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(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images North America)

Tony Stewart fans were beyond excited yesterday when the driver announced not just a timeline for his return to his #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro chevy but that he was BACK in his race car effective immediately.  Hours later many of those same fans were outraged that NASCAR turned around and issued Tony Stewart a $35,000 fine for talking about the issue of teams not tightening enough lug nuts during pitstops since NASCAR no longer polices this during a media obligation the day before.  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know that I was ramped up yesterday about Tony receiving that $35,000 fine and I still am. I have NEVER thought a fine was such a, pardon my  language, bullshit fine in my life as a NASCAR fan. One of the many many reasons Tony is my driver is that he has never ever shied away from speaking his mind. Yes it’s gotten him into some hot water from time to time. And sometimes he might not say things in the most diplomatic way but he says them because they need to be said.  Sometimes he says things in the heat of the moment but what driver doesn’t. This was not one of those times.

Now if Tony were to have gone out there and lambasted specific people in NASCAR’s hierarchy regarding this issue I might have understood the fine. But from what I heard and read Tony say about the lug nut issue is that he is mad (I believe his actual words were P.O.’d) because he feels no longer monitoring/requiring the amount of lug nuts tightened is going to get someone hurt.  It’s a safety issue.   At least two other drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Greg Biffle, have made similar complaints as has crew chief Rodney Childers. I don’t see them getting fined. NOR SHOULD THEY. It’s a safety issue that needs to be brought to someone’s attention before a driver or a spectator get injured.  Tony talks about it and he gets fined.

NASCAR came out of the box this season stating what exactly the fine scale would be for drivers who spoke poorly of NASCAR or it’s racing product. I was hopeful that this meant the fines would be more transparent and more evenly distributed than ever before. They have failed on this BIG TIME.  Take for instance Kyle Busch.  Several weeks ago Kyle Busch claims NASCAR is fixing races on his team radio because they threw a yellow flag that he felt could have cost him a possible win in the Xfinity Series – clearly a much more inflammatory statement against NASCAR and it’s racing product and yet he doesn’t get fined (he did get fined that weekend but it was for bailing on post race media obligations post race and not for his statement about races being fixed by the sanctioning body).  There has to be consistency and fairness in the penalties and fining Tony Stewart for bring up lug nuts and safety (a conversation that has been going on since late last year at least) is not something that should be something fine worthy.

It seems that the drivers agree, as the Sprint Cup series driver’s council issued a statement late last night that they didn’t think that the fine was fair and they would be helping pay the fine. This tells me that they feel the same way Tony does so they should all feel the fine pain so to speak.  I hope that this speaks volumes to NASCAR. They have a possible safety issue that they need to seriously consider. Fining drivers for talking about a possible safety issue is like fining a baseball player for considering wearing a helmet when he’s up to bat, or fining a bull rider for wearing a flack jacket during his 8 second ride.  It doesn’t make sense because without the athlete- you don’t have the sport. (more…)

(Photo Source: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

Usually when my cellphone vibrates with a text message as I am coming off the elevator at work onto my floor- it’s something work related. Today it’s YEY related. Here is what has been pinging around my head like lugnuts in a pitstall during a green flag pit stop- you just never know where they will end up…except I kind of do- they end up here. Let’s get to it shall we:

1.So I am a little late with the lugnuts- I usually post them on Wednesdays- but to be completely honest it was just because I ran out of time yesterday to track down pictures to put in the post and all that but now we have something else to discuss and it’s probably the most important thing to discuss so I am bumping everything else down a notch! So in case you live in a world without social media Tony Stewart announced today not just the timeline of when he would be back in the #14 but SURPRISE he’s going to be back in the car this weekend.  There are not enough exclamation marks in the world to exclaim how excited I am about this.  So Tony will be racing his first race back at his favorite NASCAR track too- so that can’t hurt right? Tony has always exclaimed his love for Richmond.  Also in case you didn’t know- Tony will then do a tire test at Indy and will start Talladega for the points then hand the car over to Ty Dillon because of the significant increase of crash and injury at Talladega. I can’t tell you how much better this makes me feel about Talladega. Also as expected NASCAR did grant Tony Stewart a waiver for the missed races. So come on Tony let’s go out there and rip off a win and maintain top 30 status…I want to see you in Vegas my man! This definitely made my morning!

2. Here is Tony yesterday on RACEHUB last night- actually yesterday afternoon for me on the west coast…but I dvr’d and watched it this morning well before the announcement and thought to myself- hey self- you should find the video and add it before I publish the post: (more…)

(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/Robert Laberge/Getty Images North America)

Replacement Driver: Ty Dillon

Started: 34th

Finished: 25th

I am surprised that I have seen so much complaining on my social media regarding the quality of the racing at Bristol this weekend. While I will agree with those that say the racing product at the track hasn’t been the same since they redid the track the last time (I have felt this way about the racing at Phoenix as well)- I thought that racing at the track on Sunday was quite good and I was watching it from the national broadcast and not sitting in the stand. I think the track is getting back to being more of it’s old self and I hope that as the track continues to season and the racing packages improve that will cultivate an elevated racing product back to the bumping and grinding that short track NASCAR racing is famous for. (more…)

(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/Sean Gardner/Getty Images North America)

Replacement Driver: Brian Vickers

Started: 13th

Finished: 37th

Texas was just not kind to Brian Vickers and team 14 on Saturday night.  It’s unfortunate because I know several of my Facebook friends were there to support the team and endured damp  conditions for a portion of the day. I know they had fun despite but I hate it for them and I hate it for Team 14 because that team has been working it’s guts out on getting that car better and it seems to be working for the most part.  (more…)

(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/Sarah Crabill/Getty Images North America)

Replacement Driver: Brian Vickers

Started: 3rd

Finished: 7th

Martinsville has always been a favorite track of mine to watch. I think I just enjoy watching the close quarters short track, rubbin’ is racin’ kind of racing because it transfers very well to a television product more so than the longer 1.5 mile midsize tracks (in most cases). Of course that’s not to say that I don’t watch the 1.5 milers, or the super speedways. If there is a Sprint Cup race it’s on I tend to be watching it (obviously or how would I write about it). Of course one of the bad thing about short tracks is that it’s quite easy to get a lap down yet not quite so easy to get that lap back- just ask Dale Jr who spent a majority of the race a lap down after trouble early in the race- but I digress because this is not a Jr. blog now is it?

What a great race Brian Vickers and Team 14 had at Martinsville in the Janssen Arnie’s Army Chevy this weekend. All practices were awesome and Brian was able to qualify the 14 car 3rd! It was an awesome effort all around. (more…)

(Photo source: Stewart-Haas Racing Facebook)

Replacement Driver: Brian Vickers

Started: 24th

Finished: 13th

First I want to start off by stating that I think that this downforce package that the cars are running this season has really upped the racing quality.  The races seem to be more action filled meaning that cars seem to be able to get close to each and swap positions and leads back and forth a lot. They seem to be able to recover from penalties like starting at the end of the longest line because previously starting at the back would always mean your day was over. Now it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you have the machine and the driver to back it up. And I like that A whole LOT especially since I have watched races at Auto Club both on TV and in person- and the quality of the actual racing has really improved in my opinion. (more…)

(Photo Source: Stewart-Haas Racing)

Here is what has been ricocheting around my brain like lug nuts during a green flag pit stop:

1. As I mentioned in the last post, Brian Vickers will be back in the 14 car as Tony Stewart’s replacement driver at Auto Club. For this race the 14 has previously been sponsored by Rush Truck Center, however this year the primary sponsor for the 14 car will be sponsored by Janssen & Arnie’s Army. Janssen, as you might know, is the pharmaceutical company that makes Xarelto the anti-clot medication that Brian Vickers, Arnold Palmer and others credit for helping them survive devastating blood clots.  Arnie’s Army is Arnold Palmer’s charitable organization which provides financial support to institutions and organizations that help children, youth, families, the environment and the communities in which we live. Also a show car with this paint scheme will be near the ninth fairway at the PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Florida for most of the week.  We all know that blood clot awareness and treatment is something near and dear to Brian Vickers as he has struggled publicly with the condition:

“I’m proud to team up with Janssen once again to talk about this serious condition I share with hundreds of thousands of Americans. I’m also thankful and excited to be driving for Stewart-Haas Racing in the No. 14 Janssen Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation Chevrolet in support of my dear friend and fellow blood clot survivor, Mr. Arnold Palmer.” Brian Vickers, Team Release

Additionally the Xfinity race at Autoclub will be sponsored by TreatMyClot.Com (Xarelto).

2. Your favorite driver and mine Tony Stewart will be Honored on May 25th at the 36th Annual Sonic Automotive Raceway Children’s Charties Gala for his “successes on and off the track including his incredible contributions to Speedway Children’s Charities across all 8 chapters.”  The Gala, being held at the Ritz Carlton in Charlotte, will recognize him for his philanthropic efforts:

“For more than 15 years Stewart has wowed NASCAR fans across the country, but he rarely gets recognized for his philanthropic efforts. The Gala will be the perfect opportunity for us to thank him for all he’s done for Speedway Children’s Charities to help children in need around the country.” Marcus Smith, vice chairman of Speedway Children’s Charities per FoxSports.

While our driver has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be paraded through the media center every week to get a gift…this is much deserved recognition that we all know he deserves.

3. One of only two NASCAR Sprint Cup series races in my home state is this weekend.  If you can stop by Auto Club Speedway down in Fontana on Thursday (it’s St. Patrick’s day so remember to wear green or someone might pinch you) it’s Fan Fest which starts at 5:00 pm local time at Auto Club.  Fan Fest is  free to the public and will feature driver appearances through the night including: Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, Brennan Poole, and more. There will also be live entertainment, family friendly fun and concessions. Just follow the signs to the O’Reilly Auto Parts Fan Zone. Admission and parking are FREE.

4. Are you ready for your laugh of the week? This made me laugh…Ryan Blaney and Darrell Wallace Jr’s snapchat video of their road trip from Phoenix to Los Angeles: (more…)

(This is a race diary post- meaning that I was actually at the track running around. It will be very first person and  chucked full of pictures. If you are looking for something more like my usual race report you can read the official team report for Team 14 here.  – Amy).

Garage area at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Thursday

There was an open test at the track on Thursday but unfortunately I couldn’t attend- but it was open to fans who could attend for free. Now on to what I did see and experience: (more…)