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Dear Mother Nature-

Please quit raining on my parade NASCAR races.  It was bad enough that I have had a nasty headache all day. All I wanted was a little racing action. (Ok- I lie- really I wanted to see Tony keep digging, race his way to the front of the field and take the checkers to WIN).  Instead, I got to watch ESPN beat a dead horse for hours and hours and hours with their interviewing drivers, crew chiefs, going over Paul Menard’s spin ad nauseum, going over the safety innovations since the 2001 death of Dale Earnhardt, bringing up the 1979 fight between Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough during the first full race telecast and how it also changed the sport…you get the picture…we fans had to endure a lot of dead horses. At any moment I expected them to start interviewing the guys in charge of gluing the lugnuts to the tires- and asking THEM about Paul Menard and if they thought his spin was intentional (okay- maybe I exaggerate a wee bit- but not much).  And those are only the parts I caught while doing this and that- determined not to let the rain delay ruin my entire day (although it kinda did anyway- since I was really REALLY looking forward to watching the first chase race).

What I am trying to say, Mother Nature, is that trying to “watch” a race at work sucks. Let’s make this Monday the last time I have to do this okay?

Smoochies,

Amy

P.S. It doesn’t look like Tony enjoys the rain delay much more than I did:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, walks down pit road as rain falls prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 18, 2011 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America)

In all seriousness though- Good Luck TONY tomorrow. I will be watching you best I can as I toil away.

NASCAR instituted a new points system at season’s beginning in an effort to make it easier for the average fan to understand and in theory increase viewership. For those of you who read my thoughts on the change at the beginning of the season, you know that I was not a fan of the change, but I didn’t think it would make much of a difference. On that point I could not have been more wrong. While I still say it wasn’t needed, I now believe the change is a pure detriment to the sport that I so enjoyed watching and following each week.
Allow me to explain, I don’t think I am that much of an anomaly among fellow racing fans in that I have a favorite driver that I follow and root for. While I may like most of the drivers, on race day there is only one driver I am thinking about. Well, unfortunately this season has not gone so well for my driver and each week he seems to get mired further and further down the points standings. Under this new, but definitely not improved system, with each mediocre or, heaven forbid, bad week that transpires my hopes for him to pull himself out of the muck and mire of this points abyss dim.
OK, so maybe you’re saying, “well that’s how it goes”, and I bet if you are your driver is in the top 10. Am I right? But, I digress…
Under this new points system watching races and following a driver stuck in a points deficit becomes sheer frustration. When I see a twenty point separation between my driver and the next position in the standings I feel hopeless, understanding that he’ll need to finish twenty spots ahead of that guy in the next race to catch up. This hopelessness leaves me feeling like a frustrated vulture, hoping the drivers above him suffer calamities of all sorts. It has taken a sport I loved to watch and turned it into something I dread. I want to say, wake me when the Chase starts and hope that my driver is still lucky enough to have a shot at the wild card position for the Chase. Now, I won’t do that (just yet), so for now I watch and hope and prey for calamity and pray for success, but with each week my enthusiasm is giving way to despair and hopelessness. Watching is no longer fun but perfunctory at this point.
I am sure NASCAR’s decision to change the points so that “average” fans could understand wasn’t meant to dim the enthusiasm and support of the fervent fan, but it has for me.

Attention Small Business owners: The Office Depot Official Small Business of NASCAR contest has started! Enter now to become branded the Official Office Depot Small Business Of NASCAR. It runs now through May 28th!

Tony Stewart's car that will race at the Southern 500 at Darlington will carry information on how you can become the Official Small Business of NASCAR (photo credit: Action Sports Photography)

Enter early because Office Depot will be giving away $1000 gift cards each day to a random entrant.   Two small businesses will be selected as finalists . Each finalist will be awarded $10,000 AND a VIP race weekend.  One of the finalist’s logo will end up on the rear “tv panel” of Tony Stewart’s #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy during the Labor Day race at Atlanta Speedway later this season.  The other finalist will have their logo on the rear “tv panel” of Greg Biffle’s #16 3M Ford.  The small business on the highest finishing driver’s car will be this year’s 2011 Official Small Business of NASCAR.  And as added incentive – if either Stewart or Biffle win the Atlanta race- that driver’s small business will be awarded $1 million dollars!

This is a great opportunity for a small business! Don’t take my word for it take Tony’s word:

What are you waiting for? Enter now at OfficeDepotRacing.com!

 

I know you are probably saying to yourself that you thought this was a NASCAR blog not a fashion blog and I promise that it is and that I will be able to tie this entry to NASCAR and even work in a little Earth Day love so stick with me. Also please not that this is a completely unsolicited review- I received no compensation for it at all- I just bought this for myself and fell in love with it and thought my female NASCAR fans might be interested. (more…)

I LOVE the All-Star Race.  There is something pure about racing all out just for the win that brings out the raw energy of the sport.  It’s truly is an all-out dash for the cash.  This year the All Star Race is May 21st and as always it is at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  But you can start voting NOW for the fan vote!

A little about the All-Star Race:

A driver makes the field of the race by either winning a race in the previous or current season or by being a past winner of the All-Star race.

If drivers are not already qualified for the All-Star race field by May 21st (they qualify by winning)- they have a chance to race their way in via the Sprint Showdown.  Winner and runner up of the Sprint Showdown will also make the field.

The final spot in the race is determined by YOU!

If drivers are not already qualified for the All-Star race field by May 21st (they qualify by winning)- they have a chance to race their way in via the Sprint Showdown.  Winner and runner up of the Sprint Showdown will also make the field.

The final spot in the race is determined by YOU!

Fans can vote multiple times and can vote ONLINE or if you are a SPRINT customer you can vote by using the NASCAR SPRINT CUP MOBILE ap on your phone or by texting “VOTE” to 7777 on their Sprint or Nextel devices (standard text messaging and data rates apply). Votes cast by any Sprint/Nextel handset count DOUBLE.

Fans can also vote in person at any race before the All Star Race by visiting THE SPRINT EXPERIENCE located in the midway at all tracks.

All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway May 21 2011

Click logo to VOTE NOW!

Drivers who are already in the 2011 All-Star Race already include: Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Trevor Bayne, Mark Martin, among others.

Well since it is an off weekend I decided to be a little lax about posting my weekly race report. I have been thinking about the race at Las Vegas.  Usually when I am settling in at home on the couch with my phone within arms reach to watch a race I silently think to myself, Please let us have a good day…a top ten would be GREAT! A top ten finish would be even better!  Of course I want a win for Tony. I definitely want a win. But I don’t want to be too greedy- I just don’t want anything too devestating…no damaged cars or people. 

When I am at home I have my phone (NASCAR SPRINT CUP MOBILE) and sometimes I have my computer on my lap too.  But in person, we were sitting up in our seats- not even a scanner. I think the scanners take away from the experience. I can’t explain why.  I can tell you what I DO love…I love being able to see the drivers being driven around the track waving to the fans.  I love to watch the teams gather in little circles for private prayer/peptalks before prerace.  I LOVE the fly over.  But there is nothing like standing and watching 43 cars take the green flag at a race.  The sound of the cars, of the fans- it’s like nothing I have ever experienced. 

So I am sitting there in the Petty Terrace and the race starts and Tony was STRONG and it wasn’t long and Tony was in the lead.  And not only would Tony lead but he would pull AWAY.  I don’t think I have ever watched a race where his car seemed so strong.  I sat there and I was nervous. By lap 90 I was parched but like hell was I gonna get up and miss something.  By lap 100 I had to pee but I wasn’t about to leave my seat so I just put it out of my mind and concentrated on watching Tony go round and round.  If I had been at home I would have been pacing the living room. 

I didn’t actually SEE what happened that caused the pass through penalty.  Our seats in the terrace were at pit road out and I couldn’t really see Tony’s pits stops all that well.  But I heard it over loud speaker.  Ahh the disappointment.  The Smoke fan in the row behind me was disappointed too. He grabbed his 14 hat and pulled it down over his face in disappointment.  Oh I feel ya man. I feel ya. 

However- one thing that you HAVE to love about Tony is that he does NOT give up. Now as I mentioned I did not have a scanner. So I can only imagine what he was saying. And honestly he might not have been even saying it over the air. But I know what I would have been saying if roles had been reversed.  It might even make Tony Stewart blush! You never know. Anyway…what you have to love about Tony is that he doesn’t give up.  He was moving through the field pretty well.  Between that and a two tire stop pit stop for track position he was back towards the front of the field by the end of the race. I think that if the race had been longer or if there had been a caution- no question in my mind Tony would have won.  None at all.  But these are things that were not.  And a second place should be celebrated. Especially when it means that Tony is now tied for the points lead with Kurt Busch.  That is something that should be exciting.

But I have to say after seeing Tony with such a strong car I can not just reiterate his post race comment to Matt Yocum but I can feel it: Second sucks.  Second indeed does suck. 

Get Me That Tire Changer's Head...on a platter.

Thanks to LOLRacePics for permission to use their LOL because it is just OH SO FITTING...be sure to check LOLracepics.com for more NASCAR LOLS.

My next post will showcase some of my pictures from the LAS VEGAS race weekend.

Well I am heading off to Las Vegas today (Wednesday)- so posting here might be a little light until I get back. If you are wondering what I am up to  you can follow me on twitter.

One of the reasons I LOVE the race at Vegas (besides the fact that it was my first NASCAR race and my first oval race) is because that there seems to be a lot of driver appearances there.  A lot of time getting an autograph from your favorite driver isn’t that hard- as long as you are willing to do some sleuthing and stand in lines. 

I have found if you take your favorite driver - we will take Tony Stewart for instance and pay attention to things like their website (TonyStewart.com), their team website (StewartHaasRacing.com), any team social media (StewartHaasRcng on Twitter, StewartHaas Facebook, Tony Stewart Facebook) , major sponsor websites (officedepotracing.com, mobil1racing.com and social media (officedepot on Twitter, Mobil1Racing on Facebook)…you can usually find out if your driver is doing an event near you. There are other places on the web to look – one of my favorite sources is Jayski.  For the Vegas weekend appearances I also found this great guide of driver appearances over on SB NATION. Also check your favorite drivers merchandise trailer at the track…if they are going to do an event at their trailer there is usually a sign posted at the trailer. Track websites will sometimes have listing of fan events that are local to that particular track. 

Taking Tony Stewart as my example again…he is actually a very busy man in Las Vegas this week. He will be doing an Office Depot appearance Thursday starting at 12:30 at the Office Depot in North Las Vegas at 1435 West Craig Road (this is probably your best bet at getting an autograph from him and I have to say that these events are usually GREAT fun- I reccomend them if you have the time. Wristbands will be given out starting at 8:00 am local time Thursday), He is holding a poker tournament to benefit the Tony Stewart Foundation at the MGM Grand on Friday in the Poker room at 7:00 pm and doing a Fan Q&A at the MGM Grand (in the lobby) on Saturday at 6:00 pm.  Plus as we all know from the pre-race show that at some point Tony will be driving a cab around Las Vegas…which I hope that I can see that video because that is bound to be hilarious.   So you might get lucky and end up with Tony as your cabbie. 

You just have to know where to look. If all else fails find a fan decked out in your driver’s gear and ask them if they have heard of any appearances- you never know. You might make a new friend and get your driver’s autograph.

Of course just don’t shoplift near the track - or Morgan Shepherd may run you down and sit on you until the cops come for you. (I HAD to work this in somehow because I think this is AWESOME)!

If I had been able to flash forward to the end of the Daytona 500 and watch my reaction I would have bet everything I have that Jeff Gordon had just wheeled his Chevrolet to victory lane, because what else would have me on my haunches, screaming, shouting and pumping my fist in the air as the checkered flag waved?! Good thing my flash forward button doesn’t work cause I would have lost my pants in that bet, since Gordon crashed along with a good portion of the field on lap 30 ending his shot to drive to Victory Lane.
So what else could possibly cause me to have such an enthusiastic and heart-felt reaction to this year’s Daytona 500? It’s the kind of ending that we usually only see in Disney movies, but this time we got to see it all unfold for ourselves during this year’s Speed Weeks. It is the story of part-time, rookie driver, Trevor Bayne.
D.W. said it best at the end of the race when he held up a blank piece of paper and said that it was the bio he had on Trevor Bayne before the race. Few people had heard of Trevor before this race. He had only one other Sprint Cup Series start, in last fall’s Texas race, and here he was in Daytona proving himself. First by laying down the fourth fastest lap during Qualifying and then in his eagerness throughout the week leading to the race. He quickly became the talk of the media by being the first in his garage everyday, the first on the track to practice. He wore his eagerness and excitement on his sleeve throughout Speed Weeks.
I, personally, took notice during his Duel race when he waited after his driver intro to talk to Jeff Gordon, presumably to seek advice from the veteran driver. Throughout their Duel Gordon and Bayne worked together, Bayne pushing Gordon in the two car tandem that characterized this year’s races on the newly re-paved track. Despite a last lap crash in the Duel, Bayne clearly earned credibility among the other drivers. Time and again, seasoned drivers looked to Bayne in the 500 as a drafting partner. Again, I took notice when mid-way through the 500 Carl Edwards got on his radio to ask Bayne if he needed someone to push him. Many rookies would have leapt at the chance to work with a proven driver like Edwards, or simply been too intimidated to turn him down, but Bayne showed his intelligence and integrity and told Carl that he was a better pusher and preferred to continue pushing David Ragan. Bayne’s demonstration of integrity, intelligence and independence are all qualities that will serve him well in his career.
So when it came down to the final restart and Bayne looked like he could pull off what had really never been done before – winning the Daytona 500 on his first Daytona 500 start (Lee Petty won his first start at the 500, but since it was the very first 500 does not count), I was on the edge of my seat, screaming for this kid. When he actually pulled it off, I the felt the kind of sweeping emotion and pride that I usually only feel for truly great moments in sports, like the U.S. winning another Gold in the Olympics or the Yankees winning another series. Then again, this is another great moment in sports history.
I admit that I usually do not watch post race, especially when my driver finishes 35 laps down, but today I watched and I continued to be impressed by Bayne. Earlier in the race, D.W. had mentioned that Trevor had taken time before the race to pray with his team and the first thing that Trevor said when he climbed out of his car in Victory Lane was to mention the prayer and the power that God had. What is not to like about NASCAR’s newest hero?
I watched his reaction as David Ragan came over to offer his congratulations and saw Trevor’s genuine concern and empathy to Ragan, who’d been his drafting partner most of the day and had nearly pulled off the win himself, when he prematurely switched lanes during a restart and got black flagged by NASCAR. This is the kind of personality that NASCAR and this country needs – a good hearted, genuine, eager, talented young man to invigorate the fans and make us feel good.
NASCAR promised just such a driver a few years ago in rookie Joey Logano (“Sliced Bread”), but Logano never quite lived up to the hype and you can’t market this kind of a moment and you can’t create this kind of honest emotion.
Before this 500 no one knew who his kid from Knoxville, Tennessee was and now with his remarkable victory, the publicity machine will undoubtedly roar to life, like the engine of his #21, but at least it does so as a response to a hard earned achievement versus a contrived, marketing ploy to draw in fans. This NASCAR fan will take fresh, homemade bread over commercialized sliced bread any day. It’s good for the sport and good for the heart of NASCAR.
2011’s Daytona 500 will go down as one of the greatest moments in NASCAR history and I wouldn’t be surprised if a Disney movie isn’t already on the drawing board. Here’s to a fantastic and unbelievable start to the season that proves that anything can happen!