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I just want to take second to THANK everyone for all the support for the last post (the Open Letter To GMA). It was truly overwhelming to see how many of you out there not just felt the same way as I did but shared the link, shared your thoughts (either on the original post, on FaceBook, on twitter)! While I have no doubt that my letter did little in the overall scheme of things- especially judging on the ABC Nightly News coverage this evening, I like to think that us fans banding together at least showed that Tony Stewart fans NASCAR fans are not blind to slanted, biased reporting.  Hopefully it somehow got back to Tony and his people that we support him on a wide scale. Onto the actual post.

I think after the post-race antics last Saturday night, most of the NASCAR world was waiting and watching to see what the NASCAR sanctioning body would dole out.  I know I certainly was. In case that you haven’t heard yet (and I know most of you have) these were the penalties doled out by NASCAR today:

Brad Keselowski was fined $50,000 and placed on probation through the Phoenix race. Tony Stewart was fined $25,000 and placed on probation through the Phoenix race.

I know everyone has thoughts on what should and should NOT have been done with the penalties. I know I certainly do and judging by some of the things I read on social media afterwards my thoughts may not be the most popular ones. So I ask that you approach my thoughts with an open mind- and remember these are MY opinions and nothing more.

What NASCAR Did Right

NASCAR created this kind of drama. How? The new Chase format.  I find the CHASE format to be a pressure cooker and I am just a fan. I know how stressful I feel every third race- knowing drivers are going to be eliminated, and as a Stewart fan I don’t even really have a horse in the race. Can you imagine how stressful that is for the drivers in the chase? They are fighting tooth and nail to make it through to the next round- when in chases past they wouldn’t have to worry about that elimination. If they had a bad race the could hopefully recover and carry on.  That is not the case this season. Every race counts.  The three major players in the shenanigans after race, Keselowski, Hamlin, and Kenseth, are three of the twelve drivers fighting for those eight spots in the next round.  Tempers are bound to flare.

That, combined with the fact that Hamlin and Kenseth used their words as well as a little physical scuffling- really didn’t warrant NASCAR penalty in my opinion.  No one was in any real danger- especially considering the throngs who showed from all three race teams, as well as NASCAR officials and others to keep the drivers from landing any real blows. I didn’t even see Hamlin throw any blows- just what looked to be a towel in the footage I saw. If NASCAR truly wants to have a “boys have it” attitude- well that is just part of boys having at it.  So not fining Hamlin and Kenseth was the first thing NASCAR did right.

Secondly- while I admit that I think Brad Keselowski should have been fined more, I think just a monetary and probationary fine was indeed appropriate.   He should get one pass to not miss the chase for losing his cool. Yes it was careless to burn out through a garage area rifled with people- which is why I think the fine should be quite a bit more. However, I can’t think of any driver who hasn’t lost his cool at some point. Should it ruin his chances at a championship? Not the first time. (I am not saying that I want him to win the championship mind you- I stand by my grid no matter how busted my brackets may be).  Now if he does something again? Then I say take away enough points so that he is effectively eliminated from the chase. But not the first time, especially when the new chase format seems to breed angst.

What NASCAR Did Wrong

NASCAR, however, was wrong to penalize Tony Stewart.  Yes Tony backed into Brad Keselowski at the entrance to pit road.  We all saw that.  Brad did instigate it, by nailing Tony pretty squarely in the rear bumper.  Whether Brad meant to do it or not, we can’t be sure, it looks like he actually glanced off of “rubbing” Matt Kenseth and may have accidentally bumped into Tony. What Tony did was a knee jerk reaction to being rear ended while he was at a complete stop waiting to be able to turn into the garage area. He had likely just witnessed Brad Keselowski purposely pit Denny Hamlin on the cool down lap (if you look behind the action where Brad hit Denny- you can see Tony Stewart skirt by from behind).  Tony likely didn’t have a beef with Brad and wondered WTF he did to warrant Brad’s ire. I mean wouldn’t you? You just witnessed him try to take out Denny on the cool down lap and then he rear ends you? So that is the first reason, that Tony should not have been penalized. Not to mention the fact that if you take the entire scheme of the post race altercations – what Tony did? Was just a teeny, fairly inconsequential portion of the larger picture.

My second reason that Tony shouldn’t have been penalized- is a little more convoluted.  NASCAR has been promising us fans that they are not levying any “secret” fines, like the ones they use to issue in the days of yore for especially those in the “detrimental to stock car racing” category.  We all know that Tony’s image in the mainstream media is not the best right now.  We also know that the $25,000 fine was a mere slap on the wrist. However, with the position that Tony has been in lately- mainstream media is going to have a field day with it. Or rather ARE having a field day with it (have you seen ABC Nightly New’s report of Tony being fined. Did they even mention Brad getting a fine?). This is not the kind of press that NASCAR needs, nor Tony Stewart.  Makes me wish we were back to the days where fines were sometimes secretive.  That way- mainstream media wouldn’t be given anything to fuel their biased-against-Tony fire.  

One Thing NASCAR Might Consider

Am I the only one who expects to hear an announcement that it will be a rule that you must keep your safety gear on (seatbelts, HANS devices, Helmets, ect) on until your car is parked in the garage? I have seem more drivers than just Matt Kenseth start to unbuckle on the cool down lap or bringing it into the pits over the years.  Things happen- and it should be common sense that you keep your gear on. (Not to say that I wouldn’t be mad if someone hit me while I was unbuckled like Matt Kenseth was on Saturday night. In that moment- I can totally understand his fury with Keselowski). But safety is safety. 

So those are my thoughts on Penalty Tuesday.  Share your thoughts with me as always…I love hearing them.

ALSO:

Have you seen this blogpost by The Orange Cone: It’s Almost Halloween Let the Witch Hunt Begin! I tell you the more I read the Cone- the more I love what he says.

Tony getting into his car at Charlotte

Tony getting into his car at Charlotte Motor Speedway, October 9th, 2014. (Photo credit; Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/David Yeazell/CIA Stock Photo Copyright)

Tony Stewart gets serviced on pit road

Tony Stewart’s #14 Bass Pro Chevrolet gets serviced on pit road on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

So much for flag-to-flag coverage of the chase races huh?  For all that NASCAR has done building up this new Chase format- building it to be more like traditional playoffs like you see in other series, did they ever have an epic televised coverage fail on Saturday. Did you tune in on Saturday expecting to see the 5th race of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint cup? So did I. Were you disappointed to see college football instead? ME TOO! (more…)

Tony Stewart On Track

Tony Stewart on track in his Code 3 Associates #14 Chevy at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sept 2014. (Photo Credit: Jessica Bure)

I am going to start this post by apologizing right now- obviously my picking Jeff Gordon for the Championship has thwarted him somewhat.  Forgive me Jeff Gordon, team 24 and all your fans.  I promise from this point forward to root for Joey Logano (ok not really) as 2014 Sprint Cup champion.

Okay now back to business.  Between knowing that Tony had qualified 28th and that he had spun out during the last five minutes of final practice I admit I didn’t think this would be our breakout race of the season.  What I didn’t bargain for was the fact that I was ready to throw Tony’s crew chief under the (proverbial- for some reason I feel that I need to clarify this) bus by the midway point of the race.  As you may know, my beloved readers, I am an eternal optimist when it comes to team 14.  I am the one always saying, “Well, we’ll get ‘em next week.” (more…)

The 16 Chase grid drivers were each set to a specific market in North America to promote the Chase and NASCAR in fun often times fan friendly events. Two drivers were even sent to other countries- Jeff Gordon to Canada and Carl Edwards to Mexico. Here are some fun pictures from several events:

What exactly constitutes a breakfast of champions at a taco house? Only Denny and Tom Sneva know for sure:

Joyride Taco House Breakfast of Champions

(L-R) Driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Denny Hamlin and former Indy 500 champion Tom Sneva take part in a “Breakfast of Champions” event at Joyride Taco House in Phoenix, Arizona as part of the Chase Across North America in conjunction with Phoenix International Raceway on September 10, 2014. (Photo Credit: Phoenix International Raceway)

I think Aric is trying to give us subliminal messages that he’s hot: (more…)

Winding Up For The Pitch

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, throws his hans device at Kevin Harvick (not pictured), driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, after an on-track incident  at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)

I couldn’t resist the title. After the Denny/Harvick incident I actually tweeted that.  But I am getting ahead of myself. Bristol is one of my favorite tracks to watch on television; it and Martinsville. I guess I am a just a short track racing girl at heart.  Jeff Burton was again piloting the #14 Bass Pro Chevy for our driver Tony Stewart.  He qualified the #14 25 for the race- I wasn’t able to catch ANY of practice or qualifying so I couldn’t gauge how the car was running and had no idea what to expect from our team 14.

I was pleased to see that once the green flag flew Jeff Burton was able to move up through the field, slowly and steadily picking off positions one at a time fairly methodically and patiently- a feat that is not easy at a track that known to ignite the tempers of even the most mild mannered of drivers. Crew Chief Chad Johnston made an interesting call during a caution at lap 198 and that put the 14 car up in the top four of the race! That right there was a BEAUTIFUL thing to see. (more…)

I absolutely hate April Fool’s Day. I am notoriously gullible which makes me a prime target. An example: at college another student and I had the same backpack. I inadvertently took hers from a bookstore cubby and didn’t discover the err until my next class. I ran back, made the exchange and thought nothing of it. Until later that week when my dad called me to tell me the police were at the house looking for me- something about a stolen backpack. I may or may not have been in tears by the end of the joke.

Anyway- I love this video of drivers talking about the best and worst pranks. Check it out!

April Fool’s Day: NASCAR Style

Drivers sit down and talk about some of the best pranks they have seen over the years.


Sponsored by: NASCAR inGEAR

Servicing the #14 Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet

The #14 pit crew services Tony Stewart’s Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart’s Official Facebook Page)

Before we get into Team 14 and their run- we need to address the tire situation. I know that Goodyear claims that the teams were at fault for the tires but I have trouble with that. Why? Because multiple teams experienced issues across manufacturer platforms. Every 25 laps or so there were a rash of tire failures.  To me that speaks of an issue with the tire compound.  Yes I know that Goodyear brought the same compound as they brought last year and that there wasn’t a problem before- but the cars have a different rules package that affect down force this year. The engineers at Goodyear maybe should have thought of that and either brought a different compound or at the very least issued some sort of bulletin to the teams.

Let me tell you why I care about tire failures beyond the fact that they are dangerous: Auto Club is consistently ragged on for being a boring race- that it should have it’s race taken away and given to another track. This year, from my seat, the racing was GOOD! The cars were moving around and passing and it was just exciting. Many drivers were able to recover from problems and make it back up towards the front (I am looking at you Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart) over the course of a race.  To have that interrupted so much by cautions due to tire failures was FRUSTRATING for me as a fan.  That is not fun- to watch your driver over come something like a wickedly handling car (Tony Stewart- which we will take about later) or a pit road speeding penalty (Jeff Gordon) and make it back towards the front. (more…)

Denny Hamlin in Victory Lane at Homestead

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
(Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America

I always feel kind of bad when the winner at Homestead-Miami is not the same person as the one who won the Championship-  because their win gets overlooked a little.  So congratulations to Denny Hamlin on winning the race!  By winning at Homestead- Denny Hamlin was able to keep his streak alive- of winning at least one race for the past 7 season. Awesome!

And speaking of the race what a race it was.  There was after all- Matt Kenseth (second in points) leading the most laps, Jimmie the series leader sustaining damage during a restart when another car spun it’s tires.  It was a real nail biter there wondering if Jimmie was going to need to pit- he also fell down to like 26th at that point so it was all YIKES what will happen for a little while- something I did not think would happen because I went into the race pretty darn sure that Jimmie was going to come out 6-time.

(more…)