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For those who don’t know- I work on a college campus and new students moved onto campus over the weekend. Which means three things for me:

  1. Parking went from a plethora of available spots to a blood sport over over the weekend.
  2. My call volume just went way up…so I may be kind of slammed this week workwise. I am prepared though so hopefully I can stay on top of it.
  3. The kids are back…it makes life here much more exciting and usually much more enjoyable.

However it is not just the college kids (egads…did I just call college age students KIDS? I MUST be getting old). Kids of all ages EVERYWHERE are either back to school already or are soon to be back in session.

Some kids in Mirmar, Florida really got to start the year off in a fun and festive way today.  The students of Mirmar Elementary School were welcomed back to school by members of the Miami Heat basketball team!  HEAT players Pat Beverley, Kenny Hasbrouck, and Dexter Pittman helped distribute 900 backpacks filled with school supplies to children entering the school, courtesy of Office Depot.  The HEAT players also addressed the entire student body during morning announcements. The kids were also entertained by the The HEAT Dancers, Xtreme Team, and HEAT mascot Burnie.

And what’s even better? That Tony Stewart’s Back-To-School paint scheme Office Depot  show car was in attendance as well.

Miami HEAT guard Kenny Hasbrouck fires up the No. 14 Office Depot NASCAR race car during a Back to School event in Miramar, Florida. During the event, Miami HEAT players Patrick Beverley, Kenny Hasbrouck, and Dexter Pittman partnered with Office Depot to distribute 900 backpacks filled with school supplies to children during the first day of school in South Florida. (photo courtesy of Edelman)

That sounds like fun! This kind of thing never happened on the first day of school when I was a kid!

I will be the first to admit that I was frustrated with the end result of the race at Michigan on Sunday.  On the one hand it was GREAT to see the #14 car out there running in the front and leading a nice slug of laps (I think Tony lead a total of 36 laps or something like that).  It was encouraging and GREAT.  What was disheartening was the the debris caution…and watching everyone pit but Tony and Kevin Harvick. Tony must have thought so too because he came on the radio and said “We’re in big trouble here” to which Darian Grubb tried to be the cheerleader and tell Tony it would be ok. Unfortunately though he started falling back and finished 6th. Another GREAT top ten finish- BUT it was sad to see him running so strong but then fall off like that. However, what made it a little sweeter? Was that Tony did advance FOUR spots in the race for the chase and is now fourth in the points standings. That does make ME feel a little better.

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 14: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 14, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 14: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 14, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 13: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, climbs out of his car after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 13: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, climbs out of his car after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 15: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, rounds turn four ahead of Kevin Harvick, driver of the  Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 15: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, rounds turn four ahead of Kevin Harvick, driver of the Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Notes about Michigan:

  • The Ryan Newman/Joey Logano dust up…my take? It was one of those racing deals. I don’t think Joey intentionally got into Ryan- he looked really loose to me.  They are out there to RACE and I don’t think that either one wanted to give in to the other- and you know what? That is RACING.  I think that Ryan has some frustrations that he took out on Joey after the race.  He is only human. Do I think that either of them should get fined? No. I think that they should call it good and let it go.  Now if we get to Bristol or something and there is some retaliation ON TRACK? Then we can talk about NASCAR getting involved.
  • By far the best tweet of the race? Was right after Ryan spun from that aforementioned contact with Joey Logano when she said ” Thanks Joey Lagano….maybe I should go put my firesuit on!” (@KrissieNewman).
  • Race winner was Kevin Harvick and he also locked his position in the chase. Congratulations Kevin.
  • Bonus Caption Photo will be coming. I found a great one but I am waiting for permission to use it.

Tony’s helmets fascinate me.  I love the different designs he has (I believe they are painted by Justin Beam in Las Vegas) and I would love to know how many different helmets he has in a season.  Anyway- a helmet from a favorite driver can be a coveted addition to any race fan’s collection. Well, Smoke fans, here is your chance to bid on the helmet or the firesuit of Tony Stewart- all to support a great cause.  They are RACE USED at the recent Chicagoland race where Stewart ran the BACK-TO-SCHOOL Office Depot paint scheme. Both the helmet and the firesuit go along with that special BACK-TO-SCHOOL paint scheme and would be an awesome additon to any collection. 

You could own this very firesuit from the Back-To-School paint scheme run by Tony at Chicagoland earlier this year. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography)

Or you might want to own one of the helmets from Chicagoland instead? (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography)

Both items, auctioned separately, will be autographed by Tony Stewart himself.  Proceeds from the auction will go to support the Office Depot Foundation’s work in the National Backpack Program that provides backpacks full of school supplies to children in need across the county.  It’s a program that Stewart has been working with since his sponsorship with Office Depot began last year: 

“It was a lot of fun to have the special back-to-school paint scheme on my No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevy earlier this summer, and I’m very proud to partner with the Office Depot Foundation on its National Backpack Program,” Stewart said. “I can tell you from experience how rewarding it is to see the look on these kids’ faces when they get a new backpack – it’s an automatic boost of confidence for them and helps them feel ready to take on the new school year just like everybody else. I hope fans will help support this awesome program by participating in the online auction.”

The auction is only running from NOW until August 23rd, 2010 so get your bids in now by visiting the auction site at the Office Depot Racing website.

Ok, so I go to the Office Depot Racing website a lot. First off I like to switch my desktop wallpaper a lot because I get bored easy and they have a great variety of Tony Stewart and Office Depot Racing wallpapers.  So I went to grab a new one this morning to brighten my Wednesday and I found that they had updated the look of their site….not just a little but a whole lot.  I think the update looks amazing and has a great feel to it!

Let me be the first to introduce you to the brand new look to OfficeDepotRacing.com:

Screen Shot of The New Office Depot Racing website

(Screen shot kindly provided by Edelman)

I don’t know about you all but I LOVE the new look to the website.  It still has all your favorite information (including the wall papers- those rock) but it’s in a much more streamlined format.

I would like to point out that on this new website is an awesome video about Tony called No Limit. You HAVE to check it out.  On the main page it cycles through the main “stories” and it is one of them! It’s a definite must see for any Tony Stewart fan.

There is also a cool little weekly poll.   This week’s question is If you could be on Tony’s pit crew, what job would you like? They give you the choices of: Tire Changer, Spotter, Transport Driver, Tire Carrier, Sign Board/Clean Grill, and Windshield. Now this is something I have actually contemplated.  I chose SPOTTER.  I think being a Spotter would be fun yet important.  My only issue is the whole deathly afraid of heights thing.  Of course being a TRANSPORT DRIVER would be fun too- just think of how much of the country you get to see! But then again- you probably have to keep to a schedule and stopping at the side of the road to take pictures because something catches your eye (as I often do) would probably be frowned upon.  I will tell you what job I would NOT want to do…that is the guy that gets down and Cleans The Grill.  I think it was the Brickyard- that guy reached down and grabbed a piece of paper off the grill of Tony’s car right before he left and I don’t know if it was the camera angle or what but it look like he nearly got hit as Tony was peeling out.  Definitely not for the faint of heart…or klutzy.

But back to my original point…go check out the new Office Depot Racing website!!! You won’t be disappointed.

Attention Stewart-Haas Racing fans in Indiana or attending the Brickyard 400 next week- there are some exciting autograph appearances heading your way next week in conjunction with the race. Both Stewart-Haas Racing drivers will be doing separate autograph appearances at Office Depot locationss in Indiana on different days:

Driver Ryan Newman will be signing autographs on Wednesday July 21st at the Office Depot located in Noblesville, Indiana (located at: 16650 Mercantile Boulevard /Stoney Creek Commons, Noblesville, Indiana 46060).  375 wristbands will be distributed at the location starting at 8:30 am local time.  You must have a wristband to get an autograph. Ryan will begin signing autographs at approximately 4:00pm local time. Fans with wristbands MUST be in line before 5:oo pm.

Driver Tony Stewart will be signing autographs on Thursday July 22nd at the Office Depot located in Carmel, Indiana (12417 North Meridian Street (Hamilton Crossing) in Carmel, Indiana). 350 wristbands will be distributed at the location starting at 8:00 am local time.   You must have a wristband to get an autograph.  Tony will begin signing autographs at approximately 3:00 pm. Fans with wristbands MUST be in line before 3:30 pm.

With both appearances, there is one autograph per wristband and one wristband per person limit.

If you can attend I highly reccomend that you do- it’s always a blast!

UPDATED: We have also found out that Tony Stewart will be appearing at the Team Chevy booth at the Brickyard Friday July 23rd at 12:30 local time. Driver appearances at the Team Chevy booth start at 11:00.   Visit the Team Chevy booth at the Indianapolis Motorspeedway for more information.

So Chicagoland. I was looking forward to watching this race. First off, Tony was driving the #14 Back-To-School paint scheme on his Impala.  That is probably one of my favorite alternate paint schemes…because as a kid I would remember how much I looked forward to shopping for school supplies.  Secondly,it was a Saturday Night race…and I like those.  Thirdly, I was encouraged because Tony had a good qualifying run and qualified 3rd! That is an awesome qualifying effort from Tony and the Office Depot crew!

JOLIET, IL - JULY 09: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot Chevrolet, smiles after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

JOLIET, IL - JULY 09: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot Chevrolet, smiles after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

At the beginning of the race Tony was strong. Very strong. Making is way up to second after falling back a couple of positions at the start of the race. The car just looked good on the track:

JOLIET, IL - JULY 10, 2010: Tony Stewart (14) and Jeff Gordon (24)during race action for the LifeLock.com 400 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.

JOLIET, IL - JULY 10, 2010: Tony Stewart (14) and Jeff Gordon (24)during race action for the LifeLock.com 400 race at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.

His major complaint about the car was that it was a bit tight.  Around lap 38 there was a caution flag- so all the teams came in for pitstops.  I was watching Tony’s DirecTV Hotpass channel so I could see Tony sitting on pitroad…and continuing to sit and sit on pit road.  I could see the other cars that were well behind Tony leaving pit road.  It was frustrating.  I heard Darian say “Sorry about that, Bud” to which Tony replied that he could see what was happening and not to worry about it- they would get them back. What you ask? That would be the 15 spots they fell during the pitstop.  Apparently what happened is the wheels on the jack got stuck in a seem and caused the delay in the pitstop. Arg! Tony restarted in 17th.  Tony seemed calm but I wasn’t!

When the race went green again it was like Tony was on FIRE. He was passing people left and right…quite literally. Even his spotter said “That’s pretty sweet!”

I had to chuckle at Tony’s reply which was “I’ve got a little business to take care of…” which you know- is Office Depot’s theme…”Taking care of business.”

Taking care of business- I should say so because Tony was soon in the top ten.  He would stay between 7th and 10th for the rest of the race and would finish 9th.  He remains 9th in the sprint cup points. Points leader is still Kevin Harvick.

Race winner was David Reutimann.  It was cute to see David win a race. I always want Tony to win. Always…but I wouldn’t begrudge Reut a win.

Notes about Chicagoland:

  • As I mentioned I was watching the Tony Stewart channel on DirecTV hotpass. I have to say…HOTPASS YOU STILL STINK!!!  There was one point where Tony was very obviously holding on an animated conversation with Darian or his spotter during one of the late race yellows. I know this because I could see his incar camera. He was waving his hands around- it was OBVIOUS he was having a conversation…but they were obviously editing it so we didn’t get ANY of that conversation.  Your HOTPASS stinks. I ended up at that point going and getting my laptop and listening to the SCANNER on the NASCAR.COM Trackpass…which was weird because it was a bit behind the TV surprisingly.  But at least I got more of the conversation that way…unfortunately I missed most of the good stuff.
  • Robby Gordon ran SMACK into Bill Elliott’s disabled car. I mean he hit him HARD! I was glad that Bill was ok.  That was crazy. Did Robby’s spotter miss the spin?
  • Whilst listening to the bantering back and forth between Darian and Tony I heard Tony describe his car as “nervous.” Um what the heck did that mean? Nervous? Did it have butterflies?

Next week the Sprint Cup cars have a week off. The week after is huge. It’s the BRICKYARD!

Last week I mentioned the Tony Stewart backpack donation/ autograph signing at an Office Depot in Chicago but I forgot to mention that in conjunction with the Back-To-School campaign Tony will be driving an alternate Office Depot Racing paint scheme  with a BACK-TO-SCHOOL theme. I like this year’s back-to-school car even better than the one Tony raced last season! Take a look:

Side view of the Back-To-School themed Office Depot Chevy. Photo Credit: Edelman

Rear "TV Panel" view (aka the view we hope all the of the competiton sees next weekend) of the Back-To-School themed Office Depot Chevy. Photo Credit: Edelman

Now that is one smart looking car (pun totally and willfully intended).  Here is another one of those time lapse car wrapping videos…you know that I love them and share them when I get them:

I think wrapping the cars would be a fun yet frustrating job…fun because well it just looks fun. frustrating because it would be crazy to try to get it all to line up correctly! Patient men (and women) have this job I imagine!

Also just to remind anyone who is in the Chicago area tomorrow July 8th, 2010 might want to stop by the Office Depot located at 2928 North Ashland Avenue Chicago, IL 60657. Wristbands for the Tony Stewart autograph session will be distributed starting at 7:00 am local time and the actual autograph session will start at 4:45 pm (you must be in the autograph line with your wristband by 5:15).

When I was a kid- I LOVED going shopping for school supplies. I think it was a precursor to my addiction to all things office-supply product related.  Seriously my favorite driver couldn’t have a better sponsor to me!

Tony Stewart and The Office Depot Foundation will be holding a special “Back-To-School” event on July 8th, 2010 at a Chicago area Office Depot.  During the event Tony Stewart will assist the Office Depot Foundation in donating 4,200 backpacks filled with school supplies to Chicago area organizations that assist local children in need as part of the annual National Backpack Program.

Office Depot and The Office Depot Foundation have donated 2.3 million backpacks across the country since the inception of this program in 2001.  Tony Stewart participated in this program last year and this year plans on assisting the Office Depot Foundation in donating 300,000 backpacks nationwide.  These backpacks will be presented to representatives from several organizations in the Chicagoland area including: Casa Central, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Youth Programs, PUSH for Excellence, Jane Addams Hull House Association, Speedway Children’s Charities, and others.

These backpacks are not available to the public. However Stewart will be doing a public autograph signing in conjunction with the presentation with the backpacks.  He will be signing autographs at the Office Depot (2928 North Ashland Avenue Chicago, IL 60657) from 4:45-5:45 local time on July 8th.  To get an autograph you have to have a wristband. Wristbands will be distributed on a first come first serve basis starting at 7:00am local time at the Office Depot location.   The Office Depot #14 show car with the “Back To School” paint scheme will also be at the event for your viewing pleasure.