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How ironic is it that this race (HOMEstead Miami) is the last race of the year? I am sure that most of the drivers just want to go home at least for a little while. They have one of the most grueling schedules in sports. I think I would be ready to go home…

So Tony’s race started out pretty strong. He was in the top five, then the top three then poof he was leading the race. YEY! Pit stops and a change in the heat on the track had Tony drop back a little bit but still within the top ten when Montoya slid in front of Tony. Tony retaliated half a lap later by banging into the side of Montoya.  Unfortantely this caused fender damage to the 14 who had to pit to correct the tire rub.  Montoya sustained some damaged and they went into the garage area. When Montoya returned to the race 35 laps later or so he purposely bumped Tony and sent him spinning. NASCAR held Montoya for two laps. Tony ended up getting his lap back and fighting his way to a 22nd spot finish and ended up 6th in the points. 

Teammate Ryan Newman ended his season 9th in the points.  Did you know he hit the wall? Yeah I didn’t know either.  Thanks ESPN for mentioning that little factoid.

The Chase was won by Jimmie Johnson…which was a good thing because judging by the media coverage the last couple weeks I was pretty sure they had already engraved the trophy and stuff.  As much as I wanted Tony to win the chase, I still think Stewart Haas came out of the gate a lot stronger than anyone expected. I hope 2010 is their year for a championship.

I have to admit- I wasn’t crying in my soup when Hornish collected Jimmie Johnson in that wreck on lap three.  Talk about the break the chase needed.  It allowed Tony and Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin to stay close.  I know that Jimmie just needs to finish forth or better the next two races but it just proves that THINGS HAPPEN! It’s not all locked in yet- so hold your horses people. Tony started 4th at Texas and finished a strong finished 6th…despite fighting an ill handling car- Tony is 178 out of  the lead in 5th place. Teammate Ryan Newman finished 12th, dropping him to 9th in the standings.

Race winner was Kurt Busch who by way of his win gave the Dickies American Worker of the Year Michael McGee an additional million dollars. How cool is that?

I am a little late in posting about Race 8 because I have been busy getting ready to head to race 9. Yep that is right- I leave tomorrow for Vegas and then I leave Vegas on Thursday for PIR.

All I can say about Talladega is wow. Well maybe wow and Oww.  Funny thing was that I sat down with my notepad to watch Talladega.  That is funny because lately I have been relying more on my memory and less on notes taken during the race.  But for some reason I sat down with my notepad and my favorite, freshly sharpened pencil and settled in to watch the pre-race and then the race.

Because of a rained out qualifying session- Tony started fourth. Not bad at all.

I wrote this during the first several laps:

Watching the cars race at Dega is like driving on the southbound highway 101 from northern California to southern California. It gives me a knot in my stomach.  When the cars start to get four wide is like when the 101 goes from two lanes of spread out traffic to the claustrophic, four-lane, bumper-to-bumper traffic where all you can do is watch out the best you can and hope other people are paying attention too.

I mean I was seriously putting effort into this- especially since I have been slacking off lately.  While I took several pages of notes throughout the race (most of them were mundane things like: Yawn-single file racing bores me and Kevin Harvick wants cruise control he’s so bored), I will not be rehashing on these notes for most of this post.   A day after the race, I am still reeling at the Ryan Newman wreck at 5 laps to go (thanks to ryannewmaninfo.info for that link).

I happened to be looking down for a minute…I was probably either doodling in my note book (not making a note…but actually drawing flowers) or trying to get my dog to shake my hand…when something made me glance up at the TV in time to see smoke and what appeared to be the rear bumper of a car pointing straight up. I yelled “Oh SHIT” so loud that the dog retreated to her favorite hiding place and I barely heard Andy Petrie say that a car was airborne.

The part of the accident that stands out the most to me is the part after Ryan’s car comes to a complete rest and the view switches to an aerial shot of the car- and all you can really see is the undercarriage of his US ARMY IMPALA and…stillness.  I sat- on the very edge of my couch just watching horrified. As soon as they had played a little snippet of Ryan saying he was alight- I may have cried a little.  My friend and I texted each other back and forth while the safety team cut open his car like a freaking tuna can…

After watching the wreck a few times online- and talking to my friend a couple hours after the wreck (and judging by her Facebook comment- sounds like Trixie thought the same way) my friend and I think that it could have been a lot worse if Ryan’s car hadn’t first landed on Kevin Harvick’s hood.  That softened the initial blow and I think probably kept the car from getting crushed further despite the fact that it went all the way up the track and back down again and flipped some more (into the grass- which is a lot softer than the track where he first went airborne.  I know that the car has rollbars and stuff…and from Ryan’s comments after the race it sounds like they had pretty much caved down all the way to the helmet for him…I think that the car would have completely pancaked if it hadn’t been for Kevin Harvick’s hood absorbing that initial blow.

Also- despite what the announcer say during the race- it looks to me like Marcos Ambrose hit Ryan Newman (whether he was bump drafting or Ryan checked up slightly I dunno) and Ryan hit Tony who was in front of him.  But because of how Ryan and Tony hit- Tony went into the wall and Ryan went down towards the infield.

There has been a lot of talk about Talladega and the COT and how to keep the cars on the ground.  I personally think this is a product of restrictor plate racing. NASCAR attempting to address concerns from the spring race at Talladega where Carl Edwards went airborne into the catch fence, made the restrictor plates even smaller, and made a new rule (only 1.5 hours before the beginning of the race so the drivers didn’t get to really practice this) that cars could not bump draft through the corners (they kept stressing DAYLIGHT between the bumpers in the corners).  Did these help or contribute to Ryan’s wreck? I have no clue.  Is there something that can be done? Again I have no clue…except that the roof flaps didn’t work in this case.  Do they need to be bigger? Deploy sooner?

It was clear that the changes (smaller plates and no bumpdrafting) made the race fairly boring for most of it. Even drivers Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart joked with their respective crews earlier in the race that the single file racing was boring THEM.  Harvick wanted a cruise control, Tony wanted someone to tell him something interesting so he didn’t fall asleep.  Something is WRONG when your points leader is just riding around at the end of the field at half throttle. That isn’t racing that is riding.

I am not claiming to have an answer- but I really think maybe they should do away with restricting  the engines…that just either bunches the field up so you are waiting for an accident.

Anyway, both Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart got dnf’s for Talladega giving Tony a 35th place finish and dropping him to fifth in the champion standings 279 points out of the lead with only three races left to go in the chase for the Sprint Cup.  Ryan Newman also fell one spot in the standings down to eighth spot 402 points out of the lead.

Notes About Talladega:

  • So like me, Tony Stewart does like scary movies (if you follow me on twitter- you heard me announce this last week after trying to watch some of Halloween- the original).  Yeah no thanks. Not my thing. I think it’s a little brave of him to admit on national television though.
  • I am really enjoying the “PREVIOUSLY IN THE CHASE” segments before each race- you know the little narrative by Mike “Dirty Jobs” Rowe. I think it might be his voice, but I really think it gives a little something something to the race.
  • I have decided that Kim Burton is probably my favorite NASCAR wife right now- and this holds true only more so after watching the segment during the preshow about NASCAR wifes and superspeedways.

Next Race: Texas

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.

First off I want to start off by admonishing DirecTV again.  They changed HOT PASS so now that we do not hear the national broadcast- but instead hear MRN. I have nothing against MRN but I don’t want to hear them when listening to Tony’s hotpass I find it more distracting to pick out Tony’s crew audio over the top of MRN. I would rather hear/see the national broadcast with Tony’s audio laid over it.  Of course, I liked it best when each hotpass driver had their own announcers.  I am thinking this might be the “death rattle” as my friend would put it of Hot Pass.

So now about the actual race. Tony qualified 13th.  Not bad for him but definitely not stellar.  He seemed to be doing alright…and the crew seemed to be doing fairly good at getting his stops done quickly. I would basically only switch over to his hotpass channel during pitstops so I could hear them talk about adjustments they were making to the car- because the MRN broadcast was just too annoying for me.  Towards the beginning of the race Tony seemed to be complimenting the crew on their pit stops so I assume they were doing a good job.   At one point I had wandered away from the race momentarily and came back and Tony was in 2nd.  Whoo!  It was not to last.

According to the team release posted on Tony’s website a late race pit stop issue that I didn’t catch and apparently neither did the national broadcast but them down a bit.  And since the race was mired with last minute cautions, Tony was forced to stay out to gain track position. Unfortunately everyone behind him had fresh tires.  But he “valiantly” (that was in the team release- I would love to meet the person who writes them because 9 times out of 10 they humor the heck out of me)  held on for his 9th place finish.  He maintains his 4th place position in the points and is now 192 points away from Jimmie Johnson.  Teammate Ryan Newman also finished in the top ten and is 7th in the points.

Notes About Martinsville:

  • You got to love Martinsville…the racing was pretty exciting!!!
  • What the heck took so long for NASCAR to throw the caution with John Andretti sitting there sideways at the start finish line during the Green-White-Checker? They should have either thrown it a lot sooner (that is my thought) or they shouldn’t have thrown it at all.  I assume that the spotters were notifiying their drivers that John was down there.  Granted I wouldn’t have wanted to be him sitting down there like a duck with 30 3500lb cars careening towards me going all at…so I guess the late caution was better than no caution…but still…
  • I will admit…I am getting sick of the Jimmie Johnson show. At the end- when it was clear that Tony wasn’t going to have a snowball’s chance of winning the race, I was basically cheering for “ANYONE but JOHNSON” to win. Sad but true to quote Metallica.  Sad but true indeed.  Not only is he winning so damn much but he is all they talk about on TV during the race. ARG. I know it can’t be the Tony show but seriously…it is getting old.
  • Speaking of Jimmie Johnson, I think I need some Tums (get it- the race at Martinsville was sponsored by Tums? I should get an award for working a sponsor into my post!) when I think about Tony’s chances of winning the championship.  I have been trying SO HARD to be a glass half full sort of fan…and technically, mathematically he could still win…but I admit…I am starting to think my glass is half empty.  I forget what exactly my friend was telling- (she is way better at math then I am) but for second place Mark Martin to win the Chase right now he would have to win the next four races with Jimmie coming in worse that 10th or 11th?…and that is just for Mark Martin to win.  Not for Tony. Urg…pass me the Tums- I need them.
  • Okay so I have to say…I am fascinated by the Martinsville hotdog because I think it’s kind of gross that they have “slaw” on it. Is it like actual coleslaw? Because I HATE coleslaw!!!  Bleck. And do I even want to know what makes them so red?

Next Week: Dega!!! (urg another reason to pass me the Tums).

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!

I probably should have picked a different title because I am sure that some NASCAR fans are going to think this entry is about Chad Knaus running Jimmie Johnson out of fuel at Michigan last weekend.  I am not going to go into that. This is about this coming weekend: Bristol Motor Speedway is doing something a little different this Saturday night. When the cup drivers take to the stage before the race for driver introductions, each driver will enter the stage to approximately 30 seconds of a song snippet from a song of their choosing.  As you would probably expect there is a wide variety of songs- however- it would seem that apparently AC/DC is a favorite as five drivers picked three different AC/DC songs:

Mark Martin will be entering to “For Those About To Rock”

Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and David Ragan all picked “Thunderstruck”

and Jamie McMurray picked “Shook Me All Night Long”

Now I like AC/DC quite a bit. When I drove Doris (the black RAV) my favorite song to pull up in front of home was BACK IN BLACK because– I was back and the car was black, so it just kind of fit.  It also helped that BACK IN BLACK was my favorite of the AC/DC albums so it was often in my car.

There are choices all over the musical spectrum from Elvis Presley (Clint Bowyer picked “C.C. Rider”) to Jerry Reed (Joey Logano picked “Eastbound and Down”) and The Rolling Stones (“Start Me Up” was picked by Jeff Gordon).  I will say, and I don’t know WHY, I am surprised that Jeff Burton decided to walk onstage to Guns N Roses classic “Welcome to the Jungle”.

I have to say that the Stewart-Haas boys picked some awesome songs! Ryan Newman picked Big & Rich’s “Save A Horse, Ride a Cowboy” which I absolutely LOVE! Tony picked to walk onstage with “Bawitdaba” by Kid Rock (David Stemme also picked this song).  While I admit I am not a huge Kid Rock fan he does have about three songs I love…and that is the top one. Both I think are excellent choices.

Which leads me to…what if I were being introduced and needed a song snippet. What would I personally pick. I have pretty wide, varied tastes in music that usually depends highly on my mood.  Some days I might be on a country kick and listening to the likes of Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Blake Shelton, Diamond Rio, Big & Rich and others. Other days it could be hair metal favorites like Cinderella, Poison, Slaughter and Dokken. Then again it could be a bad day when I want to hear nothing but the “hard stuff” like Disturbed, White Zombie, and Metallica.  Then of course there are my broadway show days (wicked, les mis, mamma mia), classic rock days (Heart, Zep, Sabbath) or my “whatever the heck Mr. IPOD SHUFFLE DJ picks for me” days.

Honestly it would probably depend on my mood:

If I were in a rockin’ mood I would probably pick “Fuel” by Metallica.  (Sing it with me now..”Gimme Fuel, Gimme Fire….”)

If I were in a more country state of mind- I would probably go with Toby Keith’s “How Do You Like Me Now?”

What about you? What would you pick for yourself? Or for me? Talk to me people- I know you are out there!

Well in my Saturday afternoon post (I know I should do those more often- maybe I will) I mentioned finding out pretty much first thing that Tony Stewart would be going to a backup car because he crashed during practice.  This would put him at the back of the 43 car field in the race that should have happened on Sunday. Then it rained out on Sunday. This seems to be the season of rain! So NASCAR finally (and within a reasonable amount of time in my eyes) postponed the race until Monday. The problem with races on Monday- is I have to work. Bah.

I am going to assume though that Tony and Team Old Spice Office Depot did good today all things considered. I know they dealt with a flat tire early in the race- that ended up putting them a lap down.  I also know that thanks to the competition Caution thrown at lap 20 that he was the lucky dog and fought his way back up to be in or near the top ten for most of the day.  Tony Stewart finished in tenth position at Pocono (after starting 43rd- so I say we call it a good day).  Teammate Ryan Newman finished fourteenth. Tony maintains his position in the points as POINTS LEADER (Yey Tony!!).  Ryan Newman dropped two spots in the standings to 9th (still within the chase- barely).

Notes on Pocono (far and few between since I didn’t get to watch the actual race):

  • Congratulations to Denny Hamlin- race winner. It was good to hear that Denny won!
  • Dear Jimmie Johnson: My friend thinks you should sell the “Chad is Rad” shirts that you were sporting during the Rain Delay on Sunday- she would def love one. She says you could have the proceeds go to your foundation…she is sure other HMS fans would buy them too.
  • Between Fox Sports and NASCAR.COM live leaderboards- FoxSports was just a tad faster for me. Just wanted to share that. But I like the layout of the one at NASCAR.COM better.
  • Part of me wants the Tony Stewart Swaggar shirt that says YOUR DRIVER STINKS MINE DOESN’T. Is that weird?

Let’s just call this good and get on with next week’s race- where our favorite drivers will turn left and right at Watkin’s Glen!