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.
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:
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!
I will be the first to admit that I was frustrated with the end result of the race at Michigan on Sunday. On the one hand it was GREAT to see the #14 car out there running in the front and leading a nice slug of laps (I think Tony lead a total of 36 laps or something like that). It was encouraging and GREAT. What was disheartening was the the debris caution…and watching everyone pit but Tony and Kevin Harvick. Tony must have thought so too because he came on the radio and said “We’re in big trouble here” to which Darian Grubb tried to be the cheerleader and tell Tony it would be ok. Unfortunately though he started falling back and finished 6th. Another GREAT top ten finish- BUT it was sad to see him running so strong but then fall off like that. However, what made it a little sweeter? Was that Tony did advance FOUR spots in the race for the chase and is now fourth in the points standings. That does make ME feel a little better.
Notes about Michigan:
- The Ryan Newman/Joey Logano dust up…my take? It was one of those racing deals. I don’t think Joey intentionally got into Ryan- he looked really loose to me. They are out there to RACE and I don’t think that either one wanted to give in to the other- and you know what? That is RACING. I think that Ryan has some frustrations that he took out on Joey after the race. He is only human. Do I think that either of them should get fined? No. I think that they should call it good and let it go. Now if we get to Bristol or something and there is some retaliation ON TRACK? Then we can talk about NASCAR getting involved.
- By far the best tweet of the race? Was right after Ryan spun from that aforementioned contact with Joey Logano when she said ” Thanks Joey Lagano….maybe I should go put my firesuit on!” (@KrissieNewman).
- Race winner was Kevin Harvick and he also locked his position in the chase. Congratulations Kevin.
- Bonus Caption Photo will be coming. I found a great one but I am waiting for permission to use it.
So the evil little tricky triangle- the place that holds the spot as being the first points paying win for Stewart-Haas racing. Tony qualified fairly well- even holding the pole position for awhile but as usually happens with early qualifying draws he was knocked off the pole eventually. He still started avery respectable 6th for the days race. I turned on the race that morning. Then came the rain. I get very restless during rain delays so I honestly don’t know how the drivers can NOT. It poured for what looked like a good 15-20 minutes. Then it would take time to dry the track (and patch a small hole apparently- but I missed that part completely).
I found the best way to spend a rain delay though! It’s across the street at my brother’s house playing with my nephews. Ok technically only MXM is old enough for play…which we did both inside and out (that boy loves to play with his plastic lawn mower- I say enjoy it now because I doubt he will want to mow when he’s old enough to do the real thing). But I did get JXM (who is now 15 weeks old or so) to laugh pretty hard- and who doesn’t love toothless, gummy baby laughs? That rocked. But then it was back to the race.
Tony spent most of the race in between positions 12 and 21. It did get exciting when pit stops came under caution at around lap 160. Crew chief Darian Grubb called Tony in and they packed the number 14 full of fuel, planning on staying out no matter what happened to gain track position. Of course I wasn’t listening to my Trackpass Scanner at this time so I had no idea what they were planning. When there was another caution on lap 169- a lot of the cars in front of Tony (who was 16th or 17th at this time) came in to pack their cars with fuel. This put Tony into second place behind Kurt Busch. I always get nervous when the national broadcast shows Tony puttering around under caution flipping his car on and off. Even before they said it I am exclaimed “look- he’s saving fuel! Arg this could get ugly if this race ends up going to three green-white-checkers!!!”
The field took off at the green and it was looking good for Tony. He was second! Then…right before the last lap there was the Harvick-Logano tangle that caused Logano to spin and put the field into it’s first Green-White-Checker. Not to mention that this bunched the field back up. So now not only did I have to worry about the fuel situation (don’t you love how I say I have to worry about it…like I am the one on top of the pit box crunching numbers…or even know what numbers to crunch…trust me- you don’t want me crunching numbers). I now also have to worry about Tony getting shuffled back or someone driving like an idiot to get to the front and crashing into Tony. I was very much on the edge of my seat. Denny Hamlin jumped out into the lead and Tony was second with Kyle Busch on his tail. Tony would eventually be passed by Busch but still came in third despite a horrendous last lap crash (no further green-white-checker since race leader had taken the white flag) happening that seemed to collect about half the field.
With his third place finish Tony moved up to 13th in the points standings, one point out of the top 12 chase. Teammate Ryan Newman, who crossed the finish line with a damaged car- having been part of that last lap melee finished 14th, dropping him to 14th in the standings, only 18 points out of the top 12.
Notes and Pictures from Pocono:
- TNT race coverage bites. They were having sound difficulties. That might have been due to the rain I guess. But I have two major complaints about their coverage. Complaint one: their timing of commercial breaks sucks. I hate coming back from commercial to see cars in the pits. I say break AFTER green flag pit stops not before. I know they know about when the drivers will be coming in- pay attention to that. Complaint number 2: the handling of the last lap accident. That was a pretty horrendous looking accident. There were damaged cars ALL over that track. Several drivers look HARD hits in that wreck! TNT, while they showed the wreck several times did not update us on driver conditions except for Kasey Kahne. And while yeah- Kasey appeared to take one of the harder hits there were other drivers there…I mean I saw a paramedic leaned into Jeff Gordon’s window and then they never said ANYTHING about his condition. They did happen to catch a brief glimpse of Jeff Gordon walking past Kasey during his post race interview but if you happened to be looking down you would have missed that.
- One of my favorite moments from the race? Was seeing Ryan Newman limp his car across the start-finish line. NOT because I wish any ill will against Ryan at all- but because he had the gusto to fight hard to pull that beat-up car across the start finish! Go Ryan!
- In his after race comments Tony said that “There’s days like today where you’re not proud of how you got there, but you take it anyway because you know for every one you get like this, there’s one that gets robbed from you the same way” (credit team release). I don’t know why you wouldn’t be proud of it. Sure he didn’t come in first but he came in top 5. Fuel mileage is just as much a part of the “game” as anything else. Be proud Tony! Darian did good calling you in and you saved enough fuel. YEY.
- Speaking of NASCAR being a game…I am loving the NASCAR “everything else is just a game” ads. LOVE THEM. Especially this one.
- I am sure by now you have all heard about the post race fireworks between Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick. Judging by what I saw on the TV- the accident was nobody’s fault. To me it looked like Joey got a little loose and came down the track across Kevin’s nose. The pushing and shoving thing? Sure it adds to excitement and it’s all in the heat of the moment. Joey may have been pushing on his own team guys (and his dad) but that is just youth. I would rather see this then Joey go out on the track and hunt down Kevin and try to put him in the wall (ala Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski). These things happen, drivers need to push/shove/yell get it out of their system and move on. I don’t think that insulting Kevin through his wife Delana was necessarily called for…but again-that was probably youth talking. And what a great sound bite…and Delana has turned it into a shirt (I wear the firesuit in my family). I kind of want one…but it wouldn’t really work for me since I am not married. I still LOVE the shirt idea. UPDATED: You too can have a I Wear The Firesuit In My Family shirt.
- Am I the only one who thought Carl Edwards absconded away with Mark Martin’s car? I mean the paint scheme on that 99 car looked like something you would see on Mark’s car.
- Speaking of drivers stealing from each other…are Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart sharing sunglasses? Ok probably not- but still I want to point out that they were wearing the same Oakleys. Ok I might be pointing this out only to be able to showcase some photos provided to me. So what. Case in point:
- This is a gratuitous Martin Truex Jr. picture for @LollygagLauren:
- Speaking of photos, reader and commenter @KevinMBoots77 was at the Pocono race (his first time at the tricky triangle) and had a great time despite getting a little soggy. He agreed to let me direct you all to his Pocono photo gallery for the race. I highly suggest you all check it out- he got some great pictures.
- Ok you all talked me into it. One more gratuitous picture…this time for me. It’s Tony during driver intros of course:
A big thanks goes to Glenn Bure for the photos you see here (I have some more from Glenn of Tony on Trackside I will share later this week)…and to Kevin Boots for sharing his pictures with me and with you!
Next week: Michigan
I love watching short track racing. Martinsville is probably my favorite track to watch…but Bristol is a close second. There is something about the close quarters. I had heard on Saturday that there was a good chance of rain on Sunday so I was wondering if they would even be able to start the race- and luckily…they not only were able to start it but they were able to finish it too (although there were two yellow flags because of rain- but the cars never had to leave the track for it).
Tony qualified eleventh which was great considering that he didn’t seem to have the speed during practice. Tony spent most of the race flirting with and breaking into the top ten, then falling out a bit then (usually after pit stops) back into the top ten. It really was that last pit stop and the call to take two tires that really put Tony in the position he was in. Unfortunately not only did Jimmie have his supercar (seriously what is under the hood of that car) but he was on four fresh tires and Tony just didn’t have enough to hold him off although he did give it a great effort and was able to maintain a second place finish in the 10 lap shoot out caused by the late race caution. It was Stewart-Haas Racing’s first top five finish of the season. It moved Tony up to fifth in the points standings 89 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick. Teammate Ryan Newman finished 16th in the race at Bristol which increase his points standings three positions to 26th. He is 322 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick. Overall I would over say it was a pretty good day for Stewart Haas racing with both cars moving up in the points.
Notes about Bristol:
- Did we really think that the Keselowski/Edwards fued would continue at Bristol? Edwards is under probation and did a talking too by sponsor SCOTT. I am not saying it is necessarily over- but it is for now.
- Did you catch the new Joey Logano version of the coco-cola singing commercial? Instead of it starting off with Tony singing it starts with Joey singing. Sorry I like the Tony one better.
- Speaking of Tony, Darrell Waltrip said during the prerace (I think it was during the Gas N Go segment) that Stewart-Haas Racing had lost it’s “sparkle” this season because the newness wore off. Um…I think Tony and crew are looking pretty “sparkly” now.
- I think it would be fun to be a fly on the wall for the Stewart-Haas “competition” meetings. I think it would provide an interesting insight into racing and my favorite team and the kind of work that goes on behind the scenes. This from the woman who hates going to meeting for her job.
Next Week: My favorite track! Martinsville
Joey “Sliced Bread” Logano isn’t someone I usually blog about. I am taking the same attitude towards Joey as I am towards Danica (I said it…the D word) and that is very much a “wait and see” attitude because pretty much I decided that you don’t just jump in a stock car and know everything about everything- no matter where you cut your racing teeth. I do keep tabs on where Joey …just out of habit if nothing else- 10 years following an orange 20 car…I can’t help but occassionally wonder where they are at (although I am now awesome at being able to pick out Tony’s new color – even up against other red cars like Kasey Kahne or Bobby Labonte). Anyway, I can’t resist blogging about Joey today.
In case you didn’t know, Joey won his first NASCAR SPRINT CUP pole today. Exciting right? He SHOULD be excited. Winning your first pole has got to be a good feeling.
However Joey is not receiving the usual Coors Light Pole award. Why? Because Joey is only 19 years old. You might remember me mentioning both last year and this year during the Budweiser Shoot Out position draw that Joey’s crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, would draw Joey’s bottle (the position numbers for the Shoot Out are drawn by picking a bottle of Budweiser containing a flag with the starting number on it). This was due to the fact that Joey is underage.
So instead of the Coors Light Pole award, Joey gets the 21 Means 21 pole award. I just find it kind of funny. I can only imagine that Joey can not WAIT to turn 21 so he can pick his own Bud Shoot Out bottle and that they don’t have to change the name of the pole winner award so he can accept it.
It was also pointed out to me that Mark Martin was going for his 50th pole award (and if I remember correctly there was something about him tying or beating a record from Cale Yarborough too) at Bristol. And it’s pretty damn ironic that Mark Martin is old enough to be Logano’s father….
Anyway congratulations to Joey and the Home Depot team on their first pole…no matter what they call it.