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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

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!

So Chicagoland. I was looking forward to watching this race. First off, Tony was driving the #14 Back-To-School paint scheme on his Impala.  That is probably one of my favorite alternate paint schemes…because as a kid I would remember how much I looked forward to shopping for school supplies.  Secondly,it was a Saturday Night race…and I like those.  Thirdly, I was encouraged because Tony had a good qualifying run and qualified 3rd! That is an awesome qualifying effort from Tony and the Office Depot crew!

JOLIET, IL - JULY 09: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot Chevrolet, smiles after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

JOLIET, IL - JULY 09: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot Chevrolet, smiles after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

At the beginning of the race Tony was strong. Very strong. Making is way up to second after falling back a couple of positions at the start of the race. The car just looked good on the track:

JOLIET, IL - JULY 10, 2010: Tony Stewart (14) and Jeff Gordon (24)during race action for the LifeLock.com 400 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.

JOLIET, IL - JULY 10, 2010: Tony Stewart (14) and Jeff Gordon (24)during race action for the LifeLock.com 400 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.

His major complaint about the car was that it was a bit tight.  Around lap 38 there was a caution flag- so all the teams came in for pitstops.  I was watching Tony’s DirecTV Hotpass channel so I could see Tony sitting on pitroad…and continuing to sit and sit on pit road.  I could see the other cars that were well behind Tony leaving pit road.  It was frustrating.  I heard Darian say “Sorry about that, Bud” to which Tony replied that he could see what was happening and not to worry about it- they would get them back. What you ask? That would be the 15 spots they fell during the pitstop.  Apparently what happened is the wheels on the jack got stuck in a seem and caused the delay in the pitstop. Arg! Tony restarted in 17th.  Tony seemed calm but I wasn’t!

When the race went green again it was like Tony was on FIRE. He was passing people left and right…quite literally. Even his spotter said “That’s pretty sweet!”

I had to chuckle at Tony’s reply which was “I’ve got a little business to take care of…” which you know- is Office Depot’s theme…”Taking care of business.”

Taking care of business- I should say so because Tony was soon in the top ten.  He would stay between 7th and 10th for the rest of the race and would finish 9th.  He remains 9th in the sprint cup points. Points leader is still Kevin Harvick.

Race winner was David Reutimann.  It was cute to see David win a race. I always want Tony to win. Always…but I wouldn’t begrudge Reut a win.

Notes about Chicagoland:

  • As I mentioned I was watching the Tony Stewart channel on DirecTV hotpass. I have to say…HOTPASS YOU STILL STINK!!!  There was one point where Tony was very obviously holding on an animated conversation with Darian or his spotter during one of the late race yellows. I know this because I could see his incar camera. He was waving his hands around- it was OBVIOUS he was having a conversation…but they were obviously editing it so we didn’t get ANY of that conversation.  Your HOTPASS stinks. I ended up at that point going and getting my laptop and listening to the SCANNER on the NASCAR.COM Trackpass…which was weird because it was a bit behind the TV surprisingly.  But at least I got more of the conversation that way…unfortunately I missed most of the good stuff.
  • Robby Gordon ran SMACK into Bill Elliott’s disabled car. I mean he hit him HARD! I was glad that Bill was ok.  That was crazy. Did Robby’s spotter miss the spin?
  • Whilst listening to the bantering back and forth between Darian and Tony I heard Tony describe his car as “nervous.” Um what the heck did that mean? Nervous? Did it have butterflies?

Next week the Sprint Cup cars have a week off. The week after is huge. It’s the BRICKYARD!

Every single time I go to type Sonoma it comes out Sonomo. I can’t explain why but I can tell you that over the last week or so I have had to correct myself umpteen times.  So anyway- Sonoma.  I went to this race last year…I sat in turn 7 where all the action was this race…or a lot of it and thought these seats were pretty good except for the potty situation (only portapotties…and nasty gross ones at that…although I do admit I have never been it a portapotty that was the epitome of cleanliness).  As a matter of fact this picture here where they are all coming down the hill …this was heading right towards my seat:

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 20: Tony Stewart drives the  Office Depot Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on June 20, 2010 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 20: Tony Stewart drives the Office Depot Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on June 20, 2010 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

So Tony qualified 7th for the race. The word of the day even before the race started is “forward bite” everyone seemed to find it elusive and unfortunately the 14 team was no different, adjusting on the car even on their last pit stop with 24 laps to go.  Unfortunately because they were green flag pit stops that put Tony out on the track in 24th. Fortunately Tony was able to fight his way up the field and ultimately finished 9th. He is now 10th in the standings.  The race winner was Jimmie Johnson getting his first road course victory in his home state. 

Notes on Infineon:

  • Did you know that there was an after race altercation between Tony Stewart and Boris Said? Of course not- because TNT failed to mention it.  After the checkers Tony went up and knocked into the side of Boris’s car in retribution for a previous on track incident.  Said’s crew chief chased Tony into the garage area. You can read about it here.
  • Jeff Gordon has made no friends at Infineon. Martin Truex Jr. wants his pound of flesh and made no bones about telling all the television viewers so.  Elliott Sadler was also a victim of Jeff’s aggressive driving and wasn’t too pleased either.

Next weekend: Louden!

I know I tend to write here ad nauseum about Tony Stewart….but I am going to break away from that to tell tell you about a promotion PEPSI is doing with Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson.  Each driver has in IDEA to REFRESH the community (pun totally intended since it’s sponsored by Pepsi Refresh) and has put them out there to a fan vote.  The winner will get a $100,000 grant from Pepsi to fund their idea.  So here are the drivers ideas: (more…)

Talladega should comes with mylanta or tums or something. Delana Harvick (@DelanaHarvick) tweeted it best when she said “Oy Vey”

Qualifying at the restrictor-plate race was cancelled as were all ontrack activities for Talladega as incliment weather entered the southeast area of the country.  This meant Tony started 13th -based on points (even though he was tied for 12th the tie breaker is apparently based on best average finish at which point Logano bested Stewart so far this season).  Stewart-Haas Racing was already down one car as Mark Martin sent Tony’s teammate Ryan Newman into the wall during last practice- so the 39 car resorted to a back-up car. 

The racing action did seem a little better this year- I will say that. It was more exciting. Tony even took a turn at leading for awhile towards the beginning of the race.  Then it seemed he fell back. While I was listening to his radio I honestly couldn’t tell if he was heading back there to play the waiting game or if he was back there because he lost the draft- either way he didn’t seemed to concerned so I wasn’t too concerned.  He didn’t think the balance was right on the second set of tires he ran and Darian told him later that he was right- the liner had come loose in on of the tires.  Anyway the pit stops seemed to go good. Everything seemed copestetic.  Heck at one point he even told a pretty damn funny joke.  He was in a good mood, I was in a good mood…it was all good. 

The two car break aways would happen and that particular duo would head towards the front for a bit. There were a record number of lead changes during the race.  I assume that this is because the drivers were pretty much using the first part of the race as a test session as to how long it would take to get to the front and how to time the swoop and dive for the lead. 

Within the last 20 laps thanks to a good pits stops Tony was in the top ten and by eight laps to go he was in second thanks to the two car breakaway as he teamed up with Dale Earnhardt Jr.  However, soon with manuevering becoming much hairier as the cars all jockeyed for position Tony got hung out and dropped significantly.

The race had the maximum of three green-white-checker, shootout or overdrives or whatever the heck they are calling it these days.  Luckily Tony was able to miss a couple of late race accidents and come in 16th.  On the radio after the race he immediately praised the crew and sounded disappointed as he apologized to the crew for not getting a better finish. By finishing 16th Tony has dropped down to 14th in the points 262 points behind points leader Jimmie Johnson.  Teammate Ryan Newman suffered an even more disappointing day as he was collected in a late race crash. Newman finished 35th which dropped him to 18th in the points. The race winner was Kevin Harvick who made a last lap pass on Jamie McMurray.

This race was one for the record books. It was the longest race at Talladega (532 miles) thanks to the extended overtimes. It also had the most lead changes (88) and the greatest number of leaders (29 which coincidently is the same number as the car number of race winner Kevin Harvick).

  • Personally I am enjoying the rivalry going on between Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. I really like that Jeff is standing up for himself and his crew and I will say that I don’t blame him- I would be pissed too.  I like that he isn’t just saying “Well we had a great car- and we did our best.” He’s mad and he’s telling us he’s mad. I like that- it bothers me when a driver gets out of his car and kind of glosses over the face that he’s pissed or upset or whatever.
  • I am thinking maybe Tony should ditch the whole paintscheme cars for awhile. I am starting to stress about points and his luck this season in the alternate paint schemes hasn’t been the best. 

That’s all I have. Next weekend we are at Richmond for some Saturday Night racing and I can’t wait!

Race 8: Texas

Posted by Amy in General - (0 Comments)

Texas was all about the numbers. It was Tony Stewart’s 400th start. It was his first pole in five years pretty much (apparently they don’t count poles based on points when qualifying gets rained out. Who knew? Not me.)

So first I want to talk about qualifying.  I work on Fridays (most of the time with furloughs you never know) so I don’t often pay attention to qualifying. I will peek in at NASCAR.COM’s live leaderboard sometimes to see if Tony’s gone, where he is but that is it. Last Friday was no different- except I happened to peek in when the driver before Tony was qualifying. When I noticed that I stayed on the live leaderboard to watch Tony.  I almost didn’t believe it when I saw him sitting there on the pole when it was all over. I proclaimed quite loudly HELL YEAH TONY and I believed I clapped. Then I got a call so I had to work. But don’t think that I then didn’t peek in at twitter every so often to see if someone had taken the pole from him.   I don’t know what Tony and/or Darian and the guys did…but YEE HAW a pole!  It will seem crazy but it put me in a great mood the rest of the day that is for sure.

So now on to the race.  What do you have against us NASCAR fans mother nature? Sunday was a rainout for the race.  Monday I work….but decided to sign up for the scanner on NASCAR.COM’s trackpass so I could listen to Tony’s radio. It actually worked quite well. I had that on in the background and would really only check the nascar.com live leaderboard every once in awhile- like during pitting or whatever.  Tony was staying in the top 10 most of the day. I did see him drop to 14th at one point but he seemed to be able to work his way up pretty well.  Then my lunch came and I left. I left just as Jeff Gordon took the lead from Tony. But I wasn’t that concerned because I knew Tony was only on two tires and I was pretty sure Jeff had four. I needed to leave so I did my errands and was pulling into the parking lot 45 minutes later when my cell starts ringing. I answer it and my friend says “Um about the race? I am about to break your heart…but first let me start with saying Jeff Gordon crashed and his car is wrecker material. Would you like to ask me who crashed him? Yeah Tony. Except that I went into the breakroom and it looked to me like it might have been Carl’s fault.”

Did you hear someone unleash a curse laden tirade during the red flag? (It would have been about 12:45 PDT). That would have been me.  The wreck had him finish the race 32nd. He is tied for 12th in points 307 points behind the points leader Jimmie Johnson.

Teammate Ryan Newman finished 11th and maintains his position of 16th in the points standings.

Notes about Texas:

  • The NASCAR.COM  Trackpass Scanner is impressing me so far. I am gonna play with it again on my laptop during Talladega…I just may keep it.  My only issue is that it is hard to figure out where to go to get it to turn on.
  • Speaking of listening to the radio transmissions of the #14 team- I was impressed. They seemed to be doing an awesome job during the pit stops- even Tony pointed that out a couple times.
  • I am thinking there is something behind Tony’s superstition with green…and he should really get rid of the GROW GREENER rear on the Office Depot car. Please! Thanks.
  • After watching the replay of the wreck a couple times I really REALLY don’t think it was Tony’s fault. I mean yeah I heard him with my ears take responsibility. But I think it was a combination of Biffle pushing Gordon up the track causing Jeff to crowd Tony a bit…and Carl brushing up against his backside. If Carl hadn’t done that I think that Tony probably would have been able to gather himself back up.  I may be biased of course…but that is my thought.
  • I am really tanking in my fantasy league.  Bah!  I think my two highest drivers were Dale Jr and Kyle Busch…but the rest of my team tanked too. Oh well.
  • I LOVED how Tony calmed Jeff Gordon down after the wreck and then the two walked to what I assume was the waiting ambulance like buds. What I didn’t LOVE was hearing Tony say he was tender the next day during his media at the Indy tire test. I thought it looked like he got a pretty hard hit.  ARG!

Next Race: Talladega Baby!

Ahhh!!!!!! That is all I can really say about the race at Phoenix except that the night after the race I actually DREAMED about the race (more on that later).

The thing with this Phoenix race is that it starts in the afternoon and ends in the evening- so it goes from BRIGHT sun to DARK night…and what is interesting is that they say that those who do well during the light hours do not necessarily do so hot after the sun goes down behind the bleachers and that is exactly what happened to Tony Stewart.

I can see you in there!

I can see you in there Tony! Tony sports the Office Depot Grow Greener car at PIR. Not bad considering it was taken through a fence. (April 2010. Photo Credit: ME)

I don’t know exactly what happened. Tony led for awhile (YEY at least we got 5 points for that) and even when he wasn’t leading his car seemed to be a top ten car. Then I could have sworn I heard the announcer say something about contact between Gordon and Stewart and then he seemed to start dropping like someone had tied a 50 lb boat anchor to that fancy new spoiler.  I can not for the life of me however find ANYTHING on the national broadcast about the contact (nor on the team race report release)….so now I wonder if I didn’t dream that up.  In other words? The sun went down and for some reason Tony was struggling for the rest of the night. Was it handling problems due to contact? Was it handling problems due to a wrong set up? Did Digger actual succeed in tying previously mentioned boat anchor to Tony’s car when no one was looking? Did the #14 Office Depot Chevy suck too many bugs into the grill (seriously people the bugs? They were a freaking problem). The reason I do not know- but Tony finished the race 23rd.  I am sure he HAD to be frustrated with that finish because I know I was and I wasn’t the one sweltering in the heat in that car and firesuit. That finish dropped Tony to 9th in the points, 204 points behind the leader Jimmie Johnson.

However, one could not say it was a bad evening.  Why? Teammate Ryan Newman got his first win under the Stewart-Haas banner! I was extremely excited for Ryan and the number 39 team.  And I was excited that he won in the Tornados car because I actually find that paint scheme to be pretty. I like the orange and yellow against the black.  Plus Tornados are yummy.  Anyway…cogratulations to team Tornado!!

Notes About Phoenix:

  • So the dream…I dreamed that Chad Knaus was really pissed off about the 4 tire call at the last pit stop. Like lividly pissed. To the point he was telling media that anyone who took two tires were idiots.  I think this is the reason I dreamed that is that we were directly across from the 48 pitbox- pretty much at eye level with Knaus.  I couldn’t even see Tony’s pit from where I was…but it didn’t stop me from watching the 48 guys each and every pit stop.  They fascinate me (pitstops…not the 48 guys).  Anyway don’t believe me? Here is proof:

Chad Knaus watches his 48 crew in action. (PIR April 2010. Photo Credit: ME)

  • My DVR cut off the end of the National broadcast so I couldn’t even really revel in Ryan Newman’s win when I got home.  Bah. Dumb DVR.  At least I remembered to DVR SpeedTV’s Victory Lane just in case. Arg. Dumb DVR.
  • Tony Stewart’s firesuit was still the traditional Office Depot Red even though his car was white and green.  Now I am guessing it’s a bit expensive to make a new firesuit for the paint scheme….but it was just funny looking and if you look above at the picture of Tony in his car you can see he kinda sticks out in there because you can actually see him in there.
  • Some Pictures:

Ryan Newman during the parade lap. (April 2010 PIR. Photo Credit: ME)

Tony Stewart parade lap. Told you he wore his regular red firesuit. (April 2010. PIR. Photo Credit: ME)

So that’s the race summary.

This weekend we are in TEXAS where everything is bigger….including Tony Stewart’s starts (number 400!).