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By now most, if not all, race fans know that NASCAR’s sanctioning body parked driver Kyle Busch all weekend for an incident involving Ron Hornaday Jr. during the Camping World Truck series race on Friday night.  Instead Denny Hamlin piloted the Nationwide race car Kyle was suppose to run on Saturday and Michael McDowell drove the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car in today’s Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in Busch’s stead.

I don’t often watch the truck series races and that was the case this past Friday night. I only heard about the dust-up after the face. I’ve seen the replays multiple times. I’ve heard Kyle’s post race words and read his open letter of apology.  I’ve listened to Mike Helton’s explanation of the penatly. I’ve listen to Coach Gibbs. I’ve read parts of the letter from sponsor Mars. I’ve listened to commentators and drivers and fans.

I do realize that Ron Hornaday Jr is/was running for a championship. So was Matt Kenseth at Martinsville when Vickers repeatedly wrecked him last weekend. NASCAR took no action there- after all isnt it “boys have at it?” Is the idea not that the drivers are to police themselves? I also realize that Kyle did wreck Hornaday intentionally under a caution. A caution that had just come out and there were no safety vehicles in their vacinity.

I am not saying that Kyle didn’t take it too far. He did, afterall, wreck a championship contender intentionally under a caution.  NASCAR should not look the other way and I am not suggesting that they do.  Parking the truck for the remainder of the race was a good start. Points and monteary fines for Kyle Busch and Kyle Busch Motorsports should probably follow.  My big issue is parking Busch for the Sprint Cup race.  At the time of the incident Kyle was not driving for Joe Gibbs racing during the truck race.  It’s no different then when Tony stewart or Kasey Kahne go racing for their own dirt teams on friday nights.  Their actions at those tracks should not effect their current sprint cup rides much in the same way that Kyle’s incident in the truck series should not effect his Sprint Cup ride. Sure penalize and fine the everloving hell out of Kyle Busch and KBM but not JGR. This is the same stand that I took when Kyle got in trouble for his excessive speeding in North Carolina earlier this year. That had nothing to do with Joe Gibbs Racing either.

I admit I am surprised that according to the ESPN pre-race pole that 55 percent of those polled think that Kyle Busch should be let go by Joe Gibbs racing. I wholeheartedly disagree with that, which should not be a surprise.  I have a feeling that many of the NASCAR fans voting for the pro-firing must be the Kyle Busch haters. You know the ones. The booers. The same fans who write things like Kyle Busch Crash HERE X on the Safer Barrier by the start-finish lines at the tracks. The same fans who boo his crew as they push their car onto the qualifying grid. The same fans who harassed his wife on twitter- which is so beyond not cool to me.  It’s one thing to use social networking to call out a driver for their actions – it’s a completely other thing to call out or harass their spouse, girlfriend, or other family member or loved one.  That is not cool at alll.

Taking Kyle out of the race effectively ruined any remote chance at a decent chase finish. He is now mathematically eliminated from the chase. It also pretty much ruined the race at Texas Motor Speedway for both Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano- his teammates. They spend the weekend sharing notes on their cars and handling. Kyle is very obviously a BIG part of that looking at the finishes by both Hamlin and Logano.  Joe Gibbs Racing has already suffered enough for Kyle Busch’s actions while racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports. I don’t think any further action is necessitated by NASCAR or any of the JGR sponsors.  I keep hearing the voice of Kyle Busch singing in the newest Toyota commercial “Everybody wants a second chance.”

I work Monday- Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm so I was a wee bit disappointed that Watkin’s Glen was rained out.  Now it’s not to say that I wasn’t tempted to call in to watch the race.  Sure I was tempted, but it is our busiest times of the year right now at work plus I kinda like getting paid and “rain delayus to next dayus- aka race related illness” are not considered appropriate uses of sick leave – of that I am almost certain. So I watched the first several laps on TV until 7:30am (remember I am a west coast fan) when I begrudgingly got in my car mumbling the whole time about wanting to watch the race and drove my butt to work where I wouldn’t be able to watch the race.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, leads Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, during Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images North America)

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Instead of complain about the run Tony had- I thought I would focus on the end result. He may have had an ill-handling car and he may have started back in 31st- but he finished ninth- I will take a top ten finish any day! Tony finished 9th and is now 10th in Sprint Cup Standings.

Here are some visual goodies from the Richmond Weekend:

Tony also took part in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown- racing the Prelude To The Dream Late Model Chevy on Thursday evening:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Prelude To The Dream Chevrolet, makes a pit stop during the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at Richmond International Raceway on April 28, 2011 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America)

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, stands on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 29, 2011 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

The Fox pre-race show featured a Darrel Waltrip interview with Tony and promised more of the interview online at the FoxSport’s NASCAR page. Well I found that little tidbit for you and embedded it here so you don’t have to worry about missing the rest of the interview with DW:

I think they left some of the best parts of the interview for the online portion!

Notes about Richmond:

  • I LOVE the looks of the Mobil 1 paint scheme…especially the firesuit…but I have to say that it’s hard for me to find that car on the track! It’s much easier for me to find that Office Depot red machine!
  • I think Fox actually did a decent job covering what was going on with this race. I didn’t feel like things were happening during commercials…and when things did happen they seemed to come right out of commercial break to show us.
  • I know Misty agrees with me- but that race was one that seemed a bit too long. What do you think?
  • I kind of wanted to see Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya go nose to nose a little bit after the race…after all isn’t that what “have at it boys” is all about?

Next week:  Darlington’s Southern 500 on SATURDAY night

I love me a good NASCAR commercial. I really do. And I am going to be completely honest…this year’s crop of NASCAR related commercials leaves a LOT to be desired so far.  I have held off on writing this post for so long on the hopes that a new commercial will pop up that I love.   So far really the only #NASCAR related commercial that I enjoy isn’t even available anywhere online.  I have googled my fingers to the bone looking for an embeddable video of it- or even just a link over to the video and I can NOT find one. That commercial is for Gillette and starts Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Kyle is hidden in a dining cart at a restaurant and pops his head out to “surprise” unwitting male diners to try Gillette Proglide.  The best two best lines are “Hey Denny (who is in an adjacent dining cart) is that tiramisu?” and then the expression on Kyle’s face when he goes “VROOM VROOM” at the very end of the commercial.  THAT is my favorite commercial from this season so far although I am still holding onto the eternal hope that something new pops up that I will enjoy.

There is a web promotional video that Mobil 1 has put out to talk about the F1/NASCAR car swap that Tony Stewart and Lewis Hamilton are doing later this summer at Watkins Glen that I enjoy too.  I can’t find an embeddable video for that one either but I can at least refer you HERE to watch it on the Official Tony Stewart facebook page.  Beware- the video has some strange pixelations – do NOT adjust your set (that shows my age huh?) I think it’s artistic pixelations.  That video has me thinking “Tony, I’ve Got An Idea” would be a great blog post title…but damned if I can think of the body to go with it.  Don’t be stealing on my idea…I am still thinking about it.

Speaking of Tony Stewart and commercials and thinking,  I was read this article by Richie Whitt for the Dallas Observer where he got to be an honorary crew member for the race. That got me thinking about this Clint Bowyer FANTASY NASCAR LIVE commercial (I don’t know why- that is just how my brain works):

Anyway I was thinking it is probably a good thing that this gadget allowing fans to talk directly to their drivers midrace is fictional.  Not only because could you imagine all these people trying to talk at once but I know for a FACT that I would probably say something in the heat of the moment that I would regret.  Could you imagine having the ability to actually speak with the driver who just tangled with your driver and wrecked him out? It’s fun to imagine…but frankly as huge of a Tony Stewart fan I am- I wouldn’t necessarily want him to hear my race comments I tend to curse like a sailor during races because I become viciously competitive. Just saying. So how about you? What’s your favorite NASCAR commercial so far this season?

Gillette is about to announce their 2011 Young Gun class….are you ready? I sure am! I am ready to show you this sneak peak into the new Young Gun commercial (in case you were wondering- I am also ready for the new NASCAR season to start already):

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The Thursday of NASCAR Champions Week in Vegas was a crazy, chaotic day that had us running all over town…literally.  There was the luncheon at the Bellagio (which is a beautiful hotel by the way)…where Dale Earnhardt Jr won his umpteenth favorite driver award…and more importantly- Tony Stewart won the 2010 Home Depot Humanitarian of the Year award (and yes I nearly squealed like a school girl when I found out).

Then it was the Victory Lap and Burnouts down the Las Vegas Strip.  Having attended this last year- Misty and I had the perfect spot for viewing (and pictures and video) the burnouts.  Also? This year rocked because all top 12 drivers did burn outs- last year just Jimmie burned out- the rest just squirreled around the turn! Anyway, we staked out our spot early. Ok, really early, because we didn’t want to worry about it getting usurped.  The weather this year was warmer than last year which was great because by the time they burned out last year I was frozen solid into a Popsicle.  We were so cold that by the end of it last year we were both shaking uncontrollably. This year we were prepared with layers but didn’t need to worry.  So without further ado…some pictures:

Jimmie Johnson burnout on the Las Vegas Strip for the Champions Victory Lap celebration.

Denny lights them up on Las Vegas Blvd.

Smoke burns some rubber on Las Vegas Blvd.

Kyle burns out on the Las Vegas Strip.

Jeff Gordon takes his turn laying some rubber on the Las Vegas Strip.

Clint Bowyer's Las Vegas burnout.

(All photos of the burnouts are credited to ME!)

And Misty with her arms of steel took this great video of the awesome burnouts:

(Video credit: Misty Bethany who is now the chief videographer for badgroove.com)

Well that was all she wrote…our beloved NASCAR season is over and we now have a Champion – Mr. Five-Time Jimmie Johnson.  And I really don’t understand people who say the chase system doesn’t make for an exciting finish- because that was a nail biter. I am going to be completely honest…I was so wrapped up in the chase that I don’t honestly have much to say about Tony’s run at Homestead except for this: You can’t keep a good man driver down (a lap). Tony somehow ended up a lap down not once, but TWICE through out the race and each time he was able to get that lap back. That last time he was a lap down (I think it had to do with the caution coming out after he and several others went through a round of pit stops- but I am not 100% sure about that) and it could have been bad since it was at the end of the race- but no Tony was about to pull off an eighth place finish (after being a lap down…TWICE) and moved up two positions in the points standings finishing the year in 7th place.  Race winner was Carl Edwards!

So who were you rooting for of the three contenders at Homestead? Were you rooting for Denny? Kevin? Jimmie?  I will tell you who I was rooting for if you tell me who you were rooting for!

Notes about Homestead:

  • I hate to say this…but that incident between Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle on lap 24- the one that caused Denny to spin – and some damage to the car? That really looked like Denny drifted up into Greg to me anyway.
  • And what about Kyle Busch? That was a fiery crash! I was all STOP THAT SUCKER AND JUMP OUT KYLE!!!  Of course I don’t want to see Kyle burn! I actually enjoy him as a driver (not as much as Tony of course).
  • I always feel bad when the championship is clinched by a driver who is NOT the winner in the race. It made me feel that Carl Edward’s celebration was truncated.  He did win the race.  I was a little worried for his safety when he got out of his car to do his trademark backflip and Jimmie had started burning out right next to him. Yikes!
  • Jimmie’s in-car reaction to having won the championship though? He was so excited! I have to say that Chad Knaus’s Post-It note (Our TEAM won!) to the camera- was appropriate. I liked how he emphasized TEAM especially since the pit crew swap.  (Consequently enough I noticed that nearly right away – with in the week of the swap- the Lowes racing website listed the “new” crew- while the Jeff Gordon website also listed his original crew. Interesting.) Ha! Take that Mike Ford!
  • Speaking of the pit crew swap- I had to say I was concerned that since the swap the wrong crew would get credited with the Tissot Fastest Pit Crew – but luckily they explained that on the national broadcast….that while Jeff Gordon’s crew won the award- it was the original crew….the one that ultimate went to help Jimmie after Texas.
  • Apparently we missed some sort of on track altercation between Logano and Montoya after the wreck? They mentioned it on the national broadcast quite briefly but inquiring minds want to know! What happened?

Next Race:  Daytona 2011.

Seriously though- like last year, I am planning on attending Champion’s week celebrations after Thanksgiving so posting might be light that week. I will tweet and facebook so follow me or friend me or whatever…but of course I will post afterwards!

(SMOKE fans…be sure to check back here Wednesday…Just saying).

All I can say is WOW. That was a race! Tony Stewart qualified for the race 11th…and finished the race 11th.  It could have been better yes, but it could have been much much worse (just ask Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, and/or Kyle Busch- whom I will all talk about later in this post).

Via the team release Stewart said this about the team’s choice to come in for fresh tires during the late race caution that had the race going green with only two laps to go:

“Hindsight being 20-20, I probably should’ve stayed out, but we took a gamble and, really, what do we have to lose?” said Stewart, who now has 12 top-12 finishes in 18 career Sprint Cup appearances at the Texas track. “We really don’t have anything to lose. We’re eighth in points, so who cares? I’d rather take a chance on doing something to go forward than worry about losing spots and going backward.” — Team Release

However, I honestly think, the #14 Office Depot team had no option but to pit- having a majority of the field in front of him having fresher (more fresh?) tires from the pit stop before, where they elected to stay out.  As it was Tony restarted 16th and worked his way up to 11th in 2 laps! So obviously the fresh rubber was working- he just ran out of time.

And while Greg Biffle seemed to rule most of the race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, it would be Denny Hamlin edging out a hard charging Matt Kenseth for the win.

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And now for the “DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA” portion of this post. WOW. How can people say this sport isn’t exciting?? All this drama and Tony wasn’t even involved believe it or not:

First drama one:  Kyle Busch gets held for two laps additional laps (after being held one lap for a pit road speeding penalty) for giving a NASCAR official the finger.  Now personally I think that the 2 laps was a bit excessive for flipping off an official.  I mean, seriously? That totally put him out of contention for even coming close to winning the race.  You can’t tell me that it wasn’t because he was caught doing this accidentally by ESPN, who flipped over to Busch’s in-car camera right as Kyle expressed his displeasure with the call, live as it was happening.  Now I hear that NASCAR is considering even MORE penalties for Kyle’s heat-of-the-moment gesticulation! Really? Think about this, I flipped someone off this morning…and you know what granted while I do this sometimes in fun or jest  sometimes I am really pissed off and it’s the only thing I can do to express myself.  Kyle is right- it kind of is trampling on his freedom of speech or um…gesture.  Yes,  I have already debated this stand with my father who is of the feeling that it was incredibly unprofessional and immature for Kyle to do.  While I do see that point- he was already punished for it by being held two laps in race so do we really need to trample on it further? Because if we do the consequences may backfire as drivers refuse to express themselves at all.  And no one wants to see that. It is the drivers and their personalities that MAKE this sport!

Ok…now onto drama number two: The Jeff vs Jeff battle on the backstretch.  For those that missed that little gem you can check out this video recap of the incident (you will also see dramas one and three mentioned as well).  Unfortunately ESPN didn’t catch the whole on-track altercation as they were distracted by Martin Truex Jr, who was gracefully spinning through the grass causing his third caution of the day.  From what I saw, it looked like Jeff Burton intentionally spun Jeff Gordon under the yellow. Gordon’s car hit the outside wall hard, pretty much destroying the car.  It was a hard impact- you could see pieces of car and what looked like SAFER barrier flying after the impact.  Burton’s car came to rest further down the track at the inside retaining wall.  Gordon was pissed. You could tell by the video of him in his car that he was pissed.  He then walked down the banking and towards Burton’s car which was parked against the inside wall.  Next thing you know Gordon is shoving Burton and the two go fist-a-cuffs for a bit, with some NASCAR officials jumping in between the two of them.  That was some EXCITEMENT right there!  Now from what I have heard and seen of it I think that there was some sort of incident on track, possibly even before the yellow flew between Gordon and Burton and Burton took out Gordon in a fit of frustration. I hate to say this but I LIKE it when the drivers go toe-to-toe out of the car when they are pissed off.  As I have mentioned before I do not advocate using (stock cars or otherwise) cars to retaliate- but get into a good, old-fashion shoving match there against the infield wall and I am all about that! It shows that this sport is intense when you have two respected drivers getting in each other’s face after an on-track incident.  Good for Jeff Gordon for sticking up for what he believes was right, that Jeff Burton wrecked him and under caution no less.  Bravo.

And for the final drama of the race- After the above mentioned wreck, it was decided to have Jeff Gordon’s pit crew pit Jimmie Johnson’s 48 car while the 48 pit crew packed up the 24 group’s pit box. Ouch.  However, whomever made that call- made a wise one.  Jimmie’s crew seemed to be falling apart at the seams all day, after repeated poor pit stops- including one four tire stop in the 16+ second mark.  Yeah I am sure there are some majorly bruised egos on the 48 pit crew…but one bad pit stop I can see…but FOUR bad ones? Really? You are a four-time champion’s pit crew…your driver is contending for his record breaking fifth consecutive cup title. Yes I am sure you are all under immense pressure…but FOUR? Really??  Jeff’s over-the-wall crew stepped in under what I am assume was Chad’s call and they did not just step in…but they stepped UP and were able to pit Jimmie with decent times.  That is what I call GOOD teamwork.   Just this afternoon Hendrick Motorsports announced that the 24 pit crew will be going over-the-wall for Jimmie Johnson for the last two races of the season.  This is good for Jimmie who I understand is in title contention- but wow- why punish Jeff because his pit crew is ON IT!  I mean his pit crew has been in the running for the fastest pit crew for most of the year! It seems like they are punishing Jeff Gordon for having a good pit crew.  Hopefully the 48 crew can figure out where the disconnect was and get it ironed out for the next two races for Jeff.

One final note about Texas- two fans were hurt during the race when a brake pad flew through the eighth story window of the Speedway club in the first turn. From what I was able to find out, it doesn’t seem like the injuries were life-threatening, thank goodness. I wish them a speedy recovery- no one wants to see anyone get hurt at a race!

Next race: Phoenix