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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Beer Chevrolet, Brian Vickers, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The Unlimited

The season opening race of the Sprint Unlimited was a bit of a disappointment for Stewart-Haas Racing and especially for the 14 car as piloted by Brian Vickers during the race.  Brian Vickers seemed to be doing well- hovering for most of the race around 10th, sometimes higher sometimes lower as happens during restrictor plate races. He may not have been driving last season, but he was doing just fine piloting the 14 car on Saturday night in Daytona. For awhile he was even up to 4th position and was always right in the thick of the battle. He even had one heck of a save after getting a little too loose and slightly touching another car something that would cause many drivers to go ping ponging off of other drivers.  Unfortunately for several cars though, on Lap 22 of the 75 lap season opener, the 14 car cut a right rear tire sending Vickers into another car and then careering up into the wall and then back down into the infield.  He ended up severely wounding team mate Kevin Harvick’s car and opening up the side of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s car like a can of tuna. Despite the hard lick that had everyone holding their breath for a bit- Brian Vickers and all other drivers involved in the multi-car accident were alright after being evaluated at the infield care center.  Brian has been having so much fun all weekend and seems to be really appreciating the opportunity just to be in Tony’s car. I actually am more impressed with him so far than I thought I would be.  Come on Brian Vickers and Team 14 for the 500! (more…)

Brian Vickers talks to Fox Sports about replacing Tony in Daytona (Photo Source: Stewart-Haas Racing Official Twitter Account)

So I got to work this morning totally intent on watching the Stewart-Haas Racing presser from Daytona.  I mean the information has been pretty much leaked by media throughout the week that Brian Vickers would be driving Tony Stewart’s 14 car during Speedweeks.  But then just as I was settling into my office with the NASCAR PressPass playing in the background on my computer, I got distracted from the presser by Tony Stewart on Periscope. As a matter of fact, I missed the first part of Tony’s periscope because when they transferred stuff to my new phone at Sprint something happened and my Periscope lost it’s connection to my twitter account so I had to figure out how to get them both synced back up.

That said- all things considering Tony looked and sounded good as he walked on the treadmill and chatted with his fans on periscope today.  Sounds like right now his doctors want him doing one of two things: Walking on the treadmill or lying flat on his back (not uncommon from what I know of back injuries- my dad’s suffered from three separate ones including two surgeries).  He mentioned getting a Tens unit to help with the pain/spasms but he hasn’t tried it yet. He also said this will still be his last year in NASCAR for those who were hoping he would delay his retirement (I didn’t think he would- he has already signed Bowyer so they have the 4 car field they need).    Speaking of the injury he shared that he has two rods and six screws in his back in addition to the hardware he still carries in his leg. He is hoping it will ALL be removed at the end of the year in one go.  Seriously though- Tony looked good and was walking quite well on his treadmill so GO TONY! And he hopes that he gets invited back to the dunes because he was having a blast until he got hurt.

As mentioned- Brian Vickers has indeed been announced as Tony’s replacement driver but so far only for Daytona speedweeks. That was what was confirmed via the press conference.

(more…)

I am just going to put this right here for right now:

I had it made back when Tony broke his leg- in the picture it’s actually even on a car I don’t even own anymore in the above picture. Unfortunately it looks like I threw the apropos license plate frame away after he was back in the car following the leg injury. Don’t worry- I just ordered another one and will have it on the Equinox as soon as I get it.

In case you didn’t know Tony broke his L1 vertebra in a sand rail accident last weekend. Here is the most recent official announcement from Stewart-Haas Racing about the incident:

As I have told several people now- I am just genuinely glad that he didn’t actually injure himself worse- when I hear back injury I think scary things like paralysis. A back is nothing to mess around with.

Here is a great article by Dustin Long about it: Question and Answers About Tony Stewart’s Situation

While sure we are all disappointed because no one wanted Smoke to start off his final NASCAR season like this, I can imagine that Tony is disappointed too. I heard him during the media they did last week- he was wanting that Daytona 500, That Southern 500 and the Championship.  You know how you can be hard on yourself? He likely is being quite hard on himself. I am just glad he’s not injured worse than he is and I am actually glad they aren’t giving out a time table on his recovery.  I am every optimistic that it will be a quick one, but it needs to be on his body’s terms.  I am cheering for him to make a good steady healing recovery and hope to see him in the car as soon has he is able.

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#GetWellSmoke #SmokeAlwaysRises

Tap, tap, is this thing on?

Hi. Remember me?

I know I have been unusually quiet this off season here on BadGroove.  Honestly I needed a blogging break. I just took a bit longer one than I had meant to take.  I could blame it on my laptop and it wouldn’t be a complete lie- my laptop is not the most reliable beast as of late.

But that isn’t the reason I didn’t come back after Champion’s week right away.  I can’t explain it completely but part of it was that I was still trying to digest Tony’s retirement announcement. After witnessing all the Jeff Gordon love at Homestead Miami in Florida and then again at Champion’s Week, and then there was of course Jeff’s very emotional banquet speech.  I was left introspective to the point of introversion. What would this season be like for us Tony fans? What kind of season would he have? Would he make the chase? Would he be at champions week? And what about BadGroove? Is there a BadGroove without a Tony Stewart in NASCAR?

What if, what if, what if,  my brain was chocked full of what ifs and all those questions pinging around in my brain and all that thinking made my fingers very very quiet.  Then work got busy as heck and the next thing I know it’s the preseason media week and I am too busy at the job that pays all the bills for this little website to even think about paying attention as it happened.

What brought me back to center? A simple picture posted by NASCAR on Instagram:

Tony Stewart as posted by NASCAR on Instagram

This one little instagrammed photo says it all to me: He’s focused. He’s back. For one last season (in NASCAR). It’s almost go time. And I am ready. Kind of.

You had to know I would write about this right?—AMY

(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

It rained on my drive into work this morning. I don’t know that you could call it a light rain as the drops were big, fat thick drops that didn’t just land on my windshield but announced each of their arrivals with a wet thud.  I guess you would call it a brief shower.  So brief that our dry, drought-ridden soil wouldn’t even look wet and the roads wouldn’t get slick.  It was just enough to turn a normal drive wistful as I carried on into work because I don’t like rain in general.  But then- the more I thought about how hard up the entire state is for water I was a tad okay with it and even wished for more of it since we really need it.

I mentioned this in my last post on the subject, that retirement for Tony Stewart was going to come sooner or later (I had hoped later) as it almost always does with everyone- driver, technology support services user services specialist (yes I know it’s a mouthful and technically it’s only half my title), librarian, teacher, chief compliance officer, what ever you do.  I absolutely stand by my words that I am not ready for a NASCAR without Tony Stewart as a driver and I am not. Still. But watching Tony’s press conference announcing his retirement has left me with the realization that while yes I am sad…I am sad for me. Not for Tony Stewart.

(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/ Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

It started off when Tony mentioned that first off while he was retiring from driving a NASCAR Sprint cup- he wasn’t retiring as an owner nor would he never be stepping into a race car again.  It started to solidify when one of the members of the press started to go over his legacy stats, and totally solidified for me when he said that he has won more championships as an owner than as a driver. Tony’s press conference left me with the realization that while the hard core Tony Stewart fan is sad, I can’t help but the both happy and grateful.

Yes happy. Why? Because Tony is stepping out of the drivers seat on his own terms and taking time to do things he’s put on the back burner. He seemed happy during the press conference, and dare I say even a little excited about taking this next step.  I can’t help but support that and be happy for him.  He stated that this was 100% his decision and the past several years (the broken leg and tragic accident) didn’t make the decision for him.  This was something I fretted about.  I am happy because to take a comment a Facebook friend of mine made on one of his own posts and make it my own- it’s not like the Tony Train is going to pull into Homestead at the end of next season and just stop. It’s just heading on a different track.

I am grateful because he is giving us fans one more year as a Sprint Cup (or whatever the series will be called next year) driver and he states that he is putting himself all in during that year.  That is 36 more points paying races he is giving us fans and I for one am grateful for every single one of them. So grateful that I have already applied for tickets to a race I have never been to without even knowing exactly when that race will be.

(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America

I don’t know about you all, but I plan to spend the next 44 NASCAR points races (and the three non points races) cheering my guts out for Tony.  It sounds to me like he is “hellbent on victory” to quote one of his shirts and so am I.  All I can say is consider yourself warned because if you thought I should have come with a warning label before-  you ain’t seen nothing yet.

So yeah- it rained a little today. And while I don’t like rain. That Rain? Is a good thing.

PS. I disagreed with one thing Tony said during the press conference. He DOES deserve accolades similar to Jeff Gordon next year. He might not want them- but he has earned them.

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I would like to encourage all of my Smoke fans to not just thank Tony Stewart for what he’s meant to you as fans- but to take part on the StandWithSmoke.com Tony Stewart Foundation campaign to show Tony on twitter that we love and support and STAND with him in ALL aspects. It’s really easy to do:

1. Donate at least $1.00 to StandWithSmoke.com (if you donate at least $10.00- your donation is doubled by an anonymous donor up to a total donation of $50,000 – which means the foundation would get $100,00).

2. Print out your #StandWithSmoke sign (the link will be in your email receipt).

3. Post a picture or video (or both) of you with your sign on the Tony Stewart Foundation FaceBook page or on twitter with the hashtag #StandWithSmoke and tag @14TSF.

September 11, 2015: during practice for the Federated Auto Parts 400 at the Richmond International Raceway . (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/HHP/Andrew Coppley)

There isn’t as much rattling around my brain this week…but I still have a couple lug nuts pinging around the old pit stall that is my brain:

1. The Chase is on and SHR has two cars in championship contention (Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch). Of course I want SHR to win but it’s hard for me to pick between Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. I have been waffling back and forth between the two for whatever reason all week. One moment I am all GO HARVICK and the next I am all GO KURT.  I am a Tony Stewart fan and since Tony Stewart is the STEWART in Stewart-Haas racing  a championship for either driver would be great overall since Tony isn’t in the Chase this year. Of course I still want Tony Stewart to win all the chase races. I always want that- whether he is in the chase contending for the cup or casually racing around the block on a skateboard (no I have never seen or heard of Tony racing around the block on a skateboard- I am using that as a weird analogy) on his off time.  I would love to see Tony go out there and win a race or three. There are still ten races before the end of the season. I say go and be that chase spoiler Tony! You can do it! So Go SHR in the chase but go Tony for the win! That said Busch or Harvick? Why? Help me get behind one of the two SHR Driver Nations.

2. While we are speaking about Stewart-Haas in the NASCAR Chase for the cup. Here is a great chase preview video put together by Mobil 1 The Grid on our Stewart-Haas drivers:

As Tony says at the very end of the video don’t forget to subscribe to the Mobil 1 The Grid Youtube channel for more exclusive motorsports videos for all the Mobil 1 sponsored teams including those revolving around SHR. The also have a pretty cool twitter feed you might want to follow. (more…)

(Photo Credit: Zimbio.com/Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Tony Qualified: 10th (despite Jeff Burton’s claims throughout the national broadcast that he qualified 8th)

Tony Finished: 29th, 4 laps down

Points: 511 (26th in points standings)

Sure we all wanted Tony Stewart to pull off the W in Richmond, probably no more than the man himself wanted to. However there were also 32 other drivers hoping to find that elusive glass slipper that Richmond offers and 11 drivers who were determined to start their Chase off with one more win- one more spot of advantage over their competitors to give them that slight edge on the seedings going into the Chase.  What I am saying is this: chances were stacked against our driver from the drop of the green flag- despite a fairly stellar qualifying effort that landed him 10th in the initial starting grid. (more…)

Tony in the garage area at Darlington, September 2015 (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Facebook)

Tony Qualified: 17th

Tony Finished:  15th

Points: 466 (24th in points)

The whole theme of the Southern 500 was “throwback”- giving us little glimpses of history back when the Southern 500 was back on Labor Day, including some really great retro paint schemes.  Even my Tony quotes leading into the race were about this historical significance of Darlington to motor sports.  Well historically Darlington hasn’t been the kindest to Tony Stewart. He has never won in a cup car there.  Well that repeated again on Sunday evening. (more…)