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Tony Stewart Wins The Duck Commander 500 Pole

Tony Stewart Wins The Duck Commander 500 Pole (photo credit: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook Page)

What do I have in common with Tony Stewart? That is easy- I also drove 500 miles on Monday.  Of course his drive took far less time than mine did, but in my favor- Tony didn’t get to take potty breaks. I was an hour and a half into my drive when the Duck Commander 500 started and well- lets just say I still had about two and a half hours left in my drive when it ended. (more…)

It’s been a heckuva week for this Jeff Gordon girl. I have been semi mum (for me anyway) on the subject because frankly the emotions were too high. Aside from a handful of angry tweets and some pointed re-tweets, I have been mum…but now that it is all said and done ,and I can contemplate the events of the last week without fire steaming from my nostrils, let me tell you what it was like for me and I am sure most of the 24 fans.

Saturday’s race at Richmond, in itself, was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Jeff needed to race his way into the Top Ten in points to make the Chase. Starting from the pole was a good way to get there. So was leading the first 50 or so laps, but then he began to fade, having used up his tires in that first run, the handling of the car went away and he didn’t seem to have a car capable of winning the race. However, all was not lost as Logano – the person he needed to unseat from 10th in points was having a FAR worse night- having fallen two laps down early on and remained stuck there. (more…)

(What? You were expecting a report on the Coca-Cola 600 today? I actually went out of town this long memorial day weekend (love that scheduled post feature of WordPress)  for some non-NASCAR related fun (yes, there is such a thing) and am driving back home today…I will get the Coca-Cola 600 post up as soon as I can this week. Oh and HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY everyone!)

Well we are what 12-13 weeks into the race season and already there is silly season rumors floating around rampantly.  You know- the who is going where next season with what team/sponsor thing that usually starts towards mid-late season as contract negotiations are winding down for those drivers who suddenly find themselves in “free agency.” Everyone likes to play the were will they end up game.

So far this season I have heard rumors (and that is just what they are of course rumors) of Kurt Busch going over to Joe Gibbs Racing to join brother Kyle. The rumor does not specify (as most rumors don’t) whether this ride for Kurt is in a fourth car for the team or in Joey Logano’s 20 car. It’s been rumored for a couple seasons now that Joey Logano may be ride-less at the end of this season.

The other rumor is that Home Depot (current primary c- sponsor of the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Joey Logano) may be interesting in sponsoring Ryan Newman.  I took that to mean that JGR is wooing Ryan Newman who is in the last year of his contract with Stewart-Haas Racing.  However after batting it back and forth with Misty,  it could also mean that Home Depot is looking to go with Stewart-Haas Racing. They did, as Misty kindly pointed out, win the 2011 Sprint Cup Championship after all (and in an impressive fashion I might add). Not to mention the fact that Tony recently said (forgive me for not having a link) that he was really hoping to retain Ryan as a driver.

And then there is the story of Danica- will she be going cup as soon as next season? And will it be with Stewart-Haas?  And just how do I feel about that? (Mixed feelings would be the answer).

Of course, representatives for Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Home Depot, Joe Gibbs Racing and other entities involved in these rumors would deny them if asked. It would only be prudent as negotiations are no doubt still taking place. After all when rumors that Tony Stewart was thinking of leaving Joe Gibbs to start his own race team started rearing their head in summer of 2008- I, along with most, chalked it up to ridiculous silly season rumors. Especially since at the time, Joe Gibbs vehemently denied it.  Of course, we all know what happened there.

So tell me do you have any thoughts on silly season? I usually don’t put too much into the rumors just due to the fact that they are rumors. My interest is always piqued when it has to do with Stewart-Haas Racing though.  So have you heard any good silly season rumors? Do you even pay attention to them?

Inside A Helmet, Everthing Can Seem Different- David Caraviello for NASCAR.COM

Will Ryan Newman Return To SHR In 2013- Jeff Gluck for SBNATION.com

Whittling Crew Chiefs Down To Top Ten- Terry Blount for ESPN

Newman’s Gone Fishing- Ryan Newman for NASCAR.COM

TV Reporter Juggles Motherhood, NASCAR’s Grinding Road- Nate Ryan for USAToday.com

NASCAR At Darlington: Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman Teams Scuffle After Southern 500- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com

If I Were A NASCAR Owner, I’d Hire Kurt Busch- Jordan Bianchi for SBNATION.com

Faith On The FrontStretch: A Speedy Apology Calms A Conflict- Beth Reinke for SkirtsandScuffs.com

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony and Danica in the garage at Darlington (Again photo blatently stolen from the Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page. Click on Photo to see the original).)

These last few races have had Tony Stewart scratching and clawing to make gains in position and Pocono’s race on Sunday was no different.  After qualifying 28th for the race, Stewart was able to claw his way up to 16th and was heading (albeit slowly) in the right direction when a devastating flat left front tire around lap 92 caused Stewart to have to put and put him a lap down the 2.5 mile track and back down in 28th position.  What is worse than being in 28th position I ask you? Being in 28th position and a lap down when the rain comes is my answer.

The #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet of Tony Stewart sits in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono Raceway. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America)

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You can read Part 1 here.

I am going to admit something right here…Misty and I played hooky from Infineon on Saturday and played tourists in San Fransisco so I really have NOTHING to tell you of Saturday.  Valli has a post about Saturday though if you want to check out what she was doing (plus you can read about how Dale Jr tried to scare her just like Jimmie did to us the day before).

We were up with the chickens on Sunday- grabbed a quick bite in the room and headed right to the track on Sunday morning and it wasn’t even early enough because the race traffic heading into Infineon was in full effect!  I remembered this from the time we came in 2009 and thought we had left in plenty of time- apparently not.  Not that we were late- but we were later than we wanted to be. So we get into the track plop our stuff down in the media center (I LOVE having a place I can ditch my stuff at the race so that I don’t have to carry all my belongings with me everywhere I go) grab both of my cameras and we decide to spend the morning just wandering before the start of the race.  First we wandered over to the driver introduction stage to get some pictures of three greats: Richard Petty, Ned Jarrett and Bobby Allison. I have to admit…Misty got THE best picture of Bobby Allison:

Bobby Allison talks with PRN host before the race at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany)

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Or maybe it’s the other way around and the A&E show THE GLADES invades NASCAR? Either way,  keep your peepers open for Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Tony Stewart to by on an episode of the A&E television show THE GLADES (which stars Matt Passmore).

I first found out about this episode when Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted this photo of  Tony last week: (more…)

If I had been able to flash forward to the end of the Daytona 500 and watch my reaction I would have bet everything I have that Jeff Gordon had just wheeled his Chevrolet to victory lane, because what else would have me on my haunches, screaming, shouting and pumping my fist in the air as the checkered flag waved?! Good thing my flash forward button doesn’t work cause I would have lost my pants in that bet, since Gordon crashed along with a good portion of the field on lap 30 ending his shot to drive to Victory Lane.
So what else could possibly cause me to have such an enthusiastic and heart-felt reaction to this year’s Daytona 500? It’s the kind of ending that we usually only see in Disney movies, but this time we got to see it all unfold for ourselves during this year’s Speed Weeks. It is the story of part-time, rookie driver, Trevor Bayne.
D.W. said it best at the end of the race when he held up a blank piece of paper and said that it was the bio he had on Trevor Bayne before the race. Few people had heard of Trevor before this race. He had only one other Sprint Cup Series start, in last fall’s Texas race, and here he was in Daytona proving himself. First by laying down the fourth fastest lap during Qualifying and then in his eagerness throughout the week leading to the race. He quickly became the talk of the media by being the first in his garage everyday, the first on the track to practice. He wore his eagerness and excitement on his sleeve throughout Speed Weeks.
I, personally, took notice during his Duel race when he waited after his driver intro to talk to Jeff Gordon, presumably to seek advice from the veteran driver. Throughout their Duel Gordon and Bayne worked together, Bayne pushing Gordon in the two car tandem that characterized this year’s races on the newly re-paved track. Despite a last lap crash in the Duel, Bayne clearly earned credibility among the other drivers. Time and again, seasoned drivers looked to Bayne in the 500 as a drafting partner. Again, I took notice when mid-way through the 500 Carl Edwards got on his radio to ask Bayne if he needed someone to push him. Many rookies would have leapt at the chance to work with a proven driver like Edwards, or simply been too intimidated to turn him down, but Bayne showed his intelligence and integrity and told Carl that he was a better pusher and preferred to continue pushing David Ragan. Bayne’s demonstration of integrity, intelligence and independence are all qualities that will serve him well in his career.
So when it came down to the final restart and Bayne looked like he could pull off what had really never been done before – winning the Daytona 500 on his first Daytona 500 start (Lee Petty won his first start at the 500, but since it was the very first 500 does not count), I was on the edge of my seat, screaming for this kid. When he actually pulled it off, I the felt the kind of sweeping emotion and pride that I usually only feel for truly great moments in sports, like the U.S. winning another Gold in the Olympics or the Yankees winning another series. Then again, this is another great moment in sports history.
I admit that I usually do not watch post race, especially when my driver finishes 35 laps down, but today I watched and I continued to be impressed by Bayne. Earlier in the race, D.W. had mentioned that Trevor had taken time before the race to pray with his team and the first thing that Trevor said when he climbed out of his car in Victory Lane was to mention the prayer and the power that God had. What is not to like about NASCAR’s newest hero?
I watched his reaction as David Ragan came over to offer his congratulations and saw Trevor’s genuine concern and empathy to Ragan, who’d been his drafting partner most of the day and had nearly pulled off the win himself, when he prematurely switched lanes during a restart and got black flagged by NASCAR. This is the kind of personality that NASCAR and this country needs – a good hearted, genuine, eager, talented young man to invigorate the fans and make us feel good.
NASCAR promised just such a driver a few years ago in rookie Joey Logano (“Sliced Bread”), but Logano never quite lived up to the hype and you can’t market this kind of a moment and you can’t create this kind of honest emotion.
Before this 500 no one knew who his kid from Knoxville, Tennessee was and now with his remarkable victory, the publicity machine will undoubtedly roar to life, like the engine of his #21, but at least it does so as a response to a hard earned achievement versus a contrived, marketing ploy to draw in fans. This NASCAR fan will take fresh, homemade bread over commercialized sliced bread any day. It’s good for the sport and good for the heart of NASCAR.
2011’s Daytona 500 will go down as one of the greatest moments in NASCAR history and I wouldn’t be surprised if a Disney movie isn’t already on the drawing board. Here’s to a fantastic and unbelievable start to the season that proves that anything can happen!