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This was the one event during Champions Week this year I was REALLY looking forward to.  I can’t even explain why- except that you all know that I am a fan of Chevy drivers, I drive a Chevy myself, my father drives a Chevy, I have a love of the Camaro, well I guess I am just a Chevy girl.  So I was REALLY looking forward to this.  I had no idea what to expect. I have been to one other car reveal in my life and that was for the Ferrari FF when I attended Ferrari Days out at Mazda Raceway At Laguna Seca (see A NASCAR Girl In A Ferrari World) a couple years ago.  When I saw that as one of the possible events on the calendar for Champions Week- I signed us right up!

Up until the reveal the only sight I caught of the 2013 Chevy SS Cup car that I had seen was on the Internet in it’s camo paint:

Tony Stewart drives the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet during NASCAR testing at Phoenix International Raceway on October 23, 2012 in Avondale, Arizona. (October 22, 2012 – Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America).

The “camo” paint does a good job of hiding body features…so I think. I was really looking forward to the reveal where I could see the new body style up close and personal- and I was hoping it wouldn’t have the weird camo paint scheme.

The Chevy reveal was our first activity in a Thursday CHUCKED full of stuff to do.  We got to the Wynn early and walked around until they opened the doors and then checked in and found seats (IN THE SECOND ROW) and waited excitedly. I was attempting to live tweet the reveal but neither Misty nor myself got ANY phone reception at all in the theater and very little in the Wynn in general. I think I was able to get this picture out and then nothing:

My Tweet Said: Waiting for the 2013 Chevy SS Sprint Cup Reveal (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

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And just like that the season is over. Not much fan fare for this Tony Stewart fan.  The last two races in the 2012 season weren’t great for Tony. He spun at Phoenix to finish 19th and fought another ill-handling race care to finish 17th at Homestead-Miami.  Points wise, Tony finished 9th in the points standings for 2012. The 2012 Sprint Cup champion is Brad Keselowski.

Brad went into Homestead the points leader to a second place Jimmie Johnson.  Jimmie gave a valiant fight but was foiled by a bad pit stop and then a mechanical failure of a rear gear. The Race winner at Homestead-Miami was Jeff Gordon- who won at the track for the first time.  Jeff has now won a race at every current sprint cup track except Kentucky (Tony Stewart is right behind him at having won a race at every track except for Kentucky and Darlington).

Important Notes about Homestead Miami-

Tony Stewart ran two special decals at Homestead Miami on his car:

Tony completed his 500th start at Homestead-Miami (photo courtesy of The Official Tony Stewart Facebook page- click on picture to be taken to the original).

Tony Stewart also ran a special sticker thanking Office Depot for their 14 wins and 1 Championship. Office Depot resigns their spot as a primary co-sponsor of the #14 at the conclusion of this season. (Photo Credit: The Official Tony Stewart Facebook page- click on picture to be taken to the original.)

Important notes about Phoenix:

The biggest news out of Phoenix was the ontrack and off track altercations between Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and their respective crews.  While yes I was at the track- I did NOT witness the altercations personally.  However- I will say this about the whole thing: Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer have been rubbing each other the wrong way all season.  Jeff Gordon finally had enough and took matters into his own hands. He stood up for himself and I really don’t have an issue with that.  Yes he retaliated and yes he owned up to that right away.  He was fined a significant amount of money and points as well.  I felt the penalties were just. I do NOT think he should have been parked.  If you remember when Kyle was parked he had been parked because he had had multiple incidents of retaliation ontrack- some of which on pit road.  He had altercations in multiple series.  He was a serial repeat offender.  Prior to this Jeff Gordon’s last real altercation was fighting with Jeff Burton on track at Texas two years ago. My only issue with the fines that NASCAR levied as a result of the melee at Phoenix is that I think that Clint Bowyer should have been placed on probation as well…after all he showed intent to join the melee with his now famous sprint through the garage area and then having to be restrained at Jeff Gordon’s hauler.

I did attend the race at Phoenix. Phoenix is one of my favorite tracks that I have been to. Here is a collage of some of the pictures I took:

All photos in this collage are credited to me Amy K. Marbach. Click on the collage to be taken to the flickr photo album with the full sized copies of  these pictures (and more!) that I took during my race weekend in Phoenix.

I got a couple of good post ideas from my time at Phoenix that I hope to flesh out and share with you within the coming weeks.

 

Unless you happen to be a Tony Stewart fan like me- I bet you didn’t notice the AMAZING comeback that Tony Stewart had during the race at Texas.  Seriously- I mean he IS a chase driver so I don’t understand WHY they failed to mention the while he had a mostly mediocre run at Texas- staying between positions 18 and 23 for probably 90 percent of the race- only to end up finishing 5th.  I am STILL not sure where he came from at the end of that race- but all of the sudden I noticed he was 10th (my Sprint Cup Mobile scanner for Tony’s radio only worked for about the first half of the race) after a round of pit stops.  I was previously distracted by the rivalry brewing between Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson. And then he was 7th, then 6th, then whoo hoo the race is over and Tony is 5th!!!  Now while I do realize that Jimmie and Brad are the main contenders for the cup right now and certainly they should garner most of the spotlight…I am pretty certain that Tony’s finish deserved SOME sort of mention.

Tony Stewart pits the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 4, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

The G-W-C finish may have pushed the broadcast over it’s allotted time slot a bit, but still I think it deserved SOME mention.  We saw replays of the restarts,  we saw and heard from Jimmie in Victory Lane, we heard from Brad about the last restart, how about “a let’s hear from Tony Stewart about that comeback to finish 5th” and THEN go to SportsCenter.  Because I watched the first couple minutes of Sports Center and then my attentions drifted elsewhere and they didn’t mention it so I wandered away.  That race seemed REALLY LONG to me.  I think I probably would have dozed off during the first 150-200 laps IF I hadn’t been listening to Tony’s scanner (thank you for keeping me awake Spotter Bob!). To tell the truth? This time change absolutely kills me. With the chase races starting later than regular season races combined with the time change- I was TIRED and the race at the beginning wasn’t THAT exciting until the end, so I got a little heavy lidded from time to time. Especially for Tony Stewart fans- who got to see their driver only on the scrolling banner on the top where the positions are and on a rare occasion during a pit stop to say well they are making adjustments.

Helmet shot of Tony

I LOVE these helmet shots of Tony in his helmet in his car. (Photo Credit: Copyright CIA Stock Photography, Inc. as seen on The Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page- click photo to be taken to original)

Like I mentioned, I listened to Stewart’s radio chatter as long as sprint cup mobile would let me- and they were throwing ALL kinds of adjustments at that car EVERY SINGLE pit stop that I heard.  Including putting shims in because the splitter was hitting during one of the cautions. They were discussing taking the shim out of the left front if they got another caution when I seemed to lose all driver radios so I am not sure if they ever made that adjustment.  I am not saying they should only focus on Tony- that would be boring and we would have missed the excitement of the racing between Keselowski and Johnson.  But just a couple more mentions through out the broadcast and after the race would have been nice!

Race winner was Jimmie Johnson, who has 7 championship points over second place Brad Keselowski.  Tony finished 5th, and moved up to 8th in the championship standings.

Notes About Texas:

  1. Something else you might have missed during the race- Carl Edwards hit his tire changer MikeLingerfeltduring a pit stop.  Yikes!!
  2. This picture of Tony Stewart from practice at Texas Motor Speedway humors me:

    Tony Stewart standing in the garage at Texas. (Photo Credit: The Official Tony Stewart website- click on photo to be taken to the original).

  3. On Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway- several of the Coca-Cola Family drivers took part in a Google + Hangout chat with fans.  If you are like me- you probably missed it, but fear not! They have the video up and I have embedded it for your pleasure (of course it doesn’t hurt that Tony Stewart is in it-  as is his 100 lb lapdog Hank…which reminds me of Misty’s Gidget who who was such a sweetie- she was german shephard/chow mix and also thought she was a 100 lb lap dog).

Next Race: Phoenix- and YES Misty and I will be there!

I try to think of some witty title for each race post and I admit it isn’t always the easiest of tasks.  This time I did NOT come up with it myself: I totally credit my TwitterPeep @darksider14 with coming up with TallaKansas!  So Kansas was a complete wreck fest on Sunday with a new track record of 14 cautions, the previous track record being set the day before at the Nationwide Series race on Saturday with 12.

(Photo Credit: Borrowed Without Asking From The Official Tony Stewart Website- click on photo to be taken to original)

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Ok- I am a sucker for books. Rarely can I walk into a bookstore and not come out with a book or four.   So if you were to combine books,  with say my hobby of photography and my love of racing- you would have a must buy for me.  So was the case when I heard about a book put together by Jimmie Johnson, his wife Chandra Johnson and photographer Missy McLamb.  The minute I heard about the book and that it was a limited run- I found myself at JimmieJohnson.com ordering me up a copy. I couldn’t take a chance of there not being any left by the time I got to Phoenix in November.

For those unfamiliar with the book- it is a coffee table book of photographs detailing the entire 10 week Chase for Jimmie’s sixth championship in a row last season (you know the one that Tony Stewart ended up winning).  Missy McLamb followed the Johnson family the entire 10 weeks of the chase documenting and preserving the high highs and low lows of the race season both from the professional areas of the track as well as the private areas of the Johnson’s life.  I forget the incredible amount of pictures that were taken during the 10 weeks- Jimmie mentioned it in a Facebook post he made announcing the book- I want to say it was something like 15,000 pictures- quite a feat I think when I found that many of the photos were NOT shot with a digital camera (for the non-photography folks reading- film and other format cameras (except for digital) require more time to set up and take the shot- not to mention you usually only have 12-36 shots per roll of film depending the kind you are shooting).

The book is smallish in size- measuring 9 and 1/4 inches square. I admit- I was slightly worried that the quality of the book itself might lack when I heard that Chandra and Jimmie were basically having it printed themselves and marketing it themselves.  I had nothing to worry about- the book is well made and well put together. The photos are a fascinating combination of at track photos- everything from Jimmie doing media or sitting in his car to the crew and car going through inspection to personal photos of Jimmie, Chandra and daughter Evie in their motorcoach or at home.  The photographs in the book range from both color to black and white, crystal clear to artistically blurry. Most of the photos just stand for themselves in the book- however some of them have little one line descriptions of what they are.  The stand out picture in the book to me- is the photo of Jimmie, Chandra and Evie in the motocoach watching coverage of the Dan Wheldon crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. There is just something about that photo that catches the shock and emotion of the horrifying moment in motorsports history.

If you are a Jimmie Johnson fan? This book is a must. If you are a photography buff? This book is a must.  If you are a NASCAR fan- this book is a must- as it documents the end of a historical run of 5 consective NASCAR Sprint Cup Championships.

If you happen to live in the Charlotte, NC area or will be in the area between October 13th-20th you may wish to stop by the Hart Wizten Gallery- which will be displaying some of the photos featured in the book.  For more information (location of gallery, hours, etc) visit the On The Road Studio web page.

It is important to note that this book was NOT provided to me to review- I purchased it myself to add to my collection 0f NASCAR coffee table books.

As a Tony Stewart fan, I went into the 2011 Sprint Cup chase extremely pessimistic.  After all, Tony Stewart went into the chase saying he thought the team was wasting a chase berth with the way they had been performing.  Of course we all know what happened; Tony Stewart went on a tear- won FIVE of the ten Chase races (something that had NEVER been done before)  including the season closer at Homestead-Miami, thus winning the Chase by TIEBREAKER.  It was both exhilarating and stressful to be a Tony Stewart fan towards the end of the 2011 chase.  I was AT the Phoenix race and spent most of the race perched on the patio of the media center- watching the race through my fingers.  I don’t even remember much about the Homestead race- except that I was so stoked that I promised my family that if Tony won the championship I would treat them to dinner at the Outback. Guess you all know what I had for dinner that night.  What made the chase so great last year- especially during Homestead was that it was so CLOSE- and to win it Tony Stewart HAD TO WIN THE RACE- a second place wouldn’t cut it.

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: (L – R) Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Martin Truex Jr, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Clint Boyer, Denny Hamlin, Kaey Kahne and Tony Stewart pose in front of “The Bean” as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. They are the twelve drivers competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

This year however, I feel EXCITEMENT going into the chase because this year NASCAR’s Chase for the 2012 Sprint Series Cup could be brought home by ANY of the 12 drivers. I personally do not count ANYONE out.  Sure Tony’s the reigning champion and I would LOVE to see him become a FOUR time champion. Denny Hamlin goes in to the Chase seeded first and his crew chief Darian Grubb no doubt feels he has a point to prove. But I can’t count out Jimmie Johnson- he’s won five and is looking hard for 6. With FOUR of the 12 cars being Hendrick Motorsports cars that means mathematically (and I am NOT good at math people) there is a 1/3 chance that winner could be a Hendrick car- and Junior has been looking strong and CONSISTENT all season. And Jeff Gordon has been driving like a maniac (in a good way) these last few races.  And Kasey’s had some bad luck but pretty much had that first Wild Card spot in the bag in Richmond. Kenseth no doubt would like to leave the 17 team with a Championship before jumping over to Joe Gibbs Racing next season.  Harvick is tenacious and they didn’t give him the nickname THE CLOSER for anything.  Then we have dark horses like Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer who have also been RIGHT there all season long.  And I would NEVER ever ever count out Brad Keselowski. In my mind- right before we go into the first race of the Chase it is ANYONE’s trophy right now.

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Front row L-R The Next 9 drivers Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Cameron Hayley, Dylan Kwasniewski, Daniel Suarez, Sergio Pena, Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace and Corey LaJoie, back row Eleven of the NASCAR Chase drivers L-R Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

As a NASCAR fan, the fact that it is anyone’s championship right now is EXCITING. Of course I still want Tony Stewart to win it!

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Tony Stewart (C) speaks with young drivers who are from the Next 9 at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

Who do YOU think will win it all?

Two days later and my head is still spinning from the drama that was the Richmond race.  The race at Richmond on Saturday night had more plot lines than a soap opera on a Friday afternoon. Since Tony Stewart was pretty much guaranteed to make the chase- even if he fell out of the top ten- I was strangely relaxed at first.  When I turned on the TV to settle in for the race and saw college football and that it was only in the 3rd quarter I didn’t even freak out as I normally would have.  Nothing ticks me off more, usually, then when I turn on the TV to watch a race and some other programming is on instead. It didn’t bother me Saturday for some reason- possibly because thanks to Twitter I realized that there was a rain delay at Richmond- but I can’t be sure.

By the way- I don’t watch college football ever but I kept the game on as background noise while I did some household chores- because frankly- there wasn’t much else on anyway .  I heard the announcers of the game (it was USC and Someone- see how little I paid attention) talking about how NASCAR was currently in a rain delay which was good for them because they were running late because of a lightning delay.  So they bantered back and forth about The Chase a bit and how it worked.  Or I should say how they THOUGHT it worked. How many drivers they THOUGHT made it to the chase- it was a little sad that they didn’t know.  I mean like I said I don’t watch much football or baseball but I still know for the most part how the games are played. But I digress.

Tony Looks Befuddled At Richmond

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 7, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

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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.