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You do NOT know how tempted I was to name this post “Darlington- The Track that Bitch-Slapped Tony Stewart and Team OldSpice/Office Depot.” Urg.  Seriously…when I watch a race I have notepad open on my laptop to take notes since I now have the NASCAR.COM Trackpass Scanner so I have to have my laptop up anyway. That way when I sit down later to write the post I have my thoughts from the time…and let’s just say there is one document on my desktop right now called “LadyInBlackisabitch.”  

Tony qualified 23rd - because he pulled an early qualifying run (at least that is what I like to tell myself anyway).   After the green flag dropped Tony stated that the car was loose coming out of the corners.   During the first pit stop the crew threw everything they could at the car including  changing air pressure and track bar.  What they didn’t throw at the car that first pit stop was a full load of fuel.  Whoops. Luckily for the team there was another caution not tooo long into the fuel run and they were able to top Tony off.

The next set of pitstops Tony makes a rare mistake and missed his pit box.   The official team release said it was due to congestion on pit road making it impossible for him to angle into his box correctly.   I don’t know exactly where Tony was pitting but he complained multiple times during race about not being able to see his pitboard sign and at one time told Darian that next weekend he wanted it to be a different design and color. 

Because of an accidental run in with Paul Menard Tony received cosmetic damage on his nose and someone hit the back end of his car later…which was only exacerbated by the loose off the corners condition that caused Stewart to slap the outside wall with the right rear of the car.  That pushed the rear spoiler off center which several laps later caused his  number 14 Chevrolet to spin.  The backend of that poor car was pretty trashed.  They ended up having to tape parts of the decklid to the rear window to keep it secure.  Later when Tony was describing the car to Darian what the car was doing he said that he had been driving cars along time and couldn’t figure out why it was going back and forth from loose to tight. I think that the messed up rearend of the car could have had something to do with it.  

Now when Tony’s not running well I tend to get a wee bit cranky.  I can’t imagine how but Darian and Tony sounded totally cool over the course of the entire race with each other on the radio. I mean Tony let out some frustrated words out when he spun- but heck I can’t fault him for that.  Several years ago I had a full car of people and a dude ran a red light and hit my car hard enough to spin it a quarter revolution.  I let loose a curse laden tirade that scared my sister-in-law before we got out of the car- so I definitely can not fault him there.  Tony took two pit stops to fix damage. He finished 23rd, one lap down.  He dropped to 18th in the points but is only 59 points out of the top 12. Teammate Ryan Newman posted a 9th place finish and rose to 14th in the points.

Congratulation go to Denny Hamlin, who won the race.

Notes about Darlington:

  • After the race, Tony seemed upset at himself telling the team on the radio that he was sorry and that “you all deserve better than what you got for a driver. I appreciate the hard work guys.” However I do not think that the poor luck they had was really his fault except maybe the one pit stop where the box was missed.  And everyone makes mistakes.  They are just having bad luck this season so far. 
  • Speaking of bad luck, it was reported soon after the race that Stewart-Haas Racing has lost it’s partnership with Old Spice for the 2011 season.  I really think that sucks. A team runs into a little bit of of tough spell and one of their main sponsors go running for the hills? Nice.  What makes it worse is that it’s a sponsor that Tony has had for YEARS. You can be darn sure I won’t be buying any old spice. Well and I am a girl so…that is easy to say!
  • I am concerned about points and the 14 team making the chase, but Misty likes to reassure me with these words: You can’t keep Stewart down even if you wanted too.  She likes to point out that he is the master of recovery- and he will get into his groove soon and make the chase.  I hope she is right.
  • Speaking of the Stewart being the master of recovery- when he did spin late in the race on Saturday- he did a GREAT job of keeping that car off the walls and out of any more trouble.  I mean seriously…even my dad mentioned that.
  • One of my twitter friends said it best: We will “never giving up on Tony, EVER. He is an amazing driver and he WILL win” (via @tstewartluvr14). And I believe that! He will soon!

Next weekend we are back to Sunday races with a trip to DOVER. GO TONY GO!!!!

Well I honestly can’t say a whole lot about Martinsville because I didn’t get to see it. It was rain delayed on Sunday and the DVR attempt didn’t work so honestly I have nothing. What really sucks about that is that I enjoy Martinsville- it is one of my favorite tracks to watch.

Apparently it was quite the finish- and while I have heard a couple of accounts of it from different sources they are all slightly different so I can’t really give my opinion on it.  It might have been a good thing for me that I didn’t see the race- I would have probably ended up in a bad mood since Tony didn’t do so well (sounds like he did great for the first 70 laps or so and then the handling on the car went away or changed and he and the Office Depot/Old Spice crew fought to chase it all day. Tony ended up finishing 2 laps down in 26th.  He dropped to 8th in the points standings.  Teammate Ryan Newman however, bagged his first top 5 of the season, finishing 4th at Martinsville. Denny Hamlin won the race. 

Easter weekend is an off week. Then NASCAR heads to another favorite track of mine: Phoenix.

It’s been awhile since I talked NASCAR commercials.  This year has given us a fair share of new ones to consider…and I am prompted to post this entry that has been rolling around in the cargo area that is my brain for about a month now by an email from NASCAR.COM announcing that the winner of their Daytona Commercial Showcase was the David Ragan UPS Three-Wheelin’ Ad (Seriously?? That one?? Did my votes not count because that commercial did nothing for me).

Since I don’t agree with the winner, I am going to tell you Amy’s favorites of the newest round of NASCAR commercials:

1. The Coca-Cola Drivers Commercial. First off you HAVE to give these guys props.  They are race car drivers NOT singers- but there they are putting it all out there.  I have seen the behind the scenes video and it shows that our favorite coke drivers are singing it themselves.  I can’t imagine doing that and then having it broadcast on TV. I LOVE to sing, especially in the car (because I am alone and who can complain except except on the rare occasion I have the sunroof open).  I also like that the commercial incorporates some of the crew chiefs like Darian Grubb and Greg Zipadelli. By far a favorite. (By the way you can hear your favorite coke family driver sing the whole commercial alone if you want just go to MyCokeRewards.com/Nascar and scroll your cursor over the driver you want to hear.  I say Tony and Elliott Sadler are the best).

2. Second  place is a tie but it goes to the same company- Toyota. I can’t decide which I like better Denny Hamlin asking, “Who doesn’t love love?” Or Kyle Busch driving the car with kitties, bunnies and little baby seals. That is some funny stuff…especially the look on Kyle’s face as he is driving, with his head in that kitty cat helmet…Oh I chuckle just thinking about it.

3. My third favorite is the UPS Delivery commercial- I don’t know why but the fact that Santa gets all aggro and tries to climb the fence while Mercury and some of the other delivery guys try to keep him from going over cracks me up.

Now for my least favorite commercials:

Hands down my least favorite is the Martin Truex Jr. Napa commercial.  Mainly the part that bugs me the most are the two Napa guys at the end.

But the Sprint Jimmie Johnson commercial bugs me too…for two reasons. Reason 1: why is Jimmie playing golf in a bathrobe but he’s got full on pjs on underneath the bathrobe? Who does that unless they are in the artic? Reason 2: Wouldn’t everyone they call be “the real Jimmie Johnson” and not just Jimmie Johnson the race car driver? Just sayin’.

Ok…so there are a couple of what I consider “funny” outtakes from the whole champions week festivities that I wanted to share with you (ok after further looking over of my postie note about the “outtakes” post I guess two are outtakes, one is a random snippet of someone else’s conversation and one is something I want answered):

  • After all drivers had passed us on the red carpet into the roast, Jimmie being the last driver to meander by us and by the time he was pretty much out of earshot of us, my friend turned to me and said “Whatchya doing Jimmie?” (in the vain of the Lowe’s commercial)….to which I replied “Winning a championship Chad.” Now this in itself is NOT funny- its just something we occasionally do (snipe back and forth in commercial or movie dialogue snippets) but what WAS funny was that there was some guy on the red carpet right in front of us at the time, who thought we were pretty damn funny. I don’t know who he was but he was on the carpet wearing a credential of some sort…he looked like he wanted to interject something into our conversation…he even stopped right in front of us and chortled but didn’t actually say anything.
  • My BIGGEST faux pas of the entire weekend…and if you know me you know I am faux pas prone…also happened along the red carpet of the roast…but earlier.  I actually debated NOT telling you but then…what is the fun of that if I can’t make fun of myself right? So Denny Hamlin has just passed us on the red carpet…and by just past us I mean apparently he is like still two or three inches from me but I had shifted my attention to Mark Martin. So I catch sight of Mark Martin who is probably about fifteen feet or so down the red carpet to my right…which is the way I am facing and I say to my friend “He is so cute!” Meaning that Mark Martin is so cute because he is so little and friendly. And I mean both of those…he is like the tiniest man…but so so nice. Well my friend looks at me with like a horrified look on her face but says NOTHING to me.  So a little while later after the above bullet, I learn that Denny Hamlin was still right next to me and looked over at me thinking I was talking about him…and smiled. Thank goodness I didn’t realize this at the time or I probably would have either: A. Told Denny I was actually talking about Mark Martin…but really you’re not bad yourself, or B. Run off and hid behind something. Jury is still out on which I would have actually done.
  • The next incident happened at The Stewies. It had been awhile because we had already moved in towards the center of the balcony at least once or twice as we now had people on both sides of us. Ryan Newman was announced as the guest…and made his way down the golden staircase onto the stage, escorted by at least one, probably two lovely showgirls.  He takes his seat at the table with Stewart and Yokum, at which point the guy standing next us up in the balcony proclaims “That Ryan Newman, he’s a big boy! Jesus!” (but the Jesus is drawn out like…GEEEEEEEEEEEEZUZ)- we weren’t even sure if he was talking to us or just made the statement outloud to himself or what.  My friend just looks at me and I just shrug.  The day before I stood pretty much right in front of Ryan Newman…and what you need to know about me is I am on the short side- 5′ 4″ in shoes…and I didn’t think Ryan was overly tall or overly wide (unlike Mark Martin who was incredibly tiny)- especially where I felt the need to proclaim it in such a dramatic fashion! I guess you really kind of had to be there for this one to be funny….
  • And this last one…is more of just me wondering outloud (or in writing) kind of thing. Ok so at The Stewies when Ryan and Greg Biffle left the stage Tony was bidding them adieu and said something to Biffle like Don’t Get Into Too Much Trouble….or something like that. And then patted Ryan on the back and said “I know I don’t need to worry about you- you don’t gamble and you don’t drink…” I didn’t think anything too odd about it…I just carried on. Well then while watching the actual awards (from the comfort of my friend’s living room) Tony said something during his speech about Ryan getting him into trouble when they are together….ok if Ryan doesn’t drink or gamble…he must be kind of straight-laced kind of guy…so what kind of trouble can Ryan get Tony into?

Well that’s it in regards to Champion’s week. I had a  GREAT time.  I hope it stays in Vegas for awhile because I will go out of my way to be in town each year!

So as many of you know I left December first in my HHR for Vegas. My friend and I were SO excited about Champions week that even though I had just driven/ridden 1700 miles round trip two weeks ago for the Phoenix chase race I was READY! My drive to Vegas was problem free and my BFF and I spent the rest of the day hanging out and planning our week’s schedule.  It started on Wednesday at FanFest- which was being held at Las Vegas Motorspeedway.  In our excitement we got their a little early and sat in the car, parked in the infield of a mostly empty race track. It was actually kinda creepy feeling.

(more…)

NASCAR’s Joey Logano and Kyle Busch will be on RAW on USA (DirecTV 242) today…check your local listings (looks like 9:00 / 8:00 CT).

Also, Thisi week is NASCAR WEEK on Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader (check your local listings).  Watch for drivers David Ragan, Michael Waltrip, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards to compete (one driver each day this week during the first half hour). Money the drivers win benefits The NASCAR Foundation and the driver’s favorite charity.

I have had three different topics for posts floating around my brain- some of them since the end of last week but just have not had the patience to actually sit down with them and write them out.  I am worried if I don’t do it soon they will go **poof** the way many of my best ideas do when I don’t give them the attention they deserve or need. But these are topics that I REALLY want to discuss here- so I am going to do them right here in this post even though they aren’t related really except that they are all NASCAR related. So bear with me.

I am going to start off with pit crew members: In the last two races there have been at least two incidents of crew members being hit on pit road.  In Richmond, Tony ended up flipping the tire carrier (Dwayne Moore)for David Reutimann’s 00 team, and just this past weekend at Louden, Clint Pittman a rear tire changer for Casey Mear’s had his foot fractured when run over (by Denny Hamlin if memory serves me correctly) on pitroad. He will be out the rest of the season. Now I know I have talked about how I am completely fascinated with pit crews. My friend and I were talking about the “controlled” chaos of the ballet that is a pitstop. I know that probably doesn’t sound very manly to describe a pitstop as a ballet- but that is exactly what it is.  It is extremely choreographed however when things things go wrong sometimes they go very very wrong as in the case with the two crew members getting hit lately.  Dwayne Moore, tire carrier recently clipped by Tony Stewart, suggests in an article on NASCAR.COM  that when a driver clips a crewman that the driver should be penalized. I really don’t know if I agree with that or not- in both cases recently- I don’t think that the drivers saw the crew members until after the damage had been done. It appeared to me that both were coming around from car when the car the crew members were working on were canted in their pitbox so that the rear was obscuring the view of the crew member.  I don’t know if there is anything more that can be done- but I don’t necessarily think that penalizing drivers is the answer. Of course then again it’s not my butt out there with these 3400 lb cars zooming in and out within inches of me either.

Now onto Sponsors: Within the last two days two major sponsors have pulled sponsorships from their teams for next season: Jack Daniels (currently sponsor’s Casey Mear’s 07) and Jim Beam (current sponsor of Robby Gordon’s 7). These are just the latest in some sponsors pulling out of our sport. However, I was thinking this would probably be the perfect opportunity for a sponsor to come into the sport.  How about an Apple sponsored car? Or Itunes? Or…(and you know the guys would be completely unimpressed by this one) but how about a Dooney & Bourke car (can you imagine the paint schemes on that sucker? Wicked cool).  Maybe a GOOGLE car? or a Kraft car? (I could go on and on so I will stop here).

And, finally, banquet tickets: NASCAR announced a little over a week ago that they would be allocating 300 banquet tickets for the top 12 teams to give away to fans. I was so excited when they announced that they would be moving the banquet to Las Vegas this year – because I can totally go- the awards banquet is actually on one of my furlough days so technically I wouldn’t even need much time off. However, it’s getting my hands on two tickets that is going to be the trick.  I REALLY want to go so you can bet I am going to be keeping my eyes open at the websites of all 12 teams hoping to luck into something.  What’s a girl got to do to get two tickets to the banquet anyway? Can you imagine the tweets from that event? I really want to be there live and in the flesh and not watching it again this year on my TV thinking damn it would be fun to be there!  I want to be in that 25% of the audience that is fans! If you see any opportunities you let me know!

UPDATED TO ADD PENALTY POINTS: NASCAR announced today that the number 18  Joe Gibbs Racing driven by Kyle Busch was penalized 25 owner points, 25 driver points an the crew chief, Steve Addington, was penalized $25,000 and placed on probabtion until the end of the year for failing post race inspection after the race at Louden. The car was in violation of 12-4-I (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-12.8 1B (the height of the car at the left front fender did not meet the required specification; too low in post-race inspection) of the 2009 NASCAR rule book. What that means in English? Is that the left front was too low. They were also cited for 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing).

The 2009 Prelude may have been delayed but it was worth the wait! During the driver introduction laps Tony  was thankful that the weather was perfect for racing and that most of the drivers were able to rearrange their schedules after the original June 3rd date was rained out. Missing from the lineup were Jeff Gordon, Dave Blaney, Carl Edwards, and Bill Elliott for either scheduling or injury reasons.

Heat race winners were: Jimmie Johnson (driving a car owned by Clint Bowyer), Kasey Kahne and Aric Armirola.  Joey Logano totalled the rear end of his car during his heat race- beyond repair. He ended up driving Tony’s backup car in the Main. Denny Hamlin did not make it to the Main despite wicked fast times in the hot laps and during his heat race because of a bent valve pusher.  The disappointed Hamlin was the only driver not to start the Main.  During the 30 lap Main, Tony started 6th but quickly made his way towards the front of the pack, finally passing Kenny Wallace for the lead just before the halfway point.  Once Tony got to the lead, much like last year, he checked out and was virtually unstoppable.  The real race was between Bowyer and Wallace for second place, when Wallace spun his tires on a restart and Bowyer ran into the back of him, cutting his tire. The racing was close and fast and fun on the TV I can only imagine what going to the race was like in person!

Again all the money raised from ticket sales, pay-per-view fees will be split evenly among four military charities that support wounded soldiers and their families.  If you want to help but weren’t able to make it to the prelude or watch it on pay per view, you can donate using your cell phone by texting PRELUDE to 90999. The donation will be $5.00 and will be added to your next cell phone bill.

Notes about the Prelude:

  • Clint Bowyer may not have gotten the win that he wanted- but I think he should get a special prize for having the shiniest race car! That #33 car was GOLD as in Metallic. It was actually quite pretty and I have never been a fan of gold (cars or jewlery).
  • Joey Logano trashed his car…and then crashed Tony’s back up car.  Good think Tony didn’t need it.  But in his defense when he was driving he was doing pretty good for the most part. Until he hit the wall.
  • Speaking of hitting the wall, too bad Jimmie hit the wall- he seemed to be a real contender until he did that.

I can’t wait until Next Year’s Prelude.