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Stewart-Haas racing announced yesterday a new sponsorship with Oreo and Ritz.  Stewart will be sponsored by Ritz crackers- and will wear the logo on the chest of his firesuit as well as the B-Post of his car. Teammate Newman will wear the oreo logo on his firesuit and on the B-Post of his car as well.  To kick off the new sponsorship- Stewart will drive the number 5 Ritz/Oreo car in the Nationwide race at Daytona this February.  It is the only Nationwide series race Stewart plans on running this season. Tony tends to finish well in the Nationwide race at Daytona.

This comes after a November announcement that both teams will be sponsored by TORNADOS as well. Will these guys ever have to buy food again?

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In other off-season NASCAR Notes:

  • Elliott Sadler announced that he will be running several races in the Camping World Truck series for owner Kevin Harvick in addition to his normal cup schedule.
  • Casey Mears married Tricia Grablander. The pair have a daughter- Samantha.
  • The festival of Speed and Sound is happening this weekend in Nashville- pairing drivers and country artists in a festival for fans.  Wish I could be there.
  • It has been rumored that NASCAR is considering going back to having a spoiler on the rear of the car and getting rid of the COT’s trademark wing in an effort to keep the cars from getting airborn.  I bet Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, and Mark Martin are all for it.  It is rumored that this could happen as soon as the first races at Martinsville or Bristol.
  • Travis Kvapil will be driving for Front Row Motorsports in the 2010 season.
  • Jimmie Johnson and his wife Chandra have announced that they are expecting a baby sometime in July. Congratulations Jimmie and Chandra.

Ok…so there are a couple of what I consider “funny” outtakes from the whole champions week festivities that I wanted to share with you (ok after further looking over of my postie note about the “outtakes” post I guess two are outtakes, one is a random snippet of someone else’s conversation and one is something I want answered):

  • After all drivers had passed us on the red carpet into the roast, Jimmie being the last driver to meander by us and by the time he was pretty much out of earshot of us, my friend turned to me and said “Whatchya doing Jimmie?” (in the vain of the Lowe’s commercial)….to which I replied “Winning a championship Chad.” Now this in itself is NOT funny- its just something we occasionally do (snipe back and forth in commercial or movie dialogue snippets) but what WAS funny was that there was some guy on the red carpet right in front of us at the time, who thought we were pretty damn funny. I don’t know who he was but he was on the carpet wearing a credential of some sort…he looked like he wanted to interject something into our conversation…he even stopped right in front of us and chortled but didn’t actually say anything.
  • My BIGGEST faux pas of the entire weekend…and if you know me you know I am faux pas prone…also happened along the red carpet of the roast…but earlier.  I actually debated NOT telling you but then…what is the fun of that if I can’t make fun of myself right? So Denny Hamlin has just passed us on the red carpet…and by just past us I mean apparently he is like still two or three inches from me but I had shifted my attention to Mark Martin. So I catch sight of Mark Martin who is probably about fifteen feet or so down the red carpet to my right…which is the way I am facing and I say to my friend “He is so cute!” Meaning that Mark Martin is so cute because he is so little and friendly. And I mean both of those…he is like the tiniest man…but so so nice. Well my friend looks at me with like a horrified look on her face but says NOTHING to me.  So a little while later after the above bullet, I learn that Denny Hamlin was still right next to me and looked over at me thinking I was talking about him…and smiled. Thank goodness I didn’t realize this at the time or I probably would have either: A. Told Denny I was actually talking about Mark Martin…but really you’re not bad yourself, or B. Run off and hid behind something. Jury is still out on which I would have actually done.
  • The next incident happened at The Stewies. It had been awhile because we had already moved in towards the center of the balcony at least once or twice as we now had people on both sides of us. Ryan Newman was announced as the guest…and made his way down the golden staircase onto the stage, escorted by at least one, probably two lovely showgirls.  He takes his seat at the table with Stewart and Yokum, at which point the guy standing next us up in the balcony proclaims “That Ryan Newman, he’s a big boy! Jesus!” (but the Jesus is drawn out like…GEEEEEEEEEEEEZUZ)- we weren’t even sure if he was talking to us or just made the statement outloud to himself or what.  My friend just looks at me and I just shrug.  The day before I stood pretty much right in front of Ryan Newman…and what you need to know about me is I am on the short side- 5′ 4″ in shoes…and I didn’t think Ryan was overly tall or overly wide (unlike Mark Martin who was incredibly tiny)- especially where I felt the need to proclaim it in such a dramatic fashion! I guess you really kind of had to be there for this one to be funny….
  • And this last one…is more of just me wondering outloud (or in writing) kind of thing. Ok so at The Stewies when Ryan and Greg Biffle left the stage Tony was bidding them adieu and said something to Biffle like Don’t Get Into Too Much Trouble….or something like that. And then patted Ryan on the back and said “I know I don’t need to worry about you- you don’t gamble and you don’t drink…” I didn’t think anything too odd about it…I just carried on. Well then while watching the actual awards (from the comfort of my friend’s living room) Tony said something during his speech about Ryan getting him into trouble when they are together….ok if Ryan doesn’t drink or gamble…he must be kind of straight-laced kind of guy…so what kind of trouble can Ryan get Tony into?

Well that’s it in regards to Champion’s week. I had a  GREAT time.  I hope it stays in Vegas for awhile because I will go out of my way to be in town each year!

The next day we leave BFFM’s house and head towards the strip.   We knew that the burnouts would be at Spring Mountain along the parade route so we headed to the Fashion Show Mall (located directly across from the Wynn on Las Vegas Boulevard. We did some window shopping and then walked down to Caesar’s Forum Shops because BFFM needed to stop by a store there. We wandered even further down the strip (on foot) then headed back to the Fashion Show where we picked our spot on the strip right at the corner in front of Neiman Marcus. And there we stood. For hours. Ok well sometimes we sat.  We picked the spot we were in because we had a great view of the intersection AND we were in the sun- which helped with the coldness…for about 20 minutes or so when the sun dropped behind one of the casinos and put us in the shadow. By then it was too late to move into the sun somewhere else because the route was quickly filling up with people standing in wait for the students.  We waited and waited and slowly started turning blue from the cold (ok- I might be exaggerating a bit there but it was DARN cold). Really really darn cold.

Finally we saw action. The police finally decided to close down the roadway. A little too late and they seemed not to realize how much of the road needed to be closed down. Once they got that taken care of we could see the Camaro pace car and a pickup truck full of media – once they came through the intersection, then…came Mr. Jimmie Johnson:

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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.

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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.