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The 14 reflected at Martinsville

Mark Martin drives the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet out of the garage area during practice at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2013. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

I love Martinsville. There is something about that little paperclip shaped track that makes the racing exciting. This track is HIGH on my list of must visit tracks. Really high.  Quarters are close both on track and on pit road- which makes it easy to slip up. Restart wrong? And you might be getting lapped in a few minutes.  Another car short pitting might block you into your stall and cost you to go from 3rd to 23rd while you try to jockey out of your pitstall.  The cars are in constant danger of contact- and while some of the “rubbing” is unintentional- sometimes- just sometimes it is intentional and nothing will piss you off more that to have your driver intentionally wrecked.   But one of the good things about Martinsville- is that you can bang your car up a bit- and still be in contention for the win as long as you don’t let your temper get too out of hand and end up collecting yourself in the drama.  However, It’s not just the drivers that are in danger of constant contact- just ask race winner Jeff Gordon’s tire carrier who got clipped (by I think Denny Hamlin but I don’t remember) a car on pit road during a pit stop. (more…)

Crew members push the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet of Tony Stewart on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on April 19, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

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I am going to say something that I don’t like saying: it’s obvious that something is amiss with Stewart-Haas this season- specifically the #14 team of Tony Stewart. I know I know- thank you Captain Obvious right?  But as stalwart of a Tony Stewart fan that I am- I can not go on being the girl with the rosy camouflaged colored glasses any more. We are going into race 8 of the season now and Tony’s mired way down in 22nd in the Sprint Cup points standings- a full 111 points behind current points leader Jimmie Johnson.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

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In my excitement after Tony took the checkered flag after a drama filled Daytona- I had forgotten a couple things that I wanted to mention- but then I watched this video recap from Showtime’s InsideNASCAR and remembered them: (more…)

I have never made it a secret that I do not like watching races at Talladega. I watch it through my fingers worried about “the big one” and fretting about my driver’s position (the closer you are to the middle of the field the more likely you are to get caught up in said “big one”).  However after watching the flip during Friday’s Arca race and Eric McClure slam (and I mean SLAM) into the wall during the Nationwide race- I was even more unsettled as I settled in to watch the delayed start of the race at Talladega on Sunday.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 6, 2012 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit- Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

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First thing I wanted to share about the Kansas race is this picture of Richard Petty (and driver Aric Almirola) being honored by STP at Kansas Speedway since I wrote about the event here:

STP donates $43,000 to Victory Junction to celebrate their 40th Anniversary with “The King” at Kansas Speedway on Friday, April 20. STP Senior Brand Manager, Jamie Kistner (right), presents the $43,000 check to Richard Petty (center), Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 43 STP Ford Fusion (second from right), and Victory Junction Camper Ambassadors (Photo Credit: CIA Stock Photo)

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After what was an extremely hectic race weekend from Vegas (I know I still haven’t posted about it- don’t worry I will-but I want to get Bristol out of the way before I get too far behind), I was looking forward to watching the racing action at Bristol from home.  I love me some Bristol and it was a blustery and stormy day here on the central coast.

It just so happens that Tony Stewart was one of the hot pass drivers this race (his first time this year that I can remember) so I decided to watch on his DirecTv Hot Pass channel.  I knew he hadn’t qualified too well (23rd) and that he didn’t seem to be all that spectacular in practice so I figured it would be one of those days where I was hoping he didn’t get a lap down too early (so easy to go a lap down at short tracks like Bristol and Martinsville).

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images North America)

(Side note: The photographer in me LOVES the above picture…LOVES it).

I happened to catch Tony’s (comical) pre-race interview and one of the questions was about how he and Steve were clicking this early in the season.  He said that they seemed to be getting along quite well and the only issue Tony could even think of was that Steve is soft spoken and sometimes hard to hear on the radio- I have always heard that it is LOUD at Bristol and teams have trouble hearing each other’s radio communications anyway- so I thought that this might be an issue. I was wrong.

Tony started the race by thanking the team for busting butt to make all the changes they made on the race car (uh-oh said my gut that means that the car WAS crap out of the box and what they had was probably hit-or-miss). He also told his spotter to reign him in if he felt Tony was getting easily frustrated.  I wonder how one reigns in their own boss? (Spotter’s jobs fascinate me but that is a story for a different day).  It also didn’t sound to me like they were having any issue hearing each other during the race from what I could tell from the Hot Pass.

I will say this though…yes this is Tony’s third crew chief in however many years he’s been doing this in NASCAR but it means it’s my third crew chief too…and it was different listening to Steve Addington on the radio.  Thanks to my lack of Sprint Cup Mobile on my phone now, this was my first time really listening to their radio communications and my ears (and brain) were use to Darian’s voice and now I have to get use to Steve Addington’s voice.  I do like the way he calls Tony into and out of the pit box though…it reminds me more of Zipadelli.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images North America)

My favorite part of the race was seeing Tony battle Brad Keselowski to stay on the lead lap. It was an epic battle and you could tell that Tony was driving his ass off to keep Keselowski behind him.  He eventually succumbed to Bad Brad but thankfully a caution soon after gained Tony a “Lucky Dog” and he got back on the lead lap.  Between attrition and a better handling car Tony had worked his way up to 9th and was battling for 8th. Tony ended up getting hit by Brendan Gaughan in the #33 and damaging the rear of his car fairly severely.

Another favorite part of the race (thanks to Hot Pass) was this gem between Tony and his spotter Bob Jeffrey (@eyeinthesky14):

Tony: WHO THE F@(K JUST HIT ME?

Bob: Gaughan

Tony: WHO?!?

My second favorite thing was MY witty tweet after Tony got wrecked…that no one seemed to catch:

Ok so I spelled Gaughan wrong but it was STILL damn funny if I don’t say so myself.  Seriously people- I am not usually this witty so soak it up while you can.

Anyway, as my tweet above mentions, Tony ended up having to take two pitstops under the caution to fix damage on the car and was able to not only stay on the lead lap BUT finish a fairly respectable 14th (he would have been 15th but Junior cut a tire on the last lap…perhaps karma was paying him back for cutting Jeff Gordon’s tire early in the race).  Tony is currently 7th in the points standings.

NOTES ABOUT BRISTOL:

  1. I really HATE knowing that the drivers are getting introduced to a song of their choosing and introducing themselves and we don’t get to see it happening on the TV.  In case you are wondering- Tony Stewart picked a different song this time. One of my favorite Toby Keith songs actually- How Do Yo Like Me Now?  so YEY Tony for picking something non-Kid Rockish.  Other songs of note: Brian Vickers- Back In The Saddle Again by Aerosmith (so fitting don’t you think?), Jimmie Johnson- Jimi Thing by Dave Matthews Band, Jeff Gordon- Theme to Flash Gordon by Queen, Kevin Harvick- Save Water, Drink Beer by Chris Young, and Dale Jr picked my second favorite Pantera song by choosing Walk.
  2. The “shit for luck” up there in the title is NOT something I called the race- that was taking words out of Tony’s mouth.  He said on his radio after the race something to the effect of that he was pleased with their performance at Bristol despite having “shit for luck”.

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, is interviewed in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

Next race: AUTOCLUB in CALI…and yes I WILL BE THERE.

Oh EFI how you disappoint this Stewart fan.  Tony was within striking distance of the lead- and hanging out mostly right around 6th for most of the day.  Only to get quite the surprise when he switched his car off to save gas as requested by his new crew chief Steve Addington.

(R-L) Crew chief Steve Addington talks with Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/ Mobil 1 Chevrolet, in the garage prior to practice for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images North America)

However the car would not switch back on. It was sad to see him sink further and further behind the field as he tried to refire the car multiple times.  Unfortunately he had to be pushed back to the pits to have assistance to get the car fired back up.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/ Mobil 1 Chevrolet, is pushed down pit road during the NASCAR SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America)

URG.  He went from possibly in the hunt to 2 laps down in a flash. Unfortunately he finished 22nd, 2 laps down. He is now in 15th in the standings (but technically he is really in a four way tie for 12th with Brad Keselowski, Jeff Burton, and Paul Menard).

Notes on Phoenix:

- It didn’t take TIDE long to create a commercial based on their involvement in the cleanup efforts after the Daytona Jet Dryer Explosion did it:

My major thing is that it would flash across the screen and for a split second I would think MOLY! What just happened at PIR…but then I would realize…it’s that Tide commercial again.  You have to admit that was rather quick that they were able to take the footage from the wreck at Daytona (remember that happened on Monday night!) and make it into a commercial!

-Am I the only one who misses the dog-leg portion of Phoenix Raceway? I also hate that the drivers seem to cut across the apron now…it honestly looks like they are cheating and if they wanted the drivers to drive on that part – they need to re paint the yellow line.

- I totally admit that I was REALLY hoping that Tony Stewart/Steve Addington would get a win before the Denny Hamlin/Darian Grubb pairing did.  It’s because I am fiercely competitive when it comes to my driver…sigh.

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/ Mobil 1 Chevrolet, reacts from inside the garage prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 2, 2012. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

Next Race: Las Vegas Motor Speedway! I’ll Be THERE :-)