Header image

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.

Another exciting finish thanks to the new double file restart rule.

Tony qualified and started 32nd in Saturday night’s race.  But once that green flag dropped Tony was on a mission to move forward and that is exactly what he did nearly immediately.  It didn’t take him long to work his way up to the top 15 and then to the top 10- where he stayed around 7th place most of the evening. He seemed to be struggling a bit with the handling of the car into the turns judging by his hotpass audio.  Crew chief Darian Grubb continuously took stabs at adjusting the car to make it work more for Stewart with adjustments to air pressure and trackbar. The race at Chicagoland was actually fairly incident free…the first two cautions of the race thrown for track debris.  Team Office Depot/Old Spice seemed to be working their way towards a solid top 10 possiby even a top 5 finish.

Then there was the bad pit stop and things just seemed to go downhill for a bit.  First there was the pitstop- under caution where Tony took off from the pits two lugnuts short of a full load.  Crew Chief Darian Grubb calls him back in almost immediately- reminding him to be calm about it. Tony may have been mad but if he was I didn’t hear it.   Then during the next caution, after pitting, Tony either cuts down a tire on debris or thinks he cuts down a tire and comes back in to the pits again.  During that last 60 laps he must have pitted 4 or 5 times, luckily all of them were during cautions and he fell no lower than 17th. Each time Stewart and Grubb discussed changes to the car that Tony needed to be able to push through the field.

Tony was determined though and didn’t let a frustrating night get the best of him and continued to push forward through the pack with the help of his spotter.  Before the last restart Tony and Darian had one of my favorite exchanges of the night with Darian telling Tony that it “aint been pretty.” and Tony telling Darian that was true but “he wasn’t done yet.” And how true that was because Tony ended up pushing forward into 4th, retaining his points lead over second place Jeff Gordon.  The race winner was Mark Martin. Teammate Ryan Newman finished 6th to help Stewart-Haas racing land another double top ten for the team.

NOTES on CHICAGOLAND:

  • How cool that Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon were able to finish 1-2 and how great for the fan to get that money! Wish it was me!
  • Boy Jeff Burton doesn’t like the double file restarts…but I do. Of course they have been working to Tony’s advantage so far.
  • I decided that I didn’t much care for the back-to-school paint scheme Tony was running- with the exception of the part of the car that looked like a composition book. I think it would have been cooler to make the whole car look like the book and then maybe have it look like a kid scribbled on it… instead of the crayons on the front and the pens on the side.  Plus I just don’t like the white base to the car.  But that is just me.
  • Speaking of alternate paint schemes…should it be called a paint scheme or a wrap scheme…since technically they wrapped the car?
  • Being alone and watching a race doesn’t stop me from talking to the tv. Or yelling things like “WATCH OUT!” like Tony can here me (regarding when Paul Menard nearly spun into his right side. Tony’s reaction was a nice calm “Wow that was about as close as I wanna get tonight.” Me I was all “WATCH OUT!!!”
  • I really could just slap whoever sits there at DirecTV central with their finger on the censor button where it comes to Tony’s radio feed. I know I have harped on this before…but I really wanted to know what he and Darian said at the end of the race but all I got to hear was something like “Damn….win them and lose them as a team.” I know that there was stuff inbetween.
  • I know that you know I love the commercials.  Did  you catch the new ending to the Toyota Autograph Seeker commercial…when the little flying robot comes back with Kyle Busch and he just kind of moans? It made me laugh.
  • Speaking of the commericals…I also noticed a new version of the old spice commercial that had the girl who in previous versions was “from russia” presenting tony with a big ole turkey leg- which he bites into and then proceeds to say “Thanks Old Spice” complete with mouthful. All I could do is shake my head. At least it wasn’t as disturbing as last week’s Burger King commercial that had Tony and the King (who you all know gives me the creeps) swapping spots in the car so Tony can enjoy himself a Double Whopper (I still can’t find that commercial on youtube or anything or I would post it for your pleasure)…that was just creepy. I wish Tony had just run over the King or something.

Next weekend is an off weekend. The next NASCAR race is on July 26th at Indianapolis Motorspeedway.

So last weekend Tony was driving a new paint scheme (the BK paints scheme was mostly white with blue and orange) and won at Daytona at night. This weekend Tony is running a special “Back To School” Office Depot paint scheme (mostly white with lots of other colors) for a race Saturday night at Chicagoland.  Hmmm maybe he will win again.

I found a picture of the car- so be prepared to look for it (not that you can miss it- it will probably be the most colorful car out there):

My favorite part is the part at the top that looks like a composition book. And of course the writing implements because I LOVE pens and the sort!! Anyway…the car will be hard to miss don’t you think?

Originally I planned to write this entry right after the race on Saturday night, so I could get it up and published and enjoy my rare Sunday.  I like writing out my thoughts about the races but I definitely don’t like lagging behind a day or three to publish them. However, with a finish like that? I decided I needed to time to digest exactly what happened.

Let’s start with the beginning of the race.  Tony had the pole since qualifying was rained out and he is the points leader.  This week I honestly didn’t pay too much attention to practice like I usually do so I don’t even know where he was there. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t even until Friday afternoon that I remembered that Tony was running his Burger King paint scheme.  This had him and his crew leaving behind the usual Red  for a mostly white and blue car (the firesuits on the other hand were a gorgeous BLUE color! I loved them- and don’t get me started about Tony’s helmet!)  I am glad Tony spent so much time at the front of the field on Saturday frankly, because I don’t think I could have found him mixed in.  Seeing Tony in a mostly white car…did not compute.

Because of Tony’s starting postion they were able to pick any pitstall they wanted. The team picked the box closest to the exit of pitroad and Team OfficeDepot/OldSpice Burger King were on the ball!  Let me tell you that every pit stop whether it be  green flag or caution stops, that team had Tony coming out of the pits first all night long. It’s not like the crew weren’t adjusting on the car for Tony too…because they threw all kinds of changes at that car including trackbar and wedge.  They were just on top of it.

Between awesome pit stops and good adjustments on the car I don’t think I saw Tony scored any lower than 5th position the whole night and that was just one of those drafting deals where Tony got bumped out of the draft early in the race and couldn’t fall back in line until he was 5th. He quickly moved himself back up. Tony also led the most laps so gets a bonus point for that too (something he was swapping back and forth with Denny Hamlin most of the race).

Now to the white flag lap. Kyle got around Tony for the lead. Tony was able to hook up with Jimmie Johnson for a little drafting help. Tony gets a run on Kyle and looks to pass him. Kyle moves over to block him (as he should have done).  Tony again gets a run on Kyle and moves to the outside to pass him. Too late Kyle tries to block (as he should have done) thus tony clips him and kyle is then completely out of control and smacks the wall hard. Then in something extremely reminiscent of Talladega- Kasey Kahne gets into Kyle HARD. Lifting Kyle into the air (again- thanks to the roof flaps Kyle didn’t sail too far up) and Kyle smacks Kasey Kahne square in the windshield.  It was a hard hit for both of them:

Kyle takes a ride...

This then caused a major pile up just yards from the start-finish line.

Again, like in Talladega, neither driver did anything wrong. You wouldn’t want a driver to pull over and not throw a block when someone is trying to pass him. You also wouldn’t want a driver who was just content to run around behind someone and be ok with second place.  No one is at fault.  It’s “one of those racin’ deals”.  I said that after Talladega and I say it again after Daytona.  The most important thing was that no one was hurt really…just a big bunch of torn up race cars and probably some bruised egos and sad hearts.

I was kind of sad for Tony because it was very obvious he did not like the outcome.  He did not go into that lap wanting to wreck Kyle or cause mass havoc. Tony was very…calm when he came in after the winning his second points race (third race all around including the all-star race) this season with his new team.  I watched him on hot pass pull all the way around and usually he’s talking on the radio and cheering in the car. He did none of that. He was very tame in the car.  It was probably one of THE tamest victory lane celebrations I have ever seen. And he apologized afterwards by saying “if it was my fault I am sorry” but seriously it wasn’t is fault (or Kyles).

Was Kyle mad? Probably. Wouldn’t you be? I would be- especially in the heat of the moment.

More Notes on Daytona II:

  • Ok, the new Coke/Coke Zero brand manager NASCAR commericial? FUNNY. “Are you a NASCAR driver or a NAS-SCARED driver?” Oh that cracks me up.  As does Jeff Burton taking off after the guys.
  • The Tony Stewart/ Burger King Commercials? Eeek. First one was bad enough- I have nightmares where someone pops up in the backseat of my car. Let alone the king- who is creepy anyway. But the one where Tony and the King “swap” spots in the car? That one was just way beyond. Unfortunately they aren’t on youtube yet so I can’t share them with you and show you all that is WRONG with that!
  • Because of the finish- there are lots of articles out there about the big accident and there probably will be all week. But the first bullet in this one is absolutely ridiculous: 1. Tony Stewart will never lift off the throttle on the final lap. DUMB! Why? Because why would ANY DRIVER lift off the throttle?  That would be one fired driver!
  • My favorite saying of the race though? Wally Dallenbach gets credit for this one: Never second guess your butt.

Next weekend we are racing under the lights on Saturday night at CHICAGO!

Our last installment of the Road Course Adventure had us never making it to the track on Saturday. Well not past the parking gate anyway. I am warning you right now that this is a LONG post (filled with lots of pictures) as Sunday was A LONG day.  If you are on dialup though I don’t want to kill your ability to see my site so continue on to read the adventure of Sunday at the Races….

(more…)

This is a post that have been mulling over in my head for quite some time. The idea was sparked last year actually by a NASCAR INSIDERS post about driver websites and I was going to write about this then- but then Tony announced he would be leaving JGR at the end last season so I decided that I would wait until SHR got their feet under them so to speak- because I am sure one of the last things on their mind is their presence on the web when you have to worry about building a whole team.

Tony Stewart has more “official” sites than you can shake a stick at between the official Tony Stewart site, the major sponsor sites and the SHR site, oh and let’s not forget the TSR site.  I am just going to take on those five sites. First off, I have to start by telling you I have very little design experience when it comes to websites.  This lovely site here? Set up and hosted for me by Pete with layout designed by Karah.  I am going at these pages from a fan point of view. A “usablity” point of view.

Let’s start with the main site: tonystewart.com.  This site serves as the portal to all things Tony Stewart.  I don’t know if you were familiar with this site last season when it was orange and black color scheme- but it looked actually alot like tonystewartracing.com(the official site of his open wheel race teams) does -it was a more simplistic page but it got the job done. This new TonyStewart.Com site is functional and “pretty”.  I hated the orange and black because everything was so muted.  I have to say that the red/black theme this season is much more eye catching and I don’t know if its the colors or the photos they are using but everything on this website seems much more crisp and clean than the old orange/black version.  I absolutely love the animated red smoke that floats through the main banner on the homepage area where the pictures rotate.  I also really like how the pictures on the banner on the child pages are mostly black and white with only a car or Tony being color.  They did this with the old color scheme but it didn’t work as well for me as it does here. I find the navigation on this site pretty straight forward.  It even displays the points and the last race results right there on the front page now which I like. Everything is up and working on this site now- except for some bizarre reason I can’t get the videos to play under multimedia. But I can really live without that for right now because they are just the old spice commercials and a link to the Tony Stewart: Off Track video series.  Content wise it has pretty much what you would expect: driver bio, pictures, store, fan club (now called The Smoke Pit this area as of this posting is still under construction for the most part), Sponsor information etc. Overall I really liked the redesign of this site- its much more aestetically pleasing and has a sleeker, cleaner feel.  I think there needs to be an area on the front page though that lists TV appearances and such…I totally missed Tony on Trackside a couple weeks ago- but if it had been listed on the page somewhere I wouldn’t have.

Next let’s move on to StewartHaasRacing.com. This is the website for everything Stewart-Haas related. I waited for a long time for this page to come to fruition and it was worth the wait. This page has a very garage-ish feel but I love it. I blame it completely on my LOVE of the Stewart-Haas Racing logo-it has a classic car feel to it. I LOVE that logo. This page features bios on both Tony and his teammate Ryan as well as info on the crews for both the 14 and the 39 cars.  Both teams publish team press releases at this site as well as random news.  The coolest part about this site is the VIP Garage, which functions much like a social networking site. Users have their own page (see mine). By logging in fans have access to message boards and exclusive content such as wallpapers, galleries and videos. There is also a points system based on logins and points and random giveaways dependent on the level of points you have. My only complaint about this site? Is the damn music it starts up with. Its kind of loud. I know you can shut it off but it never stays that way.

Unlike the NascarInsiders article about driver pages I am going to delve into the sponsor websites. One of Tony’s two primary sponsor sites is OfficeDepotRacing.com. It is has nice pretty much the same bio information you can find at tonystewart.com.  My major complaint is that this page is very dialup unfriendly- its really graphic intensive and video intensive.  I know I am still living in the dark ages…but I also know that I am not the only one here in the cave.  However I LOVE the “Ask Tony” portion of this site. The old home depot site also had this and it was always fun. However- officedepotracing.com has some of the answers in video format and some in “written”. That is probably one of my favorite features.

Old Spice is Tony’s other primary sponsor and the OldSpiceRacing.com site is probably the newest of all the sites listed. It is also the most hilarious. While I have made no bones about the fact that I think that Tony’s Old Spice Commerical is really kinda dumb (still not sure what being Russian has to do with anything). I love Tony’s bio on this site because its completely slapstick. Here is a brief excerpt: Tony Stewart is a racer’s racer. If a greyhound, a fighter pilot and a chainsaw sculptor were somehow genetically welded together, reengineered with gasoline and cloned to form a half-carburetor, half-human racing man/machine, Tony would be that man/machine. Tony Stewart was born to race. In other words, if when Tony Stewart was born the doctor told him racing hadn’t been invented yet, he would crawl to the library, teach himself how to read and begin studying how to cryogenically freeze himself long enough for racing to be invented. In 2005, during a race, Tony Stewart got tired and, while taking a nap in the backseat, passed eight cars to clinch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. This site is HILARIOUS. It could rehash old info located on all the other sites but it comes up with a unique way to advertise Tony and Old Spice. (Speaking of which they have a hilarious new contest called Swaggerize Your Wallet- for information go here).

These are just the main “official” sites for Tony and Stewart-Haas Racing.  There is also a facebook presence for Stewart-Haas Racing as well as for teammate Ryan Newman – which I think is awesome. Tony (or his PR handlers more likely) also has a Infield Parking page as does Ryan Newman.

I have always referred to Pocono as “that evil little triangle track” Now I don’t know why I feel the need to say “little” because there is nothing little about Pocono- it’s a 2.5 mile track with one of THE widest pit roads on the circuit. But still I guess I feel the need to add the diminutive to the moniker because it’s not a favorite track of mine.  I have no real explanation as to WHY but it just is not a favorite.

Anyway this was a rollercoaster of a weekend for team OfficeDepot/OldSpice.  First both first practice and qualifying get rained out- thus giving Tony Stewart his first Pole of the season.  That is a definite up right? Well then- on Saturday during second practice Tony spun his car- ended up taking a ride through the grass and when he hit a grass burm he pretty much ripped the whole front of the car up- separating the splitter completely off the car and damaging the radiator.  So…off to a backup car…and thus starting at the back of the field on Sunday.  That was definitely a big downer.

So the race, the first of the TNT Summer series, started and I nearly forgot that Tony was a HotPass driver.  So I switched over to HotPass just in time to hear Darian Grubb tell the Tony and the #14 guys that he wanted them to bring home a “little triangle trophy” which humored me immensely. Once the green flag dropped, Tony immediately began working his way up the field of cars like a man on a mission.  He was very upbeat on the radio and seemed pretty pleased with the way the car was handling as well as with the tweaks that they made on the car during the pitstops to refine that handling.  Between Tony just slicing and dicing his way through the field and some awesome pitstops- Tony soon heard “Welcome to the top fifteen” from his spotter soon followed by “Top 10″ where Tony would stay for the remainder of the race.

His last pit stop was completely awesome. That pitcrew got him out just in time for him to roll across the line just in front of Carl Edwards…however Jeff Gordon had opted to stay out to lead a lap. Then is started to sprinkle on the track.  This meant Tony was in second because Gordon stayed out. I know all the Gordon fans were probably doing rain dances- (I know my friend was) but the sprinkle was short lived and Jeff Gordon soon ended up having to pit. Once Tony was in the lead he never really looked back.

From here it would be a fuel milage race. Darian Grubb told Tony to save fuel.  This is never a good thing. Could you imagine the hunger you have wanting that first points win. You are within reach. You are in the lead.  You have 800 horses under your foot and you have to conserve fuel? It has to go against everything that makes sense to a racer. Instead of “GO FAST. TURN LEFT.” you now have to “Go Fast enough to stay in the lead but not so fast that you run yourself out of gas- but not so slow that the guy behind you catches you and passes you. oh and TURN LEFT.” Tony was pretty quiet on the radio during those last 40 laps.  He came on once and said “I Hate This.” I took it to mean he hated having to hold back and the whole not knowing if he had enough gas. The sportscasters didn’t think Tony would be able to do it.  That last 40 laps to me seemed to take about three hours to complete.  At one point Jimmie Johnson started coming up towards the field and was battling second place Carl Edwards pretty hard.  I suddenly had visions of Dover last weekend and Jimmie passing Tony to take the lead.  Luckily this did not happen as Jimmie ended up running out of gas. Like Tony, I was fairly quiet (Odd I know- considering I thought that I would get the cops would get called on me last weekend I was cheering so loud).  But finally Tony Stewart took the white flag and then the checkered.  His first Points Race win as an Owner/Driver. Stewart maintains his lead in the points standings. Teammate Ryan Newman also had a stellar top-five finish.

Pocono Notes:

  • I was surprised at the small number of cautions at Pocono. They were few and far between. It made for some great green flag pit stop action.
  • How frustrating was it to be Denny Hamlin?  He struggled all day…right from teh gitgo.  I felt kind of bad for him.
  • My friend pointed this little gem out to me: Tony Stewart…the number #14 wins the 14th points race of the season. Hee I think 14 should be Tony’s new favorite number…if it isn’t already.
  • I was glad to see that Jeff Gordon was able to work his way up to a fourth place finish after pitting late. It was a great finish.
  • Was I the only one who was worried Tony didn’t have enough gas for that little burn out he did?
  • I was pretty pleased with the TNT broadcast.  Granted I was watching HotPass so ask me for sure next weekend…but they seem to have improved from last season. And I love Larry Mac as an announcer. I think he is my favorite.
  • I was glad that Tony’s father Nelson was there at Long Pond to watch the first win in person.  It was great to see him congratulate Tony before he got out of the car.  The crew even made sure to douse him during the celebration in Victory Lane.
  • I was glad to see that Patrick Carpentier was back behind the wheel. I hope they are able to come up with a more permanent ride for him.
  • Congratulations to Robby Gordon who won the Baja race, and then flew directly to Long Pond to race in Sunday’s Pocono 500…his car was practiced for him by Travis Kvapil.
  • Did you happen to notice the hats that Tony’s pit crew were wearing? I want one. They say Office Depot on one side and Old Spice on the other. They had a similar hat at the merchandise Hauler at Phoenix…but it was beige.  I want the red one.
  • Also incase you missed it: Valli is giving away one of Jeff Gordon’s Lugnuts from the race at Talladega as part of an awesome Jeff Gordon/Pepsi throwback prize package.  Be sure to enter now.
  • You might also still have time to submit your questions to From The Marbles for a chance to have RACE WINNER Tony Stewart answer an interview question of yours.  Like I said on Saturday this is a cool contest…I would love to be able to run one like this.

CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN TO TONY STEWART, TEAM OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE, and STEWART-HAAS RACING.

Next Weekend will find us at Michigan Internationl Raceway.

Yesterday was the All-Star Challenge at Lowes Motor Speedway.  This race is a no- points race.  Basically- this race is for money and as Tony Stewart said nearly all week…”bragging rights.”  It started Thursday night with the Pit Crew challenge.  Then yesterday afternoon was the burn out competition (won by Kevin Harvick after Kyle Busch and DW both disqualified themselves).  The rider with Kyle didn’t seem too pleased that Kyle tapped the safer barrier.

Then came the All-Star race. This race is set up a little different than your average NASCAR race in that it starts with the Shootout where the winner and runner up (and a fan vote) get into the big race.  To not have to race your way into the All-Star race you have to: Have either been a race winner this season or last, won the All-Star race in the past 10 years or be a past cup champion.  The shootout was run in two 20 lap segments.  The winner was Sam Hornish Jr and the runner up was Jamie McMurray. And the fan vote surprised me…it was Joey Logano.  I don’t know why it surprised me but it certainly did.  Qualifying for the All-Star Race is also different in that it includes a full four-tire pit stop. Tony ended up qualifying poorly because he accidently left on the jack after only two tires….much to the dismay of his tire changer.

Now the actual All-Star race has 4 segments. A 50 lap segment with a mandatory caution at lap 24 where all teams had to change 4 tires. Two 20 lap segments with a caution thrown at the end of each one.  The caution at the end of the second 20 lap segment is a mandatory 10 minute caution. Then a 10 lap “dash for the cash” shootout.  Now each segment had a different winner and during the first three segments Tony Stewart was working his way up the field slowly and steadily.  While watching the race I made a mental note to talk about the awesome pass Tony made to get around Joey Logano to break into the top 10- nearly going in the grass (which is totally legal) to get pass him. I figured that his pass would be Tony’s big move of the race. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The racing during the 10 lap dash is intense and hard.  At one point Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, and Jeff Gordon are three wide. Someone loses it (I am not sure if it was Kyle or Ryan) and the two of them touch and bounce off each other. The unfortunate victim here was Jeff Gordon. He ends up into the wall.  Ryan Newman soon ends up cutting a tire and falling back.  There is a random debris caution (again these laps do not count) during which they show Tony sitting inside his car from an incar camera and you can see his eyes thorugh his visor even though it’s tinted for the glare from the lights. They are the big focused eyes -what my dad loves to call “fighter pilot” eyes.  Tony has his eyes on the prize.  The green flies and there  more crazy racing and lots and lots of screaming cheering (apparently you could hear me all the way in Maine) on my part (Roxy at this point decided to take leave of us and seeks solice outside in her dogloo). With less than three laps to go Tony finally gets around race leader Matt Kenseth and never looks back.

CONGRATULATIONS TO TONY STEWART and all of STEWART-HAAS RACING.  WAHOO!!!