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Tony pilots his Chevy through the garage

Tony pilots his Chevy through the garage at Texas Motor Speedway, November 2014. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Store FB/Mike Calamungi/CIA Stock Photo)

I wanted to let the race soak in a bit this week before writing my post (okay who am I kidding- really I was totally slammed at the day job yesterday and not in the mood to write by the time I got home).

Let’s start with my usual fodder- Team 14 and their run at TMS.  I admit I started the weekend a bit excited after hearing that Tony was the first driver to break the 200 mph mark in a stock car at Texas Motor Speedway.  Of course it’s all relative considering Tony has gone around TMS in an indy car at well over 200 mph. Still it’s cool and like Tony mentioned who knows how long the record lasts- but it’s always cool to be the first one to do something!  Tony was able to qualify for the race 6th which is not bad at all! (more…)

Tony Stewart at Texas Motor Speedway for the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in 2013. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Facebook page)

 

The more comfortable I am, the faster we go.– The undeviating yet always loquacious Mr. Tony Stewart, Duck Commander 500 Pre-Race Team Release

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#14in14 #GoTonyGo #StandWithSmoke

Judging by the bacon themed food and novelty items that surround us these days, there must be some strange and growing group of bacon fanatics in the world. Who they are and where they are I do not know, and am not sure I want to know. Since everyone else I have discussed this over abundance of bacon with seems to scrunch their nose and think it as strange as I do, I am left to wonder about the people who would find such things as bacon sundaes at Denny’s, bacon bandages and bacon candy canes from Urban Outfitters, and bacon cotton candy appealing.

Oh yeah, bacon cotton candy! Texas Motor Speedway is unveiling its newly created “Hawg Heaven Bacon Cotton Candy” during the NRA 500. There is even a scratch and sniff shirt to go along with this culinary creation! Executive Chef Joel Pena will prepare over 3,000 bags of “Hawg Heaven Bacon Cotton Candy” and will cook more than 300 pounds of bacon to be used as candy-coated topping to the bacon flavored candy fluff.

The candy can be purchased at where else, but the Pig Rig Food Truck on the concourse between gates three and four, and in the stands by Hawg Heaven Hawkers, and at various concession stands throughout the track.

I guess I really shouldn’t knock something I haven’t tried, but I just can not understand this bacon mania that is taking the country by storm. I wonder how many of you have tried a bacon delicacy or would want to try Texas’ newest treat?! If you do, let us know what you think.

Unless you happen to be a Tony Stewart fan like me- I bet you didn’t notice the AMAZING comeback that Tony Stewart had during the race at Texas.  Seriously- I mean he IS a chase driver so I don’t understand WHY they failed to mention the while he had a mostly mediocre run at Texas- staying between positions 18 and 23 for probably 90 percent of the race- only to end up finishing 5th.  I am STILL not sure where he came from at the end of that race- but all of the sudden I noticed he was 10th (my Sprint Cup Mobile scanner for Tony’s radio only worked for about the first half of the race) after a round of pit stops.  I was previously distracted by the rivalry brewing between Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson. And then he was 7th, then 6th, then whoo hoo the race is over and Tony is 5th!!!  Now while I do realize that Jimmie and Brad are the main contenders for the cup right now and certainly they should garner most of the spotlight…I am pretty certain that Tony’s finish deserved SOME sort of mention.

Tony Stewart pits the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 4, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

The G-W-C finish may have pushed the broadcast over it’s allotted time slot a bit, but still I think it deserved SOME mention.  We saw replays of the restarts,  we saw and heard from Jimmie in Victory Lane, we heard from Brad about the last restart, how about “a let’s hear from Tony Stewart about that comeback to finish 5th” and THEN go to SportsCenter.  Because I watched the first couple minutes of Sports Center and then my attentions drifted elsewhere and they didn’t mention it so I wandered away.  That race seemed REALLY LONG to me.  I think I probably would have dozed off during the first 150-200 laps IF I hadn’t been listening to Tony’s scanner (thank you for keeping me awake Spotter Bob!). To tell the truth? This time change absolutely kills me. With the chase races starting later than regular season races combined with the time change- I was TIRED and the race at the beginning wasn’t THAT exciting until the end, so I got a little heavy lidded from time to time. Especially for Tony Stewart fans- who got to see their driver only on the scrolling banner on the top where the positions are and on a rare occasion during a pit stop to say well they are making adjustments.

Helmet shot of Tony

I LOVE these helmet shots of Tony in his helmet in his car. (Photo Credit: Copyright CIA Stock Photography, Inc. as seen on The Official Tony Stewart Facebook Page- click photo to be taken to original)

Like I mentioned, I listened to Stewart’s radio chatter as long as sprint cup mobile would let me- and they were throwing ALL kinds of adjustments at that car EVERY SINGLE pit stop that I heard.  Including putting shims in because the splitter was hitting during one of the cautions. They were discussing taking the shim out of the left front if they got another caution when I seemed to lose all driver radios so I am not sure if they ever made that adjustment.  I am not saying they should only focus on Tony- that would be boring and we would have missed the excitement of the racing between Keselowski and Johnson.  But just a couple more mentions through out the broadcast and after the race would have been nice!

Race winner was Jimmie Johnson, who has 7 championship points over second place Brad Keselowski.  Tony finished 5th, and moved up to 8th in the championship standings.

Notes About Texas:

  1. Something else you might have missed during the race- Carl Edwards hit his tire changer MikeLingerfeltduring a pit stop.  Yikes!!
  2. This picture of Tony Stewart from practice at Texas Motor Speedway humors me:

    Tony Stewart standing in the garage at Texas. (Photo Credit: The Official Tony Stewart website- click on photo to be taken to the original).

  3. On Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway- several of the Coca-Cola Family drivers took part in a Google + Hangout chat with fans.  If you are like me- you probably missed it, but fear not! They have the video up and I have embedded it for your pleasure (of course it doesn’t hurt that Tony Stewart is in it-  as is his 100 lb lapdog Hank…which reminds me of Misty’s Gidget who who was such a sweetie- she was german shephard/chow mix and also thought she was a 100 lb lap dog).

Next Race: Phoenix- and YES Misty and I will be there!

When I saw Tony’s paint scheme he would be running at the race at Texas Motor Speedway, I knew it was going to be a tough road to hoe.  Why? Because this was his paint scheme last weekend:

 

The Mobil 1 paint scheme with a very green twist- the hood is green to promote their synthetic oil used to help the fuel economy of your car. Also- Green = Bad Luck for Tony. (Photo Credit: Stewart-Haas Racing Twitter Account)

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Sunday was a clear but blustery day at Texas Motor Speedway.  Team Office Depot/Old Spice started seventh on the starting grid and Stewart was soon quickly moving his Chevy Impala up the field as the race starts- and is in 3rd position by lap 30 of the race.  Because of the long initial green flag run – the field begins to cycle through a round of green flag pit stops starting around lap 50 and ending around lap 54.  Stewart stays out long enough to lead a lap before coming in for his service coming out third. Stewart quickly begins working his way up the field again and soon he passes Matt Kenseth to take the lead when Kenseth gets a little loose. The first caution of the day, due to debris- no doubt because of the wind, has Tony coming in to pit from first place- a slight miscue by the pit crew caused him to lose valuable time in the pits- dropping him two places down to third on his way out. Stewart remained consistent throughout the day- maintaining no further back than the top ten.  The Office Depot/Old Spice pit crew rebounded quite well from their early race miscue and was then able to get Stewart out efficiently and quickly at the end of the race- when track position was most valuable.

Said Stewart, in his post race team release, of the crew:

“Our guys had a couple rough spots on pit road in the beginning, so I just calmed them down, told them to take a deep breath and just slow down a little bit.  They had great stops the rest of the day. I am proud of those guys they rebounded really well.”team release

Tony was able to keep his car in the top five- finishing in fourth after a late charge and pass by Greg Biffle.  Stewart advanced to fifth in the points standings.  Teammate Ryan Newman spent most of his day a lap down in positions 24th-26th- but was able to gain late in the race as well- getting not only his lap back but finishing 15th.  Jeff Gordon, was able to hold off an impressive blistering charge through the pack late in the race made by teammate Jimmie Johnson to win his first ever race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Other Notes about Texas:

  • Rookie Joey Logano had an impressive qualifying effort at Texas- unfortunately his performance in the race wasn’t quite up to par- and at one point smacked the right side of the car pretty hard against the outside wall.
  • Jr. missed his pit stall again at Texas.  Maybe they should have someone stand in front of his pitboard and jump up and down?  Does his crew chief not count him down when he is entering?  When Tony was with Greg Zipadelli I know Greg would always start with “Ok you are 10 away…5 away, turn in…wheels straight put on the brake” I don’t know if Darian does the same thing for Tony- I assume so.
  • During the pre-show Chris Myers mentioned kind of off-handedly that a driver makes no fewer than 50 decisions a lap during a race.  Can you imagine trying to make 50 decisions going 180 mph- per lap?
  • One of the big news items this week is that NASCAR will be taking the first place car, the second place car’s engine and a random finisher’s car back to the R&D center to do post race inspection- instead of doing it right there at the track.  Does this mean they will be looking harder at the cars and engines?  Or do they think that the inspectors will be fresher after NOT having been at the track all day? Either way it’s an interesting and sudden decision.
  • The other big news is that NASCAR is either heavily considering or has already decided to move the end of year banquet from New York to Las Vegas.  Personally? I think it’s a great idea because I am so there. SO THERE.
  • Aric Armirola can be added to the newest list of drivers possibly out of a ride sooner rather than later.  It was mentioned on the pre-show that if a sponsor is not found by the Phoenix race for Armirola the Earnhardt Ganassi shop will pear down its three car operation down to a two car operation retaining drivers Martin Truex Jr and Juan Pablo Montoya. Armirola joins the likes of Kvapil and Gilliland who are in similar situations.
Next week is an off weekend for NASCAR- the weekend after Easter has NASCAR back in the desert at PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY.