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Tony Stewart On Track

Tony Stewart on track in his Code 3 Associates #14 Chevy at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sept 2014. (Photo Credit: Jessica Bure)

I am going to start this post by apologizing right now- obviously my picking Jeff Gordon for the Championship has thwarted him somewhat.  Forgive me Jeff Gordon, team 24 and all your fans.  I promise from this point forward to root for Joey Logano (ok not really) as 2014 Sprint Cup champion.

Okay now back to business.  Between knowing that Tony had qualified 28th and that he had spun out during the last five minutes of final practice I admit I didn’t think this would be our breakout race of the season.  What I didn’t bargain for was the fact that I was ready to throw Tony’s crew chief under the (proverbial- for some reason I feel that I need to clarify this) bus by the midway point of the race.  As you may know, my beloved readers, I am an eternal optimist when it comes to team 14.  I am the one always saying, “Well, we’ll get ‘em next week.” But the “next weeks” are starting to dwindle now (we are down to EIGHT left in the whole season) and are returning to tracks that we have already been to. Performance should not be so dismal.  I, the eternal optimist, am frustrated by the way the team is running- I can only imagine how Tony must feel.  This was our second race at New Hampshire so the team should not be posting the slowest ten lap average of final practice (before the aforementioned spin)-that is just not really acceptable to me. Unless (here comes the eternal optimist in me- some days I just can’t keep her down) we are just testing stuff out for next season- when the rules package changes YET again. Some how I doubt that is the case- so I get a little cranky during the race when Tony can’t seem to advance AT ALL. I am to the point that when I hear Tony say that the car is tight in the middle- I KNOW that this race is not going to be a good one. It’s not that they don’t work on the car throughout the race- they threw something at it nearly every pitstop- trackbar, wedge, air pressure- it it was adjustable it was tweaked (including something to do with Tony’s feet- I remember hearing him on the radio state that he tried it with his left foot and it was worse…whatever “it” was). They adjusted that poor car until Tony proclaimed on the radio that they would just ride it out- then Chad seemed a bit befuddled as to what do for the next pitstop so they opted to stay out.  It just seems whenever the car is tight in the middle Tony ends up struggling all day and then stupid things end up happening like getting run over on track by David Gilliland (who according to Tony’s spotter immediately apologized) because we are running two laps down with the also ran cars.

Tony Stewart During the Parade Lap

Tony Stewart during the parade lap at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sept 2014. (Photo Credit: Jessica Bure)

Team 14 desperately needs a confidence boosting race. The whole team does- hell even all the fans do- it’s been a weird, stressful year and that one little thing could help the morale of everyone involved.  That said Tony finished 30th, 2 laps down and is still 26th in the points standing. He is still winless this year and there are 8 races left.

As for the race itself? Talk about a wild wild race- especially the last third of the race!   I thought for awhile there Kevin Havick had it in the bag (he lead the most laps- 104 which was a third of the race).  It was also a race of weird things befalling chase contenders.  Case in point Denny Hamlin…yes he had that accident but he was already FOUR laps down at that point because of a weird issue with the fuel receptor not taking gas into the car- that had a devastating effect on his Chase- as Denny is now in 13th, 6 points away from the cut off for the next round.  And Jeff Gordon- who was also strong- ended up dropping down to 7th in the standings after suffering a tire failure.  Yikes! It’s interesting to me how these elimination rounds are working out because I think the race at Dover will be a very competitive one for the Chasers because of the eliminations.  So right now the chasers below cut off line for elimination are: Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Aric Armirola.  The top three in the chase going into the last round of the Challenger round are: Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick.

Tony Stewart Signing Autographs

Tony Stewart signs autographs at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sept 2014. (Photo Credit: Jessica Bure).

The race winner? Joey Logano, who won at what he considers to be his home track.

I don’t really have any notable notes for New Hampshire, except to thank Jessica Bure for providing us with the great pictures of Tony from NHMS!

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Pictures:

Hello there Tony!

Tony Stewart (center) and Marcus Ambrose (right) on the grid at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sept 2014 (Photo Credit: Jessica Bure)

Hi Tony (and 3/4ths of Mike Arning)!

Tony Stewart on pit road at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sept 2014. (Photo Credit: Jessica Bure)

This weekend we are racing at Dover, the Monster Mile is the last race before the first set of eliminations.

Misty texted me a picture earlier in the week that sums up her 2014 Chase Driver conundrum in a single photo:

There Can Only Be One

There can only be one (image found on facebook).

It’s actually kind of a cool, yet slightly creepy picture. But it describes Misty’s chase conundrum perfectly.  See Misty has been a Jeff Gordon fan longer than she’s be a NASCAR fan (yeah I know that sounds weird but it’s true-I can completely vouch for that). However, she has lately (within the last couple of years) been pulling for Jimmie as her number two with a catch: While Jeff Gordon is Misty’s number 1 driver, Chad Knaus is her number 1 crew chief.  I know Misty would be OVER THE MOON if Jeff Gordon won the championship, but I really don’t think she’d cry in her soup if Jimmie won.  So she is being pulled in two different directions but at least it is within the same organization.

Me? I am extremely singular in my fandom. (more…)

2014 Chase Class minus Jimmie Johnson

The post-Richmond 2014 Chase Class Photo minus ailing Jimmie Johnson. (Photo Credit: Credit: 301215 Richmond International Raceway)

So- the CHASE for the Sprint Cup Championship starts this weekend at Chicagoland.  There will likely be a lot of banter about it- since it’s the first year for the newly implemented grid style Chase that mimics more of a March Madness type of playoff (I am assuming- I am not a big Basketball person so you are lucky I even know what March Madness is). I am still not quite convinced that this is the format for my NASCAR but then again- I am old school.

So since everyone is doing it- I sat down on Sunday and picked my Chase Grid: (more…)

Tony on track Saturday night at Richmond

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, leads Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, and Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)

Well it was the last race before the new chase. I, and I am sure all other Smoke fans, were hoping that there would be a win so that Tony could indeed compete in the chase.  For Tony Richmond was a MUST win if he was going to compete in the chase- and a little tiny part of me hoped against hope that they would pull that out.  Tony qualified for the race 19th. When the green flag flew he was able to move up a little bit but was stymied by a loose loose car. Tony had to hang on until the competition caution at lap 50. (more…)

 (This is what originally came out of my pen when I sat down to pen my weekly race review. It wasn’t my usual race report so I kept this and wrote a usual race report which became Oral B 500: Back In  The Saddle Again (Part 1) –  Amy).

Pre-Race Invocation in Atlanta

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, looks on prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

As I sit here, in a car wash of all places, scratching out the rough draft of my weekly race report, the song Back In The Saddle by Aerosmith is a constant refrain echoing against the walls of my skull and will not leave me. It echoes even louder and more constant then the golf tournament playing on the ancient television set turned up far too loud that needs two types of converters just to get the digital signal to the local station. I have effectively started and crossed out and then started over again (because I am old school and use paper and pen most of the time- then convert my posts to digital) this post at least three times, all while waiting for my SUV to be be brought around from the back where the washing happens to the front where the hand detailing takes place, because I just can’t seem to get the post quite right. Because obviously I have more to say about the emotion of the race than I do the race itself. (more…)

(Note: This is not what first came out of my pen when I sat down to write my weekly race report- that will follow tomorrow. But this is the race report much akin to what you are use to- Amy)

Tony and Crew walk to the grid

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, walks with crew members on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

Much to the glee of Tony Stewart fans (myself included) their driver was back this week at Atlanta for the Oral B 500. The weekend started of with a presser, a heart-felt statement read by a Tony Stewart we haven’t seen before: a very raw, obviously heartbroken one.  It was hard to watch and some wondered why he even bothered with a presser since he wouldn’t be taking questions himself. Personally I think that was mostly a “I am here to race, but I won’t answer your questions because the investigation is still ongoing and I frankly I am still quite raw about the incident so please for the love of Pete just leave me alone while I get back into the swing of racing.” I can’t imagine the amount of media pressure and scrutiny he felt like he was under, what the team felt like it was under. (more…)

Tony Stewart Atlanta Presser

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, speaks to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

“I’ve taken the last couple weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family, and also to cope with the accident in my own way. It’s given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted. I miss my team, my teammates. I miss being back in the race car.  I think being back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time.”– Tony Stewart, Atlanta Media Presser, August 29th, 2014

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*TQMS= The Quotable Mr. Stewart. Click here for previous editions of the TQMS posts.

#KeepDiggingTony #StandWithSmoke

Winding Up For The Pitch

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, throws his hans device at Kevin Harvick (not pictured), driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, after an on-track incident  at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)

I couldn’t resist the title. After the Denny/Harvick incident I actually tweeted that.  But I am getting ahead of myself. Bristol is one of my favorite tracks to watch on television; it and Martinsville. I guess I am a just a short track racing girl at heart.  Jeff Burton was again piloting the #14 Bass Pro Chevy for our driver Tony Stewart.  He qualified the #14 25 for the race- I wasn’t able to catch ANY of practice or qualifying so I couldn’t gauge how the car was running and had no idea what to expect from our team 14.

I was pleased to see that once the green flag flew Jeff Burton was able to move up through the field, slowly and steadily picking off positions one at a time fairly methodically and patiently- a feat that is not easy at a track that known to ignite the tempers of even the most mild mannered of drivers. Crew Chief Chad Johnston made an interesting call during a caution at lap 198 and that put the 14 car up in the top four of the race! That right there was a BEAUTIFUL thing to see. (more…)