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I have three major shopping vices: Book stores, office supply stores (so yey for Tony being the Office Depot driver now because I frequent Office Depot much more than I ever did Home Depot) and Dooney purses. I love to read. I have always loved to read. I love the feel of books in my hand and the smell of the paper and glue. No matter where I am I have a book with me…often tucked into my previously mentioned Dooney.  You will not find me with one of those digital book reader thingies until they stop making real paper books. Much like my tastes in music my tastes in books are fairly various and wide (for instance the second to last book I read was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies- told you I have odd tastes). Anyway several years ago I decided to combine two of my loves and started a collection of books about NASCAR. I started out with a couple of coffee table type books…and slowly expanded my collection.  My newest book in that collection just happens to be the last book that I finished- a book I wanted to tell you about.

The Weekend Starts on Wednesday: True Stories of Remarkable NASCAR Fans by Andrew Giangola is just what you would expect it be from the title and much more. I admit that when I read the testimonials on the jacket I was a little leary.  Specifically Janet Evanovich’s “I laughed, I cried, I wanted to jump in my car and drive really fast.” Um okay…that seemed a little cliche to me but whatever. It didn’t stop me from reading the book and it is now one of my favorite books on my NASCAR shelf.  The book really is an honest to goodness salute to the people who help make the sport go round (get it? I made a joke!) and round (and another one- I am on it tonight)- The FANS.

This book weaves part of the beautiful quilt that is NASCAR fandom.  The book is divided into several sections including sections for: Lifetime NASCAR fans (aptly titled Fans for Life), Dale Earnhardt Sr Fans (Remembering Dale),  Fans of the sport who are famous in their own right (Famous Faces including Tom Cruise and Mario Batali to name a few), Fans who are “well known” in the NASCAR community (Flirting with Fame), Female fans (Ladies Loving NASCAR) and other sections I just can’t remember off the top of my head.  The author strives very hard to make sure that NASCAR fans are NOT perceived as stereotypes. This book shows that fans of one of the greatest sports out there, come from all walks of life and backgrounds, and come together over the love of speed and personality and community.  This book sheds light on the community aspect of the sport and not the driver / personality aspect with the point being there is no stereotypical NASCAR fan.

I loved reading this book- and I must say I did laugh (the Tire guy? He cracked me up), and I did cry (Lucky Penny Girl- if it doesn’t make you cry you are a robot I tell you), and well I always seem to want to drive fast anyway so I guess the Janet Evanovich testimonial wasn’t so cliche after all.  I also have a new respect for news anchor Brian Williams and will be keeping my eye open for his 3 stickers on the rental fleet of America.  Author Giangola has quite the knack for adding in just enough flavor to set the scene without peppering the stew too much (which in my opinion can bring about the “stereotypical” NASCAR fan).  Of course it doesn’t hurt that my favorite two drivers wrote the foreword (TONY) and the afterword (KYLE). Both prove that despite their hard driving ways they too not only appreciate NASCAR fans, but are both articulate as well (despite what Tony says).

I recommend this book to not just the ardent NASCAR fan but to the on-the-fence line fan, the sometimes fan, and the curious onlooker.  You may just see yourself mirrored in the stories presented in this book or see the neighbor down the street, the news anchor on your nightly news, or the quiet tech support girl in the office upstairs.  This book makes me proud to be a NASCAR fan…(not that I needed much encouragement there).

This was NOT my first trip to PIR actually. That happened this spring and you can read about that here. As you know I left on Wednesday and drove the 500 miles to Vegas to pick up BFFM!  She showed me her new office area and then we hung out for the remainder of the day.  I will say this- traveling on Wednesdays rock because i did NOT hit one lick of traffic on the way to Vegas.  The next day we packed up BFFM’s car and she drove us to Phoenix. We were staying at a different Hotel…this time in TEMPE just one the other side of the airport from where we stayed last time.  We used hotwire again and got our hotel cheap.  One of the good things about staying in the area we were staying in is that we were really close to ASU so that meant we weren’t at a loss for eateries and the such.  Although being by a college campus does have disadvantages too like the eateries being very busy on Friday and Saturday night!  Once we got to Phoenix on Thursday we checked into our hotel and “got our Phoenix legs” and settled in.

Anyhoo…one of our main reasons for going to Phoenix chase race was…I was going to a (hide your eyes fellow Smoke fans) Jeff Gordon Network event where the Jeff Gordon himself would be there.  It’s only fair really- i have drug BFFM to her share of home depot appearances (I haven’t caught Tony at an Office Depot yet  but I did at the Palazzo at the beginning of the season for the race at LVMS).  Anyway- this event was at a hotel in Scottsdale and started at 7:00 am (registration/sign in started at 6:30!!) and was only for fan club members and their one allotted guest (Yes I was the plus 1).  Let me tell you – while I have been to several driver’s cattlecall sponsor meet n greets and usually have a pretty darn good time at them- going to a fan club event is a completely different thing…it really rocked.  There was breakfast…and the raffling of door prizes (I won a snowman 24 ornament that I of course gave to BFFM)…there was a best dressed fan contest which was fun. Then Jeff Gordon came in and talked to us…gave us some opening remarks, answered some questions from the emcee and two lucky fans.  Then we were all called up table by table to get our item autographed and have our picture taken by a professional photographer (that part was odd and kinds surreal- I haven’t seen my picture yet but I am sure that I look like a complete doof because just as we were turning towards the photographer, Jeff asked me where I was from so I think I turned towards him to answer him…anyway…it was a really nice event and Jeff took his time with each person and would take a couple minutes to talk with you/answer questions with you…it was on a completely different level then those cattle call type sponsor events I am use to I will say that.  I wish Tony’s fan club did events at other tracks and not just around the brickyard…because the JGN one was fun.

BFFM at the Jeff Gordon Network event- checking out the merchandise table and getting ready to meet Jeff

BFFM at the Jeff Gordon Network event- checking out the merchandise table and getting ready to meet Jeff.

We really didn’t have much more to do on Friday because we didn’t have Friday tickets to the track.  So we did what most red-blooded American girls do…we shopped (in Scottsdale)! I picked up the rest of my nephew’s Christmas presents (and a cute little onsie for their new baby due in Feb). I picked up some birthday presents for my Mom because I would be spending her birthday driving between Phoenix and Vegas on the way home (oh don’t go feeling sorry for her- she was ok with it).

Side note about Phoenix: This was the third time I have been to Phoenix (second for a race) and this was the first time I was there during the time change (Arizona doesn’t participate in Daylight Savings Time).  The time change TOTALLY messed me up– but in the WRONG way. I live on Pacific time, and they were on Mountain- so their 9:00 pm was really my 8:00 pm yet to me felt like it was 11:00 pm.

On Saturday- we were at the track all day.  I don’t even remember what time we got to the track in the morning but basically we got there, put our backpacks on, I had my Canon 20D strapped around my neck, we hiked into the track- stopped in the merchandise area- made a couple purchases- and then we were into the track where I believe the cup cars were just starting to roll out onto the track for first practice when- yep it started to rain. I scrambled and put the camera in my pack and we walked around in the rain looking at the different booths. I spent a lot of time in the Chevy booth trying to figure out a way to drive off in the camaro they had on display (that is one sweet car).  They actually were letting fans test drive them but I was afraid if I test drove one I would be towing one back home behind the HHR. We spent some time walking around the pits, then found a spot to stand and watch the cars come zooming into the pits from the track under one of the pedestrian bridges- we stayed there as long as we could but figured out that most people didn’t stand their cuz its fairly noxious!!! It was actually a fairly good vantage point to see Jimmie, Jeff and Tony’s garage stall so we prob stood there most of practice…until we had headaches anyway.  We saw Chad Knaus walking back and forth a couple times and Steve Letarte once.  Unfortunately Tony’s garage stall was farther down so I didn’t see much of his guys- just him zooming in from the track.

Tony follows Kyle in during practice for some adjustments.

We then made our way to our seats in the AJ FOYT grandstands to watch the Nationwide race and hopefully see Kyle tie up the championship. Unfortunately that didn’t happen- instead Carl won and Kyle had a pretty bad day.

Best thing heard at the track on Saturday was two twentyish year old guys in the pit area talking back and forth while waiting for practice to start. The Jet dryers were on the track.

GUY ONE to GUY TWO: Dude- those things (motions towards the jet dryers)- they sound like planes!

GUY TWO nods in steadfast agreement with GUY ONE.

(I so much wanted to walk up to them and say: HERE’S YOUR SIGNS but I didn’t).

On Sunday we get to the track early- do a quick merchandise hauler sweep where I buy myself a pink hat with a sparkly 14 on it because some doofus left her other hat at the hotel.  It was sunny and not a cloud in the sky.  We walked down to the pit area and wandered up and down pit road and out onto the track where I took this picture of BFFM:

BFFM Flashes the 24 on track Sunday morning at Phoenix.

BFFM Flashes the 24 on track Sunday morning at Phoenix.

Sunoco on pit road.

Sunoco on pit road.

Per my usual thing- I took lots of pictures of tires on pit road.

Per my usual thing- I took lots of pictures of tires on pit road. These happen to be Matt Kenseth's tires.

After we decided we had had enough of pit road we went up to our seats (same as Saturday) to watch the race.  We all know the outcome there.

When we were parking in the morning BFFM pointed out to me a brand new camaro in the dirt lot we were parked in. We saw it on our way out and someone had put an empty beer bottle on the hood. JERK.

Most interesting fashion statement of Sunday:

Race fans are an interesting breed..this guys outfit proves it.

Race fans are an interesting breed..this guy's outfit proves it.

So far with our experiences PIR has the best traffic leaving and Infineon has the worst.

We stopped for a leisurely dinner and went back to our hotel. On our floor in the hallway I guess some people were trying to make our hotel in Tempe a home away from home by laying out their own welcome mat- that was the most bizarre thing I think I saw all weekend:

Home Away From Home in Tempe- our hotel room neighbors laid out a welcome mat in front of their door. ODD!

Home Away From Home in Tempe- our hotel room neighbors laid out a welcome mat in front of their door. ODD!

Joe Gibbs Racing announced today that as of the race at Texas Motorspeedway, Steve Addington will no longer be the crew chief for Kyle Busch.  He will be replaced by Dave Rogers, while Addington will be “reassigned” within JGR (see official team announcement here).

I admit when I read that this morning I was completely shocked.  Yeah Kyle hasn’t had the best of years- but you know everyone has a run of bad luck…is that any reason to replace your crew chief?  Especially a crew chief that you had a totally awesome run with the season before?

Then I started thinking about it and ruminating over it. Why why why?? Then  my friend sent me an email stating this: You don’t think that they are eventually going to move Addington over to Logano because Zippy is leaving to be with Tony Stewart do you? Well of course that just launched me into playing musical chairs with the crew chief/driver pairings and this is what I came up with should a game of musical crew chiefs arise out of this news:

Addington goes to Logano, Greg Zipadelli goes to Stewart, Grubb goes to Newman, Gibson goes to Junior, but I am still chiefless for Kyle Busch. So I guess the cheese stands alone for right now.

So what do you think is going on? Is it just a simple personality clash between Addington and Busch? Or is it a more involved game of musical crew chiefs that is going to happen? How do you think the drivers and crew chiefs line up (or how should they line up)?

If you are a NASCAR fan there is a good chance, according to ASK.com (the official search engine of NASCAR) that you are looking for a Kyle Busch Costume:

Are you going as Kyle Busch?

Are you going as Kyle Busch?

I have seen these NASCAR costumes for kids but never for adults. Why????

Now if you have been here for awhile you know that I LOVE Halloween. I really do.  I dress up every year even though I am well into adulthood (physically speaking anyways).  This year? I was really uninspired costume wise.  I am not going as my favorite driver or even as a fan for my favorite driver. If you can guess what I am going to be you get 10 brownie points…which are not refundable for anything except my undying appreciation that you took time out of your day to leave me a comment.

NASCAR’s Joey Logano and Kyle Busch will be on RAW on USA (DirecTV 242) today…check your local listings (looks like 9:00 / 8:00 CT).

Also, Thisi week is NASCAR WEEK on Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader (check your local listings).  Watch for drivers David Ragan, Michael Waltrip, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards to compete (one driver each day this week during the first half hour). Money the drivers win benefits The NASCAR Foundation and the driver’s favorite charity.

I have had three different topics for posts floating around my brain- some of them since the end of last week but just have not had the patience to actually sit down with them and write them out.  I am worried if I don’t do it soon they will go **poof** the way many of my best ideas do when I don’t give them the attention they deserve or need. But these are topics that I REALLY want to discuss here- so I am going to do them right here in this post even though they aren’t related really except that they are all NASCAR related. So bear with me.

I am going to start off with pit crew members: In the last two races there have been at least two incidents of crew members being hit on pit road.  In Richmond, Tony ended up flipping the tire carrier (Dwayne Moore)for David Reutimann’s 00 team, and just this past weekend at Louden, Clint Pittman a rear tire changer for Casey Mear’s had his foot fractured when run over (by Denny Hamlin if memory serves me correctly) on pitroad. He will be out the rest of the season. Now I know I have talked about how I am completely fascinated with pit crews. My friend and I were talking about the “controlled” chaos of the ballet that is a pitstop. I know that probably doesn’t sound very manly to describe a pitstop as a ballet- but that is exactly what it is.  It is extremely choreographed however when things things go wrong sometimes they go very very wrong as in the case with the two crew members getting hit lately.  Dwayne Moore, tire carrier recently clipped by Tony Stewart, suggests in an article on NASCAR.COM  that when a driver clips a crewman that the driver should be penalized. I really don’t know if I agree with that or not- in both cases recently- I don’t think that the drivers saw the crew members until after the damage had been done. It appeared to me that both were coming around from car when the car the crew members were working on were canted in their pitbox so that the rear was obscuring the view of the crew member.  I don’t know if there is anything more that can be done- but I don’t necessarily think that penalizing drivers is the answer. Of course then again it’s not my butt out there with these 3400 lb cars zooming in and out within inches of me either.

Now onto Sponsors: Within the last two days two major sponsors have pulled sponsorships from their teams for next season: Jack Daniels (currently sponsor’s Casey Mear’s 07) and Jim Beam (current sponsor of Robby Gordon’s 7). These are just the latest in some sponsors pulling out of our sport. However, I was thinking this would probably be the perfect opportunity for a sponsor to come into the sport.  How about an Apple sponsored car? Or Itunes? Or…(and you know the guys would be completely unimpressed by this one) but how about a Dooney & Bourke car (can you imagine the paint schemes on that sucker? Wicked cool).  Maybe a GOOGLE car? or a Kraft car? (I could go on and on so I will stop here).

And, finally, banquet tickets: NASCAR announced a little over a week ago that they would be allocating 300 banquet tickets for the top 12 teams to give away to fans. I was so excited when they announced that they would be moving the banquet to Las Vegas this year – because I can totally go- the awards banquet is actually on one of my furlough days so technically I wouldn’t even need much time off. However, it’s getting my hands on two tickets that is going to be the trick.  I REALLY want to go so you can bet I am going to be keeping my eyes open at the websites of all 12 teams hoping to luck into something.  What’s a girl got to do to get two tickets to the banquet anyway? Can you imagine the tweets from that event? I really want to be there live and in the flesh and not watching it again this year on my TV thinking damn it would be fun to be there!  I want to be in that 25% of the audience that is fans! If you see any opportunities you let me know!

UPDATED TO ADD PENALTY POINTS: NASCAR announced today that the number 18  Joe Gibbs Racing driven by Kyle Busch was penalized 25 owner points, 25 driver points an the crew chief, Steve Addington, was penalized $25,000 and placed on probabtion until the end of the year for failing post race inspection after the race at Louden. The car was in violation of 12-4-I (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-12.8 1B (the height of the car at the left front fender did not meet the required specification; too low in post-race inspection) of the 2009 NASCAR rule book. What that means in English? Is that the left front was too low. They were also cited for 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing).

Instead of doing my usual regurgitation and takes on the race from the standpoint of a Tony Stewart fan…I am just simply going to write a letter to Team Tony.

Dear Team Office Depot/Old Spice (and Burger King for two one more races):

You guys were so ON IT at the beginning through the middle of the season. Lately, however, something is just slightly OFF.   I obviously don’t know what but we really REALLY need to pull it together. It can’t be the pressure of whether or not you are making the chase because you have been locked in for several weeks.  You are not the only team that is off lately (Jimmie/Chad/Team Lowes comes to mind)…but you are my team!

The last two races alone wayward lugnuts have ruined our pitstops and lost us major positions. Now I am not saying it’s just the pit crew. Tony obviously had a mea culpa moment on the track today…and he said it right over the radio.  I think that some how we just get frustrated. Mistakes happen- but come on guys we need to recover!!

I know you all know that the next ten races are it. This is GO TIME.  We KNOW you have the equipment. We KNOW you have the driver. We KNOW you have the pit crew. Let’s just make them all work together.  If something happens…don’t get frustrated- just dig in a little deeper. I know you guys can do it! GO TEAM OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE/BURGER KING.

Let’s Go Fast! Amy

****

Notes About Richmond:

  • I have mentioned here numerous times that I have always been fascinated with pit crews. Kudos to ESPN and ABC for the pit crew cam. I LOVE IT. Just wish they had more of them.
  • Speaking of pit crews…one of the parts that has fascinated me is how they can run around the cars out there on pit road with cars just feet behind them, in front of them, all around them, buzzing in and out of pit boxes…nay PEELING OUT of pit boxes trying to get a leg up on competitors.  I know that there are safety measures (like mandated helmets and pit road speed limits) but still.  Tony’s run in with David Reutimann’s rear tire carrier was a reminder that those guys are in a dangerous job!!!  I think that because of the way David’s car was canted in the pitstall that he wasn’t able to see the tireman coming around to the other side.
  • Tony gets 50 brownie points for helping Carl Edwards down the stairs after the Chase 2009 class photo/celebration.  And to answer @KevinMBoots77‘s question he posed here, unfortunately my brownie points are really worth nothing but my admiration.  Although how cool would that be to have Amy’s Badgroove race wear. Hell…let’s get really crazy…what would an Amy’s Badgroove paint scheme look like???
  • I am majorly bummed that Kyle Busch did NOT make the chase. However to those who believe his is immature? Did you listen to his post race interview? If not you should (I am sure it will be on youtube some time in the next couple of days).  That was mature beyond his years.

And I will end this with: Let the games begin!

I like to watch Bristol.  It and Martinsville are my two favorite tracks.  But it really sucks to watch when your driver is doing not so good.  I was so glad that Kyle Busch won that race. I know I am a Tony fan-but I will tell you that I would rather Kyle Busch win over Mark Martin.  Not only because I don’t want Mark Martin that far in front of Tony when the chase starts, but I would really like Kyle to make the chase.

That being said…Team Old Spice/Office Depot had a terrible run of it didn’t they? This seemed to be the race where if it could go wrong? It did go wrong. Weird things. Like radio problems. Electrical issues.  I mean how many radios did they give him? Two? Three? What I want to know is why didn’t they just bring Tony in and have him put on a different helmet. They had one there. I realize it would have taken some time to undo his helmet and slap another on but I think it might have been better for him in the long run because Darian would have been able to compensate better for the ill-handling car. Did he ever have communication with his guys without having to pantomime or play telephone with Ryan Newman?

Speaking of Ryan Newman- I was glad to see him have a good strong run. I wish it could have been a little stronger.  But it was good for him.   Teammate finished 6th and moved up two positions to 7th  in the standings. Tony’s troubles had him finishing 33rd. He maintains his points lead and as of the Michigan race is locked into the chase.

Notes About Bristol:

  • I have to admit that at the beginning of the race when they kept talking about Tony’s radio problems this kept running through my head: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate…” I think it’s from Cool Hand Luke, not sure because I have never seen Cool Hand Luke…but it is in front of the song Civil War by Guns N Roses.
  • To whoever decided it was a good idea to paint Clint Bowyer’s car red with black trim for this night race. You made it extremely hard for me to pick out Tony’s car because I kept seeing yours and thinking it was Tony’s because it was the same color and had a black wing. Please do not do that again.
  • I felt bad after the race when they tried to interview Clint Bowyer. I believe I even said “Can’t you just leave him alone? He’s obviously upset.”
  • I have to say that I think it was INCREDIBLY sweet of Kyle Busch to give the checkered flag to a fan! That was so neat!

Next weekend we are off but Nationwide goes north of the border to Montreal.