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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!).

Well I have a great excuse for being late in posting my race review…you know- I was there at the actual race so I didn’t even get back home until last night and came home to a beagle who missed me (she tried to play it cool by sniffing my luggage for a minute and then going to take a nap but I know she missed me…the little demon).  While the whole trip is worthy of it’s own post and I promise it will get one- this is just going to be my usual race recap.

So I have been going to this race for three years now and the weather has been different each time. The first year it was so freaking cold but totally clear but the cold was icy cold and dry and felt like it would cut through you. It was so cold that I ended up buying a beanie to wear under my hat! Last year it was just warm. This year it was some weird combination of the both.  While sitting in the stands I alternated between quite warm to freezing when the big puffy clouds would ocassionally float by and block the sun.

Now I don’t rent one of those race scanner things – mainly because I don’t want to have to worry about turning it back in after the race. I would rather just leave. Secondly I don’t want to get all use to hearing the team communication and then have to go home and wonder what the heck is going on. 

So Tony qualified 9th…which is awesome!! I like it when he qualifies in the top ten!  So he pretty much held that position at the beginning but then he began falling back a wee bit.  So instead of proclaiming myself a jinx as I usually do,  I decided to focus on the leader, which happened to be Jeff Gordon.  I knew this because I think Misty clapped so hard when he passed Kurt Busch that I think she broke something in her hand- I would love to see her reaction to a  J. Gordon win- I worry she’d fly out of the stands! Anyway I digress.  The neighbor behind us happened to be a Stewart fan too and she had a radio and would give little updates like what they were doing on pit stops and stuff. So luckily I was able to tell that Tony was having trouble on restarts for some reason and that he felt his car was tightish (that is an official word…don’t believe me? Go find a NASCAR dictionary and look it up).  Still he seemed to be like he was playing on a seesaw…up to seventh, down to ninth, up to fourth, down to sixth, and I am sure you get the picture.  Honestly I blame it on the weird hot/cold weather but I am sure there is a more technical reason.  Meanwhile it seemed that Jeff Gordon was just dominating the race…with Jimmie Johnson steadily coming up through the field.  

During one of the pit stops Tony stayed out to lead a lap (hello bonus points).  But then the next pit stop he seemed to stay out for a long time after all the other teams had pitted. I don’t know what the reasoning was behing this…and frankly it puzzles me. If you know the reason- leave a comment and let me know why…seriously. Inquiring minds like to try to figure these kind of things out.

So Tony started 9th, finished 7th and stayed in the top ten the whole race (which was a darn good thing considering at the end of the race there were only something like 11 cars on the lead lap- seriously.  I mean that Jeff Gordon/Jimmie Johnson breakaway move really just kinda ate up the competition.  All in all the race was ok for Stewart who moved up to 11th in points and is now 120 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick.

Unfortunately Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman did not fair as well. He started the race third and placed 18th. I didn’t really see much of Newman but it sounds like he had some pit road issues and handling problems. He is 32nd in the points right now, 281 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick.

Notes:

  • I really like the Tornados paintscheme on Ryan Newman’s car…it makes it stand out with the yellow and orange against the black.
  • I also really like the new dark red on bright red paint scheme on Tony’s old spice car much better than the old paint scheme of red and silver.
  • I did not like the pink Kim Kardashian car- but I think Sephora would be a great sponsor for someone. I mean what is it they say? That 40 percent of NASCAR fans are female??
  • I am just going to throw this out there but…I am already sick of Jimmie winning and we are only 3 races in people!!!

I know you are just as excited as I am to read the Tony Stewart interview Misty and I did last thursday…it’s coming I promise. Check back later today- hopefully I will have had time get it posted by then.

I have to say that I worried that we wouldn’t get the entire race in Fontana in.  While I live in California- (granted I live much much  farther north than Fontana)  it rained on and off  all day.  So YEY that the race didn’t seem to be too affected by the rain. 

Tony qualified 16th for the race today and early on he struggled- sometimes finding himself as low as 24th position.  However, during the last half of the race, the team seemed to recover some of the handling that Tony was looking for and he was trekking off towards the front of the field- at one time he was as high as 5th.  Unfortunately for Tony he seemed to fall off a bit towards the end of the race.

I will admit right here that I missed somethings during the race because I kept having to run out to do laundry so that I get it all done before I leave for Vegas on Wednesday. I missed Juan Pablo Montoya’s engine blowing. I also missed Ryan Newman’s engine blowing and only knew about that thanks to Twitter when I peeked in at my account.  I admit when they were talking about Jeff Gordon also having possible engine issues I worried that Tony too would fall pray to the mysterious engine gremlins that seemed to be plaguing some of the Team Chevy drivers. Luckily that was not the case though and he was able to finsih 9th at Autoclub Speedway.  He now has a total of 235 points and raising his standings in the points to 17th.  Unfortantely teammate Ryan Newman’s engine failure caused him to finish 36th in the race which dropped him two places in the standings to 36th.

Race winner Jimmie Johnson (Jimmie also won the only race I have seen in person at Autoclub! My thoughts are you don’t want Jimmie in the lead at Autoclub because he is going to be hard to get around!) beat out second place Kevin Harvick in an exciting duel. The two actually ended up racing each other a lot both at the beginning of the race and then again at the end- giving fans an exciting finish to the day. 

Notes about Race 2:

  • I have to say I really REALLY liked Dale Jr.’s orange AMP JUICE paint scheme. REALLY!
  • Speaking of Dale Jr. – I have to send out my congratulations to Andy (prize pack 1) and Lindi (prize pack 2) who won the Dale Jr. Prize packages we gave away (thanks also to AMP and Conye PR who provided the prize packs).
  • What was with all the speeding penalties this race? I guess it was even worse in the Nationwide race.
  • I am looking forward to Vegas…be sure to stay tuned to my twitter updates to see what Misty and I are up to while in Vegas.

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…)

This was NOT my first trip to PIR actually. That happened this spring and you can read about that here. As you know I left on Wednesday and drove the 500 miles to Vegas to pick up BFFM!  She showed me her new office area and then we hung out for the remainder of the day.  I will say this- traveling on Wednesdays rock because i did NOT hit one lick of traffic on the way to Vegas.  The next day we packed up BFFM’s car and she drove us to Phoenix. We were staying at a different Hotel…this time in TEMPE just one the other side of the airport from where we stayed last time.  We used hotwire again and got our hotel cheap.  One of the good things about staying in the area we were staying in is that we were really close to ASU so that meant we weren’t at a loss for eateries and the such.  Although being by a college campus does have disadvantages too like the eateries being very busy on Friday and Saturday night!  Once we got to Phoenix on Thursday we checked into our hotel and “got our Phoenix legs” and settled in.

Anyhoo…one of our main reasons for going to Phoenix chase race was…I was going to a (hide your eyes fellow Smoke fans) Jeff Gordon Network event where the Jeff Gordon himself would be there.  It’s only fair really- i have drug BFFM to her share of home depot appearances (I haven’t caught Tony at an Office Depot yet  but I did at the Palazzo at the beginning of the season for the race at LVMS).  Anyway- this event was at a hotel in Scottsdale and started at 7:00 am (registration/sign in started at 6:30!!) and was only for fan club members and their one allotted guest (Yes I was the plus 1).  Let me tell you – while I have been to several driver’s cattlecall sponsor meet n greets and usually have a pretty darn good time at them- going to a fan club event is a completely different thing…it really rocked.  There was breakfast…and the raffling of door prizes (I won a snowman 24 ornament that I of course gave to BFFM)…there was a best dressed fan contest which was fun. Then Jeff Gordon came in and talked to us…gave us some opening remarks, answered some questions from the emcee and two lucky fans.  Then we were all called up table by table to get our item autographed and have our picture taken by a professional photographer (that part was odd and kinds surreal- I haven’t seen my picture yet but I am sure that I look like a complete doof because just as we were turning towards the photographer, Jeff asked me where I was from so I think I turned towards him to answer him…anyway…it was a really nice event and Jeff took his time with each person and would take a couple minutes to talk with you/answer questions with you…it was on a completely different level then those cattle call type sponsor events I am use to I will say that.  I wish Tony’s fan club did events at other tracks and not just around the brickyard…because the JGN one was fun.

BFFM at the Jeff Gordon Network event- checking out the merchandise table and getting ready to meet Jeff

BFFM at the Jeff Gordon Network event- checking out the merchandise table and getting ready to meet Jeff.

We really didn’t have much more to do on Friday because we didn’t have Friday tickets to the track.  So we did what most red-blooded American girls do…we shopped (in Scottsdale)! I picked up the rest of my nephew’s Christmas presents (and a cute little onsie for their new baby due in Feb). I picked up some birthday presents for my Mom because I would be spending her birthday driving between Phoenix and Vegas on the way home (oh don’t go feeling sorry for her- she was ok with it).

Side note about Phoenix: This was the third time I have been to Phoenix (second for a race) and this was the first time I was there during the time change (Arizona doesn’t participate in Daylight Savings Time).  The time change TOTALLY messed me up– but in the WRONG way. I live on Pacific time, and they were on Mountain- so their 9:00 pm was really my 8:00 pm yet to me felt like it was 11:00 pm.

On Saturday- we were at the track all day.  I don’t even remember what time we got to the track in the morning but basically we got there, put our backpacks on, I had my Canon 20D strapped around my neck, we hiked into the track- stopped in the merchandise area- made a couple purchases- and then we were into the track where I believe the cup cars were just starting to roll out onto the track for first practice when- yep it started to rain. I scrambled and put the camera in my pack and we walked around in the rain looking at the different booths. I spent a lot of time in the Chevy booth trying to figure out a way to drive off in the camaro they had on display (that is one sweet car).  They actually were letting fans test drive them but I was afraid if I test drove one I would be towing one back home behind the HHR. We spent some time walking around the pits, then found a spot to stand and watch the cars come zooming into the pits from the track under one of the pedestrian bridges- we stayed there as long as we could but figured out that most people didn’t stand their cuz its fairly noxious!!! It was actually a fairly good vantage point to see Jimmie, Jeff and Tony’s garage stall so we prob stood there most of practice…until we had headaches anyway.  We saw Chad Knaus walking back and forth a couple times and Steve Letarte once.  Unfortunately Tony’s garage stall was farther down so I didn’t see much of his guys- just him zooming in from the track.

Tony follows Kyle in during practice for some adjustments.

We then made our way to our seats in the AJ FOYT grandstands to watch the Nationwide race and hopefully see Kyle tie up the championship. Unfortunately that didn’t happen- instead Carl won and Kyle had a pretty bad day.

Best thing heard at the track on Saturday was two twentyish year old guys in the pit area talking back and forth while waiting for practice to start. The Jet dryers were on the track.

GUY ONE to GUY TWO: Dude- those things (motions towards the jet dryers)- they sound like planes!

GUY TWO nods in steadfast agreement with GUY ONE.

(I so much wanted to walk up to them and say: HERE’S YOUR SIGNS but I didn’t).

On Sunday we get to the track early- do a quick merchandise hauler sweep where I buy myself a pink hat with a sparkly 14 on it because some doofus left her other hat at the hotel.  It was sunny and not a cloud in the sky.  We walked down to the pit area and wandered up and down pit road and out onto the track where I took this picture of BFFM:

BFFM Flashes the 24 on track Sunday morning at Phoenix.

BFFM Flashes the 24 on track Sunday morning at Phoenix.

Sunoco on pit road.

Sunoco on pit road.

Per my usual thing- I took lots of pictures of tires on pit road.

Per my usual thing- I took lots of pictures of tires on pit road. These happen to be Matt Kenseth's tires.

After we decided we had had enough of pit road we went up to our seats (same as Saturday) to watch the race.  We all know the outcome there.

When we were parking in the morning BFFM pointed out to me a brand new camaro in the dirt lot we were parked in. We saw it on our way out and someone had put an empty beer bottle on the hood. JERK.

Most interesting fashion statement of Sunday:

Race fans are an interesting breed..this guys outfit proves it.

Race fans are an interesting breed..this guy's outfit proves it.

So far with our experiences PIR has the best traffic leaving and Infineon has the worst.

We stopped for a leisurely dinner and went back to our hotel. On our floor in the hallway I guess some people were trying to make our hotel in Tempe a home away from home by laying out their own welcome mat- that was the most bizarre thing I think I saw all weekend:

Home Away From Home in Tempe- our hotel room neighbors laid out a welcome mat in front of their door. ODD!

Home Away From Home in Tempe- our hotel room neighbors laid out a welcome mat in front of their door. ODD!

If you are a NASCAR fan there is a good chance, according to ASK.com (the official search engine of NASCAR) that you are looking for a Kyle Busch Costume:

Are you going as Kyle Busch?

Are you going as Kyle Busch?

I have seen these NASCAR costumes for kids but never for adults. Why????

Now if you have been here for awhile you know that I LOVE Halloween. I really do.  I dress up every year even though I am well into adulthood (physically speaking anyways).  This year? I was really uninspired costume wise.  I am not going as my favorite driver or even as a fan for my favorite driver. If you can guess what I am going to be you get 10 brownie points…which are not refundable for anything except my undying appreciation that you took time out of your day to leave me a comment.

Well considering that I was sick this weekend all I can really say about Tony’s 13th place finish could have been better…but it could have been much much worse.  What really didn’t help Tony too much was Jimmie’s win.  I hate to say it but unless Jimmie fubar’s something I think he might be on his way to number four…which bites because it would be awesome to have Tony get number three!!!

Tony retained his fourth position standings in the points but is now 155 points out of the lead.  If he is trying to scare me he did a good job…now go out there and win this damn thing.  Ryan Newman finished 11th and gained two positions in the points and is now up to eighth.

Notes about Lowes:

  • I have to say that Jeff Gordon’s transformer paint scheme was way cooler than Ryan Newman’s. I hate to say it but it is totally true!
  • It was great to see so many cars out there supporting breast cancer research!

Next week: Martinsville!