 February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

Tony was able to avoid multiple crashes until the very end. Despite taking a spin (above) and hitting (below) Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart was still able to bring the Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy home 16th!  I credit this entirely to Misty’s assertions that you “can’t keep Stewart down” – she was so right about that!

Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, spins in front of Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 during the Daytona 500 on February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America)

The result wasn’t exactly what I wanted to see as a Tony fan (I REALLY wanted him to get that first Daytona 500 win!) but judging by all the mayhem he avoided/overcame? We’ll take it!  Tony is currently 16th in the points standings eighteen points behind race winner and current points leader Matt Kenseth.

Notes About Daytona:

  • Fox’s broadcast confused me- as the end was suppose to be that side-by-side coverage. They fully utilized side-by-side during the red-flag incident. And honestly it was kind of fun- especially when we see a group of drivers, including Brad Keselowski, walking from their cars towards turn 3 to see what on earth was going on (they were eventually requested by safety officials to turn back).  However, when they went green there were times that they ran full commercials and other times (during cautions) where they ran side-by-side.  Confusing! Maybe they were befuddled because of the lengthy red-flag? I dunno- but that seemed odd to me.
  • Speaking of Brad Keselowski- there are mumblings about him getting in trouble for having a phone in his car with him.  Um…it’s not like he was out there tweeting and driving.  He was using it during a red flag- so I don’t really see the big deal.  Now if there was proof he was out there tweeting while driving (even during yellows) I think that is a MAJOR no-no, but I don’t see an issue with him using it during a red flag.
  • As of this writing we are still waiting to hear if there will be any penalties for Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus resulting from inspection infractions from the 48- who was found to have a non-standard c-post (or something like that).  I guess I am wrong because I always thought if infractions were found BEFORE practice/qualifying that they just made you fix the issue and roll back through technical inspection again.  Guess I am wrong there. Sounds like beyond monetary/points fines- there could very well be a suspension for Chad Knaus. I hope not because I know one of his fans will most likely be in the Neon Garage during the upcoming Las Vegas race, and I don’t want her to miss seeing her favorite crew chief.
  • I am still really disappointed in Sprint for having discontinued Sprint Cup Mobile on non-droid phones (see my original post: Dear Sprint You Have Disappointed Me).  I missed it ALOT during the race and didn’t realize just how much I did use it until I grabbed my phone and thought ARG FOILED AGAIN!
  • One bright side to the lengthy rain delay on Saturday AND the red flag delay on Sunday? Were the tweets from the Stewart-Haas Racing twitter account.  Funny stuff right there. Don’t follow? You definitely should

Gratuitous Tony Picture(s) of the Week:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, (and PR Guru Mike Arning) walks on the grid while rain falls prior to the start of the Daytona 500 on February 26th, 2012. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images North America)

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 on February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

The Next Race: Phoenix Raceway.

#GoTonyGo! #ImWithSmoke!