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It’s been a heckuva week for this Jeff Gordon girl. I have been semi mum (for me anyway) on the subject because frankly the emotions were too high. Aside from a handful of angry tweets and some pointed re-tweets, I have been mum…but now that it is all said and done ,and I can contemplate the events of the last week without fire steaming from my nostrils, let me tell you what it was like for me and I am sure most of the 24 fans.

Saturday’s race at Richmond, in itself, was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Jeff needed to race his way into the Top Ten in points to make the Chase. Starting from the pole was a good way to get there. So was leading the first 50 or so laps, but then he began to fade, having used up his tires in that first run, the handling of the car went away and he didn’t seem to have a car capable of winning the race. However, all was not lost as Logano – the person he needed to unseat from 10th in points was having a FAR worse night- having fallen two laps down early on and remained stuck there. (more…)

I really do NOT want to continue to beat a dead horse by going into the Richmond stuff again- but I feel that I have to respond to the penalties that followed the NASCAR race at Richmond especially after I posted my opinions on what happened during the race and what I thought NASCAR should do and what I thought they would do (which as I mentioned were two separate things). I posted an initial reaction to the penalties on my Facebook page, and retweeted several tweets if you follow me there- but I really feel the need to expound on what I said in both places.

Well, I think the first thing is all of us to remind ourselves, it’s a sport.  It has a tremendous amount of fun to it.  Occasionally, and particularly our role, is to regulate the sport and police it and officiate it so that everybody has got a reasonable playing field to participate in.  So we have days like today that we run across and have challenges that our role is to react to, and this is one of those days.-- Mike Helton, NASCAR President (source: 9-9-13 press conference transcript)

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2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase Field

The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase field as it stands from Saturday night after the race at Richmond International Raceway- but should two of the drivers in the field really be there? (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Richmond, a d-shaped 3/4 mile track in Virgina, is one of NASCAR’s crown jewel short tracks and the stage for the last regular season race of the Sprint Cup season or as NASCAR fans know it “The race for the Chase.” The chase- by design is a 10 race shootout of tracks for the championship where the points are basically zeroed out- with a seeding by number of wins for the top ten drivers with the including of two non-seeded, wild card drivers. Only the top 12 drivers in the regular season have a chance at the championship as the Chase currently stands- making these last ten “chase” races the play-offs of NASCAR.  One of the interesting effects since NASCAR went to a “play-offs” type championship seasons is that just making the CHASE becomes the main goal for teams. Also, as a result of this system- there is the “bubble” who is in and who is out.

This particular Richmond race- there were 11 drivers vying for the 6 remaining “non-clinched” spots in the chase (including the two wild card positions).  As the race was run- those drivers that were in and those that were out changed with each lap it seemed.  Ryan Newman was vying for one of those cherished wild card spots- most of the time against Martin Truex Jr.  Ryan pretty much had to win the race, or Martin Truex Jr had to have a tragedy because if they tied for the wild card the only way Ryan would win the wild card spot would be with another win for the tie breaker. Conversely, driver Jeff Gordon could not hope for a wild card spot- if he was to make the chase Jeff Gordon absolutely had to finish with in the top 10 in the points standings since he has no wins yet this season. (more…)

Misty and I have attended every Champions Week since it moved to Vegas and we usually stand at the same spot for the victory lap on the Strip by where the cars do their burnouts. It’s a great spot and we have gotten some great pictures of the cars burning out over the years.  The bad part of this is that we end up standing out there for hours so our spot doesn’t get squatted by someone else and soon we are packed in our favorite area like live sardines in a can. Much like the red carpet at fan fest, chaos ensues. Last year I ended up getting hit in the back of the head by some guy’s lens hood on his camera- multiple times.  This year, though, we decided to try something a little different and hang out by the start/finish line (in front of Planet Hollywood). It was a completely different vibe and it was fun to change things up this year.

This is a beloved event and the fans line the strip for hours in advance of their favorite drivers:

Fans gather on one of several pedestrian bridges hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite drivers during the Victory Lap down Las Vegas Blvd (The Vegas Strip) (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany)

The start/finish line area of the Victory lap is much more like being around a driver introduction stage at an actual race: (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.

 

I don’t know if it was just me or what but that race in Charlotte seemed to be the LONGEST race of the season. It just seemed to be the race that would NOT quit.  I find that it’s especially trying to watch race when my driver’s car gets damaged in the first 20 laps of the race.  On lap 16 Tony Stewart damaged the nose of the 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet when cars in front of him checked up during the second restart of the race, causing him to effectively rear end another car (Brad Keselowski I think?) at high speeds. The results were not pretty: (more…)

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?

I have been looking forward to  Sonoma Race weekend for so many reasons this year, but mostly because I have been JONESING hardcore for a race (in person).  In general NASCAR fans in the west kind of get the short end of the stick race wise.  There is Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Fontana- which unfortunately for fans (and fortunately for race teams no doubt) are all kind of close together.  Then we have a long wait until late June for Sonoma (and then again another long wait until Fall Phoenix).

Sonoma Raceway (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

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