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A little over a year ago I posted a #NASCAR Bucket list of sorts- prompted to do so after reviewing the book 100 Things NASCAR Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die because based on the title I thought the book would be a jumping off point for creating such a list (I found out it wasn’t- if you want to know why you can go back and read my review). For some reason unbeknownst to me, I have been ruminating on that original bucket list lately.  I decided that it needed to be revised a bit.  So here is my NEW #NASCAR Bucket List: (more…)

Since I got all philosophical, sentimental, or whatever you would call that with the Texas Race Report –I left out the “Notes” section where I usually go into all things NASCAR that didn’t fit nice and tidy in the race post. So I present to you- NASCAR tidbits in no particular order that have been floating around in my brain: (more…)

Fan fest for the 2012 Champions Week festivities in Las Vegas was held at the Fremont Street Experience for the second year.  Personally- I liked it better when it was held at the track because there was just something magical about being at LVMS when it’s quiet.  But then again, I am probably biased because LVMS is where I saw my first ever NASCAR race…it was at LVMS that I turned my already BFF into a NASCAR fan…and it was at LVMS that BG was first granted media credentials – so I have a special place in my heart for LVMS.    I guess that they figure that having at the Fremont Street Experience is easier for fans to get to (since the track is WAY OUT THERE)…plus I think the track has a festival of lights set up as many do during the holiday season.

Anyway-  several of the cup cars were on  display and a red carpet that the drivers would walk down to get to the stage where they would be playing  this year’s game show: Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?  The red carpet walk that the drivers take is an experience let me tell you.  People start claiming their spots HOURS before the drivers are scheduled to appear and then other tourists, who are there for non-NASCAR reasons will stroll by and ask what is going on and then upon hearing that they are waiting for NASCAR drivers to walk by in like three hours they give the fans a look like WOW really? You are standing here because a race car driver is going to walk by in like THREE HOURS? It’s kind of funny to judge their reaction- most give looks like the fans are seriously insane.  I don’t know what is more insane…standing around the carpet or walking around in public dressed as a storm trooper and Darth Vader (we seriously saw these characters walking around the red carpet interaction with tourists. Last year it was SpongeBob SquarePants. I don’t think they are official characters- just random people dressed up as them and then trying to make a few extra dollars posing with tourists.

So this year it seemed the red carpet was even MORE chaotic than last year. The drivers were kind of bunched together more than last year so that pretty much everyone was just screaming for their favorite driver’s attention but the actual chances of getting your signature seemed more difficult. I am not sure if the drivers also signed stuff on the way FROM the stage because we left a little early.

Here are some pictures from the event: (more…)

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.

 

Unless you happen to be a Tony Stewart fan like me- I bet you didn’t notice the AMAZING comeback that Tony Stewart had during the race at Texas.  Seriously- I mean he IS a chase driver so I don’t understand WHY they failed to mention the while he had a mostly mediocre run at Texas- staying between positions 18 and 23 for probably 90 percent of the race- only to end up finishing 5th.  I am STILL not sure where he came from at the end of that race- but all of the sudden I noticed he was 10th (my Sprint Cup Mobile scanner for Tony’s radio only worked for about the first half of the race) after a round of pit stops.  I was previously distracted by the rivalry brewing between Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson. And then he was 7th, then 6th, then whoo hoo the race is over and Tony is 5th!!!  Now while I do realize that Jimmie and Brad are the main contenders for the cup right now and certainly they should garner most of the spotlight…I am pretty certain that Tony’s finish deserved SOME sort of mention.

Tony Stewart pits the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 4, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

The G-W-C finish may have pushed the broadcast over it’s allotted time slot a bit, but still I think it deserved SOME mention.  We saw replays of the restarts,  we saw and heard from Jimmie in Victory Lane, we heard from Brad about the last restart, how about “a let’s hear from Tony Stewart about that comeback to finish 5th” and THEN go to SportsCenter.  Because I watched the first couple minutes of Sports Center and then my attentions drifted elsewhere and they didn’t mention it so I wandered away.  That race seemed REALLY LONG to me.  I think I probably would have dozed off during the first 150-200 laps IF I hadn’t been listening to Tony’s scanner (thank you for keeping me awake Spotter Bob!). To tell the truth? This time change absolutely kills me. With the chase races starting later than regular season races combined with the time change- I was TIRED and the race at the beginning wasn’t THAT exciting until the end, so I got a little heavy lidded from time to time. Especially for Tony Stewart fans- who got to see their driver only on the scrolling banner on the top where the positions are and on a rare occasion during a pit stop to say well they are making adjustments.

Helmet shot of Tony

I LOVE these helmet shots of Tony in his helmet in his car. (Photo Credit: Copyright CIA Stock Photography, Inc. as seen on The Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page- click photo to be taken to original)

Like I mentioned, I listened to Stewart’s radio chatter as long as sprint cup mobile would let me- and they were throwing ALL kinds of adjustments at that car EVERY SINGLE pit stop that I heard.  Including putting shims in because the splitter was hitting during one of the cautions. They were discussing taking the shim out of the left front if they got another caution when I seemed to lose all driver radios so I am not sure if they ever made that adjustment.  I am not saying they should only focus on Tony- that would be boring and we would have missed the excitement of the racing between Keselowski and Johnson.  But just a couple more mentions through out the broadcast and after the race would have been nice!

Race winner was Jimmie Johnson, who has 7 championship points over second place Brad Keselowski.  Tony finished 5th, and moved up to 8th in the championship standings.

Notes About Texas:

  1. Something else you might have missed during the race- Carl Edwards hit his tire changer MikeLingerfeltduring a pit stop.  Yikes!!
  2. This picture of Tony Stewart from practice at Texas Motor Speedway humors me:

    Tony Stewart standing in the garage at Texas. (Photo Credit: The Official Tony Stewart website- click on photo to be taken to the original).

  3. On Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway- several of the Coca-Cola Family drivers took part in a Google + Hangout chat with fans.  If you are like me- you probably missed it, but fear not! They have the video up and I have embedded it for your pleasure (of course it doesn’t hurt that Tony Stewart is in it-  as is his 100 lb lapdog Hank…which reminds me of Misty’s Gidget who who was such a sweetie- she was german shephard/chow mix and also thought she was a 100 lb lap dog).

Next Race: Phoenix- and YES Misty and I will be there!

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?

It will be interesting to see what kind of racing the “new” Bristol resurface will hold in store for tomorrow night. Until then enjoy these articles I found on the web. (I especially enjoyed the first one):

Is NASCAR A Sport? – Mike Larson for Autoweek

Fike Opens Up About Emotional Journey To Sobriety- Holly Cain Special to NASCAR.COM

With Tony Stewart On Hand, Paralyzed Lakeville Native Returns To Racing- Angelo DiCarlo for WNDU

Jeff Gordon Was Really Unhappy With Dale Earnhardt Jr In Michigan- Jay Busbee for Yahoo! Sports

Dale Earnhardt Jr Displeased With Brad Keselowski’s Remarks About Hendrick Motorsports- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony Stewart during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Raceway in Brooklyn, MI on August 17, 2012. Rusty Jarrett MRD/CIA (Borrowed from TonyStewart.com)

Tony shares some stories about the Olympics (Via Miss Sprint Cup on FB):

(Editor’s Note: Yesterday longtime BadGroove reader Kevin M. Boots shared his experience at Watkins Glen on Friday and Saturday.  As promised yesterday here is the conclusion- all about Sunday.  Again I just want to thank Kevin for sharing his experiences and his pictures from the track at Watkins Glen! – Amy)

Sunday, I drove up to the track earlier than I did Saturday. I didn’t park in the infield. I drove to my usually spot near Gate 5. I took my little secret route, “the back way” to the track. There is never any traffic on this road, there is never any traffic getting to this road after you get off the hill. There is a barn on a 90 degree corner along this back way in that says “Bat Cave this way” It makes me laugh every time I see it. (more…)