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WARNING:  NASCAR is addicting, may lead to loud outbursts at television set, wild jumping and clapping after lap lead, pass, or victory by favorite driver; avoidance of social commitments and other activities on race day, to name but a few of  the side effects of becoming a NASCAR fan.

I had no idea the depth to which I had been plunged into NASCAR, until this past weekend.  I mean I rarely do anything half heartedly and NASCAR is no exception.  Though I have only been following the sport for the last few years, it did not take me long to learn the terminology, get acquainted with the drivers, the rules, the point system and the myriad of changes that NASCAR has thrown to all of that in the last few years.  I shouldn’t have been surprised by what transpired this past weekend, after all I have broken blood vessels in my hands from clapping so hard during a race, I nearly gave myself a concussion once by jumping up from my stability ball at the end of another race when my driver won and I fell back, slamming my head on a tile floor, and I have caught the attention of more than one fellow race enthusiast at the track when my driver’s “personal safety bubble” is being ignored on track making the racing a little too close for my liking and causing me to perch on my seat and bite my nails, quite literally.  Sometimes I will watch a pass through the palms of my hands until I am certain my guy came out of the hornet’s nest unscathed and the position was won. But despite all these obvious signs at being what some might very well call a nut, er, I mean super fan, I didn’t get it until I leapt off of my chair after a commercial that aired during the Bud Shootout advertising the upcoming Gatorade Duels, which were scheduled to air the following Thursday.  The reason for my jubilation… the Duels were airing on Thursday, the same day I was scheduled to have my wisdom teeth removed, meaning I would be home from work and able to watch the races.  Only a true diehard NASCAR fan would be excited to have scheduled their oral surgery for a race day.  My jubilation was only partially dampened by the thought that I would likely be a little out of sorts due to the pain meds I would undoubtedly be consuming.

So here’s to the Duels on Thursday and the beginning of a fresh season with unlimited possibilities for my driver and unlimited opportunities for me to incur injury in my fervent following of this sport!

Attention Indiana Tony Stewart fans- the February 1st autograph appearance has been changed to MARCH 15th due to a winter storm warning.  Here is the new information:

The new store location is the JD Byrider located at 1703 US 31 South in Greenwood Indiana.  The autograph session will still take place from 5:00pm – 7:00 pm local time with wristband distribution beginning at the location at 11:00 am.  Wristband entitles you to one autographed item.

Attention Indiana Tony Stewart fans: Tony will be meeting fans in Indianapolis, Indiana on February 1st at JD Byrider.  The autograph session will take place from 5:00pm to 7:00pm local time at the JD Byrider Store on Shadeland Ave. in Indianapolis (1525 North Shadeland Ave.).  Wristbands are needed for this event.

Wristbands will be available starting at 11:00 am at the JD Byrider Store- there will be  800 wristbands distributed. Fans with wrist bands will be able to enter the store to get one (1) item autographed and will be allowed to take as many photos as they want in front of the table while in line.

Last year it was Jeff Gordon helping the Extreme Home Make over team. This Sunday- NASCAR drivers Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards join movie star Emma Roberts and pop singer Justin Bieber in helping the Brown family in Texas. In this  episode we learn that the Brown family lost their teenage daughter to a texting-while-driving accident.  Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards help the Brown’s cause- which is to prevent distracted driving accidents- by trying their hands at texting-while-driving on a closed course.

Greg Biffle, designer Leanne Touhy, and Carl Edwards on the set of Extreme Home Makeover. Photo courtesy of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition / George Verschoor

This two-hour episode airs this Sunday January 30th on ABC at 8:00 pm ET/PT time.  Check your local listings.

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And for those who are thinking that the name of designer Leanne Touhy sounds familiar, this is because she was the character Sandra Bullock played in the movie The Blind Side.

Picture if you will, an extremely busy Monday morning and I am sitting in my office doing my thing.  My coworker sticks his head in my office to say hello and discuss some work matters.  Then, just as he was about to go on his way he says it.  “So what’s this I hear about Tony Stewart?”

I knew it was just a matter of time that someone approached me at work.  Anyone who passes by my office can tell that I am a stalwart Tony Stewart fan.   It may as well be tattooed across my forehead, for I very proudly display my driver of preference in my office. There are hero cards, cars, burger king toys, calendar, oh and the cardboard standee in the corner that is taller than I am.  I wear my Tony Stewart fandom on my sleeve, the way most NASCAR fans wear theirs for their driver of preference. 

So I clenched my jaw, took a breath, and tried (successfully) not to roll my eyes.  This is not the first time I’ve caught hell for being a Stewart fan and I am sure it won’t be the last.  I was trying to decide on a way to reply when my coworker stopped me with “Yeah, I heard he went to Australia for a fight and a race broke out.”   Oh how I chuckled heartily.  Come on…it’s a little funny right? It couldn’t have just been my frenzied Monday playing tricks on me! 

So, I guess it’s time to talk about the purple elephant that’s been sitting on the corner of the blog.  The one I have avoided for over a week now.  As you have probably heard by now, Tony Stewart went on a month long vacation to Australia that included some racing at Australian dirt tracks.  While there he was involved in a physical altercation with one of the co-owners of a track.  Australian police were involved. 

On Thursday of last week, right out of the gate at the Daytona test session, Tony answered media questions about the altercation.  He was honest and upfront about the situation and you can read about it word for word straight from Stewart’s mouth.  I watched the press conference and the transcription is dead on.

I don’t have anything new or exciting to add to the mix.  There are a ton of articles and blog posts out there either touting Tony as a terrible, out-of-control rageaholic for his part in the altercation or lauding the return of “old fiery Tony” all hail.  I don’t think this issue is entirely black and white; it’s more of a muddled grey mess and Tony/NASCAR fans may never know the full details. I don’t have any answers and I sure as hell am not going to speculate.  Maybe it’s just better to let this fade away into the excitement of the new season that is nearly upon us, at least for now.

Regular readers know that I’ve had the chance to interview Tony twice last season for BadGroove.com and both were completely awesome experiences.  At no time during either of those interviews did I see power cords sticking out from the man- he’s human.  He stated in his media session that he wasn’t proud of what happened, I believe he even said he was embarrassed.  To paraphrase Tony himself; he went on a vacation to Australia for thirty days and had one bad night.

Ahh if you never had braces you were a lucky ducky.  I work braces for a couple years and getting them finally removed was cause for celebration. No more painful “adjustments” which is orthadontal speak for tightening and no more food restrictions. My particular braces removal celebration included caramel popcorn.  But anyway, NASCAR fans, I digress.  We got our first taste of the new nose on the cup cars without the splitter braces when the cars hit Daytona International Speedway for testing last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I have to say I LOVE the look of the new nose on the cars.  In my opinion, the new nose adds to the aesthetics of the car and makes it look sportier.  Hopefully the lack of braces on the splitter will keep the cars from collection hot dog wrappers, grass clumps and other debris and make possible overheating less of an issue. 

SHR cars

Look Ma! No Braces! The new nose on the cars for this season is visible here in this picture tweeted by Stewart Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) today.

Many drivers were getting their first feel of the new surface on the speedway as well, as Daytona was repaved during the off season.  Many drivers reported it to be quite smooth and likened it to the newer surface at Talladega.  It should make for some interesting racing that is for certain.  I loved that testing was streamed live on the internet because I could tune in from my side of the states.  Seeing and hearing the cars on the track put a huge smile on this fan’s face.  Why? Because it means soon our season with be on again in full swing.

 Just from the little pieces of testing that I was able to watch it is going to be hard for me to get use to certain changes.  It’s really weird seeing Kasey Kahne in the Red Bull number 4 car.  I did see him race for Red Bull in person in Phoenix at end of last season, and it was weird then. Still weird.   Weirder yet?  Is Harvick in Budweiser red and Kurt in the number #22! It’s all going to take some getting used to that is for sure.  However this nothing new to us NASCAR fans; sponsors and teams change because our sport is dynamic like that. 

Other changes to look forward to or get use to this season:

  1. Ethanol used as fuel in the cars.  Preliminary reports had the cars getting fewer miles per gallon on the ethanol so we will see how much the switch to a “greener” fuel changes strategy on the track.
  2. Speaking of Ethanol- because of the change to ethanol fuel, the gas can needed to be modified. Because of the modifications to the gas can, it was determined that the catch can man was no longer needed.  It is a plus for pit road safety to have one less man over the wall (especially on smaller tracks with cramped pit roads).  While it may be plus for safety though it probably sucks if you were a catch can man.
  3. Drivers now have to declare a series in which they want to run for the championship.  This I don’t like. Why? Because that means my dreams of watching Kyle Busch sweep all three championships one day has died. Yes I am a Tony fan but I am SURE that Kyle could sweep all three series if he put his mind to it.
  4. There is the possible change in the points system that will be most likely announced soon. 
  5. There is the change in the chase format….playfully called the Jamie Mac Chase Clause (JMCC) between Misty and I.  I think its weird use the last two positions of the chase into more wild card spots given to the two non chase contenders with the most wins. I don’t know how that will change the chase…but I guess we will see.

Needless to say there are a lot of changes this season and not JUST to the drivers/teams.  Here we go NASCAR fans. Let’s buckle in for a new season. And to my Tony Stewart readers all I can say is #goTONYgo!

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Also NASCAR fans- be sure to head over to The Fast and The Fabulous and vote in Round 4 of the Hottest Driver contest. This round pits Stewart-Haas teammates against each other. Go vote…

Viewership may be down, attendance may be down, but does NASCAR really think changing the rules of the game AGAIN is going to magically cure that?  Seems that NASCAR’s answer to all that ails it is to change, change and change things.  Apparently they have never heard Einstein’s definition of insanity:  doing the same thing over and expecting different results.  Well, in this case doing the same thing is changing the sport AGAIN.  Can we not just go from one season to another without wholesale changes like this?

Some may not think that the change that has been hinted at is that big of a deal, and may even see the potential change as easier to understand, but as a diehard NASCAR  fan I don’t have any issue or problem understanding the current scoring method.  Most of us can indeed count past 43.  I view the changes as yet one more thing to figure out as the season starts.  It distracts from the racing, it distracts from the good part of the sport and frustrates me to no end.

I am also not in favor of changing the Chase format.  Why, you may ask?  Because in my opinion the integrity of the record books has already been compromised by instituting the Chase in the first place.  There is Pre-Chase Era drivers and Championships and Chase Era drivers and Championships, NASCAR doesn’t need a third era.  You simply cannot compare Richard Petty’s seven Championships to Jeff Gordon’s four because had the Chase format not been instituted Gordon would have won two additional Championships (2004 and 2007).  Carl Edwards would have taken the 2008 Championship, and Jimmie wouldn’t be Mr. Five Time.  As it stands there needs to be an asterisk in the books, but the damage is done, let’s move on and leave it be.

If the Chase were eliminated now or God forbid, a whole other format instituted, we will never be able to compare Championship results or have a history of the sport that makes any kind of sense.  And to answer those that say, “yeah but Johnson winning all the time is boring and he has this Chase thing figured out”, I say to you, yes indeed it is and he does, but guess what like him or hate him, he has been the best in this format for the last five seasons and it is the burden of the other drivers to rise to the standard set by Johnson the 48 Team.   The other 11 teams need to bring it to the track week after week and get it done.  If at the end of the season, Johnson is crowned Champion again,   then we know the other drivers failed.  Simply changing the sport in an attempt to handicap a winner or level a playing field is ridiculous.  If the others aren’t up to the challenge then they don’t deserve to win.  Hamlin and Harvick came close this year proving the Chase format is not broken.

Confusion is never a good marketing strategy and changing the rules constantly is not going to draw more fans in, but it could frustrate current fans and cause them to move on to a sport they don’t have to re-learn each season.  NASCAR, please, leave the drama to the drivers on the track and let the rest ride!

Tony Stewart will be running a very special paint scheme on the #20 Old Spice Nationwide car at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) on Saturday August 16th for the CARFAX 250. The Give Kids The World paint scheme was features a rainbow of colors and a bunny on the hood:

The design for the paint scheme was created by Emily Marsala, a 14 year old Give The Kids The World wish kid from 2004 who successfully battled cancer.  Her winning entry was one of more than 150 entries that come from either current or former GKTW wish kids.

Of the paint scheme, Stewart is quoted as saying “It’ll be an honor to drive the car Emily designed in the Nationwide Series race at Michigan” and that the car “will give me some good camouflage during the race, because with a purple, blue, yellow and red race car that has a bunny rabbit on the hood, no one will know that it’s me getting ready to pass them.” (source: TonyStewart.com)

Old Spice, The Tony Stewart Foundation and Joe Gibbs Racing will also make a collective donation to the Give Kids The World Villiage, a 70 acre, non profit resort in Central Florida that allows families and  critically ill children to magical memories at their whimsical resort completely cost free.

In celebration of the partnership, GKTW is hosting a view-a-thon, asking fans who watch the race and wish to support their cause to donate through firstgiving.com to help them reach their goal of $25,000. For more information on the view-a-thon visit the GKTW NASCAR page.

  • Lesson Learned: When sitting at an intersection screeching along with Bon Jovi…I might want to consider whether or not the sunroof is open before deciding to “sing” along…because people will laugh…even if the windows are shut.
  • Funny Sight I Am Sure: My brother happens to walk in to our house (he now lives across the street from us) on Sunday just as the Daytona 500 is winding down- to find my father and I both on our feet standing like two feet from the television screaming. My dad was yelling DRIVE BOY DRIVE (at Tony) and I was yelling GOGOGOGOGO (at- you guessed it- Tony). My mom? She was just sitting there going WHERE’S JR? And Roxy? Well Roxy was hiding and thinking Oh no…not this yelling thing again. I am sure our non-relative neighbors thought we were all insane. Ryan Newman won being pushed by his teammate Kurt Busch…the duo passed Tony with less than half a lap to go. URG!!!
  • Speaking of the Daytona 500…there were some great commercials. My favorite by far was the Toyota Fan Controller commercial. My next favorite was the DaleJr Gorilla commercial. And my third was the Home Depot commercial.
  • Also speaking of Daytona Advertisements I really the sprint catchphrase “Speed is Beautiful”.
  • Funny Thing My Dad Said: When I told him I wanted to go to the beach to practice using my new camera for when I go the races in Vegas…he replied “Well if you want to practice taking pictures for the races- it would probably be easier if I just dropped you off on the side of the highway for an hour or so…” I think he might have been serious. I had to explain to him that I just wanted to get a feel for carrying and taking pictures with a bigger camera. And get use to where all the damn buttons are and what they do. That will probably take longer though.