Header image

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).

***

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!

***

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:

I have never been to a dirt track race in person.  Now if you tell my dad that he will probably argue with you that he use to take me to the track in Watsonville all the time when I was a kid.  That is where I would have to tell you he is wrong.  He use to take my brother. He NEVER took me…which never made any sense to me as a kid because I LIKED racing even then and my brother as far as I could tell my brother couldn’t give a lick one way or the other about it.   I think it was more about the male bonding…which they did plenty of between the races and the hunting and the fishing (ok…sometimes I got to go fishing too).  The first race he ever took me to was an CART race (yeah this was before the league was split into IRL and CHAMP or whatever it was called) at Laguna Seca (now Mazda Raceway) and I remember it vividly because he surprised me with the tickets…and I was in high school- because I remember asking him who he was taking on Friday and he told me I could cut school that day.  He bought us paddock passes and I had a total blast that whole weekend…being up close to drivers like Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, Danny Sullivan, Scott Pruett, it was really cool.  But I digress.

I got to rambling when really I wanted to tell you THE PRELUDE TO THE DREAM is just around the corner.  If you have been here any length of time you know that I start to get really excited this time of year over a pay-per-view dirt race (well it’s pay per view for me…but if you are in a position to go you should totally go- at last I heard tickets were still available- check out Prelude To The Dream website for more details).

This year the beneficiaries of the race will be four children’s hospitals (Levine Children’s Hospital, St. Jude’s Research Hospital, Riley’s Hospital for Children and Cinncinati Children’s Hospital).  Also different this year is the way the money will be distributed.  Each driver will be part of a team and racing not just for himself but for the team.  Highest team score gets the most of the prize money. The winner of the race get’s bragging rights of course.

I have been ordering the Prelude for at least three years now and am never disappointed. It’s great dirt track fun and really only makes me want to attend the event in person. This year I am excited to see Ricky Carmichael driving for the first time at Eldora (and of course see Tony Stewart- I hope he wins again this year). There is a star-studded line up this year that includes a seat being reserved for the winner of the Indy 500.

The HBO pay-per-view race is usually 24.95. It’s Wednesday June 9th. Check your local pay-per-view listings.  I have never had an issue finding it right in the listings and you do NOT have to have HBO to order the pay-per-view event.

If you want more information you can visit the Prelude to the Dream website or this great article on the Prelude from NASCAR.com. (fixed link- whoops…)

You do NOT know how tempted I was to name this post “Darlington- The Track that Bitch-Slapped Tony Stewart and Team OldSpice/Office Depot.” Urg.  Seriously…when I watch a race I have notepad open on my laptop to take notes since I now have the NASCAR.COM Trackpass Scanner so I have to have my laptop up anyway. That way when I sit down later to write the post I have my thoughts from the time…and let’s just say there is one document on my desktop right now called “LadyInBlackisabitch.”  

Tony qualified 23rd - because he pulled an early qualifying run (at least that is what I like to tell myself anyway).   After the green flag dropped Tony stated that the car was loose coming out of the corners.   During the first pit stop the crew threw everything they could at the car including  changing air pressure and track bar.  What they didn’t throw at the car that first pit stop was a full load of fuel.  Whoops. Luckily for the team there was another caution not tooo long into the fuel run and they were able to top Tony off.

The next set of pitstops Tony makes a rare mistake and missed his pit box.   The official team release said it was due to congestion on pit road making it impossible for him to angle into his box correctly.   I don’t know exactly where Tony was pitting but he complained multiple times during race about not being able to see his pitboard sign and at one time told Darian that next weekend he wanted it to be a different design and color. 

Because of an accidental run in with Paul Menard Tony received cosmetic damage on his nose and someone hit the back end of his car later…which was only exacerbated by the loose off the corners condition that caused Stewart to slap the outside wall with the right rear of the car.  That pushed the rear spoiler off center which several laps later caused his  number 14 Chevrolet to spin.  The backend of that poor car was pretty trashed.  They ended up having to tape parts of the decklid to the rear window to keep it secure.  Later when Tony was describing the car to Darian what the car was doing he said that he had been driving cars along time and couldn’t figure out why it was going back and forth from loose to tight. I think that the messed up rearend of the car could have had something to do with it.  

Now when Tony’s not running well I tend to get a wee bit cranky.  I can’t imagine how but Darian and Tony sounded totally cool over the course of the entire race with each other on the radio. I mean Tony let out some frustrated words out when he spun- but heck I can’t fault him for that.  Several years ago I had a full car of people and a dude ran a red light and hit my car hard enough to spin it a quarter revolution.  I let loose a curse laden tirade that scared my sister-in-law before we got out of the car- so I definitely can not fault him there.  Tony took two pit stops to fix damage. He finished 23rd, one lap down.  He dropped to 18th in the points but is only 59 points out of the top 12. Teammate Ryan Newman posted a 9th place finish and rose to 14th in the points.

Congratulation go to Denny Hamlin, who won the race.

Notes about Darlington:

  • After the race, Tony seemed upset at himself telling the team on the radio that he was sorry and that “you all deserve better than what you got for a driver. I appreciate the hard work guys.” However I do not think that the poor luck they had was really his fault except maybe the one pit stop where the box was missed.  And everyone makes mistakes.  They are just having bad luck this season so far. 
  • Speaking of bad luck, it was reported soon after the race that Stewart-Haas Racing has lost it’s partnership with Old Spice for the 2011 season.  I really think that sucks. A team runs into a little bit of of tough spell and one of their main sponsors go running for the hills? Nice.  What makes it worse is that it’s a sponsor that Tony has had for YEARS. You can be darn sure I won’t be buying any old spice. Well and I am a girl so…that is easy to say!
  • I am concerned about points and the 14 team making the chase, but Misty likes to reassure me with these words: You can’t keep Stewart down even if you wanted too.  She likes to point out that he is the master of recovery- and he will get into his groove soon and make the chase.  I hope she is right.
  • Speaking of the Stewart being the master of recovery- when he did spin late in the race on Saturday- he did a GREAT job of keeping that car off the walls and out of any more trouble.  I mean seriously…even my dad mentioned that.
  • One of my twitter friends said it best: We will “never giving up on Tony, EVER. He is an amazing driver and he WILL win” (via @tstewartluvr14). And I believe that! He will soon!

Next weekend we are back to Sunday races with a trip to DOVER. GO TONY GO!!!!

Tony Stewart will be making an appearance at the Office Depot in Pineville, NC on Friday May 28th at 4:00 pm local time.  Wristbands are required for the event and will be distributed starting at 8:00 am Friday morning.  There will be 700 bands given away one per person.  You MUST be in line by 5:00 pm.  The address is: 9610 Pineville Matthews Road (at Hwy. 51 & I-485) in Pineville, N.C.

I hope that if any of you are going you will share some pictures and stories here…I will be with you in spirit…and jealous because it means you are probably going to go to the Coca-Cola 600 too..and I would love to go to that (and the allstar race….too).