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This guest post is written by LONG time BadGroove reader and commenter, Kevin M. Boots, who many of you may remember from his first guest post about Tony Stewart’s Mobil 1 F1 Seat Swap with Louis Hamilton.  Kevin is a transplanted Hoosier living in New York and is going to attend the race this coming weekend at THE GLEN.  He will be posting about his experiences at the Glen in an exclusive to BadGroove.  I also highly suggest you follow him on twitter for track updates this weekend:  KevinMBoots77.  —Amy

I’m a Tony Stewart fan. I’ve been a fan of Smoke since he moved to the #20 car in 1999. He wasn’t my favorite driver though, that was Dale Earnhardt Sr. My whole family were Sr fans.  We never got the chance to see him race in person. When he died I split my attention between 3 drivers; Smoke, Harvick and Dale Jr.  Smoke, of course, became my favorite and Harvick was second.  Jr., I tried to be a fan but he just never did anything. Another thing that turned me off was what I call “the Cubs Effect.” The Chicago Cubs have not won a world series in 100 years, yet their fans are die hard and cheer them on still. Its annoying, at least to myself.

Jr Nation is just like those Cubs fans, they cheer for him even though he has only one win in the last four years. So why am I writing about a driver I am not a huge fan? He did something at Pocono that I have not seen another drive do in a long time. Jr got out of his car, which had just broke a transmission, got the jack and jacked his car up!  He was trying to get it ready for the crew to start working on replacing the transmission.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, talks with crew members in the garage after mechanical problems at Pocono Raceway. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

This shows me that he knows what has to be done to win the championship. It shows me that he knows he has to do more to get what he wants. He did not waiting for the crew to get there and sit there doing nothing till they get it fixed. He realized that every second counted. He understand that every point counts, Smoke showed them all that last year. He showed me that he can do wait he needs to do to deserve the legion of fans he has.

Today Dale Earnhardt Jr earned my respect, and that my friends, is hard to earn.

Sport’s Illustrated came out with the “Fortunate 50,” simply a list of the top 50 highest earning American athletes based  on salary, winnings, bonuses, endorsements and appearance fees only.  Four NASCAR drivers made the top 50:

8th- Dale Earnhardt Jr

18th- Jeff Gordon

29th- Tony Stewart (technically Tony is tied for 29th with baseball player Cliff Lee).

And

33rd- Jimmie Johnson
I don’t know why but I am surprised Jimmie Johnson is that low on the list. And pleasantly surprised that Tony is above him. But wow…the other three drivers are all Hendrick drivers. Just saying that is a strong team financially.

I tweeted something to this effect on Sunday morning before the race but I want to expound on it in more than 140 characters. When thinking about the NASCAR season as a whole- I automatically consider any restrictor plate race a wild card, meaning anything at all can happen to any driver at any point so I can’t count on that track being good to my driver(s) points wise.  This year- because of the repave I considered Pocono grouped in there- forgetting totally about Michigan’s repave.

(more…)

Miles the monster reached up and bit Tony Stewart square on the left front and left rear of his car.  Stewart was caught up in the “Monster” lap nine melee at Dover.  It isn’t a surprise really.  After all, he qualified his car 29th in the field of 43 cars. I so wasn’t thrilled when I saw the results of qualifying on my cell phone- that is back in the danger zone. The zone where if someone screws up you can be innocently caught up in their mistake because of Dover’s “self cleaning” feature. I made sure that I put on my checker flag socks this morning- just in case. I just had a feeling that starting that far back would not.

(I LOVE this picture because the perspective makes the cars look like toys- AMY). Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Chevrolet, and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Chevrolet, practice for the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)

(more…)

Can Motor Oil Really Make A Difference In NASCAR?- Jeff Gluck for SBNATION.com

Dick Berggren Says Farewell At Dover- Amanda Ebersole for SkirtsandScuffs.com

NASCAR At Dover 2012: Drivers Theorize on Lack Of Caution Flags- Jeff Gluck for SBNATION.com

Improve Racing? Harder Cars!- Terry Blount for ESPN.com

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dreads Upcoming Pocono Test- Jeff Gluck for SBNATION.com

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

I don’t know who’s expression humors me more- Jr’s or Steve Addington’s. Anyone have a great caption?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (R), driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, talks with Tony Stewart (C), driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, and Steve Addington (L), crew chief for the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, in the garage prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway. (Picture Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images North America)

I am trying to incorporate more blog posts from other NASCAR bloggers in the weekly reads:

Love To Hate The 88- Ryan McGee  for ESPN Magazine

Too Many Wrecks at Talladega?- Jay Busbee for YahooSports!

Vines and Wines: Jeff Gordon Cellars- Jack Berninger for Richmond Times-Dispatch

Danica Patrick Says She Did Not Mean To Wreck Sam Hornish- Bob Pockrass for Sporting News

Dale Jr Reaches New Level of Consistency- JD / Bumpdrafter

One-on-One With Jeff Gluck- Amanda Ebersole for Skirts & Scuffs

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony at Talladega. (Photo Credit: The official Tony Stewart Facebook page- click picture for link)

Here is my almost weekly list of recommended articles out there on the internet:

What I Learned From The NASCAR Sprint Cupt Series Rulebook- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com

Interview: Tony Stewart on Hunting, Fishing and Racing-The editors of Outdoor Life

Have Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus Lost Their Edge?- Dustin Long for AthlonSports.com

Earnhardt Jr, Keselowski lambaste Reutimann’s Costly Move- Nate Ryan for USAToday.com

Tony Stewart Joins A Legend- Matt Willis for ESPN Blogs

Dale Earnhardt Jr Saves The Day for Tardy Reporter- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com

Tony Stewart Just Getting Warmed Up- Ed Hinton For ESPN.com

David Stremme Interview: “You’ve Got To Understand Where You Fit In”- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com

Stewart, Newman Setting Strong Pace- Mike Hembree for SpeedTV.com

Amanda Beard Slams Former Boyfriend Carl Edwards- Bob Pockrass for Sporting News

Your Gratuitous Tony Stewart Pictures:

(Blatantly Stolen from the Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

This one needs a witty caption don't you think? (Blatantly stolen from the Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page).

After what was an extremely hectic race weekend from Vegas (I know I still haven’t posted about it- don’t worry I will-but I want to get Bristol out of the way before I get too far behind), I was looking forward to watching the racing action at Bristol from home.  I love me some Bristol and it was a blustery and stormy day here on the central coast.

It just so happens that Tony Stewart was one of the hot pass drivers this race (his first time this year that I can remember) so I decided to watch on his DirecTv Hot Pass channel.  I knew he hadn’t qualified too well (23rd) and that he didn’t seem to be all that spectacular in practice so I figured it would be one of those days where I was hoping he didn’t get a lap down too early (so easy to go a lap down at short tracks like Bristol and Martinsville).

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images North America)

(Side note: The photographer in me LOVES the above picture…LOVES it).

I happened to catch Tony’s (comical) pre-race interview and one of the questions was about how he and Steve were clicking this early in the season.  He said that they seemed to be getting along quite well and the only issue Tony could even think of was that Steve is soft spoken and sometimes hard to hear on the radio- I have always heard that it is LOUD at Bristol and teams have trouble hearing each other’s radio communications anyway- so I thought that this might be an issue. I was wrong.

Tony started the race by thanking the team for busting butt to make all the changes they made on the race car (uh-oh said my gut that means that the car WAS crap out of the box and what they had was probably hit-or-miss). He also told his spotter to reign him in if he felt Tony was getting easily frustrated.  I wonder how one reigns in their own boss? (Spotter’s jobs fascinate me but that is a story for a different day).  It also didn’t sound to me like they were having any issue hearing each other during the race from what I could tell from the Hot Pass.

I will say this though…yes this is Tony’s third crew chief in however many years he’s been doing this in NASCAR but it means it’s my third crew chief too…and it was different listening to Steve Addington on the radio.  Thanks to my lack of Sprint Cup Mobile on my phone now, this was my first time really listening to their radio communications and my ears (and brain) were use to Darian’s voice and now I have to get use to Steve Addington’s voice.  I do like the way he calls Tony into and out of the pit box though…it reminds me more of Zipadelli.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images North America)

My favorite part of the race was seeing Tony battle Brad Keselowski to stay on the lead lap. It was an epic battle and you could tell that Tony was driving his ass off to keep Keselowski behind him.  He eventually succumbed to Bad Brad but thankfully a caution soon after gained Tony a “Lucky Dog” and he got back on the lead lap.  Between attrition and a better handling car Tony had worked his way up to 9th and was battling for 8th. Tony ended up getting hit by Brendan Gaughan in the #33 and damaging the rear of his car fairly severely.

Another favorite part of the race (thanks to Hot Pass) was this gem between Tony and his spotter Bob Jeffrey (@eyeinthesky14):

Tony: WHO THE F@(K JUST HIT ME?

Bob: Gaughan

Tony: WHO?!?

My second favorite thing was MY witty tweet after Tony got wrecked…that no one seemed to catch:

Ok so I spelled Gaughan wrong but it was STILL damn funny if I don’t say so myself.  Seriously people- I am not usually this witty so soak it up while you can.

Anyway, as my tweet above mentions, Tony ended up having to take two pitstops under the caution to fix damage on the car and was able to not only stay on the lead lap BUT finish a fairly respectable 14th (he would have been 15th but Junior cut a tire on the last lap…perhaps karma was paying him back for cutting Jeff Gordon’s tire early in the race).  Tony is currently 7th in the points standings.

NOTES ABOUT BRISTOL:

  1. I really HATE knowing that the drivers are getting introduced to a song of their choosing and introducing themselves and we don’t get to see it happening on the TV.  In case you are wondering- Tony Stewart picked a different song this time. One of my favorite Toby Keith songs actually- How Do Yo Like Me Now?  so YEY Tony for picking something non-Kid Rockish.  Other songs of note: Brian Vickers- Back In The Saddle Again by Aerosmith (so fitting don’t you think?), Jimmie Johnson- Jimi Thing by Dave Matthews Band, Jeff Gordon- Theme to Flash Gordon by Queen, Kevin Harvick- Save Water, Drink Beer by Chris Young, and Dale Jr picked my second favorite Pantera song by choosing Walk.
  2. The “shit for luck” up there in the title is NOT something I called the race- that was taking words out of Tony’s mouth.  He said on his radio after the race something to the effect of that he was pleased with their performance at Bristol despite having “shit for luck”.

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, is interviewed in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

Next race: AUTOCLUB in CALI…and yes I WILL BE THERE.