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Yesterday was the second race of the NASCAR chase. I was in Vegas for the Truck races and on Sunday I ended up missing the first 22 laps of the race at Dover for reasons I will actually cover in a post tomorrow.  I was traveling during practice and qualifying- but my friend kept me up to date. Tony didn’t have the best qualifying run- and earned a 22nd starting position.

So there I am sitting at the house of my friend watching the race and then the lap 31 crash happened.  Wow.  Watching Logano flip ten times was scary. That was one of the more frightening wrecks I have seen in quite awhile. I have to say that I watched it live, watched all the replays and rewatched it again on Tony Stewart’s hot pass channel after I got home and I do NOT see it as being Tony’s fault. Bobby Labonte slid down in front of Logano who slightly tagged him and slowed up. Tony hit Logano and someone hit Tony. It was one of those chain reaction things that happen.  You know one of “them racin’ things.” Since Tony was the inrace reporter for the national broadcast we could hear him say that he was sorry that he just drove through Logano. What you don’t hear or see on the national broadcast that you did with hotpass was Tony sitting in his car under the red flag.  He sat there occasionally shaking his head like he felt REALLY BAD about the whole deal.  I am just glad that Joey walked away unscathed.

After the cars get rolling again after the red flag I see that Tony has front and rear damage, and am sure that has ruined his race.  However, the pit crew quickly patch his front and rear damage without Tony losing too many positions or going a lap down. Tony’s crew seemed to be able to get him in and out of the pits fairly quickly, and tony was able to gain some track positions. What I didn’t get was the call to bring Tony in during that last pitstop. I just don’t understand it. I think he may have finished better if he hadn’t come in…but what do I know.

Tony ended up finishing 9th and gaining one position in the points- moving up to fifth in the points standings, 106 points behind leader Mark Martin. Stewart-Haas racing team mate Ryan Newman finished tenth and retained his seventh position in the standings.

  • I am going to go out and stand on a really unpopular limb here and say this: Can we stop assuming that Mark Martin has the championship in the bag? The race announcers seem to assume that he is the winner. We are only 2 races into the chase.  A lot can happen. I realize he is the sentimental favorite of many (including my father), but there is a lot of racing left in the season (to paraphrase Mark Martin himself).
  • Also- can we please STOP hearing how old Mark Martin is and comparing him to Harry Gant in age of accomplishment factoids? I seriously do NOT understand why it’s even relevent.
  • Yes I heard Tony snapped at a journalist in the media room at Dover. Think about it people….these are the playoffs. I am sure a lot of the Chase drivers have other things they would rather be doing, like talking to their crews about their car, than doing media.  Especially when people ask the same questions over and over. I think we should start a list of questions media should NOT ask Tony right now or risk feeling the wrath of Tony. The top of that list? Danica. YOu wanna know more about Danica and if she is considering running a part time schedule in NASCAR still? Ask Danica not Tony.
  • Also- can we just have Tony win a race? Please.

This coming weekend we are at Kansas for Chase Race Three.

COMING UP SOON ON BADGROOVE: My first Camping World Truck Series Race and Why The NASCAR CAFE Can Suck It.

I honestly do NOT know how the drivers and crews deal with the stress of the chase….because it usually has ME stressed out and I really have NOTHING to do with the outcome…more than just cheering my heart out for Tony (and cursing like a sailor when things like axle caps are loose or broken). Before the chase started mostly I was concerned with my fantasy league drivers and where they were finishing.  I messed around with a couple different fantasy leagues last year- you know the “free” ones online- but really didn’t like them. I found they were too high maintenance (especially the ones where you could only pick certain drivers on certain weeks).  I was invited to participate in a more private league and this season I have been having a ball.  I had even been in the top ten at one point.  But the season wore on and I dropped further and further down…in the standings (although half my fantasy team is in the chase).  Mostly I was trying to keep track of where the “Davids” were finishing (meaning Reutimann and Ragan).  Unfortunately my fantasy team is taking especially hard lately (my drivers are: Stewart, Gordon, Montoya, Labonte/Darnell and the “Davids”).  I blame David Ragan. But clearly I am digressing.

During last weekend’s race that completely changed.  Instead of even caring about my fantasy league,  now I am trying to keep track of where all 12 chase contenders are in relation to Tony, as well as who has led a lap, who hasn’t led a lap, that kind of thing.  I might have even got a little vicious towards Ryan Newman’s position compared to Tony, I admit.  He might be the teammate of my driver- but during the championship- they are all enemies. I want MY driver to be the Champion.  Not my driver’s teammate.  It’s all about loyalties.

So anyway here I am trying to keep points somewhat in my head- and I will be completely honest with you right here and tell you I am not the quickest when it comes to doing math in my head- when my mom comes in and starts feeding me football scores. Then my brain exploded right there in the middle the living room. I was just trying of figure out where Tony was in the points…and my brain exploded.  I had forgotten football season started along WITH the Chase.  I am in a family/friends football elimination pool.  Really she was just trying to tell me how my team of the week was fairing but my wee little brain could not handle any more numbers…and kaboom.

This is I think the third year I have been in the football elimination pool.  The first year I nearly won. The second year I was nearly the first person knocked out. This year I am hoping to be back with a vengence.  You have to know that I am not a big football fan.  I save my fandom for NASCAR yet clearly I stink at fantasy NASCAR. However- so far with football I am doing pretty good- yet I only casually watch…maybe if there is nothing else on. I have three teams that are “favorites” (just picked at random) two that are “anti-favorites” and the rest are just men running around after a ball.  Don’t even ask why I decided to take part in the elimination football pool….because honestly? I don’t know.  But so far I don’t have any dings against me.

Football won’t be taking over my love of NASCAR- ever. There is no danger to that.  And I am actually realy enjoying this NASCAR fantasy league much more than those dumb online ones….even though I stink at it.  Mostly I guess, I just really need to talk to my mom about not giving me football scores when I am intently watching a NASCAR race.  Believe it or not- exploded brains does not clean up easy out of the carpet.

Well folks, here we are- the CHASE is on.  Who will win? Well you all know I want Tony to win of course and Ryan Newman to be a very close second.  I also want the chase to be close this year- I want it to come down to at least Phoenix- but Homestead would be better.  I want it close and fast and fun!

I wish I had caught qualifying or happened to actually dvr it. Tony qualified 2nd- which is a totally awesome qualifying effort for him. I was totally stoked when I saw that he had qualified that well.

I had forgotten how stressful it can be to watch a chase race….Where is my driver? Who’s in front of my driver? Who’s behind my driver.  Wait is that my driver blowing up…no just Kasey Kahne, I can relax.  It’s stressful. I can say this…Tony’s car seemed pretty good for the most part.  He led some laps. The pit crew seemed to struggle a little bit- but we are talking tenths of a second differences between his pit stops and those of the then leader Juan Pablo Montoya.

Then something went wrong- a loose axle cap.  The team came in the next round of pit stops and fixed it but of course it ate up a bunch of spots. Luckily though, they didn’t get a lap down and thanks to Tony driving past people and a two tire stop Tony was able to make his way up to 14th position before the end of the race (under a yellow/checker because of an accident by AJ Allmendinger at the start finish line).

Overall the race could have went a lot better- however it could have been a lot worse…

After CHASE RACE ONE Tony Stewart is in 6th position in the chase, 74 points behind Chase leader Mark Martin, who won the race at Louden. Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman finished seventh at the race and climbed to 7th in the chase standings.

So am I the only one who has noticed that there is a fairly “new” trend in naming the pit crews? I like it. I think it gives the pit crew’s personality! The first moniker for a pit crew i heard was for Matt Kenseth’s KILLER BEES. Fitting. They usually are (were) wearing yellow and black. Bees are fast and sting and I tend to avoid them since I am afraid of them. Then just this year Biffle and 3M held a contest to name his pit crew. They came up with The Pit Bulls. Another fitting one…but I think it would also work for any of Red Bull driver’s crews…

My favorite however, has to be one I just learned about today…and that is the Home Depot team. They apparently are marketing themselves as Logano’s Paisanos. I don’t know why but I LOVE IT. They even have themselves an AWESOME shirt (click on shirt to go to ordering site it Joegibbsracing.com):

I mean what’s not to love? The name even rhymes.  Personally I think the shirt is freaking awesome!!!

However I think Tony’s pit crew needs a name- mostly because I am TIRED of typing TEAM Office Depot/Old Spice over and over.  It’s tiring frankly and I don’t like slashes.  I can NOT think of a good name for them to save my life.  NOR can I think of a good for any team…(I think Kyle’s team needs a name too).  I kinda came up with a name for Ryan’s pit crew…but it’s kinda lame.  So …any ideas people? I know you are a creative bunch…give it to me.

(By the way- my name for Ryan’s pit crew? Newman’s Soldiers? I told you it was kinda lame.)

I like to watch Bristol.  It and Martinsville are my two favorite tracks.  But it really sucks to watch when your driver is doing not so good.  I was so glad that Kyle Busch won that race. I know I am a Tony fan-but I will tell you that I would rather Kyle Busch win over Mark Martin.  Not only because I don’t want Mark Martin that far in front of Tony when the chase starts, but I would really like Kyle to make the chase.

That being said…Team Old Spice/Office Depot had a terrible run of it didn’t they? This seemed to be the race where if it could go wrong? It did go wrong. Weird things. Like radio problems. Electrical issues.  I mean how many radios did they give him? Two? Three? What I want to know is why didn’t they just bring Tony in and have him put on a different helmet. They had one there. I realize it would have taken some time to undo his helmet and slap another on but I think it might have been better for him in the long run because Darian would have been able to compensate better for the ill-handling car. Did he ever have communication with his guys without having to pantomime or play telephone with Ryan Newman?

Speaking of Ryan Newman- I was glad to see him have a good strong run. I wish it could have been a little stronger.  But it was good for him.   Teammate finished 6th and moved up two positions to 7th  in the standings. Tony’s troubles had him finishing 33rd. He maintains his points lead and as of the Michigan race is locked into the chase.

Notes About Bristol:

  • I have to admit that at the beginning of the race when they kept talking about Tony’s radio problems this kept running through my head: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate…” I think it’s from Cool Hand Luke, not sure because I have never seen Cool Hand Luke…but it is in front of the song Civil War by Guns N Roses.
  • To whoever decided it was a good idea to paint Clint Bowyer’s car red with black trim for this night race. You made it extremely hard for me to pick out Tony’s car because I kept seeing yours and thinking it was Tony’s because it was the same color and had a black wing. Please do not do that again.
  • I felt bad after the race when they tried to interview Clint Bowyer. I believe I even said “Can’t you just leave him alone? He’s obviously upset.”
  • I have to say that I think it was INCREDIBLY sweet of Kyle Busch to give the checkered flag to a fan! That was so neat!

Next weekend we are off but Nationwide goes north of the border to Montreal.

I probably should have picked a different title because I am sure that some NASCAR fans are going to think this entry is about Chad Knaus running Jimmie Johnson out of fuel at Michigan last weekend.  I am not going to go into that. This is about this coming weekend: Bristol Motor Speedway is doing something a little different this Saturday night. When the cup drivers take to the stage before the race for driver introductions, each driver will enter the stage to approximately 30 seconds of a song snippet from a song of their choosing.  As you would probably expect there is a wide variety of songs- however- it would seem that apparently AC/DC is a favorite as five drivers picked three different AC/DC songs:

Mark Martin will be entering to “For Those About To Rock”

Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and David Ragan all picked “Thunderstruck”

and Jamie McMurray picked “Shook Me All Night Long”

Now I like AC/DC quite a bit. When I drove Doris (the black RAV) my favorite song to pull up in front of home was BACK IN BLACK because– I was back and the car was black, so it just kind of fit.  It also helped that BACK IN BLACK was my favorite of the AC/DC albums so it was often in my car.

There are choices all over the musical spectrum from Elvis Presley (Clint Bowyer picked “C.C. Rider”) to Jerry Reed (Joey Logano picked “Eastbound and Down”) and The Rolling Stones (“Start Me Up” was picked by Jeff Gordon).  I will say, and I don’t know WHY, I am surprised that Jeff Burton decided to walk onstage to Guns N Roses classic “Welcome to the Jungle”.

I have to say that the Stewart-Haas boys picked some awesome songs! Ryan Newman picked Big & Rich’s “Save A Horse, Ride a Cowboy” which I absolutely LOVE! Tony picked to walk onstage with “Bawitdaba” by Kid Rock (David Stemme also picked this song).  While I admit I am not a huge Kid Rock fan he does have about three songs I love…and that is the top one. Both I think are excellent choices.

Which leads me to…what if I were being introduced and needed a song snippet. What would I personally pick. I have pretty wide, varied tastes in music that usually depends highly on my mood.  Some days I might be on a country kick and listening to the likes of Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Blake Shelton, Diamond Rio, Big & Rich and others. Other days it could be hair metal favorites like Cinderella, Poison, Slaughter and Dokken. Then again it could be a bad day when I want to hear nothing but the “hard stuff” like Disturbed, White Zombie, and Metallica.  Then of course there are my broadway show days (wicked, les mis, mamma mia), classic rock days (Heart, Zep, Sabbath) or my “whatever the heck Mr. IPOD SHUFFLE DJ picks for me” days.

Honestly it would probably depend on my mood:

If I were in a rockin’ mood I would probably pick “Fuel” by Metallica.  (Sing it with me now..”Gimme Fuel, Gimme Fire….”)

If I were in a more country state of mind- I would probably go with Toby Keith’s “How Do You Like Me Now?”

What about you? What would you pick for yourself? Or for me? Talk to me people- I know you are out there!

Michigan was NOT the race for my boys at Stewart-Haas Racing this week was it?  I mean it was bound to happen sooner or later- that Team Office Depot/Old Spice would have an off day- and that is exactly what happened. I mean it could have been a lot better. But it could have been a lot worse…(like Bobby Labonte for instance- who broke on lap 2 and never came back- thus securing himself a last place finish!).  While I watched the race, I am so use to Tony being a hot pass driver that I couldn’t hear what was going on with him but he was definitely struggling all day.  He didn’t qualify very well (18th).  At the beginning of the race he just didn’t seem to be able to come up through the field past 11 or 12th. Like he was stuck there.

Then the crew did a wicked cool two tire pitstop around lap 117.  I was honestly puzzled why they choose to do a two tire stop but it DID put Tony out in front (Tony was apparently puzzled too because ESPN played a snippet of him asking Darian “Now can you explain to me why we just did that?” and Darian explained to him that it was purely for track position).  Unfortunately the track position didn’t last long as Tony then began to fall further and further backwards in the pack.  He finished a dismal 18th, but not only retained his position as points leader, he also clinched a spot in the chase. GO TONY. Ryan Newman finished 15th and remained 9th in the points.  Brian Vickers was the race winner.

Notes about Michigan:

  • According to the official Stewart-Haas Racing race report they found out after the race was over that Tony’s car “had a spring that was out of its bucket” which I assumed is what caused a whole mess of handling issues (first he was tight and then he was loose).  What exactly that means I am not sure…sounds like a doohickey come out of a thingamabob to me.
  • When they threw that caution for rain at lap 7 and then the red flag? I was about ready to go outside, look up at the sky and shake my fists whilst yelling WHY??? WHY MUST YOU RUIN RACE DAY YOU INSIPID B*$#@? but worry not…I didn’t have to curse anyone- real or imaginary and the race continued on as normal not twenty minutes later.  Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t curse during the race. I certainly did.  But I didn’t feel the need to go outside to do it.
  • Speaking of the brief rain delay- I loved all they drivers talking smack about how meteorologists are never right and they wish they could have a job that easy. That cracked me up!
  • Remember that those wanting to watch the rescheduled Prelude to the Dream- that will be run on Wednesday September 9ths at 7pm eastern (4pm pacific).
  • If you are going to be at Autoclub Speedway for the Pepsi 500 on October 11th, Stewart-Haas’s own Ryan Newman will be on the Opportunity California Fan Zone stage for a “story time” reading activity for children.

Next Weekend: Short track Saturday Night as Nascar moves to BRISTOL, TN!

Ok NASCAR seriously…what are the chances that Tony will NOT start the race this weekend in Michigan (and thus clinch his position in the Chase). All the man has to do is START the race. What are the chances of that not happening? I am not that great in math but I figure that it’s a pretty long shot that he will not start the race this weekend.

I mean what would have to go wrong mechanically on that car where he could NOT start the race thus scoring 0 points for the race.  I can’t even fathom it.  Is the car going to spontaneously combust in the hauler (thus taking with it the backup car)? Even IF that happened…I think they could still probably manage a quick rewrap of Ryan Newman’s backup car so that Tony could race. So we can pretty much rule out a mechanical issue preventing him from getting scored 0 points.

Of course there is always illness….however many Tony fans probably remember last year during the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona that Tony started the race despite suffering from “flu-like symptoms” and was able to drive 72 laps (he was then relieved by driver J.J. Yeley).  So he technically would probably be ok there cuz I think he just has to run one or two laps himself…even if he just putted around the back of the field he could probably do it for a lap or two.  And knowing that Tony is a competitive driver I am pretty sure that he would pretty much have to be SERIOUSLY ill to not make the race at all (knock on fake wood /laminate desktop that this will NOT be the case).

I am also pretty sure that even if something happened and for some unbeknownst reason all the 14 and 39 cars stopped functioning, someone else would loan tony a back up car.

I mean I could go on and on and on here…but I am pretty sure it’s good.  Because even if he wasn’t scored for ANY points….and the most points you can get is like 185 right? He has a 260 point lead over second…that he would be retaining the points lead. So….the point is moot anyway…because he would at the very WORST possible scenario still have the points lead.