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Every single time I go to type Sonoma it comes out Sonomo. I can’t explain why but I can tell you that over the last week or so I have had to correct myself umpteen times.  So anyway- Sonoma.  I went to this race last year…I sat in turn 7 where all the action was this race…or a lot of it and thought these seats were pretty good except for the potty situation (only portapotties…and nasty gross ones at that…although I do admit I have never been it a portapotty that was the epitome of cleanliness).  As a matter of fact this picture here where they are all coming down the hill …this was heading right towards my seat:

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 20: Tony Stewart drives the  Office Depot Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on June 20, 2010 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 20: Tony Stewart drives the Office Depot Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on June 20, 2010 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

So Tony qualified 7th for the race. The word of the day even before the race started is “forward bite” everyone seemed to find it elusive and unfortunately the 14 team was no different, adjusting on the car even on their last pit stop with 24 laps to go.  Unfortunately because they were green flag pit stops that put Tony out on the track in 24th. Fortunately Tony was able to fight his way up the field and ultimately finished 9th. He is now 10th in the standings.  The race winner was Jimmie Johnson getting his first road course victory in his home state. 

Notes on Infineon:

  • Did you know that there was an after race altercation between Tony Stewart and Boris Said? Of course not- because TNT failed to mention it.  After the checkers Tony went up and knocked into the side of Boris’s car in retribution for a previous on track incident.  Said’s crew chief chased Tony into the garage area. You can read about it here.
  • Jeff Gordon has made no friends at Infineon. Martin Truex Jr. wants his pound of flesh and made no bones about telling all the television viewers so.  Elliott Sadler was also a victim of Jeff’s aggressive driving and wasn’t too pleased either.

Next weekend: Louden!

Unfortunately I am not up in Sonoma watching the Sprint Cup cars.  Last year on Father’s Day I was on the edge of a very hard stone seat in the Coca-Cola Bottle Neck rooting with all my heart for Tony to overtake Kasey Kahne at Infineon. It didn’t happen but a second place finish wasn’t bad.  It was the closest Tony had come to winning a race that I was in attendance of so I was pretty excited (unfortunately this is still the case).  One of the things that really SUCKED about Infineon was leaving after the race.  Traffic was a freaking nightmare compared to the other three tracks I had been to (those being Las Vegas, Fontana and Phoenix). Part of it could have been my unfamiliarity with the area- perhaps if I had gone up through Petaluma and down another way I would have been better off…but I sat there stopped on whatever highway that is up there in front of the track for HOURS. And folks…for those keeping track? Infineon is about 4 hours north of me on a good traffic day.  I didn’t get home until after midnight and that was driving like a bat out of…well you know where…when I finally DID clear race traffic.  This year I am not up there and I am sad…and really itching to see the Cup boys run. The sound and feel of 43 800-hp cars taking a green flag is awesome.  Or heck the sound of 1 car revving in the garage is awesome. But I am digressing…and making myself homesick for a race.

That being said I am down here on the Monterey Peninsula where I live, which is in the height of U.S. Open fever right now.  Every night on the news for the past two weeks or so has been golf this, U.S. Open that, Pebble this, Tiger Woods that.  Now I know very little about golf- especially professional golf.  I am going to admit that to you right up front.  I get the idea that you are suppose to hit the little white ball as few times as possible to get it into the hole and that my friends is where my knowledge of golf ends. Sand wedge, wood, iron, putter? Huh? Whot?  Even though we have a yearly celebrity pro/am hosted on the peninsula- I still don’t really pay attention. Golf has never been on my radar because it always seemed to me that watching paint dry would be more fun than watching golf because then at least- I would have the fumes to entertain my brain cells. But lately- golf has been in my face…and I can’t help but share some totally sweeping generalizations about golf vs. NASCAR:

  • Traffic? Just as crazy.  I know because I have been getting stuck in golf traffic all week on my way to and from work. Much like a race weekend- golf traffic gets worse as the week progresses. They are parking the spectators just blocks from where I work because around the perimeter of campus there are lots of open space/parking lots that were here back when this place use to be an Army Base.
  • Those guys hawking tickets outside the track? They do that for golf too!!!  I figure they pretty much do it for every sporting event though.
  • There are also all these WELCOME GOLF FANS signs at all the businesses around here.
  • Golf fans? They are so limited as to what they can take to the course! No signs, cell phones, NO CAMERAS (that seems insanely dumb to me), no bags bigger than 8x8x8, no containers, no food, no drink. Nothing. Just a jacket (needed here- it’s really foggy today), comfy shoes, and loads of money because you have to buy all your food/beverages there.  If you find yourself by a golfer? You can’t ask him for an autograph.
  • Golf fans do not tailgate. No tents, no coolers or tables, no cornhole or barbecues  in the parking lot. No congregating with others who are not part of your direct party. Makes the parking lot pretty damn boring if you ask me.
  • Golf fans do not show their loyalty outwardly- that I could see.  They do not have flags flying from their cars that say TIGER or TOM! They don’t have bumper stickers supporting their favorite golfer. And from what I tell they don’t wear shirts for their favorite golfer either.   The most fan advertisement for golfing I have seen– a TITLIST license plate frame.  Again pretty damn boring to me. Half the fun of going to a race is people watching.
  • Not to mention the fact that I can’t imagine being at a sporting event where if you get a cough or a sneeze you might get yelled out or asked to leave. Seriously – those quiet paddles are intangible to me- if I wanted to be quiet I would go to a library (or apparently a golf tournament).  Of course I love a sport that is so noisy if I want to communicate with my friend I either have to YELL a centimeter from her ear at the top of my lungs or text her- even though she is sitting two inches from me.  I like to be able to HEAR and FEEL and TASTE my sports!
  • Tiger Woods is to golf media/fandom, what Dale Junior is to NASCAR media/fandom kinda sorta….only less witty.

Ok that’s it…that is my thoughts on GOLF.  Now where are my cup car boys? Oh yeah…four hours north of me.  Dammit.  Go TONY Go!!!!

Who doesn’t want their name on a NASCAR cup car?   I certainly do. I actually think sometimes about how if I were independently wealthy I would sponsor a cup car (probably one race for Tony or I might settle for Ryan) and just put my name on the hood. Just AMY). Everyone would wonder who the hell this AMY chick was and why she got her name on the hood of a car…that would be kind of fun. But I am digressing.

This weekend at Infineon (I was their last year and I really wish I was going to be there this year!) Tony Stewart’s “TV Panel” (aka- NASCAR speak for the REAR of the car) will sport a slightly different look:

The Official Small Business of NASCAR Contest. Photo provided by Edelman

If YOU or someone you know or work for owns a small business (99 employees or less) you will want to go to officedepotracing.com to enter the Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot contest between now and July 10th.  This contest has been around forever (ok not forever- just six years according to the press release)- even back when that other driver was sponsored by Office Depot (Carl Edwards) and I thought it was cool contest even back then. This year the contest has a new twist to it.  This year two small businesses will be pitted against each other at the Dover race on September 26th. One small business will be paired with driver Tony Stewart, the other small business will be paired with driver Greg Biffle.  Whichever business is on the car of the highest placing driver wins the title of Official Small Business of NASCAR.  If one of the drivers wins the Dover race, the business being represented by that driver, will win $1,000,000!!! It’s an awesome opportunity thanks to Office Depot!

Now how about an “Official  Blogger of NASCAR?” contest so that I can get a little closer to my dream without having to figure out how to get independently wealthy first? Anyone???

If you have heard Tony Stewart do any media lately- invariably someone asks him about the team’s performance and he invariably responds with a variation of  “we aren’t in panic mode yet when it comes to the points.”  Well I hate to tell him this…but I am.  I can’t tell you the number of emails and texts I have sent back and forth with my best friend Misty stating something along the lines of “AHHHH that sucked for our points! OMG What if we don’t make the chase?” To which she always replies something along the lines of “Don’t worry- you can’t keep Stewart down.” So I watch the races and hope for a top ten, top five, a win.

I learned a long time ago- not to worry too horribly much about Tony’s qualifying position.  That’s not to say that I don’t get excited when he qualifies well (like a POLE!) but when he does mediocre- I don’t fret…too much.  He qualified 17th this week.  He worked his way up a tad.  During the first caution Darian called for only 2 tires which gained Tony a whole bunch of track position.  After that Tony remained in the top ten most of the day- only falling out after one pit stop where apparently they suffered a freak mishap where a lugnut from the tire coming off the car flew into the wheel hub and had to be removed before the new tire was secured.  The race itself was pretty quiet and only had four cautions.

Tony ended up finishing 5th bringing him into 11th in the points standings and back into the race for the Chase.  Last week Tony got a pretty good finish in Pocono (3rd) but he didn’t seem pleased with how he got it. This week he seemed to feel that they deserved it:

That’s the best car we’ve had in a long time, so I’m really proud of our guys. We’re definitely gaining on it. I felt racy today. It was a pretty good day for the Old Spice/Office Depot Chevy.– Tony Stewart via Team Release

Teammate Ryan Newman finished 32nd.  He is now 15th in the points standings, falling one spot.   Race winner was Denny Hamlin.

Next week: We are off to Sonoma.  I was there last year in person. Wish I was going again this year!

So the evil little tricky triangle- the place that holds the spot as being the first points paying win for Stewart-Haas racing.  Tony qualified fairly well- even holding the pole position for awhile but as usually happens with early qualifying draws he was knocked off the pole eventually.  He still  started avery respectable 6th for the days race.   I turned on the race that morning.  Then came the rain.  I get very restless during rain delays so I honestly don’t know how the drivers can NOT.  It poured for what looked like a good 15-20 minutes. Then it would take time to dry the track (and patch a small hole apparently- but I missed that part completely).

I found the best way to spend a rain delay though! It’s across the street at my brother’s house playing with my nephews.  Ok technically only MXM is old enough for play…which we did both inside and out (that boy loves to play with his plastic lawn mower- I say enjoy it now because I doubt he will want to mow when he’s old enough to do the real thing).  But I did get JXM (who is now 15 weeks old or so) to laugh pretty hard- and who doesn’t love toothless, gummy baby laughs?  That rocked. But then it was back to the race.

Tony spent most of the race in between positions 12 and 21.  It did get exciting when pit stops came under caution at around lap 160.  Crew chief Darian Grubb called Tony in and they packed the number 14 full of fuel, planning on staying out no matter what happened to gain track position.  Of course I wasn’t listening to my Trackpass Scanner at this time so I had no idea what they were planning.   When there was another caution on lap 169- a lot of the cars in front of Tony (who was 16th or 17th at this time) came in to pack their cars with fuel. This put Tony into second place behind Kurt Busch.   I always get nervous when the national broadcast shows Tony puttering around under caution flipping his car on and off.  Even before they said it I am exclaimed “look- he’s saving fuel! Arg this could get ugly if this race ends up going to three green-white-checkers!!!”

The field took off at the green and it was looking good for Tony. He was second! Then…right before the last lap there was the Harvick-Logano tangle that caused Logano to spin and put the field into it’s first Green-White-Checker. Not to mention that this bunched the field back up.  So now not only did I have to worry about the fuel situation (don’t you love how I say I have to worry about it…like I am the one on top of the pit box crunching numbers…or even know what numbers to crunch…trust me- you don’t want me crunching numbers). I now also have to worry about Tony getting shuffled back or someone driving like an idiot to get to the front and crashing into Tony.  I was very much  on the edge of my seat.  Denny Hamlin jumped out into the lead and Tony was second with Kyle Busch on his tail.  Tony would eventually be passed by Busch but still came in third despite a horrendous last lap crash (no further green-white-checker since race leader had taken the white flag) happening that seemed to collect about half the field.

With his third place finish Tony moved up to 13th in the points standings, one point out of the top 12 chase.  Teammate Ryan Newman, who crossed the finish line with a damaged car- having been part of that last lap melee finished 14th, dropping him to 14th in the standings, only 18 points out of the top 12.

Notes and Pictures from Pocono:

  • TNT race coverage bites.  They were having sound difficulties. That might have been due to the rain I guess.  But I have two major complaints about their coverage. Complaint one: their timing of commercial breaks sucks. I hate coming back from commercial to see cars in the pits.  I say break AFTER green flag pit stops not before. I know they know about when the drivers will be coming in- pay attention to that.  Complaint number 2: the handling of the last lap accident.  That was a pretty horrendous looking accident.  There were damaged cars ALL over that track.  Several drivers look HARD hits in that wreck!  TNT, while they showed the wreck several times did not update us on driver conditions except for Kasey Kahne. And while yeah- Kasey appeared to take one of the harder hits there were other drivers there…I mean I saw a paramedic leaned into Jeff Gordon’s window and then they never said ANYTHING about his condition.  They did happen to catch a brief glimpse of Jeff Gordon walking past Kasey during his post race interview but if you happened to be looking down you would have missed that.
  • One of my favorite moments from the race? Was seeing Ryan Newman limp his car across the start-finish line. NOT because I wish any ill will against Ryan at all- but because he had the gusto to fight hard to pull that beat-up car across the start finish! Go Ryan!
  • In his after race comments Tony said that “There’s days like today where you’re not proud of how you got there, but you take it anyway because you know for every one you get like this, there’s one that gets robbed from you the same way” (credit team release). I don’t know why you wouldn’t be  proud of it. Sure he didn’t come in first but he came in top 5.  Fuel mileage is just as much a part of the “game” as anything else. Be proud Tony! Darian did good calling you in and you saved enough fuel. YEY.
  • Speaking of NASCAR being a game…I am loving the NASCAR “everything else is just a game” ads. LOVE THEM. Especially this one.
  • I am sure by now you have all heard about the post race fireworks between Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.  Judging by what I saw on the TV- the accident was nobody’s fault.  To me it looked like Joey got a little loose and came down the track across Kevin’s nose. The pushing and shoving thing? Sure it adds to excitement and it’s all in the heat of the moment.  Joey may have been pushing on his own team guys (and his dad) but that is just youth.  I would rather see this then Joey go out on the track and hunt down Kevin and try to put him in the wall (ala Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski).  These things happen, drivers need to push/shove/yell get it out of their system and move on.  I don’t think that insulting Kevin through his wife Delana was necessarily called for…but again-that was probably youth talking.  And what a great sound bite…and Delana has turned it into a shirt (I wear the firesuit in my family).  I kind of want one…but it wouldn’t really work for me since I am not married. I still LOVE the shirt idea. UPDATED: You too can have a I Wear The Firesuit In My Family shirt.
  • Am I the only one who thought Carl Edwards absconded away with Mark Martin’s car? I mean the paint scheme on that 99 car looked like something you would see on Mark’s car.

Did Carl steal Mark Martin's car?? Carl Edwards sports a different paint scheme at Pocono. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

  • Speaking of drivers stealing from each other…are Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart sharing sunglasses? Ok probably not- but still I want to point out that they were wearing the same Oakleys.  Ok I might be pointing this out only to be able to showcase some photos provided to me. So what. Case in point:

Pay attention to Kasey Kahne's Oakley sunglasses here. Photo credit: Glenn Bure

The same sunglasses Kasey was wearing! They look better on Tony IMO. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

Gratuitous Martin Truex Jr Picture for Lauren! Photo taken at Pocono Driver Intros. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

  • Speaking of photos,  reader and commenter @KevinMBoots77 was at the Pocono race (his first time at the tricky triangle) and had a great time despite getting a little soggy. He agreed to let me direct you all to his Pocono photo gallery for the race. I highly suggest you all check it out- he got some great pictures.
  • Ok you all talked me into it. One more gratuitous picture…this time for me. It’s Tony during driver intros of course:

I couldn't help it...he's kind of smiling and everything. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure

A big thanks goes to Glenn Bure for the photos you see here (I have some more from Glenn of Tony on Trackside I will share later this week)…and to Kevin Boots for sharing his pictures with me and with you!

Next week:  Michigan

I promised I would tell you when Valli’s The Fast and The Fabulous interview with Tony Stewart would be up! It’s up and it’s great. It’s called INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO WITH TONY STEWART! A great read. I high recommend checking it out. While you are there check out the rest of her posts from her recent trip to Charlotte for the Coke 600.

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Good news for those of you who didn’t make it onto Tony’s hood! Because of the overwhelming response to the Fandorsements…(I love that word) they have opened up more of the hood for signatures. Go to BKsignandrace.com NOW to sign Tony’s hood. You can join me and the rest of my friends hanging out in the U in going around Daytona at breakneck speeds. I am looking forward to it.

Ok- I admit I just giggled to myself after typing that title. I mean how is “You Could Own A Man and His Monkey” NOT funny?  Maybe it’s just me and my 13 year old sense of humor.  What am I talking about?  I am actually talking about art! I  If you have seen the new Tony Stewart ArmorAll Commercial or some of the Webisodes of The Rookie you have seen this painting. It’s a painting of Tony sitting in true debonair fashion and sitting next to him is Mojo, his monkey.  They are wearing matching jackets.  I would LOVE to own this (I really think they are missing the boat in not making posters of it- I would buy two).  Anyway- you have the opportunity to OWN this painting and Tony will even autograph it.

All proceeds from the auctioning of the painting will go to THE Tony  Stewart Foundation.

The bidding starts tomorrow June 4th. You will find it listed at THE Tony Stewart Foundation  Ebay auction site. Remember the proceeds go to The Tony Stewart Foundation to support their mission of helping children, animals and injured drivers.   There will also be other items from the ArmorAll Commercial shoot up for grabs at the Tony Stewart Foundation Ebay Auction site so even if you don’t want “A Man and his Monkey” (and are you insane? I would own it just because it’s called A Man and his Monkey) there might be something there you are looking for that can help support The Tony Stewart Foundation.  Good luck! I know you will enjoy this painting (or other memorabilia).

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Another way to support the Tony Stewart Foundation is to purchase a raffle ticket to win Smoke’s Camaro (as seen on Unique Autosports Miami- don’t watch the show though- it will just make you drool all over for want of that car).  There is one more Early Bird drawing left on June 14th with the drawing for the car on July 26th.  Wish me luck. I WANT THAT CAR!

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Also don’t forget that The Prelude To The Dream charity Late Model race at Eldora is JUNE 9th (that’s this wednesday folks).  It’s available via Pay-Per-View- check your local listings.  Proceeds to benefit multiple children’s hospitals.

The Coke 600 is not only the LONGEST race they run on the NASCAR Sprint Cup race circuit but it’s also the 13th race of the season. That being said I was really hoping to have something positive to report for our beloved #14 Office Depot Racing- like a win! But alas no win.

So my internet decided to go up and down like a yo-yo during the race. What that means is that I was unable to listen to most of the radio communication on the Trackpass Scanner (and yeah I know Tony was a hotpass driver- but I didn’t watch the hotpass channel because I feel that I lose too much of what is going on with other drivers on the hotpass channel).  I figure that there was some sort of handling issues with the car- but the only radio communications I got to hear was early in the race- Tony complained that Greg Biffle was short pitting and crowding him in the box.  We all know how that ended- with Tony hitting one of Biffle’s crew guys during a later pitstop and knocking him down (for those wondering- scenedaily.com reports that rear tire carrier Kevin McDowell was released early Monday- x-rays showed no broken bones).

On the plus side at least Tony finished 15th- which is better than where he started the race. See I am trying to find the positive- and there it is! He finished better than where he started. Tony is now 16th in the points.  Teammate Ryan Newman finished ninth and is now 12th in points.  I am still hoping for that first win of the season though- hopefully it will come next week since our reader @KevinMBoots77 is going to the race!  Race winner was Kurt Busch.

Notes from the Coke 600:

  • I love the fact that all four Hendrick cars had patriotic paint schemes! That rocked!  (yeah I know other cars had them too- but I still think that the Hendrick stable had the best! And that being said I liked Jeff Gordon’s the best of the four HMS cars).
  • Between the All-Star Race and the Induction ceremony and the Coke 600 it really has Misty and I hankering to go to Charlotte for our next “new” track experience.  We are already planning on going next year…look for a post soon about our excessive planning tactics.

Notes from the Indy 500:

  • This is probably one of the first years in a long time I didn’t sit and watch straight through the Indy 500 and Coke 600. However I did catch the last 100 laps or so of the race at Indy and all I can say it that that wreck on the last lap with Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay.  Yikes.  Racer.com is reporting that Mike Conway underwent surgery to repair fractures to his lower left leg. He also suffered soft tissue injuries as well as a compression fracture of one of his thoracic vertebrae. He will be out of the car for at least three months.   Ryan Hunger Reay also suffered a thumb injury but NOT during the last lap crash but during an earlier altercation on pit road with Scott Dixon.
  • I hope that Dario will take Tony up on his offer of a place in the Prelude To The Dream! That will be an interesting addition to the field.

Next weekend: Pocono. Remember that the races are NOT on Fox any more- we have moved on to TNT.  Also-remember that this is where Tony and the #14 crew got it’s first victory! Let’s hope for a repeat!