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I am trying to incorporate more blog posts from other NASCAR bloggers in the weekly reads:

Love To Hate The 88- Ryan McGee  for ESPN Magazine

Too Many Wrecks at Talladega?- Jay Busbee for YahooSports!

Vines and Wines: Jeff Gordon Cellars- Jack Berninger for Richmond Times-Dispatch

Danica Patrick Says She Did Not Mean To Wreck Sam Hornish- Bob Pockrass for Sporting News

Dale Jr Reaches New Level of Consistency- JD / Bumpdrafter

One-on-One With Jeff Gluck- Amanda Ebersole for Skirts & Scuffs

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony at Talladega. (Photo Credit: The official Tony Stewart Facebook page- click picture for link)

A while back I read a book hoping to use it to spur kind of a NASCAR-themed Bucket list (review of 100 Things NASCAR Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is here) as I had been kicking around the idea of publishing one here on the blog. The book wasn’t quite what I expected, however the idea of my NASCAR Bucket List has been rolling around in the back of my brain since then.  Some of these are simple and straight forward and may actually happen “one day”. Some of these will never ever happen and I know and accept that. So without further ado my list :

  1. Attend the Prelude To The Dream.
  2. See a race in person at Martinsville.
  3. See a race in person in Charlotte.
  4. See a race in person at Bristol.
  5. See a race in person at Indianapolis. (Ok so the list of tracks I would love to watch could go on and on so I am going to limit it to three four).
  6. Tour race shops in Charlotte (related to number 2).
  7. Interview Jeff Gordon for this website in the same manner we have Tony Stewart. Completed- see interview here.
  8. Tour a hauler at the track (and no I am not talking a merchandise hauler). The haulers always have fascinated me and I would like to be inside one…just to peek. Kinda completed- it wasn’t really an official tour- but I did get to walk through one and sit in the back office with Misty during the Jeff Gordon Interview.
  9. Stand on top of a hauler during practice. This will probably never happen because even IF it was offered to me I probably honestly wouldn’t do it…being majorly afraid of heights and all. Still a part of me wants to do it.
  10. Attend a race with access to a VIP hospitality suite. I want to see how the other half watch a race. Hey a girl can dream right?.
  11. Camp at a track- but my definition of camp is: Have access to a very nice motor home/trailer with all the amenities of home so I don’t have to visit that very scary looking group shower trailer I saw in the campgrounds at Las Vegas that one time I went through the campgrounds in a golf cart with Brad Keselowski (Yeah still can’t believe Misty and  I got to do that- it was SOOO fun)!
  12. Drive to my favorite track (Phoenix) in a Chevy Camaro and blog about the experience. I don’t have a Chevy Camaro and renting one is a bit cost prohibitive for the thrill of writing a couple of blogs about the Camaro. Ever since the Camaro has come out I have this vision of me driving it Phoenix (picking Misty up along the way in Vegas) and taking pics of the car along the route. Plus California car rental places tend to put a cap on the miles you can drive without incurring a fee- and it’s a long way to Phoenix.
  13. Stand on the spotters stand- just to see the view. Spotters have always fascinated me as well. This will probably never happen either because of that wicked fear of heights…they would probably laugh me off the stand because I would have a death grip on the rail (there is a rail right?) and panic in my eyes (possibly along with tears- it just happens I can’t help it sometimes no matter how much I try.  I told you all about the time I decided it was time to get over my fear by going up to the observation deck of the mock Eiffel tower in Las Vegas right? I ended up panicking in the elevator stuffed with people on the way up AND people in the elevator LAUGHED AT ME- which only made it worse. I was in full tears by the time we reached the deck. I did manage to get out of the elevator but I was miserable and just wanted to go back down).
  14. Do a ride-along with Tony. But this is going to sound really weird but I would want to do it in a street car and not a NASCAR. Kinda like that thing that Carl Edwards did for the Ford commercial here…but with Tony Stewart and a Chevy (Camaro? Vette?). If this were to ever happen- I would have to warn Tony that it probably wouldn’t take much before I would be squealing like the girl that I am and screeching “Far too fast…far too fast.”
  15. Sit in a garage stall during practice and watch them work on a car. Any would do but of course you would know that I would like to do it with Tony’s crew best. Just sit in a corner and watch and listen (and knowing me bite my tongue not to ask questions).
  16. Interview Tony Stewart for this website. completed multiple times (interview One, Two, Three)
  17. Ride around in a golf cart with Brad Keselowski delivering beer to fans while Misty interviews him as we speed around the camp grounds. Ok so that probably would have honestly never been on my bucket list- only because I would have never thought that would actually happen to me…but it did so I think I should be able to tick it off- but this really happened!

Gratuitous Tony Stewart picture that really has nothing to do with the post…I just like the picture:

Tony Stewart in the garage at Talladega. (Photo Credit: Nabbed from the Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page- click picture for link)

So what would YOUR NASCAR bucket list include? Did I miss something that you have done that is completely awesome?

I have never made it a secret that I do not like watching races at Talladega. I watch it through my fingers worried about “the big one” and fretting about my driver’s position (the closer you are to the middle of the field the more likely you are to get caught up in said “big one”).  However after watching the flip during Friday’s Arca race and Eric McClure slam (and I mean SLAM) into the wall during the Nationwide race- I was even more unsettled as I settled in to watch the delayed start of the race at Talladega on Sunday.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 6, 2012 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit- Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

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Well…it seems with Texas just days away it is time to face reality and finally accept that the 4/1/12 Martinsville race was no April Fool’s joke, despite the number of fools that crowded the race stage in the final laps. What could have been Hendrick Motorsports 200th Sprint Cup win, either from the race lap leader and dominant 24 car, or by 5-time Champ, Jimmie Johnson, turned into madness and disaster for the HMS team when a caution was called for Fool of the Day, Reutimann, who had been circling the track for several laps seemingly without rhyme or reason. I won’t bother to recap the rest, it is done and over and as much as I had hoped that NASCAR was playing a grand practical joke, sadly for Jeff Gordon and his fans that was not the case.

Autoclub Speedway 2012. Click mosaic to be taken to photo set on flickr. (photo credit: Amy K. Marbach)

My trip to the race at Autoclub Speedway was a gift.  The tickets were part of my Christmas present from Misty and the hotel was part of my birthday present from her (my birthday is about 3 weeks after Christmas).  We met in southern California on Friday and spent Saturday hanging out at the Victoria Gardens Shopping Center in nearby Rancho Cucamonga. It’s a really nice outdoor shopping village- and the two of us laughed probably way more than two grown women probably should. (more…)

Martinsville- what can I say except Tony Stewart lucked into a 7th place finish by attrition thanks to that big wreck at the end there that took out several of the front runners.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, sits in his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

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After an abysmal start to the season that includes a mechanical DNF at Daytona, a team mate spurred DNF (don’t even get me started) at Bristol and a couple of mediocre finishes in Phoenix and Vegas, it was AMAZING to see Jeff Gordon’s terrific run at AutoClub Speedway this weekend. After qualifying 21st for Sunday’s race, he quickly moved up the leader board finding himself firmly in the top 5 by the time the race reached its half-way mark. The Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet was strong and Jeff was able to take positions seemingly at will. It truly was AMAZING…amazing right up until it got messy!

With rain imminent and only green flag laps, cars were reaching their fuel window and had to pit. Jeff stayed out on track the longest leading a few laps before coming down pit road for his scheduled stop. This is where it got MESSY (to say the least). After receiving the GO signal from his crew, Jeff pulled away dragging the gas man and the still engaged gas can out of the stall with him, resulting in a pass through penalty that left him a lap down in P19. Even so, his car was fast and strong; he quickly passed some lap down cars and moved up to 16th. His lap times were equal to and at some times quicker than the dominant leader, Stewart. In fact, it looked as if Jeff had a decent shot of racing his way back to the lead lap until Mother Nature intervened and opened her skies over Turn 3, bringing out the Yellow.

Now had the 24 stayed on track and taken the wave around the bleeding could have at least stopped there, but oh no! A poor decision to pit under caution (did the team not have access to the same report we in the stands had? Once the rain started it wasn’t going to let up until Monday, so there was absolutely no chance the race would go back GREEN).

Another pit stop resulted in another penalty when the tire changer lost control of the front tire and went bouncing across pit road. I sat in the stands watching in horror! I could not believe this kind of epic fail from a team of this caliber.

Sure enough within a few laps the race went Red and was shortly called due to the torrential down pour, which everyone knew was coming! Jeff finished P26, and slid two more positions in the points to 25th! I hate to be Debbie Downer, but unless this team gets it together and quick they are not likely to recover from this atrocious start to the season and may just miss the Chase and that is more than enough reason for me to mess my unmentionables!

After what was an extremely hectic race weekend from Vegas (I know I still haven’t posted about it- don’t worry I will-but I want to get Bristol out of the way before I get too far behind), I was looking forward to watching the racing action at Bristol from home.  I love me some Bristol and it was a blustery and stormy day here on the central coast.

It just so happens that Tony Stewart was one of the hot pass drivers this race (his first time this year that I can remember) so I decided to watch on his DirecTv Hot Pass channel.  I knew he hadn’t qualified too well (23rd) and that he didn’t seem to be all that spectacular in practice so I figured it would be one of those days where I was hoping he didn’t get a lap down too early (so easy to go a lap down at short tracks like Bristol and Martinsville).

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images North America)

(Side note: The photographer in me LOVES the above picture…LOVES it).

I happened to catch Tony’s (comical) pre-race interview and one of the questions was about how he and Steve were clicking this early in the season.  He said that they seemed to be getting along quite well and the only issue Tony could even think of was that Steve is soft spoken and sometimes hard to hear on the radio- I have always heard that it is LOUD at Bristol and teams have trouble hearing each other’s radio communications anyway- so I thought that this might be an issue. I was wrong.

Tony started the race by thanking the team for busting butt to make all the changes they made on the race car (uh-oh said my gut that means that the car WAS crap out of the box and what they had was probably hit-or-miss). He also told his spotter to reign him in if he felt Tony was getting easily frustrated.  I wonder how one reigns in their own boss? (Spotter’s jobs fascinate me but that is a story for a different day).  It also didn’t sound to me like they were having any issue hearing each other during the race from what I could tell from the Hot Pass.

I will say this though…yes this is Tony’s third crew chief in however many years he’s been doing this in NASCAR but it means it’s my third crew chief too…and it was different listening to Steve Addington on the radio.  Thanks to my lack of Sprint Cup Mobile on my phone now, this was my first time really listening to their radio communications and my ears (and brain) were use to Darian’s voice and now I have to get use to Steve Addington’s voice.  I do like the way he calls Tony into and out of the pit box though…it reminds me more of Zipadelli.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images North America)

My favorite part of the race was seeing Tony battle Brad Keselowski to stay on the lead lap. It was an epic battle and you could tell that Tony was driving his ass off to keep Keselowski behind him.  He eventually succumbed to Bad Brad but thankfully a caution soon after gained Tony a “Lucky Dog” and he got back on the lead lap.  Between attrition and a better handling car Tony had worked his way up to 9th and was battling for 8th. Tony ended up getting hit by Brendan Gaughan in the #33 and damaging the rear of his car fairly severely.

Another favorite part of the race (thanks to Hot Pass) was this gem between Tony and his spotter Bob Jeffrey (@eyeinthesky14):

Tony: WHO THE F@(K JUST HIT ME?

Bob: Gaughan

Tony: WHO?!?

My second favorite thing was MY witty tweet after Tony got wrecked…that no one seemed to catch:

Ok so I spelled Gaughan wrong but it was STILL damn funny if I don’t say so myself.  Seriously people- I am not usually this witty so soak it up while you can.

Anyway, as my tweet above mentions, Tony ended up having to take two pitstops under the caution to fix damage on the car and was able to not only stay on the lead lap BUT finish a fairly respectable 14th (he would have been 15th but Junior cut a tire on the last lap…perhaps karma was paying him back for cutting Jeff Gordon’s tire early in the race).  Tony is currently 7th in the points standings.

NOTES ABOUT BRISTOL:

  1. I really HATE knowing that the drivers are getting introduced to a song of their choosing and introducing themselves and we don’t get to see it happening on the TV.  In case you are wondering- Tony Stewart picked a different song this time. One of my favorite Toby Keith songs actually- How Do Yo Like Me Now?  so YEY Tony for picking something non-Kid Rockish.  Other songs of note: Brian Vickers- Back In The Saddle Again by Aerosmith (so fitting don’t you think?), Jimmie Johnson- Jimi Thing by Dave Matthews Band, Jeff Gordon- Theme to Flash Gordon by Queen, Kevin Harvick- Save Water, Drink Beer by Chris Young, and Dale Jr picked my second favorite Pantera song by choosing Walk.
  2. The “shit for luck” up there in the title is NOT something I called the race- that was taking words out of Tony’s mouth.  He said on his radio after the race something to the effect of that he was pleased with their performance at Bristol despite having “shit for luck”.

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, is interviewed in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

Next race: AUTOCLUB in CALI…and yes I WILL BE THERE.