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I had a good feeling about Richmond all week last week.  Part of it was due to press I am sure- with Tony stating over and over again how Richmond was not one of his favorites it was THE FAVORITE.  I was hoping that my good feeling meant that Tony would win- or that at the very least Stewart-Haas Racing would get that elusive first win with Ryan Newman. It will probably sound bad but I really want Tony to get that first win for Stewart-Haas Racing- nothing at all against Ryan and I can’t explain why, but I just really REALLY want Tony to be the first win. I also wonder if there isn’t a little bit of competitiveness between the two? Do you think they smack talk each other?

Anyway- it was probably me- since I wasn’t feeling that great on Saturday but I was having a heck of time following where Tony was. Well I mean I obviously could figure out where he was during the Green-Yellow laps- but after that I could It seemed to me like he spent most of the race in the teens and I remember at one point finding that he was being scored 27th and saying to my mom “Twenty-freakin-seventh?? What the hell happened to Stewart?” to which she just shrugged and kinda rolled her eyes.  I do get a little wrapped up in my NASCAR races.  Anyway towards the end of the race my dad came in wearing his 14 hat proudly and asked where Stewart was.   I said I wasn’t sure…because some pitting had just taken place and then it seemed like to me- someone turned Tony on er woke Tony up and told him it was the end of the race because it seemed to me suddenly like he was flying towards the front of the field.  What I didn’t realize was that Tony was one of the cars that took fresh tires that last pit stop. (Why didn’t I know that FoxSports? Why?).  It wasn’t long until Ryan (who had been running top ten most if not all of the day) had a mirror full of Tony.  I said to my dad “I wonder if it makes Ryan a little nervous to have his BOSS driving right behind him like that?” My dad said probably not…but think about it- if my boss decided for whatever reason to sit in my office and watch me do one of the myriad of things I do I would worry that he was critiquing me and my style…even though I think I am damn good at what I do I would worry that he would find flaw in what I was doing.

Tony moves into second and I was really hoping that he would catch up to Kyle- but there was NO catching Kyle- he was on fire and nearly a quarter to half a lap ahead of of Tony.  Kyle took the checkered flag on his birthday- only the second driver to ever do that (the first being Cale Yarborough).  Tony’s late race charge and second place finish gained him a spot in the points- he now sits in third- a mere 39 points out of the lead.  Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman also had a top five finish- finishing in fourth and bringing the US. ARMY Impala into the 10 position in the points standings.

Notes on Richmond:

  • Small business owners: Office Depot Racing wants to give you a $14,000 small business makeover, your logo on Tony Stewart’s #14 Stewart Haas Racing Impala and a VIP Weekend at a NASCAR race. Go here to enter your business now (contest is open now thorugh May 31st)!  I wish I had a small business just fo the the VIP weekend…let alone the money and the name on the car!!
  • Have you seen the World’s Worst Commute Quaker State promotion? About how if you think you have the world’s worse commute you send in a video as to why and I the prize is getting driven to work by Jimmie Johsnon (I think you get some VIP race tickets too).  I would love to have any of the drivers drive me to work? But I have probably the EASIEST commute…ixnay that- my mom has the easiest one- she could walk since she only works about a block away from her house…I drive 15-20 minutes…over a river, through ag fields (not actually through the fields—there is an actual road), and then I am there.  Seriously the worst thing he would have to deal with on my commute would probably be a tractor towing discing rings or something on the side of the road.  So I can’t win that…do you think I could convince them that my commute is to Vegas?  While I do drive to Vegas often (I think my coworkers think I am some sort of big time gambler) I have never been driven there by anyone but me and it’s a pretty long (500 miles door to door) boring and lonely drive let me tell you…
  • Also it just came to me…I assume he would be driving you in your car? Because how else would you get back home? Unless he is gonna stay there for 8 hours while I work (He is welcome to – I even have an extra chair in my office and our break room is AWESOME -you can see the ocean from it plus it is a college campus so if he got bored he could just wander around the campus chatting up people) and then drive me home?
  • Now that we are talking about commercials- you know who can almost always make me laugh? Michael Waltrip.  And when you pair him up with Ron Capps- it’s even better. I love the Napa commercials! The pictionary one is laughs- “You ARE a good drawer”. However the Toyota Autograph Seeker commercial is hilarious too…the one with the little flying robots looking for autographs for the fans…and one approaches Michael Waltrip? If you listen carefully one of the crew guys yells “Watch Out It Has A Pen!” right before Michael sprays it with the extinguisher. That makes me laugh too.
  • I could probably be coaxed very easily to talk about this in another post…but for now all I will say is Amy from Salinas, CA says thanks to Tony Stewart and especially officedepotracing.com.
  • Check out this enthusiastic post about Darlington from TC at The NASCAR INSIDERS. It got me excited about Darlington, and it’s only Monday!

Next Saturday Night? The Southern 500 at Darlington, SC.

1. The first rule of working in an office and getting along is bring treats to share.

2. Why do people say “happy as a clam”- how happy are clams?

3. When I think of carnivals I think of the school carnival every May from when I was a kid.

4. Gerbers my favorite spring flower.

5. Things on my desk include hand sanitizer, pens, my phonelist/reference book, some mints and picture of my nephew.

6. Private Practice makes me wanna pull my hair out.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to laundry, tomorrow my plans include watching the Richmond Race (GO TONY GO!) and Sunday, I want to go to Target!

One of NASCAR’s journalists and four time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association’s George Cunningham Award, David Poole passed away on Monday. It’s a sad day for motorsports indeed but most of all for his family- as he was only 50 years old and leaves behind a family: a wife, two sons, a daughter and a grandson.  Lots of bloggers and journalists are writing wonderful tributes to him- so I would like to point you in the direction of a couple of ones that stand out to me:

The NASCAR INSIDERS: The End of an Era

Dustin Long: Bidding A Friend Fairwell

Monte Dutton: David Poole Leaves A Void, Personally and Professionally

Revvin’ Jim’s Rants and Raves: David Poole Will Be Missed

NASCAR.COM: Charlotte Writer Poole dies

I may have been kidding when I said that I watch Talladega through my fingers- but races at Talladega make me nervous…because I hate sitting there and waiting for “The Big One.”  You know that wreck that Talladega is famous for– the one that wipes out at least a third to a half of the field in one fail swoop…while I sit there biting my nails (ok so now you know..I am a nail biter…have been since I was a kid) watching and hoping that Tony didn’t become collateral damage in the wreck.

At least this weekend I didn’t have to wait very long- at 8 laps into the race the first Big One happened…and Tony seemed to skate through it relatively unharmed. Team Office Depot/Old Spice did seem to do some work on the front end of the car during subsequent pit stops so some minor damage. However I was left to wonder- why is Tony so far back?  I couldn’t decide if he and Newman were just biding their time in the back waiting to make their move up the track or if they were seriously having issues- and of course the national broadcast gave me no clues. ITowards the end of the race though, Stewart starting moving up towards the front- making his way to a race high 8th place, before he unfortunately lost a cylinder and his car started dropping through the field like a lead weight…ARG!  With some help from Denny Hamlin and Dale Jr, Tony’s teammate Ryan Newman was able to make it up to the front of the pack and was holding on until Carl Edwards/ Brad Keselowski hooked up in a late race draft to the front passing Ryan Newman who was being pushed by Dale Junior.  Keselowski held his line with Edwards at the double yellow- which turned Edwards on front stretch about 120 yards from the finish line. Carl’s car flew up the track, going airborne and smacking hard into Ryan Newman and then rolled up into the catch fence. Despite extensive damage to the number 39 car sponsored by The Prelude To The Dream, Ryan Newman was able to continue to pilot the car over the finishline- finishing in 3rd place. Brad Keselowski came across the finish line first, winning his first Sprint Cup race ever.

Points wise Tony Stewart remains in 4th place (a mere sixty seven points out of the points lead) after finishing 23rd.  Ryan Newman’s 3rd place finish at Talladega catapulted him up into thirteenth in points.

Notes About Talladega:

  • Sam Hornish seemed to do extremely well considering he was suffering from flu like symptoms. While Travis Kvapil stood by in case he needed to be relieved…Hornish worked hard to maintain his position in the race- only to be collected in a late race crash.
  • While I am as much as a fan of alternate paint schemes as the next guy…and I actually have a thing for yellow cars- Jeff Gordon’s yellow Pepsi Challenger paint scheme (and then the blackhooded-yellow and white car) made it extremely hard for me to find him in the pack.
  • Speaking of extremely hard to find in the pack I am starting to be able to zero in on Tony’s new paint scheme..unfortunately I am consistently having to answer “IS THAT TONY?” from whomever I am watching the race with.
  • Joey Logano did excellent during Talladega- I saw him do some great manuevering to avoid crashes…he is coming along well- thanks to the seasoned experience by his crew chief Greg Zipadelli and the Home Depot crew.
  • Am I the only one who thinks its a little ironic that during the pre-show, Carl Edwards was featured piloting Jeff Hammond around in a plane- and then at the end of the race Carl Edward’s car went airborne?
  • Speaking of which- last I heard 8 fans were injured by flying debris from Carl Edward’s car. I wish them all a speedy recovery.

This weekend we go Saturday night racing at Richmond. Let’s go Team Office Depot/Old Spice!!!

Well this was a race that I attended in person. The first leg of my journey was driving 500 to Las Vegas. Hung out with BFFM and on Friday BFFM drove 300+ miles to Phoenix where we checked into the hotel.  We tried to use the hotel’s computer to check qualifying while we were in the lobby but it was running slow so BFFM used her blackberry to get us some answers.  The next morning we drive to the track- it was easy to get to.

Yeah the track is out in the middle of the desert- but it was actually a really nice track. The only kabuffle we had the entire day was figuring out where to trade in our pit pass tickets for actual pit passes and after getting misdirected a couple times we finally got that taken care of.  The midway was probably the smallest midway of the tracks we have been to but then again- the track was a lot smaller in general than the other tracks (Las Vegas and Fontana).

TSR-Jones show car at Team Chevy booth at PIR Midway

TSR-Jones show car at Team Chevy booth at PIR Midway

Joey Loganos merchandise trailer was the LEAST populated one.  The most populated ones were of course Jr, Gordon and Stewart.

Joey Logano's merchandise trailer was the LEAST populated one. The most populated ones were of course Jr, Gordon and Stewart.

We made our way to the pedestrian tunnel and under the track and into the infield and were amazed that basically we were allowed to just meander around the pits pretty much.  That was pretty fun although I admit that occassionally I felt like I was in the way- even though I tried to be extremely cognizant of all the work going on around me- and to be sure not to impede that.

The Garages at PIR were a buzz with activity

The Garages at PIR were buzzing with activity.

Tony Stewarts Office Depot pit crew gets things ready for the evening race.

Tony Stewart's Office Depot pit crew gets things ready for the evening race.

Jimmie Johnsons Lowes pit crew gets things race before the evening race.

Jimmie Johnson's Lowes pit crew gets things ready before the evening race.

Mike Houston, tire carrier for the #24 Dupont pit crew of Jeff Gordon, seeks some shade on pit road.

Mike Houston, tire carrier for the #24 Dupont pit crew of Jeff Gordon, seeks some shade on pit road prior to the start of the race.

Pit Road at Phoenix International raceway

Pit Road at Phoenix International raceway.

Let me speak for a second about the picture above. This I took from pit road looking towards turn four.  See that hill right there? For $35.00 you can drag your chair up the hill- called Rattlesnake Hill and not just for sport and sit there with no midway access. I do not understand why you would want to do that when you can pay $25.00 to sit in the lower level grandstand seats. Crazies. I mean you might get to see a little more of the track but still…I like the ability to be able to go to the bathroom or get a hot dog easily if needed!

Now for the actual race. We were sitting in the AJ Foyt Grandstands in the close seats (row 8 I think) and they might be “cheap” seats but I thought they were pretty damn good- we could see most of the track.  During the warmup laps I was fascinated by the fact that I could actually see in the right side and into the cockpit. I don’t know WHY this fascinated me but it certainly did. I could literally see Tony Stewart sitting in his car hands on the wheel when they drove by (and other drivers as well)…and it was kind of cool to see them right in there car.

When the green flag dropped so did my jaw. Literally.  I think I spent a good 10-15 laps slack jawed.  I do not have the right words to describe the experience but it was louder and faster and just more exciting than any of the previous races I have gone to.  I have mentioned recently that going to an actual race can almost be an assault on your senses…I had no idea!  I don’t know if it was because I was sitting closer to the actual track that I have at other tracks but it was just completely amazing.  It was constant action on that track. I don’t know how the race played on TV because while I did DVR it- I have yet to watch the national broadcast. My brain did not have time to rest at all.  Of course I was paying attention to Tony on the track.  I was trying to keep track of where Ryan Newman was in relation to Tony (the scoring pylon only went up to 15th place) – which became increasingly difficult as the leaders started lapping cars.  I was watching the packs running close together for trouble.  And while I love the smell of a race, being this close actually started to give me a little bit of a headache towards the end from the fumes (of course not leaving my seat for the whole race probably didn’t help the headache).

Tony and Team Office Depot/Old Spice did well throughout the race. There was one kinda crappy pit stop – from which the team rebounded from quickly and well. Tony was in the top five most of the day and even lead the race for a while.  In the end Stewart just did not have enough to catch Mark Martin at the end, coming in second- the highest place finish yet for the newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Office Depot/Old Spice.  I really can’t wait for Stewart-Haas to get their first win.  It’s coming soon. I can feel it. The team is clicking really well- and as soon as that last component snaps into place this team will be in Victory Lane.

This coming weekend: NASCAR is in Talladega.  And Amy will be watching between her fingers!

I got back from my Vegas/Phoenix trip Monday afternoon. I have so so much to tell and show you but things are always a tad crazy for me right when I get back and it takes me a while to get back to where I get my rhythm of posting back.

I will tell you this: So far? Phoenix International Raceway has had the best actual racing action that I have witnessed live and in person.  I will explain more about this later…and YES I took pictures (although honestly? I “only” took 180 pictures the whole time I was gone.  That for me? Is a record LOW.  I usually take a bazillion pictures.)  So I promise to soon give you a detailed account of PIR…but for now…just take my word for it…it was a fun trip and definitely worth the 1700+ miles driven!

OK…by the time this is set to publish I will be on the road again..literally driving the 500 miles to Las Vegas (it takes me about 7 hours). I will spend a couple days visiting and then we are on the road to Phoenix early Friday (we expect it take about 4-5 hours) for the race on Saturday.  Since I will not be here to entertain you I wanted to suggest a couple things for you to do on the internet whilst I am gone:

  • If you are a NASCAR fan visit: The NASCAR Insiders. By the time this posts their Ask The Insider’s post should be up and that is always entertaining and informative.  If you have a question- ask one for next Wednesday’s post by clicking on the ASK THE INSIDERS tab.
  • Also if you are a NASCAR fan and you haven’t done so yet check out these sites: LOLNASCAR, The Fast and The Fabulous (Valli’s interviews rock- check em out she usually has one posted on the sidebar!) and NASCAR THIS WEEK for information and pictures.
  • Visit the sites of some of my favorite bloggy friends for me while I am away from the keys (tell them Hi too): Charity, Trixie, Lauren, Bill, Lisa, and Chrissy
  • Sign up for TWITTER and follow me (Username Badgroove). You never know- I just might update from the track!
  • Take a cool picture and post it online somewhere like your website or flickr.  Leave a comment here with link to your picture so I have some cool photos to look at when I get back.
  • Support NASCAR and Giving Back by purchasing a NASCAR DAY Pin. For five bucks you are supporting the NASCAR Foundation and their family of charities including many driver foundations. Be sure to wear your pin on May 15th!

And for those of you (Janet and Charity) who liked my Artichoke picture….here is another one for you:

Artichokes growing in a field near Castroville, CA

Artichokes growing in a field near Castroville, CA

In the meantime I will be back home late Monday for you worriers…back posting probably some time tuesday evening.

Ok…so I have been experimenting with the DSLR camera I was given…and here are some of the results:

So what do you think?