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Well first off, I hope all of you out there had a great 4th of July holiday!  I had a friend in town (MISTY! YEY!) over the long weekend and believe me did we ever make the most out of the couple of days we had! Believe it or not? Our plans had NO FIREWORKS in it at all. Speaking of fireworks…the July race in Daytona will ALWAYS be the Firecracker 400 to me.  Coke Zero- you know I love you…at least you should since I swill enough of it to float a pontoon boat.

Of course we worked all of our fun around watching the race.  I admit I was a wee bit worried that it would rain all night in Daytona and our Sunday plans would have been ruined- but luckily they were able to get the race underway with just a 90 minute delay for a thunderstorm that passed through.

There I go getting ahead of myself though- so while I was out and about something happened during practice and Tony ended up wrecking in the primary car and resorting to a back up car.  One of the things that irritates me the most about Daytona is the fact that one lap my driver can be running 5th and the next 35th…all depending on how the draft was working out.   Tony was working his car towards the front of the race and even led the race twice (yey for bonus points for leading a lap) only to be caught up in “The BIG ONE” on lap 148 pf the race.  This “Big One” was aptly named because 19 cars were involved in the accident.  It was huge.  Although if you were watching the TNT race coverage you would think that the only car that was on fire was Mark Martins.  Nope…as Misty said…I guess Tony’s Burger King sponsored car took “flame broiled” a bit too literal:

Tony Stewart bursts into flames after a late race crash in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on July 3, 2010. UPI Photo/Malcolm Hope Photo via Newscom

Tony Stewart bursts into flames after a late race crash in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on July 3, 2010. UPI Photo/Malcolm Hope Photo via Newscom

That picture caption up there is NOT something I wrote …I just had to point that out- they are written by the source of the photos…because I would have never worded it “Tony Stewart bursts into flames” because that makes it sound like the man spontaneously combusted or something….I just had to clarify that.  Anyway, those flames look like they are right on my name. My name was probably all melted and charred.

After seeing a photo like that you might be surprised to know that Tony’s pit crew did an awesome job fixing up the 14 Burger King chevy and were actually able to get him back on the track.  You might be surprised to find this out because TNT never really mentioned it at all.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JULY 03: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Burger King Chevrolet, drives after being involved in a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tony Stewart, driver of the Burger King Chevrolet, drives after being involved in a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

 

You can see from the above picture that the crew got Tony’s car back out on the track- granted it didn’t look the same.  From the Tony Stewart  Facebook race report:

“Really proud of everyone on this race team,” said Stewart, who started ninth after qualifying was rained out on Friday and the field was set by car owner points. “Everyone had a role and they worked quickly and efficiently to get me back out to make enough laps to where we ended up picking up a lot of positions. Little things like that make a big difference.”

I think Tony and the whole #14 crew should be really proud of getting back onto the track and not giving up and just loading up the hauler and heading back up to Charlotte.  Tony was able to gain back several positions (7!) and really didn’t too much of a hit in the points. Tony finished the race 25th and is currently 9th in points.  Race winner was Kevin Harvick. Notes About Daytona:

  • TNT’s Wide Open Coverage? Kind of stinks when you have a small TV. I am just saying.  I also find it kind of stressful because I don’t feel I have a moment’s break.
  • Speaking of TNT- you know what was kind of sucktastic about the broadcast?  That they never really talked about Tony after “the big one” and honestly they didn’t really talk too much about him before it.  But the only thing I heard about Tony was “Tony Stewart (long pause that made Misty look over at me with a worried look) released from the infield care center.” Yep that is all they said.  It would have been nice to grab a look at the team repairing the car in the garage or maybe the car as it rolled back out onto the track or something…anything.
  • I forgot how FUN it is to watch a race with Misty. She is competitive and it definitely spills over into her NASCAR loving.
  • My favorite moment from the race was watching the Lowe’s pit crew guys drag Mark Martin from his burning car…it was so brave and yes I know they are teammates but I bet they wouldn’t have done it not matter who it was. Good thing  Mark Martin is on the smallish side and was probably a bit easier to help get out of the car!
  • Did anyone else catch the Burger King commercial about Tony actually working at a Burger King? I have looked ALL OVER for more information on this and haven’t found any. Let me know if you come across any information…I would love to write about this.
  • I also wanted to pass along this article from Raygan Swan at NASCAR.com about a woman who got her minivan skinned by Newman sponsor TORNADOS as well as got to visit him in Daytona…it’s a great read.

Next week: Chicago at Night! Whoo!

This Saturday night Tony Stewart will be piloting himself and the #14 Chevy Impala around Daytona International Speedway. While technically he will be in the car alone- he won’t really be alone he will be carrying over 48,000 of his fans with him on every lap…INCLUDING ME!!!  The entire Burger King hood logo is jammed with fans actual signatures.  How totally COOL is that?

You can't tell by the picture but the signatures of more than 48,000 fans grace the Burger King logo of the 14 car Tony will run this weekend at Daytona. (Photo Credit: Edelman)

I would think that Tony has  got to feel pretty darn good knowing that more than 48,000 people wanted to ride with him and support him in Daytona.  Originally the promotion was to have the fans names only on the part of the logo that said BURGER KING- but that filled up within 48 hours so Burger King actually extended the promotion to the rest of the logo.

They have been calling the fan signatures “fandorsements” which I LOVE because how true is that.  In my experience in not only being a NASCAR fan but being around fellow NASCAR fans at races and other events, fans usually jump all in to  support (endorse) their favorite driver- so “fandorsement” is the perfect word for the signatures on Tony’s car this weekend.  The website is a big Tony Stewart “fandorsement” in itself but actually having the opportunity to have not just my name but actual signature  squished into the logo is too cool for words in my opinion.

What is even cooler than that? ONE lucky ebay bidder can win the hood with Tony’s signature on it as well as the 48,ooo fans. One of the hoods is on auction right now. You can get to the auction by visiting the BK Race & Win website and you will see the auction link with the latest bid (the auction is going now and ends July 8th at a little after noon pacific time- so get your bids in now).  The BK Race & Win website also sports a really cool video with them wrapping the car and a sneak peek behind the scenes at Stewart-Haas racing.  Oh and if you click on EXPLORE you can look over the logo at the fandorsements.

And now I must beg/grovel/whatever….if you happen to win the hood auction…or even better if you happen to get close enough to the car to get a picture of the signatures…my name is in the left arm of the U right on the outer edge not quite half way down. There is a tiny smiley face next to my last name…I would love you forever and ever and ever if you would take me a picture of my name and email it to me.

And of course as always: go TONY go!  I will be with you in spirit at the race…and on your hood.

My nickname for Tony’s  performance at Louden? The Little Engine That Could! Do you remember that story from when you were a kid? It was one of a handful of favorites…so loved by both myself and my brother that my mom knew it by heart.  Technically though, Louden was a yo-yo race for Tony.  Luckily this time the yo-yo ended up and not down and all strung out- but I am getting ahead of myself.   I was actually sure that when I tuned into the pre-race show on Sunday morning I would see rain. I don’t know why but I just had a feeling. Luckily that feeling was wrong because rain delays or rain outs make Amy a very disgruntled and grumpy NASCAR fan.

So I was watching Tony’s DirecTV channel this time so I could hear most of the radio transmissions (they tend to edit where the NASCAR.COM Trackpass scanner luckily does not) because I didn’t feel like going through the rigmarole of getting out my laptop and finding my headphones (because my laptop does not have very good speakers). It’s really quite the set up…plenty of cords to trip over when I have to get up and go to the bathroom- and if my brother happens to stop by with my nephews I usually just pick up my laptop and run to the bedroom because my older nephew is in his very mischievous stage.

So the first thing I actually hear Tony say during the race is that he is “wicked loose.”  He had started 25 but fell back to 27th while fighting his car during the first several laps.  However the car seemed to “come in” the longer the run went and soon Tony was driving up to and passing cars left and right.  It was exciting to watch.  It was like I would see the car in front of him and he would work it right up to their bumper and out break them in the corner and whoosh right be them (yes whoosh is a very technical term I know).

Then came the first caution and with it the first round of pit stops.  Seemed like a really good pit stop and as soon as the green flag wove Tony seemed to be working his way up the field again….

LOUDON, NH - JUNE 27: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 27, 2010 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

LOUDON, NH - JUNE 27: Tony Stewart, driver of the Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 27, 2010 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Now either I missed the radio communication or they didn’t really say anything to Tony about the fact that they only got 2 of the 11 gallons into the car that was suppose to go in (it’s amazing how much good information you can actually find if you read the post race team release).  I have a feeling that DirecTV may have censored that little nugget of information because I am pretty sure I would have heard it.  The next thing I heard was Darian tell Tony not to hold anything back because they were going to be bringing him in at a specific lap to pit…and I could tell by the lap number that it couldn’t be the pit window yet. I may not be good at math but even I could figure that out!

Thus began the yo-yo race.  Tony would pit way before everyone else in the field.  This would put him way back in the field but on newer tires.  Since Tony’s #14 car was ALREADY strong this would allow him to work his way up through the field.  Then the leaders would pit. Tony would be near the lead (or lead)…but the leaders would then have fresher tires so he would fall back a little bit to 10-12th or so. Then it would be time for Tony to pit again. Lather Rinse Repeat.

Then during one of these cycles- Tony pitted then not five laps later did a caution come out.  Tony ended up a lap down. At this point I was frustrated.  But the OldSpice /Office Depot crew never gave up.  Darian had Tony stay out and get the wave around…which put him at the end of the line but he was able to work his way back up through the field again…and thanks to some well timed cautions that finally allowed Stewart back on pit sequence he was able to pull out a second place finish! It was hard earned.  As Tony said in the team release It was a long fight there at the end, but we got a top-two out of it. That was pretty cool. Pretty cool, indeed!

Tony is now 9th in the points, 141 points into the top 12 and 331 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick. Race winner was Jimmie Johnson.

Louden Notes:

Next weekend: Coke 400 on Saturday night.

When I was a kid- I LOVED going shopping for school supplies. I think it was a precursor to my addiction to all things office-supply product related.  Seriously my favorite driver couldn’t have a better sponsor to me!

Tony Stewart and The Office Depot Foundation will be holding a special “Back-To-School” event on July 8th, 2010 at a Chicago area Office Depot.  During the event Tony Stewart will assist the Office Depot Foundation in donating 4,200 backpacks filled with school supplies to Chicago area organizations that assist local children in need as part of the annual National Backpack Program.

Office Depot and The Office Depot Foundation have donated 2.3 million backpacks across the country since the inception of this program in 2001.  Tony Stewart participated in this program last year and this year plans on assisting the Office Depot Foundation in donating 300,000 backpacks nationwide.  These backpacks will be presented to representatives from several organizations in the Chicagoland area including: Casa Central, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Youth Programs, PUSH for Excellence, Jane Addams Hull House Association, Speedway Children’s Charities, and others.

These backpacks are not available to the public. However Stewart will be doing a public autograph signing in conjunction with the presentation with the backpacks.  He will be signing autographs at the Office Depot (2928 North Ashland Avenue Chicago, IL 60657) from 4:45-5:45 local time on July 8th.  To get an autograph you have to have a wristband. Wristbands will be distributed on a first come first serve basis starting at 7:00am local time at the Office Depot location.   The Office Depot #14 show car with the “Back To School” paint scheme will also be at the event for your viewing pleasure.

I can’t even remember the last time I did a bullet post for you all and I have some NASCAR thoughts to share that don’t deserve their own post but deserve to be mentioned:

  • My fantasy league? I haven’t even checked my standings for the last month or so because I was sure I was tanking. I checked today. Confirmed- am definitely TANKING! I am currently 85th out of 114!!  I blame the majority of this on Brian Vicker’s blood clots. I picked him as one of my drivers because he tends to be up there towards the front.  But now that he’s out of the seat the team hasn’t been doing so hot. Bah.  Tony and Dale Jr have been doing better- so they are the reason I went up 2 places after Sonoma  (yeah see 87th not so hot) so YEY for that but this is just a sad sad team this year. (By the way- I still love Brian Vickers…I really do and I don’t honestly blame him for my team tanking).
  • We are 10 races away from the CHASE cut off. Don’t think I don’t know that and don’t think that just because Tony’s moved back up into the top ten (YEY GO TONY GO!!!!) that I have relaxed one bit about watching points.  Of course I have been watching points since Daytona…so that says nothing.  I know Tony says he’s not worried about it…but…I am.
  • So you probably noticed my Sonoma post, while it had a pretty picture left much to be desired? It was because I was bummed I wasn’t there like I was last year.  Oh and…I know that Valli would cover it well and in depth. Which she is doing- she got the chance to interview more drivers -so be sure to check out The Fast and the Fabulous for that…she also came up with a catchy title for one of her Sonoma posts: To Infineon and Beyond…why can’t I think of good titles like that?. Oh and she got to experience the confrontation between Said’s crew chief and Tony Stewart first hand. Check that out here…and while you are there look for the  picture of Kevin Harvick hugging Tony’s dad…while Tony squats and messes with his shoe…cute!
  • For those of you in New Hampshire, Ryan Newman will be signing autographs at his merch trailer tomorrow June 25th from 3:30 -4:30 (time subject to change based on qualifying draw- check the trailer for more information).
  • Don’t forget that if you own a small business you should enter the The Official Small Business of NASCAR contest from Office Depot Racing.
  • You also have a little more than a month to buy your raffle ticket for Smoke’s Camaro. You have the change to win a bitchin’ 2010 Chevy Camaro customized by Unique Autosports. Proceeds benefit the Tony Stewart Foundation and their many initiatives supporting criticially ill children, various animal charities and injured drivers.  Go to SMOKESCAMARO.com for more information.

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???