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Two races into the playoffs and I am just now making my predictions as to who will win the cup.

Speaking of the cup- surely by now you have seen the new trophy? I have seen and heard both positive and negative comments about the trophy. Personally I like it- I love the section at the top that at a glance to the non-NASCAR trained eye just looks like a random squirrelly design but is really comprised of the outline of the tracks. I LOVE that part of the trophy the most.  I have no problem with the new series sponsor making a new series trophy.

Back to my predictions though. I am going to say that Martin Truex Jr is going to win the championship. I feel that is pretty safe bet to take don’t you? He has all those championship stage win points to carry him through to the final four so unless he has a pretty disastrous stage two I do not see a “final four” in Homestead-Miami without Martin Truex Jr in it.  So since my bet on Martin Truex Jr is so safe- who should I say will be the other drivers he is up against in that last race? I would put my money on Kyle Busch for sure but who else? As much as I would love to see Ryan Blaney or Kasey Kahne or one of the other one win underdogs in the final four I think the other two drivers will be Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.

The Stewart-Haas Racing fan in me would love to see Harvick take home the cup but I really think that the Toyotas have something that the Fords just do not seem to have under the hood. Not sure what it is not being a technical person with my nose under the hood of either car but it is quite obvious to this race fan that there is something that is favoring the Toyotas this season while leaving the Chevys and Fords in the dust. I also wouldn’t mine seeing Kyle win the Championship- I have always liked Kyle as a driver. He’s got a certain something. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Jimmie Johnson win- if only to get that mythical championship number 8. You can say what you want about Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus and that Lowes 48 team but this is a legacy in the making.  (more…)

(Photo Source: Charlotte Bray for Skirts & Scuffs)

I have to say that so far I am admittedly impressed with Stewart-Haas this season. Yes I know that we are only two races into the season and all but all four cars seem strong so far for the most part.  Oh and no I haven’t forgotten that they switched manufacturers in the off season. To me this makes their showing early in the season even more impressive.  While it was regrettable that Kevin Harvick dominated, and I mean DOMINATED the majority of the race from the pole only to be foiled by his own hand (or foot in this case) with a pit road speeding penalty after a late race caution when many drivers took the wave around, it’s Harvick’s performance that you can judge the team by. He has been a strong teammate since joining Stewart-Haas Racing and while I know that it can make for a boring race when one car is so dominate the way Harvick’s was- it’s a pretty damn good indicator to me that the move from Chevy to Ford is not the learning curve or difficult transition that many thought it would be.  This has always been the little team that could since it’s inception in 2009 and look at them charge up that hill. (more…)

(source: Tony Stewart Facebook)

The Daytona 500 is the first NASCAR anything I have seen all season.  I missed the Clash because we were in the midst of a 52 hour power outage thanks to hurricane force winds that showed up with one of the many rain storms this area has received over the past several months. I always miss at least one of the duels because of work and this time I missed both duels. I don’t usually watch qualifying or practices for work reasons as well.

So settling in to take in the Daytona 500 was my first experience as a driver-less race fan as far back as I can remember. You may have noticed I have purposely not made a sweeping declaration of whom I will be supporting because I feel that will have to come organically and naturally as it did back when I picked up being a Tony Stewart fan way back when I did. Since no one applied to by my favorite driver I am forced to adopt a wait and see attitude driver wise.  I have a certain pool of drivers that I pull for but we will see who ends up being a stand out. As for the race itself- I have decided I want to discuss certain components of the race before I give my thoughts on the race as a whole.  (more…)

All-Star Race 2013 (Photo Source: Tony Stewart FaceBook Page)

These items are what have been pinging around my pitbox this week like loose lugnuts during a green flag pitstop:

1. Don’t forget Smoke fans- Tony will be giving the command to fire engines for the All-Star race…how awesome is that. I hope that other tracks have some neat tributes to Tony as the season winds down…I know he said he didn’t want a fuss but…I kind of want a fuss for him.

2. I was going to go on a little rant about silly season rumors and the whole Harvick to HMS rumor. But now I don’t have to do that because Stewart-Haas Racing officially announced today that Harvick has signed a “longterm contract extension” with the team.  I wonder if people will now listen to Kevin when he states emphatically on his social media that he isn’t going anywhere?! For those wondering, Harvick’s crew chief Rodney Childers signed a contract extension last June so the pair is likely  in it for the long haul.  Of course this doesn’t mean that the whole Kasey Kahne to finish his HMS contract with a different team isn’t true- but like all silly season rumors- only time will tell with that one. (more…)

(Note: This is not what first came out of my pen when I sat down to write my weekly race report- that will follow tomorrow. But this is the race report much akin to what you are use to- Amy)

Tony and Crew walk to the grid

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, walks with crew members on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

Much to the glee of Tony Stewart fans (myself included) their driver was back this week at Atlanta for the Oral B 500. The weekend started of with a presser, a heart-felt statement read by a Tony Stewart we haven’t seen before: a very raw, obviously heartbroken one.  It was hard to watch and some wondered why he even bothered with a presser since he wouldn’t be taking questions himself. Personally I think that was mostly a “I am here to race, but I won’t answer your questions because the investigation is still ongoing and I frankly I am still quite raw about the incident so please for the love of Pete just leave me alone while I get back into the swing of racing.” I can’t imagine the amount of media pressure and scrutiny he felt like he was under, what the team felt like it was under. (more…)

The crew of the #14 Bass Pro Chevy performs a pit stop at Bristol. (Photo Credit: Stewart-Haas Racing Facebook Page- click on pic to be taken to the original)

I know I have said this before- but I love the excitement of racing at Bristol. It and Martinsville are both my favorite tracks to watch on TV (I have not yet made it to either track – but I will one day). But racing at Bristol at night- man there is just something about the lights that adds to the excitement and makes the tension and the vibe at the track almost palpable even through the medium of television.  This Bristol race was no different with plenty of dust-ups, disappointed drivers and of course that racing and that FINISH!  Go ahead and admit it- a tiny little part of you wanted Kasey Kahne to bump-and-run Matt Kenseth…just a little bit right? I certainly did.  I really don’t think anyone would blame him after the issue Kasey has had with the JGR drivers- Matt in particular.  My question to you is this: If Kasey had bumped Kenseth out of the way to take the checkers would that have changed your opinion of Kasey for the better, for the worse, or not at all? Feel free to leave your answer in the comments- I am just curious what your thoughts on this are. (more…)

Misty and I have attended every Champions Week since it moved to Vegas and we usually stand at the same spot for the victory lap on the Strip by where the cars do their burnouts. It’s a great spot and we have gotten some great pictures of the cars burning out over the years.  The bad part of this is that we end up standing out there for hours so our spot doesn’t get squatted by someone else and soon we are packed in our favorite area like live sardines in a can. Much like the red carpet at fan fest, chaos ensues. Last year I ended up getting hit in the back of the head by some guy’s lens hood on his camera- multiple times.  This year, though, we decided to try something a little different and hang out by the start/finish line (in front of Planet Hollywood). It was a completely different vibe and it was fun to change things up this year.

This is a beloved event and the fans line the strip for hours in advance of their favorite drivers:

Fans gather on one of several pedestrian bridges hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite drivers during the Victory Lap down Las Vegas Blvd (The Vegas Strip) (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany)

The start/finish line area of the Victory lap is much more like being around a driver introduction stage at an actual race: (more…)

Fan fest for the 2012 Champions Week festivities in Las Vegas was held at the Fremont Street Experience for the second year.  Personally- I liked it better when it was held at the track because there was just something magical about being at LVMS when it’s quiet.  But then again, I am probably biased because LVMS is where I saw my first ever NASCAR race…it was at LVMS that I turned my already BFF into a NASCAR fan…and it was at LVMS that BG was first granted media credentials – so I have a special place in my heart for LVMS.    I guess that they figure that having at the Fremont Street Experience is easier for fans to get to (since the track is WAY OUT THERE)…plus I think the track has a festival of lights set up as many do during the holiday season.

Anyway-  several of the cup cars were on  display and a red carpet that the drivers would walk down to get to the stage where they would be playing  this year’s game show: Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?  The red carpet walk that the drivers take is an experience let me tell you.  People start claiming their spots HOURS before the drivers are scheduled to appear and then other tourists, who are there for non-NASCAR reasons will stroll by and ask what is going on and then upon hearing that they are waiting for NASCAR drivers to walk by in like three hours they give the fans a look like WOW really? You are standing here because a race car driver is going to walk by in like THREE HOURS? It’s kind of funny to judge their reaction- most give looks like the fans are seriously insane.  I don’t know what is more insane…standing around the carpet or walking around in public dressed as a storm trooper and Darth Vader (we seriously saw these characters walking around the red carpet interaction with tourists. Last year it was SpongeBob SquarePants. I don’t think they are official characters- just random people dressed up as them and then trying to make a few extra dollars posing with tourists.

So this year it seemed the red carpet was even MORE chaotic than last year. The drivers were kind of bunched together more than last year so that pretty much everyone was just screaming for their favorite driver’s attention but the actual chances of getting your signature seemed more difficult. I am not sure if the drivers also signed stuff on the way FROM the stage because we left a little early.

Here are some pictures from the event: (more…)