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On Friday I had the chance to watch Tony’s media session on NASCAR.COM at work (I was on lunch)….I even took notes people. But unfortunately in my haste to escape work on Friday evening and get home I left my post-it notes in a little pile on my desk (I knew I should have slipped them into my purse right after the media session).  Anyway, while I was watching his media I happened to have TWITTER going at the same time.  And the general consensus among several of the media people I follow was that Tony was in a bad mood.  However from where I was sitting he seemed to be in a pretty good mood- he may have been a bit of a smart-ass- but that is why I like him.  Whatever his mood he had several interesting things to say…and they are all sitting on my desk at work…so this is from my shoddy memory instead of cute little post-its (they are cute- and I got them at Office Depot- they say TOTAL CRAP on them. Today I went to Office Depot to get more of them but they were out so I had to settle for post-it’s that say WHEN PIGS FLY instead).

When asked about his frustration with never having won a Daytona 500 he said that well it was frustrating sure BUT at least he still has opportunities to win the Daytona 500…he does not feel he has any more opportunities for a shot at an Indy 500 win and that frustrates him more.  He wants that Daytona 500 trophy even if his legs are on fire- give him him trophy.  He was also asked if he thought NASCAR was too safe or if he thought fans thought NASCAR was too safe.  This is where he got a little bit of his smart ass answer going by replying that what if he thought that the media center was too safe because all the media present were sitting in chairs with four legs so he was going to come through and saw a leg off of each of their chairs…what would they think about that? Then he stated that no fan wants to see their favorite driver get hurt so no NASCAR is not too safe.  I have to say personally I agree with him there- and anyone who thinks NASCAR is too safe is …sick. Because if they weren’t as safe as they are Dale Jr would have probably gotten hurt, maimed or killed in the wreck during the Nationwide race today but more on the Nationwide race later.   He also was asked how much more winning this year’s Daytona 500 would mean after the loss of Bobby Hutchens wife Sharon in the off-season (Bobby is the Director of Competition at SHR). The thing that stood out for me that Tony mentioned was when he said that before he even decided to take on partial cup ownership one of the most important things for him was that family comes first for them.  Tony also gave away to the media in a “raffle” two of those awesome Tony Stewart Edition office chairs offered by Office Depot- which was kind of fun.  I would love one of those chairs- they rock!!

Also on Friday I ran across this great Tony Stewart interview that the Racing Fashionista’sdid with Tony down in Daytona…It’s a great read!

And can I just say YEY!!! Tony Stewart won the Nationwide Drive4COP race at Daytona today!!!  I admit that I didn’t watch the whole race- I saw probably about 70 percent of it between loads of laundry and cleaning and that kind of thing. But the parts I did see were action packed.  I believe Tony started 32nd or something like that…and within the first 10 laps of the race only 2 of them were green flag laps because of accidents.  I think that Chrissy Wallace was wrecked out by lap 2?  Danica made it to lap 64 or something like that. While her start wasn’t what I would call stellar it also wasn’t what I would call terrible. She had some good evasive maneuvers that got her out of trouble.  She complained that her car had “oversteer” which I think might mean it was a little to loose but I could be wrong there- I am not up on my IRL terminology.  She was taken out by an accident that was not of her creating- she got tangled mostly because she had fallen back to the rear of the field because of her ill handling car and lack of comfort in the car.  After about half way Tony’s car seemed to really take off towards the front of the pack.  He just seemed to be either in front or behind accidents enough to keep his nose pretty clean.  What gave him one of the best chances to win is when Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski got together and took half the field with him..including the likes of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Dale Jr who went on a wild ride upside down for awhile.  As Tony took the checkered flag Kyle Busch and others were wrecking further back in the field.  Was it just me or did Tony’s car make you want an Oreo cookie?

All I can say about Talladega is wow. Well maybe wow and Oww.  Funny thing was that I sat down with my notepad to watch Talladega.  That is funny because lately I have been relying more on my memory and less on notes taken during the race.  But for some reason I sat down with my notepad and my favorite, freshly sharpened pencil and settled in to watch the pre-race and then the race.

Because of a rained out qualifying session- Tony started fourth. Not bad at all.

I wrote this during the first several laps:

Watching the cars race at Dega is like driving on the southbound highway 101 from northern California to southern California. It gives me a knot in my stomach.  When the cars start to get four wide is like when the 101 goes from two lanes of spread out traffic to the claustrophic, four-lane, bumper-to-bumper traffic where all you can do is watch out the best you can and hope other people are paying attention too.

I mean I was seriously putting effort into this- especially since I have been slacking off lately.  While I took several pages of notes throughout the race (most of them were mundane things like: Yawn-single file racing bores me and Kevin Harvick wants cruise control he’s so bored), I will not be rehashing on these notes for most of this post.   A day after the race, I am still reeling at the Ryan Newman wreck at 5 laps to go (thanks to ryannewmaninfo.info for that link).

I happened to be looking down for a minute…I was probably either doodling in my note book (not making a note…but actually drawing flowers) or trying to get my dog to shake my hand…when something made me glance up at the TV in time to see smoke and what appeared to be the rear bumper of a car pointing straight up. I yelled “Oh SHIT” so loud that the dog retreated to her favorite hiding place and I barely heard Andy Petrie say that a car was airborne.

The part of the accident that stands out the most to me is the part after Ryan’s car comes to a complete rest and the view switches to an aerial shot of the car- and all you can really see is the undercarriage of his US ARMY IMPALA and…stillness.  I sat- on the very edge of my couch just watching horrified. As soon as they had played a little snippet of Ryan saying he was alight- I may have cried a little.  My friend and I texted each other back and forth while the safety team cut open his car like a freaking tuna can…

After watching the wreck a few times online- and talking to my friend a couple hours after the wreck (and judging by her Facebook comment- sounds like Trixie thought the same way) my friend and I think that it could have been a lot worse if Ryan’s car hadn’t first landed on Kevin Harvick’s hood.  That softened the initial blow and I think probably kept the car from getting crushed further despite the fact that it went all the way up the track and back down again and flipped some more (into the grass- which is a lot softer than the track where he first went airborne.  I know that the car has rollbars and stuff…and from Ryan’s comments after the race it sounds like they had pretty much caved down all the way to the helmet for him…I think that the car would have completely pancaked if it hadn’t been for Kevin Harvick’s hood absorbing that initial blow.

Also- despite what the announcer say during the race- it looks to me like Marcos Ambrose hit Ryan Newman (whether he was bump drafting or Ryan checked up slightly I dunno) and Ryan hit Tony who was in front of him.  But because of how Ryan and Tony hit- Tony went into the wall and Ryan went down towards the infield.

There has been a lot of talk about Talladega and the COT and how to keep the cars on the ground.  I personally think this is a product of restrictor plate racing. NASCAR attempting to address concerns from the spring race at Talladega where Carl Edwards went airborne into the catch fence, made the restrictor plates even smaller, and made a new rule (only 1.5 hours before the beginning of the race so the drivers didn’t get to really practice this) that cars could not bump draft through the corners (they kept stressing DAYLIGHT between the bumpers in the corners).  Did these help or contribute to Ryan’s wreck? I have no clue.  Is there something that can be done? Again I have no clue…except that the roof flaps didn’t work in this case.  Do they need to be bigger? Deploy sooner?

It was clear that the changes (smaller plates and no bumpdrafting) made the race fairly boring for most of it. Even drivers Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart joked with their respective crews earlier in the race that the single file racing was boring THEM.  Harvick wanted a cruise control, Tony wanted someone to tell him something interesting so he didn’t fall asleep.  Something is WRONG when your points leader is just riding around at the end of the field at half throttle. That isn’t racing that is riding.

I am not claiming to have an answer- but I really think maybe they should do away with restricting  the engines…that just either bunches the field up so you are waiting for an accident.

Anyway, both Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart got dnf’s for Talladega giving Tony a 35th place finish and dropping him to fifth in the champion standings 279 points out of the lead with only three races left to go in the chase for the Sprint Cup.  Ryan Newman also fell one spot in the standings down to eighth spot 402 points out of the lead.

Notes About Talladega:

  • So like me, Tony Stewart does like scary movies (if you follow me on twitter- you heard me announce this last week after trying to watch some of Halloween- the original).  Yeah no thanks. Not my thing. I think it’s a little brave of him to admit on national television though.
  • I am really enjoying the “PREVIOUSLY IN THE CHASE” segments before each race- you know the little narrative by Mike “Dirty Jobs” Rowe. I think it might be his voice, but I really think it gives a little something something to the race.
  • I have decided that Kim Burton is probably my favorite NASCAR wife right now- and this holds true only more so after watching the segment during the preshow about NASCAR wifes and superspeedways.

Next Race: Texas

On Thursday Journo at The NASCAR Insiders asked quite simply “Do You Remember Why You Love NASCAR?”  I actually pondered this a bit in my guest entry over at NASCAR THIS WEEK back in April. It is hard for me to put into words why I love the sport that I love…but I do.  As I mentioned in the NTW piece, I have had a love of cars and a love of motorsports in general since I was knee high to a grasshopper and was just naturally drawn to cars since childhood.

Then there is the first hand experiences of being at a track that assault you from the moment you get out of your car; the noise that 43 cars make that can take the breath out of you, the mixture of oil, rubber, sweat, and a myriad of food mixing and giving each track it’s own signature smell, the rush of adrenaline I get during the flyover (and I am not even a driver). It’s a very physical thing to actually be on hand for a race. It’s a feeling that I can not adequately describe despite my many attempt, and it’s definitely something that someone who doesn’t love the sport just can not get.  My uncle still doesn’t get why I would travel 500 miles to “watch cars drive in a circle.”  Even my own best friend didn’t get it until recently…and she knew me back when I was a geeky little junior high school kid (she didn’t get why I had race cars on my walls instead of Charlie Sheen and Tom Cruise). She eventually learned to tolerate it in me until just last year when I finally (only took like what 15-20 years) turned her into a NASCAR fan and now she LOVES it like I do.

Journo’s original point was that the whole Mayfield drug debacle is drawing negative attention to OUR sport- and as fans and lovers of the sport we need to step back, take a breath and remember what is GOOD about NASCAR this season and right now (goes on to give several examples such as Mark Martin winning races at 50 and first time winners Keselowski and Reutimann). His comments got me really thinking about what do I personally love about NASCAR right now at this point in the season (in no particular order):

  • Silly Season. I will proudly stand up and say I LOVE the rumors flying around about silly season. Will Harvick be with RCR next season? Will Brad Keselowski get that full time ride an if he does who will it be for? Will Joe Gibbs Racing be bringing on a fourth car? Will Stewart-Haas be fielding a third car? Will Danica make the jump to NASCAR? Who doesn’t love the surmising and the speculating that comes with this time of the year. Last season? I was all wrapped up in the Stewart-Haas thing (read I was shocked out of my socks) so much that I didn’t have much of a chance to enjoy all that goes with silly season…this year I can sit back and enjoy throwing my twelve cents in for whatever its worth.
  • That Stewart-Haas racing currently has two cars in the top 12 in points. I have been a Tony fan a long long time…I was shocked when he made the jump to owner/driver. I didn’t doubt him, I was concerned but I jumped right on board when I saw how excited he was. But how GREAT is it that he is up there leading the points with teammate Ryan Newman behind him in 7th place in points so far? Yes I know a lot can happen between now and the chase but it’s great right now.
  • Speaking of the chase- I love how drivers are teetering on the edge of making it…or not. It’s better than Bubble Day for the Indy 500! Will Biffle or Reutimann or Bowyer be able to fight their way into the chase? Will Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth be able to stay in the chase? It’s drama at it’s best people!
  • That NASCAR, tracks and drivers are starting to embrace social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to us fans. I think that they are important tools- I am on twitter through out the day- more than email. It works for me. I admit to a slight addiction to facebook as well. I love that I can get updates (both personal and official) from these sites without having to hunt around for them. I hope more drivers come on board (hint hint Tony). NASCAR is even working with a group of selected bloggers in creating a Citizen Media Corp- which also rocks because bloggers are fans not journalists or sportscasters and have unique opinions and thoughts that they want heard- and it’s a great feeling to be included and listened to. Plus the more NASCAR bloggers unite in any method the stronger the voices are and thus the more we are heard.
  • The Mayfield drug debacle. Yes it’s turning kind of circus-like and pretty soon we almost expect to see someone like Jerry Springer jump in, however- I am going to disagree with Journo and say that this situation is bringing an important subject to light.  It’s something that hasn’t really been talked about much. And no matter what the ultimate outcome specifically regarding Mayfield’s case in particular- I think that NASCAR will emerge with one thing: a stronger and more broadly understood drug policy.
  • Kyle Busch. You may love him or you may hate him, but everyone has some feeling about him. He’s stepped into the “NASCAR BADBOY” role that some feel has been missing.  He’s young. He’s hot. He drives a mean car. He says the first thing that comes to mind (ok he reminds me of Tony so you know I like him). At Infineon I was actually in the crowd on the track during driver Intros…and when he was announced he was booed so viciously that it made me actually stop taking pictures and turn around to see if I needed to run for cover. Do I think he deserves it? No. Do I think he handles himself well? Most of the time. Do I think he has talent? Hell yeah. I also thinks he brings a little something to the table excitement wise- whether its a war of words between him and Junior or a little bitterness over some on-track action with Tony, you have to admit it adds excitement.

Of course this is not an inclusive list of ALL things I love about NASCAR on any given day. It’s just a brief list I came up with in response to a question. There are more long standing things about the sport that I love too. There are GOOD things to love about this sport all the time.

Our last installment of the Road Course Adventure had us never making it to the track on Saturday. Well not past the parking gate anyway. I am warning you right now that this is a LONG post (filled with lots of pictures) as Sunday was A LONG day.  If you are on dialup though I don’t want to kill your ability to see my site so continue on to read the adventure of Sunday at the Races….

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