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And just like that the season is over. Not much fan fare for this Tony Stewart fan.  The last two races in the 2012 season weren’t great for Tony. He spun at Phoenix to finish 19th and fought another ill-handling race care to finish 17th at Homestead-Miami.  Points wise, Tony finished 9th in the points standings for 2012. The 2012 Sprint Cup champion is Brad Keselowski.

Brad went into Homestead the points leader to a second place Jimmie Johnson.  Jimmie gave a valiant fight but was foiled by a bad pit stop and then a mechanical failure of a rear gear. The Race winner at Homestead-Miami was Jeff Gordon- who won at the track for the first time.  Jeff has now won a race at every current sprint cup track except Kentucky (Tony Stewart is right behind him at having won a race at every track except for Kentucky and Darlington).

Important Notes about Homestead Miami-

Tony Stewart ran two special decals at Homestead Miami on his car:

Tony completed his 500th start at Homestead-Miami (photo courtesy of The Official Tony Stewart Facebook page- click on picture to be taken to the original).

Tony Stewart also ran a special sticker thanking Office Depot for their 14 wins and 1 Championship. Office Depot resigns their spot as a primary co-sponsor of the #14 at the conclusion of this season. (Photo Credit: The Official Tony Stewart Facebook page- click on picture to be taken to the original.)

Important notes about Phoenix:

The biggest news out of Phoenix was the ontrack and off track altercations between Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and their respective crews.  While yes I was at the track- I did NOT witness the altercations personally.  However- I will say this about the whole thing: Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer have been rubbing each other the wrong way all season.  Jeff Gordon finally had enough and took matters into his own hands. He stood up for himself and I really don’t have an issue with that.  Yes he retaliated and yes he owned up to that right away.  He was fined a significant amount of money and points as well.  I felt the penalties were just. I do NOT think he should have been parked.  If you remember when Kyle was parked he had been parked because he had had multiple incidents of retaliation ontrack- some of which on pit road.  He had altercations in multiple series.  He was a serial repeat offender.  Prior to this Jeff Gordon’s last real altercation was fighting with Jeff Burton on track at Texas two years ago. My only issue with the fines that NASCAR levied as a result of the melee at Phoenix is that I think that Clint Bowyer should have been placed on probation as well…after all he showed intent to join the melee with his now famous sprint through the garage area and then having to be restrained at Jeff Gordon’s hauler.

I did attend the race at Phoenix. Phoenix is one of my favorite tracks that I have been to. Here is a collage of some of the pictures I took:

All photos in this collage are credited to me Amy K. Marbach. Click on the collage to be taken to the flickr photo album with the full sized copies of  these pictures (and more!) that I took during my race weekend in Phoenix.

I got a couple of good post ideas from my time at Phoenix that I hope to flesh out and share with you within the coming weeks.

 

I thought the race in New Hampshire was a snooze fest on TV.  I don’t know if it was that way in person or not.  Denny Hamlin lead a majority of the laps…a HUGE HONKIN’ majority – and by quite a large lead. Basically no one could catch him.  Unfortunately when a race is dominated so greatly like that I tend to find them a tad boring.

Tony Stewart in his car during practice at New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Glenn Bure for BadGroove.com)

Tony qualified 3rd!  A stellar effort. I was THRILLED.  WhooHoo!  He lead thirty somthing (38 sticks in my head but I am not sure) laps. Thrilled. He fell back a little having to shove the break down when someone came across his nose during pit stops- but he still came out third. Still thrilled.  The race went down hill from there. They were chasing the car handling and Tony fell further and further back. He even dropped out of the top 10 a couple times. He was always able to get back into the top ten but still…they were NOT the car they were at the beginning of the race. Tony was disappointed- and voiced his dissatisfaction on the radio after the race telling the team “Disappointed guys- all the way around.” Don’t worry Tony- I was disappointed too.

Tony Stewart drives the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevy during practice at New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Glenn Bure for BadGroove.com)

Tony was able to actually finish the race 7th.  This caused him to drop down to 4th in the Sprint Cup Championship standings.

Tony Stewart speaks with Greg Zipadelli, Director of Competition for Stewart-Haas Racing in the garage area at New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Glenn Bure for BadGroove.com)

Notes:

  1. All of the cautions at New Hampshire were for debris- except for the competition caution at lap 40.  Those don’t help for the excitement level that is for certain. Sometimes races are boring. I am sure that happens with other sports too. Sometimes there is just a dude.
  2. I decided to try out RACE BUDDY for the first time ever today during the race…while watching the National Broadcast. I decided not to do that again. Race Buddy was actually about a lap behind the TV and was driving me bonkers so I turned off my laptop and used DirecTV Hotpass instead. But I do think it would be great to use if I wasn’t able to watch the race- like say…during a rain- postponed race at work or something.
  3. Last season- there was a large contingent of Tony Stewart fans (before the 2011 Chase that is) who wanted Stewart’s then crew chief Darian Grubb replaced. I know this because I was often subscribed to their FaceBook groups (come on Facebook- make it so that people can ASK you to join not just auto join you into their groups).  They got their wish despite the fact that Tony won the 2011 Championship.  I often wonder if they regret getting their wish?
  4. A special thanks to Glenn Bure for providing our pictures from the race at New Hampshire!

Next week: DOVER!

My Favorite shot of Glenn’s from New Hampshire:

Tony Stewart’s Helmet sits on the top of the car in the garage area at New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Glenn Bure)

As a Tony Stewart fan, I went into the 2011 Sprint Cup chase extremely pessimistic.  After all, Tony Stewart went into the chase saying he thought the team was wasting a chase berth with the way they had been performing.  Of course we all know what happened; Tony Stewart went on a tear- won FIVE of the ten Chase races (something that had NEVER been done before)  including the season closer at Homestead-Miami, thus winning the Chase by TIEBREAKER.  It was both exhilarating and stressful to be a Tony Stewart fan towards the end of the 2011 chase.  I was AT the Phoenix race and spent most of the race perched on the patio of the media center- watching the race through my fingers.  I don’t even remember much about the Homestead race- except that I was so stoked that I promised my family that if Tony won the championship I would treat them to dinner at the Outback. Guess you all know what I had for dinner that night.  What made the chase so great last year- especially during Homestead was that it was so CLOSE- and to win it Tony Stewart HAD TO WIN THE RACE- a second place wouldn’t cut it.

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: (L – R) Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Martin Truex Jr, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Clint Boyer, Denny Hamlin, Kaey Kahne and Tony Stewart pose in front of “The Bean” as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. They are the twelve drivers competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

This year however, I feel EXCITEMENT going into the chase because this year NASCAR’s Chase for the 2012 Sprint Series Cup could be brought home by ANY of the 12 drivers. I personally do not count ANYONE out.  Sure Tony’s the reigning champion and I would LOVE to see him become a FOUR time champion. Denny Hamlin goes in to the Chase seeded first and his crew chief Darian Grubb no doubt feels he has a point to prove. But I can’t count out Jimmie Johnson- he’s won five and is looking hard for 6. With FOUR of the 12 cars being Hendrick Motorsports cars that means mathematically (and I am NOT good at math people) there is a 1/3 chance that winner could be a Hendrick car- and Junior has been looking strong and CONSISTENT all season. And Jeff Gordon has been driving like a maniac (in a good way) these last few races.  And Kasey’s had some bad luck but pretty much had that first Wild Card spot in the bag in Richmond. Kenseth no doubt would like to leave the 17 team with a Championship before jumping over to Joe Gibbs Racing next season.  Harvick is tenacious and they didn’t give him the nickname THE CLOSER for anything.  Then we have dark horses like Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer who have also been RIGHT there all season long.  And I would NEVER ever ever count out Brad Keselowski. In my mind- right before we go into the first race of the Chase it is ANYONE’s trophy right now.

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Front row L-R The Next 9 drivers Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Cameron Hayley, Dylan Kwasniewski, Daniel Suarez, Sergio Pena, Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace and Corey LaJoie, back row Eleven of the NASCAR Chase drivers L-R Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

As a NASCAR fan, the fact that it is anyone’s championship right now is EXCITING. Of course I still want Tony Stewart to win it!

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Tony Stewart (C) speaks with young drivers who are from the Next 9 at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

Who do YOU think will win it all?