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So as many of you know I left December first in my HHR for Vegas. My friend and I were SO excited about Champions week that even though I had just driven/ridden 1700 miles round trip two weeks ago for the Phoenix chase race I was READY! My drive to Vegas was problem free and my BFF and I spent the rest of the day hanging out and planning our week’s schedule.  It started on Wednesday at FanFest- which was being held at Las Vegas Motorspeedway.  In our excitement we got their a little early and sat in the car, parked in the infield of a mostly empty race track. It was actually kinda creepy feeling.

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Well tomorrow morning I will be leaving again for Vegas for Champions week celebrations. I am not going to the banquet or anything fancy…but for the fan festivities and definitely for a visit with the BFF. I hope the weather stays clear til Tuesday (I am coming home on Monday and don’t want any adverse weather). I am going for the parade and the stewies and the fan fest at the track..and whatever other trouble I can get myself into.

I will definitely be facebooking and twittering…I may try to post too…see ya all on the flip side.

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Read this post to find out how you can help the Tony Stewart Foundation win The Chase…Community Giving Grant That is..

What? You thought The Chase was over? Oh you must be thinking of the chase for the Sprint Cup.  I am talking The Chase Community Giving award.  Vote for Tony and the TONY STEWART FOUNDATION could win one of 100 $25,000 awards.

How do you vote? It’s easy.  If you have a facebook account you just become a fan of The Chase Community Giving project and then vote for the Tony Stewart Foundation here. Voting ends December 11th so vote now to help Tony’s foundation raise money for children with chronic illness and animal conservation as well as helping injured motor sports drivers. Each facebook user gets 19 votes- so give one to Tony today!

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You can also help the Tony Stewart Foundation by checking out the Tony Stewart Foundation ebay auctions. You can get some unique items for that special Tony fan just in time for the holidays. I might have even bought myself a little some thing!!

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If you are short on time and cash but want to help you can click here or text R-A-C-E-R to 90999  from your cell phone to make a $5 mobile donation now. The donation will show up on your cell bill. Take five minutes to give five bucks!

How ironic is it that this race (HOMEstead Miami) is the last race of the year? I am sure that most of the drivers just want to go home at least for a little while. They have one of the most grueling schedules in sports. I think I would be ready to go home…

So Tony’s race started out pretty strong. He was in the top five, then the top three then poof he was leading the race. YEY! Pit stops and a change in the heat on the track had Tony drop back a little bit but still within the top ten when Montoya slid in front of Tony. Tony retaliated half a lap later by banging into the side of Montoya.  Unfortantely this caused fender damage to the 14 who had to pit to correct the tire rub.  Montoya sustained some damaged and they went into the garage area. When Montoya returned to the race 35 laps later or so he purposely bumped Tony and sent him spinning. NASCAR held Montoya for two laps. Tony ended up getting his lap back and fighting his way to a 22nd spot finish and ended up 6th in the points. 

Teammate Ryan Newman ended his season 9th in the points.  Did you know he hit the wall? Yeah I didn’t know either.  Thanks ESPN for mentioning that little factoid.

The Chase was won by Jimmie Johnson…which was a good thing because judging by the media coverage the last couple weeks I was pretty sure they had already engraved the trophy and stuff.  As much as I wanted Tony to win the chase, I still think Stewart Haas came out of the gate a lot stronger than anyone expected. I hope 2010 is their year for a championship.

This was NOT my first trip to PIR actually. That happened this spring and you can read about that here. As you know I left on Wednesday and drove the 500 miles to Vegas to pick up BFFM!  She showed me her new office area and then we hung out for the remainder of the day.  I will say this- traveling on Wednesdays rock because i did NOT hit one lick of traffic on the way to Vegas.  The next day we packed up BFFM’s car and she drove us to Phoenix. We were staying at a different Hotel…this time in TEMPE just one the other side of the airport from where we stayed last time.  We used hotwire again and got our hotel cheap.  One of the good things about staying in the area we were staying in is that we were really close to ASU so that meant we weren’t at a loss for eateries and the such.  Although being by a college campus does have disadvantages too like the eateries being very busy on Friday and Saturday night!  Once we got to Phoenix on Thursday we checked into our hotel and “got our Phoenix legs” and settled in.

Anyhoo…one of our main reasons for going to Phoenix chase race was…I was going to a (hide your eyes fellow Smoke fans) Jeff Gordon Network event where the Jeff Gordon himself would be there.  It’s only fair really- i have drug BFFM to her share of home depot appearances (I haven’t caught Tony at an Office Depot yet  but I did at the Palazzo at the beginning of the season for the race at LVMS).  Anyway- this event was at a hotel in Scottsdale and started at 7:00 am (registration/sign in started at 6:30!!) and was only for fan club members and their one allotted guest (Yes I was the plus 1).  Let me tell you – while I have been to several driver’s cattlecall sponsor meet n greets and usually have a pretty darn good time at them- going to a fan club event is a completely different thing…it really rocked.  There was breakfast…and the raffling of door prizes (I won a snowman 24 ornament that I of course gave to BFFM)…there was a best dressed fan contest which was fun. Then Jeff Gordon came in and talked to us…gave us some opening remarks, answered some questions from the emcee and two lucky fans.  Then we were all called up table by table to get our item autographed and have our picture taken by a professional photographer (that part was odd and kinds surreal- I haven’t seen my picture yet but I am sure that I look like a complete doof because just as we were turning towards the photographer, Jeff asked me where I was from so I think I turned towards him to answer him…anyway…it was a really nice event and Jeff took his time with each person and would take a couple minutes to talk with you/answer questions with you…it was on a completely different level then those cattle call type sponsor events I am use to I will say that.  I wish Tony’s fan club did events at other tracks and not just around the brickyard…because the JGN one was fun.

BFFM at the Jeff Gordon Network event- checking out the merchandise table and getting ready to meet Jeff

BFFM at the Jeff Gordon Network event- checking out the merchandise table and getting ready to meet Jeff.

We really didn’t have much more to do on Friday because we didn’t have Friday tickets to the track.  So we did what most red-blooded American girls do…we shopped (in Scottsdale)! I picked up the rest of my nephew’s Christmas presents (and a cute little onsie for their new baby due in Feb). I picked up some birthday presents for my Mom because I would be spending her birthday driving between Phoenix and Vegas on the way home (oh don’t go feeling sorry for her- she was ok with it).

Side note about Phoenix: This was the third time I have been to Phoenix (second for a race) and this was the first time I was there during the time change (Arizona doesn’t participate in Daylight Savings Time).  The time change TOTALLY messed me up– but in the WRONG way. I live on Pacific time, and they were on Mountain- so their 9:00 pm was really my 8:00 pm yet to me felt like it was 11:00 pm.

On Saturday- we were at the track all day.  I don’t even remember what time we got to the track in the morning but basically we got there, put our backpacks on, I had my Canon 20D strapped around my neck, we hiked into the track- stopped in the merchandise area- made a couple purchases- and then we were into the track where I believe the cup cars were just starting to roll out onto the track for first practice when- yep it started to rain. I scrambled and put the camera in my pack and we walked around in the rain looking at the different booths. I spent a lot of time in the Chevy booth trying to figure out a way to drive off in the camaro they had on display (that is one sweet car).  They actually were letting fans test drive them but I was afraid if I test drove one I would be towing one back home behind the HHR. We spent some time walking around the pits, then found a spot to stand and watch the cars come zooming into the pits from the track under one of the pedestrian bridges- we stayed there as long as we could but figured out that most people didn’t stand their cuz its fairly noxious!!! It was actually a fairly good vantage point to see Jimmie, Jeff and Tony’s garage stall so we prob stood there most of practice…until we had headaches anyway.  We saw Chad Knaus walking back and forth a couple times and Steve Letarte once.  Unfortunately Tony’s garage stall was farther down so I didn’t see much of his guys- just him zooming in from the track.

Tony follows Kyle in during practice for some adjustments.

We then made our way to our seats in the AJ FOYT grandstands to watch the Nationwide race and hopefully see Kyle tie up the championship. Unfortunately that didn’t happen- instead Carl won and Kyle had a pretty bad day.

Best thing heard at the track on Saturday was two twentyish year old guys in the pit area talking back and forth while waiting for practice to start. The Jet dryers were on the track.

GUY ONE to GUY TWO: Dude- those things (motions towards the jet dryers)- they sound like planes!

GUY TWO nods in steadfast agreement with GUY ONE.

(I so much wanted to walk up to them and say: HERE’S YOUR SIGNS but I didn’t).

On Sunday we get to the track early- do a quick merchandise hauler sweep where I buy myself a pink hat with a sparkly 14 on it because some doofus left her other hat at the hotel.  It was sunny and not a cloud in the sky.  We walked down to the pit area and wandered up and down pit road and out onto the track where I took this picture of BFFM:

BFFM Flashes the 24 on track Sunday morning at Phoenix.

BFFM Flashes the 24 on track Sunday morning at Phoenix.

Sunoco on pit road.

Sunoco on pit road.

Per my usual thing- I took lots of pictures of tires on pit road.

Per my usual thing- I took lots of pictures of tires on pit road. These happen to be Matt Kenseth's tires.

After we decided we had had enough of pit road we went up to our seats (same as Saturday) to watch the race.  We all know the outcome there.

When we were parking in the morning BFFM pointed out to me a brand new camaro in the dirt lot we were parked in. We saw it on our way out and someone had put an empty beer bottle on the hood. JERK.

Most interesting fashion statement of Sunday:

Race fans are an interesting breed..this guys outfit proves it.

Race fans are an interesting breed..this guy's outfit proves it.

So far with our experiences PIR has the best traffic leaving and Infineon has the worst.

We stopped for a leisurely dinner and went back to our hotel. On our floor in the hallway I guess some people were trying to make our hotel in Tempe a home away from home by laying out their own welcome mat- that was the most bizarre thing I think I saw all weekend:

Home Away From Home in Tempe- our hotel room neighbors laid out a welcome mat in front of their door. ODD!

Home Away From Home in Tempe- our hotel room neighbors laid out a welcome mat in front of their door. ODD!

Boy having to go to work after nearly a week off is a rude awakening.  I will get to putting all the adventures down in words for you all that I had over the last several days- but I wanted to share some pictures with you (all photos by ME!):

The hustle and bustle of the garage during practice as taken from a very crowded pedestrian bridge.

The hustle and bustle of the garage during practice as taken from a very crowded pedestrian bridge on Saturday morning.

Tony Stewart follows Kyle Busch into the garage for some adjustments during Saturdays practice.

Tony Stewart follows Kyle Busch into the garage for some adjustments during Saturday's practice.

This picture was a mistake because the fence is what is in focus- but I like it- I think its a cool effect.

This picture was a mistake because the fence is what is in focus- but I like it- I think it's a cool effect.

Arsenio Hall checks out the midway at PIR on Saturday

Arsenio Hall checks out the midway at PIR on Saturday.

Casey Mears at his merch trailer on Sunday morning at PIR

Casey Mears at his merch trailer on Sunday morning at PIR

The Office Depot crew hard at work Sunday morning before the race.

So that’s a smattering of pictures- words coming soon.

Well as  you know I was actually at this race…and I will tell you of all the great adventures I had there…but for the race report all I can say is…BAH that race sucked. I don’t rent a scanner so I have no idea what kind of problem Tony was having before the wreck…because he was obviously having some problems before the Junior wreck- so Junior can’t be completely to blame (although Darian Grubb and crew might have been able to fix whatever issues with the car Tony was having a bit better before it was crinkled in the front and the back and on the side- it was a crinkled mess). I am beginning to think that I am a curse- when I go to actual races.  BAH!

Unfortunately Tony is too far back in the points to get a championship this year…even if Jimmie doesn’t start the race (and honestly- what are the chances of that? This is NO chance of that I am pretty sure). I would still love to see him rip out a win at Homestead.  Tony finished Phoenix in 25th (two laps down) and retained his fifth position in the points.  Teammate Ryan Newman finished in 20th and retained his 9th place position in the points.

I have to admit- I wasn’t crying in my soup when Hornish collected Jimmie Johnson in that wreck on lap three.  Talk about the break the chase needed.  It allowed Tony and Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin to stay close.  I know that Jimmie just needs to finish forth or better the next two races but it just proves that THINGS HAPPEN! It’s not all locked in yet- so hold your horses people. Tony started 4th at Texas and finished a strong finished 6th…despite fighting an ill handling car- Tony is 178 out of  the lead in 5th place. Teammate Ryan Newman finished 12th, dropping him to 9th in the standings.

Race winner was Kurt Busch who by way of his win gave the Dickies American Worker of the Year Michael McGee an additional million dollars. How cool is that?

I am a little late in posting about Race 8 because I have been busy getting ready to head to race 9. Yep that is right- I leave tomorrow for Vegas and then I leave Vegas on Thursday for PIR.