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Restrictor plate racing brings with it it’s own set of rules and lately it’s own style of racing. The two-by-two “pod” style of racing that we saw at Daytona in February was indeed back again at Talladega. It was no surprise that during the extended first practice when it featured many pod runs (two cars bump drafting all the way around the track).

The two car tango that we have been seeing at the plate tracks brings with it two “issues” that seem to be on everyone’s mind. Of course you know I am going to throw my opinion in the ring. (more…)

I love me a good NASCAR commercial. I really do. And I am going to be completely honest…this year’s crop of NASCAR related commercials leaves a LOT to be desired so far.  I have held off on writing this post for so long on the hopes that a new commercial will pop up that I love.   So far really the only #NASCAR related commercial that I enjoy isn’t even available anywhere online.  I have googled my fingers to the bone looking for an embeddable video of it- or even just a link over to the video and I can NOT find one. That commercial is for Gillette and starts Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Kyle is hidden in a dining cart at a restaurant and pops his head out to “surprise” unwitting male diners to try Gillette Proglide.  The best two best lines are “Hey Denny (who is in an adjacent dining cart) is that tiramisu?” and then the expression on Kyle’s face when he goes “VROOM VROOM” at the very end of the commercial.  THAT is my favorite commercial from this season so far although I am still holding onto the eternal hope that something new pops up that I will enjoy.

There is a web promotional video that Mobil 1 has put out to talk about the F1/NASCAR car swap that Tony Stewart and Lewis Hamilton are doing later this summer at Watkins Glen that I enjoy too.  I can’t find an embeddable video for that one either but I can at least refer you HERE to watch it on the Official Tony Stewart facebook page.  Beware- the video has some strange pixelations – do NOT adjust your set (that shows my age huh?) I think it’s artistic pixelations.  That video has me thinking “Tony, I’ve Got An Idea” would be a great blog post title…but damned if I can think of the body to go with it.  Don’t be stealing on my idea…I am still thinking about it.

Speaking of Tony Stewart and commercials and thinking,  I was read this article by Richie Whitt for the Dallas Observer where he got to be an honorary crew member for the race. That got me thinking about this Clint Bowyer FANTASY NASCAR LIVE commercial (I don’t know why- that is just how my brain works):

Anyway I was thinking it is probably a good thing that this gadget allowing fans to talk directly to their drivers midrace is fictional.  Not only because could you imagine all these people trying to talk at once but I know for a FACT that I would probably say something in the heat of the moment that I would regret.  Could you imagine having the ability to actually speak with the driver who just tangled with your driver and wrecked him out? It’s fun to imagine…but frankly as huge of a Tony Stewart fan I am- I wouldn’t necessarily want him to hear my race comments I tend to curse like a sailor during races because I become viciously competitive. Just saying. So how about you? What’s your favorite NASCAR commercial so far this season?

If you have been reading here for any length of time, you know I like love to take pictures. I really do.  I have even taken a couple of online photography classes trying to better my techniques.  It was in one of my classes that I decided that I do not like taking pictures of people…especially when they are posed or posing.  They usually end up with monkey grins or looking like they are wearing the world’s most uncomfortable underwear.  Plus, when you take a picture of a car or a horse or something, they don’t tend to bitch about having to stand still while you take just one more shot.  Portraiture is just not my bag I guess.  I would much rather take pictures of flowers or animals or whatnot.

However when I was at the NASCAR Champions Week celebration and festivities in Las Vegas I got some of the BEST pictures of PEOPLE that I have ever taken.  That is when it dawned on me-  I can take good pictures of people as long as they don’t know I am taking their picture or at the very least aren’t posing for me.  So my best three photos of Champions week are:

Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson

Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson talk during a break at the 2010 Stewie Awards in Las Vegas. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Tony Stewart smiles at the 2010 Stewie Awards in Las Vegas, NV

Probably the best picture of Tony Stewart I have managed to take...because most of them manage to blur because I get nervous and move the camera. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Jimmie Johnson smiles on the red carpet at the Chasers for Charity Fan Fest in Las Vegas, NV

Now I know that here it looks like Jimmie is posing for me but he's NOT! He is actually smiling at a little boy who is sitting on his father's shoulders behind me. The little boy kept calling out "Jimmie Johnson...Jimmie Johnson!" (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Now you might be wondering where on earth Clint Bowyer fits into all this, since clearly my “best” photos were NOT of Clint.  Well as a result of After The Lap and The Stewies, I found out that Clint  is a really funny guy.  Honestly I have never really given Bowyer much thought before but he really is a funny guy and spent most of the time laughing and cutting up at both After the Lap and The Stewies.  But damned if I can get a picture of the man where he doesn’t look grumpy.  I present to you all my pictures of Clint Bowyer as evidence:

My very first picture of Clint Bowyer...grimacing in the garage at LVMS three years ago. Ok so maybe he was working and this is Clint's "race" face...but really he just looks annoyed. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

So that isn’t that bad BUT he looks kind of ticked off right? Well trust me…they only get worse. Check out this picture of Clint signing autographs on the red carpet at Fan Fest:

Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer on the red carpet at Chasers for Charity Fan Fest. (photo credit: Amy K. Marbach)

See? This is NOT Clint Bowyer’s personality- I would know since I was there- he is not the grumpy gus that my camera catches…it’s my apparent inability to catch him in a flattering way.  I am sad to admit that  have an even worse picture of Clint from the Stewies:

Clint Bowyer at the 2010 Stewie Awards

Clint Bowyer at the 2010 Stewie Awards. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

So why I can’t get a decent picture of Clint Bowyer I don’t know. It use to be that I could never get a decent picture of Tony Stewart because he would make me nervous and I would move the camera so all my pictures of the man would be blurry. But that has changed. With Bowyer it’s different…I can’t caught a flattering image of him for the life of me.  I have no explanation for it really.

Also I just wanted to include a side note that while taking pictures to document NASCAR Champions Week 2010 I felt like a paparazzi, especially during the red carpet walk for Fan Fest and during the Stewies.  It was kinda weird.

(or how on earth I didn’t pee my pants I am not sure).

Directly after the Victory Lap and Burnouts on Thursday was the After The Lap Q&A at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.  Which meant Misty and I had to jam! We left our prized burnout spot for the car before the smoke from Jeff Burton’s car had dissipated and started towards the Hard Rock.  We had about half an hour and while we weren’t THAT far from the Hard Rock, traffic was backed up from the closing of Las Vegas Blvd for the Victory Lap and the lights at Las Vegas intersections? Are the longest lights I have ever experienced in my entire 30-something years of living. We get to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and basically RUN to into the Joint and grab two seats in the back near where the drivers would be entering. This event was FREE but space was limited and on a first come/first serve. So Las Vegas native Jamie Little was doing the emceeing/hosting of the event and the Chase drivers are announced- walk into the Joint from the back towards a little catwalk then onto the stage.  I would have gotten some great pictures of them entering except someone was a little fogger happy at the Joint so all I got were shadowy people in a fog.  I will spare you.

The drivers sat on directors chairs on-stage and were asked questions that were submitted on facebook, twitter, on video from the tracks, and even a couple from the audience.  Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon were seated next to each other much like at Family Feud the day before and they talked back and forth even when it wasn’t their turn to talk- it was funny. I would love to know what they were saying.  Anyway,  if you follow me on twitter you might have caught my tweet from the event:  I am laughing my ass off at the after the lap q&a. These guys are funny as hell!! And I truly was…laughing my butt off.   Best line of the night though? Came from Tony Stewart.  Let me set it up:

Someone (Clint Bowyer I think?) brought up that the drivers were all changing from their suits into their firesuits in the same room from the Luncheon early in the day to the Victory Lap in the early afternoon.  Apparently Kyle Busch was wearing bright green boxers.  The other drivers found that to be uproariously funny and mentioned it several times throughout the evening.  Anyway- after much talk of Kyle’s green boxers, Tony gets a hold of one of the microphones and states: I don’t know what you guys over there were doing (motioning towards the drivers on the other side of the stage from him) but you were spending WAY too much time looking at each other’s junk.  I nearly fell out of my chair (and I hadn’t had anything to drink so don’t think I was drunk).

In between answering the questions we learned that Jeff Gordon is afraid of needles and doesn’t have any tattoos. And Clint Bowyer? The man is hilarious!  Who knew?  Not me but indeed Clint Bowyer is HILARIOUS! And we all know that Tony is a great storyteller and he had a couple to tell….needless to say that watching these guys interact with each other outside of the track was great!!

Now we wanted to go to the Stewies but we weren’t sure where they were.  Originally we had heard they would be at The Hard Rock as well…but then someone else in the Q&A had mentioned they were going to be at the Rio.  There was no way would have time to get all the way to the RIO Q&A and happen onto the Stewies being set up right there outside in the Joint Lobby.  We take a prime spot for the taping. Last year by the time we got to the Stewies it was so full of people that we were stuck way up in the balcony and could barely see. We didn’t have that problem this time.  And let me just say…poor Kyle Busch’s green underwear were brought up AGAIN on the radio.  Here is Misty’s awesome video of the Jeff Gordon section of the Stewies:

(Video credit: Misty Bethany)

I also got some great shots during the Stewies:

Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson talk during the commerical break at The 2010 Stewie Awards.

Tony and Clint Bowyer during to 2010 Stewie Awards.

Tony and Jeff Gordon during the 2010 Stewie Awards.

Tony and Stewie recipient Delana Harvick at the 2010 Stewie Awards.

Tony in the middle of a story at the 2010 Stewie Awards.

(All photos credited to ME).

You can see who won in each Stewie catagory at the Stewies Site on Sirius XM’s website as well as listen / watch snippets of video from the event as well…

While I was pretty much on the go all day both Misty and I laughed our butts off at After The Lap and The Stewies.  It was a great day!

The Thursday of NASCAR Champions Week in Vegas was a crazy, chaotic day that had us running all over town…literally.  There was the luncheon at the Bellagio (which is a beautiful hotel by the way)…where Dale Earnhardt Jr won his umpteenth favorite driver award…and more importantly- Tony Stewart won the 2010 Home Depot Humanitarian of the Year award (and yes I nearly squealed like a school girl when I found out).

Then it was the Victory Lap and Burnouts down the Las Vegas Strip.  Having attended this last year- Misty and I had the perfect spot for viewing (and pictures and video) the burnouts.  Also? This year rocked because all top 12 drivers did burn outs- last year just Jimmie burned out- the rest just squirreled around the turn! Anyway, we staked out our spot early. Ok, really early, because we didn’t want to worry about it getting usurped.  The weather this year was warmer than last year which was great because by the time they burned out last year I was frozen solid into a Popsicle.  We were so cold that by the end of it last year we were both shaking uncontrollably. This year we were prepared with layers but didn’t need to worry.  So without further ado…some pictures:

Jimmie Johnson burnout on the Las Vegas Strip for the Champions Victory Lap celebration.

Denny lights them up on Las Vegas Blvd.

Smoke burns some rubber on Las Vegas Blvd.

Kyle burns out on the Las Vegas Strip.

Jeff Gordon takes his turn laying some rubber on the Las Vegas Strip.

Clint Bowyer's Las Vegas burnout.

(All photos of the burnouts are credited to ME!)

And Misty with her arms of steel took this great video of the awesome burnouts:

(Video credit: Misty Bethany who is now the chief videographer for badgroove.com)

It’s a family affair…NASCAR is… and this was never more apparent to me than at this year’s Champions Week  Fan Fest at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  The gates opened at 10 a.m.  for fans to mingle in the Neon Garage in anticipation of the driver’s appearances that afternoon.  Fans of all ages, just like the Christmas song says, “from ages 2-92”, were there and they were ready to see the Chasers. 

There were some activities and sights to entertain the fans before the afternoon’s main event, but most began lining up alongside the red carpet almost immediately, looking to get an autograph or a picture of their favorite Chase driver. 

Nothing like standing in the hot sun, elbow to elbow with complete strangers to create some camaraderie and friendship.  NASCAR fans are a pretty friendly and gregarious group of people and when you are shoulder to shoulder together for hours on end you tend to get pretty close, pretty fast sharing stories to pass the time and take your mind off of how bad your feet hurt, and how much longer before the boys arrive.

This kind of quick camaraderie and sense of belonging among the fans didn’t surprise me.  After all what NASCAR fan hasn’t witnessed the same thing in any parking lot and track on the circuit, but what did surprise me was how that sense of family, recognition and belonging carried on with the drivers.  As the top 12 NASCAR drivers inched their way down the red carpet, it dawned on me how much like a family we all are.  These elite athletes could easily have sauntered down the red carpet, smiling for a few pictures, maybe signing an autograph or two to appear engaged in the moment and then carried on with themselves, but they didn’t do that at all.  In fact, just as I said, they literally “inched” their way down the carpet stopping to sign autographs for most, if not all, the fans who asked, taking time to really engage with the fans.  Some even came back to fans that they had missed on the first pass.  In the big scheme of things, the extra 15 minutes it took these guys to walk down the red carpet probably doesn’t matter much to them, but it made all the difference to those fans who watch them week in and week out, year after year.  I have to admit, that the experiences I have had over the last two years during Fan Fest has given me admiration for drivers that I was previously ambivalent or even antipathetic toward before “meeting” them on the red carpet.

To bring home the family feel even further was the way they guys interacted with one another on stage during “Family Feud”.  Watching them tease, joke and laugh at each other, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own family gatherings and struck by how much these guys remind me of my loud, crazy cousins getting rowdy at grandma’s every holiday.  Who knew Clint Bowyer was such a cut up or that Tony Stewart could make Jeff Gordon laugh so hard he literally slapped his knee???  It was fun to watch and made me feel connected to these drivers and this sport even more than I already did.

Fan Fest is an awesome experience, a place you can bring your whole family to get a glimpse of the personalities they watch on track every week, and feel confident that nobody is going to be disappointed or disillusioned with their favorite driver.  In fact, the only real danger I see is walking away liking one of the drivers that you previously rooted against on Sunday.

This post compliments the post written by Misty about Fan Fest.

NASCAR’s Champion’s Week festivities in Las Vegas started off on Wednesday with the Chasers for Charity Fan Fest at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Fans mingled around some of the cars (the 24, the 17, the 16, the 99 and the 48 were all present), sampled some tasty bundt cake (from Nothing  Bundt Cakes- whom I have had the pleasure of having before as Misty’s birthday cake in July), mingled and waited for the drivers to arrive.  This year’s fan fest was different than last year. Last year there was a roast- where fairly pricey tickets were sold to the Roast which was held in the Media Center or fans could sit in the neon garage and listen for free.  This year the chase drivers were divided into two teams to play NASCAR Family Fued on the stage in the NEON garage. Anyone could watch. It was much much more fun for the fans who got to interact with the drivers by yelling out answers to help them. It was far more interactive for fans- who enjoyed the game show.   Drivers walked together down the red carpet and up to the stage for family feud so of course I snapped some pictures:

Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, and Tony Stewart make their way down the Red Carpet to the Family Feud Stage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Photo Credit: Me)

Tony Stewart signs autographs for fans at Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Chasers for Charity Fan Fest. (Photo Credit: Me)

Jeff Gordon signs autographs on the red carpet at Chasers For Charity Fan Fest at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Me)

Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer on the red carpet at Chasers for Charity Fan Fest. (Photo Credit: Me)

Take note of Clint Bowyer in this picture. I will be mentioning him in a different post later…but you need to hold this image of Clint in your head for my story later.

Jimmie Johnson and fan on the red carpet at Chasers for Charity fan fest. (Photo Credit: Me)

Jimmie Johnson and fan on the red carpet at Chasers for Charity fan fest. (Photo Credit: Me)

You may have read in Misty’s post about the Family Feud…that Tony Stewart said something that tickled Jeff Gordon so much he was laughing hysterically (and this wouldn’t be the last time Tony cracked Jeff up over the week but more on that later). This actually happened several times during family feud and I would have LOVED to know what the heck was so damn funny Tony:

Jeff Gordon cracks up at something Tony Stewart said during Family Feud...oh to be a fly on that wall. (Photo Credit: Me)

Not the best picture…the lighting was crappy by this point in the afternoon- but you get the picture.  The best part of the Family Feud game was watching the drivers interact with each other off track.  Family indeed!

So…the race at Dover was NOT what a Tony Stewart fan wanted to see.  Between an ill handle on the car (at one point Stewart described it as plowing) and a detrimental speeding penalty on pit road at lap 115,  Tony and the Office Depot Old Spice Chevy did NOT have the best of races.   As a fan it was really hard to watch the team struggle so much.  What made it even worse? Only one Chase driver finished lower than Stewart- and that was Clint Bowyer. Tony finished 21st and maintains his position in the standings. He is currently 10th, 162 points behind leader Denny Hamlin. Race winner for Dover was Jimmie Johnson.

However, while Tony is down right now, he is not OUT by any means…now for some pictures from the race at Dover, most provided to me by Glenn Bure of AI press:

Tony on track at Dover. Photo Courtesy of Glenn Bure, AI Press

Tony backstage at PreRace Ceremonies. Photo Courtesy of Glenn Bure, AI Press

Tony during PreRace ceremonies at Dover. Photo Courtesy of Glenn Bure, AI Press

Tony and fellow driver (is that JJ Yeley?) share a lighthearted moment in Dover. Photo Courtesy of Glenn Bure, AI Press

Now this picture I included because WTH is going on in the background? Is that guy taking a nap? Photo courtesy of Glenn Bure, AI Press

This is one of those pictures where you just wish you were privy to the conversation...because what the heck is going on? (Photo blatantly borrowed from tonystewart.com media gallery)

As for the Office Depot Official Small Business of NASCAR contest. The winner was Mike Pagano who was riding on Greg Biffle’s car. Congratulations Mike on becoming the Official Small Business of NASCAR.

Well that’s it for this race.

The standings post might be a day late or so…waiting on the appeal for Clint Bowyer.  Also- while yes I heard about the Harvick vs Hamlin shenanigans I can’t really comment on them because I didn’t really see or hear much about it because I basically had my head in the sand on Saturday.

Next race: Kansas! GO TONY GO!