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So part of the reason I have lacked in posting here lately is that I have too many things swirling around my pea brain that I want to write about- but none of them will flush out into an appropriate full-sized posting. That being said, I have decided to give up trying to make nice single subject posts and give you a NASCAR brain dump, bullets style in hopes that new ideas will stand on their own two feet.  So without further ado…my NASCAR Brain Dump:

  • Tony Stewart fans you have less than a week to enter this month’s 14 for 14 Office Depot Racing contest. This month the prize is a race used lugnut and an autographed picture (to 14 lucky fans).  After you enter the contest be sure to poke around a bit and download a wall paper or Ask Tony a question.
  • Also, while I am on the subject of Tony, don’t forget to buy your raffle ticket (only $25.oo) for the 2011 Convertible Camaro that Tony is giving away- proceeds to benefit The Tony Stewart Foundation. Go to SmokesChevy.com for more information now.
  • There is a great article in the new edition of Sports Life Magazine (the magazine has Danica Patrick on the cover) called the 21 Coolest Things About NASCAR (here’s a link to the article on the author’s blog). Its an interesting article and it has a quote from yours truly (Amy) in it.  Brownie points if you read the article and come back and tell me what you think is the coolest thing about NASCAR…or just tell me you like my quote!
  • Have you noticed that they are making a big deal out of how they are going to nickname Kevin Harvick The Closer instead of Happy?  Just because he won two races in a row? I would be surprised if Junior Nation didn’t want to call him Hated Harvick – only because he took the lead from Junior at Martinsville in the last laps of the race- not because I think he should be hated.  I am still trying to find out why Tony’s Spotter Bob calls Kevin Harvick “Cupcake”. There is a story there I am sure…but then again we might not want to know.  Maybe Kevin Harvick is the driver with the most nicknames…maybe that should be his nickname. Ok now I am just getting silly.
  • The points watcher in me is starting to panic. Tony’s dropping and it’s disheartening to watch.  Not as disheartening as watching him lose at LAS VEGAS…that was sad. But this is worrisome. Junior and Jeff Gordon are going up steadily in the points and Tony’s dropping. ACK. I will try not to obsess about it too much.
  • When you are attending a race, do you let race traffic influence how good or bad of a time you had a said race? I am just wondering this because apparently traffic at Texas is expected to be an issue judging by the tweets I am reading.  I mean- I don’t know how anyone can go to a large sporting event such as a race and NOT expect traffic.  Figure a race has 100,000 attendees.  Average 3 people per car – that’s still 33, 333 cars.  All trying to enter or exit a track facility at the same time.  Personal experience wise- it’s taken me anywhere from 5 minutes (the parking gods were good that day) to 2+ hours to get out of a track and on the road.  I think it was Las Vegas the first time…I sat in the same spot in a parking lot trying to get out for this long: I had time to watch the fellows parked in the aisle I was driving down arrive at their vehicle, watch them set up their grill and table, grill some steaks, drink some beverages, and then sit down at a little camp table and eat their steaks. I didn’t let that influence how I felt about the race though.
  • One of my favorite parts of pre-race is watching the teams do their individual prayer huddles:

Photo Credit: Borrowed from TonyStewart.com….shamelessly
  •  Assignment for you: Tell me WHY you love your favorite driver….whomever that may be. What made you a fan? What keeps you a fan?

So after a strong start to the 2011 Sprint Cup season it is hard to see Stewart-Haas racing strugggling. As a Tony Stewart fan it’s REALLY hard.

Over a week later I still don’t understand what happened at the end of the race in Fontana. Tony seemed to have a strong car- but that car just faded away that last run. Was it lack of tire? Mechanical? I still don’t understand what caused the fade away that left him finishing 13th after such a strong run all day long.

Then today- we have Martinsville. Tony didn’t have speed in practice earlier in the weekend. He qualified poorly (28th) on Saturday.  Then when the race started, he just seemed to fight an ill handling car all day while trying to conserve tires.  He was able to work his way up to a high of 20th at one point. Judging by radio communications Darian seemed to have some sort of plan to get Tony track position so he has something to work with.  Unfortunately that plan wouldn’t really get placed in effect after Stewart was penalized for changing lanes before reaching the start finish line during a restart.   I admit- that one had me shaking my head.  Okay…shaking my head and cursing like a sailor.  I it is disheartening to watch your team have a couple of bad weeks.  Tony finished 38 laps down in 34th position. He dropped to 11th in points.

Race winner for both Fontana and Martinsville was Kevin Harvick. I can only imagine Junior Nation is NOT a Harvick fan after the last several laps of Martinsville.

Notes:

  • Two drivers who had GREAT days- Dale Earnhart Jr and Jeff Gordon.  I swear I could hear the crowd at Martinsville go wild all the way over here in California when Jr took the lead during the last 30 laps of the race.  Jeff Gordon also had a great finish considering he qualified 21st.  He rose from 19th to points to 12th in points. That puts him right behind Tony.  Jeff is going in the right direction. Tony however is not.  Dont think I am not starting to panic about points.  Yes I know that there is a lot of racing left in the season…but I worry because we are going in the wrong direction.
  • The tire issue that everyone seemed to be concerned about didn’t really seem to be that big of a deal after all.
  • Was it just me or did Martinsville seem to take FOREVER to finish? Maybe it was just because I was cranky because Tony was having a bad day.  Any Kevin Harvick fans want to weigh in on the length of the race?

Next week we are racing under the lights at Texas on Saturday night.

So Thursday Tony Stewart went to the Oakland Zoo to play with the elephants.   Or…perhaps play isn’t the right word; he helped feed and wash Osh.  Osh is a 16 year old, 11,000 lb elephant who lives at the zoo. Tony Stewart is known for his love of animals and children and I am sure he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help with the mammoth beast, while promoting a new ticket package for nearby Infineon Raceway (I will get more into the ticket package in a minute).  I actually have never been to the  Oakland zoo and live about 2 hours south of it.    I would have LOVED to been able to pull off a trip to Oakland on Thursday to watch the Q&A and watch Tony interact with some of the animals, but unfortunately a multitude of factors including nasty weather and that thing called WORK got in the way of that.  Well that and I am a big chicken when it comes to driving in the Bay Area…so the idea of traveling up in the Bay Area in nasty weather pretty much put the final knife in the back of that trip.

Tony Stewart feeds Osh the Elephant (Photo Credit: M Doran)

However, I can point you over to this great article written by Jerry Wilson about the event for the Examiner.  And I just want to point out one thing: when Jerry said that there was to be no autograph signing by Stewart…he isn’t kidding.  I know because when I was originally trying to work it out so I could go- I asked the marketing department for Infineon for more details about the event and that was one of the questions I asked and they made it very clear that Stewart would NOT be signing autographs at the event.  So it warms the heart of this Stewart fan to know that amid Tony’s very busy day (seriously just following the tweets of all his media obligations up in the big city made me tired) that he took the time to stop and sign autographs for the children in attendance. Everyone say it with me…AWWWW!

Osh the elephant hands Tony the green flag for the Toyota Savemart 350 at Infineon. (Photo Credit: M. Doran)

Anyway- on to the “Trackside With Tony” ticket package for Infineon Raceway.  The package includes a Sunday ticket in any area, a saturday ticket in Turn 7, Saturday access to the Club 7 Lounge in turn 7 (which is worth it because it can be HOT there at Infineon- and you might want to find a place out of the sun for awhile), and access to a  private Q&A  session with Tony Stewart in Club 7.  All for $114.  The best part of the ticket package is some of the proceeds of the ticket benefit The Tony Stewart Foundation and their work with animals, children, and injured drivers! That is actually a great price…considering you get Saturday and Sunday tickets and are helping Tony help endangered animals, ill children and injured drivers and their families.  Click here for ticket information or you can call

For those who aren’t familiar with the track: Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California is home to one of the only two road courses on the Sprint Cup Series schedule.  It’s located in what many California’s consider “wine country” and is surrounded by vineyards and wineries.  It’s actually not that far from me- all things considered and I have been to the track before and even sat in Turn 7 (a great view).  So if you want to head to California wine country for a race and possibly some wine- and are a Tony Stewart fan,  this package is right up your alley.

The last time NASCAR was at Auto Club Speedway (California Speedway) was last fall- it also happened to be the last time I was at Autoclub.  We interviewed Tony for a second time (and he claimed to remember us so yey), went to the fan fest at the track and we had a great side trip to San Diego (I had never been there before even though I have lived in Cali all my life).  So it was a great weekend “racecation”- I got great blog fodder and I got to go somewhere I hadn’t been before. Win win.  Until Sunday when my win-win weekend turned into a WIN weekend!

I love to take pictures (and sometimes I am good at it too- See this photo album for proof).  During any given race weekend I attend in person,  I normally end up with a sore or stiff neck by the end of the day from carrying one or both of my dslr cameras around hoping to find that perfect picture.  Last Fontana race was no different. I had my camera with me.  I was in the main grandstands – probably three sections or so before the flag stand. Now- five months later I don’t remember many of the details about the race.  I remember Jeff Gordon got a pit road speeding penalty because I remember Misty was MAD!  (I don’t blame her- I was pretty ticked when Tony got his penalty in Vegas). I also remember it was pretty hot (no surprise there) and worrying my mascara was melting all over my face (it wasn’t- yey Clinique).

So as the race was winding down, I remember thinking that Tony probably wouldn’t win but hoping he would have at least a top five finish.  Then the laps wound down even further and I must have  said  something like “He’s not going to win”  to Misty.  I say that because I remember her standing there in the stands next to me- decked out in her Jeff Gordon garb just to give you a clear picture- CHASTISING me HARD for saying whatever negative thing I had said.  I remember sitting down at one point because I didn’t want to see him NOT win.  Of course Misty told me to get up after letting me stew for about half a lap…which of course I did.  And then…I watched Tony cross the finish line first.  I was SOOO EXCITED because not only did I get to finally see Tony win a race in person but it was at a track he hadn’t won at yet.

I was so excited that I got only two pictures of the event.

This one…not so bad considering I was sitting way across from pit road in the grandstands:

Tony's crew celebrating victory at Fontana last year. (photo credit: ME)

And here is the second picture…and this one is my favorite even though it is probably one of the WORST picture I have EVER taken:

Very blurry portion of Tony's burn out in Fontana 2010. (photo credit: me)

You are probably looking at it and thinking: Egads woman- that picture sucks! Why do you love it so much? Well let me explain it to you.  I was so excited that I obviously forgot to not only focus, but I also forgot that I had the lens zoomed in on the crew.  So it’s blurry and only a partial shot of the car doing a burnout…but the emotion involved in getting the shot is what makes it priceless. That and I GOT TO WATCH TONY WIN IN PERSON AT A TRACK HE HADN’T WON AT BEFORE! It was an awesome day.

I hope he has another awesome day down there at AutoClub Speedway this Sunday! GO TONY GO!

I have always had a huge love of music and as I mentioned in earlier in both  The Music Of Bristol Part 1 and The Music of Bristol Part 2- I have fairly eclectic tastes in music. For that reason alone I really wish they had played driver introductions in their entirety during the prerace show.  I think that the choice of songs really helps highlight one of the best things about NASCAR and that is the personalities of the different drivers.

I admit that the whole twitter deal between Brian Vickers and Jimmie Johnson made the choice of introduction songs even more intriguing to me.  Jimmie Johnson recently started tweeting (@JimmieJohnson) and to welcome him to the tweeting world Brian Vickers (@BrianLVickers) and he decided it would be fun to let each other and their twitter followers pick each others introduction songs.  That alone right there should have made introductions more TV worthy.  Apparently there was some legal reason that they couldn’t show intros (that and the time constraint on the pre-race show, I suspect).  Anyway- in case you were wondering Brian Vicker’s got introduced to Shania Twain’s Man, I Feel Like A Woman and Jimmie Johnson got introduced to Sisqo’s The Thong Song.

Some songs choices that interested me were: Paul Menard picking Black Label Society’s Concrete Jungle. I don’t know if he actually likes BLS or if he just picked it because that is exactly what Bristol is…but I liked that choice. I also loved that two drivers picked Avenge Sevenfold songs  (Matt Kenseth picked Nightmare and Regan Smith picked Welcome To The Family).  Clint Bowyer’s choice of the Theme to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly cracked me up. And how fitting was Bill Elliott’s song choice of Devil Went Down To Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band and Bobby Labonte’s choice of God Bless Texas by Little Texas.  The only driver who’s song didn’t seem to match the driver was Kasey Kahne’s choice of A Country Boy Can Survive by Hank Williams Jr.  It’s not that I don’t like that song- I do. But I don’t hear Hank Williams Jr and immediately think Kasey Kahne- it just didn’t fit Kasey in my mind. If you are interested in the complete list of driver introduction songs check out this article over on sbnation. Honestly I could probably go down the entire list and muse on for a paragraph per driver- but I won’t bore you there.

Now onto Tony:

Gratuitous Tony Picture. Tony Stewart before the race at Bristol. (photo credit: borrowed without asking from the Official Tony Stewart facebook page)

Tony Stewart was introduced to his standard Bawitaba by Kid Rock. Which I guess he must REALLY like it since he always uses it.  I still stand by my assertion that Tony needs to pick a new introduction song.  If he needs help all he needs to do is come here (or poll his fans) because  we got some great suggestions for Tony when I called for suggestions on the first post of this series! Those would be (in no particular order):  Real Good Man by Tim McGraw (which happen to be suggested by winner Claudia), Rough N Ready by Trace Adkins (I love Trace Adkins), When You’re Hot You’re Hot by Jerry Reed, Sound of Madness by Shinedown, Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple (hey Tony does like classic rock), Dirt Road Anthem by Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford (suggested by our other winner Dudley- which is funny because I have been on a Colt Ford kick lately), #1 by Nelly, and Gasoline by Kicking Harold (which I had never heard before but I really like this song now that I have).  All great songs to be used as introduction songs for Tony Stewart…but I still like my choice of I Don’t Want To Stop by Ozzy Osbourne best (see The Music of Bristol Part 2) even though Tony told me in our second interview with him that he isn’t a big heavy metal guy.  Now if only we convince him to pick one of our songs just to mix things up a little bit! I mean seriously Tony- I like Kid Rock too, but we have some great suggestions for you to pick from here.

Anyway congratulations go out to Claudia and Dudley who were the winners of the contest I held as part of the Music of Bristol posts.  Their Goodyear Racing prizes are on their way to them!

___

I just wanted you all to know that the winners were picked randomly and not based on how many comments each entrant made (some people made multiple comments and that was totally fine- but they still only got one entry into the contest) or what song you picked. Basically I put your name on a post-it note (pink for the girls and white for the guys) and picked one of each out of my old 20 knit cap.

Bristol. It’s a track I usually LOVE.  There is something about the tight quarter  “rubbing is racing” style of driving that we usually get out of Bristol that I absolutely love.  I think some of it might have been due to the TV coverage- but Bristol just didn’t seem to have that zing for me this race.

At the beginning of the race Tony’s car seemed to be alright despite the face that the handling on the car didn’t seem optimal.  Then it seemed to go for semi okay to worse…and Tony seemed to struggle to hold onto the car and would fall back. The car wasn’t balanced right.

Part of me has to wonder if that didn’t have to do with the tire change.  With the need to change compounds mid-weekend Bristol was bound to be a race of who got it right and who didn’t quite catch the set up correctly. It just didn’t seem that team 14 got the changes quite right. Of course I am sure that rear-ending teammate Ryan Newman didn’t help matters.  Tony was apologetic over the radio- I think he just lost track of Ryan in the smoke from Bobby Labonte’s spin.

Race winner was Kyle Busch who got another sweep at Bristol.

The best part about the day? Tony didn’t fall too far in the points. He is currently tied for third with teammate Ryan Newman.

Notes About Bristol:

  • I think ultimately Goodyear and NASCAR did a good thing changing the tire compound…however what I don’t understand is why the teams were only given one set of the new compound to practice on on Saturday?
  • I have been very encouraged by what I have seen from two drivers this year- Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Both seem to have benefited from the Hendrick crew chief swap.  Alan seems to be able to work with Jeff and get him what he needs technically out of the car. And Steve seems to be able to give Dale Jr what he needs. I hope that they both do well this season.
  • That National Anthem by Billy Ray Cyrus? Started out good but I don’t know about the end there…seemed a little sour. Of course I should talk- 3/4th of those in attendance at Bristol would have left if I had sung it.

Next weekend: California Dreamin at Autoclub Speedway.

If you haven’t read THE MUSIC OF BRISTOL PART 1 – go do that now because you are missing out on your chance at winning some Goodyear Racing swag.

(more…)

Well since it is an off weekend I decided to be a little lax about posting my weekly race report. I have been thinking about the race at Las Vegas.  Usually when I am settling in at home on the couch with my phone within arms reach to watch a race I silently think to myself, Please let us have a good day…a top ten would be GREAT! A top ten finish would be even better!  Of course I want a win for Tony. I definitely want a win. But I don’t want to be too greedy- I just don’t want anything too devestating…no damaged cars or people. 

When I am at home I have my phone (NASCAR SPRINT CUP MOBILE) and sometimes I have my computer on my lap too.  But in person, we were sitting up in our seats- not even a scanner. I think the scanners take away from the experience. I can’t explain why.  I can tell you what I DO love…I love being able to see the drivers being driven around the track waving to the fans.  I love to watch the teams gather in little circles for private prayer/peptalks before prerace.  I LOVE the fly over.  But there is nothing like standing and watching 43 cars take the green flag at a race.  The sound of the cars, of the fans- it’s like nothing I have ever experienced. 

So I am sitting there in the Petty Terrace and the race starts and Tony was STRONG and it wasn’t long and Tony was in the lead.  And not only would Tony lead but he would pull AWAY.  I don’t think I have ever watched a race where his car seemed so strong.  I sat there and I was nervous. By lap 90 I was parched but like hell was I gonna get up and miss something.  By lap 100 I had to pee but I wasn’t about to leave my seat so I just put it out of my mind and concentrated on watching Tony go round and round.  If I had been at home I would have been pacing the living room. 

I didn’t actually SEE what happened that caused the pass through penalty.  Our seats in the terrace were at pit road out and I couldn’t really see Tony’s pits stops all that well.  But I heard it over loud speaker.  Ahh the disappointment.  The Smoke fan in the row behind me was disappointed too. He grabbed his 14 hat and pulled it down over his face in disappointment.  Oh I feel ya man. I feel ya. 

However- one thing that you HAVE to love about Tony is that he does NOT give up. Now as I mentioned I did not have a scanner. So I can only imagine what he was saying. And honestly he might not have been even saying it over the air. But I know what I would have been saying if roles had been reversed.  It might even make Tony Stewart blush! You never know. Anyway…what you have to love about Tony is that he doesn’t give up.  He was moving through the field pretty well.  Between that and a two tire stop pit stop for track position he was back towards the front of the field by the end of the race. I think that if the race had been longer or if there had been a caution- no question in my mind Tony would have won.  None at all.  But these are things that were not.  And a second place should be celebrated. Especially when it means that Tony is now tied for the points lead with Kurt Busch.  That is something that should be exciting.

But I have to say after seeing Tony with such a strong car I can not just reiterate his post race comment to Matt Yocum but I can feel it: Second sucks.  Second indeed does suck. 

Get Me That Tire Changer's Head...on a platter.

Thanks to LOLRacePics for permission to use their LOL because it is just OH SO FITTING...be sure to check LOLracepics.com for more NASCAR LOLS.

My next post will showcase some of my pictures from the LAS VEGAS race weekend.