What a drama filled race weekend both for Tony Stewart and the #14 Team and for NASCAR in general. There is A LOT to talk about for Daytona- so let’s get right to it. Tony qualified 2nd. YES 2nd! I was so stoked because from what I could tell at work, his practice just seemed mediocre. As a Tony fan, I know he doesn’t always qualify well- so any front row qualifying effort means that the car is on rails to me and the field better watch out! I was stoked! Then I checked my FaceBook a little later on Friday and I saw an esoteric status update one of my “Smoke” friends posted that made me think “uh-oh” so I logged into Twitter and that is when I got the full information. Because of a uncapped cockpit air hose, Tony’s qualifying was disqualified and he would be lining up 42nd in a field of 43. I literally banged my head on my desk and yelled ARG I KNEW IT WAS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Luckily for me- there was no one around when I did it because I even did it with my office door open.
Miles the monster reached up and bit Tony Stewart square on the left front and left rear of his car. Stewart was caught up in the “Monster” lap nine melee at Dover. It isn’t a surprise really. After all, he qualified his car 29th in the field of 43 cars. I so wasn’t thrilled when I saw the results of qualifying on my cell phone- that is back in the danger zone. The zone where if someone screws up you can be innocently caught up in their mistake because of Dover’s “self cleaning” feature. I made sure that I put on my checker flag socks this morning- just in case. I just had a feeling that starting that far back would not.
So let’s talk about the Sprint All-Star Race. What did you all think of the new 5 segment format (20 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps, 10 laps with the winners of segments 1-4 coming in P1-4 during the last mandatory pit stop before segment 5)? I didn’t like it one bit. I felt it was about 2 segments too long and the winners of segments 1-3 sandbagging to stay out of harms way was ridiculous. I do not think that should have been allowed- however this format encourages that. My thought on the matter is that there should be 3 segments and 3 segments only: 20 lap, 30 laps, 50 laps with one mandatory pit stop between segments 2 and 3 that require a 4 tire change from everyone. There would be no reason to sandbag during this race. Now you can argue with me that what Jimmie and the other guys were doing was strategy- but I still say they weren’t racing…and that really isn’t fair.
Tony’s All-Star race was anything but stellar (get it?). The car had handling issues and then the nose was damaged during segment 3 (I think it was maybe it was four?) and the race just seemed to get worse. Tony started the race 9th and finished 17th. Since it’s a non-points race there was no change in points. The race winner was Jimmie Johnson.
Notes on the All-Star Race:
- Speaking of race winner Jimmie Johnson- how CRAZY was it for him to take Rick Hendrick out for a ride on the track after winning? That was crazy. And poor Rick Hendrick looked uncomfortable.
- Dustin Long wrote about a GREAT idea he had for the All-Star Race! In a nutshell he proposes that the winner of the race be given the option of the $1 million dollars or an automatic spot in the chase. I LOVE IT.
- Speaking of LOVING things…I also really liked the fan videos introducing the All-Star drivers…maybe next year they can have fans do it in person.
Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:
Here is this week’s list of recommended NASCAR reads that I liked and thought you might enjoy:
Nationwide’s Eric McClure, his family, starting over a year after tornado- Dustin Long for Sports Illustrated
Kevin Harvick Gives Update on Josh Jones, Better Known As Twitters @Mother_Function- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com
Tony Stewart Wins Denny Hamlin’s Charity Race- Hank Kurz, Jr For AP/YahooNews!
Paul Menard Crewman Goes After Hendrick Team Member After Pit Road Incident- Bob Pockrass for Sporting News
Stewart Not Happy With NASCAR, Pit Crew at Richmond- Jon Gunn for Sporting News
Hendrick Motorsports Still Searching For Elusive 200th Win- Dustin Long for Athlon Sports.
Scott Speed Interview (12 Questions)- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com
The Daly Planet: Day Two: The TV Bait And Switch- The Daly Planet Editor
Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:
Wow…what a bizarre race Richmond ended up being! I guess the three major issues ended up being clashing crew members in the pits (between Menard and Johnson who were pitted side-by-side), Carl being black flagged for jumping the restart, and that last debris caution. And I have opinions on ALL of it of course. The problem is where to start.
So Tony didn’t have such a great qualifying effort and started the race from 22nd position. Despite what Tony said about the pit crew issues during the race? I think having a crappy pit box may have been part of his pit road issues. Not that there weren’t other issues- I am sure there were. But the crappy pit box that comes with a mediocre qualifying run can damper your race on/off of pit road. However, I think it speaks volumes about the car and the team (and of course our smokin’ driver Tony) that the car seemed to be able to slowly work up the field despite the pit road issues- whatever they may have been.
A Softer Side Of Smoke- Charlie Leffler for The Mechanicsville Local
Kyle Petty Not Concerned About Direction Of Victory Junction Gang Camp After Removal of Wife Patti- Bob Pockrass for Sporting News
Jimmie Johnson Repeats As ‘America’s Most Influential Athlete”- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com
NASCAR Needs More Wrecks and Here’s How It Can Do It- Jeff Owens for SportingNews.com
Birds Of A Feather- Joe Menzer for NASCAR.com
12 Questions with Martin Truex Jr- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com
Gratuitous Tony Stewart Pictures:
The expression says it all:
Short and sweet this week…just like me (ok…I am short but not usually sweet).
Time and Place (One Week Later Jimmie Johnson Is Still Not Pleased With Ryan Newman)- David Caraviello for NASCAR.com
Kyle Busch Interview: A Closer At Joe Gibbs Racing’s Rowdy Driver- Jeff Gluck for SBNation
Carl Edwards Responds To Memior- Terry Blount for ESPN
SBNation Video: MSNBC Anchor Thinks NASCAR Cars Go 500 MPH- by Jeff Gluck for SBNation
Your gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:
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.