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Hi. Remember me?

I know I have been unusually quiet this off season here on BadGroove.  Honestly I needed a blogging break. I just took a bit longer one than I had meant to take.  I could blame it on my laptop and it wouldn’t be a complete lie- my laptop is not the most reliable beast as of late.

But that isn’t the reason I didn’t come back after Champion’s week right away.  I can’t explain it completely but part of it was that I was still trying to digest Tony’s retirement announcement. After witnessing all the Jeff Gordon love at Homestead Miami in Florida and then again at Champion’s Week, and then there was of course Jeff’s very emotional banquet speech.  I was left introspective to the point of introversion. What would this season be like for us Tony fans? What kind of season would he have? Would he make the chase? Would he be at champions week? And what about BadGroove? Is there a BadGroove without a Tony Stewart in NASCAR?

What if, what if, what if,  my brain was chocked full of what ifs and all those questions pinging around in my brain and all that thinking made my fingers very very quiet.  Then work got busy as heck and the next thing I know it’s the preseason media week and I am too busy at the job that pays all the bills for this little website to even think about paying attention as it happened.

What brought me back to center? A simple picture posted by NASCAR on Instagram:

Tony Stewart as posted by NASCAR on Instagram

This one little instagrammed photo says it all to me: He’s focused. He’s back. For one last season (in NASCAR). It’s almost go time. And I am ready. Kind of.

As always NASCAR Champions week in Las Vegas was a ton of fun.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup In Las Vegas December 2015. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)


(In light of Tony’s retirement announcement, I have decided to open up BadGroove to Tony Stewart fans who want to tell their stories about Tony. It can be anything- your thoughts on his retirement, what he’s meant to you, a specific experience you had meeting Tony, anything really that YOU want to say in your own words.– Amy)

By: Maureen

When I look back at Tony’s career I see a man who throughout his life has just wanted to race.  Growing up he could never have imagined the success he would have or the sacrifices he would have to make in order to get there.

While the rewards are tremendous for someone of Tony’s talents and abilities, the sacrifices are also too numerous to list thoroughly.  Sacrifices such as giving up his free time and privacy, being hounded and stalked by fans who don’t understand the responsibilities and commitments he has every day of the year come at a high cost, a cost that none of us can really understand.

(Photo Source: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook)

Tony has had to learn (sometimes the hard way) to live in the world of NASCAR while still trying to be true to himself and his beliefs because all he has ever wanted to do is race and win.

NASCAR has given Tony a lifestyle he could never have imagined and probably wouldn’t trade for the world.  It has given him the ability to build a beautiful home where he can sometimes escape the hectic lifestyle and recharge his batteries (although admittedly not frequently enough), fund and support so many worthwhile charities and be a co-owner to one of the most successful NASCAR teams today.

Living in the public life is not and can never be easy.   I admire the way that Tony has handled his role as a NASCAR star yet still be Tony the kid from Columbus Indiana who still wants to have some semblance of a normal life.  A life that includes relaxing, fishing, partying with friends and family.

We as fans can honor him throughout the remainder of this year by supporting him at the races, the Tony Stewart Foundation and all the other drivers at Stewart Haas Racing.

When he hangs up his helmet for the last time at Homestead in 2016 the fans will be sad, NASCAR will never be the same, but take heart Tony will still be at the track as co-owner of Stewart Hass Racing and the achievements of Anthony Wayne Stewart will be forever remembered.

Thank you Tony for all the wonderful memories.


Thank you Maureen for sharing a great piece on what Tony Stewart’s career has meant to you! If you would like to submit your own piece for Smoke In My Eyes – please email them to badgruv@netzero.com

Panoramic of Homestead-Miami before the race (Photo Source: Amy K. Marbach)

Just an fyi this post is going to be different because this is a first person race diary. If you are looking for just a telling of Tony’s race day experience you can read the official Stewart-Haas Racing post race wrap-up here. — Amy

It started back in February when Misty said to me- after hearing of her driver Jeff Gordon’s retirement announcement- “I wish we could go to the race in Miami“.  I responded with “Why can’t we? We can just skip Phoenix this year and head to Miami instead.”  She was surprised- I remember the exact words out of her mouth were “You’d go to Miami with me?” I said “Heck yeah I would.”  And so began our odyssey.  I found out that there was a list you could put yourself on to buy tickets for the race in Miami and I put us on the list to buy tickets as soon as they became available to non-season ticket holders. We didn’t buy anything else or plan anything else until I got a very early phone call from Homestead Miami’s ticket office when they were going through the online list of potential ticket buyers.  The ticketing agent was very helpful in getting us awesome seats (at the end of a row- our favorite spot) in our price range.  As a surprise to Misty, I sprung for the pre-race pit passes because we decided back in February that we were going to this race as fans. No media center for us at Homestead because when you are in the media center there are rules- like no wearing driver gear and there was no way we were going all that way for Jeff Gordon’s last race to have Misty NOT wear her Jeff Gordon gear proudly.  As a matter of fact- I had a great conversation with the ticketing agent about why I only wanted Sunday only tickets (because we wanted to spend the rest of our short time in the area sight seeing having never been to the area before).  After our tickets were secured Misty took over as our travel agent securing us a Hotel right on the beach, securing our direct flight from McCarran Airport (LAS) in Vegas to Miami International Airport, securing us a rental car. She did it all. She even bought us a guide book for Miami that we both poured over in the months prior to the trip so that we could decide in advance what we wanted to see while we were there.  We also knew that we were traveling an airline that charges to check bags and since we weren’t going to be there that long we (Misty) decided we could do this with just our carry-on. I am a notorious over-packer so I really had to limit myself to taking just what I thought I would absolutely need. It would also seriously hamper the amount of souvenirs I could bring home. I also decided for this reason- to only bring a point-and-shoot camera and my cell phone because I didn’t want my camera equipment taking up my clothing allotment in my carryon! (more…)

2011 Sprint Cup Champ  (Photo Source: Zimbio/Chris Trotman/Getty Images North America)


I usually take Tony’s weekly race press release and pull a quote out of it that resonates with me for whatever reason for my “Quotable Tony Stewart” posts. But this week I am going to do it a little different. I am going to put up the video of Tony’s 2011 Championship Awards Speech. Consider this somewhat of a Flashback Friday:



And as a bonus here is a video talking about the Glory Road exhibit at the NASCAR Hall Of Fame (where we all know Tony will eventually be) that kind of ties into this at the end of the short video: (more…)

Phoenix, AZ  November 2015 (Photo Source: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/HHP/Harold Hinson)

So- I usually write the “Loose Lugnuts posts” in what is a mostly stream of conscious session on Wednesday night and schedule them to publish on Thursday morning or afternoon- but here it is Monday evening and I am getting a jump start on it because I am going to be traveling and won’t have time to write it up on Wednesday night so I am going to schedule a few while I am gone. Also I realized that I forgot to mention a couple of things in my race report on Monday that I totally spaced on- but will do just fine here. So without further ado here is what has been rolling around my brain like lugnuts rolling around a pitstall after a green flag pit stop during the championship race:

1. Because of the lengthy rain delay in Phoenix- my dad didn’t get to see the F35 flyover that he was so looking forward to watching. While it is not the first flyover the elusive F35 Lightning II has done at a sporting event- it is the first ever at a NASCAR event and my dad is an aviation fan.  He was bummed out. I know the flyover happened (Thanks to someone I follow on Instagram) but you would think that since one of the two jets was carrying a Jeff Gordon Raceway flag you would thank they would have made a bigger hoopla out of it.

(Photo Source: Martin Truex Jr Official Facebook)

2. I watched a heck of a lot of the rain delay coverage that came out of Phoenix last weekend. More than I probably should have. But one thing I didn’t hear mentioned was who Elijah Aschbrenner was and why his name was above the passenger door on Martin Truex Jr’s car at the track. As a matter of fact very little was mentioned about it at all and I think that is a shame.  Elijah was a pediatric cancer patient that was not just part of Martin and Sherry’s Catwalk for a Cause fashion show that raised money for pediatric cancer but he was known and wished well by many many many NASCAR fans and teams. Other drivers such as Kasey Kahne ran special yellow ribbons with Elijah’s likeness on them on their cars during the race as well.  Elijah fought Epitheliod Sarcoma like a hero but earned his angel wings on November 10th.  Here is a wonderful story about Elijah that NASCAR’s Holly Cain did it’s just a shame that they didn’t mention him (or mention him more) during the hours and hours of rain delay coverage.

3. While we are on the topic Martin Truex Jr.’s long time girlfriend Sherry Pollax is battling stage III ovarian cancer as many of you know. She is currently going through once a month maintenance chemo for it.  Well her Chemo session was Monday morning (today).  I can only imagine that she must have been tired- having been in Phoenix so late between it being delayed until all hours, and then I am sure Martin had to do a lot more media than normal after the race considering he made the Final Four.  Go Sherry! (more…)

A while ago I reviewed a book of Lamborgini Supercars and in the forward there was a little story that stuck with me. It states that the story behind Lamborgini as we know it today is that Ferruccio Lamborghini contacted Ferrari and told them the Ferrari he purchased had a repeating issue with the clutch slipping. Story has it that Enzo Ferrari told Ferriccio that he wouldn’t know how to drive a machine like a Ferrari and should stick to driving tractors. Why that story sticks with me I don’t know. I think it probably has to do with the fact that I see a lot of tractors on my daily work commute.

This edition of Amy’s NASCAR Reading List details the story of how FORD GT “humbled” Ferrari with their 1-2-3 finish at Le Mans in 1966.  Ford GT: How Ford Silenced The Critics, Humbled Ferrari and Conquered Le Mans by Preston Lerner (author) and Dave Freidman (Photographer) however goes much deeper than just talking about the significance of that 1966 Le Man Victory for the Ford GT.  Technically the story starts with Henry Ford II hearing that Enzo Ferrari was considering selling Ferrari. He quickly engaged Ferrari in negotiations after taking time to review their operations.  Enzo Ferrari initially engaged in the negotiations but then suddenly and inexplicably withdrew from the talk.


Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 14, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.
(Photo Source:Zimbio.com/ Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America)

Tony Qualified: 31st

Tony Finished: 27th

Points: 680 (28th in the standings)

I felt for all you fans attending Phoenix. I have made no contention that of the tracks I have attended- Phoenix is my favorite for the racing action. There is just something about that track. But I didn’t attend this year- and obviously the track was upset and cried all day because of it.  Seriously though- I admit that while I was wistful that I wasn’t actually in attendance at Phoenix- I was glad- because EGADS that was just ridiculous! Props to all my fans who stuck it out. I have to ask- for those who where there- were you hoping that NASCAR would try to go racing again or were you just “Raining again?! Please call this race now?!” I am just curious since I wasn’t there. But I can’t imagine how miserable it was to be wet all day, then sit in the cold to watch the race, then get wet again.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 13, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Source: Zimbio.com/Sean Gardner/Getty Images North America)

Tony unfortunately didn’t have such a great Phoenix race. The team seemed to be chasing an ill handling car weekend as he didn’t practice well, he didn’t qualify well and he continued to complain about the car just plowing during the race. It would have been interesting to see if the race had run in the conditions that they had prepared it for if it would have been better? At one point he described the car’s handling as effing “absurd” during the race.

For those wondering- us watching the national broadcast knew exactly when NASCAR called the race. It was right in the middle of an on-air interview with Carl Edwards who was hoping to go back racing (he was only five points under the cut line after what would end up being the final rain delay) because we could hear the crowd erupt into cheers and Carl suddenly looked very disappointed. I was unclear if the crowd was cheering because Jr. won the race- or because the race had been called and they could skuttle back to their campers or cars.

Going into the championship race in Miami- it’s down to Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.  Who do you have and why?!

Gratuitous Tony Stewart:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 13, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.
(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/Sean Gardner/Getty Images North America)

Last race of the season coming up!


#StandWithSmoke  #TonyStewartFan4Life #HellbentOnVictory