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I was wondering about what kind of racing the “new” new Bristol would produce. I wondered about how the grinding would effect the track and the grooves.  I was working when practice was happening on Friday so didn’t really even get to see any cars on the track.  I had no idea what to expect. During pre-race some drivers kept stating that it would be hard to pass. That is never any fun to watch- so I honestly worried that the race would be terribly boring. Qualifying had been rained out so Tony started 21st, that being his position in first practice.

Tony's Friday Media Availability

Tony Stewart addressed the media on Friday at Bristol. (Photo Credit: The Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page- click the picture to be taken to the original)

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Monday morning I realized just how much I wear not only my NASCAR fandom on my sleeve, but my 24 pride, too, when I came into my office and started checking my voicemail messages from the weekend and had not one but three voicemail messages from clients of our firm and a business associate calling for the sole purpose to congratulate ME on the win at Pocono. Now, I am sure you can all relate that on Sunday when we are watching our driver navigate his way through the muck and the mire of a race we do indeed feel like a part of the team: making arm chair pit calls and yelling words of encouragement at our driver, or pointing out cars and obstacles like we are the team spotter but to return to the “real world” Monday and have people calling to congratulate you on your driver’s win- well that is when you know that you truly are living and breathing this sport. So much so that every person you come in contact with knows of your addiction and thinks of you when they are watching the sports segment on the evening news and see who won the race. That is cool! I will take those calls and messages any time!

Sport’s Illustrated came out with the “Fortunate 50,” simply a list of the top 50 highest earning American athletes based  on salary, winnings, bonuses, endorsements and appearance fees only.  Four NASCAR drivers made the top 50:

8th- Dale Earnhardt Jr

18th- Jeff Gordon

29th- Tony Stewart (technically Tony is tied for 29th with baseball player Cliff Lee).

And

33rd- Jimmie Johnson
I don’t know why but I am surprised Jimmie Johnson is that low on the list. And pleasantly surprised that Tony is above him. But wow…the other three drivers are all Hendrick drivers. Just saying that is a strong team financially.

What a drama filled race weekend both for Tony Stewart and the #14 Team and for NASCAR in general.  There is A LOT to talk about for Daytona- so let’s get right to it.  Tony qualified 2nd.  YES 2nd! I was so stoked because from what I could tell at work, his practice just seemed mediocre.  As a Tony fan, I know he doesn’t always qualify well- so any front row qualifying effort means that the car is on rails to me and the field better watch out!  I was stoked!  Then I checked my FaceBook a little later on Friday and I saw an esoteric status update one of my “Smoke” friends posted that made me think “uh-oh” so I logged into Twitter and that is when I got the full information. Because of a uncapped cockpit air hose, Tony’s qualifying was disqualified and he would be lining up 42nd in a field of 43.  I literally banged my head on my desk and yelled ARG I KNEW IT WAS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Luckily for me- there was no one around when I did it because I even did it with my office door open.

Tony Stewart at Daytona Speedway (Photo Credit: Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page- click for original)

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I have been looking forward to  Sonoma Race weekend for so many reasons this year, but mostly because I have been JONESING hardcore for a race (in person).  In general NASCAR fans in the west kind of get the short end of the stick race wise.  There is Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Fontana- which unfortunately for fans (and fortunately for race teams no doubt) are all kind of close together.  Then we have a long wait until late June for Sonoma (and then again another long wait until Fall Phoenix).

Sonoma Raceway (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

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Jeff Gordon has been a household name in my family since he made his way onto the NASCAR scene in the early nineties.  Growing up in Northern California no doubt had something to do with that, and his success certainly didn’t hurt matters.  Amy can attest to the fact that while I have not always followed NASCAR, I have always followed Jeff Gordon and his career.  Always!  So to say that interviewing Jeff in Sonoma this year is an item off my bucket list is a serious understatement.  It well could be my whole bucket list, at least as it pertains to NASCAR. (more…)

Ok- so I tend to chock my posts full of pictures- as you probably know (and it gets worse when it’s a race I have actually attended because I always have my camera with me and usually come back with GIGS worth of pictures). Anyway I couldn’t figure out a way to fit these two pictures into my Michigan post- but think they are HUMOROUS so I needed to share them with you:

Picture 1:

Personally I think Tony looks like he is thinking: Damn- how come I didn’t get an umbrella!?!

Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, walk the red carpet prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America)

And this one? I can’t think of a funny caption…but still the expression on Harvick’s face cracks me up:

Kevin Harvick (r), driver of the #29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet, talks with Tony Stewart (l), driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, in the garage during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images North America)