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(Sorry for the delay in the race report- my laptop’s processor decided to die on me so I am having to update this at work during my break and lunches. I suppose I could use my Kindle- but I find typing on it awkward- like I am trying to text on a giant phone with tiny hands or something. My new laptop should be here around Friday- thank goodness.  Wish me luck figuring out Windows 8).

The 14 crew hard at work at The Lady In Black

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

I really wanted to Tony to win this race- Darlington is one of two tracks that Tony hasn’t won at- so I REALLY wanted him to win at it (the other is Kentucky- if you are wondering). Of course technically I want Tony Stewart to win every race. I am competitive like that and live vicariously through my driver. Unfortunately it was not to be. He qualified 23rd- definitely could have been worse- but it also definitely could have been better.  I chalked it up to a bad couple of qual runs and hoped race day would be better.

Chad Johnston and Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, speaks with his crew chief Chad Johnston during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

But alas race day was NOT better- I dare say it was worse. The car did not handle well- and there were several times Tony asked for adjustments to help – a couple of them he was quite frustrated with the way the car was or was not responding. I believe at one point Tony pretty much said “I really don’t know what more I can tell you” about how to make the car handle better.  It was around this point I believe I bemoaned: Why is it that when Kevin Harvick’s car is strong, Tony’s car is junk and when Tony’s car is strong Kevin Harvick’s is junk? WHY?!?  I was a frustrated race fan with a frustrated driver- who at one point was two laps down. Yes you read that right TWO LAPS DOWN! Sigh.

Never Give up

Apparently even Batman knows to never give up on Tony Stewart! (Photo Credit: Meme by Claudia F.)

It’s at this point that I would usually lose interest in the race- but I couldn’t. Why? Because the racing was GOOD at the front.  I mean good. I got wrapped up in that and (hangs her head) kind of stopped paying attention to where Tony was on the track. He seemed fairly much stuck in the 20s and I had resigned him to that.  What a mistake I made.

I remember that for the first Green-White-Checker hearing Chad Johnston tell Tony and the crew that they were going to do four tires but no fuel to make the nose of the car heavy.  I thought it was an interesting strategy but figured it was too little to late kind of deal.  I need to officially apologize to both Chad and Tony for that. I was so caught up with what was going on at the front of the field and the second Green-White-Checker that I still do not know how Tony ended up finishing 9th.  It was after the race and I just happened to glance up at the TV when they were scrolling through the field and I remember seeing Tony in 9th. I was all WAIT UP WAIT UP- did that just say that Tony Stewart finished 9th?! Seriously? (I had to rewind the tv to double check- yep there it was in black and white- Tony finished 9th).  That was an awesome finish.  His ninth place finish brought him up to 12th in the series points standing- something I would get excited about if points mattered for the chase- which they do not.

The winner was Stewart-Haas Teammate Kevin Harvick- whom I might add is also the first driver of the season with multiple wins (2). I think I can dare say that Kevin Harvick is locked into the chase at this point. Whoo!

Notes about Darlington:

1. At one point in the race Tony Stewart said: You’ve got to get me some grip…I’m getting my ass handed to me.  My father says: Is he hungry? I look confused. My dad said- he just said you’ve got to get me some grits. Oh the laughs. Because if he was hungry- of course grits would be the most handy thing for a Tony Stewart to snack on in the car. (By the way- for the record- I don’t think my father has ever even had grits- being California born and raised. I was born and raised in California too but I have…and I don’t like them).

2. Here is a great article about the paramedic Jay Masur that Tony credits with saving his leg and his life last August.

Gratuitous Tony Stewart pictures:

I dare say Mr. Stewart looks up to something

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, speaks with a crew member during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America)

Things that make Tony go HMMM?!

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, sits in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

This weekend is an off weekend for Easter- and then the following Saturday (April 26th) is Tony Stewart’s favorite track: Richmond!!

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#14in14 #GoTonyGo #StandWithSmoke

Tony Stewart During Driver Intros at the 2013 Southern 500

Tony Stewart During Driver Intros at the 2013 Southern 500 (photo credit: Tonystewart.com)

 

“As much as we know about the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I think people underestimate how much we know about Darlington and the history of that track, and how hard it is to win races there. I guess that’s why a Sprint Cup win at Darlington is something that’s really important to me.” Tony Stewart- when asked if open-wheel drivers respect the history of Darlington in the SHR Pre-Race release.

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*TQMS= The Quotable Mr. Stewart

#14in14 #GoTonyGo #StandWithSmoke

FORT WORTH, TX -APRIL 4: Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, alongside NASCAR VP of Green Innovation Michael Lynch and ExxonMobil motorsports technical adviser Roger Hood at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Ft. Worth, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images for ExxonMobil)

In keeping with NASCAR’s efforts to “go green” NASCAR will, with the help of ExxonMobil, begin to convert it’s fleet and service vehicles as well as it’s generators over to Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy and Mobil Delvac 1 LE 5W-30.  Fleet cars, transporters and even the famed Air Titan, protector of the NASCAR Universe, will be using Mobil 1 (that’s 65 fleet vehicles and 16 generators).

Global motorsports manager at ExxonMobil, Artis Brown, explained “our line of advanced lubricating oils and greases can help increase equipment operating efficiency and engine fuel economy, and help contribute to reduced energy and resource use, lower emissions, and cost savings for industrial equipment and machinery, as well as passenger and commercial vehicle engines.”

As we fans know- Mobil 1 in one of Tony Stewart’s Primary Co-Sponsors, so he was on hand at the press conference at Texas Motor Speedway last Friday.  “After working with ExxonMobil lubricant engineers for three seasons, I’ve seen first-hand how well they know the value of engine oils to fuel economy—whether it’s for me on the track or for consumers driving to and from the track. Since Stewart-Haas Racing and Mobil 1 began our relationship, the entire SHR team has seen improved fuel mileage, resulting in our drivers being able to go longer between pit stops,” owner/driver Tony Stewart explained.

Some pictures from the event: (more…)

Tony Stewart at Texas Motor Speedway for the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in 2013. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Facebook page)

 

The more comfortable I am, the faster we go.– The undeviating yet always loquacious Mr. Tony Stewart, Duck Commander 500 Pre-Race Team Release

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#14in14 #GoTonyGo #StandWithSmoke

Working on the Code 3 Associates #14

The crew works on the #14 Code 3 Associates/BassPro/Mobil 1 chevy of Tony Stewart during the race on Sunday 2014 (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook Page)

It seems that whenever I pick Tony Stewart as my lead in my Fantasy League- he has a terrible day. So I can be assuring you all that I will not be picking him as my lead driver anymore. Sigh. I was so optimistic that Tony would have a good run at Martinsville.  He was running the Code 3 Associates paint scheme and the last time he ran that- he won the race (Pocono). Plus he qualified 7th! Whoo! That was awesome. (more…)

Talk about completely out of order- here it is almost two weeks out from the annual Vegas Racecation and I am just now getting the post up. Urg…forgive me!  This year the Vegas Racecation included some new experiences I hope that you will enjoy hearing about! Be warned- this is LONG but rewards you because it’s photo rich!

Misty and I picked up our credentials at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during her lunch on Thursday from her day job! This  was a harrowing feat because Misty works by McCarran Airport which is probably about 30 miles from the track.  We were able to make it back and forth however, between Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Misty’s work (which is blocks away from McCarran Airport) within the hour without breaking traffic laws- so YEY us.  I picked Misty back up after work so we could head directly to South Point Casino so that we could go to an autograph appearance where several drivers were appearing. So we rush over get parked and go into the Casino and can not FIND the autograph appearance…anywhere.  We were all over that place. We gave up and went to Steak N Shake for dinner since it was right there.

Friday morning saw me getting to the track insanely early and alone- Misty had to tie up some important work business and would join me later in the afternoon.  When I first ventured out of the media center and into the Neon Garage area- it was still fairly early and not crowded at all- so it was no wonder that a Pee Wee Herman impersonator riding his bike through the lower level caught my eye:

Pee Wee Herman

A leisurely ride through the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Neon Garage on Friday morning for Pee Wee. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Only in Vegas right?!

During first practice I hung around the upper level of the Tony Stewart garage trying to catch a picture of Tony Stewart or Chad Johnston.. Luckily I caught Tony arriving to his pit stall with business manager Eddie Jarvis:

The Bossman Arrives

Tony Stewart arrives at his garage bay at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

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Smoke IS The Bandit

Tony Stewart as Bandit in Smoke IS The Bandit by Mobil 1 (Photo Credit: Mobil 1)

Well the sixth installment of Smoke IS The Bandit really is just a compliation of all the webisodes into one.  I think it’s even more entertaining to watch all at once. For your viewing pleasure- what I like to call Smoke IS The Bandit: The Whole Enchilada:

 

Also I got this in my email and I thought you all might be interested: Mobil 1 synthetic oil is giving you the chance to win a Corvette Stingray. Four randomly selected entrants will win a trip to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY (yes THAT one- where the hungry earth opened up and swallowed up 8 beautiful Corvettes)- each of those winners gets an awesome prize package that includes a key. One of those four keys opens the door to the Stingray.  There are also other prizes so even if you don’t win a trip to see The National Corvette Museum- you might win some great Mobil 1 or Corvette swag! You can’t win if you don’t ENTER! Good luck. Hopefully I will see you in Bowling Green KY. And if I do- no hard feelings but I hope my key starts the Stingray.

Servicing the #14 Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet

The #14 pit crew services Tony Stewart’s Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart’s Official Facebook Page)

Before we get into Team 14 and their run- we need to address the tire situation. I know that Goodyear claims that the teams were at fault for the tires but I have trouble with that. Why? Because multiple teams experienced issues across manufacturer platforms. Every 25 laps or so there were a rash of tire failures.  To me that speaks of an issue with the tire compound.  Yes I know that Goodyear brought the same compound as they brought last year and that there wasn’t a problem before- but the cars have a different rules package that affect down force this year. The engineers at Goodyear maybe should have thought of that and either brought a different compound or at the very least issued some sort of bulletin to the teams.

Let me tell you why I care about tire failures beyond the fact that they are dangerous: Auto Club is consistently ragged on for being a boring race- that it should have it’s race taken away and given to another track. This year, from my seat, the racing was GOOD! The cars were moving around and passing and it was just exciting. Many drivers were able to recover from problems and make it back up towards the front (I am looking at you Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart) over the course of a race.  To have that interrupted so much by cautions due to tire failures was FRUSTRATING for me as a fan.  That is not fun- to watch your driver over come something like a wickedly handling car (Tony Stewart- which we will take about later) or a pit road speeding penalty (Jeff Gordon) and make it back towards the front. (more…)