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Congratulations to Jeff Gordon- who won his second race of the 2011 season!

(Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR) Jeff Gordon celebrates winning the 5 -Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway, his record-tying 5th victory at the track.

My mishmash of thoughts on the All-Star Race:

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You can totally blame this post on Jeff Gordon as it is totally his fault I got to thinking about this in the first place. How, you ask? Well it all started with a tweet. Jeff Gordon tweeted that fans could vote for what song he would use as his intro song for the Bristol race this coming weekend. What a great idea, I thought. Tony should let his fans vote because it seems he ALWAYS uses Kid Rock…and I think he should mix it up a little bit. Which then got me to thinking…if I could pick an intro song for Tony Stewart what would I pick?

Now first off, I have to admit that High School Amy would be HORRIFIED at what I listen to these days. High School Amy was very into the hard rock/heavy metal scene. Modern Day Amy will listen to nearly anything from Metallica (still a favorite) to Craig Morgan to the Black Eyed Peas to 80′s Duran Duran with a lot of different music in between. Serious you should see my ipod…a lot of the music on it would make High School Amy run for the hills screaming TRAITOR! SELL-OUT! WANNABE!!! But I digress because this post isn’t about MY musical tastes so much as it is about picking a new intro song for Tony Stewart. Not that he’ll use any of our ideas. As a matter of fact, I am pretty darn sure he won’t even see or hear about this.

But this is something  I have put a lot of thought into…and scoured my music library wondering if I were charged with picking Tony’s intro song what would I choose.  It took me awhile but I  finally figured out what I would pick as Tony’s Intro song and I will reveal that to you- tomorrow morning.  But it left me curious…what would YOU choose?

UPDATE: The contest is now over. The winners will be announced soon.

So to make this fun…I have a little contest: Leave me a comment on this entry with the song you would choose for your favorite driver.  It can be Tony.  It can be Jeff Gordon.  Or Jimmie Johnson or Dale Earnhardt Junior or Ryan Newman (whom I hear is picking the theme to the Dukes of Hazzard) or any driver you want.  Make sure you leave a valid email address in your comment so I can contact you if you win.  I will pick two winners who will win some Goodyear racing swag (there will be a male winner and a female winner because one shirt is a men’s shirt and one shirt is a woman’s shirt…but each the male winner and the female winner will be chosen randomly).  That’s it. That’s all you have to do…comment here with the name of a driver and a song you think represents that driver.  You have until the drop of the green flag on Sunday March 20th to submit your comment.

Okay- So our latest trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway was jam packed and full of fun. And I just wanted to use this space to tie everything together between the different postings Misty and I wrote regarding the weekend. (more…)

Here it is three days since “my driver” snapped his 66 race winless draught at PIR and I have yet to comment on the race. It is not that I don’t have a lot of thoughts in my head about the event. In fact, my problem is just the opposite, I have so many thoughts and emotions surrounding Jeff’s long awaited return to Victory Lane that I am not quite sure where to begin.
What I can say is that my reaction during the final 8 laps of Sunday’s race was nothing if not enthusiastic, so enthusiast that had I been in the media center at PIR I not only would have been fired (from a job I do not have), I would have undoubtedly been escorted off the track and possibly out of the city and state. Each lap seemed to last an hour and every second I feared a caution, an engine issue, a calamity of some kind. I breathed a small sigh of relief at the white flag and when the checkered waved that was it- full on celebration ensued. I did stop just short of spraying Pepsi around my living room, but not much short of it.
Here’s the long story short of my reaction: YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!

I am not sure if it’s just because this season is still pretty fresh- only being 2 races in- but I am feeling extremely excited and optimistic this year- and not just about Tony Stewart’s season but about the season in general. The racing seems good and of course it helps my outlook seeing Tony Stewart so competitive so early in the season.

Tony not only lead a lap this race- he actually was the driver who lead the second most laps (second only to race leader Jeff Gordon). He was able to get through several accidents (one that wiped out about a third of the field) unscathed and finished 7th only due to a call for two tires at the second to last caution that gave him the lead. He would have probably held the lead had the race stayed green. Unfortunately there was a caution and it put all the drivers who picked up four tires at the previous caution to be able to out gun him on the restart. Usually that would make me mad- BUT it was great to see the team doing so well that I couldn’t even feel too badly about it. Plus that 7th place finish moved Tony Stewart up to 3rd in points!

It was great to see Jeff Gordon in victory lane!

Next week the boys are racing in Vegas!

If I had been able to flash forward to the end of the Daytona 500 and watch my reaction I would have bet everything I have that Jeff Gordon had just wheeled his Chevrolet to victory lane, because what else would have me on my haunches, screaming, shouting and pumping my fist in the air as the checkered flag waved?! Good thing my flash forward button doesn’t work cause I would have lost my pants in that bet, since Gordon crashed along with a good portion of the field on lap 30 ending his shot to drive to Victory Lane.
So what else could possibly cause me to have such an enthusiastic and heart-felt reaction to this year’s Daytona 500? It’s the kind of ending that we usually only see in Disney movies, but this time we got to see it all unfold for ourselves during this year’s Speed Weeks. It is the story of part-time, rookie driver, Trevor Bayne.
D.W. said it best at the end of the race when he held up a blank piece of paper and said that it was the bio he had on Trevor Bayne before the race. Few people had heard of Trevor before this race. He had only one other Sprint Cup Series start, in last fall’s Texas race, and here he was in Daytona proving himself. First by laying down the fourth fastest lap during Qualifying and then in his eagerness throughout the week leading to the race. He quickly became the talk of the media by being the first in his garage everyday, the first on the track to practice. He wore his eagerness and excitement on his sleeve throughout Speed Weeks.
I, personally, took notice during his Duel race when he waited after his driver intro to talk to Jeff Gordon, presumably to seek advice from the veteran driver. Throughout their Duel Gordon and Bayne worked together, Bayne pushing Gordon in the two car tandem that characterized this year’s races on the newly re-paved track. Despite a last lap crash in the Duel, Bayne clearly earned credibility among the other drivers. Time and again, seasoned drivers looked to Bayne in the 500 as a drafting partner. Again, I took notice when mid-way through the 500 Carl Edwards got on his radio to ask Bayne if he needed someone to push him. Many rookies would have leapt at the chance to work with a proven driver like Edwards, or simply been too intimidated to turn him down, but Bayne showed his intelligence and integrity and told Carl that he was a better pusher and preferred to continue pushing David Ragan. Bayne’s demonstration of integrity, intelligence and independence are all qualities that will serve him well in his career.
So when it came down to the final restart and Bayne looked like he could pull off what had really never been done before – winning the Daytona 500 on his first Daytona 500 start (Lee Petty won his first start at the 500, but since it was the very first 500 does not count), I was on the edge of my seat, screaming for this kid. When he actually pulled it off, I the felt the kind of sweeping emotion and pride that I usually only feel for truly great moments in sports, like the U.S. winning another Gold in the Olympics or the Yankees winning another series. Then again, this is another great moment in sports history.
I admit that I usually do not watch post race, especially when my driver finishes 35 laps down, but today I watched and I continued to be impressed by Bayne. Earlier in the race, D.W. had mentioned that Trevor had taken time before the race to pray with his team and the first thing that Trevor said when he climbed out of his car in Victory Lane was to mention the prayer and the power that God had. What is not to like about NASCAR’s newest hero?
I watched his reaction as David Ragan came over to offer his congratulations and saw Trevor’s genuine concern and empathy to Ragan, who’d been his drafting partner most of the day and had nearly pulled off the win himself, when he prematurely switched lanes during a restart and got black flagged by NASCAR. This is the kind of personality that NASCAR and this country needs – a good hearted, genuine, eager, talented young man to invigorate the fans and make us feel good.
NASCAR promised just such a driver a few years ago in rookie Joey Logano (“Sliced Bread”), but Logano never quite lived up to the hype and you can’t market this kind of a moment and you can’t create this kind of honest emotion.
Before this 500 no one knew who his kid from Knoxville, Tennessee was and now with his remarkable victory, the publicity machine will undoubtedly roar to life, like the engine of his #21, but at least it does so as a response to a hard earned achievement versus a contrived, marketing ploy to draw in fans. This NASCAR fan will take fresh, homemade bread over commercialized sliced bread any day. It’s good for the sport and good for the heart of NASCAR.
2011’s Daytona 500 will go down as one of the greatest moments in NASCAR history and I wouldn’t be surprised if a Disney movie isn’t already on the drawing board. Here’s to a fantastic and unbelievable start to the season that proves that anything can happen!

Last year it was Jeff Gordon helping the Extreme Home Make over team. This Sunday- NASCAR drivers Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards join movie star Emma Roberts and pop singer Justin Bieber in helping the Brown family in Texas. In this  episode we learn that the Brown family lost their teenage daughter to a texting-while-driving accident.  Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards help the Brown’s cause- which is to prevent distracted driving accidents- by trying their hands at texting-while-driving on a closed course.

Greg Biffle, designer Leanne Touhy, and Carl Edwards on the set of Extreme Home Makeover. Photo courtesy of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition / George Verschoor

This two-hour episode airs this Sunday January 30th on ABC at 8:00 pm ET/PT time.  Check your local listings.

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And for those who are thinking that the name of designer Leanne Touhy sounds familiar, this is because she was the character Sandra Bullock played in the movie The Blind Side.