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All I can say about Talladega is wow. Well maybe wow and Oww.  Funny thing was that I sat down with my notepad to watch Talladega.  That is funny because lately I have been relying more on my memory and less on notes taken during the race.  But for some reason I sat down with my notepad and my favorite, freshly sharpened pencil and settled in to watch the pre-race and then the race.

Because of a rained out qualifying session- Tony started fourth. Not bad at all.

I wrote this during the first several laps:

Watching the cars race at Dega is like driving on the southbound highway 101 from northern California to southern California. It gives me a knot in my stomach.  When the cars start to get four wide is like when the 101 goes from two lanes of spread out traffic to the claustrophic, four-lane, bumper-to-bumper traffic where all you can do is watch out the best you can and hope other people are paying attention too.

I mean I was seriously putting effort into this- especially since I have been slacking off lately.  While I took several pages of notes throughout the race (most of them were mundane things like: Yawn-single file racing bores me and Kevin Harvick wants cruise control he’s so bored), I will not be rehashing on these notes for most of this post.   A day after the race, I am still reeling at the Ryan Newman wreck at 5 laps to go (thanks to ryannewmaninfo.info for that link).

I happened to be looking down for a minute…I was probably either doodling in my note book (not making a note…but actually drawing flowers) or trying to get my dog to shake my hand…when something made me glance up at the TV in time to see smoke and what appeared to be the rear bumper of a car pointing straight up. I yelled “Oh SHIT” so loud that the dog retreated to her favorite hiding place and I barely heard Andy Petrie say that a car was airborne.

The part of the accident that stands out the most to me is the part after Ryan’s car comes to a complete rest and the view switches to an aerial shot of the car- and all you can really see is the undercarriage of his US ARMY IMPALA and…stillness.  I sat- on the very edge of my couch just watching horrified. As soon as they had played a little snippet of Ryan saying he was alight- I may have cried a little.  My friend and I texted each other back and forth while the safety team cut open his car like a freaking tuna can…

After watching the wreck a few times online- and talking to my friend a couple hours after the wreck (and judging by her Facebook comment- sounds like Trixie thought the same way) my friend and I think that it could have been a lot worse if Ryan’s car hadn’t first landed on Kevin Harvick’s hood.  That softened the initial blow and I think probably kept the car from getting crushed further despite the fact that it went all the way up the track and back down again and flipped some more (into the grass- which is a lot softer than the track where he first went airborne.  I know that the car has rollbars and stuff…and from Ryan’s comments after the race it sounds like they had pretty much caved down all the way to the helmet for him…I think that the car would have completely pancaked if it hadn’t been for Kevin Harvick’s hood absorbing that initial blow.

Also- despite what the announcer say during the race- it looks to me like Marcos Ambrose hit Ryan Newman (whether he was bump drafting or Ryan checked up slightly I dunno) and Ryan hit Tony who was in front of him.  But because of how Ryan and Tony hit- Tony went into the wall and Ryan went down towards the infield.

There has been a lot of talk about Talladega and the COT and how to keep the cars on the ground.  I personally think this is a product of restrictor plate racing. NASCAR attempting to address concerns from the spring race at Talladega where Carl Edwards went airborne into the catch fence, made the restrictor plates even smaller, and made a new rule (only 1.5 hours before the beginning of the race so the drivers didn’t get to really practice this) that cars could not bump draft through the corners (they kept stressing DAYLIGHT between the bumpers in the corners).  Did these help or contribute to Ryan’s wreck? I have no clue.  Is there something that can be done? Again I have no clue…except that the roof flaps didn’t work in this case.  Do they need to be bigger? Deploy sooner?

It was clear that the changes (smaller plates and no bumpdrafting) made the race fairly boring for most of it. Even drivers Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart joked with their respective crews earlier in the race that the single file racing was boring THEM.  Harvick wanted a cruise control, Tony wanted someone to tell him something interesting so he didn’t fall asleep.  Something is WRONG when your points leader is just riding around at the end of the field at half throttle. That isn’t racing that is riding.

I am not claiming to have an answer- but I really think maybe they should do away with restricting  the engines…that just either bunches the field up so you are waiting for an accident.

Anyway, both Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart got dnf’s for Talladega giving Tony a 35th place finish and dropping him to fifth in the champion standings 279 points out of the lead with only three races left to go in the chase for the Sprint Cup.  Ryan Newman also fell one spot in the standings down to eighth spot 402 points out of the lead.

Notes About Talladega:

  • So like me, Tony Stewart does like scary movies (if you follow me on twitter- you heard me announce this last week after trying to watch some of Halloween- the original).  Yeah no thanks. Not my thing. I think it’s a little brave of him to admit on national television though.
  • I am really enjoying the “PREVIOUSLY IN THE CHASE” segments before each race- you know the little narrative by Mike “Dirty Jobs” Rowe. I think it might be his voice, but I really think it gives a little something something to the race.
  • I have decided that Kim Burton is probably my favorite NASCAR wife right now- and this holds true only more so after watching the segment during the preshow about NASCAR wifes and superspeedways.

Next Race: Texas

While not a local to Vegas, my best friend is, and we have been going to your establishment for over two years. The first couple of times we went we had a great time… we have eaten there multiple times, shopped the giftshop and played in the Pit Pass Arcade (basically we have done everything except for the SPEED roller coaster because well roller coasters just aren’t our thing). Then you closed the upstairs seating area at the cafe. We thought that was odd, but took to sitting in the bar to watch the race. We didn’t like the new menu as much but it was something fun to do to watch the race when we couldn’t actually be at the track. At the beginning of this year we noticed that you basically closed most of the gift shop- leaving just a small part of it open- with very little merchandise. Workers at the giftshop stated that they were going to reopen the rest later with more of the new merchandise from this year. That never happened.

I was in town this last weekend for the Truck races on Saturday and on Sunday we decided it would be fun to watch the NASCAR race at the NASCAR CAFE. I knew we were in trouble the minute we turned the corner from the Casino into the area of the CAFE and I noticed that all the wait staff, bartenders and even the hostess were wearing FOOTBALL JERSEYS. Well the race hadn’t started yet so we just figured tvs would be turned to the race as soon as it started. We asked the hostess- who proceeded to tell us that NO…the race would be shown only on one TV in the back of the bar area and the sound would be on mute because of FOOTBALL. Would we like to sit over there? Um- no- we actually like to be able to hear what is going on in the race. As we left we double checked the name of the establishment to make sure it was still called the NASCAR Cafe…everything we saw said it was (as does your website I might add). Because of that mess we ended up missing the first 22 laps of the race as we went back across town to my friends house to watch the race.

It is FALSE advertising to call yourself the NASCAR cafe. If we had wanted to watch football we could have gone to a myriad of restaurants or bars in Vegas. We chose your establishment because with a name like THE NASCAR CAFE you would think that we would be able to enjoy the race with sound….surrounded by other fans. Not huddled into a corner having to rely on the closed captioning. It’s bad enough that you did this at all but during the Chase (which is NASCAR’s playoffs) is worse. We were incredibly disappointed by this new direction you have taken. You are doing NASCAR fans an incredible disservice and might I suggest that if you are no longer willing to cater to NASCAR fans you should remove the name NASCAR from your cafe. You can be sure we will no longer come to your establishment- and we will encourage other fans to do the same.

(ADDED: Yes I really DID send this to the Sahara, in case you were wondering).

So…my BFF and I have this grand plan. We plan to visit ALL of the Sprint Cup tracks.  I can’t really take credit for the idea- she really came up with it….but it sounded good to me! (If you want to check our progress on our little project just click the TRACKS link up at the very top of my site).

Our problem now is? We have run out of tracks in our “comfort” zone.  What I mean by this is that we have run out of tracks that we can drive to.  Tracks where we know people and can call people up and say…hey I am going to the race in Phoenix and I am staying at this hotel…is that the bad part of town? Or is Concord close enough to Infineon to look for a hotel?  I live on the central coast of California and she lives in Vegas. So basically our “driving” tracks were: Las Vegas, Fontana, Infineon and Phoenix.  The rest of the tracks will require air because while technically we COULD drive to other tracks we only have so much vacation time and that kind of thing.

I am thinking our next track that we haven’t been to before will probably be either Texas Motorspeedway or Kansas (not this year though).  So here is where I reach out to you all…what tracks have you been to? Do you have a favorite place to stay by that track??

We don’t really have the resources to camp at a track…because well we both like running water and neither of us own a motorhome.  Speaking of motorhomes…I would LOVE to be able to take off a couple of weeks to a month and take a motorhome around to some of the tracks I really would. But…sigh…I would need a motorhome. And time. And money.  Unfortunately I lack two of the three. And am a little low on the third right now.  But I think that it would make awesome book fodder.

But I digress…my original point here was to ask….HEY…Help me. Where do you stay when you go to the races? Or? can you give advice on hotels near any tracks (IE I don’t want to fly to say…Kansas and find out that the hotel I picked off a website somewhere is no where near the track in the sketchy part of town).

NASCAR fans want to know about LOVE this week, at least according to ASK.COM’s top ten NASCAR question searches. Four of the ten questions this week are about the love life of drivers, two about Tony Stewart, one about Jamie McMurray and one about Kasey Kahne.

These are the top ten NASCAR questions asked at ASK.COM between 7/27/2009 and 8/2/2009 regarding NASCAR (like last time my smartass replies helpful answers in bold):

1.  Where is Pocono Raceway? Long Pond, PA.

2.  How do NASCAR drivers use the bathroom? Again with this? People they use it the same way we do…just because they are drivers doesn’t mean they sit there with a steering wheel in their hands or make vrrroooom noises and if they do…um I don’t wanna know about it.

3.  Does Tony Stewart have a girlfriend? Is it because he’s the points leader or because he has SWAGGER that you want to know? (speaking of SWAGGER, I have a question regarding Tony’s  pitcrew’s swagger shirts- see below)

4.  Who is Tony Stewart dating? I honestly don’t know- he never tells me these things. Of course he never tells me anything at all. As a matter of fact- he doesn’t know me (nor I him)- sorry to disappoint.  Speaking of dating though, do you think if a NASCAR driver crashes and burns on a date, they pull out a back-up date from the reserves, like they do cars during practice??

5.  What does NASCAR stand for? Not Actually Seeing Cars Around Racetrack? Come on, people, we talked about this one last time too.

6.  Who won the Brickyard 400? Jimmie Johnson won….Juan Pablo thinks it was a stolen victory though because he was caught speeding.  What do YOU think?

7.  How do NASCAR drivers go to the bathroom? Maybe a diaper company should consider a NASCAR sponsorship deal.

8.  Who did Jamie McMurray marry? Hopefully his wife. (I believe her name is Christy if that is what you are looking for).

9.  Who holds the 144.892 mph Cup series race record at Pocono Raceway? I will give you a hint…his name is Rusty and he’s a race reporter for ESPN.

10. Does Kasey Kahne have a girlfriend? If he does I hope she likes Budweiser.

*****

Ok so the following picture was in the Pocono photo gallery at tonystewart.com (click on it to embiggin).  I can see that the crew’s shirts spell out SWAGGER and that each letter stands for something. So far I have made out S, half of G and R:  S = Smooth, The top part of the first G I think says Girls, and the R is Respect.  Not knowing is killing me…any ideas?

Blatantly stolen from tonystewart.com's photo gallery- it belongs to them not me.

Blatantly stolen from tonystewart.com- this is not my picture!

NASCAR that is who.  Remember way back when NASCAR announced that they would be forming a CITIZEN JOURNALIST MEDIA CORP (CJMC) and that certain bloggers would be included (here are my thoughts on the initial announcement of the formation of the Media Corp)? Well last month they announced their list of bloggers/ alternate media who are taking part in this program. Well I forgot to tell you that I was asked to be a member and of course I said yes.

What does this get me? Well I can apply for press credentials at tracks (I have to adhere to the standards that the traditional press regarding dress and conduct), I have access to media pr announcements through NASCAR and there are other benefits as well (including taking part in our inaugural TOWN HALL MEETING with special guest Bobby Labonte- which was really fun and I will tell you about that in a bit).

How did I get picked? I don’t exactly know! I just logged into my email one day and there was an invitation sitting in my email box.  Between my communications from some of the PR people in charge of us citizen journalists at NASCAR and talking to Valli over at The Fast and The Fabulous, I have garnered that they have just been watching and listening: their ears to the information superhighway so to speak.  I thought this was flattering and interesting that NASCAR was scoping us out- and seeing what we had to say.  However I admit that in the back of my mind it also conjured up visions of that little stack of money with eyes and the music (originally done by Rockwell) “Somebody’s Watching Me” music from the Geico commercials.

So back to the town hall meeting for the CJMC. Well first we were told about the appropriate manner of dress (no team memorabilia, garage area dress code enforced, that kind of thing) and some other business related stuff- then we got to question Bobby Labonte- which was fun. Many of us (including me) submitted questions to him via twitter or before hand and he was asked and them and answered them. It was fun. He answered my two questions (both about social media. My first question was did he say anything negative about the formation of the CJMC- and he said No he didn’t say anything negative coming from that. And I asked him if he thought more drivers would catch on to social media things like Twitter and Facebook, and he said he believed they would. ). It was fun and I really hope that NASCAR holds more of these sessions with drivers for us- because frankly- that totally rocked and I would love to participate in more.

How will this change badgroove.com? Well I don’t know exactly that it will. I am still going to to have a Tony Stewart/ Stewart-Haas Racing bend and I don’t see that changing in the future.  I hope that both Tony and Ryan will take part in a Q&A session for the CJMC- I would LOVE that.

Drivers are notorious for having race day routines, whether it be eating the same food, wearing the same underwear, buckling their belts in the same order, whatever- its a routine.  However…as a fan I am going to tell you, I have my own race day routines.

First off I tend to wear red. It is Tony’s color and his color must be adhered too if at all possible (sometimes it is not possible because I got lazy and didn’t do laundry) but most race days I wear red (and yes when his color was orange I did the same thing..only with orange). Doesn’t matter if I am at the track or at home or out somewhere, race day equals red shirt day.  When at the track I also  wear one of my Tony Stewart hats…not all the time though when I am at home because I don’t need my face protected, at home it depends on the state of my hair. My newest race day routine add in will include wearing two amazing bracelets beaded especially for me by Eternal Stardust Jewelry with Tony’s two main paint schemes in mind (office depot and old spice). I don’t have a picture of mine yet (but here is a picture of the one she made for  my friend based on Jeff Gordon’s Firestorm paint scheme- its hard to tell because of the pink background but the smaller beads are yellow and “fire” and are really cool).

I also try to catch as much of the prerace show on the TV as much as possible (only possible when I am at home because if I am watching at a track I usually leave for the track way before prerace begins).  It’s a must however to catch invocation, national anthem, flyover, and the command to start engines (same for at track..with the exception of at Infineon…I missed most of the invocation, National Anthem, etc because I was trying to get from driver intros on the start finish line to my Turn 7 seats).  I tend to sit in the same place at home when I am watching a race (the right side of the couch).  Once the race starts? I am there for the duration-other people will come and go but I am there for the go of the race- leaving only during commercials to take care of business like drink refills and food scrounging and potty breaks.

When at home- I usually have a notebook where I take note of funny things the announcers say or how Tony is doing at what point. I also doodle (usually cars and flowers…or cars with flowers on them). At the track I rely on my memory and dvr.  In the rare case that I am somewhere else…again I rely on my memory and dvr.

Now depending on Tony’s run towards the end- things get a little interesting for me at home.  If he’s up towards the front…I am usually off my keister and standing about 3 feet in front of the TV …usually cheering quite loudly.

So tell me about YOUR race day!

___

Just a reminder I am not here this weekend- I am in Vegas. If you leave a comment and you haven’t done so before…it may take until Monday or Tuesday to show up. Keep coming back while I am gone though- I have some good posts lined up.

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.

On Thursday Journo at The NASCAR Insiders asked quite simply “Do You Remember Why You Love NASCAR?”  I actually pondered this a bit in my guest entry over at NASCAR THIS WEEK back in April. It is hard for me to put into words why I love the sport that I love…but I do.  As I mentioned in the NTW piece, I have had a love of cars and a love of motorsports in general since I was knee high to a grasshopper and was just naturally drawn to cars since childhood.

Then there is the first hand experiences of being at a track that assault you from the moment you get out of your car; the noise that 43 cars make that can take the breath out of you, the mixture of oil, rubber, sweat, and a myriad of food mixing and giving each track it’s own signature smell, the rush of adrenaline I get during the flyover (and I am not even a driver). It’s a very physical thing to actually be on hand for a race. It’s a feeling that I can not adequately describe despite my many attempt, and it’s definitely something that someone who doesn’t love the sport just can not get.  My uncle still doesn’t get why I would travel 500 miles to “watch cars drive in a circle.”  Even my own best friend didn’t get it until recently…and she knew me back when I was a geeky little junior high school kid (she didn’t get why I had race cars on my walls instead of Charlie Sheen and Tom Cruise). She eventually learned to tolerate it in me until just last year when I finally (only took like what 15-20 years) turned her into a NASCAR fan and now she LOVES it like I do.

Journo’s original point was that the whole Mayfield drug debacle is drawing negative attention to OUR sport- and as fans and lovers of the sport we need to step back, take a breath and remember what is GOOD about NASCAR this season and right now (goes on to give several examples such as Mark Martin winning races at 50 and first time winners Keselowski and Reutimann). His comments got me really thinking about what do I personally love about NASCAR right now at this point in the season (in no particular order):

  • Silly Season. I will proudly stand up and say I LOVE the rumors flying around about silly season. Will Harvick be with RCR next season? Will Brad Keselowski get that full time ride an if he does who will it be for? Will Joe Gibbs Racing be bringing on a fourth car? Will Stewart-Haas be fielding a third car? Will Danica make the jump to NASCAR? Who doesn’t love the surmising and the speculating that comes with this time of the year. Last season? I was all wrapped up in the Stewart-Haas thing (read I was shocked out of my socks) so much that I didn’t have much of a chance to enjoy all that goes with silly season…this year I can sit back and enjoy throwing my twelve cents in for whatever its worth.
  • That Stewart-Haas racing currently has two cars in the top 12 in points. I have been a Tony fan a long long time…I was shocked when he made the jump to owner/driver. I didn’t doubt him, I was concerned but I jumped right on board when I saw how excited he was. But how GREAT is it that he is up there leading the points with teammate Ryan Newman behind him in 7th place in points so far? Yes I know a lot can happen between now and the chase but it’s great right now.
  • Speaking of the chase- I love how drivers are teetering on the edge of making it…or not. It’s better than Bubble Day for the Indy 500! Will Biffle or Reutimann or Bowyer be able to fight their way into the chase? Will Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth be able to stay in the chase? It’s drama at it’s best people!
  • That NASCAR, tracks and drivers are starting to embrace social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to us fans. I think that they are important tools- I am on twitter through out the day- more than email. It works for me. I admit to a slight addiction to facebook as well. I love that I can get updates (both personal and official) from these sites without having to hunt around for them. I hope more drivers come on board (hint hint Tony). NASCAR is even working with a group of selected bloggers in creating a Citizen Media Corp- which also rocks because bloggers are fans not journalists or sportscasters and have unique opinions and thoughts that they want heard- and it’s a great feeling to be included and listened to. Plus the more NASCAR bloggers unite in any method the stronger the voices are and thus the more we are heard.
  • The Mayfield drug debacle. Yes it’s turning kind of circus-like and pretty soon we almost expect to see someone like Jerry Springer jump in, however- I am going to disagree with Journo and say that this situation is bringing an important subject to light.  It’s something that hasn’t really been talked about much. And no matter what the ultimate outcome specifically regarding Mayfield’s case in particular- I think that NASCAR will emerge with one thing: a stronger and more broadly understood drug policy.
  • Kyle Busch. You may love him or you may hate him, but everyone has some feeling about him. He’s stepped into the “NASCAR BADBOY” role that some feel has been missing.  He’s young. He’s hot. He drives a mean car. He says the first thing that comes to mind (ok he reminds me of Tony so you know I like him). At Infineon I was actually in the crowd on the track during driver Intros…and when he was announced he was booed so viciously that it made me actually stop taking pictures and turn around to see if I needed to run for cover. Do I think he deserves it? No. Do I think he handles himself well? Most of the time. Do I think he has talent? Hell yeah. I also thinks he brings a little something to the table excitement wise- whether its a war of words between him and Junior or a little bitterness over some on-track action with Tony, you have to admit it adds excitement.

Of course this is not an inclusive list of ALL things I love about NASCAR on any given day. It’s just a brief list I came up with in response to a question. There are more long standing things about the sport that I love too. There are GOOD things to love about this sport all the time.