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And I thought Richmond was a long race. Seriously- Darlington was LONG- and I have to say that I agree with Tony’s comment on Race Day- Darlington should be shortened. I understand the history behind Darlington and The Southern 500- but really? I can’t imagine what it was like for those on the east coast!

My favorite part of the Mother’s Day weekend race is ALWAYS the command to start engines because it is given by a bunch of the driver’s moms! I LOVE that part.

Tony Stewart and his mom, Pam Boas, at driver introductions for the Southern 500 at Darlington (photo Credit: CIA Stock Photography, Inc.- borrowed from Tony Stewart facebook page)

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So the first night race at Texas Motor Speedway- or should we call it the Stewart Yo-Yo race?  Part of me says that the Stewart fan in me shouldn’t be disappointed with the race- after all the results weren’t THAT bad- hell we even picked up a position in the points…but I just can’t talk myself out of the disappointment over Texas.  Tony seemed to be fairly good in practice. This encouraged me.  Yet then he qualified 26th. Not so good- but then again- Tony’s not the best qualifier.  Little did I know that the swing between practice and qualifying would be indicative of the entire race on Saturday.  The most encouraging thing about the race is that they did seem to have the car fairly well set up in that Tony seemed to be able to move through the field with it, seeing as he seemed to have to do it over and over again between the early race pit road incident that caused some damage and the pit road speeding penalty.  Between racing it through the field and pit strategy the team ALMOST had it working their way up to a very respectable 3rd place- until the car ran out of gas on the white flag lap of the race.  It was sad to watch Stewart tumble down the ticker at the top of the screen as the cars were crossing the finish line- 3rd turned to 5th, to 8th, etc.  Tony ended up finishing 12th; however he actually rose one spot to 10th in the championship standings.

Congratulations to race winner Matt Kenseth.

Notes:

  • NASCAR on FOX got on my bad side during the post-race- Chris Meyer’s stated they would speak with Tony Stewart and then they NEVER did. URG.
  • I don’t know what is going on with Tony’s team- but I can only hope that they are getting this bad stretch out of their system early so we can totally ROCK the rest of the season.  Not only is it: #goTonyGo but it’s #goTeam14go!
  • So I felt a little bad for Carl Edwards- driving while not feeling so hot during the race.  That can’t be fun.  But then he threw his mom “under the bus” by blaming her cooking for it on national TV.  That made me wince.  I am sure he didn’t think about it before he said it- but wow…I think you probably owe your mom a HUGE mother’s day present now Carl.
  • What was with everyone playing bumper cars in the pits during the race? That was crazy.
  • Why is there no SAFER barrier on the inside wall where Mark Martin hit?  Texas should consider installing some.

Unfortunately it’s not like we can even relax next weekend- for it’s the race I watch every year through my fingers! It’s DEGA baby.

Well first off, I hope all of you out there had a great 4th of July holiday!  I had a friend in town (MISTY! YEY!) over the long weekend and believe me did we ever make the most out of the couple of days we had! Believe it or not? Our plans had NO FIREWORKS in it at all. Speaking of fireworks…the July race in Daytona will ALWAYS be the Firecracker 400 to me.  Coke Zero- you know I love you…at least you should since I swill enough of it to float a pontoon boat.

Of course we worked all of our fun around watching the race.  I admit I was a wee bit worried that it would rain all night in Daytona and our Sunday plans would have been ruined- but luckily they were able to get the race underway with just a 90 minute delay for a thunderstorm that passed through.

There I go getting ahead of myself though- so while I was out and about something happened during practice and Tony ended up wrecking in the primary car and resorting to a back up car.  One of the things that irritates me the most about Daytona is the fact that one lap my driver can be running 5th and the next 35th…all depending on how the draft was working out.   Tony was working his car towards the front of the race and even led the race twice (yey for bonus points for leading a lap) only to be caught up in “The BIG ONE” on lap 148 pf the race.  This “Big One” was aptly named because 19 cars were involved in the accident.  It was huge.  Although if you were watching the TNT race coverage you would think that the only car that was on fire was Mark Martins.  Nope…as Misty said…I guess Tony’s Burger King sponsored car took “flame broiled” a bit too literal:

Tony Stewart bursts into flames after a late race crash in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on July 3, 2010. UPI Photo/Malcolm Hope Photo via Newscom

Tony Stewart bursts into flames after a late race crash in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on July 3, 2010. UPI Photo/Malcolm Hope Photo via Newscom

That picture caption up there is NOT something I wrote …I just had to point that out- they are written by the source of the photos…because I would have never worded it “Tony Stewart bursts into flames” because that makes it sound like the man spontaneously combusted or something….I just had to clarify that.  Anyway, those flames look like they are right on my name. My name was probably all melted and charred.

After seeing a photo like that you might be surprised to know that Tony’s pit crew did an awesome job fixing up the 14 Burger King chevy and were actually able to get him back on the track.  You might be surprised to find this out because TNT never really mentioned it at all.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JULY 03: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Burger King Chevrolet, drives after being involved in a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tony Stewart, driver of the Burger King Chevrolet, drives after being involved in a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

 

You can see from the above picture that the crew got Tony’s car back out on the track- granted it didn’t look the same.  From the Tony Stewart  Facebook race report:

“Really proud of everyone on this race team,” said Stewart, who started ninth after qualifying was rained out on Friday and the field was set by car owner points. “Everyone had a role and they worked quickly and efficiently to get me back out to make enough laps to where we ended up picking up a lot of positions. Little things like that make a big difference.”

I think Tony and the whole #14 crew should be really proud of getting back onto the track and not giving up and just loading up the hauler and heading back up to Charlotte.  Tony was able to gain back several positions (7!) and really didn’t too much of a hit in the points. Tony finished the race 25th and is currently 9th in points.  Race winner was Kevin Harvick. Notes About Daytona:

  • TNT’s Wide Open Coverage? Kind of stinks when you have a small TV. I am just saying.  I also find it kind of stressful because I don’t feel I have a moment’s break.
  • Speaking of TNT- you know what was kind of sucktastic about the broadcast?  That they never really talked about Tony after “the big one” and honestly they didn’t really talk too much about him before it.  But the only thing I heard about Tony was “Tony Stewart (long pause that made Misty look over at me with a worried look) released from the infield care center.” Yep that is all they said.  It would have been nice to grab a look at the team repairing the car in the garage or maybe the car as it rolled back out onto the track or something…anything.
  • I forgot how FUN it is to watch a race with Misty. She is competitive and it definitely spills over into her NASCAR loving.
  • My favorite moment from the race was watching the Lowe’s pit crew guys drag Mark Martin from his burning car…it was so brave and yes I know they are teammates but I bet they wouldn’t have done it not matter who it was. Good thing  Mark Martin is on the smallish side and was probably a bit easier to help get out of the car!
  • Did anyone else catch the Burger King commercial about Tony actually working at a Burger King? I have looked ALL OVER for more information on this and haven’t found any. Let me know if you come across any information…I would love to write about this.
  • I also wanted to pass along this article from Raygan Swan at NASCAR.com about a woman who got her minivan skinned by Newman sponsor TORNADOS as well as got to visit him in Daytona…it’s a great read.

Next week: Chicago at Night! Whoo!

This is a new feature of Amy’s Bad Groove….a guest column by Misty!  Misty is a great writer, my best friend, and someone who supports badgroove from behind the scenes.  I hope she writes more of them for us and I think you will see why once you read her first post!—Amy

I admit it…I have a competitive streak a country mile wide.  Some say it is due to my astrological sign (Fierce Leo- ROAR!), but I simply don’t get all the people who don’t feel the same desire, no need to win.  The need not only to win, but to decimate your opponent, whether in a debate, a feverish game of Monopoly, a rousing episode of Jeopardy or on the track.  I not only want to win, I want to crush my opponent so there can be no doubt who the King or Queen of the Jungle is (there is that Leo again, ROAR!).  Whatever it is that gives me this irrepressible desire to obliterate, it also draws me to NASCAR.  The competition, yes, but more importantly the individual competition where at the end of the day there is a single victor proving dominance.
 
Of course my competitve nature also raises my stress level to scary levels and transforms me into a sailor many Sunday afternoons when my driver isn’t winning.  It took me a long time to accept that my guy isn’t going to win every weekend and big picture points is as important as the individual races.  I am particularly disconcerted when certain drivers are ahead of my guy:  certain drivers being drivers that my friends or co-workers root for.  It is like it is a personal competition between me and them and having their driver finish ahead of mine, is a personal defeat.  If I am at a race, and the guy in front of me is wearing a Bobby Labonte shirt, then my mission becomes to finish ahead of Labonte or whoever this poor sucker in front of me is supporting, all so that at the end of the race I can smugly think to myself “ha- I win!”  I can bask in my silent victory celebration in my own mind!  Crazy?  Probably.  Competitive and cut-throat?  Without a doubt!
 
All of this digression to set the stage for the horror I felt this weekend at Bristol when I heard Mark Martin ask his spotter to ask Kurt Busch’s spotter if Kurt would “let” Mark lead a lap to get his five bonus points, so that they could both stop racing so hard.  Well… all I can say is- never before have I said this and I never thought I would, but Kudos to the Blue Deuce for NOt accepting Mr. Martin’s offer.  From my perspective on my couch, it did not appear that Kurt was in any danger of losing the lead or running his tires off, so why on earth would he agree to such a deal.  That flies in the face of the competitive nature of the sport and is sheer madness in my opinion!  First of all, where is the competition in such an “arrangement”?!  Secondly, how much of a schmuck would Kurt look like come this summer if Mark bests him for a spot in the Chase by a few points?  Points that Kurt more or less would have given him in such a deal. 
 
Racing is about competition and dominance not sharing and taking turns- this isn’t kindergarten guys!  If you can race for the lead great- do it, if you can’t, perhaps you can steal those five bonus points with a strategy move- stay out a little longer next caution – but don’t ask to be given the points!  As one of my new favorite t-shirts says, Go! Race! Win! ROAR!

Joey “Sliced Bread” Logano isn’t someone I usually blog about.  I am taking the same attitude towards Joey as I am towards Danica (I said it…the D word) and that is very much a “wait and see” attitude because pretty much I decided that you don’t just jump in a stock car and know everything about everything- no matter where you cut your racing teeth.  I do keep tabs on where Joey …just out of habit if nothing else- 10 years following an orange 20 car…I can’t help but occassionally wonder where they are at (although I am now awesome at being able to pick out Tony’s new color – even up against other red cars like Kasey Kahne or Bobby Labonte).  Anyway,  I can’t resist blogging about Joey today.

In case you didn’t know, Joey won his first NASCAR SPRINT CUP pole today.  Exciting right? He SHOULD be excited.  Winning your first pole has got to be a good feeling.

However Joey is not receiving the usual Coors Light Pole award.  Why? Because Joey is only 19 years old.  You might remember me mentioning both last year and this year during the Budweiser Shoot Out position draw that Joey’s crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, would draw Joey’s bottle (the position numbers for the Shoot Out are drawn by picking a bottle of Budweiser containing a flag with the starting number on it).  This was due to the fact that Joey is underage.

So instead of the Coors Light Pole award, Joey gets the 21 Means 21 pole award.  I just find it kind of funny.  I can only imagine that Joey can not WAIT to turn 21 so he can pick his own Bud Shoot Out bottle and that they don’t have to change the name of the pole winner award so he can accept it.

It was also pointed out to me that Mark Martin was going for his 50th pole award (and if I remember correctly there was something about him tying or beating a record from Cale Yarborough too) at Bristol.  And it’s pretty damn ironic that Mark Martin is old enough to be Logano’s father….

Anyway congratulations to Joey and the Home Depot team on their first pole…no matter what they call it.

Ok…so there are a couple of what I consider “funny” outtakes from the whole champions week festivities that I wanted to share with you (ok after further looking over of my postie note about the “outtakes” post I guess two are outtakes, one is a random snippet of someone else’s conversation and one is something I want answered):

  • After all drivers had passed us on the red carpet into the roast, Jimmie being the last driver to meander by us and by the time he was pretty much out of earshot of us, my friend turned to me and said “Whatchya doing Jimmie?” (in the vain of the Lowe’s commercial)….to which I replied “Winning a championship Chad.” Now this in itself is NOT funny- its just something we occasionally do (snipe back and forth in commercial or movie dialogue snippets) but what WAS funny was that there was some guy on the red carpet right in front of us at the time, who thought we were pretty damn funny. I don’t know who he was but he was on the carpet wearing a credential of some sort…he looked like he wanted to interject something into our conversation…he even stopped right in front of us and chortled but didn’t actually say anything.
  • My BIGGEST faux pas of the entire weekend…and if you know me you know I am faux pas prone…also happened along the red carpet of the roast…but earlier.  I actually debated NOT telling you but then…what is the fun of that if I can’t make fun of myself right? So Denny Hamlin has just passed us on the red carpet…and by just past us I mean apparently he is like still two or three inches from me but I had shifted my attention to Mark Martin. So I catch sight of Mark Martin who is probably about fifteen feet or so down the red carpet to my right…which is the way I am facing and I say to my friend “He is so cute!” Meaning that Mark Martin is so cute because he is so little and friendly. And I mean both of those…he is like the tiniest man…but so so nice. Well my friend looks at me with like a horrified look on her face but says NOTHING to me.  So a little while later after the above bullet, I learn that Denny Hamlin was still right next to me and looked over at me thinking I was talking about him…and smiled. Thank goodness I didn’t realize this at the time or I probably would have either: A. Told Denny I was actually talking about Mark Martin…but really you’re not bad yourself, or B. Run off and hid behind something. Jury is still out on which I would have actually done.
  • The next incident happened at The Stewies. It had been awhile because we had already moved in towards the center of the balcony at least once or twice as we now had people on both sides of us. Ryan Newman was announced as the guest…and made his way down the golden staircase onto the stage, escorted by at least one, probably two lovely showgirls.  He takes his seat at the table with Stewart and Yokum, at which point the guy standing next us up in the balcony proclaims “That Ryan Newman, he’s a big boy! Jesus!” (but the Jesus is drawn out like…GEEEEEEEEEEEEZUZ)- we weren’t even sure if he was talking to us or just made the statement outloud to himself or what.  My friend just looks at me and I just shrug.  The day before I stood pretty much right in front of Ryan Newman…and what you need to know about me is I am on the short side- 5′ 4″ in shoes…and I didn’t think Ryan was overly tall or overly wide (unlike Mark Martin who was incredibly tiny)- especially where I felt the need to proclaim it in such a dramatic fashion! I guess you really kind of had to be there for this one to be funny….
  • And this last one…is more of just me wondering outloud (or in writing) kind of thing. Ok so at The Stewies when Ryan and Greg Biffle left the stage Tony was bidding them adieu and said something to Biffle like Don’t Get Into Too Much Trouble….or something like that. And then patted Ryan on the back and said “I know I don’t need to worry about you- you don’t gamble and you don’t drink…” I didn’t think anything too odd about it…I just carried on. Well then while watching the actual awards (from the comfort of my friend’s living room) Tony said something during his speech about Ryan getting him into trouble when they are together….ok if Ryan doesn’t drink or gamble…he must be kind of straight-laced kind of guy…so what kind of trouble can Ryan get Tony into?

Well that’s it in regards to Champion’s week. I had a  GREAT time.  I hope it stays in Vegas for awhile because I will go out of my way to be in town each year!

So as many of you know I left December first in my HHR for Vegas. My friend and I were SO excited about Champions week that even though I had just driven/ridden 1700 miles round trip two weeks ago for the Phoenix chase race I was READY! My drive to Vegas was problem free and my BFF and I spent the rest of the day hanging out and planning our week’s schedule.  It started on Wednesday at FanFest- which was being held at Las Vegas Motorspeedway.  In our excitement we got their a little early and sat in the car, parked in the infield of a mostly empty race track. It was actually kinda creepy feeling.

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Yesterday was the second race of the NASCAR chase. I was in Vegas for the Truck races and on Sunday I ended up missing the first 22 laps of the race at Dover for reasons I will actually cover in a post tomorrow.  I was traveling during practice and qualifying- but my friend kept me up to date. Tony didn’t have the best qualifying run- and earned a 22nd starting position.

So there I am sitting at the house of my friend watching the race and then the lap 31 crash happened.  Wow.  Watching Logano flip ten times was scary. That was one of the more frightening wrecks I have seen in quite awhile. I have to say that I watched it live, watched all the replays and rewatched it again on Tony Stewart’s hot pass channel after I got home and I do NOT see it as being Tony’s fault. Bobby Labonte slid down in front of Logano who slightly tagged him and slowed up. Tony hit Logano and someone hit Tony. It was one of those chain reaction things that happen.  You know one of “them racin’ things.” Since Tony was the inrace reporter for the national broadcast we could hear him say that he was sorry that he just drove through Logano. What you don’t hear or see on the national broadcast that you did with hotpass was Tony sitting in his car under the red flag.  He sat there occasionally shaking his head like he felt REALLY BAD about the whole deal.  I am just glad that Joey walked away unscathed.

After the cars get rolling again after the red flag I see that Tony has front and rear damage, and am sure that has ruined his race.  However, the pit crew quickly patch his front and rear damage without Tony losing too many positions or going a lap down. Tony’s crew seemed to be able to get him in and out of the pits fairly quickly, and tony was able to gain some track positions. What I didn’t get was the call to bring Tony in during that last pitstop. I just don’t understand it. I think he may have finished better if he hadn’t come in…but what do I know.

Tony ended up finishing 9th and gaining one position in the points- moving up to fifth in the points standings, 106 points behind leader Mark Martin. Stewart-Haas racing team mate Ryan Newman finished tenth and retained his seventh position in the standings.

  • I am going to go out and stand on a really unpopular limb here and say this: Can we stop assuming that Mark Martin has the championship in the bag? The race announcers seem to assume that he is the winner. We are only 2 races into the chase.  A lot can happen. I realize he is the sentimental favorite of many (including my father), but there is a lot of racing left in the season (to paraphrase Mark Martin himself).
  • Also- can we please STOP hearing how old Mark Martin is and comparing him to Harry Gant in age of accomplishment factoids? I seriously do NOT understand why it’s even relevent.
  • Yes I heard Tony snapped at a journalist in the media room at Dover. Think about it people….these are the playoffs. I am sure a lot of the Chase drivers have other things they would rather be doing, like talking to their crews about their car, than doing media.  Especially when people ask the same questions over and over. I think we should start a list of questions media should NOT ask Tony right now or risk feeling the wrath of Tony. The top of that list? Danica. YOu wanna know more about Danica and if she is considering running a part time schedule in NASCAR still? Ask Danica not Tony.
  • Also- can we just have Tony win a race? Please.

This coming weekend we are at Kansas for Chase Race Three.

COMING UP SOON ON BADGROOVE: My first Camping World Truck Series Race and Why The NASCAR CAFE Can Suck It.