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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.

***

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

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!

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 03: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot Chevrolet, holds his crew chief's son Gavin Grubb during prerace for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Price Chopper 400 on October 3, 2010 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 03: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot Chevrolet, holds his crew chief's son Gavin Grubb during prerace for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Price Chopper 400 on October 3, 2010 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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!

So…the race at Dover was NOT what a Tony Stewart fan wanted to see.  Between an ill handle on the car (at one point Stewart described it as plowing) and a detrimental speeding penalty on pit road at lap 115,  Tony and the Office Depot Old Spice Chevy did NOT have the best of races.   As a fan it was really hard to watch the team struggle so much.  What made it even worse? Only one Chase driver finished lower than Stewart- and that was Clint Bowyer. Tony finished 21st and maintains his position in the standings. He is currently 10th, 162 points behind leader Denny Hamlin. Race winner for Dover was Jimmie Johnson.

However, while Tony is down right now, he is not OUT by any means…now for some pictures from the race at Dover, most provided to me by Glenn Bure of AI press:

Tony on track at Dover. Photo Courtesy of Glenn Bure, AI Press

Tony backstage at PreRace Ceremonies. Photo Courtesy of Glenn Bure, AI Press

Tony during PreRace ceremonies at Dover. Photo Courtesy of Glenn Bure, AI Press

Tony and fellow driver (is that JJ Yeley?) share a lighthearted moment in Dover. Photo Courtesy of Glenn Bure, AI Press

Now this picture I included because WTH is going on in the background? Is that guy taking a nap? Photo courtesy of Glenn Bure, AI Press

This is one of those pictures where you just wish you were privy to the conversation...because what the heck is going on? (Photo blatantly borrowed from tonystewart.com media gallery)

As for the Office Depot Official Small Business of NASCAR contest. The winner was Mike Pagano who was riding on Greg Biffle’s car. Congratulations Mike on becoming the Official Small Business of NASCAR.

Well that’s it for this race.

The standings post might be a day late or so…waiting on the appeal for Clint Bowyer.  Also- while yes I heard about the Harvick vs Hamlin shenanigans I can’t really comment on them because I didn’t really see or hear much about it because I basically had my head in the sand on Saturday.

Next race: Kansas! GO TONY GO!

If you know me personally or have read me for eons, then you know that I love music and have pretty damn eclectic tastes in music that really runs a wide gamut.  I also absolutely adore a mix cd (ahhh mix tapes) thoughtfully compiled for me of music that the giver thought I would enjoy or that reminds them of me. That is really cool. Because of this I also like to peruse the celebrity playlists on iTunes.

Anyway, I recently received a 2010 Chase Playlist compiled to go along with the chase with songs picked by some of the drivers from this years chase (this was sent to be by a PR person- I didn’t compile it myself):

  1. Not Afraid- by Eminem (Denny Hamlin)
  2. Nothing Else Matters- by Metallica (Jimmie Johnson)
  3. Walk The Line- by Johnny Cash (Kevin Harvick)
  4. CC Rider- by Elvis (Clint Bowyer)
  5. Jukebox Hero- by Foreigner (Carl Edwards)
  6. Everything- by Buck Cherry (Greg Biffle)
  7. Another Way To Die- by Disturbed (Matt Kenseth)
  8. Love The Way You Lie- by Eminem (Denny Hamlin)
  9. It’s Now Or Never – by Elvis (Clint Bowyer)
  10. Say It Ain’t So- by Weezer (Kevin Harvick)
  11. Enter Sandman- by Metallica (Greg Biffle)
  12. Miracle- by Nonpoint (Matt Kenseth)

(yes I know that not ALL chase drivers were represented…but this is the list that was given to me).  Interesting choices don’t you think?

It got me thinking of songs I could add to this list…a 2010 Chase Playlist….here is what I would add:

  1. I Don’t Wanna Stop- By Ozzy Osbourne
  2. Shut Up and Drive- by Rihanna
  3. Right Now- by Korn

So tell me what you would add or what songs remind you of your favorite driver ( in the comments) because honestly? I am looking for some new (to me) music!

Well I don’t have much to day about the race from Saturday evening. Tony qualified 15th for the race at Richmond.  His car seemed to start off really strong as he managed to work his way up to third at one point.  Then he just started falling back further and further. Unfortunately I was not listening to his radio communications and I am unsure as to why he had this drop…I assume it was poor handling that they were chasing.

Tony finished 16th, one lap down to race winner Denny Hamlin. However- it doesn’t really matter because Richmond was the last race of the “regular” season for NASCAR. Now it get’s stressful for us fans.  Now it’s the playoffs.

Tony is seeded 6th in the Chase fifty points behind chase leader Denny Hamlin.

Notes About Richmond:

  • I was surprised that since the Richmond race fell on Patriot’s day this year that there wasn’t more patriot paint schemes ran.  I think I saw maybe two (Jeff Gordon and Kevin Conway).  I don’t count Ryan Newman’s Army paint scheme- as it was the usual Army paint scheme he runs…but if you want to count it-that is 3.
  • I was saddened to hear that Tony Stewart’s grandfather passed away the morning of the race. I was dismayed when one of the journalists (Lee Spencer) asked Tony to “reflect” on it at the post race presser all the chase drivers went through. DISMAYED. Why don’t you rub some more salt into that wound there?  Tony handled the question with the utmost professionalism…but still I am dismayed it was even brought up.  (Still shaking my head at that one).

The Chase begins Sunday September 19th at Louden, NH. GO TONY GO!