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So Rutledge Wood custom painted a helmet for Tony…this is freaking laughs! I thought you would all enjoy it as much as I do:

The following is a day-by-day account of the great annual Vegas RACECATION. It includes race pictures, lots of words including a detailed account of what was going on in my head before and during our Tony Stewart Interview!!! as well as some choice Tony and Ryan quotes from their appearance at the Q&A at the Lagasse Stadium at The Palazzo, and did I  not mention race pictures? I am putting a jump in here because this entry is really LONG but I couldn’t bear to break it up.

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It’s been awhile since I talked NASCAR commercials.  This year has given us a fair share of new ones to consider…and I am prompted to post this entry that has been rolling around in the cargo area that is my brain for about a month now by an email from NASCAR.COM announcing that the winner of their Daytona Commercial Showcase was the David Ragan UPS Three-Wheelin’ Ad (Seriously?? That one?? Did my votes not count because that commercial did nothing for me).

Since I don’t agree with the winner, I am going to tell you Amy’s favorites of the newest round of NASCAR commercials:

1. The Coca-Cola Drivers Commercial. First off you HAVE to give these guys props.  They are race car drivers NOT singers- but there they are putting it all out there.  I have seen the behind the scenes video and it shows that our favorite coke drivers are singing it themselves.  I can’t imagine doing that and then having it broadcast on TV. I LOVE to sing, especially in the car (because I am alone and who can complain except except on the rare occasion I have the sunroof open).  I also like that the commercial incorporates some of the crew chiefs like Darian Grubb and Greg Zipadelli. By far a favorite. (By the way you can hear your favorite coke family driver sing the whole commercial alone if you want just go to MyCokeRewards.com/Nascar and scroll your cursor over the driver you want to hear.  I say Tony and Elliott Sadler are the best).

2. Second  place is a tie but it goes to the same company- Toyota. I can’t decide which I like better Denny Hamlin asking, “Who doesn’t love love?” Or Kyle Busch driving the car with kitties, bunnies and little baby seals. That is some funny stuff…especially the look on Kyle’s face as he is driving, with his head in that kitty cat helmet…Oh I chuckle just thinking about it.

3. My third favorite is the UPS Delivery commercial- I don’t know why but the fact that Santa gets all aggro and tries to climb the fence while Mercury and some of the other delivery guys try to keep him from going over cracks me up.

Now for my least favorite commercials:

Hands down my least favorite is the Martin Truex Jr. Napa commercial.  Mainly the part that bugs me the most are the two Napa guys at the end.

But the Sprint Jimmie Johnson commercial bugs me too…for two reasons. Reason 1: why is Jimmie playing golf in a bathrobe but he’s got full on pjs on underneath the bathrobe? Who does that unless they are in the artic? Reason 2: Wouldn’t everyone they call be “the real Jimmie Johnson” and not just Jimmie Johnson the race car driver? Just sayin’.

I wasn’t going to discuss the roe between Carl and Brad more than I did on my previous post.  I was, literally, all set to publish my next entry (about NASCAR -related commercials if you are curious) when I found out that Carl Edwards was given a three race probation for his antics with Brad Keselowski at Atlanta on Sunday.  So I have to interrupt my own regularly scheduled post to rant a bit.

Now, I realize that NASCAR is trying to loosen the reigns on the drivers so that the drivers can feel free to be a bit more aggressive with their driving.  I get that and frankly I agree with it and am all for it.  But wow…this wasn’t a little bit of aggressive driving gone too far. This was a blatant attempt to take out another driver- revenge style. This was not a bump and run,  this was an all-out crash and burn.  Add that to the fact that national broadcast commentators told us several times during the race that Atlanta is THE FASTEST track (because of restrictor plates being used on the super speedways) right now in the series- it’s really scary! It’s one thing to bump a guy’s bumper to make a point or rub some fenders making a pass. It is a completely other thing to take a 3400 pound race car at speeds of 190+ mph and purposely aim for another guy also in a 3400 pound car, also going 190+ mph, for two laps.  That is not being an aggressive driver- that is being a vigilante.  While neither Brad nor Carl are favorite drivers of mine I don’t want to see ANYONE get hurt. Do I want to see some exciting racing? YES. Do I want to see ANY driver or fan (or crew member, track official etc) maimed or killed? ABSOLUTELY NO!

A huge part of me wants to bring up the whole Kurt Busch/Tony Stewart Bud Shootout practice from 2008. That really didn’t put anyone in danger. That was expressing some frustration.  The bumping was fairly low speed; neither Kurt nor Tony were pointing their cars at each other going 190+ in front of a grandstand filled with spectators. Yet if memory serves correct Tony got put on probation for an entire year (and there may have been points and monetary fines as well I don’t remember honestly- it was a long time ago and my brain is nearly filled to capacity).

I mean I know that I am kind of comparing apples to oranges in a way since the Kurt/Tony incident happened two years ago before NASCAR adapted their looser stance on penalties. But let’s be honest here…what the heck is probation going to do? Nothing. Just make Carl mind his p’s and q’s for a couple races? That’s like slapping a kid’s hand for getting in the cookie jar- then giving them a cookie– in my opinion (obviously you can probably tell by my analogy that I am not a parent).

Mostly I guess I just was using this post to try to work through why NASCAR would do a 180 and be so lenient. As always comments are totally welcome….

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.