My nickname for Tony’s performance at Louden? The Little Engine That Could! Do you remember that story from when you were a kid? It was one of a handful of favorites…so loved by both myself and my brother that my mom knew it by heart. Technically though, Louden was a yo-yo race for Tony. Luckily this time the yo-yo ended up and not down and all strung out- but I am getting ahead of myself. I was actually sure that when I tuned into the pre-race show on Sunday morning I would see rain. I don’t know why but I just had a feeling. Luckily that feeling was wrong because rain delays or rain outs make Amy a very disgruntled and grumpy NASCAR fan.
So I was watching Tony’s DirecTV channel this time so I could hear most of the radio transmissions (they tend to edit where the NASCAR.COM Trackpass scanner luckily does not) because I didn’t feel like going through the rigmarole of getting out my laptop and finding my headphones (because my laptop does not have very good speakers). It’s really quite the set up…plenty of cords to trip over when I have to get up and go to the bathroom- and if my brother happens to stop by with my nephews I usually just pick up my laptop and run to the bedroom because my older nephew is in his very mischievous stage.
So the first thing I actually hear Tony say during the race is that he is “wicked loose.” He had started 25 but fell back to 27th while fighting his car during the first several laps. However the car seemed to “come in” the longer the run went and soon Tony was driving up to and passing cars left and right. It was exciting to watch. It was like I would see the car in front of him and he would work it right up to their bumper and out break them in the corner and whoosh right be them (yes whoosh is a very technical term I know).
Then came the first caution and with it the first round of pit stops. Seemed like a really good pit stop and as soon as the green flag wove Tony seemed to be working his way up the field again….
LOUDON, NH - JUNE 27: Tony Stewart, driver of the Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 27, 2010 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Now either I missed the radio communication or they didn’t really say anything to Tony about the fact that they only got 2 of the 11 gallons into the car that was suppose to go in (it’s amazing how much good information you can actually find if you read the post race team release). I have a feeling that DirecTV may have censored that little nugget of information because I am pretty sure I would have heard it. The next thing I heard was Darian tell Tony not to hold anything back because they were going to be bringing him in at a specific lap to pit…and I could tell by the lap number that it couldn’t be the pit window yet. I may not be good at math but even I could figure that out!
Thus began the yo-yo race. Tony would pit way before everyone else in the field. This would put him way back in the field but on newer tires. Since Tony’s #14 car was ALREADY strong this would allow him to work his way up through the field. Then the leaders would pit. Tony would be near the lead (or lead)…but the leaders would then have fresher tires so he would fall back a little bit to 10-12th or so. Then it would be time for Tony to pit again. Lather Rinse Repeat.
Then during one of these cycles- Tony pitted then not five laps later did a caution come out. Tony ended up a lap down. At this point I was frustrated. But the OldSpice /Office Depot crew never gave up. Darian had Tony stay out and get the wave around…which put him at the end of the line but he was able to work his way back up through the field again…and thanks to some well timed cautions that finally allowed Stewart back on pit sequence he was able to pull out a second place finish! It was hard earned. As Tony said in the team release: It was a long fight there at the end, but we got a top-two out of it. That was pretty cool. Pretty cool, indeed!
Tony is now 9th in the points, 141 points into the top 12 and 331 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick. Race winner was Jimmie Johnson.
Next weekend: Coke 400 on Saturday night.