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First off- did you have a good Fourth of July? Did you come back to me with all your fingers and toes and with no singed hair? Don’t make me count the fingers and toes.  Here the Fourth was quieter than normal. I guess the stern warnings from police and fire officials made the difference.  Roxy still freaked out at the few that did go off…pacing the house, whining and occasionally barking…but it was all good. Either way I hope you had a great one- whether you celebrate or not.

The July race at Daytona will always be the Firecracker 400 to me  just like Infineon Raceway will always be Sears Point, and Mazda raceway will always be Laguna Seca. Anyway- I digress.  I snuggled myself in on the couch to watch the race, alone since everyone else was across the street watching the UFC fights at my brother’s house.  The race on Saturday night was a good race to watch. There was some exciting racing- especially since a lot of the “go-or-go-home”ers qualified in the front with many of the usual contenders qualifying midpack or further back.  Tony being no exception, qualifying at 17th.

Despite finding out that Tony wasn’t feeling well during the pre-race show, he seemed to charge well up through the pack cracking the top 5 in no time.   I even thought to myself, probably a little too excitedly, “Could this be Team Home Depot’s Night??” Tony seemed to stay in the top 5 and during pitstops the team seemed pretty much flawless from what I could see.  What I could hear of the team communications on the SD Hot pass channel- which admittedly wasn’t much- all team communications sounded good.  Then Tony dropped back to about 15th after a move to avoid hitting Kyle and a slight scrape of the wall (two different incidents) .  After that it seemed that Tony just was not able to gain any ground.  Then during a caution around lap 70 or 71 I heard Tony radio in to his crew chief, Greg Zipadelli and ask him if they did indeed have someone available to “help him out.” After verifying that Stewart did indeed need out of the car, the home depot pit crew sprang into action.  Zipadelli made sure that car chief Jason Shapiro knew his job was to make sure replacement driver, J.J. Yeley was buckled into Stewart’s car good and tight.  By the time Stewart was driving down pit road (under caution) he already had his gloves off and as soon as he stopped the car he was throwing off his restraints.  Stewart’s spotter Mark Robertson, kept the crew advised as to where the pace car was at all times, often throwing out comments like “we have plenty of time.” I also have to say that I don’t know who actually pulled Stewart from the car (I couldn’t tell from the camera angle)- but it was an impressive display all the same, because in one swoop Stewart was grabbed around the waist and drug out of the car and all the way back to the pit wall. It was extremely well choreographed for an extremely non-typical type of pit stop.  Yeley, who was wearing borrowed home depot equipment- including one of Tony’s helmets, was quickly snapped into Tony’s car and the team quickly completed the pitstop sending Yeley on his way.

It seemed to take Yeley awhile to get a feel for the car- but I can only imagine that its like sitting in someone else’s passenger car only worse since you can’t really adjust anything but the tightness of the belts…oh and while you are at it? You are wearing someone else’s clothes and a helmet.  After awhile though, Yeley seemed to get a handle on the car and he, too, was able to move it up through the field and found himself within the top ten by the end of the race, staying there pretty consistantly, until a wreck on the last lap of the green-white-checker, where he was collected in the big one.  Yeley, however, was able to keep Stewart within the chase, even if he did drop three spots into 12th.

Other notes about the Firecracker 400 CokeZero400:

  • Color me impressed with David Gilliand’s performance  in the number 38 car.  Unfortunately his 40th placed finish due to  a bad pit stop as well as some other bad luck on track didn’t show it- but he had a competitive car for a good portion of the race.
  • I loved TNT’s limited commercial breaks. I liked being able to see the race even when they had those Coke Zero commercials in the lower corner.  This was a good thing- and reminded me of hotpass.
  • Speaking of the new coke zero commercials. My favorite was the one where Jeff Burton hugs the two coke employees. Funny stuff.
  • Even I was heartbroken for Jeff Gordon who was also having a stellar run, but unfortunately got turned late in the race.
  • The nascar.com poll is “Knowing he had a car good enough to win, should Tony Stewart have stayed in his car instead of giving it to J.J. Yeley?” Um…I don’t know what 25% of the nascar.com readers are thinking, but Tony himself said “once the car got a little bit loose and we had to start really sawing on the wheel, it’s like it zapped the energy out of me and I started making mistakes” Mistakes at nearly 200 mph? Those can be deadly. I applaud him for knowing his limits and getting out before something bad happened. I can only hope he feels better in time for Chicago.
  • For those interested, The Tony Stewart Live Fan Appreciation show has been postponed for a Best Of show due to illness.

First off- Happy Independence Day.  I am going to be exercising my independence by sleeping in!  Then I will probably spend the night watching the neighborhood kids blow off illegal fireworks (they are all illegal here– safe and sane or not) and then hide from the cops as the little old lady down the street calls them every year.  Seriously. I hope that you all have a safe 4th and I want you all to come back with all your fingers and toes ok? Don’t make me count them!

First we have Aunt Ginny’s Independence Day MI-5:

1. AAA predicts a first ever decrease in travel for this Fourth of July due to the gas/oil crisis. Do you find that you are traveling less these days in an effort to conserve? Heck yes. I have parked my car for the long weekend. Seriously. I will do whatever I can not to drive this weekend. The month before last my gas bill for the month was a $120.00. Last month? It was $262.00. Now granted last month constituted three trips that I normally wouldn’t have taken: Two to the San Fransisco Airport and one to Pleasanton.  But still that is crazy…and dips into my fun money for the month…so I am officially on fuel conservation mode. 

2. Many of the news shows have been showing pieces about backyard fireworks, and the dangers involved, in the past few weeks. Do you, or have you ever, staged your own fireworks on the Fourth of July? What did you do? Well considering all the wildfires around here I think that the few towns in our area that do sell the fireworks should discontinue that practice.  But onto the question. Honestly above sparklers I can only think of a few times and that was when I was a kid. They honestly kind of scare me…so I am not big into them…except I have always loved sparklers.

3. The vote for independence from England occurred on July 2, 1776. Do you plan to vote in the November elections? What are your thoughts on exercising your right to vote? I have voted in every election be it local or national since I turned of age.  I plan to continue that.  It is my right and I will exercise it.

4. Do you have holiday plans / traditions for the Fourth of July? Tell us about them.  Usually there is some s’mores made over a small weber pit. That’s about it. Its like the one day a year we have us some s’mores.

5. Are you attending a parade this year on the Fourth? If so, what is your favorite part of a parade? Yo ur lease favorite part? Will you be participating IN the parade? What will be your role? No. I can’t remember the last parade I went to. And I am pretty sure I have never been in a parade. My brother has been a couple times when he was a kid in the boy scouts.  Our town doesn’t do parades anymore. Nearby ones do, but frankly, they have never really appealed to me. 

And Now? The Friday Fill-in #79

1. Holidays in the summer are just as good as holidays during the rest of the year…it’s great to be off work.

2. Shrimp are my favorite things to grill (but I will pretty much eat anything grilled…ok almost anything).

3. My thoughts are sometimes clouded by snap judgements.

4. Sleep is what I’m most looking forward to this weekend!

5. My favorite book so far this summer is still waiting for me to start it…I haven’t been reading much.

6. Waking up is the best way to begin a day.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to working on a baby bunting, tomorrow my plans include watching the 400 and working on the baby bunting and Sunday, I want to sleep in and finish the baby bunting!

So for my non-nascar friends and readers…Tony Stewart’s nickname is Smoke (think “tire smoke” not cigarettes). He has his own line of “Smoke” products in addition to the usual sponsor related garb that all drivers have. Anyway many months ago I found his new line of Smoke Hats. And let me tell you…they are awesome. It took me awhile to decide which one I wanted to get but after much much deliberation (and some emailing back and forth with bfm) I decided on his “circus hat” which looks like this:

I wanted this sucker so bad I preordered it. Yes you read that correctly…I preordered a hat.

Anyway, my brother was over today and happened to be by the door when someone knocked and there was a UPS man standing there with a smallish box in hand. I was excited…it was my hat. My brother handed me the box and I started looking for my keys to cut open the box with. My brother, being the man that he is, whips out his pocket knife and carefully cuts through the tape. I opened the box a tad to peek in. I could tell what it was even though it was all covered in paper and stated “Oh cool- its my hat” and then promptly put it aside thinking it would be rude to open it while my brother was visiting. Well he was having none of that. He picked the box up and quickly started pulling the packing out of the box. He pulled off the last bit of covering and then pulled out the hat…(see above picture), gasped and said “That is a FREAKING! COOL! HAT!” ripped off the hat he was wearing and put it on his head. He laughed and said just kidding and took it back off and admired it a bit and waxed a tad about how cool the hat was. So…you see where I am going with this right? Yep. I gave it to him. He said he was kidding and that I should keep it…but I insisted.

By the way, speaking of my brother, I found out a couple of weeks ago that not only did I make him into a NASCAR fan…but he’s picked Tony as his favorite driver. So I told him “You can keep it. It’s your first Tony Stewart hat.” He wore it home (he lives just across the street) tags and all.

I love the Internet. Why? Because I most likely would have never “met” Lisa without this blog…she lives on the far opposite coast from me and we follow each other’s blogs and have actually found that we have a lot in common.  Anyway she made me something!  Lisa sent me this little homemade memory book to save all my race goodies in (and don’t think that fact that its in Tony’s colors is lost on me). I LOVE IT! Thank you soo much Lisa!! You rock! Isn’t this cool:

Isn’t it wicked cool when someone makes something for you? I love it and have been showing it to anyone who will look.

Also…I wanted to show you two more pictures of my adorable nephew:

First is his accidental mohawk…when I was handing him off to his grandma the static on my shirt caught his little hairs and made them into a little mohawk:

And finally- who doesn’t love a smiling laughing baby? Awww:

Foxsports.com reports today that Dario Franchitti’s cup team has been shut down “because of lack of sponsorship.”  I personally think that it was lack of sponsorship coupled with lack of performance, with Franchitti’s best finish being 22nd.

Just to let those of you know who might have missed it when it was on PPV, The Prelude to The Dream- the dirt track charity race that attracts racers from all genres of racing will be airing on SpeedTV July 5th, 2008 at 1:00 pm eastern time. Racers from Cup to NHRA and everything inbetween show up to Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg Ohio are drawn to play in the dirt and to compete for nothing more than bragging rights and a big trophy. Proceeds from the Prelude benefit Victory Junction Gang Camp II (to be located outside of Kansas City). It was a fun race to watch and its worth DVRing just to see Kyle Petty kiss the winner. Seriously. He kissed the winner.

You can read my first thoughts on the Prelude here. SpeedTV also has a great online photo gallery if you are interested.

You can also find information about The Victory Junction Gang Camp and The Tony Stewart Foundation by clicking on the respective links.

Ok…you all know I love Tony Stewart…he’s my favorite driver. Last season there was the whole hair debacle. Some people liked his long hair, some people didn’t like his long hair. Some people (like me) honestly didn’t really care one way or the other.

Anyway long story short (no pun intended)…I was browsing the tonystewartstore.com website looking for baby socks for my nephew.  And then some how I came across the 2008 Tony Stewart Lifesize Standup (and I will openly admit that I kinda want one…I want to stand up in the corner of my office but that’s a different story all together).  Here is the image of the standup as taken from the tonystewartstore.com website:

I saw this and I thought to myself…there is something slightly odd about this picture. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…and then it dawned on me…I had seen this picture before only Tony had longer hair.  Someone felt the need to retouch Tony’s hair from when he was wearing it longer to a shorter style.  Unfortunately they didn’t photoshop the front of his hair so it looks slighty odd since its long in the front. So then I had to search the internet over to find the original…which I finally found on ciastockphotos.com

It just seems kinda silly that someone took the time to photoshop his long tufts of hair off the photo. I don’t know why it strikes me as odd but it does.  Were that many people really that upset that Tony let his hair grow out a little? I know that you could argue he is a public figure but in all actuality that argument doesn’t even fly with me so don’t try it.  I don’t even know why I felt the need to point this out….but I did.   I also noticed that his hair has been photoshopped shorter on the joegibbsracing.com front page (it actually looks like the same picture of his head to me only reversed)…but not on his actual page. Weirdness.

As always click on the picture to go to the original flickr entry to see the photos and their attributions.