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I just want to take second to THANK everyone for all the support for the last post (the Open Letter To GMA). It was truly overwhelming to see how many of you out there not just felt the same way as I did but shared the link, shared your thoughts (either on the original post, on FaceBook, on twitter)! While I have no doubt that my letter did little in the overall scheme of things- especially judging on the ABC Nightly News coverage this evening, I like to think that us fans banding together at least showed that Tony Stewart fans NASCAR fans are not blind to slanted, biased reporting.  Hopefully it somehow got back to Tony and his people that we support him on a wide scale. Onto the actual post.

I think after the post-race antics last Saturday night, most of the NASCAR world was waiting and watching to see what the NASCAR sanctioning body would dole out.  I know I certainly was. In case that you haven’t heard yet (and I know most of you have) these were the penalties doled out by NASCAR today:

Brad Keselowski was fined $50,000 and placed on probation through the Phoenix race. Tony Stewart was fined $25,000 and placed on probation through the Phoenix race.

I know everyone has thoughts on what should and should NOT have been done with the penalties. I know I certainly do and judging by some of the things I read on social media afterwards my thoughts may not be the most popular ones. So I ask that you approach my thoughts with an open mind- and remember these are MY opinions and nothing more.

What NASCAR Did Right

NASCAR created this kind of drama. How? The new Chase format.  I find the CHASE format to be a pressure cooker and I am just a fan. I know how stressful I feel every third race- knowing drivers are going to be eliminated, and as a Stewart fan I don’t even really have a horse in the race. Can you imagine how stressful that is for the drivers in the chase? They are fighting tooth and nail to make it through to the next round- when in chases past they wouldn’t have to worry about that elimination. If they had a bad race the could hopefully recover and carry on.  That is not the case this season. Every race counts.  The three major players in the shenanigans after race, Keselowski, Hamlin, and Kenseth, are three of the twelve drivers fighting for those eight spots in the next round.  Tempers are bound to flare.

That, combined with the fact that Hamlin and Kenseth used their words as well as a little physical scuffling- really didn’t warrant NASCAR penalty in my opinion.  No one was in any real danger- especially considering the throngs who showed from all three race teams, as well as NASCAR officials and others to keep the drivers from landing any real blows. I didn’t even see Hamlin throw any blows- just what looked to be a towel in the footage I saw. If NASCAR truly wants to have a “boys have it” attitude- well that is just part of boys having at it.  So not fining Hamlin and Kenseth was the first thing NASCAR did right.

Secondly- while I admit that I think Brad Keselowski should have been fined more, I think just a monetary and probationary fine was indeed appropriate.   He should get one pass to not miss the chase for losing his cool. Yes it was careless to burn out through a garage area rifled with people- which is why I think the fine should be quite a bit more. However, I can’t think of any driver who hasn’t lost his cool at some point. Should it ruin his chances at a championship? Not the first time. (I am not saying that I want him to win the championship mind you- I stand by my grid no matter how busted my brackets may be).  Now if he does something again? Then I say take away enough points so that he is effectively eliminated from the chase. But not the first time, especially when the new chase format seems to breed angst.

What NASCAR Did Wrong

NASCAR, however, was wrong to penalize Tony Stewart.  Yes Tony backed into Brad Keselowski at the entrance to pit road.  We all saw that.  Brad did instigate it, by nailing Tony pretty squarely in the rear bumper.  Whether Brad meant to do it or not, we can’t be sure, it looks like he actually glanced off of “rubbing” Matt Kenseth and may have accidentally bumped into Tony. What Tony did was a knee jerk reaction to being rear ended while he was at a complete stop waiting to be able to turn into the garage area. He had likely just witnessed Brad Keselowski purposely pit Denny Hamlin on the cool down lap (if you look behind the action where Brad hit Denny- you can see Tony Stewart skirt by from behind).  Tony likely didn’t have a beef with Brad and wondered WTF he did to warrant Brad’s ire. I mean wouldn’t you? You just witnessed him try to take out Denny on the cool down lap and then he rear ends you? So that is the first reason, that Tony should not have been penalized. Not to mention the fact that if you take the entire scheme of the post race altercations – what Tony did? Was just a teeny, fairly inconsequential portion of the larger picture.

My second reason that Tony shouldn’t have been penalized- is a little more convoluted.  NASCAR has been promising us fans that they are not levying any “secret” fines, like the ones they use to issue in the days of yore for especially those in the “detrimental to stock car racing” category.  We all know that Tony’s image in the mainstream media is not the best right now.  We also know that the $25,000 fine was a mere slap on the wrist. However, with the position that Tony has been in lately- mainstream media is going to have a field day with it. Or rather ARE having a field day with it (have you seen ABC Nightly New’s report of Tony being fined. Did they even mention Brad getting a fine?). This is not the kind of press that NASCAR needs, nor Tony Stewart.  Makes me wish we were back to the days where fines were sometimes secretive.  That way- mainstream media wouldn’t be given anything to fuel their biased-against-Tony fire.  

One Thing NASCAR Might Consider

Am I the only one who expects to hear an announcement that it will be a rule that you must keep your safety gear on (seatbelts, HANS devices, Helmets, ect) on until your car is parked in the garage? I have seem more drivers than just Matt Kenseth start to unbuckle on the cool down lap or bringing it into the pits over the years.  Things happen- and it should be common sense that you keep your gear on. (Not to say that I wouldn’t be mad if someone hit me while I was unbuckled like Matt Kenseth was on Saturday night. In that moment- I can totally understand his fury with Keselowski). But safety is safety. 

So those are my thoughts on Penalty Tuesday.  Share your thoughts with me as always…I love hearing them.

ALSO:

Have you seen this blogpost by The Orange Cone: It’s Almost Halloween Let the Witch Hunt Begin! I tell you the more I read the Cone- the more I love what he says.

Tony getting into his car at Charlotte

Tony getting into his car at Charlotte Motor Speedway, October 9th, 2014. (Photo credit; Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/David Yeazell/CIA Stock Photo Copyright)

Tony Stewart gets serviced on pit road

Tony Stewart’s #14 Bass Pro Chevrolet gets serviced on pit road on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

So much for flag-to-flag coverage of the chase races huh?  For all that NASCAR has done building up this new Chase format- building it to be more like traditional playoffs like you see in other series, did they ever have an epic televised coverage fail on Saturday. Did you tune in on Saturday expecting to see the 5th race of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint cup? So did I. Were you disappointed to see college football instead? ME TOO! (more…)

(This is part 2 of our two part  annual Sonoma “Race-cation” post! Check out Part 1: Friday & Saturday here— Amy)

Sunday would prove to be one of our busiest and most interesting race days that we have experienced to date. Thanks to NASCAR we had earned a VIP race experience and what an experience it was.

Sonoma Raceway

Bright and early Sunday morning picture taken from parking lot 1 as I waited for the parking shuttle as tweeted June 22nd, 2014 (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Our race day started as another bright and even earlier day.  We wanted to be absolutely certain we were at Sonoma Raceway in plenty of time so we left quite early knowing that highway 37 towards Sonoma is two lane for much of it (one in each direction) and can back up quite quickly and we wanting to leave nothing to chance. Because we left so early we encountered virtually no traffic except the usual getting into the raceway traffic so by the time we were parked and waiting for the shuttle to the paddock/media center we realized we were there well before we needed to be. So what do an early Misty and Amy do at a race track early? They take a quick walk down the length of the garage and then out to the area behind the pit stalls before they are too crowded.

Early Sunday Morning Pit Road

Pit road at Sonoma Raceway early Sunday morning on June 22nd, 2014 (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

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Tire

Matt Kenseth and the 2014 Goodyear Support Our Troops Tire (Photo Courtesy of Goodyear)

Goodyear will again be running a SUPPORT OUR TROOPS tire design this year at all NASCAR races at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the month of May, culminating in the longest race of the NASCAR season, the Coca-Cola 600 on May 25th.  The custom tires (see photo above) will coincide with the launch of Goodyear’s fifth annual “Goodyear Gives Back” campaign—a charitable program benefiting the Support Our Troops® Organization, a nonprofit nationwide organization that works to bolster the morale and well-being of America’s troops and their families.

As I mentioned I was gone to Phoenix last weekend- for the race and other fun with Misty.  It’s a trip we’ve made at least once a year since…what? 2009? Anyway- this year’s annual 1700+ mile road trip was fun as it always is.  I drove 500 miles from here (central coast of California) to Vegas and spent the night with Misty and Ronald her adorable dachshund puppy. Now what you need to know about Ronald is that he is an excited pee-er. So when he is excited he pees and luckily for me he finds me very exciting. So when I am about 20 minutes out or so- Misty usually tries to take him for a walk hoping to alleviate any possible peeing (on me) marathons when I get there.  Anyway, I turn into Misty’s neighborhood to see Misty and little Ronald walking up one of the nearby streets. I stopped and said hello and little Ronnie of course wanted to race the car- let me tell you he put his little legs and heart into trying- but he is a mini-doxie and as the shortest legs I have ever seen on a puppy. I beat them to her house so I was waiting for her to turn the corner and as I watched Misty (the ardent Jeff Gordon fan) walk up her little street I noticed something. Let me show you a picture and see if you notice it too:

Misty when I arrived

Misty in her yard when I arrived at her place in Vegas. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

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Mark Martin at NHMS

Mark Martin, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, looks on from the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at NHMS on September 20, 2013 in Loudon, New Hampshire.(Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

There are only eight more races of the 2013 NASCAR season now- eight. Usually at this point in the season I am starting to dread the end of the season- but I find myself looking ahead to 2014 so much that I don’t have that usual foreboding dread about the season ending.  The reasoning behind this is two fold I am certain. The big fold being I want to see (a healed, healthy, raring to go) Tony Stewart back at the helm of the #14 Chevy SS and leading the way for the new Stewart-Haas stable.  I excited about the team dynamic for Stewart-Haas Racing next season- I have made no secret of that.  Tony Stewart, Kevin Havick and Kurt Busch…I think that has potential to be HUGE because while I am a Tony Stewart fan- I see nothing but talent in both Kevin and Kurt and think that having them work together has AWESOME written all over it (and yes I know that I am in the minority here but I do think Kurt Busch has HUGE amounts of talent).

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The 14 crew services the Mobil 1 Chevy piloted by Mark Martin at Chicagoland. (Photo credit: Stewart-Haas Facebook Page- click on link to be taken to the original)

Personally- I think that the over 5 hour rain delay was a bit much.  It has been pretty clear that mother nature is not a NASCAR far sometimes and she reared her head at Chicagoland on Sunday- just shy of halfway through the race.  (more…)

The crew of the #14 Bass Pro Chevy performs a pit stop at Bristol. (Photo Credit: Stewart-Haas Racing Facebook Page- click on pic to be taken to the original)

I know I have said this before- but I love the excitement of racing at Bristol. It and Martinsville are both my favorite tracks to watch on TV (I have not yet made it to either track – but I will one day). But racing at Bristol at night- man there is just something about the lights that adds to the excitement and makes the tension and the vibe at the track almost palpable even through the medium of television.  This Bristol race was no different with plenty of dust-ups, disappointed drivers and of course that racing and that FINISH!  Go ahead and admit it- a tiny little part of you wanted Kasey Kahne to bump-and-run Matt Kenseth…just a little bit right? I certainly did.  I really don’t think anyone would blame him after the issue Kasey has had with the JGR drivers- Matt in particular.  My question to you is this: If Kasey had bumped Kenseth out of the way to take the checkers would that have changed your opinion of Kasey for the better, for the worse, or not at all? Feel free to leave your answer in the comments- I am just curious what your thoughts on this are. (more…)