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Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America)

Qualified:20th

Finished: 15th

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…)

Crew members push the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet of Tony Stewart on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on April 19, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

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I try to think of some witty title for each race post and I admit it isn’t always the easiest of tasks.  This time I did NOT come up with it myself: I totally credit my TwitterPeep @darksider14 with coming up with TallaKansas!  So Kansas was a complete wreck fest on Sunday with a new track record of 14 cautions, the previous track record being set the day before at the Nationwide Series race on Saturday with 12.

(Photo Credit: Borrowed Without Asking From The Official Tony Stewart Website- click on photo to be taken to original)

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As a Tony Stewart fan, I went into the 2011 Sprint Cup chase extremely pessimistic.  After all, Tony Stewart went into the chase saying he thought the team was wasting a chase berth with the way they had been performing.  Of course we all know what happened; Tony Stewart went on a tear- won FIVE of the ten Chase races (something that had NEVER been done before)  including the season closer at Homestead-Miami, thus winning the Chase by TIEBREAKER.  It was both exhilarating and stressful to be a Tony Stewart fan towards the end of the 2011 chase.  I was AT the Phoenix race and spent most of the race perched on the patio of the media center- watching the race through my fingers.  I don’t even remember much about the Homestead race- except that I was so stoked that I promised my family that if Tony won the championship I would treat them to dinner at the Outback. Guess you all know what I had for dinner that night.  What made the chase so great last year- especially during Homestead was that it was so CLOSE- and to win it Tony Stewart HAD TO WIN THE RACE- a second place wouldn’t cut it.

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: (L – R) Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Martin Truex Jr, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Clint Boyer, Denny Hamlin, Kaey Kahne and Tony Stewart pose in front of “The Bean” as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. They are the twelve drivers competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

This year however, I feel EXCITEMENT going into the chase because this year NASCAR’s Chase for the 2012 Sprint Series Cup could be brought home by ANY of the 12 drivers. I personally do not count ANYONE out.  Sure Tony’s the reigning champion and I would LOVE to see him become a FOUR time champion. Denny Hamlin goes in to the Chase seeded first and his crew chief Darian Grubb no doubt feels he has a point to prove. But I can’t count out Jimmie Johnson- he’s won five and is looking hard for 6. With FOUR of the 12 cars being Hendrick Motorsports cars that means mathematically (and I am NOT good at math people) there is a 1/3 chance that winner could be a Hendrick car- and Junior has been looking strong and CONSISTENT all season. And Jeff Gordon has been driving like a maniac (in a good way) these last few races.  And Kasey’s had some bad luck but pretty much had that first Wild Card spot in the bag in Richmond. Kenseth no doubt would like to leave the 17 team with a Championship before jumping over to Joe Gibbs Racing next season.  Harvick is tenacious and they didn’t give him the nickname THE CLOSER for anything.  Then we have dark horses like Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer who have also been RIGHT there all season long.  And I would NEVER ever ever count out Brad Keselowski. In my mind- right before we go into the first race of the Chase it is ANYONE’s trophy right now.

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Front row L-R The Next 9 drivers Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Cameron Hayley, Dylan Kwasniewski, Daniel Suarez, Sergio Pena, Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace and Corey LaJoie, back row Eleven of the NASCAR Chase drivers L-R Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

As a NASCAR fan, the fact that it is anyone’s championship right now is EXCITING. Of course I still want Tony Stewart to win it!

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Tony Stewart (C) speaks with young drivers who are from the Next 9 at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)

Who do YOU think will win it all?

I was wondering about what kind of racing the “new” new Bristol would produce. I wondered about how the grinding would effect the track and the grooves.  I was working when practice was happening on Friday so didn’t really even get to see any cars on the track.  I had no idea what to expect. During pre-race some drivers kept stating that it would be hard to pass. That is never any fun to watch- so I honestly worried that the race would be terribly boring. Qualifying had been rained out so Tony started 21st, that being his position in first practice.

Tony's Friday Media Availability

Tony Stewart addressed the media on Friday at Bristol. (Photo Credit: The Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page- click the picture to be taken to the original)

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Hands down the most amazing moment of the much anticipated and long delayed (thank you very much Mother Nature) Daytona 500 was the explosive collision between Juan Pablo Montoya and the jet dryer. While certainly not an amazingly good moment- it is a moment that will go down in NASCAR history and will forever make the replay reels. From the collision, to the fire, to the massive cleanup to get the last 40 laps in, this was a truly captivating moment of the 500, but the most amazing thing is that everyone involved was able to walk away.

Personally I was secretly hoping that the race would not conclude and Blaney would have been deemed the winner- that would almost match last year’s stunning win by Bayne, but amazingly the track surface survived and Kenseth took the checkers. Despite the delays, this is a 500 to remember.

What a wild and crazy Daytona 500! Congratulations to winner Matt Kenseth!

I don’t know if I am a big fan of the “pack” racing being back.  To me “pack racing” is just asking for crashes that damage multiple cars.  It’s scary and dangerous and I am glad they don’t race super speedways more because THIS type of racing is what made me watch super speedways through my fingers to begin with.  The drivers seem to like it though- because I guess they feel more in control of their own destiny during the course of the race.  I don’t know about that though…let’s ask Tony Stewart how in control of his own destiny he felt right about here:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6, spin after an on track incident during the Daytona 500 February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

Tony was able to avoid multiple crashes until the very end. Despite taking a spin (above) and hitting (below) Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart was still able to bring the Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy home 16th!  I credit this entirely to Misty’s assertions that you “can’t keep Stewart down” – she was so right about that!

Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, spins in front of Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 during the Daytona 500 on February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America)

The result wasn’t exactly what I wanted to see as a Tony fan (I REALLY wanted him to get that first Daytona 500 win!) but judging by all the mayhem he avoided/overcame? We’ll take it!  Tony is currently 16th in the points standings eighteen points behind race winner and current points leader Matt Kenseth.

Notes About Daytona:

  • Fox’s broadcast confused me- as the end was suppose to be that side-by-side coverage. They fully utilized side-by-side during the red-flag incident. And honestly it was kind of fun- especially when we see a group of drivers, including Brad Keselowski, walking from their cars towards turn 3 to see what on earth was going on (they were eventually requested by safety officials to turn back).  However, when they went green there were times that they ran full commercials and other times (during cautions) where they ran side-by-side.  Confusing! Maybe they were befuddled because of the lengthy red-flag? I dunno- but that seemed odd to me.
  • Speaking of Brad Keselowski- there are mumblings about him getting in trouble for having a phone in his car with him.  Um…it’s not like he was out there tweeting and driving.  He was using it during a red flag- so I don’t really see the big deal.  Now if there was proof he was out there tweeting while driving (even during yellows) I think that is a MAJOR no-no, but I don’t see an issue with him using it during a red flag.
  • As of this writing we are still waiting to hear if there will be any penalties for Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus resulting from inspection infractions from the 48- who was found to have a non-standard c-post (or something like that).  I guess I am wrong because I always thought if infractions were found BEFORE practice/qualifying that they just made you fix the issue and roll back through technical inspection again.  Guess I am wrong there. Sounds like beyond monetary/points fines- there could very well be a suspension for Chad Knaus. I hope not because I know one of his fans will most likely be in the Neon Garage during the upcoming Las Vegas race, and I don’t want her to miss seeing her favorite crew chief.
  • I am still really disappointed in Sprint for having discontinued Sprint Cup Mobile on non-droid phones (see my original post: Dear Sprint You Have Disappointed Me).  I missed it ALOT during the race and didn’t realize just how much I did use it until I grabbed my phone and thought ARG FOILED AGAIN!
  • One bright side to the lengthy rain delay on Saturday AND the red flag delay on Sunday? Were the tweets from the Stewart-Haas Racing twitter account.  Funny stuff right there. Don’t follow? You definitely should

Gratuitous Tony Picture(s) of the Week:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, (and PR Guru Mike Arning) walks on the grid while rain falls prior to the start of the Daytona 500 on February 26th, 2012. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images North America)

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 on February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

The Next Race: Phoenix Raceway.

#GoTonyGo! #ImWithSmoke!

You know what I have always wanted? I have always wanted access to one of the swanky suites at NASCAR race. The closest to that I have ever gotten was when I was invited to the Ferrari Challenge out at Laguna Seca – I was given access to the Ferrari hospitality. I have to say it was the nicest food spread I have ever seen- but I got so distracted by being shown the awesome Ferrari FF that I didn’t take advantage of the spread.  Regardless,  I still want the VIP NASCAR race experience one day. I guess you could say that it’s on my bucket list.

I got to thinking about this by perusing the many MANY items up for bid in the National Silent Auction being hosted by and benefiting the Tony Stewart Foundation.   One of the unique items on the long list of items to be bid on- is a race package for the 2012 running of the Brickyard that includes access to the Tony Stewart suite (and lots of other goodies like cold pit access). Awesome because for me anyway that would be TWO things off of the bucket list- swanky suite and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Unfortunately its a wee bit too pricy for my blood…but that is okay because there is TONS of other stuff I could (and I have- so it’s easy to do) bid on. There are tons of autographed guitars (including a bitching Paul Reed Smith Custom Corvette guitar signed by Tony),  Cds (hey I have my eye on that Blake Shelton one- I am just saying), lots of Prelude stuff including two separate helmets signed by all the Prelude drivers (2009 and 2010), A helmet signed by the Indianapolis Colts (and a football in a separate auction), A ride in a two seater Indy car at Indianopolis Motor Speedway, 4 tickets and backstage passes to a Toby Keith concert,  lots of autographed WWE stuff,  some signed Tony Stewart Foundation shirts, there are even some cool things to bid on for those in the local Indianapolis area like golf, wine tasting, or behind-the-scenes tour at the Indianaoplis Zoo.  Of course there are NASCAR items- I already mentioned the Brickyard 2012 package, but there is also signed stuff from Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr- not to mention the Jeff Gordon Celebrity Bowl before the 2012 Brickyard.  It really is an EXTENSIVE list of stuff with bids starting at $14 for some stuff.

Bidding is easy – after you register all you need to do is text in (or call in) your bids.  It’s all helps the Tony Stewart Foundation help kids and animals and animals that help kids.  Bidding is open now through July 31st so check out the auction items, sign up and bid today!

Like I said I have already bid on something and I have my eye on the Blake Shelton CD, there really is something for nearly everybody and every price range on this Auction. So take part today!

By the way…if I had unlimited funding and could bid on anything- it would be hard for me to choose. I would love the Brickyard package…but the Stewart-Haas racing tour would be damn fun too. Luckily I don’t have to make that choice.