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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

What went down between Trevor Bayne and Jeff Gordon at Talladega left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  Even if Trevor was “ordered” to do it by team or manufacturer orders and just left to be the patsy, I still don’t like it.  Either way it makes the driver look bad and it’s going back on one’s word.  I don’t like that. Not to mention the fact that it pretty much wrecked any chance at all that Jeff might have had to win the championship. Sure it may have been a long shot but he still had a chance and now he pretty much doesn’t. All because Trevor said he would work with him and then pulled away when the green flag dropped on that last run. That is nothing to be proud of, nothing at all.  I liken it to those television shows, usually targeted at tweens and geeks, where the not-so-popular girl gets asked to the prom by the school’s star jock as some sort of sad joke…she dresses up as pretty as can be and ends up left at home while he is really dancing with cheerleader at the prom. (more…)

From the Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page I found out that Tony is doing an autograph appearance this Thursday October 27th, 2011 at Simpson World in Mooresville, NC.  From the post:

Fans are invited to attend an autograph session with Tony Stewart on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011 at 3:30 p.m., at Simpson World Mooresville. Wristbands will be given out to the first 250 people in line at Simpson, beginning at 10 a.m., on Oct. 27. We ask that everyone with a wristband be in line by 3 p.m., for the autograph session. For more information, call 704-662-3366.

Simpson World Mooresville is located at: Simpson Racing, 185 Rolling Hills Road, Mooresville, NC 28117

(This was written on Saturday afternoon and meant to be posted then but BadGroove was down- so I am posting it on Monday.  If you are looking for my race report/first (and probably only) attempt at live blogging go here).

I get sick and it seems everything goes to hell in a handbasket.  This illness started not last week but the week before with a simple case of a scratchy throat that evolved into a mild cold. It really wasn’t that bad as far as colds go- and by midday last saturday I was feeling much better. Sunday I felt back to my old self and spent much of the day pumpkin patch hopping.  On Monday of this week,  my throat got scratchy again. By Tuesday, I felt like a truck had hit me. By Wednesday I was wishing a truck would hit me and put me out of my misery. And now here it is Saturday- I am feeling a little better (but still not 100%- more like 75%). I have a ton stuff rolling around in my head to blog about and now- the website is having some sort of problem and I can’t get to it. ARG! So here are a bunch of things that have been rolling around my head along with all the congestion and headache:

  1. This morning I watched about 5 minutes of qualifying for Talladega. Seriously only 5 minutes and during that 5 minutes- Regan Smith qualified. And the people in the booth went on and on about how Regan Smith was a winner at Talladega even if the record books say he wasn’t.  MY GOD PEOPLE.  That was in 2008! LET IT GO! He advanced under the yellow line.  Yes I am a Stewart fan but a rule is a rule. HE ADVANCED UNDER THE DOUBLE YELLOW LINE…not allowed. SO Regan Smith DID NOT win at Talladega. Regan DID NOT WIN. So sorry to burst your little commentator bubbles. AGAIN: LET IT GO- the past is in the past and can’t be changed. Let’s talk about the future!
  2. DirecTV is apparently dropping SpeedTV from it’s line up as of November 1st. If they truly do this? I guess we will have to consider U-Verse or something. Sigh.  I hate how DTV seems to think it’s perfectly fine- when negotiating with stations the piss us fans off by threatening us to take away stations. Last  year it was Versus. This year it’s Speed. Next year it will be something else. Speed is probably one of THE most watched channels in our household- and not just because of NASCAr.
  3. Jeff Gordon reaches 85 wins and because of that part of the 85 has been named the Jeff Gordon Expressway. Does that mean when he gets win number 86 that he will get that taken away from him?
  4. David Gilliland has told Tony Stewart that he will not be able to be his dancing partner at Talladega at the dance race. Why? He is under orders from his manufacturer not to help Chevy. REALLY Ford? You want to be like that? Real mature. They made a good partnership before. Well I guess we will find out who Tony will partner with…but I think it’s really kind of crappy of Ford to do that.
  5. I read on twitter on Friday that the Dan Wheldon Lionheart tribute stickers are NOT going to be available to fans. I think that NASCAR is really missing a chance to help the family of Dan Wheldon- many fans would purchase them and NASCAR could donate the proceeds to the Wheldon Family trust.
  6. Speaking of the Wheldon Family Trust- if you have twitter you can follow @DWheldonAuction for information on the great items going to up for auction to benefit Dan Wheldon’s children.

I have been thinking I should try live blogging a race.  It might be fun. So I decided to kind of give it a go with the Talladega race- without publishing it during the race. This is the results. I am not convinced that I should be taking up live blogging anytime soon…let me know what you think:

So without further ado:

I have said it before and I will say it again- I do not like racing where the drivers have to worry about being partnered up with another driver…and answer me this: There are 43 drivers. That is an odd number…so someone is going to be odd man out.  I rather watch the pod racing that happens at restrictor plate races instead of the the long choo-choo train drafting of several years ago…but I still like racing where it’s more of an every racer for himself kind of environment.

I am also not thrilled that David Gilliland has been told to no longer draft with Tony by his manufacturer.  If you have to race in pods you should race with who you are

Aww- love seeing Jeff Gordon letting his children take turns in his race car before the beginning of the race.  So cute!

Jimmie had one flat tire prerace.

And here we go about to go green….

Jeff Gordon found his partner Mark Martin right away…Tony is using Newman currently as a dancing partner at the beginning of the race. At Daytona in July Tony said he didn’t want to use Newman as a partner because he didn’t want to put all his eggs in one basket…and now here he is with all his eggs in one basket.  This makes me nervous.  They led for a bit but are falling back now- this does NOT surprise me because I read somewhere on Saturday that Tony wanted to hang in the back for awhile. Sounds like everyone is trying to slip to the back on purpose…if everyone deploys this strategy- is there going to be a back?

I just got an idea! I think NASCAR should prohibit them from pod racing until the last 10 laps of the race. It would save engines (cost effective) and might make the racing more exciting. I find it hard to get too excited about a race when there are drivers purposely hanging around the back of the race.

Kevin Harvick sounded more like a spotter than a driver…wow…that was interesting. I wonder if Tony’s radio is like that as well? Time to launch my sprint cup mobile because I am curious to hear his radio. No from what I can tell- it sounds like Bob is talking to Tony. I don’t know if Ryan is taking to Tony as well…I don’t hear him and I don’t want to switch drivers to Ryan.

Apparently Denny Hamlin doesn’t have a dance partner and this is Tony Stewart’s fault because he is paired up with Newman. This goes back to the whole idea that with an odd number of cars there is going to be someone left out…whether you are talking about the number of cars in the field (43) or the number of cars on a team (3 in the case of teams like JGR).  Maybe NASCAR should mandate that IF you are going to push you have to push a team mate? I still find the pod racing boring until the end of the race.

I am having a heck of a time with the red and blue paint scheme…finding it on track.

Debris caution. I think they should be required to show the debris on the national broadcast. REQUIRED.  Sometimes they do show it…but they should be required to show it each time. Just sayin.

Denny is still partnerless- too bad he couldn’t hookup with one of the start-and-park teams for a little dinero or something.

I guess it’s time to start thinking up cute names for the pod couples now that everyone seems pretty content with their partnerships. Tony and Ryan would be: NewStew or Stewman. I obviously like Stewman best.  Kevin Harvick/ Paul Menard would have to be HarMen. Oh that one cracks me up. Kyle Busch/Joey Logano would be LoBu of course. Jimmie and Dale? JohnHardt. Oh I could do this all day.

LoBu got broken up by Trevor Bayne – causing Logano to break off from Busch. Logano saved the car- and was slow in the apron when his tire blew and sprinkled tirebits all over the track.  Second yellow caught several teams on pit road.  Not sure if StewMan was one of those teams. This might just give Denny a partner to dance with now in Busch.

The StewMan tandem is no more.  Newman spun out and now Tony has to find a new partner. Sigh. Boo.  Tony apparently takes the blame- but I think it was Reutimann getting too close and taking away side draft. When asked if his car was hurt Tony he replied with “Just his pride.”

Looks like Tony Stewart is trying to hook up with Joey Logano but Tony seems a little timid to push Joey Logano at first.  I wish Bobby LaBonte wasn’t already teamed up with someone. Urg…this is what is totally frustrating to me about this podracing.

The Big One? Looks like StewLo barely made it through that one. Lots of cars damaged. Looks like Tony remains hooked up with Logano.

Logano pushed Tony to the lead…can we just end the race now? No? Shoot. Sigh. Really disgruntled…this race is killing me. I apparently do not play well with others because I do not like when my driver has to rely on another driver to get around a race track. I think it stinks on ice.

Why I hate the dumb IF THE RACE ENDED NOW Chase points updates: The race isn’t going to end now – the they are completely and totally irrelevent. Plus seeing Tony in the points lead….while it makes me EXTREMELY happy…also makes me think they might jinx him. Please stop with that.

Andy Lally gets turned sideways into Jimmie Johnson and collects the 32 car. Jimmie has to have damage.  Last pitstop of the day is under caution. Sounds like Joey Logano is dumping Stewart as a partner and is going with a JGR teammate. that’s real nice. I HATE THIS TYPE OF RACING.

They went over to talk to Junior as he is the in-race reporter and ended up cutting into Chad Knaus talking to Jr. That was weird…hearing the crew chief talking to another driver.  I really wonder how complex it is with the communications at this track.

Did Junior really just say he doesn’t want to “fart a long too long?” Love it. Sounds like something my brother would say.

I really hate the nonstop stuff. I think that they should really go non stop and stop with the side-by-side. The whole race should be side-by-side except for the last 100 laps or so.

Was it me or after that crash with Kurt Busch and Bobby LaBonte did Bobby look like he was walking to the ambulance in slow motion. I am a little worried about him. Replay shows just how hard Busch hit LaBonte. Ouch. Hope he’s ok.

Tony is leading…YEY Tony. Oh no…a multi-car accident behind them- looks like Mark Martin might have caused it.  The 78 car barely nicked Jeff Gordon. There were multiple cars spinning. And here I was hoping that we would get through the last 10 laps with out incident. Seriously? What WAS I thinking? Sigh.

I really like Clint Bowyer’s 100 years of Chevy.

Wow…what happened to Tony and Paul there at the end? And then with Trevor Bayne agreeing to work with Jeff Gordon as a Thank You and then leaving him high and dry…and being a FORD Driver? That really makes me lose respect for Trevor’s word. And I was already anti-ford drivers after hearing that David Gilliland was dropping Tony as a partner because Ford told him to.

All that being said I think I saw that Tony moved up to forth in points.  And I have pretty much decided I do NOT like this live-blogging thing. I don’t think I am that good at it. Any thoughts?

This will be my third year going to the NASCAR Champions Week celebration in Las Vegas and honestly it’s something that I look forward to attending starting months and months in advance.  I LOVE going to these events because they are usually very fan friendly, fun, plus it’s really great to see the the top 12 drivers in a relaxed situation away from the stress and competition of the race season! I have written about my experiences here each time.  I wrote about the first year here and here. And about last year’s events here and here (and Misty wrote about fanfest).  See- always glowing reviews- and we ALWAYS have fun. If you can manage to get to Vegas for the Champions Week celebration I highly highly suggest that you do it!

One of my favorite events is the NASCAR After The Lap event because it is so much fun to see the drivers really just be themselves.  Last year’s was particularly enjoyable and I learned that Clint Bowyer was a total cut up. Plus seeing and hearing Tony Stewart talk is always FUN.  So this year Misty forwarded me the email she got (because she ordered our tickets last year) with the pre-sale information on them. I bought our AFTER THE LAP tickets this year because she purchased them last year…that’s just how we roll (plus proceeds to the ticket sales go to THE NASCAR FOUNDATION so it’s win-win).  I was quite pleased because of our pre-sale status we got some REALLY close seats (our original seats were: GOLD 2, row DD, seats 13-14) Awesomely close…as in fourth row. Which rocks because last year? We had second to last row.  So awesome for us right?

Yesterday, out of the blue Ticketmaster emails me and says that those totally awesome seats? Were sold in error and that they have assigned us new seats in section 102 row C seats 5 and 6. The email they sent CLEARLY stated that if I wanted to retain these new seats I had until October 28th to reply to the email with my order number and that if I did NOT reply they would cancel my order- no harm no foul.  While I was NOT pleased at all that my uber close, 4th row awesome seats were now relocated to a much further back row I did still want to attend the event so what was I gonna do?  I emailed back with my original order number as specified in my email.  This morning when I checked my email I had a lovely email stating that my ticket order HAD BEEN CANCELLED! CANCELLED! This is definitely PANIC AT THE DISCO time.  I fired back an email stating that I replied per their instructions (and I reread their instructions three times to make sure I didn’t misread) to RETAIN my tickets not to CANCEL them!  Then I decided to call them to reiterate that I wanted my tickets.  They were closed of course. So I waited until 9:00 when they opened and called back again.  The representative who helped me (JAY) was nice and looked up my order number and told me that it indeed was cancelled.  AND not only that but the seats they reassigned me? Sold already. JAY the ticket master rep who helped me found me some equivalent seats (now we are sitting in section 101 Row C seats 5 & 6 but told me that the event is selling out fairly quickly.

So get your tickets for NASCAR AFTER THE LAP ASAP if you want to go- JAY told me they were already starting to run low on seats. And hopefully Ticketmaster won’t screw up your seats like they screwed up ours (TWICE).  See you there…and now you know exactly where we will be sitting so swing by and say HEY (that is of course unless our tickets get moved AGAIN).

Oh and in my rant I nearly forgot to tell you if you visit NASCAR AFTER THE LAP right now you can enter to WIN a trip to Vegas- including two VIP tickets to AFTER THE LAP (probably in my original seats..just kidding, kinda) AND a brand new Ford Explorer.

One of my favorite pictures from last year’s Stewie Awards during the Champions Week…just for fun:

Tony Stewart smiles at the 2010 Stewie Awards in Las Vegas, NV

Probably the best picture of Tony Stewart I have managed to take...because most of them manage to blur because I get nervous and move the camera. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

UPDATE: I am starting to think that TICKETMASTER pre-sale isn’t anything to get excited about that is for sure. Tell me Ticketmaster- what is the point of a pre-sale when I went out of my way to disrupt my morning routine to be sure I would be online the minute the tickets went on pre-sale…and ended up with 4th row seats (or second row in the case of Opal…our first commenter) as my prize for doing so- only to then get railroaded several sections back into the seating because of a supposed error that wasn’t discovered until so many of the seats have already been sold. I bet that if I had waited for tickets to go on sale for regular non pre-sale time slot I would have received just as good if not better seats that I have now.

It’s comparing apples to oranges admittedly but it’s not just the NASCAR After The Lap thing that TICKETMASTER is having a problem administering the pre-sale for.  Here is an article about the Sugarland pre-sale for the makeup concert from the Indiana State Fair tragedy…ticketed fairgoers were suppose to have a special pre-sale of their own (without the sale part- tickets were suppose to be free for them) yet why was a news station able to take advantage of the special sale?

It’s really disappointing and the more I think about it the more disappointed (and ANGRY) I get.

Are you going to the race at Charlotte on Saturday? If you are in the area be sure to check out Tony’s autograph appearance at Office Depot in nearby Huntersville, NC tomorrow October 12th!  The address for the location is: 9530 Birkdale Crossing Drive, Huntersville, NC and he will be there starting at approximately 4:00 PM local time.  A wristband is required and  will be available starting at 8AM local time at the above location and are limited to the first 600 fans. There will be one wristband per person, one autograph per wristband!  Fans with a wristband must be in line no later than 5PM local time to receive an autograph.  The #14 Office Depot Impala show car will be at the location starting at 1:00 PM local time.

Have a great time!

Warning: Thar be curse words ahead…ones that start with F so if you are sensitive to that (even though they are totally necessary) here is a link to a picture of Roxy (my adorable beagle) in my Flickr account that you can look at instead of reading this post that has a few F-words in it (I really did try to write this without the curse words…but it doesn’t have the same impact nor did it feel as cathartic):

There is a reason I don’t post my race reviews directly after races.  It’s not that I don’t have the time, I usually do, unless there is some sort of weather delay or something that has made the race eat up a majority or my day. The reason I don’t post directly (same thing with why I don’t live blog races) would be because if I had posted right after the Kansas 2 race it would have read something like this: (more…)