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First off, I wanted to thank you all for the incredible response to my call for questions! I mean I was getting questions thrown at me left and right. I was getting them in the comments section here, in my facebook, on twitter, emailed to me, im’d at me and well I think you get the idea.  My dad even offered up some questions.   I received lots of great questions! I was  surprised to find out that many  people wanted to know more about Tony’s charity work.  So the first person who asked a question about the Tony Stewart Foundation was awarded the Tony Stewart Office Depot Standee (congrats @KevinMBoots77).  However-even if you didn’t win the standee, you may find that I also used your  question in the interview…because they were that good.

Anyway, this is our first interview so we are kind of proud of that fact.  Of course,  deciding to do our first interview and having that be none other than Tony Stewart is kind of like deciding you want to try to get into football so you decide to go to the Superbowl.  Anyway,  enjoy it- I know we did:

Amy: Do you think there is more fan involvement now that champions week is in Las Vegas and do you like that?

Tony: I definitely think so. when we did the lap down the strip the amount of people that turned out for that- it was awesome. It was nice not having to be out there wearing winter jackets and all that. But I thought it was a good turn out. You know, New york is cool but you kinda have to really be into being in New York. Everybody loves going to Vegas so it’s a lot better deal for us to be out here.

Misty: Now was the plan for that everyone was going to get to do a burn out and Jimmie blew it for you or what?

Tony: No actually he was the only one who was allowed to do the big show at the intersection and then he blew it up. It was like, man why couldn’t we have got him to that during one of the last ten races instead of waiting until champions week to do it.

Amy: If you could go back in time, what decade would you be a racer in?

Tony: Oh man. I would say….probably the sixties and seventies. It was a pretty cool era in the sport because there wasn’t all the technology involved. It was really about car owners that sat there with a piece of paper and came up and drew ideas. There weren’t the computers to create the ideas for them. Just racing was a lot simpler then. I mean guys would race Indy and run Daytona. To get to race with someone like AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti and guys like that would be pretty cool.

Amy: Is there one factor you can pinpoint in your success during your first year as an owner/driver?

Tony: Good people. That’s really the biggest key to it. Having the right people in the right places is very instrumental in us having the success that we have had. We have been really fortunate.  It was bad timing to one degree but good timing for us on the other side when the economy turned because there were a lot of really good crew members that became available and that is the hardest part of the process is trying to hire the right people for your group. So that really was an advantage for us- that we were able to get really good people and that has definitely ,no doubt about it in my mind, been the key.

Amy: Do you feel long red flags hurt your momentum during a race?

Tony: No. I mean I have been racing 30 years so when you go back you’re ready. Its not as big a deal as it would seem. There’s days we’ve gotten in the cars and had red flags because of rain and not even got the chance to do it again until the next day. You’re just use to it. When it comes to get in the car and time to fire it up you kind of go through that whole sequence of getting ready.

Amy: Do you have a specific sequence when you get in the car?

Tony: When I get in the car I buckle in exactly the same way. Everything I that put on is in order and it’s the same way every time. It’s almost second nature, you don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just very routine for us how we do it.

Amy: Your foundation works with many different charities, is there one charity that is closest to your heart?

Tony: Well, I think it still, on the children’s side of the foundation, is the Victory Junction Gang Camp. I mean Kyle and Patti Petty are really close friends of mine.  I didn’t know Adam very well but I knew Kyle and Patti very well. To see obviously how much it hurt when they lost Adam and it would have been easy for them to just walk away from everything there but they really pushed forward to make Adam’s dream happen and that’s something that we’re really proud to be a part of helping them realize that dream for him. You know any of the animal charities we do- it doesn’t matter WHAT it is. Those are a really big deal to us. I’m a big animal lover which ruins my bad reputation but it’s worth it. I just love animals and I always have. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Friends of Ferdinand program that we have with the horses or the ICAN Program with the trained dogs. You know any time that animals are involved is pretty cool.

Amy Tony Misty

Amy (left), Tony Stewart, and Misty at the Office Depot in North Las Vegas. (Photo Credit: Edelman)

So there you have our interview with Tony Stewart. It was an amazing experience and I am sure I will write more about it when I do the annual “Racecation Recap” later this week. I just want to thank Lisa and Jessie for making it happen.  And of course Tony for taking the time out of his schedule for us.

Well I have a great excuse for being late in posting my race review…you know- I was there at the actual race so I didn’t even get back home until last night and came home to a beagle who missed me (she tried to play it cool by sniffing my luggage for a minute and then going to take a nap but I know she missed me…the little demon).  While the whole trip is worthy of it’s own post and I promise it will get one- this is just going to be my usual race recap.

So I have been going to this race for three years now and the weather has been different each time. The first year it was so freaking cold but totally clear but the cold was icy cold and dry and felt like it would cut through you. It was so cold that I ended up buying a beanie to wear under my hat! Last year it was just warm. This year it was some weird combination of the both.  While sitting in the stands I alternated between quite warm to freezing when the big puffy clouds would ocassionally float by and block the sun.

Now I don’t rent one of those race scanner things – mainly because I don’t want to have to worry about turning it back in after the race. I would rather just leave. Secondly I don’t want to get all use to hearing the team communication and then have to go home and wonder what the heck is going on. 

So Tony qualified 9th…which is awesome!! I like it when he qualifies in the top ten!  So he pretty much held that position at the beginning but then he began falling back a wee bit.  So instead of proclaiming myself a jinx as I usually do,  I decided to focus on the leader, which happened to be Jeff Gordon.  I knew this because I think Misty clapped so hard when he passed Kurt Busch that I think she broke something in her hand- I would love to see her reaction to a  J. Gordon win- I worry she’d fly out of the stands! Anyway I digress.  The neighbor behind us happened to be a Stewart fan too and she had a radio and would give little updates like what they were doing on pit stops and stuff. So luckily I was able to tell that Tony was having trouble on restarts for some reason and that he felt his car was tightish (that is an official word…don’t believe me? Go find a NASCAR dictionary and look it up).  Still he seemed to be like he was playing on a seesaw…up to seventh, down to ninth, up to fourth, down to sixth, and I am sure you get the picture.  Honestly I blame it on the weird hot/cold weather but I am sure there is a more technical reason.  Meanwhile it seemed that Jeff Gordon was just dominating the race…with Jimmie Johnson steadily coming up through the field.  

During one of the pit stops Tony stayed out to lead a lap (hello bonus points).  But then the next pit stop he seemed to stay out for a long time after all the other teams had pitted. I don’t know what the reasoning was behing this…and frankly it puzzles me. If you know the reason- leave a comment and let me know why…seriously. Inquiring minds like to try to figure these kind of things out.

So Tony started 9th, finished 7th and stayed in the top ten the whole race (which was a darn good thing considering at the end of the race there were only something like 11 cars on the lead lap- seriously.  I mean that Jeff Gordon/Jimmie Johnson breakaway move really just kinda ate up the competition.  All in all the race was ok for Stewart who moved up to 11th in points and is now 120 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick.

Unfortunately Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman did not fair as well. He started the race third and placed 18th. I didn’t really see much of Newman but it sounds like he had some pit road issues and handling problems. He is 32nd in the points right now, 281 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick.

Notes:

  • I really like the Tornados paintscheme on Ryan Newman’s car…it makes it stand out with the yellow and orange against the black.
  • I also really like the new dark red on bright red paint scheme on Tony’s old spice car much better than the old paint scheme of red and silver.
  • I did not like the pink Kim Kardashian car- but I think Sephora would be a great sponsor for someone. I mean what is it they say? That 40 percent of NASCAR fans are female??
  • I am just going to throw this out there but…I am already sick of Jimmie winning and we are only 3 races in people!!!

I know you are just as excited as I am to read the Tony Stewart interview Misty and I did last thursday…it’s coming I promise. Check back later today- hopefully I will have had time get it posted by then.

My racecation at a glimpse by the numbers:

Miles Driven: 1000+

Mountain Passes transversed: 2 each way

Best Friends Visited: 1

Races attended: 1

Cameras Taken to Vegas: 3

Cameras Used in Vegas: 2

Pictures taken: 837

NASCAR Drivers Interviewed: 1 (TONY STEWART!!!!)

Interviews needing to be transcribed: 1 (see above)

Voices Lost: 1

Annoying squeaky noises made attempting to talk: 1 million

Beagles starved for attention: 1

How she showed she was starved for attention: She sniffed my luggage for a couple minutes then went to take a nap

Loads of  vacation laundry to do: At least 2- possibly 3 depending on how I sort

Loads of laundry actually done at this writing: 0

Needless to say I am back!!!  And jumping right back to work tomorrow. That and hacking up a lung with this cough I recently developed. Fun times.  Look for more detailed post on the trip coming as soon as possible.

I am stealing some wifi signal here in Las Vegas to tell you that today we had our interview with Tony Stewart- which was totally awesome. I will be bringing that post to you some time next week so please keep your eyes open for that.

Tomorrow we are going to be spending a majority of the day to the track! So see you next week.

The Office Depot Foundation has awarded Tony Stewart and his mother Pam Boas with the organization’s “Listen Learn Care” award. It is the Office Depot Foundation’s highest honor. This award honors people who have been exceptionally creative and innovative in following their dreams and in helping others to realize their goals and aspirations.

Tony Stewart  and Pam Boas have worked with the Office Depot Foundation’s National Backpack Program which provides backpacks filled with school supplies to children in need.  Last summer Stewart helped the National Backpack Program donate it’s 2 millionth backpack during several appearances where he personally presented students with the backpacks.  Stewart’s mother also helped distribute over 5,000 backpacks to groups supported by the Tony Stewart Foundation, for which his mother is a board member.  They are awarded this honor not just because of their work with the National Backpack program but also because of all of the charitable work done through the Tony Stewart Foundation.

It’s a great honor to receive the Office Depot Foundation’s “Listen Learn Care Award” especially alongside my mom,” Stewart said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to accomplish my dream of driving race cars for a living, and my mom always supported me in that goal. It means a lot to both of us to be able to give back and help others, especially kids, as they work hard toward achieving their dreams, too.”

For more information on the National Backpack Program visit The Office Depot Foundation. You can also visit the Tony Stewart Foundation website for more information on the foundation and the charities they work with.

I have to say that I worried that we wouldn’t get the entire race in Fontana in.  While I live in California- (granted I live much much  farther north than Fontana)  it rained on and off  all day.  So YEY that the race didn’t seem to be too affected by the rain. 

Tony qualified 16th for the race today and early on he struggled- sometimes finding himself as low as 24th position.  However, during the last half of the race, the team seemed to recover some of the handling that Tony was looking for and he was trekking off towards the front of the field- at one time he was as high as 5th.  Unfortunately for Tony he seemed to fall off a bit towards the end of the race.

I will admit right here that I missed somethings during the race because I kept having to run out to do laundry so that I get it all done before I leave for Vegas on Wednesday. I missed Juan Pablo Montoya’s engine blowing. I also missed Ryan Newman’s engine blowing and only knew about that thanks to Twitter when I peeked in at my account.  I admit when they were talking about Jeff Gordon also having possible engine issues I worried that Tony too would fall pray to the mysterious engine gremlins that seemed to be plaguing some of the Team Chevy drivers. Luckily that was not the case though and he was able to finsih 9th at Autoclub Speedway.  He now has a total of 235 points and raising his standings in the points to 17th.  Unfortantely teammate Ryan Newman’s engine failure caused him to finish 36th in the race which dropped him two places in the standings to 36th.

Race winner Jimmie Johnson (Jimmie also won the only race I have seen in person at Autoclub! My thoughts are you don’t want Jimmie in the lead at Autoclub because he is going to be hard to get around!) beat out second place Kevin Harvick in an exciting duel. The two actually ended up racing each other a lot both at the beginning of the race and then again at the end- giving fans an exciting finish to the day. 

Notes about Race 2:

  • I have to say I really REALLY liked Dale Jr.’s orange AMP JUICE paint scheme. REALLY!
  • Speaking of Dale Jr. – I have to send out my congratulations to Andy (prize pack 1) and Lindi (prize pack 2) who won the Dale Jr. Prize packages we gave away (thanks also to AMP and Conye PR who provided the prize packs).
  • What was with all the speeding penalties this race? I guess it was even worse in the Nationwide race.
  • I am looking forward to Vegas…be sure to stay tuned to my twitter updates to see what Misty and I are up to while in Vegas.

Ok I am in the need of some serious help people.  So I have been presented with the incredible opportunity to, while in Las Vegas next week for the race and surrounding related festivities, to ask Tony Stewart some questions.  I guess you could even call it a brief interview…although I don’t like to call it an interview because that makes me nervous (or more nervous).

Upon the suggestion of Misty’s coworker (Hi Ryan!)- I thought I would throw this out there to you all. What would YOU ask Tony Stewart?! Seriously, I need some good questions. I guess you could even call this a contest of sorts- although I don’t really have a prize for this one…except that Tony might actually answer your question.  That would be a pretty good prize don’t you think?? Anyway…the comments are open for your questions for Tony and suggestions for me (or you can email them to me using the link on the right if you prefer, DM me on Twitter, message me on Facebook, send a carrier pigeon or a message in a bottle or paper airplane- whatever- as long as I get it by next Tuesday night).

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Exciting news! If your question is picked we have an actual prize for you now!! If we pick your question there is now an Office Depot Racing Standee in it for you as well as having your question answered by Tony (courtesy of Edelman!) So send in your questions now!

Attention Las Vegas Stewart Fans- Tony Stewart will be making two appearances that fans can attend.  One is Thursday February 25th at the Office Depot located at 1435 West Craig Road in North Las Vegas.  Tony will be at Office Depot from 4-6pm signing autographs for 700 fans.  Wristbands are required and will be distributed starting at 8:00 am at the above location. 

The second appearance is at Lagasse’s Stadium located at the Palazzo on the strip. This appearance is on Saturday starting at 5:00pm and includes a highlight reel, dinner and premium seating.  Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman is also scheduled to be at this appearance.  For more information visit the Palazzo’s website.

Daytona Beach, FL - Feb 9, 2010: Tony Stewart autographs a young fans hat at an appearance at the local Office Depot. (Photo Provided By: Edelman)

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I occasionally go through my site hits (usually when I am bored on the weekend) because I am curious as to how people landed here at my little corner of the web.  I have been getting a lot of hits lately on people looking for driver appearance schedules.  Well let me give you what I have found out about the best ways to find driver appearances. 

GOOGLE! - Google works wonders- I love google! I use google extensively- it’s the official search engine for me. I find it easy to use.

Jayski’s Driver Appearance Page- usually fairly accurate and updated often!

Driver’s websites, facebook pages and twitter feeds- obviously some drivers websites are better at this than others…(as well as their facebook and twitters)…but it can be a great source of appearance schedules as well as finding out if a show car will be coming your way.

Local (to the track) news papers-  that’s how I found out about Tony’s appearance at the Sports Book at the Palazzo during the 2009 season.

Get to the track early and walk the merch haulers…lots of drivers do signings at their merch haulers or might appear at places like THE SPEED STAGE or their manufacturer’s booth (TEAM CHEVY had a huge booth in PHX both times we were there). These places will often post schedules of appearances outside their hauler the day or two before the appearance.

It’s not uncommon to have to stand in line earlier in the day or week to get wristbands, handstamps or tickets for the event so be sure to be on the look out for that kind of information because most of the time- when the wristbands are gone that means you are out of luck.  After all drivers can only sign so many autographs at a time, plus remember most have huge time commitment constraints on their schedules.  Also remember most drivers will only have time to sign one item or hero card if you don’t have an item with you- again this is for time constraints.  You should definitely try to meet your favorite driver though if you have the opportunity. It’s part of the race experience.