So as many of you know I left December first in my HHR for Vegas. My friend and I were SO excited about Champions week that even though I had just driven/ridden 1700 miles round trip two weeks ago for the Phoenix chase race I was READY! My drive to Vegas was problem free and my BFF and I spent the rest of the day hanging out and planning our week’s schedule. It started on Wednesday at FanFest- which was being held at Las Vegas Motorspeedway. In our excitement we got their a little early and sat in the car, parked in the infield of a mostly empty race track. It was actually kinda creepy feeling.
How ironic is it that this race (HOMEstead Miami) is the last race of the year? I am sure that most of the drivers just want to go home at least for a little while. They have one of the most grueling schedules in sports. I think I would be ready to go home…
So Tony’s race started out pretty strong. He was in the top five, then the top three then poof he was leading the race. YEY! Pit stops and a change in the heat on the track had Tony drop back a little bit but still within the top ten when Montoya slid in front of Tony. Tony retaliated half a lap later by banging into the side of Montoya. Unfortantely this caused fender damage to the 14 who had to pit to correct the tire rub. Montoya sustained some damaged and they went into the garage area. When Montoya returned to the race 35 laps later or so he purposely bumped Tony and sent him spinning. NASCAR held Montoya for two laps. Tony ended up getting his lap back and fighting his way to a 22nd spot finish and ended up 6th in the points.
Teammate Ryan Newman ended his season 9th in the points. Did you know he hit the wall? Yeah I didn’t know either. Thanks ESPN for mentioning that little factoid.
The Chase was won by Jimmie Johnson…which was a good thing because judging by the media coverage the last couple weeks I was pretty sure they had already engraved the trophy and stuff. As much as I wanted Tony to win the chase, I still think Stewart Haas came out of the gate a lot stronger than anyone expected. I hope 2010 is their year for a championship.
Well as you know I was actually at this race…and I will tell you of all the great adventures I had there…but for the race report all I can say is…BAH that race sucked. I don’t rent a scanner so I have no idea what kind of problem Tony was having before the wreck…because he was obviously having some problems before the Junior wreck- so Junior can’t be completely to blame (although Darian Grubb and crew might have been able to fix whatever issues with the car Tony was having a bit better before it was crinkled in the front and the back and on the side- it was a crinkled mess). I am beginning to think that I am a curse- when I go to actual races. BAH!
Unfortunately Tony is too far back in the points to get a championship this year…even if Jimmie doesn’t start the race (and honestly- what are the chances of that? This is NO chance of that I am pretty sure). I would still love to see him rip out a win at Homestead. Tony finished Phoenix in 25th (two laps down) and retained his fifth position in the points. Teammate Ryan Newman finished in 20th and retained his 9th place position in the points.
All I can say about Talladega is wow. Well maybe wow and Oww. Funny thing was that I sat down with my notepad to watch Talladega. That is funny because lately I have been relying more on my memory and less on notes taken during the race. But for some reason I sat down with my notepad and my favorite, freshly sharpened pencil and settled in to watch the pre-race and then the race.
Because of a rained out qualifying session- Tony started fourth. Not bad at all.
I wrote this during the first several laps:
Watching the cars race at Dega is like driving on the southbound highway 101 from northern California to southern California. It gives me a knot in my stomach. When the cars start to get four wide is like when the 101 goes from two lanes of spread out traffic to the claustrophic, four-lane, bumper-to-bumper traffic where all you can do is watch out the best you can and hope other people are paying attention too.
I mean I was seriously putting effort into this- especially since I have been slacking off lately. While I took several pages of notes throughout the race (most of them were mundane things like: Yawn-single file racing bores me and Kevin Harvick wants cruise control he’s so bored), I will not be rehashing on these notes for most of this post. A day after the race, I am still reeling at the Ryan Newman wreck at 5 laps to go (thanks to ryannewmaninfo.info for that link).
I happened to be looking down for a minute…I was probably either doodling in my note book (not making a note…but actually drawing flowers) or trying to get my dog to shake my hand…when something made me glance up at the TV in time to see smoke and what appeared to be the rear bumper of a car pointing straight up. I yelled “Oh SHIT” so loud that the dog retreated to her favorite hiding place and I barely heard Andy Petrie say that a car was airborne.
The part of the accident that stands out the most to me is the part after Ryan’s car comes to a complete rest and the view switches to an aerial shot of the car- and all you can really see is the undercarriage of his US ARMY IMPALA and…stillness. I sat- on the very edge of my couch just watching horrified. As soon as they had played a little snippet of Ryan saying he was alight- I may have cried a little. My friend and I texted each other back and forth while the safety team cut open his car like a freaking tuna can…
After watching the wreck a few times online- and talking to my friend a couple hours after the wreck (and judging by her Facebook comment- sounds like Trixie thought the same way) my friend and I think that it could have been a lot worse if Ryan’s car hadn’t first landed on Kevin Harvick’s hood. That softened the initial blow and I think probably kept the car from getting crushed further despite the fact that it went all the way up the track and back down again and flipped some more (into the grass- which is a lot softer than the track where he first went airborne. I know that the car has rollbars and stuff…and from Ryan’s comments after the race it sounds like they had pretty much caved down all the way to the helmet for him…I think that the car would have completely pancaked if it hadn’t been for Kevin Harvick’s hood absorbing that initial blow.
Also- despite what the announcer say during the race- it looks to me like Marcos Ambrose hit Ryan Newman (whether he was bump drafting or Ryan checked up slightly I dunno) and Ryan hit Tony who was in front of him. But because of how Ryan and Tony hit- Tony went into the wall and Ryan went down towards the infield.
There has been a lot of talk about Talladega and the COT and how to keep the cars on the ground. I personally think this is a product of restrictor plate racing. NASCAR attempting to address concerns from the spring race at Talladega where Carl Edwards went airborne into the catch fence, made the restrictor plates even smaller, and made a new rule (only 1.5 hours before the beginning of the race so the drivers didn’t get to really practice this) that cars could not bump draft through the corners (they kept stressing DAYLIGHT between the bumpers in the corners). Did these help or contribute to Ryan’s wreck? I have no clue. Is there something that can be done? Again I have no clue…except that the roof flaps didn’t work in this case. Do they need to be bigger? Deploy sooner?
It was clear that the changes (smaller plates and no bumpdrafting) made the race fairly boring for most of it. Even drivers Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart joked with their respective crews earlier in the race that the single file racing was boring THEM. Harvick wanted a cruise control, Tony wanted someone to tell him something interesting so he didn’t fall asleep. Something is WRONG when your points leader is just riding around at the end of the field at half throttle. That isn’t racing that is riding.
I am not claiming to have an answer- but I really think maybe they should do away with restricting the engines…that just either bunches the field up so you are waiting for an accident.
Anyway, both Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart got dnf’s for Talladega giving Tony a 35th place finish and dropping him to fifth in the champion standings 279 points out of the lead with only three races left to go in the chase for the Sprint Cup. Ryan Newman also fell one spot in the standings down to eighth spot 402 points out of the lead.
Notes About Talladega:
- So like me, Tony Stewart does like scary movies (if you follow me on twitter- you heard me announce this last week after trying to watch some of Halloween- the original). Yeah no thanks. Not my thing. I think it’s a little brave of him to admit on national television though.
- I am really enjoying the “PREVIOUSLY IN THE CHASE” segments before each race- you know the little narrative by Mike “Dirty Jobs” Rowe. I think it might be his voice, but I really think it gives a little something something to the race.
- I have decided that Kim Burton is probably my favorite NASCAR wife right now- and this holds true only more so after watching the segment during the preshow about NASCAR wifes and superspeedways.
Next Race: Texas
Joe Gibbs Racing announced today that as of the race at Texas Motorspeedway, Steve Addington will no longer be the crew chief for Kyle Busch. He will be replaced by Dave Rogers, while Addington will be “reassigned” within JGR (see official team announcement here).
I admit when I read that this morning I was completely shocked. Yeah Kyle hasn’t had the best of years- but you know everyone has a run of bad luck…is that any reason to replace your crew chief? Especially a crew chief that you had a totally awesome run with the season before?
Then I started thinking about it and ruminating over it. Why why why?? Then my friend sent me an email stating this: You don’t think that they are eventually going to move Addington over to Logano because Zippy is leaving to be with Tony Stewart do you? Well of course that just launched me into playing musical chairs with the crew chief/driver pairings and this is what I came up with should a game of musical crew chiefs arise out of this news:
Addington goes to Logano, Greg Zipadelli goes to Stewart, Grubb goes to Newman, Gibson goes to Junior, but I am still chiefless for Kyle Busch. So I guess the cheese stands alone for right now.
So what do you think is going on? Is it just a simple personality clash between Addington and Busch? Or is it a more involved game of musical crew chiefs that is going to happen? How do you think the drivers and crew chiefs line up (or how should they line up)?
Well considering that I was sick this weekend all I can really say about Tony’s 13th place finish could have been better…but it could have been much much worse. What really didn’t help Tony too much was Jimmie’s win. I hate to say it but unless Jimmie fubar’s something I think he might be on his way to number four…which bites because it would be awesome to have Tony get number three!!!
Tony retained his fourth position standings in the points but is now 155 points out of the lead. If he is trying to scare me he did a good job…now go out there and win this damn thing. Ryan Newman finished 11th and gained two positions in the points and is now up to eighth.
Notes about Lowes:
- I have to say that Jeff Gordon’s transformer paint scheme was way cooler than Ryan Newman’s. I hate to say it but it is totally true!
- It was great to see so many cars out there supporting breast cancer research!
Next week: Martinsville!
Well if you are privy to my facebook or my twitter (and pretty much anyone is- I am not that person who refuses people unless I know them) you knew that I was kinda of ticked off at DirecTV on the day of the Kansas race. I thought it might be an issue with them talking to our local affiliate- but judging by some of the responses I got on Twitter- I wasn’t the only one having issues. The picture would scramble, the sound would skip or the picture would just go out completely. It happened on ALL the receivers and rebooting them did NOTHING. It wasn’t just ABC…I discovered after the race that all the local stations were doing it. However, the other stations? Like A&E? Not an issue at all- clear as a bell. Judging by my Twitter friends other people in other areas were having the same issue so it wasn’t just me- which makes me feel a little better. Ayway that made watching the race slightly irritating.
What made up for it was Tony’s win!! I will be the first to admit I didn’t hold much hope for Tony doing well in Kansas that is certain. Why? Because I made the mistake of watching the end first practice (which I thought at the time was happy hour). And by the end I mean the very end- and was not thrilled at all to hear the announcers talking about how everyone in the whole garage area wanted to know “what’s going on with Tony Stewart’s car” and then I heard the words vibration and possibly a lost cylinder and I was like DAMN there goes Kansas. I SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO WATCH PRACTICE FOR THIS REASON…I hear something like that and I am like DAMN there goes Kansas- we will suck now. AHHH there goes the championship (because you should all know me by now…I am a “worst-case scenario” type of person). Yeah that’s right I admit it right here and now that I heard 5 minutes of practice and was all DAMN I JUST HOPE he finishes in the top 10 in the CHAMPIONSHIP. Again…I SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO WATCH PRACTICE- please steal my remotes during practice. Its for my own damn good. I found out much much later (as in hours AFTER THE RACE) that not only was I apparently NOT watching happy hour, but that Tony’s crew basically tore the entire car down and replaced tons of stuff (so much stuff that it might cost you and I over $6000 and use of our car for 10 days should it be stuff we needed to replace in our passenger cars).
Well the crew obviously did an AWESOME job. Tony seemed to be fairly consistent during the race. I kept expecting him to fall back fall back…but he never did. There wasn’t a time where I thought he needed to turn on his afterburners to get back up to the front. More- it seemed he was very patient and extremely consistent as were all the pit stops. No major errors. Good job for Tony, Darian and all the guys on the pit crew! Tony is now just 67 points out of the lead in fourth position in the championship standings. Teammate Ryan Newman didn’t have a great run. Ryan finished 22nd (although its an improvement from where he started at 30th) and fell two positions to 9th in the standings.
Notes from Kansas:
- During pre-race- in between my satellite popping in and out I saw Vickers standing next to his car during the national anthem…with a dolly sitting on the roof of his car. YES a dolly- in the brief glimpse i got it looked kind of like a BRATZ doll… WTH? There has to be a story behind it…anyone one know?
- Poor Joey Logano must be getting tired about hearing about his flipping at Dover. I know I am.
Next Week: The Chase comes to CALIFORNIA (and no I will NOT be going…but don’t think I don’t want to).