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Tony Stewart Wins The Duck Commander 500 Pole

Tony Stewart Wins The Duck Commander 500 Pole (photo credit: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook Page)

What do I have in common with Tony Stewart? That is easy- I also drove 500 miles on Monday.  Of course his drive took far less time than mine did, but in my favor- Tony didn’t get to take potty breaks. I was an hour and a half into my drive when the Duck Commander 500 started and well- lets just say I still had about two and a half hours left in my drive when it ended. (more…)

Talk about completely out of order- here it is almost two weeks out from the annual Vegas Racecation and I am just now getting the post up. Urg…forgive me!  This year the Vegas Racecation included some new experiences I hope that you will enjoy hearing about! Be warned- this is LONG but rewards you because it’s photo rich!

Misty and I picked up our credentials at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during her lunch on Thursday from her day job! This  was a harrowing feat because Misty works by McCarran Airport which is probably about 30 miles from the track.  We were able to make it back and forth however, between Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Misty’s work (which is blocks away from McCarran Airport) within the hour without breaking traffic laws- so YEY us.  I picked Misty back up after work so we could head directly to South Point Casino so that we could go to an autograph appearance where several drivers were appearing. So we rush over get parked and go into the Casino and can not FIND the autograph appearance…anywhere.  We were all over that place. We gave up and went to Steak N Shake for dinner since it was right there.

Friday morning saw me getting to the track insanely early and alone- Misty had to tie up some important work business and would join me later in the afternoon.  When I first ventured out of the media center and into the Neon Garage area- it was still fairly early and not crowded at all- so it was no wonder that a Pee Wee Herman impersonator riding his bike through the lower level caught my eye:

Pee Wee Herman

A leisurely ride through the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Neon Garage on Friday morning for Pee Wee. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Only in Vegas right?!

During first practice I hung around the upper level of the Tony Stewart garage trying to catch a picture of Tony Stewart or Chad Johnston.. Luckily I caught Tony arriving to his pit stall with business manager Eddie Jarvis:

The Bossman Arrives

Tony Stewart arrives at his garage bay at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

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I know I make no bones about being a Tony Stewart fan- but I have to share this with my readers who might be taking in the Kobalt Tools 400 in Las Vegas or Dale Earnhardt Jr Fans (I know I have a couple Jr Fans out there right?). Your favorite 2014 Daytona 500 Champ and mine just happens to be running a really cool new paint scheme on his #88 Chevy this coming weekend.  If you have read here for awhile you know I have two things I love to post about and those are driver helmet designs and alternate paint schemes.

But before we get to the pictures- I want to tell you how you can kickstart your race weekend in Las Vegas! If you are going to be in Las Vegas this Wednesday March 5th, 2014 a seven-foot Mtn Dew Kickstart slot machine will be on the plaza outside the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip offering players (21 and older only) the chance to win exciting prizes that are sure to KickStart their night. One lucky, grand prize winner will win a meet-and-greet experience during the Mtn Dew Kickstart party at Koi Restaurant and Lounge (located inside the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino) with Dale Jr., who will be on-site to reward the winner. The party on Wednesday at Koi Restaurant and Lounge is available to the public (also those 21 and older only) with no cover charge, until capacity is reached.  Doors open at 7p.m. and close at 11p.m.

I think this is one of the nicer Dale Earnhardt Junior paint schemes I have seen in recent memory for a primary sponsor. It’s the Mtn Dew KickStart Your Night paint scheme and here is a sneak peak of the car:

KickStart Your Night Hood

The hood of the #88 Mtn Dew KickStart Your Night car to be driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr in Las Vegas, NV this weekend (Photo Courtesy of PepsiCo).

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Bristol, CT – February 25, 2014 – Studio E: Two-time Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the set of Mike and Mike (Photo Credit: by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

I am going to admit right here that I was rooting for Dale Earnhardt Jr at the end of the Daytona 500.  After all- my driver was clearly out of the running (you’ll get ‘em next year Smoke) and I mean- it’s Dale Earnhardt Jr for goodness sakes.  However- who could have predicted the BUZZ that would come from his 500 win- most of it was the buzz he created himself by up and joining the ranks of those who tweet.

I think it’s a great move honestly because fans love and crave the fun driver interaction that twitter creates.  And this video of Dale reading some of his fan’s tweets is hilarious and shows a side of Dale Earnhardt’s personality that fans don’t usually get to see (which for the record I actually noticed during his segment of NASCAR After The Lap during Champions Week in Vegas last year):

Anyway- with all the online buzz that Dale Jr has caused since his win last Sunday it does NOT surprise me in the least to find out that his Daytona Win Diecast (currently available as a preorder from LionelRacing.com)was the highest selling of any previous win cars- including his own Dark Knight Rises Michigan win car from 2012!  It sold more than DOUBLE any other win car- within 12 hours of his win!  I have heard that the car will even have the piece of debris that was stuck to his grill.

#GoTonyGo #14in14 #StandWithSmoke

Working on the fuel cell

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 23, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images North America)

It’s a day that always begins with a ton of pomp and circumstance. No I am not talking about the Olympic closing ceremonies- I am talking the Daytona 500 (which ended up being the Nightona 500 after the Raintona 500 and the #AirTitan 500). It was the day that Smoke fans have been looking forward to for 7 months. The Daytona 500; aka the day Tony Stewart was back racing. Okay, so yeah technically he’d been racing for about a week if you count the non-points paying Sprint Unlimited and the field setting Budweiser Duels but this was a “real” race: A points race, A full-length race; and what turning to an all day- and part of the night race.

Tony qualified 21st but was forced to start from the rear of the field (as was Danica Patrick and Bobby Labonte). Don’t even get me going about that.  Why? Because of an “unscheduled engine change” because he suffered an engine issue during FIRST practice…you know the practice that is BEFORE the “Front Row Qualifying day” (the old CART fan in me keeps wanting to call it Pole day) and BEFORE the Budweiser Duels.  I could see penalizing him into starting at the back for his duel race- but the 500 too? Isn’t that double jeopardy- which is illegal?! Should be anyway.  But I digress.

Superspeedways make me nervous anyway. Knowing Tony’s in the back did NOTHING to assauge those nerves- mostly I was just hoping that Spotter Bob had extra powerful eagle eyes up there and could navigate Tony around the wrecks that would be inevitable. Yes I know he crashed during the Unlimited and was fine but I worry, because it’s one of the things I do best. Honestly- I would worry even if he didn’t have an injury. Because the kind of wrecks that Daytona (and you too Talladega) produce are usually violent (definitely cringe worthy). Case in point: The wreck where Danica smacked the wall but hard.  I mean OUCH.  And did I hear right- that she hit an area that didn’t have SAFER barrier? Why is there ANY spot on ANY track that isn’t edged in SAFER Barrier by now but especially a track like Talladega. Please someone tell me I heard wrong.

Tony in helmet

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images North America)

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Misty and I have been attending NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Champion’s Week celebrations since they started having them in Vegas. I can NOT encourage you to go enough if you can at all swing it! Attend Champion’s Week! Seriously. It’s one of my favorite events of the year!

The fan events usually start with Fan Fest- which is usually held on Wednesday.  They started out having fan fest at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the infield. I loved it there because I enjoyed being at the track when it was “quiet” and I loved watching the fighters from Nellis Air Force Base fly around as we waiting for the red carpet event. Eventually they moved it out to the Fremont Street Experience – since the speedway is off strip quite a ways. Unfortunately it’s usually cold under the awning that covers over Fremont Street and this year was no exception. I was certain there would be less fans- because it was COLD and I mean COLD.  I must have momentarily forgotten the tenacity of my fellow NASCAR fans (after all I was out there in the cold wasn’t I? And my driver wasn’t even there). Here are some of the sights from Fan Fest this season: (more…)

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…)

There is just something that I have always loved about watching races at Martinsville. I think it’s the close quarters, the rubbing, the inevitable tempers that eventually flair- it makes for a usually exciting race to watch on TV. Unless, of course, your driver doesn’t have so good of a day. Sigh.  I still enjoyed watching the race on Sunday- don’t get me wrong. According to Tony’s radio on the NASCAR 13 sprint mobile ap it sounded like he was having handling issues.  They missed the first pit stop accidentally (it was a caution and it sounded on the radio like Tony didn’t hear Steve call him in) and didn’t make one- so then when Tony did make it to the pits during the next round of pit stops the team noticed his tire wear on one of his tires was bad.  Tony said something to the effect that this would pretty much mean they would have to change their strategy.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, is interviewed after practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP Gas Booster 500 on April 5, 2013 at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia.
(Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America)

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