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I find it kind of weird to write a about a rumor (that is exactly what it is- a rumor- as  Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted on August 17 that “it’s all speculation until you hear it from Tony Stewart” and I don’t know about you all- but Tony hasn’t called* to tell me anything so I will continue to treat it as such until I read a formal announcement). The silly season stuff can get kind of crazy and I don’t really delve too deeply into it because it’s all speculation anyway.  But you know if has to do with Stewart-Haas Racing I am probably going to at least ponder it, and possibly even write about it.

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Last week I talked about a sackpack donation event where Tony Stewart helped the Office Depot Foundation donate 5000 sackpacks filled with school supplies to Indiana children.  In my post I mentioned the excitement on the face of one little girl in the big group picture and how I could just TELL that she was excited to get her sack pack. Well I was forwarded this picture today of that same little girl proudly posing with her sack pack…is she not adorable and obviously happy? (more…)

You would have thought the results of the Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend would have taught me something.  To help with getting my post-race posting out in a timely manner I had written the bulk of my first paragraph for the Brickyard 400 before the caution flag for the wreck that changed everything.  The problem in doing that, I learned, is that the whole mood of the race can change in an instant- thus rendering the article I started irrelevant.  My pre-caution paragraph was wrought with disappointing statements like “It’s always disheartening to me when Tony has a bad run but it’s especially disparaging when it’s at his home track of Indianapolis Motor Speedway” or better yet my favorite “The momentum from Tony’s first WoO win earlier this week was not enough to carry him through the Brickyard 400 weekend.” See those statements were definitely not written by Miss Sunshine that is for certain.

(ed.- I love this picture...LOVE it) AN INFRARED CAMERA WAS USED TO CREATE THIS IMAGE) Tony Stewart drives the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet to the garage during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 30, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

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So first I want to thank you all for the overwhelming comments about the Musings On Being A Tony Stewart Fan series (especially the first one which judging by comments, tweets and facebook mentions it was obviously your favorite…it was my favorite of the series too).  I was delighted at the positive response from both other Tony Stewart fans and fans of other drivers!  I spent some time linking all three articles so that you can easily scroll between them.

Speaking of updating, I realized that it has been awhile (like February) since I updated the BEST OF BG section in the navigation bar- so I took a couple minutes and updated that too. If you have a favorite post and think it should be included in the BEST OF BG highlight box feel free to let me know and I will consider adding it.

So did you all have fun during the “off” weekend?  I did. While the Musings On Being A Tony Stewart Fan series were coming out on their scheduled dates (I love the schedule feature of WordPress)  I was off in Southern California celebrating Misty’s birthday in gridlock traffic (in all seriousness though- we always have fun wherever we may be).  Let’s just say it took us a little more than an hour to get to where our hotel was in Orange County to the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA and over three hours to get back.  I enjoyed the Reagan library in its entirety but the racing exhibit at the end made it all the better. (more…)

Or: Don’t Be “That” Guy

Note: This is part 3 in a 3 part series. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

When it comes to being a Tony Stewart fan – I am fiercely loyal.  Tony could be racing my Mom (Hi Mom- Love ya!) on Mother’s day and I would still root for Tony.I wear my loyalty on my sleeve, on my car and here on my blog.  If you know me, you know I am a Tony Stewart fan. Even my brother’s mother-in-law knows Tony is my driver and asked me if I had seen him on THE GLADES and asked me how on earth he ended up hanging in the tires at Infineon during the 4th of July barbecue that my brother hosted.

That being said, I also realize that while Tony is MY driver, he might not be your driver.  I have always pretty much been a live and let live kind of girl. I have been to many driver appearances and as will happen in any situation where you are standing in a line for extended periods of time around others, you inevitably end up chatting.  My experience as a Tony fan at Tony events have been tremendously positive and always fun.  But as a Tony Stewart fan at another driver’s appearance? Not always so positive. I mean I obviously like the driver enough to stand in a line for ages- otherwise why would I be there?

Most of the time I get a look or even the more prevalent “Oh you are a Stewart fan? Sorry to hear that” reaction as they turn away.  I am not talking about a little ribbing or friendly smack talking here, I am talking downright disdain. Now I feel the need to stop here for a second and tell you that I am NOT that person who goes to a different driver appearance wearing Stewart gear.  People usually have to ask me because I tend to be dressed neutrally- not wearing any driver apparell at all.  I am NOT the shit stirrer who will show up in my Tony Stewart gear just to get a reaction. That is just not me. However? I have been dissed by “That Guy”.  I was actually at an appearance for Driver X and was given the “Oh you are a Stewart fan? Too bad,” diss from a guy decked out completely in the gear of Driver Y. Does anyone else see the irony in that?

My favorite “That Guy” run-in, and by favorite I really mean completely incredulous, happened in Vegas at a Driver X appearance.  Misty was working that morning and the plan was I would hold our place in the line for the wristbands for the autograph session and she would meet me at her lunch hour which was just in time for the wristband distribution. This time “That Guy” and I strike up a conversation and it turns out he is a fan of Driver X.  “That Guy” find out who my favorite driver is and proceeds to go on and on about every negative thing he has ever heard about Tony Stewart. I am standing there in this line, I am hot, kinda thirsty and I kinda have to pee and this guy is ragging on my driver. I am starting to get pissed- my hands are all balled up into fists and I am just generally tense- but I know that arguing with him is futile- so I just stand there and try to let it slide off my back like I am a turtle. I shift from foot to foot contemplating asking the lady behind me if she will hold my place if I run to the bathroom- partly just to disengage from “That Guy” but then I check my watch and realize that Misty will be here soon.  Then he starts in on the “real” reason he doesn’t like Tony Stewart, which happens to be because his uncle’s brothers cousin got turned down for an autograph in the pits right before the race at some esoteric dirt track (by the time he got to this point in his Tony Stewart bashing, my eyes were glazed over and my brain had pretty much melted so exact details are fuzzy) and that Tony really should have just taken the three secondsd it would have taken to give the extended family member an autograph. “Uh huh” I say outloud while my brain is shouting “Dude- have I said anything that makes you think that you are winning points with me by dissing my driver with your anti-Tony tirade? I have heard it all before, it doesn’t surprise me, it’s not going to to change my mind, I am still a Tony fan!” Luckily for me, Misty arrived and the line started moving just in time.

But wait my readers, this story isn’t over yet. Fast forward to the next day- at the appearance for Driver x. We get to Driver X’s appearance with our wristbands on and take our place in line to wait our turn.  We are chatting and trying to decide where to have dinner after the appearance when “That Guy”- the very same one from the wristband distribution the day before, appears. He apparently sought me out in the line to tell me “I saw your boy Stewart at the dirt track last night” and that I shouldn’t worry because “he appeared to be in a good mood” this time. I seriously could not believe this guy. I do not understand poeple who will go out of their way to be “That Guy” and tell you all the negative stuff they can about your favorite driver.  I would NEVEr do that.  But the fact that this guy sought me out kind of creeped me out.

(Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

Anyway- I guess the moral of this story is to not be “That Guy” because one of the best things about NASCAR is the diversity of the fans. Every driver has someone who pulls for them every week. To quote Wil Wheaton “Don’t be a dick.”

*As a side note I feel compelled to tell you that this is not an experience that is unique to being a Tony Stewart fan.  I know that there are “That Guys” for every driver out there.

 

Or: Local Stewart Love

Note: This is part 2 of a 3 part series. You can read Part 1 here and Part 3 here.

NASCAR does not have that huge of a following in my particular area of California. We are too far north of Auto Club Speedway and too far south of Infineon for “casual fans” to partake in live events.  Don’t get me wrong- motor sports has its place here but usually it’s motorcycles at Laguna (Hey Laguna Seca- Bring back the Indy Cars!) or grassroots racing at Ocean Speedway. Because of this I am always pleasantly surprised when I see someone displaying their love of NASCAR locally.  There is a lady on the other side of the street and down a block or so who proudly displays a Jeff Gordon poster on her window. Friends who visit someone down the street drives a little truck with a huge Sprint Cup Series logo on their back window. They actually fascinate me because I don’t see anything declaring love of a specific driver.  The people who use to live in the apartment after my brother and sister-in-law moved out would display a huge NASCAR flag every race day.

So there are some fans here. Just not a whole lot.  I aways smile and point them out to whomever happens to be riding along with me fellow NASCAR fans on the road- perhaps in an attempt to justify my love of a sport that is a HUGE part of who I am. Usually they are, no surprise here, Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans.  Even in our litle part of the country, Junior nation is well represented. Is it any wonder he wins anything with a fan vote. Jeff Gordon is also quite prevelent.  Ocassionaly I will see the hold out Senior fan or the odd Matt Kenseth fan. Once I even say a proud Denny Hamlin plate frame adorning a newish Toyota.

Where are my fellow Stewart fans? I know they exist. How? Because I always catch sight of them at the same place- a particular grocery store in town. It is downright bizarre to me that I only see other Stewart fans at the grocery- what is even more bizarre is that it is only at one particular grocery store in town.

Tony in the middle of a story at the 2010 Stewie Awards. (photo Credit: Amy Marbach)

The first time I noticed a fellow fan there I nearly gave myself whiplash.  She pulled into the parking lot in a Tony Stewart edition Monte Carlo. I  had never seen one before but I knew what it was the moment I set eyes on it. I remember staring at it kinda dumbfounded and watching the lady walk across the parking lot into the store as I was leaving.  I have only seen that car that one particular time and this is one of three different grocery stores I bounce between so I am not sure if I just keep missing her, she got rid of her car, or she was perhaps just passing through.

In 2009, after the season had been going about a month, I saw a person strolling around this very same grocery store in an Office Depot race jacket. You know those nice heavy ones? I followed this poor unsuspecting woman and her grocery entourage (which appeared to be her three grandchildren) into the meat depeartment. She was in a deep discussion with the butcher at the seafood counter when I approached her. I had to know if this was a misguided Carl Edwards fan or a Stewart fan.  Nope- closer inspection of her jacket revealed to me that it was indeed a brand spanking new Tony Stewart one. Part of me wanted to approach her but she was still taking the butcher and I wasn’t at the store alone. And who am I kidding? I am really actually kind of shy and not likely to approach a perfect stranger in the meat department to discuss her fandom of Tony Stewart.

Most recently, the Sunday after the race at Kentucky my mom and I had been making a large batch of apple hand pies when we ran out of some of the ingredients. I grabbed my keys and took off to the store.  I parked, did my shopping and was pulling out of of my parking stall when something caught my eye. Was that? Yep- a brand new Tony Stewart License plate frame on a fairly new looking Tahoe that was parked next to me.  I wondered if they parked there on purpose- noticing my plate frame, 14 sticker and Vanity plates. Or was it just because it was a spot that was open? Or maybe they had already been there and I just didn’t notice it on my way into the store.  I actually stopped right there, basically double parking behind them and momentarily contemplated leaving a little note on it to say hi from one Stewart fan from another. I refrained because I know I HATE it when people leave flyers and crap on my car so I wasn’t about to do that.  But it leaves me wondering…who are all these local Stewart fans?  Well at least I know where they like to hang out- the grocery store.

Or: I Should Come With A Warning Label

Note:This is the first post in a three part series of related posts. You can read Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I, Amy, am a Tony Stewart fan.  I know, I know, it’s a huge shock right?  Go ahead and go splash some cool water on your face and gather yourself together- I’ll be here when you get back.

Feeling better?  Good. Most NASCAR fans have one thing in common- they pull for a specific driver.  Don’t get me wrong- it’s very possible to like and respect multiple drivers, but when push comes to shove their driver is their driver.  I have tried to figure out why fans are fans of whomever their driver is. I gave up on that a long time ago because I decided the reasons are as varied as the fans themselves.

I think I started wondering that because I was trying to pinpoint why exactly I am a Tony Stewart fan.  I can’t even tell you exactly when I became a Tony fan.  I can tell you it was quite early in his NASCAR career.  Yes I know I have mentioned I went through a stage where I loved Indy car racing…and I did. My first race was an Indy car race- but that was back in the CART days before Tony drove in the series. My affination for Indycar waned right about the time Cart was broken up into CHAMP and IRL. There were even some years where I didn’t really follow with racing at all.  It was sometime early in Tony’s NASCAR career that I went back to my first auto racing love: NASCAR.  Part of the draw I suspect was his IRL background.  Another part was Tony’s propensity to say the first thing that popped into his his head- whether that be regarding another driver, NASCAR or the media. Also there is his willingness to stand up for what he believes in (like his recent drawing of the line in the sand regarding blocking).  All of those things, plus some unseen, unrealized affination are why I am a Tony Stewart fan. Well that and the boy can DRIVE!

All that being said, I feel like I should come with some sort of warning sticker.  CAUTION STEWART FAN! or maybe STEWART FAN PROCEED WITH CAUTION!  Why? Because once the NASCAR season starts? It’s on. Any given week I can tell you where Tony is in the standings, what race is coming up, etc.  Who I root against changes weekly (Oh come on you know you root against people too- it’s only natural) and is directly dependent on who is ahead of Tony in the points or who may have “wronged” us the weekend before. I am an equal opportunity anti-fan when it comes to rooting against someone- it’s nothing personal.

If you happen to be watching a race with me- be prepared.  My mood will reflect what position Tony is currently running in. The higher Tony is in the race- the better my mood I am likely to be in.

(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images North America)

If you have delicate feelings- be prepared. It is not cool with me for you to smack talk Tony.  Don’t flop down next to me mid race and say things like “Where is Tony at? Last Place?” or if on the very rare occasion I flip a race on a little after it started (like the Daytona Nationwide race earlier this month) say “Don’t bother- Tony’s already wrecked out.” These things are NOT funny in the least- even if you think they are.  As I said the other day- nothing can make me go from zero to bitch-with-claws-and-fangs faster than naysaying my driver during a race.  That is not to say that I can’t and won’t say some negative things during a bad run. I have and I will- but it’s okay if I say them, not if you do.

If you have sensitive ears- be prepared. I may curse and it might not be pretty.  It might be done in exuberance and in public- like that one time my mom and I were at Chilis several years ago when Tony was running the nationwide race at Daytona.  I don’t remember the year but I am pretty sure it was down to him and Junior and it was close and we were sitting near the bar but not in it.  When Tony won? I jumped up, pumped my fist and said “HELL YEAH that’s what I am talking about!” Needless to say I am pretty sure I embarrassed my mom that day.  Heck I think I even embarrassed poor Misty with my tirade about Evil Brian Vickers (and yes I still call him that) at Infineon and that included some not so ladylike vernacular.

If you happen to be with me when we see a race in person- be prepared. If Tony suffers a heartbreaking loss- like he did in Las Vegas earlier this season…I will likely be heartbroken for him. It really didn’t help matters that we spoke with him earlier in the week about what a win would mean for him and then for him to have such a powerful car, and a devastating penalty- well let’s just say I left directly after the checkers were flew- so I guess you could say I was a sore loser. But if we are at a race and Tony wins be prepared for me to become so excited I can’t figure out how to work my own damn camera. Be prepared for me to rue the pictures of the win because all I got were blurry pictures of parts of the car during the burnout (not to mention tons of pics of people’s heads and hands) because I was so excited I forgot to unzoom the camera and you know…focus.

So consider yourself warned. I am a proud Tony Stewart fan. I might embarrass you sometimes, but I am not apologetic. I wear my loyal fandom on my sleeve. It is part of what makes me me.

Wow, what a weekend for Stewart-Haas Racing.   I admit I was quite pleased when Ryan and Tony qualified 1-2 (although that little teeny competitive person inside me was chagrined that it wasn’t the other way around).  Tony isn’t always the best qualifier- so when he qualifies top 10 I get pretty happy. When he qualifies top 5 I get damn happy. When he qualifies top 2? I do a jig. Ok not really- but I was ecstatic and hopeful for his run on Sunday.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, poses with his team and Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, and his team on the grid prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images North America)

It appears I had every reason to be hopeful.  EVERY REASON.  I settled in for the race with my cell phone and my note pad close.  I started off on the TNT national broadcast- only for the pre-race. Once the command was given to start engines I switched it over to Stewart’s DirecTV HotPass channel where for the second week in a row I just stayed on the HotPass Channel.  I have decided that I like the HotPass because I get the radio communications between Tony, Darian and Bob without draining my battery on my phone and having to relaunch the Sprint ap every time I go to read a text or a tweet- which during the race is quite often.

Anyway- it was quite obvious by the way Tony Stewart moved through the field that he had a car to be reckoned with.  Especially if you consider that during the pre-race show all the drivers interviewed mentioned how hard it would be to pass at Louden.  I don’t remember anyone saying anything different.  Tony seemed to be able to work his way up through the field a couple times and made it look easy.  EASY!  Whoo.

Ryan Newman (R), driver of the #39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, is congratulated by team owner and second place finisher, Tony Stewart (L), driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

I will readily admit that the competitive side of me came out when Tony was running hard trying to catch Ryan.  I was standing there in front of the TV-hoping Ryan would run out of gas. I know, I should hang my head in shame a little for hoping Ryan would run out of gas, after all that is Tony’s  teammate.  All I can say is that, Tony is my driver and he could be racing my mom out there and I would still be rooting for Tony. It’s just how this fan/driver relationship works.

Tony’s second place finish has moved him into a tie for 10th place with Denny Hamlin.  I can only hope that this 1-2 weekend at New Hampshire signals the start of better luck for Tony Stewart and Stewart-Haas Racing.

Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, is congratulated by teammate Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, after Newman won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America)

Notes on Loudon:

  1. You see that picture up there of Tony congratulating Ryan in the car. The one right above this notes section? You might have to look carefully because it’s small but Tony’s hand is out congratulating Ryan.  I LOVE that picture.  Why? Well, as I mentioned I was watching the race on Tony’s HotPass channel and seeing him celebrate Ryan’s win and his second place from his incar camera was GREAT!  He was UBER excited!!!  Then hearing that one of the first things Tony said when he got out of his car was that he was “so damn proud” that he “couldn’t see straight” made me laugh.
  2. I love listening in on the radio communication. How else would I have known that Tony was mad because the hose that cools his feet wasn’t hooked up and I found that out because he stated over his radio that he in charge of hooking up said hose could drive the car the next time the hose didn’t get hooked up.  So Tony wasn’t hot-headed he was hot-footed.  Ha! I crack myself up.  Not to mention the kind words he had to say about Andy Lally.  LOVE it because that is what is going on right then and there in the car in my driver’s head.
  3. Oh and I am hearing that there is a rumor out there that Carl Edwards may be signing with JGR for next season…I am not sure if JGR is going to a 4 car team or if that means someone is out of one of the JGR cars.  I guess we will find out soon enough.
  4. I still have to say that I would be happier if Ryan and Tony’s finishes were reversed, but still pretty damn happy.
  5. But we really need a win now. Just saying.
  6. Oh and before I forget- Tony mentioned during his post-race press conference that Darian was dealing with pneumonia while on the pit box…I sure hope he’s feeling better soon!

Gratuitous Tony picture:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15, 2011 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images North America)

Don’t forget next weekend is an off weekend for the Cup cars…they will be back the following weekend at Indy. Go Tony Go!