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So after a strong start to the 2011 Sprint Cup season it is hard to see Stewart-Haas racing strugggling. As a Tony Stewart fan it’s REALLY hard.

Over a week later I still don’t understand what happened at the end of the race in Fontana. Tony seemed to have a strong car- but that car just faded away that last run. Was it lack of tire? Mechanical? I still don’t understand what caused the fade away that left him finishing 13th after such a strong run all day long.

Then today- we have Martinsville. Tony didn’t have speed in practice earlier in the weekend. He qualified poorly (28th) on Saturday.  Then when the race started, he just seemed to fight an ill handling car all day while trying to conserve tires.  He was able to work his way up to a high of 20th at one point. Judging by radio communications Darian seemed to have some sort of plan to get Tony track position so he has something to work with.  Unfortunately that plan wouldn’t really get placed in effect after Stewart was penalized for changing lanes before reaching the start finish line during a restart.   I admit- that one had me shaking my head.  Okay…shaking my head and cursing like a sailor.  I it is disheartening to watch your team have a couple of bad weeks.  Tony finished 38 laps down in 34th position. He dropped to 11th in points.

Race winner for both Fontana and Martinsville was Kevin Harvick. I can only imagine Junior Nation is NOT a Harvick fan after the last several laps of Martinsville.

Notes:

  • Two drivers who had GREAT days- Dale Earnhart Jr and Jeff Gordon.  I swear I could hear the crowd at Martinsville go wild all the way over here in California when Jr took the lead during the last 30 laps of the race.  Jeff Gordon also had a great finish considering he qualified 21st.  He rose from 19th to points to 12th in points. That puts him right behind Tony.  Jeff is going in the right direction. Tony however is not.  Dont think I am not starting to panic about points.  Yes I know that there is a lot of racing left in the season…but I worry because we are going in the wrong direction.
  • The tire issue that everyone seemed to be concerned about didn’t really seem to be that big of a deal after all.
  • Was it just me or did Martinsville seem to take FOREVER to finish? Maybe it was just because I was cranky because Tony was having a bad day.  Any Kevin Harvick fans want to weigh in on the length of the race?

Next week we are racing under the lights at Texas on Saturday night.

Well that was all she wrote…our beloved NASCAR season is over and we now have a Champion – Mr. Five-Time Jimmie Johnson.  And I really don’t understand people who say the chase system doesn’t make for an exciting finish- because that was a nail biter. I am going to be completely honest…I was so wrapped up in the chase that I don’t honestly have much to say about Tony’s run at Homestead except for this: You can’t keep a good man driver down (a lap). Tony somehow ended up a lap down not once, but TWICE through out the race and each time he was able to get that lap back. That last time he was a lap down (I think it had to do with the caution coming out after he and several others went through a round of pit stops- but I am not 100% sure about that) and it could have been bad since it was at the end of the race- but no Tony was about to pull off an eighth place finish (after being a lap down…TWICE) and moved up two positions in the points standings finishing the year in 7th place.  Race winner was Carl Edwards!

So who were you rooting for of the three contenders at Homestead? Were you rooting for Denny? Kevin? Jimmie?  I will tell you who I was rooting for if you tell me who you were rooting for!

Notes about Homestead:

  • I hate to say this…but that incident between Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle on lap 24- the one that caused Denny to spin – and some damage to the car? That really looked like Denny drifted up into Greg to me anyway.
  • And what about Kyle Busch? That was a fiery crash! I was all STOP THAT SUCKER AND JUMP OUT KYLE!!!  Of course I don’t want to see Kyle burn! I actually enjoy him as a driver (not as much as Tony of course).
  • I always feel bad when the championship is clinched by a driver who is NOT the winner in the race. It made me feel that Carl Edward’s celebration was truncated.  He did win the race.  I was a little worried for his safety when he got out of his car to do his trademark backflip and Jimmie had started burning out right next to him. Yikes!
  • Jimmie’s in-car reaction to having won the championship though? He was so excited! I have to say that Chad Knaus’s Post-It note (Our TEAM won!) to the camera- was appropriate. I liked how he emphasized TEAM especially since the pit crew swap.  (Consequently enough I noticed that nearly right away – with in the week of the swap- the Lowes racing website listed the “new” crew- while the Jeff Gordon website also listed his original crew. Interesting.) Ha! Take that Mike Ford!
  • Speaking of the pit crew swap- I had to say I was concerned that since the swap the wrong crew would get credited with the Tissot Fastest Pit Crew – but luckily they explained that on the national broadcast….that while Jeff Gordon’s crew won the award- it was the original crew….the one that ultimate went to help Jimmie after Texas.
  • Apparently we missed some sort of on track altercation between Logano and Montoya after the wreck? They mentioned it on the national broadcast quite briefly but inquiring minds want to know! What happened?

Next Race:  Daytona 2011.

Seriously though- like last year, I am planning on attending Champion’s week celebrations after Thanksgiving so posting might be light that week. I will tweet and facebook so follow me or friend me or whatever…but of course I will post afterwards!

(SMOKE fans…be sure to check back here Wednesday…Just saying).

If you know me personally or have read me for eons, then you know that I love music and have pretty damn eclectic tastes in music that really runs a wide gamut.  I also absolutely adore a mix cd (ahhh mix tapes) thoughtfully compiled for me of music that the giver thought I would enjoy or that reminds them of me. That is really cool. Because of this I also like to peruse the celebrity playlists on iTunes.

Anyway, I recently received a 2010 Chase Playlist compiled to go along with the chase with songs picked by some of the drivers from this years chase (this was sent to be by a PR person- I didn’t compile it myself):

  1. Not Afraid- by Eminem (Denny Hamlin)
  2. Nothing Else Matters- by Metallica (Jimmie Johnson)
  3. Walk The Line- by Johnny Cash (Kevin Harvick)
  4. CC Rider- by Elvis (Clint Bowyer)
  5. Jukebox Hero- by Foreigner (Carl Edwards)
  6. Everything- by Buck Cherry (Greg Biffle)
  7. Another Way To Die- by Disturbed (Matt Kenseth)
  8. Love The Way You Lie- by Eminem (Denny Hamlin)
  9. It’s Now Or Never – by Elvis (Clint Bowyer)
  10. Say It Ain’t So- by Weezer (Kevin Harvick)
  11. Enter Sandman- by Metallica (Greg Biffle)
  12. Miracle- by Nonpoint (Matt Kenseth)

(yes I know that not ALL chase drivers were represented…but this is the list that was given to me).  Interesting choices don’t you think?

It got me thinking of songs I could add to this list…a 2010 Chase Playlist….here is what I would add:

  1. I Don’t Wanna Stop- By Ozzy Osbourne
  2. Shut Up and Drive- by Rihanna
  3. Right Now- by Korn

So tell me what you would add or what songs remind you of your favorite driver ( in the comments) because honestly? I am looking for some new (to me) music!

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.

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 14: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 14, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 14: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 14, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 13: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, climbs out of his car after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 13: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, climbs out of his car after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 15: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, rounds turn four ahead of Kevin Harvick, driver of the  Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 15: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, rounds turn four ahead of Kevin Harvick, driver of the Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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.

Well first off, I hope all of you out there had a great 4th of July holiday!  I had a friend in town (MISTY! YEY!) over the long weekend and believe me did we ever make the most out of the couple of days we had! Believe it or not? Our plans had NO FIREWORKS in it at all. Speaking of fireworks…the July race in Daytona will ALWAYS be the Firecracker 400 to me.  Coke Zero- you know I love you…at least you should since I swill enough of it to float a pontoon boat.

Of course we worked all of our fun around watching the race.  I admit I was a wee bit worried that it would rain all night in Daytona and our Sunday plans would have been ruined- but luckily they were able to get the race underway with just a 90 minute delay for a thunderstorm that passed through.

There I go getting ahead of myself though- so while I was out and about something happened during practice and Tony ended up wrecking in the primary car and resorting to a back up car.  One of the things that irritates me the most about Daytona is the fact that one lap my driver can be running 5th and the next 35th…all depending on how the draft was working out.   Tony was working his car towards the front of the race and even led the race twice (yey for bonus points for leading a lap) only to be caught up in “The BIG ONE” on lap 148 pf the race.  This “Big One” was aptly named because 19 cars were involved in the accident.  It was huge.  Although if you were watching the TNT race coverage you would think that the only car that was on fire was Mark Martins.  Nope…as Misty said…I guess Tony’s Burger King sponsored car took “flame broiled” a bit too literal:

Tony Stewart bursts into flames after a late race crash in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on July 3, 2010. UPI Photo/Malcolm Hope Photo via Newscom

Tony Stewart bursts into flames after a late race crash in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on July 3, 2010. UPI Photo/Malcolm Hope Photo via Newscom

That picture caption up there is NOT something I wrote …I just had to point that out- they are written by the source of the photos…because I would have never worded it “Tony Stewart bursts into flames” because that makes it sound like the man spontaneously combusted or something….I just had to clarify that.  Anyway, those flames look like they are right on my name. My name was probably all melted and charred.

After seeing a photo like that you might be surprised to know that Tony’s pit crew did an awesome job fixing up the 14 Burger King chevy and were actually able to get him back on the track.  You might be surprised to find this out because TNT never really mentioned it at all.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JULY 03: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Burger King Chevrolet, drives after being involved in a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tony Stewart, driver of the Burger King Chevrolet, drives after being involved in a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

 

You can see from the above picture that the crew got Tony’s car back out on the track- granted it didn’t look the same.  From the Tony Stewart  Facebook race report:

“Really proud of everyone on this race team,” said Stewart, who started ninth after qualifying was rained out on Friday and the field was set by car owner points. “Everyone had a role and they worked quickly and efficiently to get me back out to make enough laps to where we ended up picking up a lot of positions. Little things like that make a big difference.”

I think Tony and the whole #14 crew should be really proud of getting back onto the track and not giving up and just loading up the hauler and heading back up to Charlotte.  Tony was able to gain back several positions (7!) and really didn’t too much of a hit in the points. Tony finished the race 25th and is currently 9th in points.  Race winner was Kevin Harvick. Notes About Daytona:

  • TNT’s Wide Open Coverage? Kind of stinks when you have a small TV. I am just saying.  I also find it kind of stressful because I don’t feel I have a moment’s break.
  • Speaking of TNT- you know what was kind of sucktastic about the broadcast?  That they never really talked about Tony after “the big one” and honestly they didn’t really talk too much about him before it.  But the only thing I heard about Tony was “Tony Stewart (long pause that made Misty look over at me with a worried look) released from the infield care center.” Yep that is all they said.  It would have been nice to grab a look at the team repairing the car in the garage or maybe the car as it rolled back out onto the track or something…anything.
  • I forgot how FUN it is to watch a race with Misty. She is competitive and it definitely spills over into her NASCAR loving.
  • My favorite moment from the race was watching the Lowe’s pit crew guys drag Mark Martin from his burning car…it was so brave and yes I know they are teammates but I bet they wouldn’t have done it not matter who it was. Good thing  Mark Martin is on the smallish side and was probably a bit easier to help get out of the car!
  • Did anyone else catch the Burger King commercial about Tony actually working at a Burger King? I have looked ALL OVER for more information on this and haven’t found any. Let me know if you come across any information…I would love to write about this.
  • I also wanted to pass along this article from Raygan Swan at NASCAR.com about a woman who got her minivan skinned by Newman sponsor TORNADOS as well as got to visit him in Daytona…it’s a great read.

Next week: Chicago at Night! Whoo!

I can’t even remember the last time I did a bullet post for you all and I have some NASCAR thoughts to share that don’t deserve their own post but deserve to be mentioned:

  • My fantasy league? I haven’t even checked my standings for the last month or so because I was sure I was tanking. I checked today. Confirmed- am definitely TANKING! I am currently 85th out of 114!!  I blame the majority of this on Brian Vicker’s blood clots. I picked him as one of my drivers because he tends to be up there towards the front.  But now that he’s out of the seat the team hasn’t been doing so hot. Bah.  Tony and Dale Jr have been doing better- so they are the reason I went up 2 places after Sonoma  (yeah see 87th not so hot) so YEY for that but this is just a sad sad team this year. (By the way- I still love Brian Vickers…I really do and I don’t honestly blame him for my team tanking).
  • We are 10 races away from the CHASE cut off. Don’t think I don’t know that and don’t think that just because Tony’s moved back up into the top ten (YEY GO TONY GO!!!!) that I have relaxed one bit about watching points.  Of course I have been watching points since Daytona…so that says nothing.  I know Tony says he’s not worried about it…but…I am.
  • So you probably noticed my Sonoma post, while it had a pretty picture left much to be desired? It was because I was bummed I wasn’t there like I was last year.  Oh and…I know that Valli would cover it well and in depth. Which she is doing- she got the chance to interview more drivers -so be sure to check out The Fast and the Fabulous for that…she also came up with a catchy title for one of her Sonoma posts: To Infineon and Beyond…why can’t I think of good titles like that?. Oh and she got to experience the confrontation between Said’s crew chief and Tony Stewart first hand. Check that out here…and while you are there look for the  picture of Kevin Harvick hugging Tony’s dad…while Tony squats and messes with his shoe…cute!
  • For those of you in New Hampshire, Ryan Newman will be signing autographs at his merch trailer tomorrow June 25th from 3:30 -4:30 (time subject to change based on qualifying draw- check the trailer for more information).
  • Don’t forget that if you own a small business you should enter the The Official Small Business of NASCAR contest from Office Depot Racing.
  • You also have a little more than a month to buy your raffle ticket for Smoke’s Camaro. You have the change to win a bitchin’ 2010 Chevy Camaro customized by Unique Autosports. Proceeds benefit the Tony Stewart Foundation and their many initiatives supporting criticially ill children, various animal charities and injured drivers.  Go to SMOKESCAMARO.com for more information.

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.

Did Carl steal Mark Martin's car?? Carl Edwards sports a different paint scheme at Pocono. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

  • 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:

Pay attention to Kasey Kahne's Oakley sunglasses here. Photo credit: Glenn Bure

The same sunglasses Kasey was wearing! They look better on Tony IMO. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

Gratuitous Martin Truex Jr Picture for Lauren! Photo taken at Pocono Driver Intros. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

  • 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:

I couldn't help it...he's kind of smiling and everything. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

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

Talladega should comes with mylanta or tums or something. Delana Harvick (@DelanaHarvick) tweeted it best when she said “Oy Vey”

Qualifying at the restrictor-plate race was cancelled as were all ontrack activities for Talladega as incliment weather entered the southeast area of the country.  This meant Tony started 13th -based on points (even though he was tied for 12th the tie breaker is apparently based on best average finish at which point Logano bested Stewart so far this season).  Stewart-Haas Racing was already down one car as Mark Martin sent Tony’s teammate Ryan Newman into the wall during last practice- so the 39 car resorted to a back-up car. 

The racing action did seem a little better this year- I will say that. It was more exciting. Tony even took a turn at leading for awhile towards the beginning of the race.  Then it seemed he fell back. While I was listening to his radio I honestly couldn’t tell if he was heading back there to play the waiting game or if he was back there because he lost the draft- either way he didn’t seemed to concerned so I wasn’t too concerned.  He didn’t think the balance was right on the second set of tires he ran and Darian told him later that he was right- the liner had come loose in on of the tires.  Anyway the pit stops seemed to go good. Everything seemed copestetic.  Heck at one point he even told a pretty damn funny joke.  He was in a good mood, I was in a good mood…it was all good. 

The two car break aways would happen and that particular duo would head towards the front for a bit. There were a record number of lead changes during the race.  I assume that this is because the drivers were pretty much using the first part of the race as a test session as to how long it would take to get to the front and how to time the swoop and dive for the lead. 

Within the last 20 laps thanks to a good pits stops Tony was in the top ten and by eight laps to go he was in second thanks to the two car breakaway as he teamed up with Dale Earnhardt Jr.  However, soon with manuevering becoming much hairier as the cars all jockeyed for position Tony got hung out and dropped significantly.

The race had the maximum of three green-white-checker, shootout or overdrives or whatever the heck they are calling it these days.  Luckily Tony was able to miss a couple of late race accidents and come in 16th.  On the radio after the race he immediately praised the crew and sounded disappointed as he apologized to the crew for not getting a better finish. By finishing 16th Tony has dropped down to 14th in the points 262 points behind points leader Jimmie Johnson.  Teammate Ryan Newman suffered an even more disappointing day as he was collected in a late race crash. Newman finished 35th which dropped him to 18th in the points. The race winner was Kevin Harvick who made a last lap pass on Jamie McMurray.

This race was one for the record books. It was the longest race at Talladega (532 miles) thanks to the extended overtimes. It also had the most lead changes (88) and the greatest number of leaders (29 which coincidently is the same number as the car number of race winner Kevin Harvick).

  • Personally I am enjoying the rivalry going on between Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. I really like that Jeff is standing up for himself and his crew and I will say that I don’t blame him- I would be pissed too.  I like that he isn’t just saying “Well we had a great car- and we did our best.” He’s mad and he’s telling us he’s mad. I like that- it bothers me when a driver gets out of his car and kind of glosses over the face that he’s pissed or upset or whatever.
  • I am thinking maybe Tony should ditch the whole paintscheme cars for awhile. I am starting to stress about points and his luck this season in the alternate paint schemes hasn’t been the best. 

That’s all I have. Next weekend we are at Richmond for some Saturday Night racing and I can’t wait!