Okay- So our latest trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway was jam packed and full of fun. And I just wanted to use this space to tie everything together between the different postings Misty and I wrote regarding the weekend. (more…)
Tony qualified for the race in Kansas 14th (which I think is funny since he drives the 14 car). He had a good strong run at Kansas and even got the 10 bonus points (5 for leading a lap and 5 for leading the most laps…YEY). Combine that with a strong finish of 4th. While Tony remains 10th in the points after the Kansas race due to several strong finishes by other chase contenders, Stewart’s strong showing at Kansas trimmed his points deficit on the leader from 165 points before the race to 127 after. While Greg Biffle was the race winner, Jimmie Johnson overtook Denny Hamlin for the points lead in the Cup standings.
Did you see Tony during the pre-race ceremonies holding Gavin Grubb (son of crew chief Darian Grubb)…that Gavin is ADORABLE!
NOTES ABOUT KANSAS:
- I can only bet that winner of the OFFICIAL SMALL BUSINESS OF NASCAR (sponsored by the Office Depot) winner from last week at Dover, Mike Pagano of PaganoPhotography, wishes that Greg Biffle had won LAST weekend because that would have been a million dollar award to his small business. To quote my two and a half year old nephew, AWW MAN!
Next Race: Autoclub Speedway in California! GoTONYGo!
I will say this about the race at Louden. It was pretty action packed to watch. The racing seemed good early! Bravo.
Tony did well towards the beginning of the race. He qualified 3rd (awesome!) and lead for awhile until a four time pit stop put him a back in the field when Darian called for four tires for the #14 Office Depot car when many teams took two for track position.
Tony didn’t give up though and the car fought its way through the field over the course of the race slowly worked his way back towards the front of the race. He took the lead again at lap 248 of the 300 mile race and started to run away with the lead.
Crew Chief Darian Grubb chose not to pit the #14 Chevy and he dominated the last section of the race until running out of gas at lap 299. Second place Clint Bowyer took the lead and won the first race of the chase.
That right there was the most disheartening thing a Tony Stewart fan could see. Stewart barely coasting over the finish line to maintain his position on the lead lap as Bowyer begins his celebratory burnout.
Stewart finished 24th and is currently 11th (I cringe just typing that) in the points standings.
Notes about Louden
- The Epic Fail award this race goes to ESPN/ESPN2 for having the pre-race show in ESPN2 and the race on ESPN. That was a bad move. The pre-race should not require a channel change- that is just dumb. If that is the case I will just watch Race Day on Speed.
- Good to see Dale Jr do so well during the race.
- Sure it’s easy to say that Stewart should have pitted on that last pit stop. I would have pitted him and let him work his way back through the field (like I would be a crew chief- are you crazy? That job has to be extremely stressful- plus I barely know how to check my oil). I admit I was sitting there hoping the two of them had some sort of magic up their sleeves but alas what am I to do. I said to my mom who was watching the race with me: This will either be a HUGE win or a lose so devastating it will KILL him in the points. Unfortunately the latter was what happened.
- Caption Tony picture for your enjoyment (or I guess in this case it’s a caption Tony and/or Darian). I know you are funny people so come on and caption away in the comments:
- Speaking of funny people. That Race Day crew over on speed? Hilarious. Why? Well for a lot of reasons- but especially the following video that they used during Race Day. Just a few notes before we get to the embedded video. 1. I love this song. I am not embarrassed to admit it. 2. I remember when the original video came out on MTv (that I might be embarrassed to admit. 3. I can’t decide what is the funniest part- it’s ALL GOOD. Take a look for yourself:
Next Race: Dover! Go Tony Go!
So how excited was I that Tony won? Very! WHOO HOO!
Tony and Darian seemed to both be in a good mood before they took even one green flag lap- judging by their radio banter. Darian said something about buying Tony a little pool if he brought back a trophy. Of course I am envisioning Tony sitting in a kiddie pool but that is probably because I have small nephews who love their kiddie pool on a hot day.
As I was watching, when Tony took the lead the first time I thought to myself…YEY five points! Then he kept leading and leading. There would be some swapping back and forth here and there with Denny or Carl but then I was thinking Hey- we might get 5 more points for leading the MOST laps here. It really wasn’t until the last 10 laps or so that I starting thinking…DAMN we have been DOMINATE ALL NIGHT and that is when I start worrying about something going WRONG!
It seemed that the 14 pit crew was ON IT all night (ok they had ONE bad stop- but it wasn’t even THAT bad). Tony’s only complaint pit-wise was that he was having trouble seeing his stall- but they figured that out- and between Darian counting him down into his pitstall and his dad Nelson waving a flashlight at him he was able to find it much easier on subsequent stops.
It warmed my heart to see the #14 car sooo dominate Sunday night. I loved it and hope that there is only more of that on the horizon!!
Anyway Congrats to Tony Stewart and Office Depot and all the other sponsors for their win at Atlanta
Tony is now 4th in the series standings and locked into the chase (shwew).
So since Tony won- there are a couple ways you too can win:
Win a Sunoco Checkered Flag autographed by race winner Tony Stewart here from SpeedTV.
You can bid on the Old Spice towel Tony used in Victory Lane here (proceeds to benefit The Tony Stewart Foundation).
You can win one of 14 Office Depot Racing autographed hats here at Office Depot Racing’s 14 for 14 Contest.
I celebrated Tony’s win yesterday with a trip to Office Depot- it’s one of my favorite stores anyway. BUT they didn’t have what I was looking for in stock yet but they told me it’s coming September 12th so I will be back I promise.
Bristol- I like you. I really really do. But damn- why did you have to be so mean to Tony on Saturday night? Tony qualified strong- a 4th place starting position. And at the begining of the race he was doing so well. He even led for a lap or two (five points right there). I was optimistic at the beginning!
Then it all went to hell in a hand basket. First David Ragan spun. Tony slowed up on his sponsors advice as to not hit Ragan who was sitting in the middle of the track and sliding ever so slowly towards the infield. Ragan looked like a sitting duck. I was worried that it could get ugly for Ragan. Apparently he was not the one I needed to be worrying about as Stewart ended up with the worse of that deal when Tony Raines smacked him in the right rear as Stewart was slowing to avoid Ragan. It looked ugly- parts sticking out from the car. It took him two trips to pit road for the crew to fix up the damage but Stewart was able to stay on the lead lap- he was 25 or 26 but still on the lead lap (I am pretty sure that he was the last car on the lead lap actually).
Understandably the car wasn’t handling as well as it was pre-accident…and what might have even been a salvageable evening for Stewart turned to crap when Stewart smacked the wall pretty hard because the car was looser than a caboose. Then he had a tire start to go down and was forced to pit under green- and lost three laps changing only right side tires (Bristol is that small and the race leaders were running that fast). He would not come up any farther and unfortunately finished 27th- 6 laps down. Stewart would lose two positions in the points standing and is now 6th behind points leader Kevin Harvick. Race winner was Kyle Busch who completed the first ever trifecta- winning three series events in a single weekend.
Notes About Bristol:
- When Tony got the 4th starting position in qualifying, the StewartHaasRacing twitter account claimed it was his second consecutive STEWART POLE…that being the highest qualifying position not required to do after qualifying media.
- Speaking of media…what does Jeff Gluck have against Tony Stewart anyway? He made a snide twitter comment after Tony’s first incident at Bristol “Fortunately for Tony Stewart, he won’t have to visit the media center tonight. Fortunate for the media, too.” He always has something rude to say about Tony. It riles me up.
- Best National Anthem of the season so far. I am just saying…maybe they should get away from the weird acts and go for the kids more often.
- Pre hell in a handbasket radio was interesting. Tony instructed them to calm him down if he got riled up during the race during his pre-race peptalk.
- After the contact with Ragan but before he had a tire come apart on him Tony got riled up about something and Darian told him to “chill out.” That cracked me up because when I am ramped up and someone says that to me? It just riles me up more.
- Post hell in a handbasket radio was pretty depressing. Stewart didn’t say hardly anything. Neither did Darian…mostly it was his spotter Bob saying things like “Clear.” And “The x car has a hole if you need it.”
Next weekend is an off weekend for the Cup Drivers.
I will be the first to admit that I was frustrated with the end result of the race at Michigan on Sunday. On the one hand it was GREAT to see the #14 car out there running in the front and leading a nice slug of laps (I think Tony lead a total of 36 laps or something like that). It was encouraging and GREAT. What was disheartening was the the debris caution…and watching everyone pit but Tony and Kevin Harvick. Tony must have thought so too because he came on the radio and said “We’re in big trouble here” to which Darian Grubb tried to be the cheerleader and tell Tony it would be ok. Unfortunately though he started falling back and finished 6th. Another GREAT top ten finish- BUT it was sad to see him running so strong but then fall off like that. However, what made it a little sweeter? Was that Tony did advance FOUR spots in the race for the chase and is now fourth in the points standings. That does make ME feel a little better.
Notes about Michigan:
- The Ryan Newman/Joey Logano dust up…my take? It was one of those racing deals. I don’t think Joey intentionally got into Ryan- he looked really loose to me. They are out there to RACE and I don’t think that either one wanted to give in to the other- and you know what? That is RACING. I think that Ryan has some frustrations that he took out on Joey after the race. He is only human. Do I think that either of them should get fined? No. I think that they should call it good and let it go. Now if we get to Bristol or something and there is some retaliation ON TRACK? Then we can talk about NASCAR getting involved.
- By far the best tweet of the race? Was right after Ryan spun from that aforementioned contact with Joey Logano when she said ” Thanks Joey Lagano….maybe I should go put my firesuit on!” (@KrissieNewman).
- Race winner was Kevin Harvick and he also locked his position in the chase. Congratulations Kevin.
- Bonus Caption Photo will be coming. I found a great one but I am waiting for permission to use it.
Ok so I have made it no secret that there is something I just don’t like about races at Pocono. I have NEVER actually been to the track so it’s all based on TV coverage but I have always called Pocono the “evil little triangle” but it should be renamed the “evil big triangle”. Either way…I don’t like to watch Pocono and I think it is because I don’t like things that aren’t symmetrical and Pocono is definitely not symmetrical with it’s three turns and they are all different banking. Yes I know that’s an odd thing to say – but what can I say- they say that humans are generally drawn to symmetry so…I am just human I guess.
So the best news from Friday? Tony go the pole at Pocono! I was at work during qualifying so I didn’t get to watch it…and honestly? I hadn’t even really paid attention to when qualifying was. I went to NASCAR.COM to see if qualifying was over and it wasn’t- but Tony had the pole! WhooHoo! I might have even said that out loud. Ok I did…and I clapped. But I was alone upstairs in my office and I don’t think anyone heard…but so what if they did.
I have to share this picture of the race because I think it’s an awesome picture of Tony coming over the stripe first and shows just how close Jeff Gordon was to Tony. Jeff proceeded to push Tony to the lead and the two of them took off like gang busters for the first lap or so.
After the first couple of laps Tony faded back a bit as he struggled with the handling of his car.
He then proceeded to spend most of the first half of the race in 7th. He would go into the pits in 7th and come out in 7th- which meant that the Office Depot pit crew was definitely on the ball. But the race at this point was one really long green flag run (there was a competition caution at lap 15 because of the rain delay in the morning) and honestly except during pit stops (which fascinate me)- it was a little boring to watch on the TV. I did entertain myself during the race by texting Misty and doing my photography assignment- but I admit it was a little boring…and starting to seem excessively long. After about the halfway point the track started to change because of the sun coming out…so whole most other cars were suddenly loose- Tony’s car seemed to come into itself and Tony worked his way up to sixth…then fifth.
Then there was a horrendous crash that had both Kurt Busch and Elliott Sadler in to the infield wall hard. Kurt lucked out in that his car slammed into SAFER barrier- but Elliott’s car missed the barrier and slammed hard into a wall backed by a solid dirt embankment. It was a hard hit by both drivers- unfortunately Elliott’s crash was not caught by any of the camera angles that ESPN had….except for one where you can just see a wee little bit of the hit into the embankment. It was hard. Then there was the aftermath where all you could see was Elliott’s car in multiple pieces- the engine had become completely dislodged from the chassis. Then Elliot is hanging out of the car half in and half out looking pained….at which time he gets out and lays down next to the car right on the track. Disturbing? Hell yes. But at least he was awake.
Sadler’s car on the wrecker after the wreck:
Sadler’s engine on a separate wrecker:
Then comes a rather lengthy red flag for clean up and all the cars are stopped on the track. I was listening to Tony’s scanner on NASCAR.COM but he was pretty quiet during the red flag (something they even mentioned during the national broadcast- so I wasn’t the only one who noticed it!).* They get the clean up done and the cars are rolling and then…it starts to rain. So they throw the red again and bring the cars down pit road and park them there. Tony was more animated on the radio while parked on pit road…and I will talk about that in the notes.
They get the track dried and at this point I – to me it feels like the longest race ever in the history of man. I am sure it’s not but it certainly felt that way to me.
Darian called Tony in for a 4 tire stop. I was freaked out because there were a WHOLE SLEW of cars that came out in front of him in the pits- but turns out? Those cars where 2 tire or no tire stops (NO tires? Are you nuts?) Darian’s call was for “four tires and to haul ass!” Obviously I liked it so much I made it the subtitle of this entry. Tony did end up coming out of the pits as the first car on 4 tires so between having the first pit stall and having the Office Depot pit crew on their toes they did good.
Then the racing got really good! Tony was passing people two at a time for awhile there…he restarted 11th I think (am doing this without notes so pardon my memory) and was up to like fifth in what seemed like three or four laps. Meanwhile? Greg Biffle was pulling away! Tony then got caught up fighting Sam Hornish and Carl Edwards for position…by 10 laps to go Tony was up to 2nd and trying to reel in The Biff…and it wasn’t for a lack of effort-as Tony had put some distance between him and third- but there was just no catching the Biff. With his hard fought second place finish, Tony gained a position in the points standings and is now EIGHTH in the standings.
Notes from Pocono:
- On Saturday I accidentally watched the Camping World Truck race at Pocono. Apparently it was the first time the trucks had run there and honestly? It was a GREAT race. Of course it was only 50 laps. So was the ARCA race. It wasn’t as good as the truck race but it was still pretty good. How do you accidentally watch the race? Well it was on and I was in front of a TV…but I wasn’t purposely tuned in. Congrats to Elliott Sadler for winning it for Kevin Harvick Inc.! His son Wyatt? A-freaking-dorable!
- It’s my opinion that this race is entirely too long. When I am more entertained by doing things like texting and submitting my assignments for my photography class that I am taking in the middle of the race? It’s TOO LONG! And I thought this BEFORE the red flag for the accident/rain. Me thinks that either: Pocono’s race needs to be shorter or they don’t need a second race. Just my thoughts there.
- *Ok- I am going to get a little crude here so if you are easily offended by crude-ish talk- avert your eyes or skip this bullet and go down to the the next one. So during the first part of the red flag- right after they asked Darian why Tony seemed so quiet in the car during the red flag (to which Darian replied- “he’s probably taking a nap- resting up” for the rest of the race) it was time to fire the engines and start rolling. Darian called Tony on the radio and asked him if he was awake. Tony replied that he was and that we was “just sweating my nuts off” in the car. AFTER THE RACE, I was relaying this to my father because I found it chuckle worthy to which my dad said to me: “Well you KNOW what that means don’t you?” wait for it…”It means it was DAMN hot in the car!” Um I think I might have figured this out. I am just saying…
- Another Tony radio gem was when they were waiting for SPRINKLES on the track to cease and they were sitting on pit road and he asked Darian if they would be allowed to get out of the car for five minutes because the had been in the car for over 4 hours at this point and “Some of us aren’t 21 years old anymore and might need to take a leak.” And then there was the time also while on pit road he became all boss-like and got on his radio and stated that someone needed to tell one of the 39 crew members that he should NOT be on pit road without a hat on. They all laughed that up pretty good too.
- Apparently long race equals long post…
- Also from earlier in the weekend? Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman helped Pocono flip the switch on the new solar farm next to the track that will power both the track and nearby homes- helping erase the carbon footprint of the race. Here is the video from that:
Next Weekend: Watkin’s Glen
My nickname for Tony’s performance at Louden? The Little Engine That Could! Do you remember that story from when you were a kid? It was one of a handful of favorites…so loved by both myself and my brother that my mom knew it by heart. Technically though, Louden was a yo-yo race for Tony. Luckily this time the yo-yo ended up and not down and all strung out- but I am getting ahead of myself. I was actually sure that when I tuned into the pre-race show on Sunday morning I would see rain. I don’t know why but I just had a feeling. Luckily that feeling was wrong because rain delays or rain outs make Amy a very disgruntled and grumpy NASCAR fan.
So I was watching Tony’s DirecTV channel this time so I could hear most of the radio transmissions (they tend to edit where the NASCAR.COM Trackpass scanner luckily does not) because I didn’t feel like going through the rigmarole of getting out my laptop and finding my headphones (because my laptop does not have very good speakers). It’s really quite the set up…plenty of cords to trip over when I have to get up and go to the bathroom- and if my brother happens to stop by with my nephews I usually just pick up my laptop and run to the bedroom because my older nephew is in his very mischievous stage.
So the first thing I actually hear Tony say during the race is that he is “wicked loose.” He had started 25 but fell back to 27th while fighting his car during the first several laps. However the car seemed to “come in” the longer the run went and soon Tony was driving up to and passing cars left and right. It was exciting to watch. It was like I would see the car in front of him and he would work it right up to their bumper and out break them in the corner and whoosh right be them (yes whoosh is a very technical term I know).
Then came the first caution and with it the first round of pit stops. Seemed like a really good pit stop and as soon as the green flag wove Tony seemed to be working his way up the field again….
Now either I missed the radio communication or they didn’t really say anything to Tony about the fact that they only got 2 of the 11 gallons into the car that was suppose to go in (it’s amazing how much good information you can actually find if you read the post race team release). I have a feeling that DirecTV may have censored that little nugget of information because I am pretty sure I would have heard it. The next thing I heard was Darian tell Tony not to hold anything back because they were going to be bringing him in at a specific lap to pit…and I could tell by the lap number that it couldn’t be the pit window yet. I may not be good at math but even I could figure that out!
Thus began the yo-yo race. Tony would pit way before everyone else in the field. This would put him way back in the field but on newer tires. Since Tony’s #14 car was ALREADY strong this would allow him to work his way up through the field. Then the leaders would pit. Tony would be near the lead (or lead)…but the leaders would then have fresher tires so he would fall back a little bit to 10-12th or so. Then it would be time for Tony to pit again. Lather Rinse Repeat.
Then during one of these cycles- Tony pitted then not five laps later did a caution come out. Tony ended up a lap down. At this point I was frustrated. But the OldSpice /Office Depot crew never gave up. Darian had Tony stay out and get the wave around…which put him at the end of the line but he was able to work his way back up through the field again…and thanks to some well timed cautions that finally allowed Stewart back on pit sequence he was able to pull out a second place finish! It was hard earned. As Tony said in the team release: It was a long fight there at the end, but we got a top-two out of it. That was pretty cool. Pretty cool, indeed!
Tony is now 9th in the points, 141 points into the top 12 and 331 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick. Race winner was Jimmie Johnson.
- I love the Gillette Fusion Proglide commercials with the drivers in them. My favorite quote from one of them:“NASCAR drivers have invaded my wedding Steve“.
- Speaking of commercials…the Old Spice ones? HATE THEM HATE THEM HATE THEM- mute the tv or walk out of the room when they are on….hate them so much. Make them stop. Especially this one. Thank you.
Next weekend: Coke 400 on Saturday night.