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Every single time I go to type Sonoma it comes out Sonomo. I can’t explain why but I can tell you that over the last week or so I have had to correct myself umpteen times.  So anyway- Sonoma.  I went to this race last year…I sat in turn 7 where all the action was this race…or a lot of it and thought these seats were pretty good except for the potty situation (only portapotties…and nasty gross ones at that…although I do admit I have never been it a portapotty that was the epitome of cleanliness).  As a matter of fact this picture here where they are all coming down the hill …this was heading right towards my seat:

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 20: Tony Stewart drives the  Office Depot Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on June 20, 2010 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 20: Tony Stewart drives the Office Depot Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on June 20, 2010 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

So Tony qualified 7th for the race. The word of the day even before the race started is “forward bite” everyone seemed to find it elusive and unfortunately the 14 team was no different, adjusting on the car even on their last pit stop with 24 laps to go.  Unfortunately because they were green flag pit stops that put Tony out on the track in 24th. Fortunately Tony was able to fight his way up the field and ultimately finished 9th. He is now 10th in the standings.  The race winner was Jimmie Johnson getting his first road course victory in his home state. 

Notes on Infineon:

  • Did you know that there was an after race altercation between Tony Stewart and Boris Said? Of course not- because TNT failed to mention it.  After the checkers Tony went up and knocked into the side of Boris’s car in retribution for a previous on track incident.  Said’s crew chief chased Tony into the garage area. You can read about it here.
  • Jeff Gordon has made no friends at Infineon. Martin Truex Jr. wants his pound of flesh and made no bones about telling all the television viewers so.  Elliott Sadler was also a victim of Jeff’s aggressive driving and wasn’t too pleased either.

Next weekend: Louden!

You may have noticed that lately Kyle Busch has been driving the Pretzel M&M car (it’s the blue one).  I will tell you this? I LOVE the Pretzel M&M’s- and if it hadn’t been for Kyle and that car I probably would have never discovered them because I am not a big M&M eater in general- so that is your marketing money at work right there M&M/Mars! The Pretzel M&M’s are my new favorite candy and if you come to me bearing a baggie of Pretzel M&M’s* I will love you forever and probably do nearly anything you wanted.  Every time I see the Pretzel M&M car I want a baggie.  It’s like the crack of candy with its tons of chocolatey, crunchy, salty goodness.

And how on earth did I get stuck on that tangent of too much information? By wanting to tell you about the M&M’s Most Colorful Fans contest.  This contest is actually the perfect pairing because as many of you know,  NASCAR fans are a varied, colorful, loving, devoted breed of people (as demonstrated in my favorite NASCAR book THE WEEKEND STARTS ON WEDNESDAY- pick up a copy- you know you want it!) and M&M’s being the colorful candy they are want to recognize the most colorful NASCAR fan.

This is the third year M&M has run this particular contest…and entering is easy.  Enter your favorite NASCAR themed photo (fan – ha that is a funny typo so I am leaving it…enter your fan- not your photo…good luck with figuring out how to upload a fan!) that showcases your love of the sport/your favorite driver and/or team  by uploading it to NASCAR.com/mostcolorfulfans between now and September 6th! Just by uploading a picture you get a fifteen percent off a one-time purchase at the NASCAR.COM Superstore, including free shipping so you are already a winner!  Other fans vote on their favorite photo and you could win one of the weekly $500 gift cards if you are chosen!  There is also an instant win game were you could win a $50.00 gift card.  Three finalist will be chosen to vie for the title of M&M Most Colorful fan.

The NASCAR fan deemed most colorful will win a trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, $10,000 and a yearlong featured display within the Hall of Fame!  Awesome prize right? Just watch this video about last year’s winner:

I bet you could sneak in a trip to your favorite race team’s shop while in Charlotte at the Hall of Fame if you won. If I won you know I would be like “yah yah that’s fine…now where is Stewart-Haas Racing again?”

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*No M&M’s were consumed during the writing of this post-pretzel or otherwise…and that is a shame!

Who doesn’t want their name on a NASCAR cup car?   I certainly do. I actually think sometimes about how if I were independently wealthy I would sponsor a cup car (probably one race for Tony or I might settle for Ryan) and just put my name on the hood. Just AMY). Everyone would wonder who the hell this AMY chick was and why she got her name on the hood of a car…that would be kind of fun. But I am digressing.

This weekend at Infineon (I was their last year and I really wish I was going to be there this year!) Tony Stewart’s “TV Panel” (aka- NASCAR speak for the REAR of the car) will sport a slightly different look:

The Official Small Business of NASCAR Contest. Photo provided by Edelman

If YOU or someone you know or work for owns a small business (99 employees or less) you will want to go to officedepotracing.com to enter the Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot contest between now and July 10th.  This contest has been around forever (ok not forever- just six years according to the press release)- even back when that other driver was sponsored by Office Depot (Carl Edwards) and I thought it was cool contest even back then. This year the contest has a new twist to it.  This year two small businesses will be pitted against each other at the Dover race on September 26th. One small business will be paired with driver Tony Stewart, the other small business will be paired with driver Greg Biffle.  Whichever business is on the car of the highest placing driver wins the title of Official Small Business of NASCAR.  If one of the drivers wins the Dover race, the business being represented by that driver, will win $1,000,000!!! It’s an awesome opportunity thanks to Office Depot!

Now how about an “Official  Blogger of NASCAR?” contest so that I can get a little closer to my dream without having to figure out how to get independently wealthy first? Anyone???

If you have heard Tony Stewart do any media lately- invariably someone asks him about the team’s performance and he invariably responds with a variation of  “we aren’t in panic mode yet when it comes to the points.”  Well I hate to tell him this…but I am.  I can’t tell you the number of emails and texts I have sent back and forth with my best friend Misty stating something along the lines of “AHHHH that sucked for our points! OMG What if we don’t make the chase?” To which she always replies something along the lines of “Don’t worry- you can’t keep Stewart down.” So I watch the races and hope for a top ten, top five, a win.

I learned a long time ago- not to worry too horribly much about Tony’s qualifying position.  That’s not to say that I don’t get excited when he qualifies well (like a POLE!) but when he does mediocre- I don’t fret…too much.  He qualified 17th this week.  He worked his way up a tad.  During the first caution Darian called for only 2 tires which gained Tony a whole bunch of track position.  After that Tony remained in the top ten most of the day- only falling out after one pit stop where apparently they suffered a freak mishap where a lugnut from the tire coming off the car flew into the wheel hub and had to be removed before the new tire was secured.  The race itself was pretty quiet and only had four cautions.

Tony ended up finishing 5th bringing him into 11th in the points standings and back into the race for the Chase.  Last week Tony got a pretty good finish in Pocono (3rd) but he didn’t seem pleased with how he got it. This week he seemed to feel that they deserved it:

That’s the best car we’ve had in a long time, so I’m really proud of our guys. We’re definitely gaining on it. I felt racy today. It was a pretty good day for the Old Spice/Office Depot Chevy.– Tony Stewart via Team Release

Teammate Ryan Newman finished 32nd.  He is now 15th in the points standings, falling one spot.   Race winner was Denny Hamlin.

Next week: We are off to Sonoma.  I was there last year in person. Wish I was going again this year!

So the evil little tricky triangle- the place that holds the spot as being the first points paying win for Stewart-Haas racing.  Tony qualified fairly well- even holding the pole position for awhile but as usually happens with early qualifying draws he was knocked off the pole eventually.  He still  started avery respectable 6th for the days race.   I turned on the race that morning.  Then came the rain.  I get very restless during rain delays so I honestly don’t know how the drivers can NOT.  It poured for what looked like a good 15-20 minutes. Then it would take time to dry the track (and patch a small hole apparently- but I missed that part completely).

I found the best way to spend a rain delay though! It’s across the street at my brother’s house playing with my nephews.  Ok technically only MXM is old enough for play…which we did both inside and out (that boy loves to play with his plastic lawn mower- I say enjoy it now because I doubt he will want to mow when he’s old enough to do the real thing).  But I did get JXM (who is now 15 weeks old or so) to laugh pretty hard- and who doesn’t love toothless, gummy baby laughs?  That rocked. But then it was back to the race.

Tony spent most of the race in between positions 12 and 21.  It did get exciting when pit stops came under caution at around lap 160.  Crew chief Darian Grubb called Tony in and they packed the number 14 full of fuel, planning on staying out no matter what happened to gain track position.  Of course I wasn’t listening to my Trackpass Scanner at this time so I had no idea what they were planning.   When there was another caution on lap 169- a lot of the cars in front of Tony (who was 16th or 17th at this time) came in to pack their cars with fuel. This put Tony into second place behind Kurt Busch.   I always get nervous when the national broadcast shows Tony puttering around under caution flipping his car on and off.  Even before they said it I am exclaimed “look- he’s saving fuel! Arg this could get ugly if this race ends up going to three green-white-checkers!!!”

The field took off at the green and it was looking good for Tony. He was second! Then…right before the last lap there was the Harvick-Logano tangle that caused Logano to spin and put the field into it’s first Green-White-Checker. Not to mention that this bunched the field back up.  So now not only did I have to worry about the fuel situation (don’t you love how I say I have to worry about it…like I am the one on top of the pit box crunching numbers…or even know what numbers to crunch…trust me- you don’t want me crunching numbers). I now also have to worry about Tony getting shuffled back or someone driving like an idiot to get to the front and crashing into Tony.  I was very much  on the edge of my seat.  Denny Hamlin jumped out into the lead and Tony was second with Kyle Busch on his tail.  Tony would eventually be passed by Busch but still came in third despite a horrendous last lap crash (no further green-white-checker since race leader had taken the white flag) happening that seemed to collect about half the field.

With his third place finish Tony moved up to 13th in the points standings, one point out of the top 12 chase.  Teammate Ryan Newman, who crossed the finish line with a damaged car- having been part of that last lap melee finished 14th, dropping him to 14th in the standings, only 18 points out of the top 12.

Notes and Pictures from Pocono:

  • TNT race coverage bites.  They were having sound difficulties. That might have been due to the rain I guess.  But I have two major complaints about their coverage. Complaint one: their timing of commercial breaks sucks. I hate coming back from commercial to see cars in the pits.  I say break AFTER green flag pit stops not before. I know they know about when the drivers will be coming in- pay attention to that.  Complaint number 2: the handling of the last lap accident.  That was a pretty horrendous looking accident.  There were damaged cars ALL over that track.  Several drivers look HARD hits in that wreck!  TNT, while they showed the wreck several times did not update us on driver conditions except for Kasey Kahne. And while yeah- Kasey appeared to take one of the harder hits there were other drivers there…I mean I saw a paramedic leaned into Jeff Gordon’s window and then they never said ANYTHING about his condition.  They did happen to catch a brief glimpse of Jeff Gordon walking past Kasey during his post race interview but if you happened to be looking down you would have missed that.
  • One of my favorite moments from the race? Was seeing Ryan Newman limp his car across the start-finish line. NOT because I wish any ill will against Ryan at all- but because he had the gusto to fight hard to pull that beat-up car across the start finish! Go Ryan!
  • In his after race comments Tony said that “There’s days like today where you’re not proud of how you got there, but you take it anyway because you know for every one you get like this, there’s one that gets robbed from you the same way” (credit team release). I don’t know why you wouldn’t be  proud of it. Sure he didn’t come in first but he came in top 5.  Fuel mileage is just as much a part of the “game” as anything else. Be proud Tony! Darian did good calling you in and you saved enough fuel. YEY.
  • Speaking of NASCAR being a game…I am loving the NASCAR “everything else is just a game” ads. LOVE THEM. Especially this one.
  • I am sure by now you have all heard about the post race fireworks between Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.  Judging by what I saw on the TV- the accident was nobody’s fault.  To me it looked like Joey got a little loose and came down the track across Kevin’s nose. The pushing and shoving thing? Sure it adds to excitement and it’s all in the heat of the moment.  Joey may have been pushing on his own team guys (and his dad) but that is just youth.  I would rather see this then Joey go out on the track and hunt down Kevin and try to put him in the wall (ala Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski).  These things happen, drivers need to push/shove/yell get it out of their system and move on.  I don’t think that insulting Kevin through his wife Delana was necessarily called for…but again-that was probably youth talking.  And what a great sound bite…and Delana has turned it into a shirt (I wear the firesuit in my family).  I kind of want one…but it wouldn’t really work for me since I am not married. I still LOVE the shirt idea. UPDATED: You too can have a I Wear The Firesuit In My Family shirt.
  • Am I the only one who thought Carl Edwards absconded away with Mark Martin’s car? I mean the paint scheme on that 99 car looked like something you would see on Mark’s car.

Did Carl steal Mark Martin's car?? Carl Edwards sports a different paint scheme at Pocono. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

  • Speaking of drivers stealing from each other…are Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart sharing sunglasses? Ok probably not- but still I want to point out that they were wearing the same Oakleys.  Ok I might be pointing this out only to be able to showcase some photos provided to me. So what. Case in point:

Pay attention to Kasey Kahne's Oakley sunglasses here. Photo credit: Glenn Bure

The same sunglasses Kasey was wearing! They look better on Tony IMO. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

Gratuitous Martin Truex Jr Picture for Lauren! Photo taken at Pocono Driver Intros. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

  • Speaking of photos,  reader and commenter @KevinMBoots77 was at the Pocono race (his first time at the tricky triangle) and had a great time despite getting a little soggy. He agreed to let me direct you all to his Pocono photo gallery for the race. I highly suggest you all check it out- he got some great pictures.
  • Ok you all talked me into it. One more gratuitous picture…this time for me. It’s Tony during driver intros of course:

I couldn't help it...he's kind of smiling and everything. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

A big thanks goes to Glenn Bure for the photos you see here (I have some more from Glenn of Tony on Trackside I will share later this week)…and to Kevin Boots for sharing his pictures with me and with you!

Next week:  Michigan

Ok- I admit I just giggled to myself after typing that title. I mean how is “You Could Own A Man and His Monkey” NOT funny?  Maybe it’s just me and my 13 year old sense of humor.  What am I talking about?  I am actually talking about art! I  If you have seen the new Tony Stewart ArmorAll Commercial or some of the Webisodes of The Rookie you have seen this painting. It’s a painting of Tony sitting in true debonair fashion and sitting next to him is Mojo, his monkey.  They are wearing matching jackets.  I would LOVE to own this (I really think they are missing the boat in not making posters of it- I would buy two).  Anyway- you have the opportunity to OWN this painting and Tony will even autograph it.

All proceeds from the auctioning of the painting will go to THE Tony  Stewart Foundation.

The bidding starts tomorrow June 4th. You will find it listed at THE Tony Stewart Foundation  Ebay auction site. Remember the proceeds go to The Tony Stewart Foundation to support their mission of helping children, animals and injured drivers.   There will also be other items from the ArmorAll Commercial shoot up for grabs at the Tony Stewart Foundation Ebay Auction site so even if you don’t want “A Man and his Monkey” (and are you insane? I would own it just because it’s called A Man and his Monkey) there might be something there you are looking for that can help support The Tony Stewart Foundation.  Good luck! I know you will enjoy this painting (or other memorabilia).

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Another way to support the Tony Stewart Foundation is to purchase a raffle ticket to win Smoke’s Camaro (as seen on Unique Autosports Miami- don’t watch the show though- it will just make you drool all over for want of that car).  There is one more Early Bird drawing left on June 14th with the drawing for the car on July 26th.  Wish me luck. I WANT THAT CAR!

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Also don’t forget that The Prelude To The Dream charity Late Model race at Eldora is JUNE 9th (that’s this wednesday folks).  It’s available via Pay-Per-View- check your local listings.  Proceeds to benefit multiple children’s hospitals.

So Dover is one of those tracks that I don’t have feelings for one way or the other. I don’t look at the schedule and think to myself YEY DOVER or AW HELL DOVER.   However I will admit that I might have been thinking something along the lines of  Oh please let Tony get at least a top ten…a win would be all kinds of AWESOME but please please pretty please at least a top ten before the race on Sunday -all the way through the pre-race tv coverage.

So Tony qualified 16th for Sunday’s race and right off the bat he seemed pretty pleased with his car- telling crew chief Darian Grubb with less that ten laps under his belt that the car seemed pretty good from the get-go.  He was passing people and was soon in the top ten.  Ahh maybe my good thoughts were working after all.  Listening in on the radio communications Tony seemed pretty pleased with the car’s handling except that he was a tick tight in the center of the turn (center third as he put it).

Pit stops seemed clean and well executed- a good job all around for the #14 team.  Unfortunately a trackbar adjustment on the third pit stop and changing track conditions made the car’s handling go to pieces and the #14 began to fall back in the field and was soon the last car on the lead lap.  It was not looking good.  I sat there just waiting for the leader to catch and pass him.  Luckily a caution came out and Darian and crew went back on some of the adjustments.  Tony was able to claw his way back up through the field and was also helped by a two tire pit stop with about 41 laps to go.  Tony finished 9th and moved up four spots in the points standings and is now only 37 points behind 12th place (currently held by Martin Truex Jr).  Race winner was Kyle Busch.

Notes:

  • After the race in Dover Tony headed out to Nashville, TN to help with the GAC Telethon benefiting the flood victims.
  • It was great to hear Tony and Darian working well together on the radio. I loved that they were maintaining a fairly positive attitude even after the handling on the car went catywhompus on them. YEY. The pit crew seemed to be spot on with their timing as well.
  • Speaking of the pit crew…it’s the ALL-STAR race this weekend…and what do I love about that? It means that Wednesday is the Pit Crew Challenge.  I LOVE THE PIT CREW CHALLENGE! LOVE IT!!!  It’s on Wednesday night on SPEED at 9 PM eastern time. Cheer on the 14 crew!!
  • Also on Wednesday for those of you with facebook accounts you will want to check out the ARMORALL Facebook page for a  NEW Off Track With Tony Stewart. This episode – entitled the ROOKIE is actually a comedic web episode that was filmed at Stewart-Haas racing…I can not WAIT for that either.
  • And for those of you with Twitter feeds…did you know Stewart-Haas Racing has an official twitter account? It’s @StewartHaasRcng. Follow them for race day updates as well as updates throughout the week.  You might also want to follow my feed at @badgroove.
  • Speaking of twitter…if you are tweeting about Tony…try using the #goTONYgo hashtags….I am using them until he wins. Hopefully it won’t be long!

All-Star Race is this Saturday. The Showdown starts at 6pm eastern and the All-Star race at 9:00pm Both are on SPEED this time.

When I say slightly crazy I mean it in the most loving way possible. Afterall- aren’t we all slightly crazy in our own right? Or is that just me? Anyway- so yesterday Tony jumped out of an airplane with another man strapped to his back.  And yes it was a perfectly good airplane.  He was tandem skydiving with the US Army’s Parachute team the Golden Knights.

Now before you ask, I really do not know anything more about this than is posted on the Golden Knight’s website…so I have no idea if this is something he’s always wanted to do and the opportunity presented itself or if his sponsor was like we are having this event and need you to represent (Ryan Newman was at a different US ARMY appearance at the same time) or what…but yeah he jumped out of a plane:

(ALL picture credits are SSG Joe Abeln and SFC Eric Heinsheimer from the Golden Knights Parachute Team):

Tony Stewart and SSG Jones before the jump. The release on their website says he was a little nervous. Um I would be more worried if he weren't nervous because he's jumping out of a freakin' airplane.

Tony Stewart and SSG Jones clear the aircraft. There is no going back now!

Tony and SSG Jones land perfectly on their collective feet.

The post on the Golden Knight website said that Tony enjoyed it and claimed he would do it again.

Would I? Oh hell-freaking-NO!!  I have this incredible fear of heights.  It rears it’s head at strange points.  For instance- I can go to Las Vegas and go to the observation decks (both indoor and outdoor) on the Stratosphere with NO PROBLEM. I have done that several times.  One day on a lark, Misty and I decided that I could probably handle the Eiffel Tower at the Paris! Casino…which is actually much lower.  On the way up I start to get that PANIC PANIC PANIC DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER feeling where all I wanna do is sit down and go back to ground level and unfortunately for us there was nothing I could do cuz we were sandwiched in that elevator like sardines.  Misty’s seen me do the freak out before so she was just talking quietly and joking with me and trying to distract me…but one guy noticed I was in panic mode and basically made a point of pointing out to the entire elevator (and it was packed so full that you couldn’t have fit another person in if you had wanted to) that I was freaking out. Nice. Nothing like drawing attention to someone freaking out (because I was truly doing it quietly in the corner). That’s really going to make them feel better. Seriously. So yeah…long story short I bolted out of the elevator for fresh air and then just as quickly bolted back in to get the heck DOWN.  The Ferris Wheel at Disney’s California Adventure? Yeah I thought I could handle it too…until we got to the top and I burst into tears (and at the time I was with Misty and her little brother and I was trying to hold it together because I didn’t want to freak him out)- that thing is a lot taller than it looks.  Yet there were parts of the tour of the Queen Mary in Long Beach that they say can freak people out if you are afraid of heights…and I didn’t have an issue there at all.

So yeah just getting me to fly is a feat.  I have done it and will prob do it again in the future but I really don’t like to do it- especially alone. If I have a window seat? I have to close that little window shade.  Take off and landings are the worst part because I guess I pretty much figure that once you are up in the air you are SOL if something happens anyway- and it doesn’t help that they stuff people into the planes so freaking tight.  If I were in that plane and they were expecting me to JUMP OUT OF IT?- I would most likely be sitting on the floor (when I get that lovely feeling of panic my first instinct is to sit down as low as possible) with my arms and legs securely wrapped around a seat or anything. And probably crying.  And saying things like GET ME DOWN!!!!!!NOWWWWWW!!!!!! LAND THIS THING!!!!

So I have to give great kudos to anyone who would willingly jump out of a plane.  If you are going to tandem jump with someone the ARMY would be who you would want to go with I am sure they know what they are doing!  There is this little airfield by were I work where they have skydiving (ironically it use to be an army airfield).  So it’s not uncommon on nice days to be driving home from work and see four to eight people drifting down towards the airport with their parachutes…and for a split second I think it looks fun and peaceful. Then my brain tells me “yeah…but you would probably die of a heart attack/panic attack/fright before they got you to the door of the plane so probably not for you.” In this case, it’s probably best that I listen to myself.  So if this opportunity ever comes knocking on my door? I will hiding under my bed until it goes away to knock on some other person’s door.

The Tom Petty song "Free Falling" comes to mind here...

Edited to add Tony’s jump video (with sound! YEY) Courtesy of GoArmy’s Youtube Channel: