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I didn’t watch much of the pre-race show, I admit. I did watch some of it. But I am wondering if they mentioned WHY the Brickyard 400 was called Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard? I know I mentioned it when the name was announced but it seemed to me that it wasn’t mentioned at during the parts of pre-race that I watched. Just a quick FYI from my original post, John Wayne Walding is a highly decorated Green Beret from Texas who lost the lower part of his leg during a firefight in overseas in 2008 (for more information about John Wayne Walding see my original post) Any way- I wanted to take a couple minutes before we talk about Tony Stewart’s run and share some photos of John Wayne Walding (for the record- that is a cool name) experience at The Brickyard on Sunday:

Green Beret John Wayne Walding enjoying his experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the race that bares his name in July 2014. (Photo by Marianna Massey/Getty Images for Crown Royal)

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The pit crew services Tony Stewart's #14

The crew works on the #14 Bass Pro/Mobil 1 Chevy of Tony Stewart under the lights at Bristol (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart’s Official FaceBook Page)

One of the things that I adore about Bristol is that the drivers get introduced during intros to a song of their choosing. Some drivers open it up to a fan vote, some just pick a song that they love, some pick songs by the same artist.  I LOVE seeing the range of songs.  There were some good songs and good fits to their drivers this year (for a complete list of drivers/intro songs from Sunday check out this article).  THE best song/driver combo? Tony Stewart’s choice of “Back In The Saddle Again” by Aerosmith because it could not have been more apropos.

Practice and qualifying typically happens when I am at work- and Bristol was no different- but it doesn’t mean that I am not paying attention. I am.  I was sad at the results of qualifying for Tony.  The car was obviously not handling well.  At a track like Bristol- if you sneeze you go a lap down. So it is not the track you want to fight an ill handling car because you can get laps down before you hit on that something that makes a difference- and by then it can be too late.  So going into the race on Sunday- I was not optimistic frankly. Even though I had seen that Tony felt better in the car on Saturday after Happy Hour practice- but still- starting 37th? That isn’t an easy place to over come from.

Silly Amy!  Why you worry so much? 

Tony Stewart is jocular as he mounts his stead

Tony Stewart gets into his car at Bristol Motor Speedway March 2014 (Photo Credit: TonyStewart.com Photo Gallery)

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The 14 reflected at Martinsville

Mark Martin drives the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet out of the garage area during practice at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2013. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

I love Martinsville. There is something about that little paperclip shaped track that makes the racing exciting. This track is HIGH on my list of must visit tracks. Really high.  Quarters are close both on track and on pit road- which makes it easy to slip up. Restart wrong? And you might be getting lapped in a few minutes.  Another car short pitting might block you into your stall and cost you to go from 3rd to 23rd while you try to jockey out of your pitstall.  The cars are in constant danger of contact- and while some of the “rubbing” is unintentional- sometimes- just sometimes it is intentional and nothing will piss you off more that to have your driver intentionally wrecked.   But one of the good things about Martinsville- is that you can bang your car up a bit- and still be in contention for the win as long as you don’t let your temper get too out of hand and end up collecting yourself in the drama.  However, It’s not just the drivers that are in danger of constant contact- just ask race winner Jeff Gordon’s tire carrier who got clipped (by I think Denny Hamlin but I don’t remember) a car on pit road during a pit stop. (more…)

Team 14 services the #14 Bass Pro Chevy on pit road at Richmond International Raceway (photo credit: Stewart Haas Racing Official Facebook page)

I am purposely NOT going to mention the Richmond brouhaha that happened at the end of the race because I feel that I have given it enough of my time and energy as well as two blog posts.  Let’s talk about the task at hand: Team 14 and the Richmond race!

Qualifying was not stellar. However- I learned with Tony not to put stock in where they start- but in where they finish. The uber competitive race fan in me- who lives vicariously through my driver wants nothing less than a win every single race.  The points watcher in me always wants a top 5 finish. One thing that is kind of frustrating to me about short tracks (as much as I do love them)- is it is SO easy to go a lap down. And this happened again to Mark Martin in the first half of the race. I will admit it- I was a wee bit disheartened.

Mark Martin stands on the grid at Richmond

Mark Martin stands on the grid at Richmond. (Photo Credit: Official Stewart-Haas Racing Facebook Page)

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Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, races Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Cessna Chevrolet, and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Ducks Unlimited Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images North America)

Qualified: 13th

Finished: 2nd! WhooHoo- that is nearly a win and I will take it!

Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson

Points After Daytona: 1oth- six points over 11th, and 159 out of first. Houston, we are back in the top 10!

My Mood After Daytona: How could I not be happy with a 2nd at Daytona?!  (more…)

It’s always hard for me to watch races at Phoenix on the TV because I LOVE that track- it is one of my favorites that I have been to in person.  It makes it all the harder that the first Phoenix race is so early in the schedule because I haven’t been to a race track since last November (which coincidentally was Phoenix) and I miss just being at a track. I miss the smells and the noise and the colors and the hustle and bustle of the tracks so watching the first Phoenix race of the season is akin to torture for me.

Why, if I love Phoenix so much, did I not go to the race?  Well regular readers might have heard this before- but it has to do with it being back-to-back with the Vegas race (which I absolutely will not miss if for no other reason than that was my VERY FIRST NASCAR RACE) and also being so close to the Auto Club date as well.  Plus Misty and I both have real 8-5 Monday-Friday kind of jobs (and we work in way different fields in different states) so that going to 3 races in one month is impractical if not impossible.  So Phoenix gets put off until the fall race. I am SO GLAD it has a fall race because otherwise it would be hard to have to narrow which track to miss.

My caption for this picture: Is that a rather large spoiler on your rear deck lid or are you just happy to see me? – Amy.  [Tony Stewart on track at Phoenix Raceway (Photo Credit: Andrew Coppley/CIA Stock Photography, Inc.) Photo borrowed from the Tony Stewart Facebook page- click picture to be taken to original.]

Anyway- the Subway Fit Fresh 500k (312 laps/miles) was not so good for the Stewart-Haas drivers! Yikes!  First poor Ryan Newman couldn’t catch a break! First he suffers not only one but two blown tires- the last one putting a premature end to his race. Then Danica also suffers a blown tire and ends up not only hitting a wall but then getting hit by another car and ending her day.

Thankfully, Tony Stewart didn’t seem to have any tire issues- but don’t think I wasn’t worried that he would…especially as the runs got longer.  Tony started the race in sixth place and it seemed like where he was in the field depended on how many tires he took. For a long time after his four tire stops he would end up mired back in traffic in 18th, 20th position somewhere.  I know he was frustrated too because I heard him say on his radio that he didn’t understand how the were slower when they were on 4 tires than with 2.  He would eventually start working his way up towards the front towards the end of the runs though or so it seemed to me.  Luckily he ended up in or near the top 10 before the last top which ended up being two tires.  Tony ended up finished 8th and moving up to 23rd in the points standings.

Notes About Phoenix:

1. I don’t know if you noticed but when Ryan blew a tire and wrecked the second time- he decided to walk to the infield care center instead of ride in the safety vehicle. Tony must have seen him at some point walking on the track because he asked on his radio “Is he mad or is he just getting out of the way?” I thought it was funny. I think he was frustrated- but not at someone else like Tony may have thought.

2. I don’t have NASCAR.COM’s RaceView to watch the races with. I was actually considering getting it since DirecTV ditched their Hot Pass stations (Boo directv boo!) but I have heard from a couple people that they have been having major issues with it. Is anyone else having trouble? Because I don’t know if I want it if it’s going to be more of a frustration than anything else. (For those wondering- I have Sprint and use the NASCAR13 Sprint mobile ap for the scanner).

3. Am I the only one who can’t find the simple things on the new NASCAR.COM- like race lineups, qualifying orders and the like?  I have been trying to keep an open mind about their new layout (I tend to be one of those anti-change people) but when I can’t find the information I am looking for easily- I get frustrated on give up.

I am going to leave you with this picture from Phoenix Raceway because it seems to me that every time I see Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon together- Jeff is usually CRACKING up big time and that makes ME crack up:

Tony Stewart (right) and Jeff Gordon (left) share a laugh in the garage area at Phoenix International Raceway.

Next race; VEGAS BABY!

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!

(Editor’s Note: As mentioned before Kevin M. Boots is back with the first of two posts about his experience at Watkins Glen! Kevin also posted on BadGroove about the Tony Stewart/Lewis Hamilton Seat Swap last year. A big thanks to Kevin for blogging about his experiences over at Watkins Glen and for the great photos!- Amy)

It was dumb luck really, when I think back on it. I was just talking on Twitter about whether I should go to Pocono or Watkins Glen for my race in 2012 and tweeting pros and cons to each track. Surprisingly, both tracks have produced some of the best racing the last few years. WGI was, from the beginning, out to get me to buy a ticket from their track. They would reply to my tweets almost every time.

Then I tweeted something at the end of May that really got their attention. They replied and asked me to send an email to an address.
I was contacted by the WGI Director of Marketing & Fan Experience about calling me. Really? Me? I remember being nervous and excited about this. He called and we talked and he had an idea he had been thinking about; a fan tweeting at the track all weekend. The official WGI twitter account would then retweet me so others could see what fans could do at the track. So my mind was made up, WGI again for 2012.

Fast forward two months, Friday August 10, 2012. I left work and headed right up to the track. I had to pick up my credentials and they wanted to meet with me. I got to the track just before Denny and Burton had their run in. I had a meeting with a gentleman at 4:30PM in the Media Center. So I went and parked in the infield and headed over to it. First off, I always have parked outside of the track before this. Parking inside was different. There were race cars driving over my head at one point. I went and met with my contact and I then I was off. They wanted me to tweeter pictures of my adventures each day. I went to the midway area and started. It was getting late and most of it was closing so I headed to an area I had only dreamed about go in before: the Garage. (more…)