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Well folks, here we are- the CHASE is on.  Who will win? Well you all know I want Tony to win of course and Ryan Newman to be a very close second.  I also want the chase to be close this year- I want it to come down to at least Phoenix- but Homestead would be better.  I want it close and fast and fun!

I wish I had caught qualifying or happened to actually dvr it. Tony qualified 2nd- which is a totally awesome qualifying effort for him. I was totally stoked when I saw that he had qualified that well.

I had forgotten how stressful it can be to watch a chase race….Where is my driver? Who’s in front of my driver? Who’s behind my driver.  Wait is that my driver blowing up…no just Kasey Kahne, I can relax.  It’s stressful. I can say this…Tony’s car seemed pretty good for the most part.  He led some laps. The pit crew seemed to struggle a little bit- but we are talking tenths of a second differences between his pit stops and those of the then leader Juan Pablo Montoya.

Then something went wrong- a loose axle cap.  The team came in the next round of pit stops and fixed it but of course it ate up a bunch of spots. Luckily though, they didn’t get a lap down and thanks to Tony driving past people and a two tire stop Tony was able to make his way up to 14th position before the end of the race (under a yellow/checker because of an accident by AJ Allmendinger at the start finish line).

Overall the race could have went a lot better- however it could have been a lot worse…

After CHASE RACE ONE Tony Stewart is in 6th position in the chase, 74 points behind Chase leader Mark Martin, who won the race at Louden. Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman finished seventh at the race and climbed to 7th in the chase standings.

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.

As many NASCAR fans know…ASK.COM is the official search engine of NASCAR and sponsor of driver Bobby Labonte.

I always like to see what kind of searches lead people to my site…and sometimes they are from Ask.com. I recently got my grubby little mitts on the top 10 NASCAR driver searches for ASK.COM and they are not surprising- well the fact that Kyle Busch is so low on the list is surprising but other than that…not surprising:

1.  Tony Stewart
2.  Jeremy Mayfield
3.  Dale Earnhardt Jr
4.  Jeff Gordon
5.  Dale Earnhardt
6.  Kasey Kahne
7.  Mark Martin
8.  Jimmie Johnson
9.  Kyle Busch
10. Carl Edwards

However my favorite part of the data I got was the Top-10 NASCAR related questions on ASK.COM (my snide helpful answers and comments in  bold italics):

1.  How do NASCAR drivers use the bathroom? The same way you and I do- a via a toilet. I just hope they wash their hands when they are done.
2.  What does NASCAR stand for? If you don’t know you probably aren’t a fan since this is a basic trivia question: National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.
3.  How many times has Jeremy Mayfield been married? Don’t know, don’t really care.
4.  Who won the Lifelock 400? The Lifelock 400 at Michigan was won by Mark Martin. The Lifelock.com 400 at Chicagoland was won by…wait for it…Mark Martin. Jeff Gordon came in second for both races as well. What are the odds of that?
5.  Who is Tony Stewart dating? Don’t know, don’t really care.
6.  How much do NASCAR drivers get paid? A whole hell of a lot more than I do but then again I don’t drive 200 mph for 3-4 hours….
7.  How do NASCAR drivers go to the bathroom? They stand up and walk to the nearest facility.
8.  At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 1/8 mile short straight-aways between the first and second, and third and fourth turns are termed what? Don’t quote me on this but I am about 90 percent sure they are called short chutes.  5 percent of me thinks I made it up the other 5 percent is thinking that is a bull riding term…and I am just confused from last weekend’s rodeo.
9.  Who holds the cup series qualifying record at Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Believe it or not I believe that is Casey Mears.
10. When is the next NASCAR race? Usually Sunday (this weekend its Sunday). Some times Saturday.

Another exciting finish thanks to the new double file restart rule.

Tony qualified and started 32nd in Saturday night’s race.  But once that green flag dropped Tony was on a mission to move forward and that is exactly what he did nearly immediately.  It didn’t take him long to work his way up to the top 15 and then to the top 10- where he stayed around 7th place most of the evening. He seemed to be struggling a bit with the handling of the car into the turns judging by his hotpass audio.  Crew chief Darian Grubb continuously took stabs at adjusting the car to make it work more for Stewart with adjustments to air pressure and trackbar. The race at Chicagoland was actually fairly incident free…the first two cautions of the race thrown for track debris.  Team Office Depot/Old Spice seemed to be working their way towards a solid top 10 possiby even a top 5 finish.

Then there was the bad pit stop and things just seemed to go downhill for a bit.  First there was the pitstop- under caution where Tony took off from the pits two lugnuts short of a full load.  Crew Chief Darian Grubb calls him back in almost immediately- reminding him to be calm about it. Tony may have been mad but if he was I didn’t hear it.   Then during the next caution, after pitting, Tony either cuts down a tire on debris or thinks he cuts down a tire and comes back in to the pits again.  During that last 60 laps he must have pitted 4 or 5 times, luckily all of them were during cautions and he fell no lower than 17th. Each time Stewart and Grubb discussed changes to the car that Tony needed to be able to push through the field.

Tony was determined though and didn’t let a frustrating night get the best of him and continued to push forward through the pack with the help of his spotter.  Before the last restart Tony and Darian had one of my favorite exchanges of the night with Darian telling Tony that it “aint been pretty.” and Tony telling Darian that was true but “he wasn’t done yet.” And how true that was because Tony ended up pushing forward into 4th, retaining his points lead over second place Jeff Gordon.  The race winner was Mark Martin. Teammate Ryan Newman finished 6th to help Stewart-Haas racing land another double top ten for the team.

NOTES on CHICAGOLAND:

  • How cool that Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon were able to finish 1-2 and how great for the fan to get that money! Wish it was me!
  • Boy Jeff Burton doesn’t like the double file restarts…but I do. Of course they have been working to Tony’s advantage so far.
  • I decided that I didn’t much care for the back-to-school paint scheme Tony was running- with the exception of the part of the car that looked like a composition book. I think it would have been cooler to make the whole car look like the book and then maybe have it look like a kid scribbled on it… instead of the crayons on the front and the pens on the side.  Plus I just don’t like the white base to the car.  But that is just me.
  • Speaking of alternate paint schemes…should it be called a paint scheme or a wrap scheme…since technically they wrapped the car?
  • Being alone and watching a race doesn’t stop me from talking to the tv. Or yelling things like “WATCH OUT!” like Tony can here me (regarding when Paul Menard nearly spun into his right side. Tony’s reaction was a nice calm “Wow that was about as close as I wanna get tonight.” Me I was all “WATCH OUT!!!”
  • I really could just slap whoever sits there at DirecTV central with their finger on the censor button where it comes to Tony’s radio feed. I know I have harped on this before…but I really wanted to know what he and Darian said at the end of the race but all I got to hear was something like “Damn….win them and lose them as a team.” I know that there was stuff inbetween.
  • I know that you know I love the commercials.  Did  you catch the new ending to the Toyota Autograph Seeker commercial…when the little flying robot comes back with Kyle Busch and he just kind of moans? It made me laugh.
  • Speaking of the commericals…I also noticed a new version of the old spice commercial that had the girl who in previous versions was “from russia” presenting tony with a big ole turkey leg- which he bites into and then proceeds to say “Thanks Old Spice” complete with mouthful. All I could do is shake my head. At least it wasn’t as disturbing as last week’s Burger King commercial that had Tony and the King (who you all know gives me the creeps) swapping spots in the car so Tony can enjoy himself a Double Whopper (I still can’t find that commercial on youtube or anything or I would post it for your pleasure)…that was just creepy. I wish Tony had just run over the King or something.

Next weekend is an off weekend. The next NASCAR race is on July 26th at Indianapolis Motorspeedway.