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I have said it before and I will say it again…I do NOT like watching races at Talladega, at least not on TV.  Well there was that one time that Tony Stewart won (you remember I am sure..it was when Regan Smith passed him below the yellow line to try to pass Tony for the win – boy howdy did I jump off that couch screaming HE PASSED HIM BELOW THE LINE HE PASSED HIM BELOW THE LINE...I am sure the entire state of California and possibly parts of Nevada, Arizona and Oregon could hear me…poor Roxy ran off and hid) but other than that I do not like it.  I do not like spending 188 long tedious laps waiting for “the big one” and I definitely do not like it when Tony Stewart spends most of the day (I would say 90 percent) a lap or two or three down. That is for damn sure.  But that is what happened on Hallowdega or Tallaween..depending on who you are…I personally like Tallaween better than Hallowdega…but whatever- I am off point here.

The point is I don’t like Talladega and I don’t like when Tony is down lap(s).  Needless to say this race was NOT a good one for myself or other Tony fans!!!  Tony went down laps early in the race (two laps down to be exact). However, in typical ESPN fashion, it happened during a commercial break so all us Stewart fans got was a brief mention of it when they came back to the race and then nothing more was said about Tony.  It was like a giant sink hole swallowed him…or maybe a giant pumpkin since it was Halloween after all.  The racing at ‘Dega was your typical restrictor plate race where the two car breakaway draft would pull away for awhile…only to be rundown by a different two car breakaway draft.  There were something like 80 lead changes in the 188 laps.  Not a record apparently, but close. Did you know that after Tony went in for that fateful pitstop that he thought there was something wrong with the car? I didn’t either because I wasn’t listening to his scanner.

Anyway- Tony ran around the track two to three laps down for a majority of the race. Then he got a couple wave arounds and the next thing you know…Tony is in lucky dog position at the right time and poof…Tony Stewart is on the lead lap…now if only he can hook up with someone and do a two-car breakaway draft to the front he will be right in the freaking mix. Tony works his way up…16th the last time I saw him…but apparently he got as high as 11th. Oh so close. Then there is the white flag? Maybe he can salvage the race and get a top 10 at least??  But no…there is a wreck. AJ Allmendinger goes flying through the air…Tony ends up in it some how…and the whole side of his car is demolished. He limped around the last lap to finish 31st.  And the balloon that was a championship dream? Popped right there, raining down all over the infield.  Tony is now 7th in the points standings and 317 points behind the leader Jimmie Johnson. It’s pretty much near impossible for Tony to make up that deficit in the remaining three races of the season.  Of course this doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t try like all gang busters to do it. Race winner was actually Clint Bowyer.

Notes About Dega:

  • The most exciting part of the race was the whole who won? Was it Clint or Kevin? I loved that Clint decided it was him and started to do burn outs while Kevin sat there waiting to find out who indeed was the winner.
  • What on earth happened to Jeff Gordon after that breakaway push to the front with teammate Jimmie Johnson? He said he was blowing up, fell back, and never did blow up. He came in like 9th or something.  Wow.

Next Race: Texas

Attention Tony Stewart Fans in and around Grapevine, Texas. Two-time NASCAR series Champion and current Chase driver Tony Stewart will be signing autographs at the Office Depot in Grapevine, Texas on Thursday November 4th at 4:00pm local time.

To get an autograph you must have a wristband. 700 wristbands will be given away at the location starting at 8:00am local time on November 4th. There is one wristband per person, and one autograph per wristband. Fans with wristbands must be in line no later than 5:00 pm.

This is at the Office Depot located at: 1317 State Highway 114 West (Grapevine Town Center) Grapevine, TX 76051

There will also be a show car and race simulators on site. Enjoy- these are fun events.

Tony Stewart will be signing autographs for fans at the NASCAR Sports Grille at City Walk in Orlando Florida on October 28th from 6:00pm -8:00pm local time.

You must have a ticket to get an autograph.  The 525 tickets will be distributed at the NASCAR Sports Grille gift shop starting at 10:00 am the morning of the event.  One ticket per person, one autograph per ticket.

The address and phone number of the Nascar Sports Grille:

6000 Universal Boulevard

Orlando, Florida 32819

(407) 224-7223

So wow…I have really slipped up haven’t I? Technially I am behind three race recaps because I didn’t write anything yet about Fontana, Charlotte or Martinsville. I was at Fontana in person..and am still working on that…but let me get a quick Charlotte and Martinsville recap out of the way so I don’t feel so behind:

Tony Stewart climbs into his race car for NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina on October 15, 2010.  UPI/Nell Redmond . Photo via Newscom

(Yeah....that was the race with the Green/Red car...I didn't like it.)Tony Stewart climbs into his race car for NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina on October 15, 2010. UPI/Nell Redmond . Photo via Newscom

Chase Race 5 (Charlotte) The race at Charlotte was THE night race of the Chase. Tony Stewart qualified 29th for the race. On the second lap of the race, he was forced to check up to avoid a spin (Ryan Newman) and ended up getting hit by another car in the right rear corner of the car. Between damage and an ill-handling car (likely due to damage I would guess), and a couple of pit stops where Tony got blocked when trying to enter his pitstall, it would end up being a bad night. The 14 car wound up finishing 21st, dropping Stewart from 5th to 6th in the points (-177 points out of the lead). Race winner was Jamie McMurray.

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 23: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 23, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 23: Tony Stewart, driver of the Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 23, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Chase Race 6 (Martinsville) Eek….what a not so good ending to a race where Tony seemed to have a fairly solid car. Qualifying went extremely well as Tony qualified 6th (YEY!). In general I like shorter tracks because to me often the racing is closer and more intense. Tony quickly started falling back, suffering from the effects of an ill-handling car. After the crew worked on adjusting the car he seemed to be happier with the handling and seemed to advance in the standings. Then there was the speeding penalty. Stewart was caught speeding on pit road and had to go to the end of the lead lap. BAH! However- Tony seemed to be able to move through the field pretty well. I started to get excited. He really seemed to be doing well.  Then there were more pit stops and something happened where he lost a lot of ground on one of the stops (turns out, according to the team release that there was a lugnut issue on one of the tires).  It took awhile but Tony seemed to battle back into the top ten…and then a tire let go.  (sigh).  Stewart finished the race 24th, two laps down.   He dropped to 7th in the standings now 236 points out of the lead. The race winner was Denny Hamlin.

Next week: Talladega is on Halloween….um…that is just bad mojo!!!

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 22: Tony Stewart (L), driver of the  Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, talks with Kasey Kahne (R), driver of the  Red Bull Toyota, on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 22, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 22: Tony Stewart (L), driver of the Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, talks with Kasey Kahne (R), driver of the Red Bull Toyota, on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 22, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Check out my post over at Racing in America for my sentiments on the whole Kasey Kahne / RPM debacle.

Did you hear that sigh of relief? That was me- I feel way better having gotten that all out! Shwew.  I will not let myself get so behind again!

Our AutoClub adventure starts Thursday morning…I woke up very early, threw my luggage in the HHR and and headed southeast. It would take me about five and a half hours and six different highways to get to the hotel and check in. Misty, on the other hand, lives in Vegas and it only takes her about 3  hours to get there (and only one highway change for her). So she calls me when I am about halfway there to tell me that she has a flat tire! Yeah! Can you believe that? I was glad to find out that she got her flat before leaving town at least so she wasn’t stuck in the desert somewhere on the side of the road! Of course, she was worried she would miss our interview with Tony which was slated for 3:30 pm, but luckily within an hour she had herself a brand new tire (she tried to have it just patched but the problem was a crack in the sidewall) and was back on the road.

We met at our hotel (I was there probably 40 minutes or so before she was so I got us all checked in)…we had plenty of time to catch up (I hadn’t seen her in person since her birthday in late July), change and we were off to Rancho Cucamonga to the Office Depot Autograph appearance- which is where our interview would be taking place. We got there right on time. The show car was in the lot…the crowd waiting for autographs wrapped around the building…I was excited. Last time we interviewed Tony I was extremely NERVOUS (I remember cringing when I transcribed our first Tony interview back in March- because I could HEAR how nervous I was in my voice)…did I tell you guys that? Yeah I was SO freaking nervous that first time I don’t think I have EVER been so nervous. (If you are new here- Misty and I interviewed Tony before the race in Vegas back in February- you can read that interview here).

Misty and I finally got to meet Valli from The Fast and The Fabulous…and the three of us stood there at the Office Depot in the “media” area and chatted while Tony did a local television interview.

From right to left: Misty, Valli, Amy (me).

From left to right: Misty, Valli, Amy (me).

When Tony wrapped up with his television interview (which you can watch here…it came out great) Misty and I were up next.  So without further ado…here is our second interview with Tony Stewart:

AMY: We interviewed you in Vegas at the beginning of the season and here we are it’s near the end of the season, can you tell us how your perspectives change from the beginning of the season when you are just starting to now where the end is in sight?

TONY: Well there is a lot of optimism at the beginning of the year but at this point of the season the handwriting is kind of on the on the wall.  We know that we accomplished the goal of making the chase now we are in the second phase of that goal of trying to win the championship and it’s not off to a great start BUT it’s the tightest chase field we have ever had. We are tenth and we are 124 points out and we were able to gain 40 points last weekend in one day so there is potential. We are definitely not out of this thing at all. We got a lot of races left to go. If we have three more races like we had last weekend- we are right in this. We are definitely not out of this.

AMY: What is a typical race morning like for you?

TONY: Wake up, shower, no breakfast at that point. Go do our hospitality appearances and then go to the drivers meeting. Once the drivers meeting is over then I come back to the motor home and that’s kind of my time to relax and be to myself. That’s when I get my breakfast/lunch and just get ready for the race.

AMY: What was your favorite part of working this past summer with the Office Depot backpack give away program?

TONY: Probably seeing the kids.  There is something about kids where there is no hidden agendas at that age.  Every emotion that a child has is an honest emotion.  So seeing these kids smile when they come up and get their backpack and seeing the pride on their face that’s…you can’t pay for that. That’s not something you can pay to get… that emotion from a child…that’s by far the best part.

MISTY:  We know that you are in the middle of having a house built…what feature are you looking forward to most?

TONY: My fish tank.  I have a big freshwater fish tank like you have at  Bass Pro Shops.  I am really really excited about it.  It’s virtually done- everything around it is what we are kind of working on right now. It will be nice when we get the water back in it and we get fish in it and it gets on a day to day deal. It’s pretty neat. Like I said, I have seen it full of water, I have seen the waterfall work that goes into it. But it will be nice when the house is actually done and we can get the fish in it.

MISTY: What’s on your ipod right now?

TONY: Oh god…I just updated it last night.  It’s full of everything. It’s full of the same stuff I had at Vegas plus more stuff since then! I wish I could remember the guys name that I downloaded last night, he’s kind of a mix between Kenny Wayne Shephard and Stevie Ray Vaughn, kind of a bluesy guy. One of our dirt track guys turned us on to him but I can NOT remember his name…he had a real wild last name.  We honestly have a little bit of everything. I am not a big heavy metal fan…there is probably more classic rock than anything on my ipod.

So that is our official interview with Tony…which took place right there in the back of the Rancho Cucamonga Office Depot right by the furniture department:

Misty, Tony and Amy

Misty, Tony and Amy

The best part of the whole thing was when Tony complimented us by saying “I LOVE dealing with these girls!” He then went on to be interviewed by Valli…so I will be sure to let you know when that is up over there.

I will wrap up here but definitely say tuned in for more adventures from AutoClub speedway!

Stewart-Haas Racing fans (and no doubt owner/driver Tony Stewart himself) are breathing a collective sigh of relief today as the team announced they have found a replacement co-sponsor for the void left when Old Spice announced they would no longer be sponsoring Stewart’s #14 Chevy Impala come next season.  The press conference was at Stewart-Haas Racing this morning.  Mobil 1 is replacing Old Spice by being a primary co-sponsor with Office Depot.  The press conference also including an unveiling of the Mobil1 car paint scheme:

Hood of the #14 Mobil 1 paint scheme that Stewart will run for 11 races in the 2011 season (Picture courtesy of @StewartHaasRcng)

So…besides liking the paint scheme…did you notice anything else? Anything different about the car? Maybe that this is one of the first views we are getting of the new nose of the 2011 sprint cup cars.  Look Ma…no splitter braces!  (for a better view of the new nose you can check out this picture tweeted from the event by journalist Jim Utter of the 2011 Office Depot paint scheme or this picture posted by Jayski yesterday of the 2011 Burger King paint scheme).

I like the new look to the nose of the sprint cup car…maybe the lack of splitter braces will help it keep from becoming a debris collection area.

***

Updated to add this great video interview with Tony done by Marty Smith:

So how excited was I that Tony won? Very! WHOO HOO!

Tony and Darian seemed to both be in a good mood before they took even one green flag lap- judging by their radio banter. Darian said something about buying Tony a little pool if he brought back a trophy.  Of course I am envisioning Tony sitting in a kiddie pool but that is probably because I have small nephews who love their kiddie pool on a hot day.

As I was watching, when Tony took the lead the first time I thought to myself…YEY five points! Then he kept leading and leading. There would be some swapping back and forth here and there with Denny or Carl but then I was thinking Hey- we might get 5 more points for leading the MOST laps here.  It really wasn’t until the last 10 laps or so that I starting thinking…DAMN we have been DOMINATE ALL NIGHT  and that is when I start worrying about something going WRONG!

It seemed that the 14 pit crew was ON IT all night (ok they had ONE bad stop- but it wasn’t even THAT bad).  Tony’s only complaint pit-wise was that he was having trouble seeing his stall- but they figured that out- and between Darian counting him down into his pitstall and his dad Nelson waving a flashlight at him he was able to find it much easier on subsequent stops.

It warmed my heart to see the #14 car sooo dominate Sunday night.  I loved it and hope that there is only more of that on the horizon!!

WHOO HOO.

Anyway Congrats to Tony Stewart and Office Depot and all the other sponsors for their win at Atlanta

Tony is now 4th in the series standings and locked into the chase (shwew).

So since Tony won- there are a couple ways you too can win:

Win a Sunoco Checkered Flag autographed by race winner Tony Stewart here from SpeedTV.

You can bid on the Old Spice towel Tony used in  Victory Lane  here (proceeds to benefit The Tony Stewart Foundation).

You can win one of 14 Office Depot Racing autographed hats here at Office Depot Racing’s 14 for 14 Contest.

I celebrated Tony’s win yesterday with a trip to Office Depot- it’s one of my favorite stores anyway. BUT they didn’t have what I was looking for in stock yet but they told me it’s coming September 12th so I will be back I promise.

So I don’t really have much to say about The Glen.  I am glad that they made safety improvements to the track that the drivers seem to approve of.  The racing was good…and I still think that this track needs to be in the Chase.

For those that didn’t know- during the race Tony was struggling with side bite issues- especially towards the end of the race.  Which is pretty much why he seemed stuck in the order.  He was good if he was running alone but if he was up around cars he lost his bite.  Tony qualified 6th and finished 7th and remains 8th in points. Race winner was Juan Pablo Montoya.

I love this shot of the #14 because of how the wheels lift off the ground on the road courses:

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 06: Tony Stewart, drives the  Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, during practice for the NASCAR Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen on August 6, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 06: Tony Stewart, drives the Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, during practice for the NASCAR Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen on August 6, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 06: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, looks on in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen on August 6, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Happy Tony during practice:

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 06: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, looks on in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen on August 6, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 06: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, looks on in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen on August 6, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Shot of the pit crew performing a backwards pit-stop that Watkins is famous for:

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 08: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 08: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2010 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Notes about Watkins Glen:

  • When they were showing some of the racing action on the track at The Glen they were showing Jeff Gordon fighting Robby Gordon for position on the track…and I believe it was Dale Jarrett, said: “And GORDON takes the position.” Um well either way that battle panned out a Gordon would end up taking the position.
  • Another DUH moment during the broadcast, they were going over the top ten in the field and they got to Tony who at the time was running 8th or 9th and again now that I think about it, Dale Jarrett said “Well Tony’s probably not running where he wants to be running…” I’m pretty sure you could say that about any driver except maybe whoever is leading because I am 99% sure they would all rather be leading the race.
  • About the Boris Said/ Tony Stewart on-track skirmish that ended up spinning Boris….all I have to say is…what did Boris Said expect to happen? Was Tony suppose to run up the wall- it’s not a cartoon- the cars can’t go up the call to drive.
  • Caption Tony Time: Tony appears to be telling quite the amusing story in the picture below…entertain me by giving it your own caption in the comments (this might be a new weekly feature):
Aug. 08, 2010 - Watkins Glen, New York, United States of America - August 8, 2010: Driver TONY STEWART.

Aug. 08, 2010 - Watkins Glen, New York, United States of America - August 8, 2010: Driver TONY STEWART.

Next Weekend: Michigan!