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This down to the wire stuff with the Chase is absofreakinglutely killing me. Today at work I even referred to a co-worker (to a client no less) as Carl Edwards (completely by accident- his first name is Carl so I think I get a pass there).  I have been referring to my boss as Tony (his name is NOT Tony so no excuse there- and don’t go getting all Freudian on me) for weeks.  How do I explain to people that my fairly severe case of  “CHASE BRAIN” will be gone after next Sunday?

As I took my seat before the race at Phoenix I had a case of butterflies that wouldn’t quell. I was almost more nervous during the race then I was that first time I interviewed Tony Stewart (and trust me- I was a BALL of nerves that day- just ask Misty).  The actual race at Phoenix was a stress-fest because I felt the need to keep steady vigil on Tony and Carl and who was where and who led a lap and who led the most laps, who pitted when and how many tires they took and so on.  People- I tried doing math in my head while at a track.  MATH- IN MY HEAD!  I am not a dumb person- but I am not great with numbers unless I have a calculator- or paper and pencil at the very least.  The number 3 is taunting me…with our three point deficit on the points leader, Carl Edwards.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, sits in his car prior to practice for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images North America)

It isn’t helping that Tony and Carl can’t seem to break free from each other.  They qualified for Phoenix Tony right in front of Carl. They finished Carl right in front of Tony.  There has been virtually no separation between the two competitors.   It is killing me! KILLING ME!  I was hoping to go into Homestead with a couple of points on Carl and here we are sitting exactly where we were before the Phoenix race.  I know I should be grateful that Tony didn’t fall further behind Carl- but I am not.  I am bitter that we did NOT best him- it’s the sore loser in me…even though I was not the one who was racing.Yeah…so I am not the most graceful loser.

That damn duck on Carl’s firesuit mocks me…quacking THREE THREE THREE at me.  A couple of years ago at Champions Week we got our hands on some little stuffed ducks that say AFLAC when you squeeze them.  It’s been in my nephew’s toy box since I came home from champions week that year…but last night was the day he decided to play with it. AFLAC AFLAC AFLAC. That damn duck needs to go that is for sure.  On the other hand- my oldest nephew discovered my 1:64 Tony Stewart diecasts up on the shelf and wanted to know “If they were real?” and “Why can’t I play with them?” because to him they look like matchbox cars.

Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy, speak during a press conference following the Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America)

Usually by this time in the season I am beginning to mourn the end of the season, already missing my racing fix until next February, and looking a head to a fresh season for Tony to kick ass in.  However, I can NOT think that far ahead right now.   Right now all I can think is:

#KeepDiggingTony

#GoTonyGo

#BookendChampionships

XXX

By the way here are a couple of great articles about Tony in advance of the final race of the season:

Tony Stewart Vs Carl Edwards: The Championship Contenders Press Conference Score Card by Jeff Gluck

Stewart Balances Life As Driver/Owner In Quest For Cup by Cary Estes

Tony Stewart Would Make A Best Cup Champ by Terry Blount

 

First off- I just want to mention that it is HARD not going to a race after I have been to one at a specific track before. Last year I went to the Fall race at Auto Club Speedway.  It was hard not to be there this time.

That being said I have decided that Tony Stewart is trying to kill me.  When the race started Tony was in 20th position.  It seemed he was at first having a mediocre run to begin with.  I am guessing (because honestly they didn’t really talk much about him) that the set up was for the slightly warmer weather and when the track was overcast it caused some issues.  Now like I said…I am assuming that- they didn’t really talk much about Tony at all during the broadcast and from what I have heard of his postrace media comments he made it sound like they missed on the set up early in the race.  During the first part of the race he tended to jockey back and forth between positions 18 and 23rd or so.  The sun came out and he seemed to start doing a little better.  I was pleased.  Then he got a pit road speeding penalty that cost him a lap.  I was not pleased (let’s just say that after the race when my friend called me to chat she said Was that you cursing a blue streak* we heard all the way down here when Tony got that speeding penalty? She wasn’t far off as she knows me quite well.)  Being a lap down had me in conniptions but there was another caution soon (thank you Denny Hamlin- I hate to see it happen but yikes it really helped Tony) and he was able to utilize the wave around to get back on the lead lap.  I relaxed…but only a little because he was still buried way back in the field.  He seemed to be slowly working his way back up the field.  Then came what would be the last green flag pit stop, and let me tell you I don’t know what Darian Grubb was thinking. I would have LOVED to know because while the strategy worked- it could have turned out quite bad.  Darian left Tony out running laps while everyone else was pitting.  If I were Darian I would have brought Tony in as soon as we hit the fuel window. He left Tony out. I still do not understand that call. It’s not like Tony needed to lead a lap for bonus points- he had done that earlier in the race.  My only thought is they thought Tony would fair better on slightly fresher tires?  Then when they did finally bring him in- they made it a FOUR tire stop instead of just two.  I mean obviously it worked out because between just passing people and a couple of on track incidents (one resulting in a 20 minute red flag) Tony ended up finishing a remarkable 5th in the race (I am still not sure how he did that magic but I will take it!). Top five. Talk about digging, clawing and fighting your way back from adversity. Because of his incredible finish Tony maintains his position in the chase as fourth,  84 points behind new Chase leader and race winner Jimmie Johnson.  Teammate Ryan Newman battled back from a cut time to finish the race in 15th which unfortunately dropped him down to 10th in the points.

Notes About Auto Club:

  • Kasey Kahne was quite upset at what he deemed a “show” caution, which he blamed for bunching the cars back up and causing the accident that took him out of the race and pretty much out of chase contention (he is now 306 points out of the lead in 11th spot).  Unfortunately for Kasey he looked a little bit like the fool, because that caution (which was thrown for debris on the backstretch) was for actual debris on the track….they even showed the big hunk of something right there on backstretch up in the top “rim rider” groove. Kasey needs a talking to by NASCAR because when Tony got pissy about debris cautions he ended up in a meeting.
  • If Dale Junior didn’t have bad luck he would have NO luck at all…as my friend says “I am staying as far away from his as I can- he has NO Luck at all.” Poor guy. I actually felt a little sorry for him when they showed the crew working on his car and him just sitting on the tire looking dejected.
  • Was it me or did Jesse McCartney miss a whole section of the National Anthem?
  • I am beginning to think I need a bottle of Tums and a direct phone line to Darian on the PitBox if I am going to survive the chase.

Next week the race is another Saturday Night race at Lowes MotorSpeedway in Charlotte.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT- Stewart Autograph Session in Charlotte area on October 14th (that is THIS Wednesday: Speaking of the race being in Charlotte NC this week. Tony Stewart will be at the Office Depot in Pineville North Carolina as part of the Office Depot Foundation Backpack donations.  Donations are being made to several Charlotte area organization such as A Child’s Place in Charlotte, YMCA of Greater Charlotte, The PAL of Charlotte-Mecklenburg and schools in the Charlotte Mecklenbug area. Backpacks will be directly donated to the organizations. Tony Stewart will also be doing an autograph session at the Office Depot Location in Pinesville NC (address is 9610 Pinesville Matthews Road in Pinesville NC).  Tony will be there from 4:45 – 5:45 local time signing autographs for fans with wristbands. Wristbands are distributed at the location starting at 8:00 am.

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*She didn’t actually say curse a blue streak…she used the words that she thought I used. Which were also pretty close.