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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!

I have had tires on the brain lately. Mostly because I think that its time to get new ones on my HHR- the current ones have just under 50k on them so it’s probably about time. Unfortunately since they are those fancy low profile suckers- I am pretty sure that they will cost me an arm and a leg. I might as well get to sawing them off now so that I can pay for the tires when the time comes.

Anyway, as most NASCAR fans know- Goodyear is the official tire of NASCAR- and every NASCAR Sprint cup series car (and NATIONWIDE series too) will take the green flag with four Goodyear Eagle racing tires underneath it.  I have been fortunate enough to have pit passes (sidebar: just the kind you can buy at the track- nothing like those fancy hot or cold garage passes that I would DIE to have…ok not die because then what would be the point since I’d be dead and wouldn’t be able to use them- but I am SURE you get the point. So if you are reading this and you can hook me up for two cold garage passes for LVMS in March check out the ABOUT tab for how to contact me or leave me a comment on this entry- sorry for the shameless act of begging. AMY) for different races on the west coast and I love walking the pits and taking pictures.  Invaribly I will end up with pictures of tires.  Tires stacked, tires laid out in rows, the specially made tire dolly the crew guys use to transport tires from the Goodyear area to their pits, the “stickers” that indicate the tires are new, and my favorite shot to get- crew members gluing lugnuts onto to tires on Sunday morning.  At one track…I believe it was Fontana- I actually ended up walking right through the area the Goodyear guys were set up in in the pit area and was fascinated to watch them setting up the tires for the race.  I could have stood there and watched longer but I was in danger of melting into a big puddle- because the Auto Club Speedway in the Fall..is almost always HOT!

Back to tires.  As we all know and will no doubt be told a bazillion times between now and Sunday- Daytona went through a historic repave.  They didn’t just resurface Daytona- they dug it up down to the sand and put down new surface all the way around that sucker.    However did you know that the tire they are using at Daytona was developed before the repave was completed? The fascinating part is that they knew the repave would most likely be similar to the Talladega repave of 2006 because it was being done by the same company.  So that’s how they were able to get a useable compound for Daytona.  Just a little fun fact for you.

Another fun thing I have for you is this little video from Goodyear. It’s got a little bit of everything for the NASCAR fan including driver commentary and some behind the scenes looks at Goodyear…I thought it was pretty interesting. I hope you will too:

You can also find more vidoes at the Goodyear channel on youtube and of course you can always visit the Goodyear website as well.

Oh and am I not on a roll with witty titles for posts lately??

Shock and Yaw

Posted by Amy in General - (1 Comments)

I love cars. Not just race cars but I am a fan of cars in general. If I had unlimited funds (or was insanely wealthy at the very least) I would have a classic car collection. I know I have mentioned this before and am pretty darn sure I went into gory details as to which cars I would have in my collection  (split window vette! Nomad!) and why somewhere on this blog before. Unfortunately I an not insanely wealthy or have unlimited funds…so I have my every day car, a 2008 Chevy HHR LT and that is it. I actually was originally going to buy a Toyota pickup (ie a Tacoma). I had a Toyota Rav4 that was perfect for me it was fairly reliable for most of it’s life (200,000 miles). But then it started to have some issues starting.  Personally I think it was a problem with the fuel pump or filter but damned if they would listen to me at Toyota…they played the hunt and peck and change this thingy and that doohickey to the tune of 300+ bucks at a time and by the time I was nearly $1 grand into trying to fix the problem and still having the same freaking issue I decided it might just be cheaper for me in the long run to go for a new car.  About that  time I needed to drive to southern California.  Because the Rav decided it would only start *sometimes* I rented a car.  I ended up getting an HHR from the rental company and I fell in love with it.  Thus a couple months later- I went to my local Chevy dealership and drove off with a silver HHR.

I take very good care of my car: A loving car wash often enough to keep her shiny, an oil change every 3,000 miles and all the recommended services (yeah I know I am getting gouged at the dealer but…I am a girl and while I know just enough about cars to have a sense when I am getting bs’d about something, I honestly don’t know that much about cars and their, um working parts).

A couple of weekends ago the weather turned from dreary to lovely.  I gathered up my parents and a bazillion tons of camera equipment and we went for a drive to take pictures.  We ended up going over a fairly steep grade in our adventures and on the descending side of the grade my car developed a nasty vibration every time I applied even the tinest bit of brake.  The HHR had nearly 50k miles on it.  My dad said it was probably brake related. I called when we got to our destination and made an appointment to take the HHR  in to be fixed.  The problem was indeed the brakes and had a brake job.  All better right? Well kind of.

A week to the day later from the brake job? I am circling the parking lot at work like a shark working a school of anchovies as I look for a spot to open up when my car start dinging at me and a warning light on my dashboard comes on and my digital read out kindly states SERVICE ESC.  Well being the PANIC! PANIC! THE WHEELS ARE GONNA FALL OFF!!! kind of person that I am…I called OnStar and they ran a diagnostic (awesome they can do that while you are driving around looking for a parking spot).  I mean that is what I pay them the big bucks for right? So they can tell me what’s going on with my car and send help should I crash or something.  Well OnStar told me I needed to take my car in because there was a problem with the stabilitrack on the car (the electronic stability controls- you know the system that keeps you from sliding all over in slippery conditions- ie the bane of wanna be drifters everywhere).  So again because I am a PANIC! PANIC! THE WHEELS ARE GONNA FALL OFF!!! kinda person I call Chevy and make an appointment for the next day to take it back to have this looked out.

Diagnosis: Malfunctioning yaw rate sensor.  I nearly asked when I traded in my car for a freaking sailboat.  Because doesn’t a yaw sensor sound like it belongs on a sailboat?  Anyway thanks to what I have learned watching NASCAR my entire life I had a fairly good idea what that probably did just based on the name alone.  But I asked my service adviser anyway.  He chuckled and said “I had a feeling you were going to ask that!” (I think he could sense that I am a PANIC! PANIC! THE WHEELS ARE GONNA FALL OFF!!! AND ITS GOING TO COST ME A FORTUNE TO FIX! type of person when I brought it in right away).  He tried to put it in a way I could understand…which was nice. So if you are wondering? The yaw sensor on an HHR with ESC is what tells the ESC when the back end is scooting around on you (as if you are a loose race car).  Luckily for me it was covered under the extended warranty (yey extended warranty). But yeah…so here’s to hoping nothing else on my car wants to go haywire for a bit.

Mostly? I had to tell you the story because, well, is that not the coolest title for a post? I hate titles and usually have a hard time titling them.  But this post was all about the title.

Ahh if you never had braces you were a lucky ducky.  I work braces for a couple years and getting them finally removed was cause for celebration. No more painful “adjustments” which is orthadontal speak for tightening and no more food restrictions. My particular braces removal celebration included caramel popcorn.  But anyway, NASCAR fans, I digress.  We got our first taste of the new nose on the cup cars without the splitter braces when the cars hit Daytona International Speedway for testing last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I have to say I LOVE the look of the new nose on the cars.  In my opinion, the new nose adds to the aesthetics of the car and makes it look sportier.  Hopefully the lack of braces on the splitter will keep the cars from collection hot dog wrappers, grass clumps and other debris and make possible overheating less of an issue. 

SHR cars

Look Ma! No Braces! The new nose on the cars for this season is visible here in this picture tweeted by Stewart Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) today.

Many drivers were getting their first feel of the new surface on the speedway as well, as Daytona was repaved during the off season.  Many drivers reported it to be quite smooth and likened it to the newer surface at Talladega.  It should make for some interesting racing that is for certain.  I loved that testing was streamed live on the internet because I could tune in from my side of the states.  Seeing and hearing the cars on the track put a huge smile on this fan’s face.  Why? Because it means soon our season with be on again in full swing.

 Just from the little pieces of testing that I was able to watch it is going to be hard for me to get use to certain changes.  It’s really weird seeing Kasey Kahne in the Red Bull number 4 car.  I did see him race for Red Bull in person in Phoenix at end of last season, and it was weird then. Still weird.   Weirder yet?  Is Harvick in Budweiser red and Kurt in the number #22! It’s all going to take some getting used to that is for sure.  However this nothing new to us NASCAR fans; sponsors and teams change because our sport is dynamic like that. 

Other changes to look forward to or get use to this season:

  1. Ethanol used as fuel in the cars.  Preliminary reports had the cars getting fewer miles per gallon on the ethanol so we will see how much the switch to a “greener” fuel changes strategy on the track.
  2. Speaking of Ethanol- because of the change to ethanol fuel, the gas can needed to be modified. Because of the modifications to the gas can, it was determined that the catch can man was no longer needed.  It is a plus for pit road safety to have one less man over the wall (especially on smaller tracks with cramped pit roads).  While it may be plus for safety though it probably sucks if you were a catch can man.
  3. Drivers now have to declare a series in which they want to run for the championship.  This I don’t like. Why? Because that means my dreams of watching Kyle Busch sweep all three championships one day has died. Yes I am a Tony fan but I am SURE that Kyle could sweep all three series if he put his mind to it.
  4. There is the possible change in the points system that will be most likely announced soon. 
  5. There is the change in the chase format….playfully called the Jamie Mac Chase Clause (JMCC) between Misty and I.  I think its weird use the last two positions of the chase into more wild card spots given to the two non chase contenders with the most wins. I don’t know how that will change the chase…but I guess we will see.

Needless to say there are a lot of changes this season and not JUST to the drivers/teams.  Here we go NASCAR fans. Let’s buckle in for a new season. And to my Tony Stewart readers all I can say is #goTONYgo!

****

Also NASCAR fans- be sure to head over to The Fast and The Fabulous and vote in Round 4 of the Hottest Driver contest. This round pits Stewart-Haas teammates against each other. Go vote…

Viewership may be down, attendance may be down, but does NASCAR really think changing the rules of the game AGAIN is going to magically cure that?  Seems that NASCAR’s answer to all that ails it is to change, change and change things.  Apparently they have never heard Einstein’s definition of insanity:  doing the same thing over and expecting different results.  Well, in this case doing the same thing is changing the sport AGAIN.  Can we not just go from one season to another without wholesale changes like this?

Some may not think that the change that has been hinted at is that big of a deal, and may even see the potential change as easier to understand, but as a diehard NASCAR  fan I don’t have any issue or problem understanding the current scoring method.  Most of us can indeed count past 43.  I view the changes as yet one more thing to figure out as the season starts.  It distracts from the racing, it distracts from the good part of the sport and frustrates me to no end.

I am also not in favor of changing the Chase format.  Why, you may ask?  Because in my opinion the integrity of the record books has already been compromised by instituting the Chase in the first place.  There is Pre-Chase Era drivers and Championships and Chase Era drivers and Championships, NASCAR doesn’t need a third era.  You simply cannot compare Richard Petty’s seven Championships to Jeff Gordon’s four because had the Chase format not been instituted Gordon would have won two additional Championships (2004 and 2007).  Carl Edwards would have taken the 2008 Championship, and Jimmie wouldn’t be Mr. Five Time.  As it stands there needs to be an asterisk in the books, but the damage is done, let’s move on and leave it be.

If the Chase were eliminated now or God forbid, a whole other format instituted, we will never be able to compare Championship results or have a history of the sport that makes any kind of sense.  And to answer those that say, “yeah but Johnson winning all the time is boring and he has this Chase thing figured out”, I say to you, yes indeed it is and he does, but guess what like him or hate him, he has been the best in this format for the last five seasons and it is the burden of the other drivers to rise to the standard set by Johnson the 48 Team.   The other 11 teams need to bring it to the track week after week and get it done.  If at the end of the season, Johnson is crowned Champion again,   then we know the other drivers failed.  Simply changing the sport in an attempt to handicap a winner or level a playing field is ridiculous.  If the others aren’t up to the challenge then they don’t deserve to win.  Hamlin and Harvick came close this year proving the Chase format is not broken.

Confusion is never a good marketing strategy and changing the rules constantly is not going to draw more fans in, but it could frustrate current fans and cause them to move on to a sport they don’t have to re-learn each season.  NASCAR, please, leave the drama to the drivers on the track and let the rest ride!

As some of you may know, I have this other writing gig over at Racing In America where once every two week or so I have to come up with a new entry.  During the off season it’s been hard to come up with relevant stuff.  Here at BadGroove I don’t feel as badly if I post stuff that really isn’t motor sport relevant especially during the off season because well…it’s my blog and I’ll stray if I want to.  I don’t know why I let myself get stressed out about the RIA stuff…it’s not like they pay me and pretty much I can write about whatever I want in the motorsports world (although in my mind they like it when I write NASCAR and I might as well write about a world I know more about then say…NHRA- which I do write about sometimes). But lately, I feel like I let the looming deadlines over at RIA get to me and then I rush out a post that isn’t my best.

Anyway- for my last post over at RIA- I totally copped out and came up with my own top ten  list of races I am looking forward to watching in the 2011 racing season (as a reaction to this article over at scenedaily.com).  I thought it would be easy but it actually took my two days (which is a long time for me) to come up with a list I was happy with and then promptly typed* it up and sent it over to my editor/publisher over at RIA for posting.  Then I breathed a sigh of relief that it was done and went about my business. Until I decided to actually read the entry over at RIA.  Um…I forgot a very import race that I look forward to every season. And it was on my original list. I somehow had two number three’s and ended up dropping this race from the version  I sent over to RIA.  So I will share it here as originally written for the article and then expound upon it after:

Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas- I always LOVE watching the Vegas race because it hold a special place in my oval-loving heart.  It’s the first NASCAR race I had ever gone to AND the first oval track I had ever attended.  I actually attend this race every year since the first time in person.  I love the facilities and really think that the track is underrepresented .  I love the Vegas race and think this track above many others deserves a second race and a night race would be awesome there.   This is another track that Tony has never won at so I always watch it with great hope.

While technically it was suppose to be number three in my original article that is only because I ranked those races by the schedule not by their importance to me.  This one would be number one if only for the sentimental reasons that this was my first NASCAR race attended in the flesh.  I have written about it several times here and over at RIA. I still remember the awe when we started pulling up to the speedway- seeing the grandstands get bigger and bigger and the excitement in my heart as we got closer and closer that first time and do not feel that I have ever adequately described it yet.  This track may be one of those cookie cutter 1.5 ovals that everyone talks about but it’s MY cookie cutter 1.5 mile oval that holds fond memories that make me nearly giddy just thinking about them. The Vegas race holds a lot of firsts for me and I LOVE it for that.  I am sure every NASCAR fan who has ever been to a race has a track that they love and hold dear to them. This one is mine (although Phoenix holds a very very close second place in my heart).

I will be attending this year although I have not even purchased tickets yet (which is so out of character for me since I tend to be an excessive planner- usually purchasing my race tickets several months in advance) and right now-at the peak of what one of my facebook friends called “off season depression” looking forward to going to the Vegas race is a huge bright spot in the near future to look forward to.

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*Yes…I do sometimes write my entries long hand.  I actually find that my entries come out better written long hand and then typed up.