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 (This is what originally came out of my pen when I sat down to pen my weekly race review. It wasn’t my usual race report so I kept this and wrote a usual race report which became Oral B 500: Back In  The Saddle Again (Part 1) –  Amy).

Pre-Race Invocation in Atlanta

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, looks on prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

As I sit here, in a car wash of all places, scratching out the rough draft of my weekly race report, the song Back In The Saddle by Aerosmith is a constant refrain echoing against the walls of my skull and will not leave me. It echoes even louder and more constant then the golf tournament playing on the ancient television set turned up far too loud that needs two types of converters just to get the digital signal to the local station. I have effectively started and crossed out and then started over again (because I am old school and use paper and pen most of the time- then convert my posts to digital) this post at least three times, all while waiting for my SUV to be be brought around from the back where the washing happens to the front where the hand detailing takes place, because I just can’t seem to get the post quite right. Because obviously I have more to say about the emotion of the race than I do the race itself. (more…)

First of all, most people know I am not foremost a fan of Tony Stewart, and trust me if you could hear me on race day when he is driving too close to Jeff Gordon, you will know my preference; but I am a race fan and I can’t stand by and not defend Stewart against the attacks and wild accusations flying around.

The incident Saturday night at Canandaigua Motorsports Park was a combination of two things: racing and hot headedness. What needs to be said is it was NOT Tony Stewart being the hot head, it was Kevin Ward Jr.’s reactionary anger with the racing incident between he and Stewart that snow balled into a tragedy that no one could have predicted or expected. However, it certainly, certainly could have been prevented had Ward used any shred of common sense that night.

For many people seeing the video, they jump to the conclusion that Stewart purposely hit Ward. These people may simply not understand the circumstances of the scene or that kind of racing; so for this let me share my take:

1) While yes, drivers do get out of their cars on track in the heat of the moment all the time; they do not (at least none I’ve seen) ever play “dodgeball” with the running cars to get to the intended target of their ire. Watching the video that’s exactly what Ward did! He had to dodge numerous cars running under caution. The car directly in front of Stewart nearly hit Ward, too. Ward kept coming even then toward Stewart.

2) Which brings me to my next point, it was a DIRT track in the dark of the night. Stewart likely was focused on the car ahead of him, possibly didn’t even know why the caution waved, and could have no way of knowing Ward was on track heading toward him. Stewart sees the 45 swerve and then there is Ward. Looks to me like Stewart tried to avoid Ward and in the process the car fishtailed, hitting Ward and sending him flying into the air. It is a dirt surface, which does not have the traction or grip of a surface street. Tony’s reaction was done in a milisecond. The consequences were not intended, premeditated or anything Stewart did with purpose.

There are NO spotters at dirt tracks. Tony likely didn’t even know Ward was coming like a raging bull for him until it was too late. The reason he got hit by the 14 and not one of the others is that Ward kept coming at the car- he didn’t back off. I can’t even fathom what he was thinking or hoping to accomplish.

My heart goes out to the Ward family. It was a tragedy that no family should have to face, but that is what it is – a tragedy, an accident, not murder, not even a result of a two-way confrontation.

I’ve only met Stewart a few times, but I have had enough conversation with him to know he’s a tender-hearted, caring man who needs our prayers as much as the Wards. Tony has three passions which drive him: racing, helping animals and young people.  He would never, ever intentionally cause a young driver to be hurt, certainly not killed.

Look at any past Stewart blowup with another driver and you will see Stewart uses his hands to retaliate, not his car. In this incident Saturday, Stewart wasn’t looking for retaliation – he couldn’t have even understood what was going on.

Also, please remember that the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department has been investigating the accident since it took place. After a preliminary investigation there have been NO criminal charges, none are pending, and further they find no grounds for criminal negligence at this time. Please give them the benefit of the doubt that they have more information than we do and know what really transpired. Jumping to conclusions is not going to change the outcome of the tragedy- it can only hurt more people.

I love that Crown Royal, NASCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway have joined forces over the last several years to name the Brickyard 400 race after a hero. The Brickyard 400 will be called:

The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard!

NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 03: 2014 CMT Music Awards – Crown Royal Lounge at Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Crown Royal)

 

Okay- well technically the full name of the race is Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com but that is too much of a mouthful to me so I say The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard it is. (more…)

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Code 3/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, speaks with Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Ford, during qualifying for the NASCAR race at Dover International Speedway on May 30, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images North America)

What is this? Two posts in one day? Yes! I am all up in a dander today after I read this FOXSports article and lucky you- this is where I vent about what gets my dander up when it comes to NASCAR. So hold on a second and let me climb up on my soapbox. First off this how the article was promoted on the NASCAR on FOX Facebook page:

Tony Stewart ripped the media on Friday for questioning his plans to race sprint cars again – and that’s not all the three-time NASCAR champ had to say. STORY: foxs.pt/1o7za3j

First off- I heard pretty much the entire presser after the fact (I wish I could figure out how to post it here- if I find a transcript I will) with my own ears and he didn’t sound like he was “ripping” anyone to me. I have heard him get snippy with questions in the media center (both on PressPass and in person) and I would be hard pressed to call Tony’s comments “snippy” let alone “ripping”. I have no idea who thought that was a “ripping” because they do not know the definition of being ripped, whether it be by Tony Stewart or anyone else for that matter. (more…)

You may recall me posting a picture earlier this month of Matt Kenseth and this year’s Goodyear SUPPORT OUR TROOPS tire. Well this weekend is the Coca-Cola 600 (or The World 600 if you are Dale Jr.) which will feature the last appearance of this tire at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

However- you can get in on the action by helping Goodyear give back to the troops by bidding on several auction items through the NASCAR FOUNDATION. Proceeds will go to support the troops. Some of the items up for auction include autographed tires from many NASCAR Drivers including Carl Edwards, Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, an autographed piece of the #11 Fedex Car driven by Denny Hamlin, and what is probably the coolest auction item I have ever seen- a ride for two in the Goodyear Blimp (which NO you would not catch me doing- I am hard pressed to get in an airplane- like HELL am I getting in a blimp- but my father however- would LOVE this).  This particular set of auctions will end on May 27th, so get your bids in now at the NASCAR FOUNDATION GOODYEAR GIVES BACK page today! There are even Support Our Troops hats and shirts that you can purchase for a reasonable price.

You can also visit the GOODYEAR GIVES BACK page for a link to the auction site, a page where you can leave a message to thank the troops, a donation page and other ways that Goodyear is giving back to our troops and how you can help through July 31st!

One of the hot topics right now in the NASCAR world is the Sprint Cup season race schedule and how it could be improved. Best I can tell it started with Brad Keselowski coming up with what would be a dream schedulefor him.  Then others got in on the opinion making- the most recent of them being Darrell Waltrip during the pre-race show.  One thing that both Darrell Waltrip and Brad Keselowski’s schedules have in common is coming to the west coast right out of Daytona, and staying there; lumping Vegas, Sonoma, Auto Club and Phoenix all together in the schedule. It’s almost as if they are just getting us out of the way- and then leaving us NASCAR fans in the west high and dry the rest of the season.

Sunset over the grandstands at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sunset over the grandstands at Las Vegas Motor Speedway- March 2014 (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

As a BIG NASCAR fan in that geographic area who has been to all four of those tracks and who has actually even been to all four of those tracks in one year- I can tell you that a schedule like this would be HUGE mistake.  I am a regular working girl (and no- this blog is not work- I have a M-F 8-5 job).  Lumping the “west coast” dates into one leg of a schedule is a huge mistake because as a working girl like myself can’t afford to take a month off of work to go from track to track- and I dare say most other fans can NOT either.  Several fans in this demographic try to travel to multiple races in their area (for instance Vegas AND Auto Club or Vegas AND Phoenix or Auto Club AND Sonoma). (more…)

2011 Sprint Cup Winner Tony Stewart

2011 Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart with the Sprint Cup. (photo credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

This year marks a year of great change in NASCAR and for fans trying to navigate these changes. The first change is a new qualifying procedure that has multiple cars on the track at any given time- deemed “Knockout Qualifying.” Next the whole 2014 Chase format has been changed (think of the NASCAR Chase as being a championship playoffs if you are new to NASCAR).  Instead of 12 drivers (what it has been in seasons past)- the Chase has been expanded to 16 spots- where drivers are subsequently knocked out of the chase in three three-race rounds- eventually narrowing the field to four cars for the final race in Homestead-Miami. That right there seems like a lot of change right?

But what seems to be causing a lot of the confusion right now is HOW a driver qualifies for that Chase. Somehow- the idea that if a driver wins a race in the “regular season” (defined as the first 26 POINTS PAYING races of the NASCAR season) that driver is qualified for the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Series Cup.  This has been mentioned by national media on TV as well as by drivers.  Because of all the confusion, I decided to go back to the original NASCAR release announcing the new Chase format (which also address exactly HOW a driver qualifies for that chase) and read over it several times.

Let me answer some questions as I understand the new rules: (more…)

(Photo Credit by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

The professional nerd in me loves how much NASCAR and it’s drivers have embraced social media. It’s a great way to engage the fans and create new ones. Nationwide driver Elliott Sadler gets this:

“Social media provides such a amazing opportunity for fans to engage with their heroes and people they really look up to,” Sadler stated. “Heck, I even get excited when I get a message back from guys like Larry The Cable Guy or Darius Rucker. I want to go one step beyond social media interaction and bring fans to the track for an unforgettable experience.”

So Sadler is using social media to reward his fans the race experience of a lifetime!

Prior to eleven Nationwide races fans will have the opportunity to win a VIP racing experience that includes a private meet and greet with Sadler, a tour of the No. 11 OneMain Financial Hauler, as well as pit and garage access throughout the Nationwide Series Events. All fans have to do to enter is tweet “#takemeto (race track)” to @Elliott_Sadler on Twitter and they will be entered to win the experience.

I know I would LOVE that kind of VIP experience!  The tracks this promotion will be available for are Auto Club Speedway, Iowa Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Road America, Kentucky Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Watkins Glen International, Mid-Ohio, Kansas Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. For more information on this #takemeto promotion, interested fans are encouraged to visit www.onemainracing.com.