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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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Fan fest for the 2012 Champions Week festivities in Las Vegas was held at the Fremont Street Experience for the second year.  Personally- I liked it better when it was held at the track because there was just something magical about being at LVMS when it’s quiet.  But then again, I am probably biased because LVMS is where I saw my first ever NASCAR race…it was at LVMS that I turned my already BFF into a NASCAR fan…and it was at LVMS that BG was first granted media credentials – so I have a special place in my heart for LVMS.    I guess that they figure that having at the Fremont Street Experience is easier for fans to get to (since the track is WAY OUT THERE)…plus I think the track has a festival of lights set up as many do during the holiday season.

Anyway-  several of the cup cars were on  display and a red carpet that the drivers would walk down to get to the stage where they would be playing  this year’s game show: Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?  The red carpet walk that the drivers take is an experience let me tell you.  People start claiming their spots HOURS before the drivers are scheduled to appear and then other tourists, who are there for non-NASCAR reasons will stroll by and ask what is going on and then upon hearing that they are waiting for NASCAR drivers to walk by in like three hours they give the fans a look like WOW really? You are standing here because a race car driver is going to walk by in like THREE HOURS? It’s kind of funny to judge their reaction- most give looks like the fans are seriously insane.  I don’t know what is more insane…standing around the carpet or walking around in public dressed as a storm trooper and Darth Vader (we seriously saw these characters walking around the red carpet interaction with tourists. Last year it was SpongeBob SquarePants. I don’t think they are official characters- just random people dressed up as them and then trying to make a few extra dollars posing with tourists.

So this year it seemed the red carpet was even MORE chaotic than last year. The drivers were kind of bunched together more than last year so that pretty much everyone was just screaming for their favorite driver’s attention but the actual chances of getting your signature seemed more difficult. I am not sure if the drivers also signed stuff on the way FROM the stage because we left a little early.

Here are some pictures from the event: (more…)

Tidbit 1:

The Ask Tony & Ryan video from the appearance in Kansas City, MO has been uploaded by Office Depot Racing! Check it out- it’s quite fun: (more…)

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…)

Anyone who knows me knows I have always been a bit of a worrier.  I have been this way since I was a child. So you can imagine that when I found out that Office Depot would not be renewing it’s primary co-sponsor status on Tony Stewart’s Stewart-Haas Racing #14 Chevy- panic and dread immediately set in.  That means in 2013 the 3 car stable at Stewart-Haas racing currently has TWO of its THREE cars unfunding for the season.  Ryan Newman, who was already underfunded, lost ARMY as a sponsor for 2013 and now Tony Stewart has lost Office Depot. And I honestly don’t know if GoDaddy is Danica’s full-time sponsor next season, if they have other primary co-sponsors already lined up for her, or if Stewart-Hass Racing has 3 partially funded cars.  Damn this economy. Hello worry, thy name is sponsorship.

Tony Stewart before the race at New Hampshire last weekend. (Photo Credit: Glenn Bure for BadGroove)

I immediately began listing any and all companies that I thought would be good sponsors. Heck even Misty joined in with me and we batted around possible sponsors for Tony and it soon became a game.  I would receive texts and emails of just names of companies.  I became fairly ruthless in my imaginary quest for sponorship- by “stealing” sponsors from other teams.  I believe at one point I even joked that if I were independently wealthy I would sponsor a race or two (or more- depending just how weathly my independence was). It was admittedly silly but fueled by the very REAL fear that the sponsorship hole will not be filled by Daytona.

All silliness aside- losing a sponsor is NOT GOOD (obviously). It is becoming increasingly rare to find a cup car with a single primary sponsorship.  Even drivers associated with the sport for years like four time Cup champion Jeff Gordon has had to find additional sponsors in recent years (The AARP’s Drive To End Hunger, Pepsi, National Guard) to fill sponsorship gaps. The number 20- is now sponsored by Home Depot and Dollar General (and Game Stop).   Even NASCAR’s perpetual favorite driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr has not only multiple primary sponsors but Diet Mountain Dew has reduced the number of races that they will sponsor next year.

Of course it’s all related to the retched state of the economy.  Yet it would be the perfect time for new companies to look into sponsoring NASCAR teams.  Hotel chains, food companies, stores. What better way to reach 100,000s of fans face-to-face (and many many more on TV) than by sponsoring a NASCAR cup car. Hint hint.

Meanwhile- I personally will mourn the loss of Office Depot.  I LOVE office supplies- I have a serious love of writing implements and post-it notes, an all paper products in general. Office Depot was a sponsor I could relate to personally.  I am definitely sad to see them leave the #14 car sponsorship.  Office Depot as a sponsor was good for the fans- often hosting autograph sessions and show car events.  I can definitely say they were good to us here at BadGroove. They made sure we got to interview Tony Stewart multiple times ( Interview 1, Interview 2, Interview 3, Interview 4).  Which really helped bring BadGroove to the next level (so I think anyway).  I can only hope that whomever does sponsor Tony’s car in their place- is as good to fans (AND BLOGGERS) as Office Depot was.

Tony Stewart autographs a tire before the race at New Hampshire last weekend. (Photo Credit: Glenn Bure for BadGroove)

It is being RUMORED that Bass Pro Shops may be moving over to the #14 car to take over the spots left open by Office Depot’s departure.  If that is the case all I can think of is YEY!  I actually LOVE Bass Pro Shops.  I don’t live in an area with one but I go to the one in Vegas nearly every time I am in town (I have a very outdoorsy brother and father to shop for birthdays, Christmas, and Father’s day for. Not to mention three nephews). It wouldn’t surprise me since Bass Pro already has a relationship with Tony Stewart- sponsoring several of his dirt endeavors.  If the Bass Pro sponsorship turns out to be true- I can only hope that they announce it soon- so that I can stop worrying about the state of sponsorship for Tony’s car (Phoenix would be a GREAT place to announce it – since I will be at the race and all).  I mean Tony Stewart is a THREE TIME cup champion and the CURRENT cup champion for goodness sakes.   I do hope that whomever sponsor’s Tony is as fan (& BLOGGER) friendly as Office Depot was.

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?