I don’t know why but I was kind of “eh” about The Prelude To The Dream this year. It doesn’t make ANY sense because I usually count down the days and blog about it incessantly in the preceding months weeks and days. I don’t think I even mentioned it except for putting the details under WE SUPPORT in the navigation bar over there on the left. I even (prepare yourself- this is shocking) almost considered not ordering/watching it.
By now most, if not all, race fans know that NASCAR’s sanctioning body parked driver Kyle Busch all weekend for an incident involving Ron Hornaday Jr. during the Camping World Truck series race on Friday night. Instead Denny Hamlin piloted the Nationwide race car Kyle was suppose to run on Saturday and Michael McDowell drove the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car in today’s Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in Busch’s stead.
I don’t often watch the truck series races and that was the case this past Friday night. I only heard about the dust-up after the face. I’ve seen the replays multiple times. I’ve heard Kyle’s post race words and read his open letter of apology. I’ve listened to Mike Helton’s explanation of the penatly. I’ve listen to Coach Gibbs. I’ve read parts of the letter from sponsor Mars. I’ve listened to commentators and drivers and fans.
I do realize that Ron Hornaday Jr is/was running for a championship. So was Matt Kenseth at Martinsville when Vickers repeatedly wrecked him last weekend. NASCAR took no action there- after all isnt it “boys have at it?” Is the idea not that the drivers are to police themselves? I also realize that Kyle did wreck Hornaday intentionally under a caution. A caution that had just come out and there were no safety vehicles in their vacinity.
I am not saying that Kyle didn’t take it too far. He did, afterall, wreck a championship contender intentionally under a caution. NASCAR should not look the other way and I am not suggesting that they do. Parking the truck for the remainder of the race was a good start. Points and monteary fines for Kyle Busch and Kyle Busch Motorsports should probably follow. My big issue is parking Busch for the Sprint Cup race. At the time of the incident Kyle was not driving for Joe Gibbs racing during the truck race. It’s no different then when Tony stewart or Kasey Kahne go racing for their own dirt teams on friday nights. Their actions at those tracks should not effect their current sprint cup rides much in the same way that Kyle’s incident in the truck series should not effect his Sprint Cup ride. Sure penalize and fine the everloving hell out of Kyle Busch and KBM but not JGR. This is the same stand that I took when Kyle got in trouble for his excessive speeding in North Carolina earlier this year. That had nothing to do with Joe Gibbs Racing either.
I admit I am surprised that according to the ESPN pre-race pole that 55 percent of those polled think that Kyle Busch should be let go by Joe Gibbs racing. I wholeheartedly disagree with that, which should not be a surprise. I have a feeling that many of the NASCAR fans voting for the pro-firing must be the Kyle Busch haters. You know the ones. The booers. The same fans who write things like Kyle Busch Crash HERE X on the Safer Barrier by the start-finish lines at the tracks. The same fans who boo his crew as they push their car onto the qualifying grid. The same fans who harassed his wife on twitter- which is so beyond not cool to me. It’s one thing to use social networking to call out a driver for their actions – it’s a completely other thing to call out or harass their spouse, girlfriend, or other family member or loved one. That is not cool at alll.
Taking Kyle out of the race effectively ruined any remote chance at a decent chase finish. He is now mathematically eliminated from the chase. It also pretty much ruined the race at Texas Motor Speedway for both Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano- his teammates. They spend the weekend sharing notes on their cars and handling. Kyle is very obviously a BIG part of that looking at the finishes by both Hamlin and Logano. Joe Gibbs Racing has already suffered enough for Kyle Busch’s actions while racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports. I don’t think any further action is necessitated by NASCAR or any of the JGR sponsors. I keep hearing the voice of Kyle Busch singing in the newest Toyota commercial “Everybody wants a second chance.”
I have always had a huge love of music and as I mentioned in earlier in both The Music Of Bristol Part 1 and The Music of Bristol Part 2- I have fairly eclectic tastes in music. For that reason alone I really wish they had played driver introductions in their entirety during the prerace show. I think that the choice of songs really helps highlight one of the best things about NASCAR and that is the personalities of the different drivers.
I admit that the whole twitter deal between Brian Vickers and Jimmie Johnson made the choice of introduction songs even more intriguing to me. Jimmie Johnson recently started tweeting (@JimmieJohnson) and to welcome him to the tweeting world Brian Vickers (@BrianLVickers) and he decided it would be fun to let each other and their twitter followers pick each others introduction songs. That alone right there should have made introductions more TV worthy. Apparently there was some legal reason that they couldn’t show intros (that and the time constraint on the pre-race show, I suspect). Anyway- in case you were wondering Brian Vicker’s got introduced to Shania Twain’s Man, I Feel Like A Woman and Jimmie Johnson got introduced to Sisqo’s The Thong Song.
Some songs choices that interested me were: Paul Menard picking Black Label Society’s Concrete Jungle. I don’t know if he actually likes BLS or if he just picked it because that is exactly what Bristol is…but I liked that choice. I also loved that two drivers picked Avenge Sevenfold songs (Matt Kenseth picked Nightmare and Regan Smith picked Welcome To The Family). Clint Bowyer’s choice of the Theme to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly cracked me up. And how fitting was Bill Elliott’s song choice of Devil Went Down To Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band and Bobby Labonte’s choice of God Bless Texas by Little Texas. The only driver who’s song didn’t seem to match the driver was Kasey Kahne’s choice of A Country Boy Can Survive by Hank Williams Jr. It’s not that I don’t like that song- I do. But I don’t hear Hank Williams Jr and immediately think Kasey Kahne- it just didn’t fit Kasey in my mind. If you are interested in the complete list of driver introduction songs check out this article over on sbnation. Honestly I could probably go down the entire list and muse on for a paragraph per driver- but I won’t bore you there.
Now onto Tony:
Tony Stewart was introduced to his standard Bawitaba by Kid Rock. Which I guess he must REALLY like it since he always uses it. I still stand by my assertion that Tony needs to pick a new introduction song. If he needs help all he needs to do is come here (or poll his fans) because we got some great suggestions for Tony when I called for suggestions on the first post of this series! Those would be (in no particular order): Real Good Man by Tim McGraw (which happen to be suggested by winner Claudia), Rough N Ready by Trace Adkins (I love Trace Adkins), When You’re Hot You’re Hot by Jerry Reed, Sound of Madness by Shinedown, Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple (hey Tony does like classic rock), Dirt Road Anthem by Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford (suggested by our other winner Dudley- which is funny because I have been on a Colt Ford kick lately), #1 by Nelly, and Gasoline by Kicking Harold (which I had never heard before but I really like this song now that I have). All great songs to be used as introduction songs for Tony Stewart…but I still like my choice of I Don’t Want To Stop by Ozzy Osbourne best (see The Music of Bristol Part 2) even though Tony told me in our second interview with him that he isn’t a big heavy metal guy. Now if only we convince him to pick one of our songs just to mix things up a little bit! I mean seriously Tony- I like Kid Rock too, but we have some great suggestions for you to pick from here.
Anyway congratulations go out to Claudia and Dudley who were the winners of the contest I held as part of the Music of Bristol posts. Their Goodyear Racing prizes are on their way to them!
I just wanted you all to know that the winners were picked randomly and not based on how many comments each entrant made (some people made multiple comments and that was totally fine- but they still only got one entry into the contest) or what song you picked. Basically I put your name on a post-it note (pink for the girls and white for the guys) and picked one of each out of my old 20 knit cap.
Unfortunately I am not up in Sonoma watching the Sprint Cup cars. Last year on Father’s Day I was on the edge of a very hard stone seat in the Coca-Cola Bottle Neck rooting with all my heart for Tony to overtake Kasey Kahne at Infineon. It didn’t happen but a second place finish wasn’t bad. It was the closest Tony had come to winning a race that I was in attendance of so I was pretty excited (unfortunately this is still the case). One of the things that really SUCKED about Infineon was leaving after the race. Traffic was a freaking nightmare compared to the other three tracks I had been to (those being Las Vegas, Fontana and Phoenix). Part of it could have been my unfamiliarity with the area- perhaps if I had gone up through Petaluma and down another way I would have been better off…but I sat there stopped on whatever highway that is up there in front of the track for HOURS. And folks…for those keeping track? Infineon is about 4 hours north of me on a good traffic day. I didn’t get home until after midnight and that was driving like a bat out of…well you know where…when I finally DID clear race traffic. This year I am not up there and I am sad…and really itching to see the Cup boys run. The sound and feel of 43 800-hp cars taking a green flag is awesome. Or heck the sound of 1 car revving in the garage is awesome. But I am digressing…and making myself homesick for a race.
That being said I am down here on the Monterey Peninsula where I live, which is in the height of U.S. Open fever right now. Every night on the news for the past two weeks or so has been golf this, U.S. Open that, Pebble this, Tiger Woods that. Now I know very little about golf- especially professional golf. I am going to admit that to you right up front. I get the idea that you are suppose to hit the little white ball as few times as possible to get it into the hole and that my friends is where my knowledge of golf ends. Sand wedge, wood, iron, putter? Huh? Whot? Even though we have a yearly celebrity pro/am hosted on the peninsula- I still don’t really pay attention. Golf has never been on my radar because it always seemed to me that watching paint dry would be more fun than watching golf because then at least- I would have the fumes to entertain my brain cells. But lately- golf has been in my face…and I can’t help but share some totally sweeping generalizations about golf vs. NASCAR:
- Traffic? Just as crazy. I know because I have been getting stuck in golf traffic all week on my way to and from work. Much like a race weekend- golf traffic gets worse as the week progresses. They are parking the spectators just blocks from where I work because around the perimeter of campus there are lots of open space/parking lots that were here back when this place use to be an Army Base.
- Those guys hawking tickets outside the track? They do that for golf too!!! I figure they pretty much do it for every sporting event though.
- There are also all these WELCOME GOLF FANS signs at all the businesses around here.
- Golf fans? They are so limited as to what they can take to the course! No signs, cell phones, NO CAMERAS (that seems insanely dumb to me), no bags bigger than 8x8x8, no containers, no food, no drink. Nothing. Just a jacket (needed here- it’s really foggy today), comfy shoes, and loads of money because you have to buy all your food/beverages there. If you find yourself by a golfer? You can’t ask him for an autograph.
- Golf fans do not tailgate. No tents, no coolers or tables, no cornhole or barbecues in the parking lot. No congregating with others who are not part of your direct party. Makes the parking lot pretty damn boring if you ask me.
- Golf fans do not show their loyalty outwardly- that I could see. They do not have flags flying from their cars that say TIGER or TOM! They don’t have bumper stickers supporting their favorite golfer. And from what I tell they don’t wear shirts for their favorite golfer either. The most fan advertisement for golfing I have seen– a TITLIST license plate frame. Again pretty damn boring to me. Half the fun of going to a race is people watching.
- Not to mention the fact that I can’t imagine being at a sporting event where if you get a cough or a sneeze you might get yelled out or asked to leave. Seriously – those quiet paddles are intangible to me- if I wanted to be quiet I would go to a library (or apparently a golf tournament). Of course I love a sport that is so noisy if I want to communicate with my friend I either have to YELL a centimeter from her ear at the top of my lungs or text her- even though she is sitting two inches from me. I like to be able to HEAR and FEEL and TASTE my sports!
- Tiger Woods is to golf media/fandom, what Dale Junior is to NASCAR media/fandom kinda sorta….only less witty.
Ok that’s it…that is my thoughts on GOLF. Now where are my cup car boys? Oh yeah…four hours north of me. Dammit. Go TONY Go!!!!
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 am sure most of you all know this, but this blogger has a day job. It’s an 8am-5:00pm Monday- Friday sitting in an office talking all day on the phone about computers and technology and the troubles people are having with them. I will say this…technology can make people really cranky when things don’t go their way (I have been cursed at, hung up on, etc and that was just last week- it’s life at the helpdesk- you grow a thick skin real quick). One thing that this job is NOT is creative. Pretty much the most “creative” thing I have done at work lately was figure out a way to fix my phone headset that magically broke one day (a paperclip and some electrical tape- and it’s nearly as good as new…except when the stray hair gets caught in the tape- kinda made me feel like Macguyver).
I commute about 20 minutes each way (slightly less in the am- seems to be less traffic for whatever reason). During that time I am “writing” in my head. Sometimes these ideas become blog posts. Sometimes they become other written efforts (I like to fancy myself a writer remember). Sometimes they don’t make it through the stupid Nissan Z that cut me off drive home. However sometimes what I come up with are ideas that I think companies should use. For instance I have a couple of GREAT ideas for Tony Stewart Office Depot commercials. I have an idea that Office Depot stores could use to utilize Tony’s sponsorship of them. I even have a good Ritz commercial for Tony…and a similar one that would work for Ryan Newman and Oreos. I have some good ideas for alternate paint schemes for the Office Depot car. And while a majority of these types of ideas have to do with Stewart-Haas racing- I do have some GREAT ideas for alternate Budweiser paint schemes for Kasey Kahne. And some paint scheme ideas for cars that have sponsors that aren’t current NASCAR sponsors (APPLE, GOOGLE, STARBUCKS just to name a couple). Unfortunately, these ideas just roll around in my head with all the other hare brained ideas and half-baked ideas. I wish someone would pay me to think up ideas…is that an official job?
Stay tuned for an exciting contest coming soon (hint hint- JR.)
Well folks, here we are- the CHASE is on. Who will win? Well you all know I want Tony to win of course and Ryan Newman to be a very close second. I also want the chase to be close this year- I want it to come down to at least Phoenix- but Homestead would be better. I want it close and fast and fun!
I wish I had caught qualifying or happened to actually dvr it. Tony qualified 2nd- which is a totally awesome qualifying effort for him. I was totally stoked when I saw that he had qualified that well.
I had forgotten how stressful it can be to watch a chase race….Where is my driver? Who’s in front of my driver? Who’s behind my driver. Wait is that my driver blowing up…no just Kasey Kahne, I can relax. It’s stressful. I can say this…Tony’s car seemed pretty good for the most part. He led some laps. The pit crew seemed to struggle a little bit- but we are talking tenths of a second differences between his pit stops and those of the then leader Juan Pablo Montoya.
Then something went wrong- a loose axle cap. The team came in the next round of pit stops and fixed it but of course it ate up a bunch of spots. Luckily though, they didn’t get a lap down and thanks to Tony driving past people and a two tire stop Tony was able to make his way up to 14th position before the end of the race (under a yellow/checker because of an accident by AJ Allmendinger at the start finish line).
Overall the race could have went a lot better- however it could have been a lot worse…
After CHASE RACE ONE Tony Stewart is in 6th position in the chase, 74 points behind Chase leader Mark Martin, who won the race at Louden. Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman finished seventh at the race and climbed to 7th in the chase standings.