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(source: Tony Stewart Facebook)

The Daytona 500 is the first NASCAR anything I have seen all season.  I missed the Clash because we were in the midst of a 52 hour power outage thanks to hurricane force winds that showed up with one of the many rain storms this area has received over the past several months. I always miss at least one of the duels because of work and this time I missed both duels. I don’t usually watch qualifying or practices for work reasons as well.

So settling in to take in the Daytona 500 was my first experience as a driver-less race fan as far back as I can remember. You may have noticed I have purposely not made a sweeping declaration of whom I will be supporting because I feel that will have to come organically and naturally as it did back when I picked up being a Tony Stewart fan way back when I did. Since no one applied to by my favorite driver I am forced to adopt a wait and see attitude driver wise.  I have a certain pool of drivers that I pull for but we will see who ends up being a stand out. As for the race itself- I have decided I want to discuss certain components of the race before I give my thoughts on the race as a whole.  (more…)

(Photo source: Mobil 1 Facebook Page/ HHP)

Replacement Driver: Brian Vickers

Started: 18th

Finished: 26th

Points: Vickers is 25th in points

Like most Tony Stewart fans, I was most excited during the Daytona pre-race and race when we got to hear from Tony Stewart of course.  Here is a video of his call into the pre-race show: (more…)

Working on the fuel cell

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 23, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images North America)

It’s a day that always begins with a ton of pomp and circumstance. No I am not talking about the Olympic closing ceremonies- I am talking the Daytona 500 (which ended up being the Nightona 500 after the Raintona 500 and the #AirTitan 500). It was the day that Smoke fans have been looking forward to for 7 months. The Daytona 500; aka the day Tony Stewart was back racing. Okay, so yeah technically he’d been racing for about a week if you count the non-points paying Sprint Unlimited and the field setting Budweiser Duels but this was a “real” race: A points race, A full-length race; and what turning to an all day- and part of the night race.

Tony qualified 21st but was forced to start from the rear of the field (as was Danica Patrick and Bobby Labonte). Don’t even get me going about that.  Why? Because of an “unscheduled engine change” because he suffered an engine issue during FIRST practice…you know the practice that is BEFORE the “Front Row Qualifying day” (the old CART fan in me keeps wanting to call it Pole day) and BEFORE the Budweiser Duels.  I could see penalizing him into starting at the back for his duel race- but the 500 too? Isn’t that double jeopardy- which is illegal?! Should be anyway.  But I digress.

Superspeedways make me nervous anyway. Knowing Tony’s in the back did NOTHING to assauge those nerves- mostly I was just hoping that Spotter Bob had extra powerful eagle eyes up there and could navigate Tony around the wrecks that would be inevitable. Yes I know he crashed during the Unlimited and was fine but I worry, because it’s one of the things I do best. Honestly- I would worry even if he didn’t have an injury. Because the kind of wrecks that Daytona (and you too Talladega) produce are usually violent (definitely cringe worthy). Case in point: The wreck where Danica smacked the wall but hard.  I mean OUCH.  And did I hear right- that she hit an area that didn’t have SAFER barrier? Why is there ANY spot on ANY track that isn’t edged in SAFER Barrier by now but especially a track like Talladega. Please someone tell me I heard wrong.

Tony in helmet

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images North America)

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I can’t even tell you how much I wanted to title this post “Tony Stewart-Finally A Daytona 500 Winner” but instead I had to refrain from using “Welcome To Daytona- This Bitch Bites.” This was not the way any fan wants to see their driver start the season.  Tony went from being the favorite in Las Vegas to win the race to finishing the race 82 laps down in 41st place after sustaining considerable damage on lap 33.  Needless to say this Smoke fan threw a bit of a hissy fit- stringing along words that are not fit for mixed company.  Some of the tamer things I said during my little fit: “$#!& our day is already over. @#*&%^@*@$ may as well not even bother to watch the rest of the race.” Yeah I was not a happy camper. I had my iPhone headset in because I was using it to listen to Tony’s scanner on the NASCAR13 Sprint Mobile ap and I can’t even tell you what he said on the radio after the wreck if anything because I ripped my headphones out of my ears and tossed my phone (harder than I meant) onto the table.  All I can say is THANK YOU OTTERBOX (my phone has never NOT been in an otterbox- I bought one at the same time I bought my iPhone and put it directly in).

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Am I the only one starting to get antsy for the beginning of the NASCAR season? I can’t be the only one who hears a revving engine and is like…MAN when does NASCAR start- NOT SOON ENOUGH that is when! But our “long off season” – which isn’t actually so long in the grand scheme of other sports – is coming to an end sooner than you can shake a broken transmission at (PSA: do NOT attempt to shake a broken transmission- those things look quite heavy).

The Sprint Unlimited is just a little more than week away (Feb 16th) – this race takes the place of what use to be called The Bud Shootout and then just The Shootout.  Then the Bud Duels (formally the Gatorade Duels) are Thursday Feb 21st (URG I have to work and they are in the middle of the dang day! WHY NASCAR WHY DO YOU TORTURE ME SO?). Then of course, the DAYTONA 500 is on the 24th. So it’s all happening and soon!  I CAN’T WAIT!  Sorry for the excessive caplock usage- but when I get excited I have no other way to let you know that to YELL it in my post.

Can you say (or tweet) #GoTonyGo? (more…)

Since the Shootout I had been dreading the 500. The truck race and the NW race did little to curb the knot in my tummy. The rain delay only served to further my anxiety levels and when the race finally commenced at 4 pm Pacific on Monday, I found myself at work. Now, I am blessed to work in a friendly family office that is not only cool with me watching the race but actually accommodates us by having flat screens in each office. I turn on the race and didn’t have to wait long for the inevitable to happen. Sure enough at lap 2 a big wreck erupted. Forgetting where I was, I leapt up and screeched- searching the field to see if my driver was caught up in the mayhem and then I had to go apologize and explain to my co-worker that should he hear any screams or cursing to ignore them as it was just me watching the 500.  While this was just the start of the crashes and calamities that made up the Daytona 500, it was the moment when my pent up dread burst out and after that initial wreck, I was actually able to settle in and watch the race without as much trepidation.

I am glad the tandem draft is over and the “pack is back” at the super speedways – I think, but I have a feeling I am not going to get much sleep the night before the Dega races or the next Daytona race this season.

Hands down the most amazing moment of the much anticipated and long delayed (thank you very much Mother Nature) Daytona 500 was the explosive collision between Juan Pablo Montoya and the jet dryer. While certainly not an amazingly good moment- it is a moment that will go down in NASCAR history and will forever make the replay reels. From the collision, to the fire, to the massive cleanup to get the last 40 laps in, this was a truly captivating moment of the 500, but the most amazing thing is that everyone involved was able to walk away.

Personally I was secretly hoping that the race would not conclude and Blaney would have been deemed the winner- that would almost match last year’s stunning win by Bayne, but amazingly the track surface survived and Kenseth took the checkers. Despite the delays, this is a 500 to remember.

What a wild and crazy Daytona 500! Congratulations to winner Matt Kenseth!

I don’t know if I am a big fan of the “pack” racing being back.  To me “pack racing” is just asking for crashes that damage multiple cars.  It’s scary and dangerous and I am glad they don’t race super speedways more because THIS type of racing is what made me watch super speedways through my fingers to begin with.  The drivers seem to like it though- because I guess they feel more in control of their own destiny during the course of the race.  I don’t know about that though…let’s ask Tony Stewart how in control of his own destiny he felt right about here:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6, spin after an on track incident during the Daytona 500 February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

Tony was able to avoid multiple crashes until the very end. Despite taking a spin (above) and hitting (below) Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart was still able to bring the Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy home 16th!  I credit this entirely to Misty’s assertions that you “can’t keep Stewart down” – she was so right about that!

Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, spins in front of Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 during the Daytona 500 on February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America)

The result wasn’t exactly what I wanted to see as a Tony fan (I REALLY wanted him to get that first Daytona 500 win!) but judging by all the mayhem he avoided/overcame? We’ll take it!  Tony is currently 16th in the points standings eighteen points behind race winner and current points leader Matt Kenseth.

Notes About Daytona:

  • Fox’s broadcast confused me- as the end was suppose to be that side-by-side coverage. They fully utilized side-by-side during the red-flag incident. And honestly it was kind of fun- especially when we see a group of drivers, including Brad Keselowski, walking from their cars towards turn 3 to see what on earth was going on (they were eventually requested by safety officials to turn back).  However, when they went green there were times that they ran full commercials and other times (during cautions) where they ran side-by-side.  Confusing! Maybe they were befuddled because of the lengthy red-flag? I dunno- but that seemed odd to me.
  • Speaking of Brad Keselowski- there are mumblings about him getting in trouble for having a phone in his car with him.  Um…it’s not like he was out there tweeting and driving.  He was using it during a red flag- so I don’t really see the big deal.  Now if there was proof he was out there tweeting while driving (even during yellows) I think that is a MAJOR no-no, but I don’t see an issue with him using it during a red flag.
  • As of this writing we are still waiting to hear if there will be any penalties for Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus resulting from inspection infractions from the 48- who was found to have a non-standard c-post (or something like that).  I guess I am wrong because I always thought if infractions were found BEFORE practice/qualifying that they just made you fix the issue and roll back through technical inspection again.  Guess I am wrong there. Sounds like beyond monetary/points fines- there could very well be a suspension for Chad Knaus. I hope not because I know one of his fans will most likely be in the Neon Garage during the upcoming Las Vegas race, and I don’t want her to miss seeing her favorite crew chief.
  • I am still really disappointed in Sprint for having discontinued Sprint Cup Mobile on non-droid phones (see my original post: Dear Sprint You Have Disappointed Me).  I missed it ALOT during the race and didn’t realize just how much I did use it until I grabbed my phone and thought ARG FOILED AGAIN!
  • One bright side to the lengthy rain delay on Saturday AND the red flag delay on Sunday? Were the tweets from the Stewart-Haas Racing twitter account.  Funny stuff right there. Don’t follow? You definitely should

Gratuitous Tony Picture(s) of the Week:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, (and PR Guru Mike Arning) walks on the grid while rain falls prior to the start of the Daytona 500 on February 26th, 2012. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images North America)

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 on February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

The Next Race: Phoenix Raceway.

#GoTonyGo! #ImWithSmoke!