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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!

If you have read BadGroove for any length of time you know that one of my favorite bloggers out there is Valli over at TheFastandTheFabulous.  If you have been reading the last couple weeks you know I have mentioned Tony’s Office Depot appearance in Pineville, NC today. Where is this going you might be asking? Well – Valli is going to be interviewing Tony today at the Pineville appearance.  I am so excited because I HAVE LOVED reading Valli’s other interviews over the years so I am so excited to read about her Tony interview.  Misty and I got to interview Tony at the Las Vegas Office Depot appearance and dispite the fact that I was NERVOUS (and you know- when I look at the pictures of us or the picture that Misty took before the interview of me- I can see the nervous panic in my eyes) it was an incredibly fun experience we hope to repeat very soon.  I can’t WAIT to read Valli’s spin on a Tony interview!  I will let you know when it appears but you will want to keep your eyes on her website TheFastandTheFabulous…or on her twitterfeed: twitter.com/vallih.

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Remember last week when I mentioned the Burger King promotion BK Sign and Race? Where fans could sign Tony’s hood for the July race in Daytona? Well it was an overwhelming success…in less than 48 hours 25,000 fans signed the hood. Did I NOT tell you they would run out of room quickly?   That is a great way to show our support of Tony Stewart and the #14 crew.   Unfortunately there is only room for approximately 18,000 signatures.  However- on the plus side- I made it onto the car! I am in the left hand arm of the U in BURGER right on the left hand edge. 

If you happen to get an upclose look at the hood of this car- can I beg you to take a picture of my name on it? I would love you forever- ok I pretty much already do…but I am just saying.

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Have you been following the official Stewart-Haas twitter account? If not? You totally should! Lately they have been doing scavenger hunts.  Winner usually gets a shirt and a hat.  Looks like fun! I can only hope they continue to do these when I am at a track!

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Here are some pictures that were shared with BadGroove.com from photographer Glenn Bure:

The Office Depot Chevy is rolled out at Pocono last year. (photo credit: Glenn Bure)

Tony at Pocono last year (Photo Credit: Glenn Bure)

If you need a printer or are considering upgrading your printer,  I implore you to consider taking part in the “Buy A Printer, Support Military Families” campaign being hosted by Office Depot.  The program is in conjunction with the Memorial Day Coca-Cola 600 and is quite simple…buy a Lexmark printer in an Office Depot Store or online between May 30th and June 5th.  For each printer purchased Office Depot and Lexmark will donate a printer to Operation Homefront.  They are hoping to donate 4,000 printers.

For those unfamiliar with Operation Homefront- they provide emergency assistance for troops, the families they leave behind and for wounded warriors when they return home.  They have more than 4,500 volunteers across 23 chapters and have been rated a 4-star charity by Charity navigator.  Ninty-five cent of every dollar donated to Operation Homefront goes to fund programs.

To kick off the program- Tony Stewart’s #14 Office Depot chevy will be running a special TV Panel at the Coca-Cola 600 race on May 30th:

Buy A Printer/ Help Military Families

Photo Credit: MATTER, Edelman Sports & Entertainment Marketing

It’s a great way to support the military and their families!

“I am very grateful to the men and women who serve our country, and that includes all of the military families who sacrifice time with their loved ones,” Stewart said. “They make it possible for people like me to do what I love and for fans to enjoy being at the race track every weekend. For any NASCAR fan who needs a new printer, now is the time to visit your local Office Depot store. Your purchase of a Lexmark printer will directly benefit a military family, and that is a great gift.”

As part of the Office Depot and Lexmark program, people can also engage with Operation Homefront and support members of the military via Twitter. Beginning now through June 5, people can give a “Shout Out” to someone serving in the military and be entered for a chance to win one of 10 Lexmark printers.  To participate, go to Twitter (www.Twitter.com) and tweet the name and rank of a loved one in the military, along with the hashtag: #OperationShoutOut, from your Twitter account.

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Also- consider joining the Office Depot facebook team.  Tony wants to rev up their following on facebook in a BIG way…14,000 ways to be exact. Come be part of the fun there by LIKING facebook.com/officedepot.  You will not only get info on great deals at Office Depot- but you will get great updates on Tony and the entire #14 Office Depot race team.  Don’t just do it for me…do it for TONY!

If you are in the Charlotte area (LUCKY) and have the time you may want to check out these Stewart-Haas driver appearances:

Ryan Newman has an autograph session TOMORROW May 26th at the Bass Pro Shop at the Concord Mills Mall (address is 8111 Concord Mills Boulevard, Concord NC) from 5:00pm -7:00pm local time.

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Ryan Newman has an autograph session at the Kraft Racing Display on Tryon Street (between 4th Street and Trade Street) from 5:00pm to 7:00pm local time on Friday May 28th.  There will be 300 wristbands distributed starting at 12:00pm on Friday.  For more information visit Food Lion Speed Street Event website.

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Also I know I mentioned this before but it bears repeating…Tony Stewart will be doing an autograph Session on Friday May 28th at the Office Depot in Pineville, NC (9610 Pineville Matthews Road, Pineville NC). The event till take place at 4:00pm local time. There will be 700 wristbands distributed starting at 8:00am local time at the Office Depot.

I highly encourage any Tony or Ryan fan to attend one of their personal appearances- they are always a great time.  Well I only have actual experience with Tony’s so far…but I am sure Ryan’s are fun too!!