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Panoramic of Homestead-Miami before the race (Photo Source: Amy K. Marbach)

Just an fyi this post is going to be different because this is a first person race diary. If you are looking for just a telling of Tony’s race day experience you can read the official Stewart-Haas Racing post race wrap-up here. — Amy

It started back in February when Misty said to me- after hearing of her driver Jeff Gordon’s retirement announcement- “I wish we could go to the race in Miami“.  I responded with “Why can’t we? We can just skip Phoenix this year and head to Miami instead.”  She was surprised- I remember the exact words out of her mouth were “You’d go to Miami with me?” I said “Heck yeah I would.”  And so began our odyssey.  I found out that there was a list you could put yourself on to buy tickets for the race in Miami and I put us on the list to buy tickets as soon as they became available to non-season ticket holders. We didn’t buy anything else or plan anything else until I got a very early phone call from Homestead Miami’s ticket office when they were going through the online list of potential ticket buyers.  The ticketing agent was very helpful in getting us awesome seats (at the end of a row- our favorite spot) in our price range.  As a surprise to Misty, I sprung for the pre-race pit passes because we decided back in February that we were going to this race as fans. No media center for us at Homestead because when you are in the media center there are rules- like no wearing driver gear and there was no way we were going all that way for Jeff Gordon’s last race to have Misty NOT wear her Jeff Gordon gear proudly.  As a matter of fact- I had a great conversation with the ticketing agent about why I only wanted Sunday only tickets (because we wanted to spend the rest of our short time in the area sight seeing having never been to the area before).  After our tickets were secured Misty took over as our travel agent securing us a Hotel right on the beach, securing our direct flight from McCarran Airport (LAS) in Vegas to Miami International Airport, securing us a rental car. She did it all. She even bought us a guide book for Miami that we both poured over in the months prior to the trip so that we could decide in advance what we wanted to see while we were there.  We also knew that we were traveling an airline that charges to check bags and since we weren’t going to be there that long we (Misty) decided we could do this with just our carry-on. I am a notorious over-packer so I really had to limit myself to taking just what I thought I would absolutely need. It would also seriously hamper the amount of souvenirs I could bring home. I also decided for this reason- to only bring a point-and-shoot camera and my cell phone because I didn’t want my camera equipment taking up my clothing allotment in my carryon! (more…)

Phoenix, AZ  November 2015 (Photo Source: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/HHP/Harold Hinson)

So- I usually write the “Loose Lugnuts posts” in what is a mostly stream of conscious session on Wednesday night and schedule them to publish on Thursday morning or afternoon- but here it is Monday evening and I am getting a jump start on it because I am going to be traveling and won’t have time to write it up on Wednesday night so I am going to schedule a few while I am gone. Also I realized that I forgot to mention a couple of things in my race report on Monday that I totally spaced on- but will do just fine here. So without further ado here is what has been rolling around my brain like lugnuts rolling around a pitstall after a green flag pit stop during the championship race:

1. Because of the lengthy rain delay in Phoenix- my dad didn’t get to see the F35 flyover that he was so looking forward to watching. While it is not the first flyover the elusive F35 Lightning II has done at a sporting event- it is the first ever at a NASCAR event and my dad is an aviation fan.  He was bummed out. I know the flyover happened (Thanks to someone I follow on Instagram) but you would think that since one of the two jets was carrying a Jeff Gordon Raceway flag you would thank they would have made a bigger hoopla out of it.

(Photo Source: Martin Truex Jr Official Facebook)

2. I watched a heck of a lot of the rain delay coverage that came out of Phoenix last weekend. More than I probably should have. But one thing I didn’t hear mentioned was who Elijah Aschbrenner was and why his name was above the passenger door on Martin Truex Jr’s car at the track. As a matter of fact very little was mentioned about it at all and I think that is a shame.  Elijah was a pediatric cancer patient that was not just part of Martin and Sherry’s Catwalk for a Cause fashion show that raised money for pediatric cancer but he was known and wished well by many many many NASCAR fans and teams. Other drivers such as Kasey Kahne ran special yellow ribbons with Elijah’s likeness on them on their cars during the race as well.  Elijah fought Epitheliod Sarcoma like a hero but earned his angel wings on November 10th.  Here is a wonderful story about Elijah that NASCAR’s Holly Cain did it’s just a shame that they didn’t mention him (or mention him more) during the hours and hours of rain delay coverage.

3. While we are on the topic Martin Truex Jr.’s long time girlfriend Sherry Pollax is battling stage III ovarian cancer as many of you know. She is currently going through once a month maintenance chemo for it.  Well her Chemo session was Monday morning (today).  I can only imagine that she must have been tired- having been in Phoenix so late between it being delayed until all hours, and then I am sure Martin had to do a lot more media than normal after the race considering he made the Final Four.  Go Sherry! (more…)

So as always with race weekends that I actually get to attend in person I like to pull out a couple of my photos because I love them a lot and I like to share them in a separate post. If you are looking for the Sonoma 2015 Racecation post it is here. Here are some favorite photos from Misty and myself: (more…)

Sometimes there are many things I want to share but I either don’t have time to devote a whole post to it, or there just isn’t enough content there to devote a whole post to it so I am going to start back up my lists, which, for now, will be called What’s Rattling Around In The BG Inbox*! These will be a list heavy on NASCAR & Tony Stewart of course, but may mention other things- you never do know what is sitting in my email inbox or in my mind waiting for me to share it with you. It will also have a gratuitous Tony Stewart picture or two because when do I ever not need an excuse to tuck a Tony Stewart picture on a post.  Let me know what you think of the new feature (and if you can think of a better name for it)  in the comments or via social media! So this is the very first “What’s Rattling Around In The BG Inbox*”

What’s rattling around this week:

  1. Have you seen the Kyle Busch Days Of Thunder trailer video? It’s GREAT- a must watch. You can also find the blooper reel for it here.
  2. Speaking of NASCAR movies- I loved the movie Days of Thunder. I couldn’t stand the movie Talladega Nights but then again I can’t stand Will Ferrell as an actor so I blame the fail for me on him. I want a new (not a Days of Thunder reboot) NASCAR/Stock car racing movie! Hear that Hollywood?! Make it so!
  3. On a related note I have heard that there is a scripted TV drama in the works about NASCAR…we will see if that comes to fruition. While it would be really cool for us fans I am not confident it will happen because I remember there was something similar in the pipes about five years ago but nothing every became of that either.
  4. I haven’t mentioned the Tony Stewart Foundation lately! They have many ways you can help them make a difference in the lives of critically ill or physically disabled children; at-risk or endangered animals; and drivers injured in the sport of motor racing. There are many ways you can help- a donation, becoming a lap leader (a monthly donation of $10 or more), or something as simple (and free to you) as using AmazonSmiles and setting up your donations to go to The Tony Stewart Foundation- that way the foundation gets a tiny donation from amazon every time you shop. All those tiny donations can lead to helping children, animals or injured drivers and is free to you just by buying whatever you usually do on Amazon.
  5. Speaking of the Tony Stewart Foundation- if you live near or happen to be traveling near Tony Stewart’s hometown of Columbus IN on July 14 2015 you might want to consider going to some TQ Midget racing because it’s “Tony Stewart Foundation Night” at the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds in Columbus. Adult general admission is $10 and children under 12 are $5. Racing begins at 7 p.m. and the feature will pay $500 to win, $125 to start with all positions increased.
  6. I was excited to find out that Joanna Lower mentioned on facebook that her video for her song for Tony Stewart “Smoke Will Rise” has gotten over over 530 views in a little over 48 hours! You can hear her song and read our interview with her here.
  7. If you have read BG for any length of time you probably know I am a big fan of the blog SkirtsandScuffs.  I have been really enjoying the Rookie Stripe column lately- it’s from the perspective of a relatively new NASCAR fan. I love that concept! The post on road racing also features one of my pictures from Sonoma last year!
  8. For those curious- I have discontinued writing for Fansided’s Beyond The Flag. While I learned a lot working with the other writers over at BTF I felt it was taking away from my blogging here and made the choice to resign.
  9. In The Pipes: I am working on finishing up the Sonoma Race Diary post, as well as a post featuring Tony Stewart tattoos (got any? email me badgruv@netzero.com), and some other exciting content!

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Smoke spent some time at ExxonMobil’s new state-of-the-art campus in Houston. Such a rich history. It was an honor to be there. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)


* I have had a heck of a time naming this column so I am not married to the “What’s Rattling Around In the BG Inbox” title…if you have any ideas PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know!!

#KeepDiggingTony #SmokeAlwaysRises #Faithinthe14

Tony strapping in for practice

1 May 2015: during Sprint Cup practice at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, AL. (Photo Source: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/HHP/Rusty Jarrett )

Tony Qualified: 6th

Tony Finished: 19th

Points: 174 points, 30th in the championship standings

Quote Of The Race: “I really don’t know why no one would try to go with us there at the end. It baffled me. Our Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy was really good and I think we could’ve made it interesting if we got back to the front, but there’s only so much you can do by yourself at these races.” Tony Stewart, post-race team release. (more…)

The 14 crew services driver Tony Stewart’s #14 Mobil 1 Chevy during the Sprint Unlimited 2015. (Photo Credit: Mobil 1 Facebook Page)

Tony Qualified: 22nd in a random draw

Tony Finished: 13th, 7 laps down

Ahh, is it not great to have our NASCAR back? It is for me. I didn’t realize how much I missed it even until I was sitting in my kitchen trying to figure out if the date of the Unlimited was the same day and time of my nephew’s 5th birthday party (luckily indeed they weren’t even on the same day). (more…)

(I ended up breaking this post up into two parts because it was just too long once I added in all the pictures.  Enjoy and watch for Part 2: Sunday tomorrow–Amy)

As I mentioned in a post several weeks ago- I had really been jonesing for a race.  I LOVE being at a race track and Race Sonoma couldn’t possibly get here fast enough for me. Sonoma Raceway is slowly worming it’s way into my heart as one of my favorite tracks that we get to attend in person.  The weather is almost always beautiful when the NASCAR race is there and we seem to almost always find something fun to do off track as well as have incredible adventures at track. After all it was at Sonoma Raceway that Misty interviewed Jeff Gordon a couple of years ago.  Anyway- I had been looking forward to this race pretty much since March.

I love the smell of oil, gas and nomex in the morning.

Friday morning garage picture as tweeted on June 20th, 2014 from my phone. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Our Friday at Sonoma Raceway started bright and early. It’s kind of ironic to me that Misty and I spend a good majority of the vacation hours that we each earn at our respective jobs for our “racations” where we tend to be up and at it just as early (or in my case specifically – earlier) and just as hard as we do for our jobs.

Anyway- I had heard that both Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick were running patriotic paint schemes at Race Sonoma. So my first mission was to try to capture photos of them. My favorite place to do that is as the cars are being rolled out of the technical inspection tent. I caught them and a few more: (more…)

I absolutely hate April Fool’s Day. I am notoriously gullible which makes me a prime target. An example: at college another student and I had the same backpack. I inadvertently took hers from a bookstore cubby and didn’t discover the err until my next class. I ran back, made the exchange and thought nothing of it. Until later that week when my dad called me to tell me the police were at the house looking for me- something about a stolen backpack. I may or may not have been in tears by the end of the joke.

Anyway- I love this video of drivers talking about the best and worst pranks. Check it out!

April Fool’s Day: NASCAR Style

Drivers sit down and talk about some of the best pranks they have seen over the years.

Sponsored by: NASCAR inGEAR