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The 2009 Prelude may have been delayed but it was worth the wait! During the driver introduction laps Tony  was thankful that the weather was perfect for racing and that most of the drivers were able to rearrange their schedules after the original June 3rd date was rained out. Missing from the lineup were Jeff Gordon, Dave Blaney, Carl Edwards, and Bill Elliott for either scheduling or injury reasons.

Heat race winners were: Jimmie Johnson (driving a car owned by Clint Bowyer), Kasey Kahne and Aric Armirola.  Joey Logano totalled the rear end of his car during his heat race- beyond repair. He ended up driving Tony’s backup car in the Main. Denny Hamlin did not make it to the Main despite wicked fast times in the hot laps and during his heat race because of a bent valve pusher.  The disappointed Hamlin was the only driver not to start the Main.  During the 30 lap Main, Tony started 6th but quickly made his way towards the front of the pack, finally passing Kenny Wallace for the lead just before the halfway point.  Once Tony got to the lead, much like last year, he checked out and was virtually unstoppable.  The real race was between Bowyer and Wallace for second place, when Wallace spun his tires on a restart and Bowyer ran into the back of him, cutting his tire. The racing was close and fast and fun on the TV I can only imagine what going to the race was like in person!

Again all the money raised from ticket sales, pay-per-view fees will be split evenly among four military charities that support wounded soldiers and their families.  If you want to help but weren’t able to make it to the prelude or watch it on pay per view, you can donate using your cell phone by texting PRELUDE to 90999. The donation will be $5.00 and will be added to your next cell phone bill.

Notes about the Prelude:

  • Clint Bowyer may not have gotten the win that he wanted- but I think he should get a special prize for having the shiniest race car! That #33 car was GOLD as in Metallic. It was actually quite pretty and I have never been a fan of gold (cars or jewlery).
  • Joey Logano trashed his car…and then crashed Tony’s back up car.  Good think Tony didn’t need it.  But in his defense when he was driving he was doing pretty good for the most part. Until he hit the wall.
  • Speaking of hitting the wall, too bad Jimmie hit the wall- he seemed to be a real contender until he did that.

I can’t wait until Next Year’s Prelude.

I like to watch Bristol.  It and Martinsville are my two favorite tracks.  But it really sucks to watch when your driver is doing not so good.  I was so glad that Kyle Busch won that race. I know I am a Tony fan-but I will tell you that I would rather Kyle Busch win over Mark Martin.  Not only because I don’t want Mark Martin that far in front of Tony when the chase starts, but I would really like Kyle to make the chase.

That being said…Team Old Spice/Office Depot had a terrible run of it didn’t they? This seemed to be the race where if it could go wrong? It did go wrong. Weird things. Like radio problems. Electrical issues.  I mean how many radios did they give him? Two? Three? What I want to know is why didn’t they just bring Tony in and have him put on a different helmet. They had one there. I realize it would have taken some time to undo his helmet and slap another on but I think it might have been better for him in the long run because Darian would have been able to compensate better for the ill-handling car. Did he ever have communication with his guys without having to pantomime or play telephone with Ryan Newman?

Speaking of Ryan Newman- I was glad to see him have a good strong run. I wish it could have been a little stronger.  But it was good for him.   Teammate finished 6th and moved up two positions to 7th  in the standings. Tony’s troubles had him finishing 33rd. He maintains his points lead and as of the Michigan race is locked into the chase.

Notes About Bristol:

  • I have to admit that at the beginning of the race when they kept talking about Tony’s radio problems this kept running through my head: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate…” I think it’s from Cool Hand Luke, not sure because I have never seen Cool Hand Luke…but it is in front of the song Civil War by Guns N Roses.
  • To whoever decided it was a good idea to paint Clint Bowyer’s car red with black trim for this night race. You made it extremely hard for me to pick out Tony’s car because I kept seeing yours and thinking it was Tony’s because it was the same color and had a black wing. Please do not do that again.
  • I felt bad after the race when they tried to interview Clint Bowyer. I believe I even said “Can’t you just leave him alone? He’s obviously upset.”
  • I have to say that I think it was INCREDIBLY sweet of Kyle Busch to give the checkered flag to a fan! That was so neat!

Next weekend we are off but Nationwide goes north of the border to Montreal.

On Thursday Journo at The NASCAR Insiders asked quite simply “Do You Remember Why You Love NASCAR?”  I actually pondered this a bit in my guest entry over at NASCAR THIS WEEK back in April. It is hard for me to put into words why I love the sport that I love…but I do.  As I mentioned in the NTW piece, I have had a love of cars and a love of motorsports in general since I was knee high to a grasshopper and was just naturally drawn to cars since childhood.

Then there is the first hand experiences of being at a track that assault you from the moment you get out of your car; the noise that 43 cars make that can take the breath out of you, the mixture of oil, rubber, sweat, and a myriad of food mixing and giving each track it’s own signature smell, the rush of adrenaline I get during the flyover (and I am not even a driver). It’s a very physical thing to actually be on hand for a race. It’s a feeling that I can not adequately describe despite my many attempt, and it’s definitely something that someone who doesn’t love the sport just can not get.  My uncle still doesn’t get why I would travel 500 miles to “watch cars drive in a circle.”  Even my own best friend didn’t get it until recently…and she knew me back when I was a geeky little junior high school kid (she didn’t get why I had race cars on my walls instead of Charlie Sheen and Tom Cruise). She eventually learned to tolerate it in me until just last year when I finally (only took like what 15-20 years) turned her into a NASCAR fan and now she LOVES it like I do.

Journo’s original point was that the whole Mayfield drug debacle is drawing negative attention to OUR sport- and as fans and lovers of the sport we need to step back, take a breath and remember what is GOOD about NASCAR this season and right now (goes on to give several examples such as Mark Martin winning races at 50 and first time winners Keselowski and Reutimann). His comments got me really thinking about what do I personally love about NASCAR right now at this point in the season (in no particular order):

  • Silly Season. I will proudly stand up and say I LOVE the rumors flying around about silly season. Will Harvick be with RCR next season? Will Brad Keselowski get that full time ride an if he does who will it be for? Will Joe Gibbs Racing be bringing on a fourth car? Will Stewart-Haas be fielding a third car? Will Danica make the jump to NASCAR? Who doesn’t love the surmising and the speculating that comes with this time of the year. Last season? I was all wrapped up in the Stewart-Haas thing (read I was shocked out of my socks) so much that I didn’t have much of a chance to enjoy all that goes with silly season…this year I can sit back and enjoy throwing my twelve cents in for whatever its worth.
  • That Stewart-Haas racing currently has two cars in the top 12 in points. I have been a Tony fan a long long time…I was shocked when he made the jump to owner/driver. I didn’t doubt him, I was concerned but I jumped right on board when I saw how excited he was. But how GREAT is it that he is up there leading the points with teammate Ryan Newman behind him in 7th place in points so far? Yes I know a lot can happen between now and the chase but it’s great right now.
  • Speaking of the chase- I love how drivers are teetering on the edge of making it…or not. It’s better than Bubble Day for the Indy 500! Will Biffle or Reutimann or Bowyer be able to fight their way into the chase? Will Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth be able to stay in the chase? It’s drama at it’s best people!
  • That NASCAR, tracks and drivers are starting to embrace social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to us fans. I think that they are important tools- I am on twitter through out the day- more than email. It works for me. I admit to a slight addiction to facebook as well. I love that I can get updates (both personal and official) from these sites without having to hunt around for them. I hope more drivers come on board (hint hint Tony). NASCAR is even working with a group of selected bloggers in creating a Citizen Media Corp- which also rocks because bloggers are fans not journalists or sportscasters and have unique opinions and thoughts that they want heard- and it’s a great feeling to be included and listened to. Plus the more NASCAR bloggers unite in any method the stronger the voices are and thus the more we are heard.
  • The Mayfield drug debacle. Yes it’s turning kind of circus-like and pretty soon we almost expect to see someone like Jerry Springer jump in, however- I am going to disagree with Journo and say that this situation is bringing an important subject to light.  It’s something that hasn’t really been talked about much. And no matter what the ultimate outcome specifically regarding Mayfield’s case in particular- I think that NASCAR will emerge with one thing: a stronger and more broadly understood drug policy.
  • Kyle Busch. You may love him or you may hate him, but everyone has some feeling about him. He’s stepped into the “NASCAR BADBOY” role that some feel has been missing.  He’s young. He’s hot. He drives a mean car. He says the first thing that comes to mind (ok he reminds me of Tony so you know I like him). At Infineon I was actually in the crowd on the track during driver Intros…and when he was announced he was booed so viciously that it made me actually stop taking pictures and turn around to see if I needed to run for cover. Do I think he deserves it? No. Do I think he handles himself well? Most of the time. Do I think he has talent? Hell yeah. I also thinks he brings a little something to the table excitement wise- whether its a war of words between him and Junior or a little bitterness over some on-track action with Tony, you have to admit it adds excitement.

Of course this is not an inclusive list of ALL things I love about NASCAR on any given day. It’s just a brief list I came up with in response to a question. There are more long standing things about the sport that I love too. There are GOOD things to love about this sport all the time.

File this one in the “WHAT THE???” category. This was under the WALLPAPERS section at homedepotracing.com today from the Charlotte race. Is it some kind of hazing***? A bizarre right of passage at Charlotte? Crazed fans? Or people with too much time on their hands?
Sign Says: Im Tired Of Winning, Going To Stewart Haas

Sign Says: I'm Tired Of Winning, Going To Stewart Haas

Is it me or does he look like he’s ducktaped to a dolly?? And why won’t people transport me around work on a dolly…it sounds like fun and I know the guys next door have a couple! Ah on second thought they would probably just drop me in the quad or leave me in the storage closet or something. I’ll walk.

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Congratulations are in order for Clint Bowyer for being the winner of the Gillette Timeshaver Award for spending the least time in the pits in Charlotte. I don’t know if you have been paying attention to this award but each week the Gillette Young Guns Driver who has spent the least amount of time in the pits during that particular race is the driver awarded. As you all know I am fascinated by pit stops and pit crews so I pay attention to these kind of things. Fans at home can play along by going to the Gillette Timeshaver website to align themselves up with one of the Gillete Young Guns.

The Gillette Young Guns

The Gillette Drivers from L-R: Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch

And that’s a great line up of drivers if you consider that both Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne got top five finishes at Charlotte last week.

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***Updated to find out that this IS some sort of hazing. Apparently this took place at FanFest at JGR. According to sources-employees at JGR do this to employees who have given their notice.  Tony was well Tonynapped from the JGR cafeteria by crew members and transported to the flagpole- where he was tied to the flagpole.