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(Photo source: Stewart-Haas Racing Race Release)

Well it seems that my brain is full of lugnuts this week! Here is what has been pinging around my brain like lugnuts during a green flag pitstop:

1. I find it interesting that Kyle Busch’s recent back-to-back sweeps has sparked a lot of interest but not in the way you would think. Instead of everyone being a buzz about what a monumental accomplishment back-to-back weekend sweeps (even haters have to be impressed) are,  most of the buzz I am hearing is from NASCAR fans who don’t think that the cup drivers should be able to drive in any of the feeder series but instead should be relegated to just driving the premiere cup series.  If this is the case (and I don’t believe this should be the case AT ALL just to make that clear) then by following that same logic new drivers should not drive in the cup series until they have a full time cup ride. See? Cup drivers driving in the series not just give the up-and-coming racers different driving levels and styles to drive with and around (the thought here being is that they can learn from the cup series regulars) but there is the bigger draw to having the cup drivers participate in races in the “lesser” series  and that is that you are drawing fans to seats that might not have otherwise been filled.  I honestly don’t see a problem with it. It’s not like the cup drivers can run for the lesser series championships anymore so I don’t really see why it’s a big deal- they should be able to run if they have the ride and sponsorship to do so.  I know that when Tony occasionally would run what is now the Xfinity series I would be more apt to tune in and pay attention then not.


Probably one of my “best” pictures I have personally taken of Tony- I tend to forget how to work my camera when in close proximity to the man. Silly Amy. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach, Las Vegas Motor Speedway 2013)

Well it’s time for those wiley loose lugnuts that have been pinging around my brain this week like lugnuts in a pit box after a green flag pit stop- and we saw lots of those green flag pit stops in Atlanta didn’t we? So let’s get right to it:

1. By the time this publishes I will be driving somewhere along the 500 miles between my house and Las Vegas.  Okay so I lied- I decided to publish this post a little early so I didn’t have to worry about it tomorrow as I am driving (it’s a long drive and you would be surprised what kind of things pop into my brain as I am driving long distances).  You can still expect two things from me: 1.  Posting here on badgroove will be light until a little after I get back and get into the swing of everything. 2. You can follow my Las Vegas adventures on my social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) which always gets very busy/active during a race weekend. Feel free to follow along on any of those channels but know that none of these feeds are not 100% race related. Also note that sometimes I cross post things to the different accounts- but also sometimes I forget to cross post!  You can also follow my co-blogger (and BFF) Misty on her twitter feed as she will be at the race as well. (more…)

(Photo Source: Tony Stewart Facebook Page, Martinsville 2014 Album)

The stuff that has been rolling around in my brain like lugnuts in a pitstall during a green flag pit stop:

1. Wow- 10 “Loose Lugnuts” posts already? Not bad for just kind of a fun list. Like I said this is actually one of my favorite posts I write because it’s totally how I think- it’s just kind of a stream-of-conscious type thing. This seems to be a fairly post so I will keep it up!

2. Clint Bowyer’s number 15 Michael Waltrip Racing team was penalized 25 points yesterday for some sort of rules infraction that I saw on twitter was an “illegal trackbar” but for some reason the releases on the penalties the exact reason for the 15 team penalty wasn’t mentioned beyond a bunch of handbook infraction numbers that mean nothing to someone like me who doesn’t have a NASCAR rule book (would love one if anyone wants to pass one my way).   I have to say with Michael Waltrip Racing’s previous track record with these kind of issues I am not surprised. Part of me wonders if they don’t have trouble securing sponsorships because of previous cheating penalties (I am of course thinking of Boywer’s overly itchy arm a few years ago, and the jet fuel scandal a few years before that).  Of course MWR are appealing the penalty- I just hope that the appeal is heard soon (and upheld) because it really hoses up the chase when one of the chasers is penalized something like that- I mean with the points system the way it is (I almost called it the “new” points system but I guess we can pretty much state that it’s not really that new anymore ) 25 points is 25 positions on track (there were also monetary fines and  suspensions). Personally I think once the chase for the championship has started, anyone caught cheating should be disqualified from the chase. Yes they should be able to appeal it- and the appeal should be before the next race of the chase. Of course I think all chase cars should get an automatic post race trip to R&D as well to get a good going over to make sure that the cheating thing isn’t rampant.  That’s just my thoughts on the whole process. (more…)

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)


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.