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Well…it seems with Texas just days away it is time to face reality and finally accept that the 4/1/12 Martinsville race was no April Fool’s joke, despite the number of fools that crowded the race stage in the final laps. What could have been Hendrick Motorsports 200th Sprint Cup win, either from the race lap leader and dominant 24 car, or by 5-time Champ, Jimmie Johnson, turned into madness and disaster for the HMS team when a caution was called for Fool of the Day, Reutimann, who had been circling the track for several laps seemingly without rhyme or reason. I won’t bother to recap the rest, it is done and over and as much as I had hoped that NASCAR was playing a grand practical joke, sadly for Jeff Gordon and his fans that was not the case.

Martinsville- what can I say except Tony Stewart lucked into a 7th place finish by attrition thanks to that big wreck at the end there that took out several of the front runners.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, sits in his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

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So Chicagoland. I was looking forward to watching this race. First off, Tony was driving the #14 Back-To-School paint scheme on his Impala.  That is probably one of my favorite alternate paint schemes…because as a kid I would remember how much I looked forward to shopping for school supplies.  Secondly,it was a Saturday Night race…and I like those.  Thirdly, I was encouraged because Tony had a good qualifying run and qualified 3rd! That is an awesome qualifying effort from Tony and the Office Depot crew!

JOLIET, IL - JULY 09: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot Chevrolet, smiles after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

JOLIET, IL - JULY 09: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot Chevrolet, smiles after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

At the beginning of the race Tony was strong. Very strong. Making is way up to second after falling back a couple of positions at the start of the race. The car just looked good on the track:

JOLIET, IL - JULY 10, 2010: Tony Stewart (14) and Jeff Gordon (24)during race action for the LifeLock.com 400 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.

JOLIET, IL - JULY 10, 2010: Tony Stewart (14) and Jeff Gordon (24)during race action for the LifeLock.com 400 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.

His major complaint about the car was that it was a bit tight.  Around lap 38 there was a caution flag- so all the teams came in for pitstops.  I was watching Tony’s DirecTV Hotpass channel so I could see Tony sitting on pitroad…and continuing to sit and sit on pit road.  I could see the other cars that were well behind Tony leaving pit road.  It was frustrating.  I heard Darian say “Sorry about that, Bud” to which Tony replied that he could see what was happening and not to worry about it- they would get them back. What you ask? That would be the 15 spots they fell during the pitstop.  Apparently what happened is the wheels on the jack got stuck in a seem and caused the delay in the pitstop. Arg! Tony restarted in 17th.  Tony seemed calm but I wasn’t!

When the race went green again it was like Tony was on FIRE. He was passing people left and right…quite literally. Even his spotter said “That’s pretty sweet!”

I had to chuckle at Tony’s reply which was “I’ve got a little business to take care of…” which you know- is Office Depot’s theme…”Taking care of business.”

Taking care of business- I should say so because Tony was soon in the top ten.  He would stay between 7th and 10th for the rest of the race and would finish 9th.  He remains 9th in the sprint cup points. Points leader is still Kevin Harvick.

Race winner was David Reutimann.  It was cute to see David win a race. I always want Tony to win. Always…but I wouldn’t begrudge Reut a win.

Notes about Chicagoland:

  • As I mentioned I was watching the Tony Stewart channel on DirecTV hotpass. I have to say…HOTPASS YOU STILL STINK!!!  There was one point where Tony was very obviously holding on an animated conversation with Darian or his spotter during one of the late race yellows. I know this because I could see his incar camera. He was waving his hands around- it was OBVIOUS he was having a conversation…but they were obviously editing it so we didn’t get ANY of that conversation.  Your HOTPASS stinks. I ended up at that point going and getting my laptop and listening to the SCANNER on the NASCAR.COM Trackpass…which was weird because it was a bit behind the TV surprisingly.  But at least I got more of the conversation that way…unfortunately I missed most of the good stuff.
  • Robby Gordon ran SMACK into Bill Elliott’s disabled car. I mean he hit him HARD! I was glad that Bill was ok.  That was crazy. Did Robby’s spotter miss the spin?
  • Whilst listening to the bantering back and forth between Darian and Tony I heard Tony describe his car as “nervous.” Um what the heck did that mean? Nervous? Did it have butterflies?

Next week the Sprint Cup cars have a week off. The week after is huge. It’s the BRICKYARD!

Have you seen the movie Almost Famous? There is a scene in that movie where Frances McDormand who plays lead character William’s mother and a college professor stands in front of one of the classes she is teaching and states: “Rockstars have kidnapped my son.” Well I stand before you today and state: The Coca-Cola 600 kidnapped my long weekend. I have also heard it called the 24 Hours At Lowes Motorspeedway (Thanks Trixie…that’s a good one).

So- The Coca-Cola 600 was scheduled to start on Sunday but never really got the chance because of rain delay after rain delay.  I continued to watch Rain Delay coverage…until suddenly my Fox affiliate went out and decided to play Fosters & Smith infomercials disguised as television shows.  No warning or anything…one minute I was watching the DW and Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond and the next minute I was learning about how to care for my turtle, frog, or bearded lizard using Fosters & Smith products of course.  It annoyed me.  I waited and waited and finally decided to check online and apparently it had been postponed until Monday.

Since I live on the west coast the race started at 9:00 am for me…on the last day of my long weekend so there would be no sleeping in for me.  Yey finally the race started. Tony did not have the best of qualifying efforts (he started 28th) so he was mired way down in the pack. The track was green because of the rain- but Tony seemed happy and comfortable with his car and able to move up the field- breaking into the Top Ten inbetween more rain delays.

Unfortunately that last rain delay at lap 227 (mile 340.5) would kind of screw Tony’s Office Depot team.  Having just cycled though some green flag pitstops- he was 19th and trying to work his way back through the field when that last red flag for rain came out.  about three and a half hours later David Reutimann would be declared the winner of the SHORTEST ever Coca-Cola 600- winning on pitting strategy- the same strategy that gave Tony Stewart’s teammate a second place finish.  Tony Stewart remains second in points and is now 44 points out of the lead.  Teammate Ryan Newman moved up to 7th in points after his second place finish.

Notes about the 600:

  • Seriously David Reutimann- Why did you insist on standing around your car for nearly three and a half hours in the rain without an umbrella? It was a little silly.  Did you really think it would make a difference?
  • Ok- I admit I chuckled at the “Billy Bad-Butt” incident.  When Tony called the crew guy Billy Bad-Butt” I laughed.  And we may have even taken turns calling each other Billy Bad-Butt for the rest of the day.  Mostly I thought it was funny because I was pretty sure Tony would have rather said bad ass but didn’t want to get docked 10K for it.  However- Fox displaying it while focused on the crew guy was a little tacky (ok I still laughed…I admit it). And NASCAR.COM leading off this morning’s headline with MEET BILLY BAD BUTT was even worse.
  • I was hoping they would be able to go green as much as the next guy- really I was (especially since Tony was stuck in 19th at the time of that last red flag) but three and a half hours? Is too freaking long to wait!
  • It’s one of my biggest fears? Being at a race that is postponed to the next day. Usually I would end up not being able to go because I tend to use the day after the race as my day to get myself back home and then I am off to work the next day….have you ever experienced the postponement of a race? What happened?

Next Sunday is our first visit of the season to the Monster Mile at Dover.