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The movie Almost Famous is one of my favorite movies.  Misty and I often throw quotes from it back and forth between the two of us and one of those quotes is “It’s all happening!”  We use it like “Everything is falling into place!” Or “Can you believe how exciting this is!”  Well I am EXCITED because Daytona is here which means that NASCAR is finally starting! It’s ALL happening!

Tony will start tomorrows NATIONWIDE race 10th and will be driving the #33 Ritz Camaro. IF he pulls off the win he will tie Dale Earnhardt’s record. I hope he wins.  He will be starting Sunday’s SPRINT CUP SERIES race 13th in the #14 Bass Pro Chevy SS! Both are fairly decent starting positions.  It’s ALL happening!!

Some items out of Daytona so far that you may have missed: (more…)

This was the one event during Champions Week this year I was REALLY looking forward to.  I can’t even explain why- except that you all know that I am a fan of Chevy drivers, I drive a Chevy myself, my father drives a Chevy, I have a love of the Camaro, well I guess I am just a Chevy girl.  So I was REALLY looking forward to this.  I had no idea what to expect. I have been to one other car reveal in my life and that was for the Ferrari FF when I attended Ferrari Days out at Mazda Raceway At Laguna Seca (see A NASCAR Girl In A Ferrari World) a couple years ago.  When I saw that as one of the possible events on the calendar for Champions Week- I signed us right up!

Up until the reveal the only sight I caught of the 2013 Chevy SS Cup car that I had seen was on the Internet in it’s camo paint:

Tony Stewart drives the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet during NASCAR testing at Phoenix International Raceway on October 23, 2012 in Avondale, Arizona. (October 22, 2012 – Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America).

The “camo” paint does a good job of hiding body features…so I think. I was really looking forward to the reveal where I could see the new body style up close and personal- and I was hoping it wouldn’t have the weird camo paint scheme.

The Chevy reveal was our first activity in a Thursday CHUCKED full of stuff to do.  We got to the Wynn early and walked around until they opened the doors and then checked in and found seats (IN THE SECOND ROW) and waited excitedly. I was attempting to live tweet the reveal but neither Misty nor myself got ANY phone reception at all in the theater and very little in the Wynn in general. I think I was able to get this picture out and then nothing:

My Tweet Said: Waiting for the 2013 Chevy SS Sprint Cup Reveal (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

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As a Tony Stewart fan, I went into the 2011 Sprint Cup chase extremely pessimistic.  After all, Tony Stewart went into the chase saying he thought the team was wasting a chase berth with the way they had been performing.  Of course we all know what happened; Tony Stewart went on a tear- won FIVE of the ten Chase races (something that had NEVER been done before)  including the season closer at Homestead-Miami, thus winning the Chase by TIEBREAKER.  It was both exhilarating and stressful to be a Tony Stewart fan towards the end of the 2011 chase.  I was AT the Phoenix race and spent most of the race perched on the patio of the media center- watching the race through my fingers.  I don’t even remember much about the Homestead race- except that I was so stoked that I promised my family that if Tony won the championship I would treat them to dinner at the Outback. Guess you all know what I had for dinner that night.  What made the chase so great last year- especially during Homestead was that it was so CLOSE- and to win it Tony Stewart HAD TO WIN THE RACE- a second place wouldn’t cut it.

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: (L – R) Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Martin Truex Jr, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Clint Boyer, Denny Hamlin, Kaey Kahne and Tony Stewart pose in front of “The Bean” as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. They are the twelve drivers competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

This year however, I feel EXCITEMENT going into the chase because this year NASCAR’s Chase for the 2012 Sprint Series Cup could be brought home by ANY of the 12 drivers. I personally do not count ANYONE out.  Sure Tony’s the reigning champion and I would LOVE to see him become a FOUR time champion. Denny Hamlin goes in to the Chase seeded first and his crew chief Darian Grubb no doubt feels he has a point to prove. But I can’t count out Jimmie Johnson- he’s won five and is looking hard for 6. With FOUR of the 12 cars being Hendrick Motorsports cars that means mathematically (and I am NOT good at math people) there is a 1/3 chance that winner could be a Hendrick car- and Junior has been looking strong and CONSISTENT all season. And Jeff Gordon has been driving like a maniac (in a good way) these last few races.  And Kasey’s had some bad luck but pretty much had that first Wild Card spot in the bag in Richmond. Kenseth no doubt would like to leave the 17 team with a Championship before jumping over to Joe Gibbs Racing next season.  Harvick is tenacious and they didn’t give him the nickname THE CLOSER for anything.  Then we have dark horses like Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer who have also been RIGHT there all season long.  And I would NEVER ever ever count out Brad Keselowski. In my mind- right before we go into the first race of the Chase it is ANYONE’s trophy right now.

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Front row L-R The Next 9 drivers Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Cameron Hayley, Dylan Kwasniewski, Daniel Suarez, Sergio Pena, Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace and Corey LaJoie, back row Eleven of the NASCAR Chase drivers L-R Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

As a NASCAR fan, the fact that it is anyone’s championship right now is EXCITING. Of course I still want Tony Stewart to win it!

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Tony Stewart (C) speaks with young drivers who are from the Next 9 at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

Who do YOU think will win it all?

What a drama filled race weekend both for Tony Stewart and the #14 Team and for NASCAR in general.  There is A LOT to talk about for Daytona- so let’s get right to it.  Tony qualified 2nd.  YES 2nd! I was so stoked because from what I could tell at work, his practice just seemed mediocre.  As a Tony fan, I know he doesn’t always qualify well- so any front row qualifying effort means that the car is on rails to me and the field better watch out!  I was stoked!  Then I checked my FaceBook a little later on Friday and I saw an esoteric status update one of my “Smoke” friends posted that made me think “uh-oh” so I logged into Twitter and that is when I got the full information. Because of a uncapped cockpit air hose, Tony’s qualifying was disqualified and he would be lining up 42nd in a field of 43.  I literally banged my head on my desk and yelled ARG I KNEW IT WAS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Luckily for me- there was no one around when I did it because I even did it with my office door open.

Tony Stewart at Daytona Speedway (Photo Credit: Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page- click for original)

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Ok- so I tend to chock my posts full of pictures- as you probably know (and it gets worse when it’s a race I have actually attended because I always have my camera with me and usually come back with GIGS worth of pictures). Anyway I couldn’t figure out a way to fit these two pictures into my Michigan post- but think they are HUMOROUS so I needed to share them with you:

Picture 1:

Personally I think Tony looks like he is thinking: Damn- how come I didn’t get an umbrella!?!

Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, walk the red carpet prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America)

And this one? I can’t think of a funny caption…but still the expression on Harvick’s face cracks me up:

Kevin Harvick (r), driver of the #29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet, talks with Tony Stewart (l), driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, in the garage during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images North America)

Here is this week’s list of recommended NASCAR reads that I liked and thought you might enjoy:

Nationwide’s Eric McClure, his family, starting over a year after tornado- Dustin Long for Sports Illustrated

Kevin Harvick Gives Update on Josh Jones, Better Known As Twitters @Mother_Function- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com

Tony Stewart Wins Denny Hamlin’s Charity Race- Hank Kurz, Jr For AP/YahooNews!

Paul Menard Crewman Goes After Hendrick Team Member After Pit Road Incident- Bob Pockrass for Sporting News

Stewart Not Happy With NASCAR, Pit Crew at Richmond- Jon Gunn for Sporting News

Hendrick Motorsports Still Searching For Elusive 200th Win- Dustin Long for Athlon Sports.

Scott Speed Interview (12 Questions)- Jeff Gluck for SBNation.com

The Daly Planet: Day Two: The TV Bait And Switch- The Daly Planet Editor

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony Stewart at Richmond- (photo credit: Tony Stewart Official Facebook Page- click picture to be taken to original)

Was it just me or was that race at Dover about 150 laps too long?  Maybe it was just me because when my driver doesn’t do so well I get grumpy about it and the Dover race wasn’t the best for the Tony and the 14 team.  I remember hearing Tony say that Dover was one of the chase tracks that they were concerned with- so I wasn’t surprised to see the team struggle with handling issues.  I do NOT like it when my driver finishes a lap down…and it makes me uber cranky when he finishes more than a lap down.  The car was ill handling the entire weekend as obvious by Tony’s practice speeds, qualifying effort and race. I wasn’t listening to the radio so I don’t know the exacts of HOW the handling was but but I honestly don’t think it matters much. They were bad. They know they were bad. According to the team report for Dover, Darian says that they have been routinely bad at concrete tracks:

The biggest thing is just that we don’t have the concrete tracks figured out yet. It’s obvious. At Bristol and Dover, we’ve just struggled for three years now with Tony there. We just need to figure out what we need to do. It’s not because of a lack of effort. We’re going to keep trying to find a few things and keep fighting.” Darian Grubb, Crew Chief of the #14 Chevy Impala.

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What was with the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600?  In both races the drivers leading the last lap did NOT get the checker flag and in BOTH races those drivers happened to be driving National Guard sponsored cars. Talk about heartache. (more…)