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Well greetings out there to all my readers!!!   It’s that time of year isn’t it? The time when going to the mall makes one crazy because there is no parking and the weather is crappy and there are people everywhere and stores are sold out of what you want and really all you want to do is “wad up some cash and throw it at people” (direct quote from Misty)  instead of trying to find gifts…but somehow think that my 3 year old and 9 month old nephews wouldn’t really go for the wadded up cash approach.  Maybe that’s just me (and Misty).   Anyway- if you have a Stewart-Haas Racing fan, a Tony Stewart fan, a Ryan Newman fan, or a NASCAR fan on your list here are some gift suggestions for this year:

1. For Stewart-Haas Racing fans (in particular Tony Stewart fans) I highly suggest the new Office Depot Racing 2011 calendar:

I present to you the cover of the 2011 Tony Stewart calendar. (photo credit: Edelman)

I mean who can resist 12 full months of Tony Stewart (and crew).  It’s available at most (but not all) Office Depot locations as well as ONLINE.

2.  Office Depot is again this holiday season selling their Teddy B. Caring bears (as seen here with Tony Stewart):

Tony Stewart and Teddy B. Caring have a meeting. (Photo Credit: Edelman)

Proceeds from the bear go to The Office Depot Foundation which has many programs throughout the year for children and families, including the ever popular National Backpack Program which supplies new backpacks and book bags filled with school supplies to children in need.  It’s a program that Tony Stewart himself has worked with for two years now helping the foundation hand out the backpacks and book bags to children and service organizations. Tony says, “It’s amazing to see the look on a child’s face when they receive a new backpack and are able to head back to school with an extra boost of confidence. Every child deserves that, and I would like to encourage everyone to consider giving a Teddy B. Caring bear as a gift this holiday season in support of the great work the Office Depot Foundation does all year long.” The bear is a 16 inch GUND bear available at Office Depot.  Or you can also pick up a smaller version that is an ornament/ gift card holder.

3.  You can make a donation to the Ryan Newman Foundation or Tony Stewart Foundation on behalf of your fan. Both drivers are heavily involved in giving back.   The Ryan Newman Foundation focuses it’s efforts on getting the message out there to Spay and Neuter pets- to help prevent overpopulation, urges pet seekers to get their pets from shelters or rescues.  They also heavily support conservation efforts to perserve the great outdoors for future generations AND support the Rich Vogler  Scholarship program for youth interested in careers in auto racing.  The Tony Stewart Foundation‘s mission services children with life-threatening illnesses, abused and endangered animals and injured drivers.  I have had the pleasure in our interviews with Tony of talking to him about his foundation and it’s amazing to watch his countenance change when he starts talking about children and animals especially.

4.  You can also find great Stewart-Haas Racing gear and gear for both drivers on sale over at the Stewart-Haas Racing online store.  Each driver also has a separate online store: Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman.  You can get everything a fan could dream of between the three sites.

5.  And I have to bring up my favorite NASCAR book that I have read so far this year…and that is The Weekend Starts On Wednesday.  The book is an ode to and of  NASCAR Fans.  It’s a great read that most any NASCAR fan will enjoy.  I have read it and it truly makes me proud to be a NASCAR fan.  The author is witty and the book is extremely well written.  I highly recommend it!

Presenting the 2011 Tony Stewart calendar. (photo credit: Edelman)

So…Office Depot Racing put together this completely AWESOME calendar for 2011 of…you guessed it- Tony Stewart. Its available in store at select Office Depot locations as well as ONLINE. I ordered mine online because it came out and then I was off to Vegas and didn’t want to have to search for one. From what I have seen of the calendar I don’t think that they will last long so if you are a Tony Stewart fan or are looking for the perfect gift for the Tony Stewart (or NASCAR) fan in your life I highly recommend you get your hands on one of these calendars as soon as possible. AND? They are extremely reasonable price wise- only 13.99!!! How AWESOME is that? It’s awesome– trust me!!! Want proof? Sure:

Tony leans on the wall

I present the month of MARCH from the Office Depot Racing 2011 Tony Stewart Calendar. (Photo Credit: Edelman)

Tony and the 14 on the lid of the car

Presenting APRIL in the 2011 Tony Stewart Calendar (photo credit: Edelman)

 See? And that is just two of the 12 months.  So visit your local Office Depot or order online today!

Tony Stewart, owner/driver of the #14 Stewart-Haas Racing Office Depot Chevrolet and teammate Ryan Newman spent time with Office Depot employees at headquarters in Boca Raton Florida, thanking them for their hard work and celebrating the sponsorship relationship the drivers have with Office Depot.

Stewart and Newman took part in a Q&A session, hosted by SpeedTV Broadcaster John Roberts:

Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman address Office Depot employees at headquarters in Florida. Photo Credit: Edelman

The pair even presented Office Depot with an autographed hood:

John Roberts Hosts Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman at Office Depot Headquarters. Photo Credit: Edelman

 The duo then autographed items for the employees taking part in the celebration:

Tony Stewart signs autograph for Office Depot employees at the sponsor's headquarters. Photo Credit: Edelman

And…ok sure…another gratutious picture- Tony answers questions from the media while teammate Ryan Newman looks on. The photographer in me LOVES this picture…because Stewart is in the front but Newman is there in the background….it’s a great picture:

Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman address the media at the Office Depot Staff event. Photo Credit: Edelman

 Office Depot employees were also visited by Miss Sprint Cup Monica Palumbo and an autograph session with author Andrew Giangola who was on hand signing copies of his book THE WEEKEND STARTS ON WEDNESDAY for employees (If you haven’t read Andrew’s book you should pick up a copy NOW! It really is a good read and makes me proud to be a NASCAR fan!)  I wish my department at work would have Tony and Ryan come to one of OUR all-hands meetings.  Hee.

Yeah I know I already posted about it but I want to make sure that you Texas -based Tony Stewart fans know about his autograph appearance in Grapevine Texas tomorrow  at the Office Depot located at: 1317 State Highway 114 West (Grapevine Town Center) Grapevine, TX 76051

To get an autograph you must have a wristband. 700 wristbands will be given away at the location starting at 8:00am local time on November 4th. There is one wristband per person, and one autograph per wristband. Fans with wristbands must be in line no later than 5:00 pm.

So wow…I have really slipped up haven’t I? Technially I am behind three race recaps because I didn’t write anything yet about Fontana, Charlotte or Martinsville. I was at Fontana in person..and am still working on that…but let me get a quick Charlotte and Martinsville recap out of the way so I don’t feel so behind:

Tony Stewart climbs into his race car for NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina on October 15, 2010.  UPI/Nell Redmond . Photo via Newscom

(Yeah....that was the race with the Green/Red car...I didn't like it.)Tony Stewart climbs into his race car for NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina on October 15, 2010. UPI/Nell Redmond . Photo via Newscom

Chase Race 5 (Charlotte) The race at Charlotte was THE night race of the Chase. Tony Stewart qualified 29th for the race. On the second lap of the race, he was forced to check up to avoid a spin (Ryan Newman) and ended up getting hit by another car in the right rear corner of the car. Between damage and an ill-handling car (likely due to damage I would guess), and a couple of pit stops where Tony got blocked when trying to enter his pitstall, it would end up being a bad night. The 14 car wound up finishing 21st, dropping Stewart from 5th to 6th in the points (-177 points out of the lead). Race winner was Jamie McMurray.

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 23: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 23, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 23: Tony Stewart, driver of the Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 23, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Chase Race 6 (Martinsville) Eek….what a not so good ending to a race where Tony seemed to have a fairly solid car. Qualifying went extremely well as Tony qualified 6th (YEY!). In general I like shorter tracks because to me often the racing is closer and more intense. Tony quickly started falling back, suffering from the effects of an ill-handling car. After the crew worked on adjusting the car he seemed to be happier with the handling and seemed to advance in the standings. Then there was the speeding penalty. Stewart was caught speeding on pit road and had to go to the end of the lead lap. BAH! However- Tony seemed to be able to move through the field pretty well. I started to get excited. He really seemed to be doing well.  Then there were more pit stops and something happened where he lost a lot of ground on one of the stops (turns out, according to the team release that there was a lugnut issue on one of the tires).  It took awhile but Tony seemed to battle back into the top ten…and then a tire let go.  (sigh).  Stewart finished the race 24th, two laps down.   He dropped to 7th in the standings now 236 points out of the lead. The race winner was Denny Hamlin.

Next week: Talladega is on Halloween….um…that is just bad mojo!!!

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 22: Tony Stewart (L), driver of the  Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, talks with Kasey Kahne (R), driver of the  Red Bull Toyota, on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 22, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 22: Tony Stewart (L), driver of the Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, talks with Kasey Kahne (R), driver of the Red Bull Toyota, on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 22, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Check out my post over at Racing in America for my sentiments on the whole Kasey Kahne / RPM debacle.

Did you hear that sigh of relief? That was me- I feel way better having gotten that all out! Shwew.  I will not let myself get so behind again!

Our AutoClub adventure starts Thursday morning…I woke up very early, threw my luggage in the HHR and and headed southeast. It would take me about five and a half hours and six different highways to get to the hotel and check in. Misty, on the other hand, lives in Vegas and it only takes her about 3  hours to get there (and only one highway change for her). So she calls me when I am about halfway there to tell me that she has a flat tire! Yeah! Can you believe that? I was glad to find out that she got her flat before leaving town at least so she wasn’t stuck in the desert somewhere on the side of the road! Of course, she was worried she would miss our interview with Tony which was slated for 3:30 pm, but luckily within an hour she had herself a brand new tire (she tried to have it just patched but the problem was a crack in the sidewall) and was back on the road.

We met at our hotel (I was there probably 40 minutes or so before she was so I got us all checked in)…we had plenty of time to catch up (I hadn’t seen her in person since her birthday in late July), change and we were off to Rancho Cucamonga to the Office Depot Autograph appearance- which is where our interview would be taking place. We got there right on time. The show car was in the lot…the crowd waiting for autographs wrapped around the building…I was excited. Last time we interviewed Tony I was extremely NERVOUS (I remember cringing when I transcribed our first Tony interview back in March- because I could HEAR how nervous I was in my voice)…did I tell you guys that? Yeah I was SO freaking nervous that first time I don’t think I have EVER been so nervous. (If you are new here- Misty and I interviewed Tony before the race in Vegas back in February- you can read that interview here).

Misty and I finally got to meet Valli from The Fast and The Fabulous…and the three of us stood there at the Office Depot in the “media” area and chatted while Tony did a local television interview.

From right to left: Misty, Valli, Amy (me).

From left to right: Misty, Valli, Amy (me).

When Tony wrapped up with his television interview (which you can watch here…it came out great) Misty and I were up next.  So without further ado…here is our second interview with Tony Stewart:

AMY: We interviewed you in Vegas at the beginning of the season and here we are it’s near the end of the season, can you tell us how your perspectives change from the beginning of the season when you are just starting to now where the end is in sight?

TONY: Well there is a lot of optimism at the beginning of the year but at this point of the season the handwriting is kind of on the on the wall.  We know that we accomplished the goal of making the chase now we are in the second phase of that goal of trying to win the championship and it’s not off to a great start BUT it’s the tightest chase field we have ever had. We are tenth and we are 124 points out and we were able to gain 40 points last weekend in one day so there is potential. We are definitely not out of this thing at all. We got a lot of races left to go. If we have three more races like we had last weekend- we are right in this. We are definitely not out of this.

AMY: What is a typical race morning like for you?

TONY: Wake up, shower, no breakfast at that point. Go do our hospitality appearances and then go to the drivers meeting. Once the drivers meeting is over then I come back to the motor home and that’s kind of my time to relax and be to myself. That’s when I get my breakfast/lunch and just get ready for the race.

AMY: What was your favorite part of working this past summer with the Office Depot backpack give away program?

TONY: Probably seeing the kids.  There is something about kids where there is no hidden agendas at that age.  Every emotion that a child has is an honest emotion.  So seeing these kids smile when they come up and get their backpack and seeing the pride on their face that’s…you can’t pay for that. That’s not something you can pay to get… that emotion from a child…that’s by far the best part.

MISTY:  We know that you are in the middle of having a house built…what feature are you looking forward to most?

TONY: My fish tank.  I have a big freshwater fish tank like you have at  Bass Pro Shops.  I am really really excited about it.  It’s virtually done- everything around it is what we are kind of working on right now. It will be nice when we get the water back in it and we get fish in it and it gets on a day to day deal. It’s pretty neat. Like I said, I have seen it full of water, I have seen the waterfall work that goes into it. But it will be nice when the house is actually done and we can get the fish in it.

MISTY: What’s on your ipod right now?

TONY: Oh god…I just updated it last night.  It’s full of everything. It’s full of the same stuff I had at Vegas plus more stuff since then! I wish I could remember the guys name that I downloaded last night, he’s kind of a mix between Kenny Wayne Shephard and Stevie Ray Vaughn, kind of a bluesy guy. One of our dirt track guys turned us on to him but I can NOT remember his name…he had a real wild last name.  We honestly have a little bit of everything. I am not a big heavy metal fan…there is probably more classic rock than anything on my ipod.

So that is our official interview with Tony…which took place right there in the back of the Rancho Cucamonga Office Depot right by the furniture department:

Misty, Tony and Amy

Misty, Tony and Amy

The best part of the whole thing was when Tony complimented us by saying “I LOVE dealing with these girls!” He then went on to be interviewed by Valli…so I will be sure to let you know when that is up over there.

I will wrap up here but definitely say tuned in for more adventures from AutoClub speedway!

Tony qualified for the race in Kansas 14th (which I think is funny since he drives the 14 car). He had a good strong run at Kansas and even got the 10 bonus points (5 for leading a lap and 5 for leading the most laps…YEY). Combine that with a strong finish of 4th. While Tony remains 10th in the points after the Kansas race due to several strong finishes by other chase contenders, Stewart’s strong showing at Kansas trimmed his points deficit on the leader from 165 points before the race to 127 after. While Greg Biffle was the race winner, Jimmie Johnson overtook Denny Hamlin for the points lead in the Cup standings.

Did you see Tony during the pre-race ceremonies holding Gavin Grubb (son of crew chief Darian Grubb)…that Gavin is ADORABLE!

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 03: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot Chevrolet, holds his crew chief's son Gavin Grubb during prerace for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Price Chopper 400 on October 3, 2010 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 03: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot Chevrolet, holds his crew chief's son Gavin Grubb during prerace for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Price Chopper 400 on October 3, 2010 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NOTES ABOUT KANSAS:

  • I can only bet that winner of the OFFICIAL SMALL BUSINESS OF NASCAR (sponsored by the Office Depot) winner from last week at Dover, Mike Pagano of PaganoPhotography, wishes that Greg Biffle had won LAST weekend because that would have been a million dollar award to his small business.  To quote my two and a half year old nephew, AWW MAN!

Next Race: Autoclub Speedway in California! GoTONYGo!

Tony Stewart will be appearing at the Office Depot in Rancho Cucamonga in an autograph appearance for fans. Tony will be signing 700 autographs for his fans. You must have a wristband to get an autograph (one wristband per person, one autograph per person/wristband). Wristbands will be given away at the Office Depot location starting at 8:00 am local time. The autograph session will start at 4:00pm and fans MUST be in line by 4:45 pm.

This will be taking place at:
Office Depot
8160 Day Creek Blvd
Rancho Cucamonga, California 91739

The Office Depot show car will also be on hand as will racing simulators of the 14 and 39 cars.
See you there!