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I did a guest column over at NASCAR THS WEEK…check it out and tell them I sent you!

As humans some of our personality traits are things we can not control- and for me one of those is a slightly anal quality when it comes to planning things out.  I can only speak for myself here- but I have a need to feel like I have some control over a situation and part of that control is planning. That being said I LOVE to plan a trip.  And when I say I love to plan a trip- 98 percent of my travels beyond spontaneous day trips involve planning things out months and months in advance of the actual date.  Case in point- BFM and I purchased our tickets to the Shelby 427 nearly as soon as the tickets were opened up for sale.  Now because BFM lives in Vegas I didn’t need to worry about hotel- but if I had- you can be sure I would have reserved a room at about the same time.

We should have learned our lesson last year with the fall Fontana race.  Once we decided to work in the Fontana race into our year last year- I was calling the box office as soon as I did a little online research about track and it’s facilities.  BFM’s favorite driver might be Jeff Gordon but I knew her second favorite driver was Jimmie Johnson- and I knew from my internet research that sometimes Fontana has a special Jimmie Johnson ticket package that includes not only race tickets but usually some kind of Q&A session with Jimmie and part of the proceeds of the tickets actually go to the Jimmie Johnson Foundation.  Sounded like something that would be fun- something that we would definitely be interested in.  When I called the box office I inquired about if there would be a Jimmie Johnson package for that particular race because I did not see anything about it on their website. The ticket agent told me that he wasn’t pulling anything up but that sometimes these special ticket packages weren’t set up right away. He kindly suggested that I wait about six weeks and call back to see if they had heard anything.  And that is exactly what I did.  Don’t think it wasn’t torture for me and my anal/control freak ways- let me tell you.  I waited six weeks on the dot and called back. Again I asked about the Jimmie Johnson Foundation tickets.  Again I was told that they did not have anything and that maybe I should wait. Well I had waited about as long as my obsessive nature would allow so I got us tickets and was finally at ease. Race Tickets? Check. Hotel? Check.  It’s all good. I am sure that you can tell what is coming up next.  Yep you guessed it- the Jimmie Johnson package came up for sale two or three weeks later.

Learn from my mistakes race fans. If you are like me and plan things out way in advanced- that isn’t always the best way.  While so far the ticketing offices that I have worked with have all been extremely helpful and willing to exchange tickets for others (I did this for the first race in Vegas actually- I had initially ordered up neon garage passes for Sunday and changed my mind- deciding that passes for Friday might let us see more action in the actual garage stalls- and the ticketing office was more than willing to accommodate my request for a change) sometimes it pays in aces to just wait to buy your tickets.  Especially now that tracks aren’t selling as many tickets as they would like- often facilities are forced to drop ticket prices closer to the date of the actual race.  Many tracks, in an attempt to drawn in more fans, are offering special ticket packages that might include things like driver Q&A’s or appearances, special food or hospitality discounts, and other deals on track amenities but these ticket packages are often last minute deals (or last minute to people like me who like to plan everything out well in advance).  Keep in mind that sometimes you will end up sacrificing better seats for some of the package plans- it is still something to consider because it might be that one time you get to get closer to your favorite driver.  So learn from me- sometimes it pays to NOT plan so far ahead.  Case in point,  I personally got a great deal on tickets for the Phoenix race (yes the next race) by going against what is natural to me and not planning the trip until about a month before the race.  By waiting we got seats in a section that was previously earmarked at a higher price for a lower price.  Now there were reasons we waited so long- and that was just one of them. And this whole upcoming trip to the race in Phoenix is going to be fodder for another post I am planning on writing after that trip- so expect this to be revisited a little in a couple of weeks.  But just be aware…sometimes it pays to procrastinate a little.

When I am at Target (my favorite store in the world) I usually stop by the collectible cards section and pick up a pack or three of NASCAR PressPass cards.  I don’t collect the whole set- mostly I am looking to score Tony cards.  Anyway in my last purchase at Target I actually won an autographed card of Brad Keselowski!  Don’t believe me? Here is the card:

I won Brad Keselowsi

I won Brad Keselowsi- sorry for the sucky camera phone pic.

I rarely win anything but I seem to be on a roll this year.

Sunday was a clear but blustery day at Texas Motor Speedway.  Team Office Depot/Old Spice started seventh on the starting grid and Stewart was soon quickly moving his Chevy Impala up the field as the race starts- and is in 3rd position by lap 30 of the race.  Because of the long initial green flag run – the field begins to cycle through a round of green flag pit stops starting around lap 50 and ending around lap 54.  Stewart stays out long enough to lead a lap before coming in for his service coming out third. Stewart quickly begins working his way up the field again and soon he passes Matt Kenseth to take the lead when Kenseth gets a little loose. The first caution of the day, due to debris- no doubt because of the wind, has Tony coming in to pit from first place- a slight miscue by the pit crew caused him to lose valuable time in the pits- dropping him two places down to third on his way out. Stewart remained consistent throughout the day- maintaining no further back than the top ten.  The Office Depot/Old Spice pit crew rebounded quite well from their early race miscue and was then able to get Stewart out efficiently and quickly at the end of the race- when track position was most valuable.

Said Stewart, in his post race team release, of the crew:

“Our guys had a couple rough spots on pit road in the beginning, so I just calmed them down, told them to take a deep breath and just slow down a little bit.  They had great stops the rest of the day. I am proud of those guys they rebounded really well.”team release

Tony was able to keep his car in the top five- finishing in fourth after a late charge and pass by Greg Biffle.  Stewart advanced to fifth in the points standings.  Teammate Ryan Newman spent most of his day a lap down in positions 24th-26th- but was able to gain late in the race as well- getting not only his lap back but finishing 15th.  Jeff Gordon, was able to hold off an impressive blistering charge through the pack late in the race made by teammate Jimmie Johnson to win his first ever race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Other Notes about Texas:

  • Rookie Joey Logano had an impressive qualifying effort at Texas- unfortunately his performance in the race wasn’t quite up to par- and at one point smacked the right side of the car pretty hard against the outside wall.
  • Jr. missed his pit stall again at Texas.  Maybe they should have someone stand in front of his pitboard and jump up and down?  Does his crew chief not count him down when he is entering?  When Tony was with Greg Zipadelli I know Greg would always start with “Ok you are 10 away…5 away, turn in…wheels straight put on the brake” I don’t know if Darian does the same thing for Tony- I assume so.
  • During the pre-show Chris Myers mentioned kind of off-handedly that a driver makes no fewer than 50 decisions a lap during a race.  Can you imagine trying to make 50 decisions going 180 mph- per lap?
  • One of the big news items this week is that NASCAR will be taking the first place car, the second place car’s engine and a random finisher’s car back to the R&D center to do post race inspection- instead of doing it right there at the track.  Does this mean they will be looking harder at the cars and engines?  Or do they think that the inspectors will be fresher after NOT having been at the track all day? Either way it’s an interesting and sudden decision.
  • The other big news is that NASCAR is either heavily considering or has already decided to move the end of year banquet from New York to Las Vegas.  Personally? I think it’s a great idea because I am so there. SO THERE.
  • Aric Armirola can be added to the newest list of drivers possibly out of a ride sooner rather than later.  It was mentioned on the pre-show that if a sponsor is not found by the Phoenix race for Armirola the Earnhardt Ganassi shop will pear down its three car operation down to a two car operation retaining drivers Martin Truex Jr and Juan Pablo Montoya. Armirola joins the likes of Kvapil and Gilliland who are in similar situations.
Next week is an off weekend for NASCAR- the weekend after Easter has NASCAR back in the desert at PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY.

MI-5 – 4/3 asks 5 party themed questions and because its April 3rd, I am going to ask you to give 4 answers followed by 3 details

1. Just recently I started holding a monthly ‘Game Night’ to help give friends an excuse to get out of the house and get together. We kicked it off with a Murder Mystery Party which was great fun, most recently we gathered to play a game of cards called “Bull Donkey” the laughter went on all night. Tell us 4 games you like to play and include either 3 things (memories, feelings, skills, commonalities etc.. related to them). I love games. I do. I am the game player in my family. Of course they will also tell you I am fiercely competetive. I don’t think I am but…any for the answer: Ticket to Ride: Europe(this is a great game because it is interactive, quick moving and I love the network building mechanic), Carcassonne (I love this game because of the puzzle piece mechanic of it, the interaction and strategy), Lost Cities (a great two player game, has lots of strategy and is quick moving), Canasta (fun, traditional, lots of variations).

2. When thinking of throwing a party what 4 people are always at the top of your list and tell us 3 things about them that put them there. BFM (best friend, funny, supportive), Dad (funny, good barbecuer and every party needs a bbq, life of party), Mom (good cooker, also funny, good at getting people to mix), Will-brother (very funny, witty, just entertaining- has lots of great stories)

3. Most parties include food, share with us 4 favorite party dishes but only 3 adjectives to describe each one. Dad’s Salsa (fresh! Spicy! Delicious), Tortilla rollups (creamy, spicy, addictive), Clam dip (creamy, yummy, mine), Teriyaki Chicken Wings (warm, sticky, sweet)

4. Think back over your years and pick 4 parties you have been a part of and tell us 3 things about those parties. (What was it for, what did you wear, who did you see, how did you feel, what did you eat, what made you laugh, what happened, why did you go etc..) I am so NOT a party person that I can’t even think of that many parties.  Of course I did just attend my nephew’s first birthday party…I ate chicken and steak and potato salad and green salad.

5. A popular ice breaker at parties is “The Guessing Game” where you write down words that describe someone and people have to guess who that is. Pick one person from the MI-5 list and give us 4 words that describes them. Then choose a person place & thing that reminds you of that person. (making a total of 7 words) We can all make our guesses during the week, just please let us know who it was by next Friday. Four Words: creative, musical, caring, honest. Person:Bobby Labonte   Place: Ocean  Thing: paper

And Now Friday Fill-in 118:

1. Angel or not, I will not be persuaded.

2. I’ll come any way you want me.

3. As my mother used to say, you’re full of pudding pops.

4. I feel energized after I’m done working out or doing something strenuous.

5. Even in the most crowded of rooms I want to escape.

6. Monday is a day fraught with peril.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to relaxing, tomorrow my plans include finishing up the laundry and Sunday, I want to watch Stewart-Haas racing have a great finish at Texas Motorspeedway!

For some reason I just am out of blogging juice these last couple of days. So to pacify you…some pictures from my Nephew’s bday (these are NOT taken by me but by my father…his grandpa): (more…)

After a weekend where two of the three practices and the qualifying session were rained out the weather looked beautiful for Sunday’s race at Martinsville.  Martinsville is the shortest track on the circiut but Sunday’s Goody’s 500 was definitely not short on action. I personally, thought Sunday’s race was one of the best this season.

Of course part of that could be because both Stewart-Haas Racing drivers, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman had top ten finishes. Tony finishing the day with an awesome third place finish- the best for Stewart-Haas Racing so far this season.  Ryan Newman finished the day in 8th place- a personal best for his since beginning his tenure at Stewart-Haas racing at the beginning of this season.  Both Tony and Ryan’s teams seemed to be working quite well on Pit Road despite the inherient cramp conditions in the Martinsville pits as well as having some non-choice pitstalls.

Since qualifying was rained out – the field lined up by points.  Initially Jeff Gordon, who started on the pole since he leads the points race right now, took the lead and seemed to stay in the lead a good portion of the race.  His only challenger seemed to be Denny Hamlin- who also looked fairly strong. His car seemed to get stronger while Gordon’s handling seem to fade late in the race- causing him to have a fourth place finish. In the end- it was a shootout between Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson- with the two swapping the lead back and forth several times during the last 22 laps or so. At one point during the swapping back and forth of the lead, Hamlin and Johnson were both practically sideways side by side in the turn.  In the end- Jimmie Johnson was able to get his first cup win of the season.

More Notes on Martinsville:

  • Best Work In of A Sponsor Product: Comes from Saturday’s Practice telecast on SPEEDTv where journalist said to Tony Stewart “This really stinks doesn’t it?” talking about the weather- and Tony retorted “It DOES NOT stink because we have OLD SPICE as a sponsor so it does NOT stink!”
  • Tony was apparently cussing at himself during the end of the race: “I was just cussing at myself because I wasn’t close enough to do anything about it.”
    Tony Stewart, on the winning pass (third)
  • I love how now that Rick Hendrick has been quoted as supporting Tony Eury Jr as Crew Chief for Dale Jr- that the Fox Commentators (I think it was DW) are now stating that part of the reason that Dale is having poor finishes is Tony Stewart’s fault because he recruited Darian Grubb away from HMS.  Um…no.
  • I was glad to hear that even Jeff Gordon gets frustrated during a race- as he threatened to “knock his head off” if Denny (or it might have been Tony- I thought Tony when I first heard it but my friend says no he was talking about Denny) he bumped him again.
  • I had no idea Joey Logano was so tall- (direct from my notes after seeing him standing next to Greg Zipadelli during the national anthem.)
  • Poor Kyle just couldn’t catch a break this race- seemed he was spinning more times than a hula hoop! Neither could Matt Kenseth- always a driver or six short of being the lucky dog.
  • Was it my imagination or did Jeff Gordon slight Tony Stewart’s third place finish in his post race interview?  Jeff felt he had at least a third place car…but he finished fourth (and maintained his points lead).

Next Week: Texas Motor Speedway.

Since the nomiated MI-5er was not feeling good this week Lisa kindly stepped up to the plate and provided us with this quick MI-5 where she said we could be as brief or as wordy as we want to be. Thanks Lisa.
1.  Coke or Pepsi? Diet Coke, Coke Zero, or Diet Coke with Lime- depending on my mood.  Sometimes if I am feeling frisky I will have a Cherry Coke Zero.
2.  Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate? Milk chocolate all the way. I don’t like Dark Chocolate at all.
3.  Rain or Snow? Well I prefer sun but definitely rain.  Snow and I…we just don’t get along. Of course I have only been in it about three times in my entire life so…
4.  Mountains or Seashore?  Well I can do either- but I am really a seashore girl at heart.
5.  Catnap or Long Nap? Depends…I don’t often get naps and when I do they are usually short…but I like a good long one now and then- especially if I don’t feel well.