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Instead of doing my usual regurgitation and takes on the race from the standpoint of a Tony Stewart fan…I am just simply going to write a letter to Team Tony.

Dear Team Office Depot/Old Spice (and Burger King for two one more races):

You guys were so ON IT at the beginning through the middle of the season. Lately, however, something is just slightly OFF.   I obviously don’t know what but we really REALLY need to pull it together. It can’t be the pressure of whether or not you are making the chase because you have been locked in for several weeks.  You are not the only team that is off lately (Jimmie/Chad/Team Lowes comes to mind)…but you are my team!

The last two races alone wayward lugnuts have ruined our pitstops and lost us major positions. Now I am not saying it’s just the pit crew. Tony obviously had a mea culpa moment on the track today…and he said it right over the radio.  I think that some how we just get frustrated. Mistakes happen- but come on guys we need to recover!!

I know you all know that the next ten races are it. This is GO TIME.  We KNOW you have the equipment. We KNOW you have the driver. We KNOW you have the pit crew. Let’s just make them all work together.  If something happens…don’t get frustrated- just dig in a little deeper. I know you guys can do it! GO TEAM OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE/BURGER KING.

Let’s Go Fast! Amy

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Notes About Richmond:

  • I have mentioned here numerous times that I have always been fascinated with pit crews. Kudos to ESPN and ABC for the pit crew cam. I LOVE IT. Just wish they had more of them.
  • Speaking of pit crews…one of the parts that has fascinated me is how they can run around the cars out there on pit road with cars just feet behind them, in front of them, all around them, buzzing in and out of pit boxes…nay PEELING OUT of pit boxes trying to get a leg up on competitors.  I know that there are safety measures (like mandated helmets and pit road speed limits) but still.  Tony’s run in with David Reutimann’s rear tire carrier was a reminder that those guys are in a dangerous job!!!  I think that because of the way David’s car was canted in the pitstall that he wasn’t able to see the tireman coming around to the other side.
  • Tony gets 50 brownie points for helping Carl Edwards down the stairs after the Chase 2009 class photo/celebration.  And to answer @KevinMBoots77‘s question he posed here, unfortunately my brownie points are really worth nothing but my admiration.  Although how cool would that be to have Amy’s Badgroove race wear. Hell…let’s get really crazy…what would an Amy’s Badgroove paint scheme look like???
  • I am majorly bummed that Kyle Busch did NOT make the chase. However to those who believe his is immature? Did you listen to his post race interview? If not you should (I am sure it will be on youtube some time in the next couple of days).  That was mature beyond his years.

And I will end this with: Let the games begin!

If you were watching the race on Sunday night at Atlanta you probably saw two of the four new Burger King commercials featuring my our favorite driver, Tony Stewart.  These are better than the ones where he is riding around in the car with the King…as I have made abundantly clear since the king began showing his plastic face on the TV I find him…creepy.

Anyway- these commercials are kicking off a national Burger King Ad campaign staring none other than Tony Stewart. The ad campaign’s purpose is a contest- where contestants can enter codes from products purchased (42 oz Drink Cups, 32 oz Drink Cups, and Large Frys). There are 42 daily prizes including things like Autographed BK race memorabilia, BK Tony Stewart Hats, and $25.00 BK gift cards.  There will be a grand prize drawing at the close for the contest for a Trip for FOUR for a “Tony Stewart Experience” to “hang with Tony and his team” or you can choose to take $10,000.  As much as I could totally use the $10k I would totally take the experience instead!!  I mean that is one of those maybe once-in-a-lifetime if you are one of those lucky type of people kind of experiences.

If you want to see two of the four videos (the Sockmaster and the School of Endorsements ones) you can find them on this website.  Here are some pictures from the commercial shoot:

Tony, Estrada and Carrot Top on the set of the School of Endorsements ad

Tony, Estrada and Carrot Top on the set of the School of Endorsements ad.

Tony Stewart, driver/owner at Stewart-Haas Racing, climbs into the hot seat to prove his love for the famous WHOPPER® sandwich in the latest ad campaign for BURGER KING® restaurants. The ad titled, “Polygraph Prep,” is the last in a series of four ads that begin airing on Sept. 7, 2009.

Tony Stewart, driver/owner at Stewart-Haas Racing, climbs into the hot seat to prove his love for the famous WHOPPER® sandwich in the latest ad campaign for BURGER KING® restaurants. The ad titled, “Polygraph Prep,” is the last in a series of four ads that begin airing on Sept. 7, 2009.

You also can get three free entries (no purchase necessary) by going to the Be The King of the Pit game site.

  • First off I have to give a shout out to my fellow Smoke fan Kevin M. Boots who was the one who told me about the contest (via facebook) because apparently I had been living in a cave or something. Thanks @KevinMBoots77!!!
  • Another one has to go to Valli of The Fast and The Fabulous because I didn’t know about the LIVE POLYGRAPH Mr. Stewart will be participating in at www.truthabouttony.com. Starting on September 25th fans can submit and vote on questions to be asked of Tony during his lie detector test.  These questions along with the question Tony being asked if he loves the Whopper will be asked on October 20th at 1:00PM eastern time.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that the name of the contest is funny? The Be The King of the Pit? That cracks me up and makes me think about last year’s old spice Tony Stewart’s Arm Pits ad campaign.
  • Also of the two I have seen (the ones in the above link in the third paragraph) both have funny lines that not only crack me up but have me repeating often. I can’t tell you how many times I have told people (and by people I mean my family – most of whom know I am kidding) “Put a sock in it, Sockmaster.”  And sometimes I find my self just saying…ESTRADA!!!! (say it with me!) These are way more funny to me than the old spice ones. But then again…I have a bizarre sense of humor.
  • If you get codes and you don’t want them??? Please give them to me…I REALLY wanna win.

On Sunday night I was perusing NASCAR.COM as I often do- looking to see if there was any important breaking news or discussions.  Since it was an “off” weekend for the cup drivers- I hadn’t really been paying attention over the weekend- except to know that Kyle won the truck race and Carl the Nationwide race. That’s it- so I was lingering about when a headline caught my eye on the main page mostly because it was under a picture of Tony Stewart. It said something to the effect of: Third Title Could Make Stewart One Of The Best.  Of course I clicked the link…and it was actually a link to a piece by David Caraviello who contends that should Tony Stewart win a third championship he would be among the “greats” in the sport.

Well, I had to butt in here with my opinion of course, and I know you all know where I am going with it.  Yeah…he already IS in my fan-biased eyes.  So he may not have more than two championships in Cup racing (yet! I have faith more will come) and he may not have as many wins as Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson, so strict number crunching may not have him up near the top of the list as a “GREAT” in the sport. But I honestly feel that being “a great” is more than just extrapolating some data and throwing it neatly into a nice little chart.  But if you do want to play that numbers game take this into consideration: he does have championships (and along with championships comes wins) in other series to consider (IROC, IRL, USAC and USAC Triple Crown).

Then of course there is the little venture Tony Stewart took on this year called team ownership. I have heard and read things discrediting Tony’s team ownership for a couple reasons . The two major ones seem to be because a.) Tony grabbed an established team. and b.) Stewart-Haas Racing has assistance from Hendrick Motorsport in that they get their engines and chassis (Is there a plural form of chassis? Is it chassi, like octopi?) from the iconic team.  To these naysayers I give a big hearty virtual raspberry to.  Stewart-Haas racing, in it’s former format (Haas CNC), if I remember correctly, did not have any top ten finishes at all in the entire run of the organization.  Nor did it ever have a car that ever at any point was ever even in the chase let alone one leading the points and the other poised to make the chase providing the stars and planets don’t line up against him.  And the partnership with Hendrick Motorsports? It was a preexisting partnership.  It was there BEFORE Tony Stewart signed on the dotted the line. Why weren’t people all up-in-arms before calling them a Hendrick Farm Team (or as my BFF called them: HMS-Lite).  I think even a casual observer with no vested interest or bias (I am of the biased) would see that bringing Tony on board obviously did SOMETHING (and for the record the aforementioned David Caraviello piece tends to agree with me on this).  Tony Stewart may be self-depreciating when it comes to his “smarts” but the man is definitely not stupid.  He is an accomplished team owner in the USAC series already- and I won’t even mention his myriad of other business ventures.

[insert virtual raspberry here]

Also Tony Stewart (along with many many other drivers in the sport) gives back to his community and causes near and dear to his heart through his foundation.  Not to mention that on top of that has been working with his sponsor’s foundation to give backpacks of school supplies to needy children.  I could go on and on and talk about all the great things the Tony Stewart Foundation does- but all you really need to do it drop by the Foundation website and you can see for yourself.

So yeah- I think Tony Stewart is already part of the list of people considered the “greatest” in the sport- even if he never gets that third championship (or fourth or fifth- hey I am a fan after all- I can dream). And yes I am a fan (prior to his change in teams- a favorite saying of mine is that “I am such a Tony Stewart fan that I bleed orange” of course that doesn’t work as well with his new color) so I am probably extremely biased in this opinion.  Nothing will really change that, just like nothing will change where I go with this website. I will always talk NASCAR. And my faithful couple of readers will always get to hear my views from my biased (fan) fingers.  And there will always be pictures of my dog and my nephew and who knows what else peppered in with my Tony Stewart ravings.

Michigan was NOT the race for my boys at Stewart-Haas Racing this week was it?  I mean it was bound to happen sooner or later- that Team Office Depot/Old Spice would have an off day- and that is exactly what happened. I mean it could have been a lot better. But it could have been a lot worse…(like Bobby Labonte for instance- who broke on lap 2 and never came back- thus securing himself a last place finish!).  While I watched the race, I am so use to Tony being a hot pass driver that I couldn’t hear what was going on with him but he was definitely struggling all day.  He didn’t qualify very well (18th).  At the beginning of the race he just didn’t seem to be able to come up through the field past 11 or 12th. Like he was stuck there.

Then the crew did a wicked cool two tire pitstop around lap 117.  I was honestly puzzled why they choose to do a two tire stop but it DID put Tony out in front (Tony was apparently puzzled too because ESPN played a snippet of him asking Darian “Now can you explain to me why we just did that?” and Darian explained to him that it was purely for track position).  Unfortunately the track position didn’t last long as Tony then began to fall further and further backwards in the pack.  He finished a dismal 18th, but not only retained his position as points leader, he also clinched a spot in the chase. GO TONY. Ryan Newman finished 15th and remained 9th in the points.  Brian Vickers was the race winner.

Notes about Michigan:

  • According to the official Stewart-Haas Racing race report they found out after the race was over that Tony’s car “had a spring that was out of its bucket” which I assumed is what caused a whole mess of handling issues (first he was tight and then he was loose).  What exactly that means I am not sure…sounds like a doohickey come out of a thingamabob to me.
  • When they threw that caution for rain at lap 7 and then the red flag? I was about ready to go outside, look up at the sky and shake my fists whilst yelling WHY??? WHY MUST YOU RUIN RACE DAY YOU INSIPID B*$#@? but worry not…I didn’t have to curse anyone- real or imaginary and the race continued on as normal not twenty minutes later.  Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t curse during the race. I certainly did.  But I didn’t feel the need to go outside to do it.
  • Speaking of the brief rain delay- I loved all they drivers talking smack about how meteorologists are never right and they wish they could have a job that easy. That cracked me up!
  • Remember that those wanting to watch the rescheduled Prelude to the Dream- that will be run on Wednesday September 9ths at 7pm eastern (4pm pacific).
  • If you are going to be at Autoclub Speedway for the Pepsi 500 on October 11th, Stewart-Haas’s own Ryan Newman will be on the Opportunity California Fan Zone stage for a “story time” reading activity for children.

Next Weekend: Short track Saturday Night as Nascar moves to BRISTOL, TN!

Ok NASCAR seriously…what are the chances that Tony will NOT start the race this weekend in Michigan (and thus clinch his position in the Chase). All the man has to do is START the race. What are the chances of that not happening? I am not that great in math but I figure that it’s a pretty long shot that he will not start the race this weekend.

I mean what would have to go wrong mechanically on that car where he could NOT start the race thus scoring 0 points for the race.  I can’t even fathom it.  Is the car going to spontaneously combust in the hauler (thus taking with it the backup car)? Even IF that happened…I think they could still probably manage a quick rewrap of Ryan Newman’s backup car so that Tony could race. So we can pretty much rule out a mechanical issue preventing him from getting scored 0 points.

Of course there is always illness….however many Tony fans probably remember last year during the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona that Tony started the race despite suffering from “flu-like symptoms” and was able to drive 72 laps (he was then relieved by driver J.J. Yeley).  So he technically would probably be ok there cuz I think he just has to run one or two laps himself…even if he just putted around the back of the field he could probably do it for a lap or two.  And knowing that Tony is a competitive driver I am pretty sure that he would pretty much have to be SERIOUSLY ill to not make the race at all (knock on fake wood /laminate desktop that this will NOT be the case).

I am also pretty sure that even if something happened and for some unbeknownst reason all the 14 and 39 cars stopped functioning, someone else would loan tony a back up car.

I mean I could go on and on and on here…but I am pretty sure it’s good.  Because even if he wasn’t scored for ANY points….and the most points you can get is like 185 right? He has a 260 point lead over second…that he would be retaining the points lead. So….the point is moot anyway…because he would at the very WORST possible scenario still have the points lead.

Mother nature dealt us fans who work on Mondays an evil blow by raining out our Sunday NASCAR race for the second week in a row. BAH!  The race was run on Monday starting at noon (time local to the race- not to me).  Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch it- and I won’t get to- because I somehow forgot to DVR it completely. Not like last week when I DVR’d the wrong channel…this week I didn’t dvr a damn thing.  So of course Tony would win! Don’t get me wrong- I am ecstatic he won…just disappointed I didn’t get to watch.

All I can say about the race right now is that the Sam Hornish, Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon wreck was NASTY looking. That I did see. I was glad to hear the drivers get out- and in the snippet of the video that I saw- Jeff Gordon was one pissed off camper. And I don’t blame him.  I am sure that did nothing for his back to be collected in someone else’s wreck (I can’t tell in the snippet I saw if it was Kasey Kahne’s fault or Sam Hornish’s fault…according to my friend who was watching the race- it was Kasey’s).  I also heard that the Team Old Spice/Office Depot pit crew did awesome on their stops! Way to go!!

Notes On The Glen:

  • Honestly I don’t really have any.  What do the drivers do when a race is moved to Monday? Do they just sit around in their Momohomes (yes my nephew has a new word…momohome- and he actually points to motorhomes and motorcoaches and says it which is very exciting) and watch TV/ Play video games? I would think that would get old- unless you REALLY like video games.

Next week: Back to Michigan!

NASCAR that is who.  Remember way back when NASCAR announced that they would be forming a CITIZEN JOURNALIST MEDIA CORP (CJMC) and that certain bloggers would be included (here are my thoughts on the initial announcement of the formation of the Media Corp)? Well last month they announced their list of bloggers/ alternate media who are taking part in this program. Well I forgot to tell you that I was asked to be a member and of course I said yes.

What does this get me? Well I can apply for press credentials at tracks (I have to adhere to the standards that the traditional press regarding dress and conduct), I have access to media pr announcements through NASCAR and there are other benefits as well (including taking part in our inaugural TOWN HALL MEETING with special guest Bobby Labonte- which was really fun and I will tell you about that in a bit).

How did I get picked? I don’t exactly know! I just logged into my email one day and there was an invitation sitting in my email box.  Between my communications from some of the PR people in charge of us citizen journalists at NASCAR and talking to Valli over at The Fast and The Fabulous, I have garnered that they have just been watching and listening: their ears to the information superhighway so to speak.  I thought this was flattering and interesting that NASCAR was scoping us out- and seeing what we had to say.  However I admit that in the back of my mind it also conjured up visions of that little stack of money with eyes and the music (originally done by Rockwell) “Somebody’s Watching Me” music from the Geico commercials.

So back to the town hall meeting for the CJMC. Well first we were told about the appropriate manner of dress (no team memorabilia, garage area dress code enforced, that kind of thing) and some other business related stuff- then we got to question Bobby Labonte- which was fun. Many of us (including me) submitted questions to him via twitter or before hand and he was asked and them and answered them. It was fun. He answered my two questions (both about social media. My first question was did he say anything negative about the formation of the CJMC- and he said No he didn’t say anything negative coming from that. And I asked him if he thought more drivers would catch on to social media things like Twitter and Facebook, and he said he believed they would. ). It was fun and I really hope that NASCAR holds more of these sessions with drivers for us- because frankly- that totally rocked and I would love to participate in more.

How will this change badgroove.com? Well I don’t know exactly that it will. I am still going to to have a Tony Stewart/ Stewart-Haas Racing bend and I don’t see that changing in the future.  I hope that both Tony and Ryan will take part in a Q&A session for the CJMC- I would LOVE that.

On Thursday Journo at The NASCAR Insiders asked quite simply “Do You Remember Why You Love NASCAR?”  I actually pondered this a bit in my guest entry over at NASCAR THIS WEEK back in April. It is hard for me to put into words why I love the sport that I love…but I do.  As I mentioned in the NTW piece, I have had a love of cars and a love of motorsports in general since I was knee high to a grasshopper and was just naturally drawn to cars since childhood.

Then there is the first hand experiences of being at a track that assault you from the moment you get out of your car; the noise that 43 cars make that can take the breath out of you, the mixture of oil, rubber, sweat, and a myriad of food mixing and giving each track it’s own signature smell, the rush of adrenaline I get during the flyover (and I am not even a driver). It’s a very physical thing to actually be on hand for a race. It’s a feeling that I can not adequately describe despite my many attempt, and it’s definitely something that someone who doesn’t love the sport just can not get.  My uncle still doesn’t get why I would travel 500 miles to “watch cars drive in a circle.”  Even my own best friend didn’t get it until recently…and she knew me back when I was a geeky little junior high school kid (she didn’t get why I had race cars on my walls instead of Charlie Sheen and Tom Cruise). She eventually learned to tolerate it in me until just last year when I finally (only took like what 15-20 years) turned her into a NASCAR fan and now she LOVES it like I do.

Journo’s original point was that the whole Mayfield drug debacle is drawing negative attention to OUR sport- and as fans and lovers of the sport we need to step back, take a breath and remember what is GOOD about NASCAR this season and right now (goes on to give several examples such as Mark Martin winning races at 50 and first time winners Keselowski and Reutimann). His comments got me really thinking about what do I personally love about NASCAR right now at this point in the season (in no particular order):

  • Silly Season. I will proudly stand up and say I LOVE the rumors flying around about silly season. Will Harvick be with RCR next season? Will Brad Keselowski get that full time ride an if he does who will it be for? Will Joe Gibbs Racing be bringing on a fourth car? Will Stewart-Haas be fielding a third car? Will Danica make the jump to NASCAR? Who doesn’t love the surmising and the speculating that comes with this time of the year. Last season? I was all wrapped up in the Stewart-Haas thing (read I was shocked out of my socks) so much that I didn’t have much of a chance to enjoy all that goes with silly season…this year I can sit back and enjoy throwing my twelve cents in for whatever its worth.
  • That Stewart-Haas racing currently has two cars in the top 12 in points. I have been a Tony fan a long long time…I was shocked when he made the jump to owner/driver. I didn’t doubt him, I was concerned but I jumped right on board when I saw how excited he was. But how GREAT is it that he is up there leading the points with teammate Ryan Newman behind him in 7th place in points so far? Yes I know a lot can happen between now and the chase but it’s great right now.
  • Speaking of the chase- I love how drivers are teetering on the edge of making it…or not. It’s better than Bubble Day for the Indy 500! Will Biffle or Reutimann or Bowyer be able to fight their way into the chase? Will Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth be able to stay in the chase? It’s drama at it’s best people!
  • That NASCAR, tracks and drivers are starting to embrace social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to us fans. I think that they are important tools- I am on twitter through out the day- more than email. It works for me. I admit to a slight addiction to facebook as well. I love that I can get updates (both personal and official) from these sites without having to hunt around for them. I hope more drivers come on board (hint hint Tony). NASCAR is even working with a group of selected bloggers in creating a Citizen Media Corp- which also rocks because bloggers are fans not journalists or sportscasters and have unique opinions and thoughts that they want heard- and it’s a great feeling to be included and listened to. Plus the more NASCAR bloggers unite in any method the stronger the voices are and thus the more we are heard.
  • The Mayfield drug debacle. Yes it’s turning kind of circus-like and pretty soon we almost expect to see someone like Jerry Springer jump in, however- I am going to disagree with Journo and say that this situation is bringing an important subject to light.  It’s something that hasn’t really been talked about much. And no matter what the ultimate outcome specifically regarding Mayfield’s case in particular- I think that NASCAR will emerge with one thing: a stronger and more broadly understood drug policy.
  • Kyle Busch. You may love him or you may hate him, but everyone has some feeling about him. He’s stepped into the “NASCAR BADBOY” role that some feel has been missing.  He’s young. He’s hot. He drives a mean car. He says the first thing that comes to mind (ok he reminds me of Tony so you know I like him). At Infineon I was actually in the crowd on the track during driver Intros…and when he was announced he was booed so viciously that it made me actually stop taking pictures and turn around to see if I needed to run for cover. Do I think he deserves it? No. Do I think he handles himself well? Most of the time. Do I think he has talent? Hell yeah. I also thinks he brings a little something to the table excitement wise- whether its a war of words between him and Junior or a little bitterness over some on-track action with Tony, you have to admit it adds excitement.

Of course this is not an inclusive list of ALL things I love about NASCAR on any given day. It’s just a brief list I came up with in response to a question. There are more long standing things about the sport that I love too. There are GOOD things to love about this sport all the time.