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First I am actually going to start with the Pit Crew Challenge…I LOVE the Pit Crew Challenge. LOVE IT! I love it so much I purposely stayed off of Twitter because I KNEW it was a delayed broadcast on SpeedTV and I wanted to watch it without knowing who the winner was. Each run I would pick a team and root for them…loud enough for Roxy to go nap in her “safe place” while I watched. The best part of this year’s Pit Crew Challenge was watching Tony Gibson’s show of excitement when Ryan Newman’s US Army pit crew bested the 48 pit crew. All three Stewart-Haas pit crews did extremely well and should be proud! Denny Hamlin’s pit crew ended up winning the Pit Crew Challenge!

I watched the Showdown and the All-Star race. And for the most part I thought the Showdown was a wee bit more exciting than the All-Star race…not that it wasn’t exciting. I love that the Pit Crews get to be a part of the driver introductions for the All-Star race. And what do I love even more? That a lot of the crews bring out goodies for the fans at Driver Intros to toss into the crowd. I saw hats, shirts, I couldn’t tell what Kyle was giving away– but it would make sense if it was M&Ms…Tony Stewart even bent down and handed a fan his full Coke bottle. Those are the kind of things fans love – trust me- I know. I am a fan…and I would love catching a hat, tshirt or even a bag of M&Ms (who doesn’t love M&Ms). I also LOVE that Kyle and his pit crew BOW during their introduction. I LOVE THAT!

The race format is confusing to my parents- but not to me. However I wasn’t not going to watch with them (hello 52 in Flat Screen with SpeedTV in HD- it made it worth explaining the format several times). I did let loose with some curse words when Tony ended up getting collected in the late race accident. I was impressed he was able to finish as well as he did (Tony came in 5th) because the car seemed pretty damaged to me. Of course a lot of the field ended up involved in that last incident.

Congrats to Kurt who brought home the cool million dollars.

NOTES ABOUT THE ALL-STAR RACE:

  • As much as I like Kyle Busch…I still don’t understand what the problem was between him and Denny. I didn’t see the offense.  I saw Denny defending his position not cutting Kyle off.  Of course I only saw what the TV showed…
  • Can ANYONE explain to me why Ryan Newman was positioned 8th on that last restart? It didn’t make any sense to me.
  • Did not Taylor Gibbs give the best invocation? That was adorable!
  • *How can I not reference the song you KNOW is running through your head when you think of the All-Star race.

You can…kind of. YOU can have YOUR name on the 14 car…in your OWN writing. This is such a fun idea!!! Burger King is allowing you to put YOUR name on Tony Stewart’s #14 Impala for the Summer race at Daytona where Tony’s car will again carry the Burger King paint scheme.  If you remember he won in that paint scheme…how cool would it be if he won with YOUR NAME on his hood??? This isn’t just a chance to get your name- your name will be worked into the BURGER KING portion on the hood of the car.  I already signed up…I highly suggest you do too before they run out of room on that car!!

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Today is Tony Stewart’s birthday- so Happy Birthday to him. There are three ways you can celebrate Tony’s birthday today if you so choose:

  1. Go to the Tony Stewart Store in Indianapolis (5644 W. 74th Street) at 2:00pm eastern time. Tony won’t be there…but they’ll have cake. I mean, who doesn’t love cake? I love cake…
  2. Donate at least $14.00 dollars to the Tony Stewart Foundation (you can even decide which program you want your 14 bucks to fund) before May 31st in his honor.  By doing so you will be included on a big birthday card presented to Tony by The Tony Stewart Foundation.  It’s literally the gift that gives back. Who doesn’t love giving? I love giving…
  3. Watch the first two “webisodes” of Tony Stewart Off Track: THE ROOKIE and laugh your butt off. Or at least chuckle really hard. I will embed them here. Keep checking the Armor All You tube Channel and the Armor All Face book page for more information.  Before I get to embedding the videos – I have to say you can not hold Amy or badgroove.com responsible for injuries caused by laughter or cravings for jerky. Enjoy:

Episode 1- First Impressions:

Episode 2- Sounds Like A Rookie:

I really hope there are more…I want to see Tony’s progress on his Underwater Racing Machine that he may or may not be building.

So Dover is one of those tracks that I don’t have feelings for one way or the other. I don’t look at the schedule and think to myself YEY DOVER or AW HELL DOVER.   However I will admit that I might have been thinking something along the lines of  Oh please let Tony get at least a top ten…a win would be all kinds of AWESOME but please please pretty please at least a top ten before the race on Sunday -all the way through the pre-race tv coverage.

So Tony qualified 16th for Sunday’s race and right off the bat he seemed pretty pleased with his car- telling crew chief Darian Grubb with less that ten laps under his belt that the car seemed pretty good from the get-go.  He was passing people and was soon in the top ten.  Ahh maybe my good thoughts were working after all.  Listening in on the radio communications Tony seemed pretty pleased with the car’s handling except that he was a tick tight in the center of the turn (center third as he put it).

Pit stops seemed clean and well executed- a good job all around for the #14 team.  Unfortunately a trackbar adjustment on the third pit stop and changing track conditions made the car’s handling go to pieces and the #14 began to fall back in the field and was soon the last car on the lead lap.  It was not looking good.  I sat there just waiting for the leader to catch and pass him.  Luckily a caution came out and Darian and crew went back on some of the adjustments.  Tony was able to claw his way back up through the field and was also helped by a two tire pit stop with about 41 laps to go.  Tony finished 9th and moved up four spots in the points standings and is now only 37 points behind 12th place (currently held by Martin Truex Jr).  Race winner was Kyle Busch.

Notes:

  • After the race in Dover Tony headed out to Nashville, TN to help with the GAC Telethon benefiting the flood victims.
  • It was great to hear Tony and Darian working well together on the radio. I loved that they were maintaining a fairly positive attitude even after the handling on the car went catywhompus on them. YEY. The pit crew seemed to be spot on with their timing as well.
  • Speaking of the pit crew…it’s the ALL-STAR race this weekend…and what do I love about that? It means that Wednesday is the Pit Crew Challenge.  I LOVE THE PIT CREW CHALLENGE! LOVE IT!!!  It’s on Wednesday night on SPEED at 9 PM eastern time. Cheer on the 14 crew!!
  • Also on Wednesday for those of you with facebook accounts you will want to check out the ARMORALL Facebook page for a  NEW Off Track With Tony Stewart. This episode – entitled the ROOKIE is actually a comedic web episode that was filmed at Stewart-Haas racing…I can not WAIT for that either.
  • And for those of you with Twitter feeds…did you know Stewart-Haas Racing has an official twitter account? It’s @StewartHaasRcng. Follow them for race day updates as well as updates throughout the week.  You might also want to follow my feed at @badgroove.
  • Speaking of twitter…if you are tweeting about Tony…try using the #goTONYgo hashtags….I am using them until he wins. Hopefully it won’t be long!

All-Star Race is this Saturday. The Showdown starts at 6pm eastern and the All-Star race at 9:00pm Both are on SPEED this time.

When I say slightly crazy I mean it in the most loving way possible. Afterall- aren’t we all slightly crazy in our own right? Or is that just me? Anyway- so yesterday Tony jumped out of an airplane with another man strapped to his back.  And yes it was a perfectly good airplane.  He was tandem skydiving with the US Army’s Parachute team the Golden Knights.

Now before you ask, I really do not know anything more about this than is posted on the Golden Knight’s website…so I have no idea if this is something he’s always wanted to do and the opportunity presented itself or if his sponsor was like we are having this event and need you to represent (Ryan Newman was at a different US ARMY appearance at the same time) or what…but yeah he jumped out of a plane:

(ALL picture credits are SSG Joe Abeln and SFC Eric Heinsheimer from the Golden Knights Parachute Team):

Tony Stewart and SSG Jones before the jump. The release on their website says he was a little nervous. Um I would be more worried if he weren't nervous because he's jumping out of a freakin' airplane.

Tony Stewart and SSG Jones clear the aircraft. There is no going back now!

Tony and SSG Jones land perfectly on their collective feet.

The post on the Golden Knight website said that Tony enjoyed it and claimed he would do it again.

Would I? Oh hell-freaking-NO!!  I have this incredible fear of heights.  It rears it’s head at strange points.  For instance- I can go to Las Vegas and go to the observation decks (both indoor and outdoor) on the Stratosphere with NO PROBLEM. I have done that several times.  One day on a lark, Misty and I decided that I could probably handle the Eiffel Tower at the Paris! Casino…which is actually much lower.  On the way up I start to get that PANIC PANIC PANIC DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER feeling where all I wanna do is sit down and go back to ground level and unfortunately for us there was nothing I could do cuz we were sandwiched in that elevator like sardines.  Misty’s seen me do the freak out before so she was just talking quietly and joking with me and trying to distract me…but one guy noticed I was in panic mode and basically made a point of pointing out to the entire elevator (and it was packed so full that you couldn’t have fit another person in if you had wanted to) that I was freaking out. Nice. Nothing like drawing attention to someone freaking out (because I was truly doing it quietly in the corner). That’s really going to make them feel better. Seriously. So yeah…long story short I bolted out of the elevator for fresh air and then just as quickly bolted back in to get the heck DOWN.  The Ferris Wheel at Disney’s California Adventure? Yeah I thought I could handle it too…until we got to the top and I burst into tears (and at the time I was with Misty and her little brother and I was trying to hold it together because I didn’t want to freak him out)- that thing is a lot taller than it looks.  Yet there were parts of the tour of the Queen Mary in Long Beach that they say can freak people out if you are afraid of heights…and I didn’t have an issue there at all.

So yeah just getting me to fly is a feat.  I have done it and will prob do it again in the future but I really don’t like to do it- especially alone. If I have a window seat? I have to close that little window shade.  Take off and landings are the worst part because I guess I pretty much figure that once you are up in the air you are SOL if something happens anyway- and it doesn’t help that they stuff people into the planes so freaking tight.  If I were in that plane and they were expecting me to JUMP OUT OF IT?- I would most likely be sitting on the floor (when I get that lovely feeling of panic my first instinct is to sit down as low as possible) with my arms and legs securely wrapped around a seat or anything. And probably crying.  And saying things like GET ME DOWN!!!!!!NOWWWWWW!!!!!! LAND THIS THING!!!!

So I have to give great kudos to anyone who would willingly jump out of a plane.  If you are going to tandem jump with someone the ARMY would be who you would want to go with I am sure they know what they are doing!  There is this little airfield by were I work where they have skydiving (ironically it use to be an army airfield).  So it’s not uncommon on nice days to be driving home from work and see four to eight people drifting down towards the airport with their parachutes…and for a split second I think it looks fun and peaceful. Then my brain tells me “yeah…but you would probably die of a heart attack/panic attack/fright before they got you to the door of the plane so probably not for you.” In this case, it’s probably best that I listen to myself.  So if this opportunity ever comes knocking on my door? I will hiding under my bed until it goes away to knock on some other person’s door.

The Tom Petty song "Free Falling" comes to mind here...

Edited to add Tony’s jump video (with sound! YEY) Courtesy of GoArmy’s Youtube Channel:

I have never been to a dirt track race in person.  Now if you tell my dad that he will probably argue with you that he use to take me to the track in Watsonville all the time when I was a kid.  That is where I would have to tell you he is wrong.  He use to take my brother. He NEVER took me…which never made any sense to me as a kid because I LIKED racing even then and my brother as far as I could tell my brother couldn’t give a lick one way or the other about it.   I think it was more about the male bonding…which they did plenty of between the races and the hunting and the fishing (ok…sometimes I got to go fishing too).  The first race he ever took me to was an CART race (yeah this was before the league was split into IRL and CHAMP or whatever it was called) at Laguna Seca (now Mazda Raceway) and I remember it vividly because he surprised me with the tickets…and I was in high school- because I remember asking him who he was taking on Friday and he told me I could cut school that day.  He bought us paddock passes and I had a total blast that whole weekend…being up close to drivers like Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, Danny Sullivan, Scott Pruett, it was really cool.  But I digress.

I got to rambling when really I wanted to tell you THE PRELUDE TO THE DREAM is just around the corner.  If you have been here any length of time you know that I start to get really excited this time of year over a pay-per-view dirt race (well it’s pay per view for me…but if you are in a position to go you should totally go- at last I heard tickets were still available- check out Prelude To The Dream website for more details).

This year the beneficiaries of the race will be four children’s hospitals (Levine Children’s Hospital, St. Jude’s Research Hospital, Riley’s Hospital for Children and Cinncinati Children’s Hospital).  Also different this year is the way the money will be distributed.  Each driver will be part of a team and racing not just for himself but for the team.  Highest team score gets the most of the prize money. The winner of the race get’s bragging rights of course.

I have been ordering the Prelude for at least three years now and am never disappointed. It’s great dirt track fun and really only makes me want to attend the event in person. This year I am excited to see Ricky Carmichael driving for the first time at Eldora (and of course see Tony Stewart- I hope he wins again this year). There is a star-studded line up this year that includes a seat being reserved for the winner of the Indy 500.

The HBO pay-per-view race is usually 24.95. It’s Wednesday June 9th. Check your local pay-per-view listings.  I have never had an issue finding it right in the listings and you do NOT have to have HBO to order the pay-per-view event.

If you want more information you can visit the Prelude to the Dream website or this great article on the Prelude from NASCAR.com. (fixed link- whoops…)

You do NOT know how tempted I was to name this post “Darlington- The Track that Bitch-Slapped Tony Stewart and Team OldSpice/Office Depot.” Urg.  Seriously…when I watch a race I have notepad open on my laptop to take notes since I now have the NASCAR.COM Trackpass Scanner so I have to have my laptop up anyway. That way when I sit down later to write the post I have my thoughts from the time…and let’s just say there is one document on my desktop right now called “LadyInBlackisabitch.”  

Tony qualified 23rd - because he pulled an early qualifying run (at least that is what I like to tell myself anyway).   After the green flag dropped Tony stated that the car was loose coming out of the corners.   During the first pit stop the crew threw everything they could at the car including  changing air pressure and track bar.  What they didn’t throw at the car that first pit stop was a full load of fuel.  Whoops. Luckily for the team there was another caution not tooo long into the fuel run and they were able to top Tony off.

The next set of pitstops Tony makes a rare mistake and missed his pit box.   The official team release said it was due to congestion on pit road making it impossible for him to angle into his box correctly.   I don’t know exactly where Tony was pitting but he complained multiple times during race about not being able to see his pitboard sign and at one time told Darian that next weekend he wanted it to be a different design and color. 

Because of an accidental run in with Paul Menard Tony received cosmetic damage on his nose and someone hit the back end of his car later…which was only exacerbated by the loose off the corners condition that caused Stewart to slap the outside wall with the right rear of the car.  That pushed the rear spoiler off center which several laps later caused his  number 14 Chevrolet to spin.  The backend of that poor car was pretty trashed.  They ended up having to tape parts of the decklid to the rear window to keep it secure.  Later when Tony was describing the car to Darian what the car was doing he said that he had been driving cars along time and couldn’t figure out why it was going back and forth from loose to tight. I think that the messed up rearend of the car could have had something to do with it.  

Now when Tony’s not running well I tend to get a wee bit cranky.  I can’t imagine how but Darian and Tony sounded totally cool over the course of the entire race with each other on the radio. I mean Tony let out some frustrated words out when he spun- but heck I can’t fault him for that.  Several years ago I had a full car of people and a dude ran a red light and hit my car hard enough to spin it a quarter revolution.  I let loose a curse laden tirade that scared my sister-in-law before we got out of the car- so I definitely can not fault him there.  Tony took two pit stops to fix damage. He finished 23rd, one lap down.  He dropped to 18th in the points but is only 59 points out of the top 12. Teammate Ryan Newman posted a 9th place finish and rose to 14th in the points.

Congratulation go to Denny Hamlin, who won the race.

Notes about Darlington:

  • After the race, Tony seemed upset at himself telling the team on the radio that he was sorry and that “you all deserve better than what you got for a driver. I appreciate the hard work guys.” However I do not think that the poor luck they had was really his fault except maybe the one pit stop where the box was missed.  And everyone makes mistakes.  They are just having bad luck this season so far. 
  • Speaking of bad luck, it was reported soon after the race that Stewart-Haas Racing has lost it’s partnership with Old Spice for the 2011 season.  I really think that sucks. A team runs into a little bit of of tough spell and one of their main sponsors go running for the hills? Nice.  What makes it worse is that it’s a sponsor that Tony has had for YEARS. You can be darn sure I won’t be buying any old spice. Well and I am a girl so…that is easy to say!
  • I am concerned about points and the 14 team making the chase, but Misty likes to reassure me with these words: You can’t keep Stewart down even if you wanted too.  She likes to point out that he is the master of recovery- and he will get into his groove soon and make the chase.  I hope she is right.
  • Speaking of the Stewart being the master of recovery- when he did spin late in the race on Saturday- he did a GREAT job of keeping that car off the walls and out of any more trouble.  I mean seriously…even my dad mentioned that.
  • One of my twitter friends said it best: We will “never giving up on Tony, EVER. He is an amazing driver and he WILL win” (via @tstewartluvr14). And I believe that! He will soon!

Next weekend we are back to Sunday races with a trip to DOVER. GO TONY GO!!!!

I never went to summer camp as a kid…but my mom did sign me up for these little classes at the parks and rec center.  I took loads of swimming lesssons and was quite the little fish. My favorite though was a cooking class when I was 8 or so and I came home and wanted to make eggs in a basket every day for like a month after taking that class. It was fun to have learned something I could bring home with me like that.  I also did go away to 6th grade science camp where I was lucky not to come home with posion oak after my partner led me into a thicket of the stuff on our blind fold/ trust hike.  Oh and I remember the blueberry pancakes were more like blueberry frisbees with syrup.  And I remember bunking with my friends…in the cabins giggling all night and writing letters home to our parents.  Anyway- the point is that summer camp can be a great place for kids to go and be kids with other kids. 

Tony Stewart Foundation has a Camp fund to do just that. It helps raise funds that assist campers attend special needs camps where the campers can develop skills that build self confidence, have fun, and make friendships.  Isn’t that what camp is all about??  Help Tony and the Tony Stewart Foundation’s Camp Fund to help special kids go to special camps.  You can donate here, whether you have one dollar or one hundred dollars to donate- every litte bit helps send campers on an experience of their lifetime. Think of the smiles on all the kids faces at camp!!