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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.

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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!

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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.

This might be old news to some of you and I meant to mention it a couple days ago but I wanted to tell you that Tony Stewart will be featured on CNBC’s “Inside Track: Refueling the Business of NASCAR.”  The hour long program, hosted by CNBC Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell will go one-on-one with the chairman and CEO Brian Friance to discuss how he plans to weather the storm. The program will also take viewers inside the garage of driver-turned-owner Tony Stewart.

“Inside Track” will premiere on CNBC on Thursday July 9th at 9:00pm EST (check local listings…for DirecTV users this CNBC is channel 355).

I have had my DVR set for nearly a week…forgive me for giving you all such short notice!

So on Tuesday when I posted about the NASCAR Citizen Journalist Media Corp formation Valli (whom I love) made the comment that she hoped I got nominated or included because she would love to read about ME standing at Tony’s hauler asking him questions. This made me giggle to myself.  This is something I can NOT imagine myself actually doing. Maybe standing on the edges of the media hords and if I am feeling REALLY ballsy maybe snapping a picture or six.  Not that I wouldn’t LOVE to do it…I just am not the bravest of people although I have gotten better.

Case in point: The first race of any type that I attended in the flesh was an Indy Car race at Laguna Seca when I was in high school (this was before they split into the two leagues known as IRL and Champ- and was then known as CART). He bought weekend passes complete with paddock passes and brought his big Minolta camera (before dslr’s were affordable by the public) and he would basically just wander right into the team stalls if they weren’t roped off to take pictures. My little, shy teenage self was mortified at him doing this and would usually wander away when he would pull these shenanigans. He even somehow bs’ed his way into the Team Havoline Hospitality Tent that was set up near the grandstands where we were sitting. Granted I was more shy then (I am sure I have told you the story about how he basically had to push me up to AJ Foyt to get his autograph because in my brain I was ALL THAT IS AJ FREAKING FOYT!!! and then I froze).

Fast forward to a couple years ago- my dad got comped tickets to see the Sportscars series running at Laguna Seca that included access to the paddock. He has one of his Canon DSLRs and I had a camera with me too…and I started wandering up to the different stalls and taking pictures but I always made sure I stayed dutifully out of the actual stall and out of the way of any crew members. We both walked up to one of the garage stalls and I took a picture and carried onto to the next stall. Suddenly I feel like I have lost my party so I look around…and he has actually WALKED INTO the garage stall I was just peeking into and is all squatted down to take his picture.  I just chuckled and stood outside waiting for him because I have this complex – I am not big on breaking rules…and the garages are like their domain – I am just there trying to take a picture or seven- so I definitely wouldn’t just wander in like my dad does.  If I really really felt the need to wander into the garage stall- I would ask the nearest crew person. My Mom,  who went with us even asked “Is he suppose to be in there?” I shook my head no and said “No…he just has balls of steel when it comes to that kind of thing.” Of course she was horrified that I would say that in public but it’s true.

So I guess I would just have to learn to be braver than I am…but it would definitely be an experience.

There has been a lot of talk in the NASCAR community including by NASCAR (as in the sanctioning body) itself about how to make the sport better. How to increase race attendence (um lower ticket prices) and television viewer ratings and the like.   A lot of suggestions are being talked about and batted around by various media and fans and guess what? NASCAR is starting to listen.  First they recently created the NASCAR FAN COUNCIL a tool NASCAR will use to survey their fans about opinions on all sorts of topics and ideas regarding NASCAR and how to make it better.  I think this weekend we saw the first baby step towards that with the new double-file restart (shootout style- so drivers will NOT have to worry about battling lapped cars for position).

Even more recently, NASCAR has announced that it will start giving more access to citizen journalists (and by that I am going to interpret it as bloggers). I think this will be an awesome opportunity and all I can say is “How do I sign up?”  Seriously.  Sign me up.  I don’t know what would qualify one to be a “citizen journalist” but it sounds like a great idea to me.

There is some grumbling from traditional NASCAR media that this is NOT a good idea- that allowing us mere “bloggers” to have a little bit of the inside stuff will make their readership suffer and honestly I really don’t see how that could be the case. I think there is a different standard and a different expectation of information coming from a site say like mine that has a bent for a specific driver when compared to traditional media coverage. To me it’s like apples versus oranges. Obviously my posts focus on Tony Stewart. I mention other drivers and other happenings within NASCAR because I love the sport and it is all intermixed. However I am not going to write articles like the ones you are going to find at NASCAR.COM, FOXSPORTS.COM, YAHOOSPORTS.COM, ESPN.COM etc.  My articles would still have a bend towards Stewart. They would also be more personal experiences less reporting of news. They would be more the human story type of thing.

When I think of a NASCAR Citizen Journalist I think of people like Valli at TheFastandTheFabulous.com. I absolutely love it when Valli makes it out to a race because I know that she will write about it the following week.  But its more about her experiences and less about rules and standings and points and that kind of thing. Its more about what it was like to stand with the traditional media at Kasey Kahne’s hauler.  Or what it’s like as a fan to stand in the garage area and watch drives buzz in an out. What it’s like to to interview someone like Kyle Petty or David Gilliland.  Or about experiences at a track she hasn’t been to before. I think you get my drift.

I think that both traditional and “citizen” journalists have important things to say about the sport and I really think that NASCAR is doing an awesome thing thinking about this seriously.  I don’t know yet what kind of exeperience NASCAR is looking for in a citizen journalist or what kind of access they would give that blogger…but its an interesting idea…and I am still raising my hand to volunteer.