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Tony pilots his Chevy through the garage

Tony pilots his Chevy through the garage at Texas Motor Speedway, November 2014. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Store FB/Mike Calamungi/CIA Stock Photo)

I wanted to let the race soak in a bit this week before writing my post (okay who am I kidding- really I was totally slammed at the day job yesterday and not in the mood to write by the time I got home).

Let’s start with my usual fodder- Team 14 and their run at TMS.  I admit I started the weekend a bit excited after hearing that Tony was the first driver to break the 200 mph mark in a stock car at Texas Motor Speedway.  Of course it’s all relative considering Tony has gone around TMS in an indy car at well over 200 mph. Still it’s cool and like Tony mentioned who knows how long the record lasts- but it’s always cool to be the first one to do something!  Tony was able to qualify for the race 6th which is not bad at all! (more…)

The pit crew hard at work

The pit crew of Tony Stewart is hard at work on pit road trying to repair damage at Talladega Super Speedway. (photo credit: Tony Stewart Official Store)

So wow- Talladega was a cluster of a race wasn’t it?  That is two weeks in a row where NASCAR has suffered some sort of major FAIL regarding a Chase (playoff) race.  Last week if you remember – ABC failed to show the first 26 laps of the race at Charlotte because of a college football game.  This week? NASCAR failed themselves by up and changing the qualifying process (yet again). Obviously the drivers themselves didn’t understand it much either- because many big name drivers- including several CHASE eligible drivers only made the race on owner points/championship provisionals. Hey NASCAR- SOMETHING IS WRONG with your new qualifying format if drivers in the Chase only make the field because of owner points/past champions provisionals.  Fans and teams alike just got use to the new qualifying format and then NASCAR had to go throw a wrench in the plans? That is NOT cool.   What also concerns me about this qualifying format is that drivers with full-season funding and sponsorship did not make the field (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) – yet one-off drivers riddled the field (Mike Wallace, Terry Labonte, Michael Waltrip).  I honestly do not know what NASCAR was thinking there.

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I just want to take second to THANK everyone for all the support for the last post (the Open Letter To GMA). It was truly overwhelming to see how many of you out there not just felt the same way as I did but shared the link, shared your thoughts (either on the original post, on FaceBook, on twitter)! While I have no doubt that my letter did little in the overall scheme of things- especially judging on the ABC Nightly News coverage this evening, I like to think that us fans banding together at least showed that Tony Stewart fans NASCAR fans are not blind to slanted, biased reporting.  Hopefully it somehow got back to Tony and his people that we support him on a wide scale. Onto the actual post.

I think after the post-race antics last Saturday night, most of the NASCAR world was waiting and watching to see what the NASCAR sanctioning body would dole out.  I know I certainly was. In case that you haven’t heard yet (and I know most of you have) these were the penalties doled out by NASCAR today:

Brad Keselowski was fined $50,000 and placed on probation through the Phoenix race. Tony Stewart was fined $25,000 and placed on probation through the Phoenix race.

I know everyone has thoughts on what should and should NOT have been done with the penalties. I know I certainly do and judging by some of the things I read on social media afterwards my thoughts may not be the most popular ones. So I ask that you approach my thoughts with an open mind- and remember these are MY opinions and nothing more.

What NASCAR Did Right (more…)

Dear Robin Roberts, Gio Benitez, and GMA producers (oh and you too Inside Edition):

Your coverage of the post-race tussles after Saturday night’s NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was so off-the-mark that if it didn’t drag Tony Stewart’s name though the mud, it would have been completely laughable. Your story glossed completely over the main points of the brouhaha (involving on and off track incidents between Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth) and instead focused on a tiny portion of the incident where Tony Stewart stood up to Brad Keselowski for being collected as collateral damage in the pit road portion of the skirmish with Matt Kenseth.

Sadly, your report does not surprise me. I watched mainstream media outlets with a limited knowledge of motorsports instantaneously vilify Tony Stewart in August for a tragic accident.  Unfortunately I have to throw you into the trash bin with them- because that piece that you aired? It was so obviously meant to be a sensationalistic piece that it had no real news value other than to stir a pot that should be off the stove by now.

May I ask you this? Have you ever been to a NASCAR race? I have been to more than 20. A lot can happen during a 500 mile race- did you even watch the race you commented on? I did- well all except for the first 26 laps that ABC decided not televise, opting instead to televise a college football game instead of the professional sporting series playoff race (that is that the Chase is- it’s NASCAR’s version of the playoffs) they were scheduled to air. But I digress. What Tony Stewart did there? Any driver would do. That’s NASCAR speak for “Hey don’t involve me in your drama.” It would not have gotten billed as it did if it had been any other driver standing up to being collected as collateral damage from Brad Keselowski’s temper tantrum.  Oh and by the way- all drivers have them at some point. It’s called passion for their sport.

Have you ever bothered to talk to a Tony Stewart fan? I can’t answer for all of them- only myself.  But let me tell you just a little bit about why I am a Tony Stewart fan.  I find Tony’s passion for racing, for being lucky enough to do what he loves, inspiring to witness.  Tony can race nearly anything with wheels and does it with PASSION (have you seen his career highlights). But that is not the only reason I am a fan. I am a fan because Tony races with his heart on his sleeve and has from the very beginning. It’s his honestly (sometimes brutally so) and passion for ALL forms of motorsports that drew me in.  I stay a fan because despite his hardcore, old school, intense racer attitude and driving style, the man has a huge heart.  I was lucky enough to have interviewed Tony several times (Interview 1, Interview 2, Interview 3) for this very blog. He was always thoughtful, more than friendly, and very forthcoming with his all of his answers, but when the topic turned to his charitable foundation and the work they do with children and animal charities- his entire face lit up and body language changed.  THAT right there, is why I am a fan.

Yes, Tony Stewart was involved in a terrible accident where a young driver lost his life.  But this is just it- it was an accident and was deemed so by a Grand Jury for goodness sakes.  As a motorsports enthusiast, a NASCAR blogger and yes a diehard Tony Stewart fan- I do not want to see Tony Stewart forced to filter his words, his actions, or who he is for the rest of his career because news anchors like yourself are going to throw an accident back up into his face at any given moment. It’s already something that Tony has to live with every day, I am sure he does that enough as it is.

So please, the next time you do a piece on a subject unknown to you- do some research, attempt to familiarize yourself with it or at the very least default to someone who does understand it instead of trying to be the first out there to smear someone’s name. It’s not becoming.

Sincerely,

Amy K. Marbach, BadGroove.Com

Tony Stewart with a young fan before the #BOFA500

Tony Stewart with a young fan before the #BOFA500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway October 11th, 2014. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Store/David Yeazell/CIA Stock Photo Copyright)

Tony Stewart gets serviced on pit road

Tony Stewart’s #14 Bass Pro Chevrolet gets serviced on pit road on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

So much for flag-to-flag coverage of the chase races huh?  For all that NASCAR has done building up this new Chase format- building it to be more like traditional playoffs like you see in other series, did they ever have an epic televised coverage fail on Saturday. Did you tune in on Saturday expecting to see the 5th race of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint cup? So did I. Were you disappointed to see college football instead? ME TOO! (more…)

The 14 on Pit Road

The 14 on pit road at New Hampshire Motor Speedway 2014. (Photo Credit: Mobil 1 Facebook Page)

I just can NOT seem to get a good feel for this season and Tony Stewart/Team14. The races I have a good feeling about- they do crummy. The races that I don’t have a good feeling about- they do decent.  I had a good feeling about the race in Loudon. After all- Tony qualified 4th! I listened to qualifying at work on SiriusXM  NASCAR- and was quite pleased! So I felt GREAT about our chances at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  And then the race happened. (more…)

Tony Stewart and his Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet on track in Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/CIA Stock Photography, Inc)

Kentucky Speedway is one of the newest stops on the Sprint Cup Schedule but it seems to me that it has the surface of an old track; bumpy and cantankerous. It’s almost like taking a step backwards to a time when racing was racing, to a time when the vehicle you raced was one you had driven off the showroom floor, when the stock in stock car racing was true.

Tony qualified his number 14 Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet 13th for the Quaker State 400. If you are still unfamiliar with the new “knockout qualifying” format- this means he was the best of the drivers who didn’t advance to the final round of 12 drivers in qualifying. Honestly it isn’t a bad effort if you look at Tony’s qualifying record over the length of his career.  I decided on a lark to listen to qualifying at work using my listen online function of SiriusXM for the first time. I have to say just as with the first time I listened to the race on SiriusXM I loved listened to qualifying for the first time with the PRN crew. They really do do an excellent job. I will definitely make this a regular occurrence as often as I can since qualifying does tend to be while I am at work. (more…)

Tony Stewart’s pit crew rushes around the #14 Bass Pro Chevy (photo credit: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook Page)

I am not a fan of racing at super speedways- much the way some people aren’t fans of road courses.  There usually isn’t a lot of mixing it up on super speedways- because it’s just too dangerous to press your luck.  I like my races to have at least a little more balance between skill and luck (honstly I like my races to be heavier in the skill than the luck and not vice versa). Races at Talladega are much more luck than skill in my opinion- luck in that IF you can stay out of someone else’s mess then you might have a chance succeed. (more…)