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Settling in to watch the race at Richmond, the 26th race of the 2011 season, I was a ball of nerves. It was one of those races that I would have fast forwarded through just to see the results without going the stress (and I mean STRESS) of the race.  Tony was one of the drivers on the chase bubble. So to remain in the chase Tony had to finish in the top 18 because if he fell out of the top 10 in points he would NOT be eligible for a wildcard position because he has no wins (YET).  He qualified 22nd. See what I mean- I am sure Tony Stewart is trying to kill me- or give me an ulcer anyway.

I was encouraged by his little beginning of the race radio pep talk that he ended with: WE CAN DO THIS! I settled in and thought…of course WE CAN DO THIS!

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, drives in the garage area during practice for the Sprint Cup Series Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

It seemed at the beginning of the race that every two or three laps there was a caution because of agressive driving causing someone to spin someone out. I believe I proclaimed a couple of times that at this race the race wouldn’t be over until midnight west coast time (I told you I might have been tempted to fast forward during this race to see what the outcome was).  All my readers know that I was crossing every appendage I physically could in hopes of Tony making the chase. Apparently turning myself into a pretzel worked (yeah sure that’s what did it…I am sure of it).

I started to relax during the end of the race, when I was pretty sure that, barring some catastrophic accident (although I still worried about it slightly) and was able to actually enjoy the racing- but for 90 percent of it I was on pins and needles. PINS AND NEEDLES people.  Were you?  Tony seemed to be able to work his way forward through the field sometimes but other times he seemed stucked where he was.  But in the end- he ended up finishing 7th- well above the 18th place finish he would have needed to clinch his place in the chase.

Tony’s “Honoring Our Heroes” symbolic memorial paint scheme was BEAUTIFUL on the track. It looked like he had an equally amazing helmet.  This is the best picture I could find of it- if you have a better one- please share:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America)

Tony’s car was one of four cars in the field in the Saturday night race who raced a special commemorative paint scheme honoring the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation- a foundation that supports the families of first responders, provides scholarships for their children, as well as supports veteran’s wounded in conflict.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the diecasts of Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, David Gilliland and Jamie MacMurray cars will go to the foundation.  Lionel NASCAR Collectibles presented the Stephen Siller Foundation with $125,000 as the first installment of the proceeds of the money raised from the sale of diecasts.

Notes About Richmond:

  1. I was so glad that Dale Junior also made it into chase.
  2. The race coverage by ABC – on what to most NASCAR fans considered a crucial race- wasn’t very good. It seemed to me like there were far too many commercial breaks and a lot of times, when returning from a caution we missed the initial drop of the green flag- to find the cars already taking the first turn of the race.
  3. The race at Richmond had a record tying number of cautions: 15
  4. There were just as many sparks off the tracks as on.  Tony got snippy with AP reporter Jenna Fryer at his media availablity between practices on Friday.  After the race Kurt Busch is reported to had to have been physically restrained in an argument with Joe Menzer (NASCAR.COM), then later exchanged further heated words in the media center with him and even later with Jenna Fryer, when it’s reported that he ripped a transcript from her hand then ripped it in half.  So you think that there were no emotions running high at that race (and after?).  (Ok so I found the video of Kurt tearing the transcript…it appears to me that Jenna just handed it to him- he didn’t “rip it from her hands”- he did tear it in half though.)
  5. Tony helped the Office Depot Foundation donate 2000 sackpacks filled with school supplies to local Virginia children:

Tony Stewart signs a sackpack for a child in Virginia. (Photo Credit: Leon Rubin)

And finally- I just have to point out a favorite quote from the official team post-race report:

“It’s going to be a long 10 weeks, but every Friday when we show up at the track we start with a clean slate and just do the best we can. So, we’ll keep digging.” – Tony Stewart (emphasis mine)

That’s right: #KeepDiggingTony!

Next Race: Chicagoland

Tony Stewart will be running a special, one-time “Honoring Our 9-11 Heroes” paint scheme this weekend at Richmond.  I have been talking about this paint scheme since I found out about it.  I even posted pictures of the diecast (and I ordered the diecast too).  I know I have mentioned this before but a portion of the proceeds for the sale of the LIONEL NASCAR collectable diecast goes to the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Tower foundation- you can order your diecast here or at the NASCAR.COM Superstore.  The car has a gorgeous, patriotic red, white and blue  paint scheme and the commemoration behind the paint scheme is what makes it extra special:

(Photo Credit: Stewart Haas Racing Twitter Account)

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Attention Tony Stewart Fans planning on being in Virginia on September 8th. Tony Stewart will be doing an autograph appearance at the Office Depot located in Midlothian Virginia THIS August 8th at 4:30 PM!  The address for this event is: 1230 Huguenot Road, Midlothian, VA.

You must have a wristband to get an autograph.  400 wristbands will be given out at the location starting at 8:00 am local time on September 8th.  One autograph per wristband, one wristband per person.

As always I strongly suggest getting there early- the wristbands can go quickly at some of these events. These events are always great fun. And remember if you go to remind Tony to #KeepDiggingTony! Have fun for me!

Almost every time I watch a time-lapse video of a car being wrapped, the Fabulous Thunderbird’s Wrap It Up, I’ll Take It runs through my head and then gets stuck.  It has been stuck there since yesterday when I saw this:

That is Tony’s Kansas car getting wrapped in the special Back-To-School paint scheme* that will adorn the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy this weekend at Kentucky. Here are some stills of the awesome paint scheme too:

Tony Stewart's Back-To-School paint scheme for the #14 (Photo Credit: Edelman)

The TV Panel shows a cool ruler... (Photo Credit: Edelman)

I always remember how I loved shopping for back-to-school supplies when I was a kid (obviously I was one of those geeky studious kids that actually LIKED school).

*Why do they call it paint schemes? Technically shouldn’t they call it wrapped schemes?

Tony Stewart will be headlining a “Back-To-School” celebration on Wednesday July 6th at the Office Depot located in Florence Kentucky (6825 Burlington Pike, Florence, KY 41042). He will be on hand to help donate 3,000 backpacks to representatives from local schools and non-profit organizations as part of the Office Depot Foundation’s National Backpack Program. You probably remember Tony helped donate backpacks last summer and fall as part of the program.

After the backpack presentation- there will be an autograph signing for the public at 4:45 pm (following the backpack donation). To get an autograph from Tony you will need to obtain a wristband. Wristbands will be available starting at 8:00 am local time at the store. There will be one wristband per person, one autograph per wristband. People with wristbands MUST be in line no later than 5:15pm to receive their autograph.

As I mentioned yesterday these events are FUN- if you are in the area be sure to stop by.

(Photo Credit: Office Depot's Facebook page-Click on photo to be taken to the page)

(As a total aside: In the picture above Tony is autographing one of the Tony Stewart Photobooks by Jostens.  They are a wee bit pricy…but I think they are totally worth it! I have one- the best part is they are customizable…I customized mine with the first interview we did with Tony- so I always have a nice keepsake of it.   They also have some of the other drivers AND they have ones for each race that they release so if you go to a specific race and want a nice memento from the race- you might want to consider it- Kudos to Jamie for pointing out the race books from them as well).

Ok- yes I know that is kind of a lame title but he did cut a ribbon see:

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – NASCAR® star Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ (right), participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony during the grand-opening event of a brand-new Office Depot store in Winter Haven, Fl., on June 29. Stewart, shown here with Bob Gernert (left), the Executive Director of the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, and Teresa Hill (center), Office Depot Store Manager, also assisted the Office Depot Foundation with presenting donations to local non-profits before signing autographs for 600 fans (Photo Credit: Foster Photography).

I would have so been there- how fun would that have been? Seriously if you can ever attend one of Tony’s Office Depot events I highly suggest going- they are ALWAYS fun. And I will be announcing another one tomorrow morning so keep your eyes peeled.

On a side note: I have always wanted to cut a ribbon on something exciting like a building or a bridge or something. Not just any ole ribbon but a grand opening ribbon. Mostly because of the big scissors you get to use. No chance on losing those suckers (I am always losing scissors).

Forgive me Tony Stewart Fans for not posting this sooner but I am still playing catch up from being gone since last Wednesday.  Tony Stewart will be doing an Office Depot grand opening and autograph session TOMORROW June 29th 2011 at the new Office Depot located at 800 Cypress Gardens Blvd Winter Haven, Florida.

Tony will be on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony and will sign autographs afterwards for 600 fans.  The ceremony begins at 3:30pm local time.

To get an autograph you MUST have a wristband. There is one wristband per person, one autograph per wristband.  Wristbands will be distributed at the location starting at 8:00 am local time.

 

Hey Michigan Stewart fans! Great news! Tony is going to be doing an autograph appearance at The Office Depot in Canton, Michigan on June 16th!

Here are the details: Tony will be signing autographs to 600 fans at the Office Depot Store located at 45580 Michigan Avenue (in the Premiere Shopping Center) in Canton, MI (zip is 48188) starting at 4:00 pm local time. You must have a wristband. Wristbands will be given out at the Office Depot location starting at 8:00 am local time. One wristband per person and  one autograph per wristband.

There will also be a racing simulator on site and the Office Depot show car.

While there fans will be able to participate in the new program from the NASCAR FOUNDATION called NASCAR UNITES. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase a $5.00 NASCAR UNITES wristband.  The proceeds from the purchase of the NASCAR UNITES wristbands will go to a combined effort between the NASCAR FOUNDATION and the OFFICE DEPOT FOUNDATION for programs like the one that helped Stewart and the Office Depot Foundation donate 300,000 backpacks full of school supplies last back-to-school season for children in need.

Fans not in Michigan can still purchase a NASCAR UNITES wristband at their local Office Depot location as the store will carry the wristbands in stores nationwide as part of their partnership.