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This weekend had me watching the race at THE NASCAR CAFE in Las Vegas with my BFF.  This is the second race I would have watched there and let me tell you this: the NASCAR CAFE has changed a lot in less than a year…and it’s not for the better.  First off they changed the menu drastically. Secondly- they closed the top part of the restaurant…which was always my favorite place to sit. Now you have to sit downstairs by the bar- that sucks too.  And lastly? They have stopped doing the thing where you pay a ten dollar cover and get free cola and are entered in a drawing.

Also? They have this huge burrito. I mean I think I heard it has 27000 calories (no that isn’t a mistake).  And if you can eat it all- it’s free.  Well each time a person decided to try it…they interrupt the race for it…and march it around the bar. Um NO! We were there to watch the race. Not watch a burrito parade.

Anyway- I was glad to see Tony not only qualified in the top ten but that he was able to remain in the top ten through most of the race. I was glad to see him pass Biffle late in the race to take over third. He retained his points lead over a new second place – Jimmie Johnson.  Teammate Ryan Newman finished 14th retaining his 7th position in the overall points standing.

  • One of the things I love about the racing at Indy is the pageantry.  It’s much like Daytona that way.  I think ESPN did a great job by incorporating the driver intros into the broadcast.
  • In my rush to get to Vegas on Thursday I didn’t think to DVR the Stewart HotPass channel. Urg.
  • Interesting Observation One: While at the cafe, when Junior blew an engine? The whole place errupted in CHEERS! I was shocked- normally there would be a collective AWWW MAN or something but not cheers for Juniors misfortune.  I was not shocked however, when the place erupted into cheers when Kyle Busch crashed.
  • Interesting Observation two: Conversation heard at the table behind us during the last five laps of the race: Friend One: GO JJ GO! Friend Two: Who’s in the 5 car? Friend One: Uh I dunno some guy. Of course this was right before Friend Two referred to Jimmie Johnson as junior. I am not sure if they were just not really NASCAR fans or if they were drunk…in Vegas it could be either.
  • Ok…I have been saying for a long time that I didn’t get the “She’s From Russia” version of the Tony Stewart/ Old Spice commercial.  I REALLY don’t get the talking with food in his mouth commercial.  It’s rather gross.

Next weekend we are back at that evil little triangle track Pocono already. Tony won there last race…can he do it agan?

Another exciting finish thanks to the new double file restart rule.

Tony qualified and started 32nd in Saturday night’s race.  But once that green flag dropped Tony was on a mission to move forward and that is exactly what he did nearly immediately.  It didn’t take him long to work his way up to the top 15 and then to the top 10- where he stayed around 7th place most of the evening. He seemed to be struggling a bit with the handling of the car into the turns judging by his hotpass audio.  Crew chief Darian Grubb continuously took stabs at adjusting the car to make it work more for Stewart with adjustments to air pressure and trackbar. The race at Chicagoland was actually fairly incident free…the first two cautions of the race thrown for track debris.  Team Office Depot/Old Spice seemed to be working their way towards a solid top 10 possiby even a top 5 finish.

Then there was the bad pit stop and things just seemed to go downhill for a bit.  First there was the pitstop- under caution where Tony took off from the pits two lugnuts short of a full load.  Crew Chief Darian Grubb calls him back in almost immediately- reminding him to be calm about it. Tony may have been mad but if he was I didn’t hear it.   Then during the next caution, after pitting, Tony either cuts down a tire on debris or thinks he cuts down a tire and comes back in to the pits again.  During that last 60 laps he must have pitted 4 or 5 times, luckily all of them were during cautions and he fell no lower than 17th. Each time Stewart and Grubb discussed changes to the car that Tony needed to be able to push through the field.

Tony was determined though and didn’t let a frustrating night get the best of him and continued to push forward through the pack with the help of his spotter.  Before the last restart Tony and Darian had one of my favorite exchanges of the night with Darian telling Tony that it “aint been pretty.” and Tony telling Darian that was true but “he wasn’t done yet.” And how true that was because Tony ended up pushing forward into 4th, retaining his points lead over second place Jeff Gordon.  The race winner was Mark Martin. Teammate Ryan Newman finished 6th to help Stewart-Haas racing land another double top ten for the team.

NOTES on CHICAGOLAND:

  • How cool that Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon were able to finish 1-2 and how great for the fan to get that money! Wish it was me!
  • Boy Jeff Burton doesn’t like the double file restarts…but I do. Of course they have been working to Tony’s advantage so far.
  • I decided that I didn’t much care for the back-to-school paint scheme Tony was running- with the exception of the part of the car that looked like a composition book. I think it would have been cooler to make the whole car look like the book and then maybe have it look like a kid scribbled on it… instead of the crayons on the front and the pens on the side.  Plus I just don’t like the white base to the car.  But that is just me.
  • Speaking of alternate paint schemes…should it be called a paint scheme or a wrap scheme…since technically they wrapped the car?
  • Being alone and watching a race doesn’t stop me from talking to the tv. Or yelling things like “WATCH OUT!” like Tony can here me (regarding when Paul Menard nearly spun into his right side. Tony’s reaction was a nice calm “Wow that was about as close as I wanna get tonight.” Me I was all “WATCH OUT!!!”
  • I really could just slap whoever sits there at DirecTV central with their finger on the censor button where it comes to Tony’s radio feed. I know I have harped on this before…but I really wanted to know what he and Darian said at the end of the race but all I got to hear was something like “Damn….win them and lose them as a team.” I know that there was stuff inbetween.
  • I know that you know I love the commercials.  Did  you catch the new ending to the Toyota Autograph Seeker commercial…when the little flying robot comes back with Kyle Busch and he just kind of moans? It made me laugh.
  • Speaking of the commericals…I also noticed a new version of the old spice commercial that had the girl who in previous versions was “from russia” presenting tony with a big ole turkey leg- which he bites into and then proceeds to say “Thanks Old Spice” complete with mouthful. All I could do is shake my head. At least it wasn’t as disturbing as last week’s Burger King commercial that had Tony and the King (who you all know gives me the creeps) swapping spots in the car so Tony can enjoy himself a Double Whopper (I still can’t find that commercial on youtube or anything or I would post it for your pleasure)…that was just creepy. I wish Tony had just run over the King or something.

Next weekend is an off weekend. The next NASCAR race is on July 26th at Indianapolis Motorspeedway.

Our last installment of the Road Course Adventure had us never making it to the track on Saturday. Well not past the parking gate anyway. I am warning you right now that this is a LONG post (filled with lots of pictures) as Sunday was A LONG day.  If you are on dialup though I don’t want to kill your ability to see my site so continue on to read the adventure of Sunday at the Races….

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I couldn’t have predicted the end of this race if I had wanted to.  Wow.  The conditions were cloudy nearly all day in Louden and from the moment I tuned in I worried if the race would be one of those where we would race for 20 laps and be under caution for 35 because of rain. Luckily- for the most part we were fairly lucky.

Tony had the pole since starting positions were set by the points because of a rained out qualifying.  However once the green flag dropped at Louden, Tony started dropping back like someone had thrown a boat anchor out the rear decklid or something.  Meanwhile Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch played swap the lead backand forth, back and forth. Then it dawned on my that Tony was a hot pass driver so I switched to hotpass on to discover that his radio feed sounded like crap. I hope it didn’t sound like that to him…because that would annoy the heck out of me…all that popping and cracking and half conversations that did not even appear to be his. Tony ran top five most of the day until a late race pitstop mishap on the right front tire caused him to lose a couple of positions in the pits. After a round of green flag pitstops and then a caution and a red flag thrown for rain, the race would not resume- just 28 laps shy of a complete race.  Tony ended up finishing a respectable fifth. Rookie Joey Logano- who took over the number 20 Home Depot machine when Tony Stewart left Joe Gibbs Racing to move to SHR, won his first cup race by being in the right place at the right time when the race was called…and that would be the front!

Notes About Louden:

  • I thought Jeff Gordon congratulating Joey Logano was really gracious. Frankly- I don’t think I would be that gracious but that is just me- I can get a wee bit competitive.
  • Poor Ryan Newman…so close…but not. He ran out of gas with just a lap or two to go- when rain was starting to fall. He just can NOT catch a break this season.

Next weekend its a Saturday Night race at a little track you may have heard of: DAYTONA!

Wow…that was an interesting albeit short race on Sunday.  Well at least it seemed short to me. I don’t know why – since they ran the full race. Maybe it was the lack of cautions?

Tony was a Hot Pass driver this week.  I don’t know if HOT PASS was listening to me or snoozing on the job but I did get to hear Tony complain that his car was “Looser than shit!” on the radio. Despite seeming to wrestle an ill-handling car for most of the race- overall Tony seemed pretty good- he was in the Top 10 most of the day. After the last caution, crew cheif Darian Grubb called on Stewart to save gas- which he did- however about 100 feet from the start finish line Tony ran out of gas but was still able to coast across the finishline in a very respectable 7th place. Tony retained the points lead- leading second place (in both the race and the points) Gordon by 47 points.  Tony’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman also struggles with an ill-handling car all day- at one point actually replacing a spring during a pitstop. Ryan Newman is currently fifth in the points 225 points behind his teammate.

Notes About Michigan:

  • Ok- seriously I didn’t see that it was that big of a deal that Kyle smashed the guitar/trophy.  It is his trophy. It was done in a “rock n roll” kinda spirit. Can we please move on now?
  • Also I am kinda finding the whole Kyle vs Jr and Jr. Nation thing a guilty pleasure to witness. It is slightly humorous. I don’t know why I am finding it humorous to watch the two slug insults back and forth but I am.
  • Wow two races in a row where fuel mileage played a heavy hand.  I don’t see how people can not think it’s exciting. This time we had not only our race leader run out of gas well before the start finish line, but the second place car run out of gas too (Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle). It’s all part of the strategy component of it all.

This is a post that have been mulling over in my head for quite some time. The idea was sparked last year actually by a NASCAR INSIDERS post about driver websites and I was going to write about this then- but then Tony announced he would be leaving JGR at the end last season so I decided that I would wait until SHR got their feet under them so to speak- because I am sure one of the last things on their mind is their presence on the web when you have to worry about building a whole team.

Tony Stewart has more “official” sites than you can shake a stick at between the official Tony Stewart site, the major sponsor sites and the SHR site, oh and let’s not forget the TSR site.  I am just going to take on those five sites. First off, I have to start by telling you I have very little design experience when it comes to websites.  This lovely site here? Set up and hosted for me by Pete with layout designed by Karah.  I am going at these pages from a fan point of view. A “usablity” point of view.

Let’s start with the main site: tonystewart.com.  This site serves as the portal to all things Tony Stewart.  I don’t know if you were familiar with this site last season when it was orange and black color scheme- but it looked actually alot like tonystewartracing.com(the official site of his open wheel race teams) does -it was a more simplistic page but it got the job done. This new TonyStewart.Com site is functional and “pretty”.  I hated the orange and black because everything was so muted.  I have to say that the red/black theme this season is much more eye catching and I don’t know if its the colors or the photos they are using but everything on this website seems much more crisp and clean than the old orange/black version.  I absolutely love the animated red smoke that floats through the main banner on the homepage area where the pictures rotate.  I also really like how the pictures on the banner on the child pages are mostly black and white with only a car or Tony being color.  They did this with the old color scheme but it didn’t work as well for me as it does here. I find the navigation on this site pretty straight forward.  It even displays the points and the last race results right there on the front page now which I like. Everything is up and working on this site now- except for some bizarre reason I can’t get the videos to play under multimedia. But I can really live without that for right now because they are just the old spice commercials and a link to the Tony Stewart: Off Track video series.  Content wise it has pretty much what you would expect: driver bio, pictures, store, fan club (now called The Smoke Pit this area as of this posting is still under construction for the most part), Sponsor information etc. Overall I really liked the redesign of this site- its much more aestetically pleasing and has a sleeker, cleaner feel.  I think there needs to be an area on the front page though that lists TV appearances and such…I totally missed Tony on Trackside a couple weeks ago- but if it had been listed on the page somewhere I wouldn’t have.

Next let’s move on to StewartHaasRacing.com. This is the website for everything Stewart-Haas related. I waited for a long time for this page to come to fruition and it was worth the wait. This page has a very garage-ish feel but I love it. I blame it completely on my LOVE of the Stewart-Haas Racing logo-it has a classic car feel to it. I LOVE that logo. This page features bios on both Tony and his teammate Ryan as well as info on the crews for both the 14 and the 39 cars.  Both teams publish team press releases at this site as well as random news.  The coolest part about this site is the VIP Garage, which functions much like a social networking site. Users have their own page (see mine). By logging in fans have access to message boards and exclusive content such as wallpapers, galleries and videos. There is also a points system based on logins and points and random giveaways dependent on the level of points you have. My only complaint about this site? Is the damn music it starts up with. Its kind of loud. I know you can shut it off but it never stays that way.

Unlike the NascarInsiders article about driver pages I am going to delve into the sponsor websites. One of Tony’s two primary sponsor sites is OfficeDepotRacing.com. It is has nice pretty much the same bio information you can find at tonystewart.com.  My major complaint is that this page is very dialup unfriendly- its really graphic intensive and video intensive.  I know I am still living in the dark ages…but I also know that I am not the only one here in the cave.  However I LOVE the “Ask Tony” portion of this site. The old home depot site also had this and it was always fun. However- officedepotracing.com has some of the answers in video format and some in “written”. That is probably one of my favorite features.

Old Spice is Tony’s other primary sponsor and the OldSpiceRacing.com site is probably the newest of all the sites listed. It is also the most hilarious. While I have made no bones about the fact that I think that Tony’s Old Spice Commerical is really kinda dumb (still not sure what being Russian has to do with anything). I love Tony’s bio on this site because its completely slapstick. Here is a brief excerpt: Tony Stewart is a racer’s racer. If a greyhound, a fighter pilot and a chainsaw sculptor were somehow genetically welded together, reengineered with gasoline and cloned to form a half-carburetor, half-human racing man/machine, Tony would be that man/machine. Tony Stewart was born to race. In other words, if when Tony Stewart was born the doctor told him racing hadn’t been invented yet, he would crawl to the library, teach himself how to read and begin studying how to cryogenically freeze himself long enough for racing to be invented. In 2005, during a race, Tony Stewart got tired and, while taking a nap in the backseat, passed eight cars to clinch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. This site is HILARIOUS. It could rehash old info located on all the other sites but it comes up with a unique way to advertise Tony and Old Spice. (Speaking of which they have a hilarious new contest called Swaggerize Your Wallet- for information go here).

These are just the main “official” sites for Tony and Stewart-Haas Racing.  There is also a facebook presence for Stewart-Haas Racing as well as for teammate Ryan Newman – which I think is awesome. Tony (or his PR handlers more likely) also has a Infield Parking page as does Ryan Newman.

I am surprised I didn’t get the cops called on me this Sunday during the last 20 laps or so of the Autism Speaks 400 race at Dover.  I was watching alone for a change and when Tony was chasing Biffle down, passing Biffle, and then working that track to make his car seem as wide as possible when Jimmie was doing the same to him, I was screaming. And standing about two feet infront of the television- as if my mere proximity to the tube and yelling my cheers that loudly would somehow propell that 14 car on my voice alone.  Because I was alone I wasn’t shy about being LOUD and PROUD in my rooting for Tony and Team. And because I was alone I admit that I may have had a few choice words for Jimmie Johnson when he passed Tony (even though I actually kinda like Jimmie) that didn’t get filtered out by my internal sesor when I watch with other people.

Team Office Depot/Old Spice didn’t have the most stellar first practice or qualifying run on Friday so honestly I wasn’t sure it was going to be the best weekend for us.  Then I made the mistake of reading the transcript from Tony’s Friday media session- which is something I almost never do- and he just seemed rather grumpy and overly concerned about his car.  Yet another reason to think that Dover would not be a great weekend for Team Office Depot/Old Spice. I was reassured a bit on Saturday morning when I caught glimpses of the last two practices- to see that Tony’s car seemed to be picking it up.

Qualifying 31st, Tony spent most of the race mired in heavy traffic but working his way up the field slowly but surely.  Not having the best of pit stalls I think kind of messed him up in the pits and he often lost one or two spots during a stop.  Tony eventually worked his way into the top ten- running consistently at about 8th or so.  Then there was a lucky debris caution. Darian called Tony in at the last minute for two tires. And because Team Office Depot/Old Spice only took two tires, they found themselves slowly hunting down race leader (at the time) Greg Biffle- and eventually catching him. They raced hard for awhile and Stewart eventually become the race leader.  Unfortunately Jimmie Johnson was also moving up the field- and Jimmie was on four fresh tires.  Tony held Jimmie off as long as he could- but Jimmie eventually got around Tony with two laps to go and never looked back.  Tony came in second at Dover. Partly because of his second place finish and also because of Jeff Gordon’s inability to get either of his laps back, Stewart and Team Office Depot/Old Spice left Dover first in the points, with Jeff Gordon a mere 46 points behind him. Stewart-Haas teamate Ryan Newman also had yet another top ten finish (way to go RYAN!!) and moved up two spots in the points and is now up to fifth.

Notes on Dover:

  • This race had too many debris cautions for my taste. People- if your race car has parts falling off of it- pull into the pits! That is my PSA for Dover.
  • I am kind of glad its the end of the Fox coverage because DW kind of pissed me off with an offhanded comment he made regarding drivers not having original thoughts during the preshow (in reference to Kyle Busch’s comment about Dale Jr.)
  • Well judging by the results this weekend- the crew chief switch on the #88 seems to at least done SOME good. Jr finished 12th. Not bad.  Still- Junior seemed down in his afterrace interview. As a side note, my friend says Dale Jr. reminds her of Jeff Boomhauer when he talks.
  • As mentioned by Kyle Busch during the preshow- don’t forget to go to RealChocolate.com to try for your chance at a free Mars product this friday. (Thanks Kyle!)
  • *Technically most NASCAR fans would call Dover race 13 on the schedule because for some unknown reason they don’t count the All-Star race (yeah I know you don’t get points…but you get a million bucks and a cool ring? What more do you want?).

Next weekend the race is at Pocono (aka the Evil Little Triangle). Also don’t forget race fans that NASCAR coverage switches to TNT this weekend.

Have you seen the movie Almost Famous? There is a scene in that movie where Frances McDormand who plays lead character William’s mother and a college professor stands in front of one of the classes she is teaching and states: “Rockstars have kidnapped my son.” Well I stand before you today and state: The Coca-Cola 600 kidnapped my long weekend. I have also heard it called the 24 Hours At Lowes Motorspeedway (Thanks Trixie…that’s a good one).

So- The Coca-Cola 600 was scheduled to start on Sunday but never really got the chance because of rain delay after rain delay.  I continued to watch Rain Delay coverage…until suddenly my Fox affiliate went out and decided to play Fosters & Smith infomercials disguised as television shows.  No warning or anything…one minute I was watching the DW and Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond and the next minute I was learning about how to care for my turtle, frog, or bearded lizard using Fosters & Smith products of course.  It annoyed me.  I waited and waited and finally decided to check online and apparently it had been postponed until Monday.

Since I live on the west coast the race started at 9:00 am for me…on the last day of my long weekend so there would be no sleeping in for me.  Yey finally the race started. Tony did not have the best of qualifying efforts (he started 28th) so he was mired way down in the pack. The track was green because of the rain- but Tony seemed happy and comfortable with his car and able to move up the field- breaking into the Top Ten inbetween more rain delays.

Unfortunately that last rain delay at lap 227 (mile 340.5) would kind of screw Tony’s Office Depot team.  Having just cycled though some green flag pitstops- he was 19th and trying to work his way back through the field when that last red flag for rain came out.  about three and a half hours later David Reutimann would be declared the winner of the SHORTEST ever Coca-Cola 600- winning on pitting strategy- the same strategy that gave Tony Stewart’s teammate a second place finish.  Tony Stewart remains second in points and is now 44 points out of the lead.  Teammate Ryan Newman moved up to 7th in points after his second place finish.

Notes about the 600:

  • Seriously David Reutimann- Why did you insist on standing around your car for nearly three and a half hours in the rain without an umbrella? It was a little silly.  Did you really think it would make a difference?
  • Ok- I admit I chuckled at the “Billy Bad-Butt” incident.  When Tony called the crew guy Billy Bad-Butt” I laughed.  And we may have even taken turns calling each other Billy Bad-Butt for the rest of the day.  Mostly I thought it was funny because I was pretty sure Tony would have rather said bad ass but didn’t want to get docked 10K for it.  However- Fox displaying it while focused on the crew guy was a little tacky (ok I still laughed…I admit it). And NASCAR.COM leading off this morning’s headline with MEET BILLY BAD BUTT was even worse.
  • I was hoping they would be able to go green as much as the next guy- really I was (especially since Tony was stuck in 19th at the time of that last red flag) but three and a half hours? Is too freaking long to wait!
  • It’s one of my biggest fears? Being at a race that is postponed to the next day. Usually I would end up not being able to go because I tend to use the day after the race as my day to get myself back home and then I am off to work the next day….have you ever experienced the postponement of a race? What happened?

Next Sunday is our first visit of the season to the Monster Mile at Dover.