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Now that the dust has settled on the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series I wanted to take a stab at explaining just why many Smoke fans including myself feel that Tony wasn’t given the farewell season he deserved.

(photo source: @StewartHaasRcng Twitter account)

When Tony announced his “retirement” (and I use that term loosely because I am sure that he will race more this year than he did last year) he made it absolutely clear that he did not want the rigmarole that Jeff Gordon was given week in and week out. He didn’t want to be drug into the media center every weekend and presented with gifts ranging from the thoughtful to the truly bizarre (not that he escaped that- since he got a bigger than life-size bobble head of himself from Texas Motor Speedway). All Tony wanted to do in his last season is what Tony has wanted to do since he got behind the steering wheel of his first goKart- he wanted to buckle in and race. And for the most part that is what he got.

His fans, however, voiced their discontent all season long about the lack of Tony recognition. Some might be thinking, well he got what he asked for.  While I don’t think what a majority of fans wanted was Tony paraded through the media center pulling gifted ponies and poker tables behind him- they wanted something.

What the fans wanted, expected, hoped for were the things they saw tracks doing the year before with Jeff Gordon. Fans wanted the opportunity to feel engaged and made to feel that not just that their driver was recognized but that they had a part in that recognition.  Case in point: I have no fewer than three Jeff Gordon towels each from different tracks that were dispersed to fans during the 2015 season for fans to wave during lap 24. I went to one race more in 2016 and I don’t have any Tony Stewart towels. Fans wanted to see things like a race named after him like Phoenix did for Jeff Gordon.  They wanted to see Speed Limit 14 MPH when the drove around Las Vegas Motor Speedway although that would be a pretty damn slow speed limit and technically Tony wasn’t driving at Las Vegas because of his back injury. You get my drift though.

Some tracks did do things for Tony fans. Some had Tony’s likeness gracing program covers, posters, and even a coveted (normal sized) bobbleheads. But subtle signs on backstretches, wall of fame presentations and a rock in his honor not withstanding tributes denoting Tony and engaging fans in celebrating their driver were actually far and few between at the track.  Fans at home missed out too- many times lap 14 was not even televised let alone mentioned showing fans standing in celebration of their beloved driver.  They wanted Tony mentioned occasionally during races despite his less than stellar performances most races.

Ultimate what was missing for Tony’s NASCAR fans was the sense of community that the track promoters and sponsors created during Jeff Gordon’s farewell season. Sure they can claim it is what Tony wanted but what he wanted was to be subjected to constant distraction. What Tony fans wanted and perhaps needed by and large could have been done without going against Tony’s wishes. THAT is why SMOKE fans feel slighted by the treatment of Tony’s retirement.

(photo source: Zimbio.com/Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

Start: 23rd

Finish: 31st, 5 laps down

Points: 2166 (14th in points)

Ahh you have heard the saying everything is bigger in Texas right? Well that is also true of the NASCAR race- because was was suppose to be an afternoon race stretched into a HUGE rain delay…and then a rain shortened race.  When it started to rain right after the drivers got in and all buckled up there was a lengthy (six hour) rain delay.

Way to stick it out Texas race fans by the way. Rain delay coverage was the usual…I don’t know if they talked about it during the coverage- because I actually left the house for a bit when it was clear that the race wouldn’t restart for at least another couple hours and that was the Team Hendrick pit crews doing the Mannequin Challenge (where you hold still like a mannequin). You can see it here on the Hendrick Motorsports website. I thought that was awesome- it can not be easy to hold those poses like that.

When they finally called the drivers to their cars at just after 7:00 pm local time- I started to get excited. Then we watched the longest warm up laps in recent memory as the drivers ran around the track for twenty something laps before the race trying to help dry the track. Then the race started under a Green/Yellow as that continued for several laps until the track was finally deemed dry enough and the cars were allowed to race.  (more…)

(photo source: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

Started: 22nd

Finished: 5th

Points: 248 (30th in the standings, 15 points away from 29th and 31 points away from 31th).

 

I think they need to rename Kentucky Speedway Kautiontucky Speedway. Okay, I admit I can’t take total credit for that- Misty thought of something similar towards the end of the race and posted it on her Facebook. It made me chuckle. Considering that the surface was new at Kentucky , there had been a lot of rain, limited practice, and that the tire compounds were hard- the amount of cautions probably couldn’t be prevented.  (more…)

(photo source: Zimbio.com/Josh Hedges/Getty Images North America)

Started: 3rd

Finished: 7th

Points: 152 (35th in the standings, 45 points away from 30th and 8 points away from 34th).

No matter where Tony starts in the grid I have always said that finishing better than what you started is a good day.  Tony may have finished 4 spots lower than where he started the race- but it’s really hard to call it a bad day when Tony Stewart and Team 14 had such a great weekend over all. This is the kind of weekend us Smoke fans have been wanting to see so I can only imagine the same is true for Tony and the team itself. (more…)

(photo source: Tony Stewart facebook page)

It’s been a while since I pulled together one of my gift-giving guides.  I figured with Father’s day right around the corner I would through out some suggestions for the Tony Stewart loving father or husband in your life! So without further ado- here are some gift ideas for the Tony Stewart fan in your life:

Texas fans can sign dad up for the 8th annual Smoke Show which takes place at Texas Motor Speedway on October 12th, 2016. What is the Smoke Show? It’s a fantasy stock car camp where participants will be given the opportunity to walk in the shoes of a NASCAR driver during a typical race day, drive competitive laps in a stock car on Texas Motor Speedway and interact with Stewart throughout the event! Best part is that this is the gift that gives back as all proceeds benefit Speedway Children’s Charities.  You can visit the Texas Chapter Speedway Children’s Charities Smoke Show Event page for more information and to sign up Dad for the experience of a lifetime with Tony Stewart.

California Tony Stewart fans have the opportunity to sign up for the VIP Experience with Tony Stewart at Sonoma Raceway on June 25th. This experience is a hospitality experience with Tony Stewart.  Limited to 100 participants the Smoke VIP guests access to a deluxe mobile hospitality facility, garage tour, a Q&A experience with Tony Stewart, A professional picture taken with Tony, an autographed momento and more. The donation for the ticket goes directly to the Tony Stewart Foundation to fund their grant program. For information about the VIP Experience and to purchase tickets before they sell out visit the Tony Stewart Foundation VIP Experience website. There won’t be many opportunities like this before Tony Stewart retires for active NASCAR driving! Sign dad (or yourself) up now- it’s an opportunity of a lifetime for California fans- or any fans willing to go to Sonoma Raceway! (more…)

The crew of Kevin Harvick’s #4 team donning their NurvGear face shields

Hey SHR Fans! I wanted to introduce you all to a cool new product for us SHR fans made for the outdoor enthusiast in mind: NurvGear now has Face Shields that are made with specifically licensed patterns from your favorite SHR drivers! These face shields offer great protection in the outdoors and I can think of several different uses for them.

NurvGear 4 face shield

So for those unfamiliar, NurvGear was founded as a company devoted to those that live, dream, and explore the great outdoors; fishing, trekking, skiing, biking, racing, and much more. Their products (the faceshields are just one of a line of products by NurvGear including hats and a variety of different kinds of shirts) designed for comfort and function in the great outdoors.

These face shields are not just your typical bandana. Just check out these five features of each NurvGear face shield :

1. Repels moisture keeping you cooler & dryer, for longer

2. Provides SPF 40 protection from the harsh rays of the sun

3. Helps maintain hydration,

4. Antibacterial so you can even share with your friends (not that you will want to- tell them to buy their own)

5. Made with a stain resistant formula

There are several patterns for each SHR racing driver! Can’t decide which one you want- don’t fear! NurvGear has  discount packs of two or four shields where you pick the SHR face shield bandanas you want and you get a discount on the total cost- how awesome is that (they have the same thing for their non-SHR face shields too). Get two (or four) different face shield bandanas or get them all same. Keep them all for yourself or share them with friends.  Use them hiking, fishing, biking, at the races wherever- the possibilities are endless and the designs are cool. I personally have my eye on this Tony Stewart Always A Racer one (and one of their straw hats too):

Although I really like this one too- good think they have those special deal packs:

By the way- have I mentioned how much I love the “Always A Racer, Forever A Champion” logo? I do…A LOT.  As in I would have it painted on the hood of my Chevy Equinox if I had the means…but I am seriously digressing here. Check out the NurvGear guards today and pick up one or two or four.

Mike Casto sporting the NurvGear guard

(photo source: zimbio.com/ Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

Started: 39th (after qualifying 21st but getting dinged for “unapproved body modification” when pushing the car out to the grid on Sunday afternoon)

Finished: 24th

Points: 111 points, 35th in the standings and 60 points from 30th position (David Ragan)

When you have a race as long as the Coca-Cola 600 (the longest race on the NASCAR circuit) and your driver is having a good day it’s a great and glorious culmination to a day chocked full of racing.  When your driver is struggling, and laps down by the end of the race- it’s just a long-ass day and it’s hard to find good in the day when your driver finishes four laps down after struggling for hours and hours with a car that is “up out of the track.”

(photo credit: zimbio.com/Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images North America))

Unfortunately for Tony Stewart and team 14, Martin Truex Jr set a dominating and blistering pace for the first quarter of the Coca-Cola 600 and by lap 87 while improving his position from 39th to 24th, Stewart ended up getting put a lap down. Handling would be an issue for the entire race and the team would ultimately end up finishing 4 laps down in 24th spot.

But being the glass half-full person I try to be, I found two “little” things that make the race a little easier to swallow.  First off being that Tony despite finishing 24th Tony was able to gain two spots in the points standings and is now 35th (although he still remains 60 points from 30th place David Ragan).  The second little thing is that at the beginning of the race- through the competition caution Tony was able to move UP through the field to 24th after starting 39th despite the ill-handling machine he struggled with all night. It could have been worse…he could have been relegated to a last place or near last place finish- or worse suffer a DNF.  So there was good in the race if you look hard enough. (more…)

(Share with us why Tony Stewart is your driver- be part of Project: Smoke In My Eyes today!– Amy) 

Tony Stewart at Pocono

Tony Stewart at Pocono 2014 (Photo Credit: Glenn Bure for BadGroove.com)

My son Logan who is now 17 has been a Tony fan since about age 4. There was just something about Tony that seemed to draw him. Logan was 5 & we had just bought him a new Tony Stewart shirt. He had to put it on right away. My husband and I were packing the van to get ready to leave in the morning for vacation. Logan had gone to my sister’s house to play with her children. Next thing I know-  she calls me. Logan fell playing baseball and she thought he broke his arm. We took him to the ER and he had broken his elbow and had to have surgery. He was very upset when they said they had to cut his shirt off . We explained it was brand new, that Tony was his favorite and so on. They asked the surgical team if they could take it off him once he was out and they said no. The two nurses felt really bad and the one suggested making a pillow or wall hanging. They were very careful cutting it off. Several months later Logan’s great Aunt Ruthie made him a beautiful pillow that he still had. It is worn and has seen it’s better days but it still bring him comfort. Tony is still his favorite driver and he has had a lot of Tony’s t-shirts since that one but the t-shirt pillow is still his favorite!

— Dee Van Blargan

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If you want to take part in Project: Smoke In My Eyes there is still time! Click on the link for more information and submit your piece today!