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(photo source: Zimbio.com/Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

Started: 14th

Finished: 6th

Points: 57, 71 points from 30th (38th in the standings)

Quote of the race: “I don’t know how in the world I missed getting in that.” — Ty Dillon on the team radio after narrowly escaping a 21 car accident with 28 laps to go.

Racing at Talladega always makes me antsy. I am not a big fan of wrecks- especially the kind where cars can go flying every which way. I remember one Talladega…was it 2009? 2010? Some where around there were Ryan Newman ended up upside down in the grass. That was terrible. Knowing my driver is out there driving with a fairly significant back injury that is healing? That is crazy making for me.  So when I read that the plan was to have Tony start the race and then get out during the first caution so that Ty Dillon could take over the reigns? That made me much happier and at ease with the idea of Tony being out there in that car at that track. A track infamous for the “big one.” (more…)

I figured since Tony is back- it’s time to bring back the Quotable Tony Stewart! This week I picked a quote from the team release about communication with Mike Bugarewicz his new crew chief for the 2016 season.

(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/ Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images North America)

“I’ve been to seven of the eight races that I’ve missed. Being on the radio with him and being on the pit box and communicating with him, it really shortened that learning curve up. I don’t think we really missed anything. I feel like we got off to a really good start together. I don’t think there is a communication gap that we have to worry about.”  – Tony Stewart, Talladega Team Release (more…)

(photo source: Tony Stewart Facebook)

Are you all ready for Talladega? I admit I always fret about Talladega even more than I do about races at Daytona. So this is what has been rolling around in my head like lugnuts during a green flag pitstop:

1. Just a reminder first- Tony will only be taking a few laps at Talladega and then use replacement driver Ty Dillon. The risk of aggravating his back injury in those crazy crashes is just too great. As much as I love seeing Tony back in the car I can’t even express how much of relief that is to me as I have made no secret about how I feel about Talladega and the danger it presents to drivers. It seems this whole relief driver points going to Tony Stewart thing is causing quite a stir – I guess that just shows it’s been a really really long time since a driver has utilized a relief driver in a race.  NASCAR isn’t changing any rule by allowing Tony Stewart to retain the points from his relief driver Ty Dillon. It has been this way since well before the current chase format.  It’s the whole point of a relief driver- that the driver who is sick or injured “tap out” of the race so as to not be a danger to himself or other while another driver takes over.  The whole point of Tony even starting Talladega I would assume is for the points- or else they would likely just have him sit out because that track is dangerous and the likelihood of being caught up in an accident is great- and Tony is still healing from his sand rail accident.

2. This isn’t NASCAR or even racing related. This is human being related and needs to be watched: (more…)

(Photo Source: Tony Stewart Facebook)

Started: 18th

Finished: 19th

Points: 22, 101 points from 30th

Quote of the race: “Line them up and I’ll run 800 laps right now and not have a problem. There will be a bunch of these guys falling out of the seat if they had to run 800 more laps, but I will not be one of them.” — Tony on the radio after the race, when asked by his crew chief how he was feeling. LOVE IT!

(Photo Source: Mobil 1 facebook)

I have had the chorus from the Welcome Back Kotter theme song stuck in my head since Thursday morning when Tony made the announcement that he would be piloting the #14 Mobil 1 Chevy  for the first time this season.  That of course later turned to Bill Engvall’s “Here’s Your Sign” routine- except I was stating in my head it was “here’s your fine.” But I already wrote all about the fine and my views on the subject haven’t changed so you can read that in the Welcome Back Tony, Here’s Your Fine post I made. That is all I will say about that whole debacle in this post. Anyway- what better track for Tony to make his “comeback” race at than Richmond. It’s his favorite track after all.

So on Friday I was quite distracted on Friday at work trying to pay attention to practice and qualifying (that was rained out) because I wanted to know how Tony’s first day back in his office was going. Apparently his biggest issue was that he wasn’t use to the new digital dash board they are running in the cars now which I found out via video embedded in a tweet, yet he was obviously still in good humor about it. So it wasn’t that big of an issue. Later on Sunday during the national broadcast they actually talked about what kind of adjustments they can make to the digital dash because how and what the driver sees is customizable and they have to also take into account where the driver sits, and what kind of steering wheel he uses. I found that all fascinating. So the qualifying on Friday had been rained out as I mentioned which meant that cars would be lined up on the grid according to practice speeds- putting Tony 18th on Sunday. There were changes to the Saturday schedule because of the weather issues and that meant the sprint cup teams ended up with one practice on Saturday. (more…)

(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images North America)

Tony Stewart fans were beyond excited yesterday when the driver announced not just a timeline for his return to his #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro chevy but that he was BACK in his race car effective immediately.  Hours later many of those same fans were outraged that NASCAR turned around and issued Tony Stewart a $35,000 fine for talking about the issue of teams not tightening enough lug nuts during pitstops since NASCAR no longer polices this during a media obligation the day before.  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know that I was ramped up yesterday about Tony receiving that $35,000 fine and I still am. I have NEVER thought a fine was such a, pardon my  language, bullshit fine in my life as a NASCAR fan. One of the many many reasons Tony is my driver is that he has never ever shied away from speaking his mind. Yes it’s gotten him into some hot water from time to time. And sometimes he might not say things in the most diplomatic way but he says them because they need to be said.  Sometimes he says things in the heat of the moment but what driver doesn’t. This was not one of those times.

Now if Tony were to have gone out there and lambasted specific people in NASCAR’s hierarchy regarding this issue I might have understood the fine. But from what I heard and read Tony say about the lug nut issue is that he is mad (I believe his actual words were P.O.’d) because he feels no longer monitoring/requiring the amount of lug nuts tightened is going to get someone hurt.  It’s a safety issue.   At least two other drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Greg Biffle, have made similar complaints as has crew chief Rodney Childers. I don’t see them getting fined. NOR SHOULD THEY. It’s a safety issue that needs to be brought to someone’s attention before a driver or a spectator get injured.  Tony talks about it and he gets fined.

NASCAR came out of the box this season stating what exactly the fine scale would be for drivers who spoke poorly of NASCAR or it’s racing product. I was hopeful that this meant the fines would be more transparent and more evenly distributed than ever before. They have failed on this BIG TIME.  Take for instance Kyle Busch.  Several weeks ago Kyle Busch claims NASCAR is fixing races on his team radio because they threw a yellow flag that he felt could have cost him a possible win in the Xfinity Series – clearly a much more inflammatory statement against NASCAR and it’s racing product and yet he doesn’t get fined (he did get fined that weekend but it was for bailing on post race media obligations post race and not for his statement about races being fixed by the sanctioning body).  There has to be consistency and fairness in the penalties and fining Tony Stewart for bring up lug nuts and safety (a conversation that has been going on since late last year at least) is not something that should be something fine worthy.

It seems that the drivers agree, as the Sprint Cup series driver’s council issued a statement late last night that they didn’t think that the fine was fair and they would be helping pay the fine. This tells me that they feel the same way Tony does so they should all feel the fine pain so to speak.  I hope that this speaks volumes to NASCAR. They have a possible safety issue that they need to seriously consider. Fining drivers for talking about a possible safety issue is like fining a baseball player for considering wearing a helmet when he’s up to bat, or fining a bull rider for wearing a flack jacket during his 8 second ride.  It doesn’t make sense because without the athlete- you don’t have the sport. (more…)

(Photo Source: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

Usually when my cellphone vibrates with a text message as I am coming off the elevator at work onto my floor- it’s something work related. Today it’s YEY related. Here is what has been pinging around my head like lugnuts in a pitstall during a green flag pit stop- you just never know where they will end up…except I kind of do- they end up here. Let’s get to it shall we:

1.So I am a little late with the lugnuts- I usually post them on Wednesdays- but to be completely honest it was just because I ran out of time yesterday to track down pictures to put in the post and all that but now we have something else to discuss and it’s probably the most important thing to discuss so I am bumping everything else down a notch! So in case you live in a world without social media Tony Stewart announced today not just the timeline of when he would be back in the #14 but SURPRISE he’s going to be back in the car this weekend.  There are not enough exclamation marks in the world to exclaim how excited I am about this.  So Tony will be racing his first race back at his favorite NASCAR track too- so that can’t hurt right? Tony has always exclaimed his love for Richmond.  Also in case you didn’t know- Tony will then do a tire test at Indy and will start Talladega for the points then hand the car over to Ty Dillon because of the significant increase of crash and injury at Talladega. I can’t tell you how much better this makes me feel about Talladega. Also as expected NASCAR did grant Tony Stewart a waiver for the missed races. So come on Tony let’s go out there and rip off a win and maintain top 30 status…I want to see you in Vegas my man! This definitely made my morning!

2. Here is Tony yesterday on RACEHUB last night- actually yesterday afternoon for me on the west coast…but I dvr’d and watched it this morning well before the announcement and thought to myself- hey self- you should find the video and add it before I publish the post: (more…)

(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/Robert Laberge/Getty Images North America)

Replacement Driver: Ty Dillon

Started: 34th

Finished: 25th

I am surprised that I have seen so much complaining on my social media regarding the quality of the racing at Bristol this weekend. While I will agree with those that say the racing product at the track hasn’t been the same since they redid the track the last time (I have felt this way about the racing at Phoenix as well)- I thought that racing at the track on Sunday was quite good and I was watching it from the national broadcast and not sitting in the stand. I think the track is getting back to being more of it’s old self and I hope that as the track continues to season and the racing packages improve that will cultivate an elevated racing product back to the bumping and grinding that short track NASCAR racing is famous for. (more…)

(Photo source: Stewart-Haas Racing Race Release)

Well it seems that my brain is full of lugnuts this week! Here is what has been pinging around my brain like lugnuts during a green flag pitstop:

1. I find it interesting that Kyle Busch’s recent back-to-back sweeps has sparked a lot of interest but not in the way you would think. Instead of everyone being a buzz about what a monumental accomplishment back-to-back weekend sweeps (even haters have to be impressed) are,  most of the buzz I am hearing is from NASCAR fans who don’t think that the cup drivers should be able to drive in any of the feeder series but instead should be relegated to just driving the premiere cup series.  If this is the case (and I don’t believe this should be the case AT ALL just to make that clear) then by following that same logic new drivers should not drive in the cup series until they have a full time cup ride. See? Cup drivers driving in the series not just give the up-and-coming racers different driving levels and styles to drive with and around (the thought here being is that they can learn from the cup series regulars) but there is the bigger draw to having the cup drivers participate in races in the “lesser” series  and that is that you are drawing fans to seats that might not have otherwise been filled.  I honestly don’t see a problem with it. It’s not like the cup drivers can run for the lesser series championships anymore so I don’t really see why it’s a big deal- they should be able to run if they have the ride and sponsorship to do so.  I know that when Tony occasionally would run what is now the Xfinity series I would be more apt to tune in and pay attention then not.

(more…)