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Tomorrow is February! That means that Daytona is right around the corner! I, personally, can’t wait. The off season always seems extremely long to me (despite the fact that it is pretty much the shortest off season of any sport) and it drags on to me. I am ready to saddle up and watch. I am ready to be out at the track…taking in the sights, sounds and smells. I AM READY.

One thing I am going to admit to you is that as much as I love and look forward to the beginning of the season- there is also the struggle of having to pick out new driver/numbers/crew chiefs etc. There is always having to get use to all the new dynamics out there on top of the new nuances of things like the EFI and how that will effect the cars on the track and whatnot.  Plus did I mention the new numbers/new sponsors thing that ALWAYS throws me for a loop?

Stewart Haas Racing is not immune to changes- especially this season. Probably one of the most profound changes, everyone knows about. That is that Steve Addington will be Tony’s new crew chief this season. It’s not necessarily a change that I understand the reasoning behind but then again I am not a behind the scenes person so I am sure there is a reason for it. Right?

SHR was also able to finally fill the long empty (since May of 2011 if I am not mistaken) Director of Competition position with Greg Zipadelli. This does not surprise me in the least. I had a feeling back when Tony started Stewart-Haas Racing that Greg would end up over at SHR eventually in some capacity. It also seemed to me that there was increasing friction between Joey Logano and Greg Zipadelli towards the end of last season so it seemed like a natural move for everybody involved.

Stewart-Haas Racing also announced at the end of last season that Danica Patrick would be running the 10 car for 10 races (ha 10 for 10) in the cup series under the Stewart-Haas racing banner. But wait? Now it sounds like technically Danica will be running the 10 car for TBR (Tommy Baldwin Racing) and David Ruetimann will be running the rest of the season in the 10 car. Whot? I thought the 10 car was a SHR car? I am unclear as to what exactly this means…but the way I understand it (and this is just me…so it might NOT actually be happening this way): TBR is in a “partnership” with SHR in that SHR will provide the 10 car and the 10 crew chief (Greg Zipadelli) to TBR who will provide the 10 car with their owner points so that Danica is guarenteed to make it into the Daytona 500 without Tony having to give her his points and resting on his Championship provisional to get it.  When Danica isn’t in the 10 car, the car will be totally a TBR car and Ruitimann will have his own (a different) crew chief.  It kind of makes sense because if Tony were to give Danica his points and take the championship provisional, he wouldn’t be locked in the top 35 for the first five races.  That would be wasted on Danica who isn’t running a full schedule.  All I know is that the PR folks in charge of the Stewart-Haas Racing twitter account tells us that it’s a “win-win” for everyone. So there you have it. It’s “Winwin” just deal with it?!  (I am still kind of unclear if this means Danica is still a Stewart-Haas Racing driver).

Other changes including the adding of Quicken Loans and Aspen Dental to the list of sponsors signing up to sponsor Ryan Newman.  Add that to the Outback that was added in Phoenix (I was in the media center for the announcement).

So…what are Stewart-Haas’s chances of fielding two cars in the chase again next season? I don’t know.  The die-hard fan in me wants Tony to go out there and take names next season and win another championship.  GO TONY GO! I’M WITH SMOKE! You know the drill.  I always want Tony to win EVERY race- every single one.  I hope that Tony and team always go out there with that same attitude- the same one we saw at Homestead-Miami.  But we do have to take into consideration there are changes within the organization- the least of which means that Tony will have a new crew chief to build a rapport with.  Plus there is the third car for 10 races (or is there? I am still kind of confused…is it really considered a Stewart-Haas Racing team?).  So there is a 3 car dynamic for nearly a third of the races this coming season.  Can I just say though that I really REALLY want Tony to go out there and get that Daytona 500 win finally? Because I so do!

And just to add this picture from last month from Stewart-Haas Racing Twitter’s account that CRACKS me up:

This photo cracks me up! Photo Credit: Stewart-Haas Racing Twitter Account

Which reminds me- be sure to watch for Tony to be on The Last Man Standing with Tim Allen- it should air sometime around Speed Weeks (I think it comes on Valentines Day- but I will update when I know for sure).

I’m With Tony! Are you?  Let’s go 2012!

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)?

I have had three different topics for posts floating around my brain- some of them since the end of last week but just have not had the patience to actually sit down with them and write them out.  I am worried if I don’t do it soon they will go **poof** the way many of my best ideas do when I don’t give them the attention they deserve or need. But these are topics that I REALLY want to discuss here- so I am going to do them right here in this post even though they aren’t related really except that they are all NASCAR related. So bear with me.

I am going to start off with pit crew members: In the last two races there have been at least two incidents of crew members being hit on pit road.  In Richmond, Tony ended up flipping the tire carrier (Dwayne Moore)for David Reutimann’s 00 team, and just this past weekend at Louden, Clint Pittman a rear tire changer for Casey Mear’s had his foot fractured when run over (by Denny Hamlin if memory serves me correctly) on pitroad. He will be out the rest of the season. Now I know I have talked about how I am completely fascinated with pit crews. My friend and I were talking about the “controlled” chaos of the ballet that is a pitstop. I know that probably doesn’t sound very manly to describe a pitstop as a ballet- but that is exactly what it is.  It is extremely choreographed however when things things go wrong sometimes they go very very wrong as in the case with the two crew members getting hit lately.  Dwayne Moore, tire carrier recently clipped by Tony Stewart, suggests in an article on NASCAR.COM  that when a driver clips a crewman that the driver should be penalized. I really don’t know if I agree with that or not- in both cases recently- I don’t think that the drivers saw the crew members until after the damage had been done. It appeared to me that both were coming around from car when the car the crew members were working on were canted in their pitbox so that the rear was obscuring the view of the crew member.  I don’t know if there is anything more that can be done- but I don’t necessarily think that penalizing drivers is the answer. Of course then again it’s not my butt out there with these 3400 lb cars zooming in and out within inches of me either.

Now onto Sponsors: Within the last two days two major sponsors have pulled sponsorships from their teams for next season: Jack Daniels (currently sponsor’s Casey Mear’s 07) and Jim Beam (current sponsor of Robby Gordon’s 7). These are just the latest in some sponsors pulling out of our sport. However, I was thinking this would probably be the perfect opportunity for a sponsor to come into the sport.  How about an Apple sponsored car? Or Itunes? Or…(and you know the guys would be completely unimpressed by this one) but how about a Dooney & Bourke car (can you imagine the paint schemes on that sucker? Wicked cool).  Maybe a GOOGLE car? or a Kraft car? (I could go on and on so I will stop here).

And, finally, banquet tickets: NASCAR announced a little over a week ago that they would be allocating 300 banquet tickets for the top 12 teams to give away to fans. I was so excited when they announced that they would be moving the banquet to Las Vegas this year – because I can totally go- the awards banquet is actually on one of my furlough days so technically I wouldn’t even need much time off. However, it’s getting my hands on two tickets that is going to be the trick.  I REALLY want to go so you can bet I am going to be keeping my eyes open at the websites of all 12 teams hoping to luck into something.  What’s a girl got to do to get two tickets to the banquet anyway? Can you imagine the tweets from that event? I really want to be there live and in the flesh and not watching it again this year on my TV thinking damn it would be fun to be there!  I want to be in that 25% of the audience that is fans! If you see any opportunities you let me know!

UPDATED TO ADD PENALTY POINTS: NASCAR announced today that the number 18  Joe Gibbs Racing driven by Kyle Busch was penalized 25 owner points, 25 driver points an the crew chief, Steve Addington, was penalized $25,000 and placed on probabtion until the end of the year for failing post race inspection after the race at Louden. The car was in violation of 12-4-I (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-12.8 1B (the height of the car at the left front fender did not meet the required specification; too low in post-race inspection) of the 2009 NASCAR rule book. What that means in English? Is that the left front was too low. They were also cited for 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing).