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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.

Ok no I didn’t go fishing with Tony but how fun would that be? I haven’t been fishing in ages…and yes I have gone fishing several times in my life…and do find it enjoyable for the most part. When I was a kid I probably didn’t appreciate it as much at the time as I do now…but I had some great times fishing with my dad and my grandfather both…and I appreciate those moments now. Anyway…just this last Tuesday Tony found himself fishing in Florida for a good cause:

Tony Stewart (far left) traded in his firesuit for jeans and a t-shirt when he joined Office Depot vendors, partners and executives on Tuesday, November 3, to participate in the inaugural Office Depot Foundation Charity Fishing Tournament at Roland Martin Marina on Lake Okeechobee in Florida. Joining Stewart from left to right: Ed Cooper of Sanford/Newell Rubbermaid, Ken Karroll, professional guide, and Wade Eveleth, senior director of merchandising for Office Depot. (Photo credit: Gort Productions).

Tony Stewart joined Office Depot vendors, partners and executives on Tuesday November 3rd participating in the inaugural Office Depot Foundation Charity Fishing Tournament at Roland Martin Marine on Lake Okeechobee (I don’t know how you pronounce it but I pronounce it Ohkee Cho Bee) in Florida.  Funds raised in the tournament will be used to support the Office Depot Foundation’s mission to assist children and families in the community of Southern Florida and around the world.  This year alone Stewart helped the Office Depot Foundation donate more that 300,000 backpacks filled with essential school supplies across the country.  Looks like they really had to twist his arm to participate (I am kidding people- we all know Tony loves to fish)!

Of the event Tony said:

“It was a lot of fun getting out on Lake Okeechobee for the Office Depot Foundation’s first-ever Charity Fishing Tournament and raising money for such a great cause.”

Tony’s fishing team finished in the top third of the 37 boat field, catching its five fish limit with a total catch weight of just over 10 pounds.

All I can say about Talladega is wow. Well maybe wow and Oww.  Funny thing was that I sat down with my notepad to watch Talladega.  That is funny because lately I have been relying more on my memory and less on notes taken during the race.  But for some reason I sat down with my notepad and my favorite, freshly sharpened pencil and settled in to watch the pre-race and then the race.

Because of a rained out qualifying session- Tony started fourth. Not bad at all.

I wrote this during the first several laps:

Watching the cars race at Dega is like driving on the southbound highway 101 from northern California to southern California. It gives me a knot in my stomach.  When the cars start to get four wide is like when the 101 goes from two lanes of spread out traffic to the claustrophic, four-lane, bumper-to-bumper traffic where all you can do is watch out the best you can and hope other people are paying attention too.

I mean I was seriously putting effort into this- especially since I have been slacking off lately.  While I took several pages of notes throughout the race (most of them were mundane things like: Yawn-single file racing bores me and Kevin Harvick wants cruise control he’s so bored), I will not be rehashing on these notes for most of this post.   A day after the race, I am still reeling at the Ryan Newman wreck at 5 laps to go (thanks to ryannewmaninfo.info for that link).

I happened to be looking down for a minute…I was probably either doodling in my note book (not making a note…but actually drawing flowers) or trying to get my dog to shake my hand…when something made me glance up at the TV in time to see smoke and what appeared to be the rear bumper of a car pointing straight up. I yelled “Oh SHIT” so loud that the dog retreated to her favorite hiding place and I barely heard Andy Petrie say that a car was airborne.

The part of the accident that stands out the most to me is the part after Ryan’s car comes to a complete rest and the view switches to an aerial shot of the car- and all you can really see is the undercarriage of his US ARMY IMPALA and…stillness.  I sat- on the very edge of my couch just watching horrified. As soon as they had played a little snippet of Ryan saying he was alight- I may have cried a little.  My friend and I texted each other back and forth while the safety team cut open his car like a freaking tuna can…

After watching the wreck a few times online- and talking to my friend a couple hours after the wreck (and judging by her Facebook comment- sounds like Trixie thought the same way) my friend and I think that it could have been a lot worse if Ryan’s car hadn’t first landed on Kevin Harvick’s hood.  That softened the initial blow and I think probably kept the car from getting crushed further despite the fact that it went all the way up the track and back down again and flipped some more (into the grass- which is a lot softer than the track where he first went airborne.  I know that the car has rollbars and stuff…and from Ryan’s comments after the race it sounds like they had pretty much caved down all the way to the helmet for him…I think that the car would have completely pancaked if it hadn’t been for Kevin Harvick’s hood absorbing that initial blow.

Also- despite what the announcer say during the race- it looks to me like Marcos Ambrose hit Ryan Newman (whether he was bump drafting or Ryan checked up slightly I dunno) and Ryan hit Tony who was in front of him.  But because of how Ryan and Tony hit- Tony went into the wall and Ryan went down towards the infield.

There has been a lot of talk about Talladega and the COT and how to keep the cars on the ground.  I personally think this is a product of restrictor plate racing. NASCAR attempting to address concerns from the spring race at Talladega where Carl Edwards went airborne into the catch fence, made the restrictor plates even smaller, and made a new rule (only 1.5 hours before the beginning of the race so the drivers didn’t get to really practice this) that cars could not bump draft through the corners (they kept stressing DAYLIGHT between the bumpers in the corners).  Did these help or contribute to Ryan’s wreck? I have no clue.  Is there something that can be done? Again I have no clue…except that the roof flaps didn’t work in this case.  Do they need to be bigger? Deploy sooner?

It was clear that the changes (smaller plates and no bumpdrafting) made the race fairly boring for most of it. Even drivers Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart joked with their respective crews earlier in the race that the single file racing was boring THEM.  Harvick wanted a cruise control, Tony wanted someone to tell him something interesting so he didn’t fall asleep.  Something is WRONG when your points leader is just riding around at the end of the field at half throttle. That isn’t racing that is riding.

I am not claiming to have an answer- but I really think maybe they should do away with restricting  the engines…that just either bunches the field up so you are waiting for an accident.

Anyway, both Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart got dnf’s for Talladega giving Tony a 35th place finish and dropping him to fifth in the champion standings 279 points out of the lead with only three races left to go in the chase for the Sprint Cup.  Ryan Newman also fell one spot in the standings down to eighth spot 402 points out of the lead.

Notes About Talladega:

  • So like me, Tony Stewart does like scary movies (if you follow me on twitter- you heard me announce this last week after trying to watch some of Halloween- the original).  Yeah no thanks. Not my thing. I think it’s a little brave of him to admit on national television though.
  • I am really enjoying the “PREVIOUSLY IN THE CHASE” segments before each race- you know the little narrative by Mike “Dirty Jobs” Rowe. I think it might be his voice, but I really think it gives a little something something to the race.
  • I have decided that Kim Burton is probably my favorite NASCAR wife right now- and this holds true only more so after watching the segment during the preshow about NASCAR wifes and superspeedways.

Next Race: Texas

Joe Gibbs Racing announced today that as of the race at Texas Motorspeedway, Steve Addington will no longer be the crew chief for Kyle Busch.  He will be replaced by Dave Rogers, while Addington will be “reassigned” within JGR (see official team announcement here).

I admit when I read that this morning I was completely shocked.  Yeah Kyle hasn’t had the best of years- but you know everyone has a run of bad luck…is that any reason to replace your crew chief?  Especially a crew chief that you had a totally awesome run with the season before?

Then I started thinking about it and ruminating over it. Why why why?? Then  my friend sent me an email stating this: You don’t think that they are eventually going to move Addington over to Logano because Zippy is leaving to be with Tony Stewart do you? Well of course that just launched me into playing musical chairs with the crew chief/driver pairings and this is what I came up with should a game of musical crew chiefs arise out of this news:

Addington goes to Logano, Greg Zipadelli goes to Stewart, Grubb goes to Newman, Gibson goes to Junior, but I am still chiefless for Kyle Busch. So I guess the cheese stands alone for right now.

So what do you think is going on? Is it just a simple personality clash between Addington and Busch? Or is it a more involved game of musical crew chiefs that is going to happen? How do you think the drivers and crew chiefs line up (or how should they line up)?

If you are a NASCAR fan there is a good chance, according to ASK.com (the official search engine of NASCAR) that you are looking for a Kyle Busch Costume:

Are you going as Kyle Busch?

Are you going as Kyle Busch?

I have seen these NASCAR costumes for kids but never for adults. Why????

Now if you have been here for awhile you know that I LOVE Halloween. I really do.  I dress up every year even though I am well into adulthood (physically speaking anyways).  This year? I was really uninspired costume wise.  I am not going as my favorite driver or even as a fan for my favorite driver. If you can guess what I am going to be you get 10 brownie points…which are not refundable for anything except my undying appreciation that you took time out of your day to leave me a comment.

First off I want to start off by admonishing DirecTV again.  They changed HOT PASS so now that we do not hear the national broadcast- but instead hear MRN. I have nothing against MRN but I don’t want to hear them when listening to Tony’s hotpass I find it more distracting to pick out Tony’s crew audio over the top of MRN. I would rather hear/see the national broadcast with Tony’s audio laid over it.  Of course, I liked it best when each hotpass driver had their own announcers.  I am thinking this might be the “death rattle” as my friend would put it of Hot Pass.

So now about the actual race. Tony qualified 13th.  Not bad for him but definitely not stellar.  He seemed to be doing alright…and the crew seemed to be doing fairly good at getting his stops done quickly. I would basically only switch over to his hotpass channel during pitstops so I could hear them talk about adjustments they were making to the car- because the MRN broadcast was just too annoying for me.  Towards the beginning of the race Tony seemed to be complimenting the crew on their pit stops so I assume they were doing a good job.   At one point I had wandered away from the race momentarily and came back and Tony was in 2nd.  Whoo!  It was not to last.

According to the team release posted on Tony’s website a late race pit stop issue that I didn’t catch and apparently neither did the national broadcast but them down a bit.  And since the race was mired with last minute cautions, Tony was forced to stay out to gain track position. Unfortunately everyone behind him had fresh tires.  But he “valiantly” (that was in the team release- I would love to meet the person who writes them because 9 times out of 10 they humor the heck out of me)  held on for his 9th place finish.  He maintains his 4th place position in the points and is now 192 points away from Jimmie Johnson.  Teammate Ryan Newman also finished in the top ten and is 7th in the points.

Notes About Martinsville:

  • You got to love Martinsville…the racing was pretty exciting!!!
  • What the heck took so long for NASCAR to throw the caution with John Andretti sitting there sideways at the start finish line during the Green-White-Checker? They should have either thrown it a lot sooner (that is my thought) or they shouldn’t have thrown it at all.  I assume that the spotters were notifiying their drivers that John was down there.  Granted I wouldn’t have wanted to be him sitting down there like a duck with 30 3500lb cars careening towards me going all at…so I guess the late caution was better than no caution…but still…
  • I will admit…I am getting sick of the Jimmie Johnson show. At the end- when it was clear that Tony wasn’t going to have a snowball’s chance of winning the race, I was basically cheering for “ANYONE but JOHNSON” to win. Sad but true to quote Metallica.  Sad but true indeed.  Not only is he winning so damn much but he is all they talk about on TV during the race. ARG. I know it can’t be the Tony show but seriously…it is getting old.
  • Speaking of Jimmie Johnson, I think I need some Tums (get it- the race at Martinsville was sponsored by Tums? I should get an award for working a sponsor into my post!) when I think about Tony’s chances of winning the championship.  I have been trying SO HARD to be a glass half full sort of fan…and technically, mathematically he could still win…but I admit…I am starting to think my glass is half empty.  I forget what exactly my friend was telling- (she is way better at math then I am) but for second place Mark Martin to win the Chase right now he would have to win the next four races with Jimmie coming in worse that 10th or 11th?…and that is just for Mark Martin to win.  Not for Tony. Urg…pass me the Tums- I need them.
  • Okay so I have to say…I am fascinated by the Martinsville hotdog because I think it’s kind of gross that they have “slaw” on it. Is it like actual coleslaw? Because I HATE coleslaw!!!  Bleck. And do I even want to know what makes them so red?

Next Week: Dega!!! (urg another reason to pass me the Tums).