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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…)

Miles the Monster, mascot to the concrete mile track in Dover, made sure that Tony Stewart, his crew, and his stalwart fans were left disappointed, disheartened, and bewildered at the team’s luck after Sunday’s race (not to mention generally pissed off- but that’s a post for another day).  Saturday’s qualifying session was rained out and forced the race line up to go by the practice speeds , a new rule in 2011, for the first time this year.  Unfortunately this put the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet  deep in the field- starting 27th. (more…)

Restrictor plate racing brings with it it’s own set of rules and lately it’s own style of racing. The two-by-two “pod” style of racing that we saw at Daytona in February was indeed back again at Talladega. It was no surprise that during the extended first practice when it featured many pod runs (two cars bump drafting all the way around the track).

The two car tango that we have been seeing at the plate tracks brings with it two “issues” that seem to be on everyone’s mind. Of course you know I am going to throw my opinion in the ring. (more…)

So part of the reason I have lacked in posting here lately is that I have too many things swirling around my pea brain that I want to write about- but none of them will flush out into an appropriate full-sized posting. That being said, I have decided to give up trying to make nice single subject posts and give you a NASCAR brain dump, bullets style in hopes that new ideas will stand on their own two feet.  So without further ado…my NASCAR Brain Dump:

  • Tony Stewart fans you have less than a week to enter this month’s 14 for 14 Office Depot Racing contest. This month the prize is a race used lugnut and an autographed picture (to 14 lucky fans).  After you enter the contest be sure to poke around a bit and download a wall paper or Ask Tony a question.
  • Also, while I am on the subject of Tony, don’t forget to buy your raffle ticket (only $25.oo) for the 2011 Convertible Camaro that Tony is giving away- proceeds to benefit The Tony Stewart Foundation. Go to SmokesChevy.com for more information now.
  • There is a great article in the new edition of Sports Life Magazine (the magazine has Danica Patrick on the cover) called the 21 Coolest Things About NASCAR (here’s a link to the article on the author’s blog). Its an interesting article and it has a quote from yours truly (Amy) in it.  Brownie points if you read the article and come back and tell me what you think is the coolest thing about NASCAR…or just tell me you like my quote!
  • Have you noticed that they are making a big deal out of how they are going to nickname Kevin Harvick The Closer instead of Happy?  Just because he won two races in a row? I would be surprised if Junior Nation didn’t want to call him Hated Harvick – only because he took the lead from Junior at Martinsville in the last laps of the race- not because I think he should be hated.  I am still trying to find out why Tony’s Spotter Bob calls Kevin Harvick “Cupcake”. There is a story there I am sure…but then again we might not want to know.  Maybe Kevin Harvick is the driver with the most nicknames…maybe that should be his nickname. Ok now I am just getting silly.
  • The points watcher in me is starting to panic. Tony’s dropping and it’s disheartening to watch.  Not as disheartening as watching him lose at LAS VEGAS…that was sad. But this is worrisome. Junior and Jeff Gordon are going up steadily in the points and Tony’s dropping. ACK. I will try not to obsess about it too much.
  • When you are attending a race, do you let race traffic influence how good or bad of a time you had a said race? I am just wondering this because apparently traffic at Texas is expected to be an issue judging by the tweets I am reading.  I mean- I don’t know how anyone can go to a large sporting event such as a race and NOT expect traffic.  Figure a race has 100,000 attendees.  Average 3 people per car – that’s still 33, 333 cars.  All trying to enter or exit a track facility at the same time.  Personal experience wise- it’s taken me anywhere from 5 minutes (the parking gods were good that day) to 2+ hours to get out of a track and on the road.  I think it was Las Vegas the first time…I sat in the same spot in a parking lot trying to get out for this long: I had time to watch the fellows parked in the aisle I was driving down arrive at their vehicle, watch them set up their grill and table, grill some steaks, drink some beverages, and then sit down at a little camp table and eat their steaks. I didn’t let that influence how I felt about the race though.
  • One of my favorite parts of pre-race is watching the teams do their individual prayer huddles:

Photo Credit: Borrowed from TonyStewart.com….shamelessly
  •  Assignment for you: Tell me WHY you love your favorite driver….whomever that may be. What made you a fan? What keeps you a fan?