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(photo source: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Over the last several years the cup series in NASCAR has suffered as some of the elite drivers retire or just disappear (Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle) and for me the excitement behind NASCAR started to wane significantly – especially since “my” driver retired last year.  This year the writing of the posts don’t come organically as they use to when I always had a horse in the race, a dog in the show, however you want to term it.  Sometimes I struggle for what I want to write about and I am sure that it shows in my posts. However that is not the case this week. This week after the race I sat down with my notepad and it flowed naturally like it use to. Why? Because I was excited with that race in Pocono- which is slightly odd because if you go through my archives  I refer to this track as evil on multiple occasions.

Why was I excited by Pocono? How could you not be?  You had a pole sitter who lead a hundred laps or so and won a segment in Kyle Busch. You had Kyle Larson who had been strong all day win a segment. You had a seven-time champion and most recent race winner suffer a brake failure and slam the outside wall quite hard while another Chevy driver suffered a simultaneous brake failure a few seconds later and end up catching fire near the inside wall and had to jump out of the car before safety crews arrive. This fire caused a red flag.  You had mother nature heating up the track and the drivers. You had at least drivers with shifting problems- which caused the most popular driver in NASCAR to go home early.  You had a first time cup series driver get nailed for speeding twice during the same pit stop sequence. Oh and don’t forget one of NASCAR’s most prominent teams had three of their four drivers suffer incidents causing them to be unable to continue. Oh and that doesn’t even take into account that finish and boy howdy was that a finish.

(Photo Source: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

So let’s talk about that finish: First Ryan Blaney has to fight to pass Kyle Busch. And everyone knows Kyle Busch isn’t going to be easy to get around nor should he be. Kyle fights to retain his position hard including some incredible blocking from the inside up to the wall.  But Ryan Blaney eventually is able to get his nose underneath Kyle and get by him.  But then you have Kevin Harvick- who is also known to be one of the best at wrapping up a race.  Darrell Waltrip doesn’t call Harvick “the Closer” for no reason afterall. So Blaney now has to keep Harvick behind him, awhile continuing to drive a flawless race because you know that the minute Ryan Blaney so much as wiggles Harvick will get by him. But alas Blaney was able to hold off Kevin Harvick and take the checkers. So that was a great ending. But what I left out- is that Ryan Blaney did all this with out being able to communicate on the radio with his team. While he could here them- they couldn’t hear him and had to result to hand signals to let them know what kind of issues he was having. And the best part of all? Was that during the pre-race show Chris Myers asked Jeff Gordon and Darrell Waltrip if he would win this year and they both said NO!! HA!

This wasn’t a fluke and it was just a matter of time before Blaney won. However he was not alone! The younger drivers all really flaunted their stuff during the race at Pocono. I mean look at these finishes: Ryan Blaney (winner). Erik Jones (3rd), Chase Elliott (8th). I mean it- the young guns are coming.

Drivers that impressed (besides winner Ryan Blaney): Erik Jones, Chase Elliott

Drivers that disappointed: Clint Bowyer, Danica Patrick

(photo source: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

So I haven’t done a Loose Lugnuts post in what seems like forever…as many of you might know I traveled to Indiana for the Brickyard 400 and traveling like that and then rushing back to my job can kind of get overwhelming as I play catch up and unfortunately the one thing that suffers is probably the one thing I love to do the most- and that is write (both here and elsewhere).  A lot of these “lugnuts” are items that I am sure many of you have seen before because a lot of it contains items that were coverage from the Brickyard (and yes I am STILL putting together my brickyard post- it’s going slower than I had hoped unfortunately) but at the same time- a lot of them were new to me because I saw them briefly on my social media but bookmarked them to investigate later since I was traveling.  So hopefully you won’t be too bored with (most) of these items that have been pinging around in my brain (and in my bookmarked list) for a couple of weeks now like lugnuts in a pit stall during a green flag pit stop.

1. I am going to start with the beautiful Darlington #Throwback paint scheme since it’s probably freshest on everyone’s mind.  I know it’s been on mind since other drivers had been releasing their #Throwback paint schemes. They waited so long to release it I began to seriously wonder if they weren’t going to run a #Throwback theme at all. But alas they are and I have to say that I LOVE LOVE LOVE his Coca-Cola throwback paint scheme for his final #Southern500. I mean seriously – I think it’s my favorite of his paint schemes to date.  Here it is if you haven’t seen it yet:

(photo source: Tony Stewart facebook page)

As a matter of fact, as soon as the online reveal was over I was over at LionelRacing.com preordering my diecast.  Speaking of diecasts I was a long time hold out- I told myself I would never ever get into collecting a bunch of “overpriced toy cars.”  But then for Christmas in 2007 I think it was- my parents bought me a 20 Home Depot die cast. Still for a long time it sat alone on my shelf. Then after the Office Depot days I started to get into it more but still managed limited myself to about one a year. Well even that’s been blown because I currently have two on preorder (the Sonoma win- because I WAS THERE and the Darlington Throwback because it’s awesome) and of course the ICON one that I told myself back in in January when I pre-ordered it would be my ONLY diecast for the year. Yeah I guess I should stop setting limits for myself because I obviously don’t listen. It’s like when I go to the bookstore and tell myself I am only going to leave with two books  and I walk out two hours later with 5 books and getting down to just five was a serious struggle but I digress.

2. After the #Throwback reveal Tony did a lot of media including this radio interview for a station in Indiana. You might want to give it a listen (it’s only about 15 minutes long).

3. Also in case you missed it on Wednesday- Tony did his first Facebook Live chat (they tell us there are going to be more and I really hope that is the case because this one seemed rather short). It started late because of all his media obligations during the #Throwback reveal (for some reason my fingers keep wanting to type release party). Anyway in case you were working (I was too but I purposely shifted my lunch to watch it) here is the video- it was pretty fun: (more…)

(Sorry I still haven’t posted about my trip to the Brickyard 400- it’s coming I promise– Amy)

(photo source: Zimbio.com/ Josh Hedges/Getty Images North America)

Started: 6th

Finished: 5th

Points: 353 (27th in the standings, 12 points away from 26th place Aric Almirola and 72 points away from 31th place Chris Buescher)

So I guess the rookie of the year race just got a little more interesting, but I will get to that in a bit. For now let’s talk about Tony’s race.  (more…)

(A special thank you for Jessica Bure for providing most of the photos for this post! You rock! — Amy)

The #14 Rush Truck Centers Chevy at Pocono Raceway, July 2015. (Photo Credit: Jessica Bure for BadGroove.com)

Tony Qualified: 5th

Tony Finished: 9th

Points: 417 (currently 25th place in the chase chase standings)

Tony’s sums up the race in two sentences: “We struggled the first part of the race with our Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, but we got better the last third (of the race).  I felt really good about the car at the end of the race, and that’s been our weakness all year.” (more…)

2014 Getty Images (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

“Well, all three corners are very different from each other. You have turn one that has a lot of banking in it for a flat track. Turn two is a very short duration and flat corner and then turn three is a very, very, long sweeping flat corner. There’s a lot going on, but every corner on the track is totally different from each other. It’s a big challenge for the crew chiefs to not only try to find a balance, but to also figure out what to do when they’re making changes. They have to figure out the corner they’re trying to fix without messing up the other two corners.” – Tony Stewart 2015 Windows 10 400 at Pocono Team Release

 

GO TONY!

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Read other Quotable Tony posts.

#KeepDiggingTony #OneGoodRace #SmokeAlwaysRises

6 June 2015: Tony Stewart during Sprint Cup practice at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/HHP/Rusty Jarrett )

Tony Qualified: 28th in back up car

Tony Finished: 21st

Points: 253 points (27th in the championship standings)

Pocono is often called the tricky triangle. I like to call it the evil little triangle, despite the fact that it is 2.5 miles around it.  Why? Because it seems to me when you have a good day at Pocono you have a really good day, but when you have a bad day…it can be really bad. (more…)

I adore this picture. Tony is his car at Pocono, 2014 (photo credit: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

Going into turn one, you drive it in kind of deep and then try to float the car through the corner. It’s very flat when you go down the backstretch and into the tunnel turn. Then the short chute into turn three – it’s a big, long corner and it’s important to get through that turn well because you have a straightaway that’s three-quarters of a mile long after that. You need to come off the corner quickly so that you aren’t bogged down when you start down that long straightaway. Each corner has its challenges, and each one tends to present a different set of circumstances with each lap you make.” — Tony Stewart, Pocono Race Advance

 

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Read other Quotable Tony posts.

#KeepDiggingTony

#SmokeAlwaysRises

What Turn 4?

What Turn 4? The #14 Code 3 Associates Mobil 1 Chevy of Tony Stewart turns lap at the Tricky Triangle. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tony Stewart Facebook page)

It was another bad luck race for Tony Stewart and Team 14 at the evil little tricky triangle track known as Pocono.  It started with  Tony Stewart qualifying the #14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 16th for the race in Long Pond, PA.

The race start time was moved up slightly because of possible weather in the area in the afternoon. I was actually kind of impressed- previously NASCAR has been resistant to moving race start times to outrun weather.  I liked that the were being a little more proactive.

Prayer Circle

Tony Stewart and crew form a prayer circle before the GoBowling 400 at Pocono Raceway August 2014 (Photo Credit: ommy Grassmann/CIA Copyright/Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook Page)

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