Was it just me or was the constant talking about who where so-and-so driver was in the chase standings if it started right then irritating as all get out. That is all good and fine- but here is a little news flash for you (and by you I mean TV booth broadcasters) THE CHASE DOES NOT START UNTIL AFTER RICHMOND. I have a feeling that next Saturday night is going to be rifled with it. (more…)
Race Winner: Matt Kenseth
Points After Darlington: 21st, 170 points behind current series leader Jimmie Johnson. 62 points behind 10th in the standings – still outside of the top 20 and not eligible for a wild card birth.
My Mood After Darlington: Cautiously optimist (more…)
Two days later and my head is still spinning from the drama that was the Richmond race. The race at Richmond on Saturday night had more plot lines than a soap opera on a Friday afternoon. Since Tony Stewart was pretty much guaranteed to make the chase- even if he fell out of the top ten- I was strangely relaxed at first. When I turned on the TV to settle in for the race and saw college football and that it was only in the 3rd quarter I didn’t even freak out as I normally would have. Nothing ticks me off more, usually, then when I turn on the TV to watch a race and some other programming is on instead. It didn’t bother me Saturday for some reason- possibly because thanks to Twitter I realized that there was a rain delay at Richmond- but I can’t be sure.
By the way- I don’t watch college football ever but I kept the game on as background noise while I did some household chores- because frankly- there wasn’t much else on anyway . I heard the announcers of the game (it was USC and Someone- see how little I paid attention) talking about how NASCAR was currently in a rain delay which was good for them because they were running late because of a lightning delay. So they bantered back and forth about The Chase a bit and how it worked. Or I should say how they THOUGHT it worked. How many drivers they THOUGHT made it to the chase- it was a little sad that they didn’t know. I mean like I said I don’t watch much football or baseball but I still know for the most part how the games are played. But I digress.
I don’t know why but I was kind of “eh” about The Prelude To The Dream this year. It doesn’t make ANY sense because I usually count down the days and blog about it incessantly in the preceding months weeks and days. I don’t think I even mentioned it except for putting the details under WE SUPPORT in the navigation bar over there on the left. I even (prepare yourself- this is shocking) almost considered not ordering/watching it.
Short and sweet this week…just like me (ok…I am short but not usually sweet).
Time and Place (One Week Later Jimmie Johnson Is Still Not Pleased With Ryan Newman)- David Caraviello for NASCAR.com
Kyle Busch Interview: A Closer At Joe Gibbs Racing’s Rowdy Driver- Jeff Gluck for SBNation
Carl Edwards Responds To Memior- Terry Blount for ESPN
SBNation Video: MSNBC Anchor Thinks NASCAR Cars Go 500 MPH- by Jeff Gluck for SBNation
Your gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:
Ahh, it was so great to not just have cup cars out on the track but to have those cup cars to be racing. No matter what the format of the Shootout or how drivers qualify for the Shootout, I look forward it because to me it signals the beginning of the season, points be damned.
I admit during the off season, while reveling in the fact that my driver won his third championship, I’ve been pondering the momentum SHR may or may not carry into the 2012 season. Last season was not the best of seasons for Tony Stewart and his #14 Office Depot/ Mobil 1 team. I don’t think even Tony would argue with me there. Granted there were some near wins during the regular season, like Las Vegas (which broke my heart because I knew how much he wanted to win there after our interview and to see him come oh-so-close only to not win) and the more positive 2nd place in New Hampshire (where he finished second to teammate Ryan Newman). But despite a few bright spots (that were not winning so how bright could they really be) was frustrating for our driver (and his fans right). I honestly don’t think I have ever worried as much as I have about Tony making THE CHASE (NASCAR’s version of playoffs/Championship) as I did this last 2011 season. Luckily he did by the skin of his teeth (whether or not he thought he deserved it).
Then it was like someone flipped a switch. Tony’s CHASE run was nothing short of amazing, with the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 team winning a record 5 out of 10 CHASE races. And don’t even get me started about that race at Homestead, that amazing race that Tony NEEDED to win. He not only managed to win but passed 118 cars to do it. A race where the team and driver had to overcome damage early in the race, a bad pit stop, a rain delay and you know 42 competitors. A race where it was quite obvious that the driver was….well driving his ass off. Oh yeah and they happened to take home a CHAMPIONSHIP because if it. That rocked.
Even though the season ended on a high note, that doesn’t mean that the momentum will follow through and don’t think that doesn’t worry me. SHR underwent some fairly major changes at the end of the season and during the off season. There were sponsor additions (Outback and Quicken Loans) for Ryan Newman’s car. A new crew chief, Steve Addington, was hired for Tony Stewart, after letting go Darian Grubb. The long empty Director of Competition position was filled by Greg Zipadelli (big surprise there right?) after being vacant most of last season. And the BIGGEST change of all, the addition of a third, albeit part-time team with the #10 of Danica Patrick. Yes, technically the car is fielded by TBR but we all know that was done to guarantee Danica a start in the 500 without having to sacrifice Tony or Ryan’s owner points. So that adds a new crew (maybe- Stewart-Haas has a third pit crew they offered out to other teams) and a new quasi-teammate to the mix. That is a whole lot of change for an organization. Change that may (or hopefully may NOT) hinder momentum because there are new people getting use to an existing organization and an organization getting use to new people.
That being said, I am VERY pleased with what i saw at the Shootout momentum wise. Considering that Tony’s car had signifigant damage during practice and the team was able to repair the car and get it to point where he was obviously very competive, it is exciting to witness. Yeah, Tony didn’t win but he came darn close. Even Kyle Busch mentioned during his postrace that he hooked up with Tony because he knew that the 14 was fast. So as a fan of SHR and in particular Tony Stewart, I am definitely liking what I am seeing from my team so far this very young season.
Now, as far as the 500 on Sunday? It’s going to be a crazy race. NASCAR worked hard during the off season to break up the tandem drafting and judging by the Shootout, it worked. The return of “pack” racing is something I find crazy stressful to watch at the superspeedways. Packs mean there is less room to correct for an “oopsie” with out hitting someone else. Recovery space is limited. When you do make a mistake (and someone always does- it’s human nature) there is a very good chance that multiple cars will be involved, thus a better chance of a more “spectacular” crashes. And when I say “spectacular” I really mean “scary as hell, oh god please let driver x by okay” kind of crashes. So there is that to worry about.
On the plus side, Tony WAS strong in the shootout. Hopefully he will be equally strong in his Duel race. And for those who like numbers- this is Tony Stewart’s 14th Daytona 500. I think it’s time for him to finally win one! I know Tony must want that jewel in his crown- who wouldn’t.
So…#GoTonyTo and as always #ImWithSmoke!
Also- be sure to check out our new “Misty’s Mazin’ Moment” column- this week she tackles The Shootout. And her Misty’s Messed her unMentionables moment of the Shootout!
Kyle Busch’s “spin-catch-spin catch” move was by far the most amazing moment of the race for me. Love him or hate him, that was some great driving and certainly got my attention. The fact that he later went on to win the Shootout was just icing on this moment in the race.
By now most, if not all, race fans know that NASCAR’s sanctioning body parked driver Kyle Busch all weekend for an incident involving Ron Hornaday Jr. during the Camping World Truck series race on Friday night. Instead Denny Hamlin piloted the Nationwide race car Kyle was suppose to run on Saturday and Michael McDowell drove the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car in today’s Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in Busch’s stead.
I don’t often watch the truck series races and that was the case this past Friday night. I only heard about the dust-up after the face. I’ve seen the replays multiple times. I’ve heard Kyle’s post race words and read his open letter of apology. I’ve listened to Mike Helton’s explanation of the penatly. I’ve listen to Coach Gibbs. I’ve read parts of the letter from sponsor Mars. I’ve listened to commentators and drivers and fans.
I do realize that Ron Hornaday Jr is/was running for a championship. So was Matt Kenseth at Martinsville when Vickers repeatedly wrecked him last weekend. NASCAR took no action there- after all isnt it “boys have at it?” Is the idea not that the drivers are to police themselves? I also realize that Kyle did wreck Hornaday intentionally under a caution. A caution that had just come out and there were no safety vehicles in their vacinity.
I am not saying that Kyle didn’t take it too far. He did, afterall, wreck a championship contender intentionally under a caution. NASCAR should not look the other way and I am not suggesting that they do. Parking the truck for the remainder of the race was a good start. Points and monteary fines for Kyle Busch and Kyle Busch Motorsports should probably follow. My big issue is parking Busch for the Sprint Cup race. At the time of the incident Kyle was not driving for Joe Gibbs racing during the truck race. It’s no different then when Tony stewart or Kasey Kahne go racing for their own dirt teams on friday nights. Their actions at those tracks should not effect their current sprint cup rides much in the same way that Kyle’s incident in the truck series should not effect his Sprint Cup ride. Sure penalize and fine the everloving hell out of Kyle Busch and KBM but not JGR. This is the same stand that I took when Kyle got in trouble for his excessive speeding in North Carolina earlier this year. That had nothing to do with Joe Gibbs Racing either.
I admit I am surprised that according to the ESPN pre-race pole that 55 percent of those polled think that Kyle Busch should be let go by Joe Gibbs racing. I wholeheartedly disagree with that, which should not be a surprise. I have a feeling that many of the NASCAR fans voting for the pro-firing must be the Kyle Busch haters. You know the ones. The booers. The same fans who write things like Kyle Busch Crash HERE X on the Safer Barrier by the start-finish lines at the tracks. The same fans who boo his crew as they push their car onto the qualifying grid. The same fans who harassed his wife on twitter- which is so beyond not cool to me. It’s one thing to use social networking to call out a driver for their actions – it’s a completely other thing to call out or harass their spouse, girlfriend, or other family member or loved one. That is not cool at alll.
Taking Kyle out of the race effectively ruined any remote chance at a decent chase finish. He is now mathematically eliminated from the chase. It also pretty much ruined the race at Texas Motor Speedway for both Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano- his teammates. They spend the weekend sharing notes on their cars and handling. Kyle is very obviously a BIG part of that looking at the finishes by both Hamlin and Logano. Joe Gibbs Racing has already suffered enough for Kyle Busch’s actions while racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports. I don’t think any further action is necessitated by NASCAR or any of the JGR sponsors. I keep hearing the voice of Kyle Busch singing in the newest Toyota commercial “Everybody wants a second chance.”