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I have been looking forward to  Sonoma Race weekend for so many reasons this year, but mostly because I have been JONESING hardcore for a race (in person).  In general NASCAR fans in the west kind of get the short end of the stick race wise.  There is Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Fontana- which unfortunately for fans (and fortunately for race teams no doubt) are all kind of close together.  Then we have a long wait until late June for Sonoma (and then again another long wait until Fall Phoenix).

Sonoma Raceway (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

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Hey Kentucky Smoke Fans- Tony Stewart has an autograph session scheduled for 4:00pm on June 28th, 2012 at the Office Depot located at 6825 Burlington Pike (Turfway Square Shopping Center) in Florence, Kentucky (zip for your gps: 41042).  You MUST have a wristband to get an autograph- 600 wristbands will be distributed at the same Office Depot location starting at 8:00 am the morning of the appearance on a first come, first serve basis.  One autograph per wristband, one wristband per person! Wear comfy shoes if you plan to stand in line all day, if you don’t- be sure to be in line no later than 4:45pm!

Also Tony will be running a special WE DO SAME DAY PRINTING Paint scheme this coming weekend at Kentucky:

WE DO PRINTING! on the hood of the #14 Office Depot Chevy in Kentucky.

We Do Printing Same Day! on the TV Panel of the #14 Office Depot Chevy for Kentucky!

Ok- so I tend to chock my posts full of pictures- as you probably know (and it gets worse when it’s a race I have actually attended because I always have my camera with me and usually come back with GIGS worth of pictures). Anyway I couldn’t figure out a way to fit these two pictures into my Michigan post- but think they are HUMOROUS so I needed to share them with you:

Picture 1:

Personally I think Tony looks like he is thinking: Damn- how come I didn’t get an umbrella!?!

Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, walk the red carpet prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America)

And this one? I can’t think of a funny caption…but still the expression on Harvick’s face cracks me up:

Kevin Harvick (r), driver of the #29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet, talks with Tony Stewart (l), driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, in the garage during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images North America)

I tweeted something to this effect on Sunday morning before the race but I want to expound on it in more than 140 characters. When thinking about the NASCAR season as a whole- I automatically consider any restrictor plate race a wild card, meaning anything at all can happen to any driver at any point so I can’t count on that track being good to my driver(s) points wise.  This year- because of the repave I considered Pocono grouped in there- forgetting totally about Michigan’s repave.

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It was the best of races, it was the worst of races.  Okay….for those not familiar, I am taking liberties with Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities. My problem is, never being a huge Dicken’s fan, that is about as far as I got in A Tale of Two Cities (scary considering my degree concentration is in literature).

Tony Stewart at Pocono (Photo Credit: Blatantly stolen from the Official Tony Stewart Facebook page, click the picture to be taken to the original).

The big bustle about Pocono last weekend was the record number of pit road speeding penalties. And when I say record number, I mean- as in EVER in any NASCAR SPRINT Cup Series race.  That is not a record to be proud of.  It seems that from everything I have read NASCAR added a timing segment to pit road increasing it from 9 to 10 segments or something like that.  NASCAR claim they released a new map of the timing lines, they even showed the new map on TV and said that they went up and down pit road distributing the map- of course after a majority of teams had been dinged with speeding on pit road. I mean they said on TV that the majority of the penalties were within the same timing segment.  Was this the “new” segment  at the end? Did it extend the overall length of what is considered “pit road?” That was my thought during the race on Sunday. It doesn’t seem really fair to ding the drivers if they extended the line and weren’t proactive about making sure the drivers/crew chiefs/spotters knew about this.

The speeding debacle made me this about last season when I mentioned that I thought it was dumb to actually post where the speed traps on pitroad actually are.  My thinking is this: the pit road speed limit came into being to protect the crew members.  Crew members are out there dodging around cars with helmets and carrying things like huge racing tires. They are thinking about one thing and one thing only. Getting their job done fast and correctly. They dont’ want to be worried about being hit by a competitor who decides to slide into his pit stall.  That was the reason a pit road speed limit was instituted. Good.  Okay then if that is the case what sense does it make to tell drivers that “Hey we are going to check your speed on pit road here, here, here and down there” which gives them the opportunity to speed inbetween the lines and thus defeats the whole purpose of the pit road speed limit.  My position has always been that NASCAR shouldn’t tell the drivers where they are checking the speed. They should pick 5 or 6 places to check speed and maybe even rotate the spots within the race. That way the drivers/teams are always guessing.  That way the drivers will be forced to maintain a consistent pit road speed. It seems to be the “fairest” way of doing the speeding thing. But that is just my personal two cents right there.

Tony Stewart at Pocono (Photo Credit: Blatantly stolen from the Official Tony Stewart Facebook page, click the picture to be taken to the original).

To me the new scoring system isn’t logical when Tony has a CRAPPY race in Dover, finishes 25th (69 laps down) and goes UP in the points standings and then has a pretty darn good finish in Pocono (3rd!!!) yet stays the same in the points. It frustrates me.  Tony is still 8th in the points and is currently 75 points out of the lead.

Next race? Michigan!

I don’t know why but I was kind of “eh” about The Prelude To The Dream this year. It doesn’t make ANY sense because I usually count down the days and blog about it incessantly in the preceding months weeks and days. I don’t think I even mentioned it except for putting the details under WE SUPPORT in the navigation bar over there on the left. I even (prepare yourself- this is shocking) almost considered not ordering/watching it.

Tony Stewart drives the #14 Chevrolet during the Feed the Children Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway on June 6, 2012 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

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Miles the monster reached up and bit Tony Stewart square on the left front and left rear of his car.  Stewart was caught up in the “Monster” lap nine melee at Dover.  It isn’t a surprise really.  After all, he qualified his car 29th in the field of 43 cars. I so wasn’t thrilled when I saw the results of qualifying on my cell phone- that is back in the danger zone. The zone where if someone screws up you can be innocently caught up in their mistake because of Dover’s “self cleaning” feature. I made sure that I put on my checker flag socks this morning- just in case. I just had a feeling that starting that far back would not.

(I LOVE this picture because the perspective makes the cars look like toys- AMY). Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Chevrolet, and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Chevrolet, practice for the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)

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Can Motor Oil Really Make A Difference In NASCAR?- Jeff Gluck for SBNATION.com

Dick Berggren Says Farewell At Dover- Amanda Ebersole for SkirtsandScuffs.com

NASCAR At Dover 2012: Drivers Theorize on Lack Of Caution Flags- Jeff Gluck for SBNATION.com

Improve Racing? Harder Cars!- Terry Blount for ESPN.com

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dreads Upcoming Pocono Test- Jeff Gluck for SBNATION.com

Gratuitous Tony Stewart Picture:

I don’t know who’s expression humors me more- Jr’s or Steve Addington’s. Anyone have a great caption?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (R), driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, talks with Tony Stewart (C), driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, and Steve Addington (L), crew chief for the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, in the garage prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway. (Picture Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images North America)