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Image borrowed from the Stewart-Haas Racing Facebook Page

I mentioned in my last post about the dominance of Ford this season, specifically the SHR Fords. While yes a few of the SHR drivers only made it into the round of 8 by the skin of the teeth the point is they made it.  That is an impressive feat.

Think about this little factoid: Stewart-Haas Racing drivers now make up HALF of the playoff field.  HALF!!!  I think that might be considered a fairly impressive showing. I hope that any detractors who were vocal about the team switching manufacturers are eating their words right now.  I do not deny that there wasn’t a money factor involved- but the fact that under the bowtie SHR would have never likely gotten the resources or opportunity to be the powerhouse team for that manufacturer- those claims have always gone to HMS.  I think you could pretty much say that right now SHR is the powerhouse team for the blue oval right?  For those keeping track of manufacturers in the round of eight, there are five Fords  (all of the SHR drivers and Joey Logano), two Toyotas (Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr) and one lone Chevy (Chase Elliott).  Stewart-Haas Racing has every reason to proud as heck of their hard work right now.

(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Back when SHR announced that they would be moving to Ford as their manufacturer there was a huge segment of the community that balked at the switch in manufacturer. I have long said that I could understand the reason- with FORD SHR had the opportunity to be the top team for their manufacturer. They would never get that support from Chevy- who puts all of their support over to Hendrick Motorsports. With Ford as their manufacturer, Stewart-Haas Racing has the change of becoming more of a rival to Hendrick Motor Sports. With Stewart-Haas Racing’s impressive performance all season, it has become clear to me that they are indeed working on becoming a real rival of HMS/Chevy. (more…)

(source: Tony Stewart Facebook)

The Daytona 500 is the first NASCAR anything I have seen all season.  I missed the Clash because we were in the midst of a 52 hour power outage thanks to hurricane force winds that showed up with one of the many rain storms this area has received over the past several months. I always miss at least one of the duels because of work and this time I missed both duels. I don’t usually watch qualifying or practices for work reasons as well.

So settling in to take in the Daytona 500 was my first experience as a driver-less race fan as far back as I can remember. You may have noticed I have purposely not made a sweeping declaration of whom I will be supporting because I feel that will have to come organically and naturally as it did back when I picked up being a Tony Stewart fan way back when I did. Since no one applied to by my favorite driver I am forced to adopt a wait and see attitude driver wise.  I have a certain pool of drivers that I pull for but we will see who ends up being a stand out. As for the race itself- I have decided I want to discuss certain components of the race before I give my thoughts on the race as a whole.  (more…)

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…)