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Team 14 services the #14 Bass Pro Chevy on pit road at Richmond International Raceway (photo credit: Stewart Haas Racing Official Facebook page)

I am purposely NOT going to mention the Richmond brouhaha that happened at the end of the race because I feel that I have given it enough of my time and energy as well as two blog posts.  Let’s talk about the task at hand: Team 14 and the Richmond race!

Qualifying was not stellar. However- I learned with Tony not to put stock in where they start- but in where they finish. The uber competitive race fan in me- who lives vicariously through my driver wants nothing less than a win every single race.  The points watcher in me always wants a top 5 finish. One thing that is kind of frustrating to me about short tracks (as much as I do love them)- is it is SO easy to go a lap down. And this happened again to Mark Martin in the first half of the race. I will admit it- I was a wee bit disheartened.

Mark Martin stands on the grid at Richmond

Mark Martin stands on the grid at Richmond. (Photo Credit: Official Stewart-Haas Racing Facebook Page)


Hello Las Vegas Smoke Fans!  I have good news!  I have heard of two Tony Stewart appearances in the Las Vegas area that I want to share with you:

1. Tony Stewart will be appearing Wednesday March 6th 2013 at the Bass Pro Shop in Las Vegas with fellow Bass Pro driver Ty Dillon at 1:00 Pm.  The Bass Pro Shop is located next to the Silverton hotel and Casino right off the 15.  I don’t know if wristbands are needed but I would assume they are and arrive early.*

2. On Saturday March 9th, 2013 Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick will be signing autographs at the MGM Grand for Coca-Cola Racing at 7:00 PM.  Wristbands ARE required and will be given away at noon on Saturday at the MGM Grand.  There are only 50 wristbands available for this event- I would expect them to go quickly so you may want to get there early. When they did a similar event for Jamie McMurray a couple of years ago they were stationed in the main lobby- so I would start there.

*Sorry about my lack of knowledge about the Bass Pro Event- the PR company for Office Depot racing use to forward me his appearances in advance of races - I do not get that information from Bass Pro or Mobil or any of his other sponsors- so if I find any info out I try to pass on what I know.

It’s always hard for me to watch races at Phoenix on the TV because I LOVE that track- it is one of my favorites that I have been to in person.  It makes it all the harder that the first Phoenix race is so early in the schedule because I haven’t been to a race track since last November (which coincidentally was Phoenix) and I miss just being at a track. I miss the smells and the noise and the colors and the hustle and bustle of the tracks so watching the first Phoenix race of the season is akin to torture for me.

Why, if I love Phoenix so much, did I not go to the race?  Well regular readers might have heard this before- but it has to do with it being back-to-back with the Vegas race (which I absolutely will not miss if for no other reason than that was my VERY FIRST NASCAR RACE) and also being so close to the Auto Club date as well.  Plus Misty and I both have real 8-5 Monday-Friday kind of jobs (and we work in way different fields in different states) so that going to 3 races in one month is impractical if not impossible.  So Phoenix gets put off until the fall race. I am SO GLAD it has a fall race because otherwise it would be hard to have to narrow which track to miss.

My caption for this picture: Is that a rather large spoiler on your rear deck lid or are you just happy to see me? – Amy.  [Tony Stewart on track at Phoenix Raceway (Photo Credit: Andrew Coppley/CIA Stock Photography, Inc.) Photo borrowed from the Tony Stewart Facebook page- click picture to be taken to original.]

Anyway- the Subway Fit Fresh 500k (312 laps/miles) was not so good for the Stewart-Haas drivers! Yikes!  First poor Ryan Newman couldn’t catch a break! First he suffers not only one but two blown tires- the last one putting a premature end to his race. Then Danica also suffers a blown tire and ends up not only hitting a wall but then getting hit by another car and ending her day.

Thankfully, Tony Stewart didn’t seem to have any tire issues- but don’t think I wasn’t worried that he would…especially as the runs got longer.  Tony started the race in sixth place and it seemed like where he was in the field depended on how many tires he took. For a long time after his four tire stops he would end up mired back in traffic in 18th, 20th position somewhere.  I know he was frustrated too because I heard him say on his radio that he didn’t understand how the were slower when they were on 4 tires than with 2.  He would eventually start working his way up towards the front towards the end of the runs though or so it seemed to me.  Luckily he ended up in or near the top 10 before the last top which ended up being two tires.  Tony ended up finished 8th and moving up to 23rd in the points standings.

Notes About Phoenix:

1. I don’t know if you noticed but when Ryan blew a tire and wrecked the second time- he decided to walk to the infield care center instead of ride in the safety vehicle. Tony must have seen him at some point walking on the track because he asked on his radio “Is he mad or is he just getting out of the way?” I thought it was funny. I think he was frustrated- but not at someone else like Tony may have thought.

2. I don’t have NASCAR.COM’s RaceView to watch the races with. I was actually considering getting it since DirecTV ditched their Hot Pass stations (Boo directv boo!) but I have heard from a couple people that they have been having major issues with it. Is anyone else having trouble? Because I don’t know if I want it if it’s going to be more of a frustration than anything else. (For those wondering- I have Sprint and use the NASCAR13 Sprint mobile ap for the scanner).

3. Am I the only one who can’t find the simple things on the new NASCAR.COM- like race lineups, qualifying orders and the like?  I have been trying to keep an open mind about their new layout (I tend to be one of those anti-change people) but when I can’t find the information I am looking for easily- I get frustrated on give up.

I am going to leave you with this picture from Phoenix Raceway because it seems to me that every time I see Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon together- Jeff is usually CRACKING up big time and that makes ME crack up:

Tony Stewart (right) and Jeff Gordon (left) share a laugh in the garage area at Phoenix International Raceway.

Next race; VEGAS BABY!

I try to think of some witty title for each race post and I admit it isn’t always the easiest of tasks.  This time I did NOT come up with it myself: I totally credit my TwitterPeep @darksider14 with coming up with TallaKansas!  So Kansas was a complete wreck fest on Sunday with a new track record of 14 cautions, the previous track record being set the day before at the Nationwide Series race on Saturday with 12.

(Photo Credit: Borrowed Without Asking From The Official Tony Stewart Website- click on photo to be taken to original)



As you probably know there are several #NASCAR drivers that are members of the Coca-Cola racing family- including our beloved Tony Stewart (and fellow Stewart-Haas Racing Drivers Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick)! But did you know that Carmike Cinemas have these really cool collector cups featuring Coca-Cola Family Drivers TONY STEWART, Ryan Newman, Danica Patrick, Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle? They do! These awesome looking cups can be purchased at the theater concession stands starting August 1st 2012 (what a great excuse to go to the movies right?) and will be available until September 30th OR until the cups run out! You will want to get thee to a theater as soon as possible to get one (I tell you I WISH I lived in an area with these theaters because I would be there on August 1st to make sure I got a Tony Stewart cup or three!). And along with your uber cool Coca-Cola collector #NASCAR cup you also have the chance to enter for a trip to the Daytona 500 (WHOO HOO!)! So be sure to head over to your local Carmike Cinema starting August 1st to get your #NASCAR Coca-Cola Racing family cup! If you LIKE the Carmike Cinema Facebook Page they have a great little ap for you to look up movie times that is super handy!

GIVEAWAY: To announce the Coca-Cola Racing Family cups- I have been given a GREAT Coca-Cola/Carmike Gift Basket for you to win!  The basket includes 4 of the Coca-Cola #NASCAR driver collectible cups, a Coca-Cola t-shirt and cooler, 2 Carmike Cinemas movie passes and a $50 AMEX gift card!  What an awesome gift basket!

You could win this Coca-Cola Carmike Gift Basket that includes: 4 of the Coca-Cola #NASCAR driver collectible cups, a Coca-Cola t-shirt and cooler, 2 Carmike Cinemas movie passes and a $50 AMEX gift card!

To enter just leave a comment on this post with your favorite movie or a movie you are looking forward to seeing! It’s easy as that.

The Rules:

To enter you can leave a comment on this post that includes your valid email address so that I may contact you if you are the winner.  As the winner you agree to provide a current shipping address so that your gift basket may be sent to you!

You may only enter once via the comments however you can also get one additional entry if you tweet the following on twitter:

I just entered to win a Cool @cocacolaracing @carmikecinemas gift basket over @Badgroove and you can too- http://www.badgroove.com/?p=8187

You must enter before Midnight Pacific Time August 10th, 2012!

Winner will be chosen at random from all entries via website and twitter. There will be only one winner!

General disclosure: The prize was provided by Coca-Cola. Neither Coca-Cola nor its program partners (NASCAR + Carmike Cinemas) are sponsors, administrators, or involved in any other way with this giveaway. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of The Coca-Cola Company or aforementioned partners. Winner to be chosen by Bad Groove.


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)

Dale Junior’s Car Graveyard: A Bird’s Eye View- Jay Busbee for Yahoo!Sports

NASCAR’s Pre-Race Pairings Make For Some Interesting Conversation- Dustin Long for SportsIllustrated.com

Danica Patrick Doesn’t Deserve Her Ride? Give Me A Break- Bob Pockrass for SportingNews.Com

An Open Letter To Bruton Smith- Pete Pistone Eye On NASCAR forCBSSports.com

Backseat Drivers Council- 2012 surprises, tips for the track and listening to NASCAR on SiriusXM Radio- Dustin Long for Athlon Sports

Telltale Signs: Key Questions That Could Be Answered In The Next Four Races- Bob Pockrass for SportingNews.Com

A Tony Stewart Quote for you:

For us to battle through all the variables that were thrown at us throughout the year makes our championship even more remarkable. It definitely makes you go, ‘How did we do this? How did we overcome all these variables to get to where we are?’ At the same time, it made the championship very gratifying because we were able to take a less-than-perfect scenario and have success with it. (Tony Stewart answering a fan’s question about his favorite part of the 2011 Championship. Office Depot Racing website)

Your Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Blatantly Stolen from The Official TSR Fan Page (Click picture to be taken to Official TSR Facebook Fanpage).

Ahh, it was so great to not just have cup cars out on the track but to have those cup cars to be racing.  No matter what the format of the Shootout or how drivers qualify for the Shootout, I look forward it because to me it signals the beginning of the season, points be damned.

I admit during the off season, while reveling in the fact that my driver won his third championship, I’ve been pondering the momentum SHR may or may not carry into the 2012 season.  Last season was not the best of seasons for Tony Stewart and his #14 Office Depot/ Mobil 1 team.  I don’t think even Tony would argue with me there. Granted there were some near wins during the regular season, like Las Vegas (which broke my heart because I knew how much he wanted to win there after our interview and to see him come oh-so-close only to not win) and the more positive 2nd place in New Hampshire (where he finished second to teammate Ryan Newman).  But despite a few bright spots (that were not winning so how bright could they really be) was frustrating for our driver (and his fans right).  I honestly don’t think I have ever worried as much as I have about Tony making THE CHASE (NASCAR’s version of playoffs/Championship) as I did this last 2011 season.  Luckily he did by the skin of his teeth (whether or not he thought he deserved it).

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, jokes around during qualifying for the Daytona 500 at Daytona. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America).

Then it was like someone flipped a switch. Tony’s CHASE run was nothing short of amazing, with the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 team winning a record 5 out of 10 CHASE races.  And don’t even get me started about that race at Homestead, that amazing race that Tony NEEDED to win. He not only managed to win but passed 118 cars to do it. A race where the team and driver had to overcome damage early in the race, a bad pit stop, a rain delay and you know 42 competitors. A race where it was quite obvious that the driver was….well driving his ass off.  Oh yeah and they happened to take home a CHAMPIONSHIP because if it.  That rocked.

Even though the season ended on a high note, that doesn’t mean that the momentum will follow through and don’t think that doesn’t worry me.  SHR underwent some fairly major changes at the end of the season and during the off season.  There were sponsor additions (Outback and Quicken Loans) for Ryan Newman’s car. A new crew chief, Steve Addington,  was hired for Tony Stewart, after letting go Darian Grubb. The long empty Director of Competition position was filled by Greg Zipadelli (big surprise there right?) after being vacant most of last season.  And the BIGGEST change of all, the addition of a third, albeit part-time team with the #10 of Danica Patrick.  Yes, technically the car is fielded by TBR but we all know that was done to guarantee Danica a start in the 500 without having to sacrifice Tony or Ryan’s owner points.  So that adds a new crew (maybe- Stewart-Haas has a third pit crew they offered out to other teams) and a new quasi-teammate to the mix.  That is a whole lot of change for an organization. Change that may (or hopefully may NOT) hinder momentum because there are new people getting use to an existing organization and an organization getting use to new people.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the Daytona 500 at Daytona. (Picture Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

That being said, I am VERY pleased with what i saw at the Shootout momentum wise.  Considering that Tony’s car had signifigant damage during practice and the team was able to repair the car and get it to point where he was obviously very competive, it is exciting to witness. Yeah, Tony didn’t win but he came darn close.  Even Kyle Busch mentioned during his postrace that he hooked up with Tony because he knew that the 14 was fast.  So as a fan of SHR and in particular Tony Stewart, I am definitely liking what I am seeing from my team so far this very young season.

Now, as far as the 500 on Sunday? It’s going to be a crazy race.  NASCAR worked hard during the off season to break up the tandem drafting and judging by the Shootout, it worked.  The return of “pack” racing is something I find crazy stressful to watch at the superspeedways.  Packs mean there is less room to correct for an “oopsie” with out hitting someone else.  Recovery space is limited.  When you do make a mistake (and someone always does- it’s human nature) there is a very good chance that multiple cars will be involved, thus a better chance of a more “spectacular” crashes. And when I say “spectacular” I really mean “scary as hell, oh god please let driver x by okay” kind of crashes.  So there is that to worry about.

On the plus side, Tony WAS strong in the shootout. Hopefully he will be equally strong in his Duel race.  And for those who like numbers- this is Tony Stewart’s 14th Daytona 500.  I think it’s time for him to finally win one!  I know Tony must want that jewel in his crown- who wouldn’t.

So…#GoTonyTo and as always #ImWithSmoke!

Also- be sure to check out our new “Misty’s Mazin’ Moment” column- this week she tackles The Shootout. And her Misty’s Messed her unMentionables moment of the Shootout!