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Instead of doing my usual regurgitation and takes on the race from the standpoint of a Tony Stewart fan…I am just simply going to write a letter to Team Tony.

Dear Team Office Depot/Old Spice (and Burger King for two one more races):

You guys were so ON IT at the beginning through the middle of the season. Lately, however, something is just slightly OFF.   I obviously don’t know what but we really REALLY need to pull it together. It can’t be the pressure of whether or not you are making the chase because you have been locked in for several weeks.  You are not the only team that is off lately (Jimmie/Chad/Team Lowes comes to mind)…but you are my team!

The last two races alone wayward lugnuts have ruined our pitstops and lost us major positions. Now I am not saying it’s just the pit crew. Tony obviously had a mea culpa moment on the track today…and he said it right over the radio.  I think that some how we just get frustrated. Mistakes happen- but come on guys we need to recover!!

I know you all know that the next ten races are it. This is GO TIME.  We KNOW you have the equipment. We KNOW you have the driver. We KNOW you have the pit crew. Let’s just make them all work together.  If something happens…don’t get frustrated- just dig in a little deeper. I know you guys can do it! GO TEAM OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE/BURGER KING.

Let’s Go Fast! Amy

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Notes About Richmond:

  • I have mentioned here numerous times that I have always been fascinated with pit crews. Kudos to ESPN and ABC for the pit crew cam. I LOVE IT. Just wish they had more of them.
  • Speaking of pit crews…one of the parts that has fascinated me is how they can run around the cars out there on pit road with cars just feet behind them, in front of them, all around them, buzzing in and out of pit boxes…nay PEELING OUT of pit boxes trying to get a leg up on competitors.  I know that there are safety measures (like mandated helmets and pit road speed limits) but still.  Tony’s run in with David Reutimann’s rear tire carrier was a reminder that those guys are in a dangerous job!!!  I think that because of the way David’s car was canted in the pitstall that he wasn’t able to see the tireman coming around to the other side.
  • Tony gets 50 brownie points for helping Carl Edwards down the stairs after the Chase 2009 class photo/celebration.  And to answer @KevinMBoots77‘s question he posed here, unfortunately my brownie points are really worth nothing but my admiration.  Although how cool would that be to have Amy’s Badgroove race wear. Hell…let’s get really crazy…what would an Amy’s Badgroove paint scheme look like???
  • I am majorly bummed that Kyle Busch did NOT make the chase. However to those who believe his is immature? Did you listen to his post race interview? If not you should (I am sure it will be on youtube some time in the next couple of days).  That was mature beyond his years.

And I will end this with: Let the games begin!

If you were watching the race on Sunday night at Atlanta you probably saw two of the four new Burger King commercials featuring my our favorite driver, Tony Stewart.  These are better than the ones where he is riding around in the car with the King…as I have made abundantly clear since the king began showing his plastic face on the TV I find him…creepy.

Anyway- these commercials are kicking off a national Burger King Ad campaign staring none other than Tony Stewart. The ad campaign’s purpose is a contest- where contestants can enter codes from products purchased (42 oz Drink Cups, 32 oz Drink Cups, and Large Frys). There are 42 daily prizes including things like Autographed BK race memorabilia, BK Tony Stewart Hats, and $25.00 BK gift cards.  There will be a grand prize drawing at the close for the contest for a Trip for FOUR for a “Tony Stewart Experience” to “hang with Tony and his team” or you can choose to take $10,000.  As much as I could totally use the $10k I would totally take the experience instead!!  I mean that is one of those maybe once-in-a-lifetime if you are one of those lucky type of people kind of experiences.

If you want to see two of the four videos (the Sockmaster and the School of Endorsements ones) you can find them on this website.  Here are some pictures from the commercial shoot:

Tony, Estrada and Carrot Top on the set of the School of Endorsements ad

Tony, Estrada and Carrot Top on the set of the School of Endorsements ad.

Tony Stewart, driver/owner at Stewart-Haas Racing, climbs into the hot seat to prove his love for the famous WHOPPER® sandwich in the latest ad campaign for BURGER KING® restaurants. The ad titled, “Polygraph Prep,” is the last in a series of four ads that begin airing on Sept. 7, 2009.

Tony Stewart, driver/owner at Stewart-Haas Racing, climbs into the hot seat to prove his love for the famous WHOPPER® sandwich in the latest ad campaign for BURGER KING® restaurants. The ad titled, “Polygraph Prep,” is the last in a series of four ads that begin airing on Sept. 7, 2009.

You also can get three free entries (no purchase necessary) by going to the Be The King of the Pit game site.

  • First off I have to give a shout out to my fellow Smoke fan Kevin M. Boots who was the one who told me about the contest (via facebook) because apparently I had been living in a cave or something. Thanks @KevinMBoots77!!!
  • Another one has to go to Valli of The Fast and The Fabulous because I didn’t know about the LIVE POLYGRAPH Mr. Stewart will be participating in at www.truthabouttony.com. Starting on September 25th fans can submit and vote on questions to be asked of Tony during his lie detector test.  These questions along with the question Tony being asked if he loves the Whopper will be asked on October 20th at 1:00PM eastern time.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that the name of the contest is funny? The Be The King of the Pit? That cracks me up and makes me think about last year’s old spice Tony Stewart’s Arm Pits ad campaign.
  • Also of the two I have seen (the ones in the above link in the third paragraph) both have funny lines that not only crack me up but have me repeating often. I can’t tell you how many times I have told people (and by people I mean my family – most of whom know I am kidding) “Put a sock in it, Sockmaster.”  And sometimes I find my self just saying…ESTRADA!!!! (say it with me!) These are way more funny to me than the old spice ones. But then again…I have a bizarre sense of humor.
  • If you get codes and you don’t want them??? Please give them to me…I REALLY wanna win.

The 2009 Prelude may have been delayed but it was worth the wait! During the driver introduction laps Tony  was thankful that the weather was perfect for racing and that most of the drivers were able to rearrange their schedules after the original June 3rd date was rained out. Missing from the lineup were Jeff Gordon, Dave Blaney, Carl Edwards, and Bill Elliott for either scheduling or injury reasons.

Heat race winners were: Jimmie Johnson (driving a car owned by Clint Bowyer), Kasey Kahne and Aric Armirola.  Joey Logano totalled the rear end of his car during his heat race- beyond repair. He ended up driving Tony’s backup car in the Main. Denny Hamlin did not make it to the Main despite wicked fast times in the hot laps and during his heat race because of a bent valve pusher.  The disappointed Hamlin was the only driver not to start the Main.  During the 30 lap Main, Tony started 6th but quickly made his way towards the front of the pack, finally passing Kenny Wallace for the lead just before the halfway point.  Once Tony got to the lead, much like last year, he checked out and was virtually unstoppable.  The real race was between Bowyer and Wallace for second place, when Wallace spun his tires on a restart and Bowyer ran into the back of him, cutting his tire. The racing was close and fast and fun on the TV I can only imagine what going to the race was like in person!

Again all the money raised from ticket sales, pay-per-view fees will be split evenly among four military charities that support wounded soldiers and their families.  If you want to help but weren’t able to make it to the prelude or watch it on pay per view, you can donate using your cell phone by texting PRELUDE to 90999. The donation will be $5.00 and will be added to your next cell phone bill.

Notes about the Prelude:

  • Clint Bowyer may not have gotten the win that he wanted- but I think he should get a special prize for having the shiniest race car! That #33 car was GOLD as in Metallic. It was actually quite pretty and I have never been a fan of gold (cars or jewlery).
  • Joey Logano trashed his car…and then crashed Tony’s back up car.  Good think Tony didn’t need it.  But in his defense when he was driving he was doing pretty good for the most part. Until he hit the wall.
  • Speaking of hitting the wall, too bad Jimmie hit the wall- he seemed to be a real contender until he did that.

I can’t wait until Next Year’s Prelude.

I have decided that I do NOT like Sunday night races AT ALL… they totally discombobulate me- even more than Saturday night races.  NASCAR- please no more Sunday night races.

Tony and the Office Depot/Old Spice crew had what I call a yo-yo day. They were up, they were down, they were up, they were down. They were definitely back on the upswing when the race did end…but just ran out of time to get any more positions.  It could have been better. But it could have been far far worse. At one point in the race I was just rooting for finishing on the lead lap- so I can’t be too disappointed.  I hope these little pit road issues they are having will iron themselves out before the chase starts and it’s go time. I would really hate to see the championship lost on things like missing lugnuts.

Also- I wanted to talk a little bit about the whole Bobby Labonte situation.  I REALLY like Bobby Labonte. He is high on my list of favorite drivers.  As a matter of fact he was on my fantasy team by choice…unlike The Davids (Reut and Ragan) who I picked mostly because I needed two more drivers and couldn’t “afford” any more of my favorites.  I was really disappointed when he was replaced by Darnell for 7 of the next 12 races or whatever in the 96 car…(so I guess now Darnell is my driver because as I understand my fantasy league rules its by car number not driver).  However I have to tell you that I was so glad to see him doing so well in the 71 car today. I know it wasn’t a perfect day for them- but what a way to put a really crummy situation behind you.  He ran stronger today than I have seen him run in a long time.  I may have even said at one point during the race “Neener Neener Neener on you Bobby naysayers.” (of course the only other person in the room at the time was my 17 month old nephew who was much too busy playing with his tool bench to care what I was talking about).

Notes About Atlanta:

  • I am sick of the Danica talk. Really. Can we just stop it for now? If she jumps to NASCAR she jumps. It would probably be good for the sport in the fans department.  Would she be good? That I can’t tell you. But she has won only ONE IRL race in her career…so…I am skeptical.
  • I tell you Denny’s car was hard for me to pick out today. And was his sponsor the Farm Beauru?
  • Speaking of Denny, I guess his Lexus got stolen right out of his driveway a couple of weeks ago.  That has to SUCK. I remember seeing something on Speed (I think it was speed) about that Lexus…it was a really nice car.  Unfortunately now it’s probably stripped and god knows what else.
  • I thought Diamond Rio did a great job with the National Anthem during the prerace. It was one of the best so far. (The worst hands down was Vegas).

Next weekend is the LAST race before the Chase (our version of the playoffs) starts: Richmond on SATURDAY night.

On Sunday night I was perusing NASCAR.COM as I often do- looking to see if there was any important breaking news or discussions.  Since it was an “off” weekend for the cup drivers- I hadn’t really been paying attention over the weekend- except to know that Kyle won the truck race and Carl the Nationwide race. That’s it- so I was lingering about when a headline caught my eye on the main page mostly because it was under a picture of Tony Stewart. It said something to the effect of: Third Title Could Make Stewart One Of The Best.  Of course I clicked the link…and it was actually a link to a piece by David Caraviello who contends that should Tony Stewart win a third championship he would be among the “greats” in the sport.

Well, I had to butt in here with my opinion of course, and I know you all know where I am going with it.  Yeah…he already IS in my fan-biased eyes.  So he may not have more than two championships in Cup racing (yet! I have faith more will come) and he may not have as many wins as Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson, so strict number crunching may not have him up near the top of the list as a “GREAT” in the sport. But I honestly feel that being “a great” is more than just extrapolating some data and throwing it neatly into a nice little chart.  But if you do want to play that numbers game take this into consideration: he does have championships (and along with championships comes wins) in other series to consider (IROC, IRL, USAC and USAC Triple Crown).

Then of course there is the little venture Tony Stewart took on this year called team ownership. I have heard and read things discrediting Tony’s team ownership for a couple reasons . The two major ones seem to be because a.) Tony grabbed an established team. and b.) Stewart-Haas Racing has assistance from Hendrick Motorsport in that they get their engines and chassis (Is there a plural form of chassis? Is it chassi, like octopi?) from the iconic team.  To these naysayers I give a big hearty virtual raspberry to.  Stewart-Haas racing, in it’s former format (Haas CNC), if I remember correctly, did not have any top ten finishes at all in the entire run of the organization.  Nor did it ever have a car that ever at any point was ever even in the chase let alone one leading the points and the other poised to make the chase providing the stars and planets don’t line up against him.  And the partnership with Hendrick Motorsports? It was a preexisting partnership.  It was there BEFORE Tony Stewart signed on the dotted the line. Why weren’t people all up-in-arms before calling them a Hendrick Farm Team (or as my BFF called them: HMS-Lite).  I think even a casual observer with no vested interest or bias (I am of the biased) would see that bringing Tony on board obviously did SOMETHING (and for the record the aforementioned David Caraviello piece tends to agree with me on this).  Tony Stewart may be self-depreciating when it comes to his “smarts” but the man is definitely not stupid.  He is an accomplished team owner in the USAC series already- and I won’t even mention his myriad of other business ventures.

[insert virtual raspberry here]

Also Tony Stewart (along with many many other drivers in the sport) gives back to his community and causes near and dear to his heart through his foundation.  Not to mention that on top of that has been working with his sponsor’s foundation to give backpacks of school supplies to needy children.  I could go on and on and talk about all the great things the Tony Stewart Foundation does- but all you really need to do it drop by the Foundation website and you can see for yourself.

So yeah- I think Tony Stewart is already part of the list of people considered the “greatest” in the sport- even if he never gets that third championship (or fourth or fifth- hey I am a fan after all- I can dream). And yes I am a fan (prior to his change in teams- a favorite saying of mine is that “I am such a Tony Stewart fan that I bleed orange” of course that doesn’t work as well with his new color) so I am probably extremely biased in this opinion.  Nothing will really change that, just like nothing will change where I go with this website. I will always talk NASCAR. And my faithful couple of readers will always get to hear my views from my biased (fan) fingers.  And there will always be pictures of my dog and my nephew and who knows what else peppered in with my Tony Stewart ravings.

Where is Darian Grubb, Greg Zipadelli, Chad Knaus, or Steve LeTarte when I need them? Seriously.  Today started out like any other Monday. I went to leave for work. I got in my car. Put my purse on the passenger seat. Clicked my seat belt tight. Turned on car. Ahhh gotta love the sound of that Chevy powerplant.  Press brake and put car into Reverse. Nothing. Car won’t go back. Odd. Put car in Drive to see if it will roll forward. Tap gas just a wee little bit (don’t want to crash into garage). Nothing.  Put car in park. Turn car off. Sit there and wonder WTH? to myself.  Turn car back on. Engine sounds normal. No lights on dash. Press down brake. Put car into R and hear a horrendous Pop/Clunk noise. Think SHIT THAT’S NOT GOOD. Car still will not roll back. Put car back into park and turn off. Get out. Look under car to make sure she isn’t gushing any vital fluids, to see if there is something obviously dangling where it wasn’t before, etc. I can see nothing. Of course I don’t even know what I am looking for so…it’s pretty much a moot point there.  I swear that the HHR looks- hunkered on the right side slightly (like its lower on that side). Then again it could be my imagination.  It was so loud that neighbors said they heard it and one came out because he thought I hit something.  My mom offers to take me to work because I can NOT miss today- it’s one of our busiest days of the year- my coworker would have my head! During a break at work I call Onstar using my handy dandy card I carry in my wallet incase I lock myself out. They sent a tow truck to get my car (I left the keys in it and unlocked because I was pretty sure it wasn’t going anywhere) and they took it to Chevy. It SHOULD still be under warranty (fingers crossed). I am sure it’s a transmission problem. My dad says judging by my description he thinks it might be a busted trans-axle (he said that trannies tend to grind not pop/clunk). My brother threw bad spider joint into the mix (honestly- don’t even know what that is).  I guess we will see.

My issue is I have a severe mistrust of mechanics.  Back when I had my Chevy Lumina sedan (the fancy euro edition) a mechanic told me that I had cracked the engine- and that coolant was mixing in the oil and it was just bad news all around. It would cost me like 4K to get it fixed. I did not have that kind of money and told them I would be by to pick it up.  My brother came with me and said to me “Hey I want Robert to look at it” (a friend of his that he knew through who would eventually be my sister-in-law.  He worked at a used car lot and took a look at it quickly. He said that the dealer was lying because if that was the case the oil would be milkly in color and it wasn’t. (In fact I had just had my dad change it like a week or two before). Plus there was all the trouble I had with the Rav4 and the Toyota dealerships not being able to fix it.

Now I LOVE my car. I do.  I have it serviced regularly (not just oil but I have them do the recommended service packages too). I am not careless. I do not drive like an idiot. I do not do silly things like throw the transmission into Drive while still rolling backwards.  I have never in my life done a burn out, a brake stand or a powerslide (not on purpose- not accidentally). The one time I activated the traction control in the HHR on a rainy day I thought that there was something wrong with the car.  I do not understand why whatever happened would happen. I just hope its covered by the warranty and that it’s quick to fix because being without a car is really putting the brakes on my freedom.  Luckily my mom does’t mind driving me around much.

Various Notes:

  • So…I dropped 7 places down to 22nd in my fantasy NASCAR league. YIKES.  That is a pretty hard drop. All my drivers had lackluster finishes…especially Tony…that really pulled me down. I was up as high as 12 just a couple weeks ago…but I have been falling hard since then. I hope that this turns around but it seems like half my drivers will do decent and the other half tank. :/ There has to be a science to this fantasy league stuff that  just don’t get.
  • Speaking of fantasy leagues…I don’t know why but I feel the need to be in this football pool that I am in nearly every year for the past several. I suck at it because frankly? I don’t follow football more than as a casual observer. One year I got REALLY close to winning (by sheer luck) but it’s been downhill ever since.  Still doesn’t stop my from throwing my hat into the ring though like I know what I am doing.
  • After reading the Stewart-Haas race report on Tony’s run apparently he DID get radio communication back about half way through the race. (BTW- I love how The PR Powers that be for Tony titled the release RADIO & ELECTRICAL GREMLINS THWART STEWART AT BRISTOL- because I totally picture those cute little fuzzy things in Gremlins that get all evil messing around with his radio).  And at some time before that? He had gotten a speeding penalty…which is why he got two laps down. I thought it was just from trying to fix the radio. He said that he listened to Ryan’s spotter so he knew when there was a caution. That had to be hard.
  • Today (Monday) was one of our busiest days at work. I expected it. The first day of classes is always crazy on the phones. I hope it gets better instead of worse.

I like to watch Bristol.  It and Martinsville are my two favorite tracks.  But it really sucks to watch when your driver is doing not so good.  I was so glad that Kyle Busch won that race. I know I am a Tony fan-but I will tell you that I would rather Kyle Busch win over Mark Martin.  Not only because I don’t want Mark Martin that far in front of Tony when the chase starts, but I would really like Kyle to make the chase.

That being said…Team Old Spice/Office Depot had a terrible run of it didn’t they? This seemed to be the race where if it could go wrong? It did go wrong. Weird things. Like radio problems. Electrical issues.  I mean how many radios did they give him? Two? Three? What I want to know is why didn’t they just bring Tony in and have him put on a different helmet. They had one there. I realize it would have taken some time to undo his helmet and slap another on but I think it might have been better for him in the long run because Darian would have been able to compensate better for the ill-handling car. Did he ever have communication with his guys without having to pantomime or play telephone with Ryan Newman?

Speaking of Ryan Newman- I was glad to see him have a good strong run. I wish it could have been a little stronger.  But it was good for him.   Teammate finished 6th and moved up two positions to 7th  in the standings. Tony’s troubles had him finishing 33rd. He maintains his points lead and as of the Michigan race is locked into the chase.

Notes About Bristol:

  • I have to admit that at the beginning of the race when they kept talking about Tony’s radio problems this kept running through my head: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate…” I think it’s from Cool Hand Luke, not sure because I have never seen Cool Hand Luke…but it is in front of the song Civil War by Guns N Roses.
  • To whoever decided it was a good idea to paint Clint Bowyer’s car red with black trim for this night race. You made it extremely hard for me to pick out Tony’s car because I kept seeing yours and thinking it was Tony’s because it was the same color and had a black wing. Please do not do that again.
  • I felt bad after the race when they tried to interview Clint Bowyer. I believe I even said “Can’t you just leave him alone? He’s obviously upset.”
  • I have to say that I think it was INCREDIBLY sweet of Kyle Busch to give the checkered flag to a fan! That was so neat!

Next weekend we are off but Nationwide goes north of the border to Montreal.

I probably should have picked a different title because I am sure that some NASCAR fans are going to think this entry is about Chad Knaus running Jimmie Johnson out of fuel at Michigan last weekend.  I am not going to go into that. This is about this coming weekend: Bristol Motor Speedway is doing something a little different this Saturday night. When the cup drivers take to the stage before the race for driver introductions, each driver will enter the stage to approximately 30 seconds of a song snippet from a song of their choosing.  As you would probably expect there is a wide variety of songs- however- it would seem that apparently AC/DC is a favorite as five drivers picked three different AC/DC songs:

Mark Martin will be entering to “For Those About To Rock”

Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and David Ragan all picked “Thunderstruck”

and Jamie McMurray picked “Shook Me All Night Long”

Now I like AC/DC quite a bit. When I drove Doris (the black RAV) my favorite song to pull up in front of home was BACK IN BLACK because– I was back and the car was black, so it just kind of fit.  It also helped that BACK IN BLACK was my favorite of the AC/DC albums so it was often in my car.

There are choices all over the musical spectrum from Elvis Presley (Clint Bowyer picked “C.C. Rider”) to Jerry Reed (Joey Logano picked “Eastbound and Down”) and The Rolling Stones (“Start Me Up” was picked by Jeff Gordon).  I will say, and I don’t know WHY, I am surprised that Jeff Burton decided to walk onstage to Guns N Roses classic “Welcome to the Jungle”.

I have to say that the Stewart-Haas boys picked some awesome songs! Ryan Newman picked Big & Rich’s “Save A Horse, Ride a Cowboy” which I absolutely LOVE! Tony picked to walk onstage with “Bawitdaba” by Kid Rock (David Stemme also picked this song).  While I admit I am not a huge Kid Rock fan he does have about three songs I love…and that is the top one. Both I think are excellent choices.

Which leads me to…what if I were being introduced and needed a song snippet. What would I personally pick. I have pretty wide, varied tastes in music that usually depends highly on my mood.  Some days I might be on a country kick and listening to the likes of Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Blake Shelton, Diamond Rio, Big & Rich and others. Other days it could be hair metal favorites like Cinderella, Poison, Slaughter and Dokken. Then again it could be a bad day when I want to hear nothing but the “hard stuff” like Disturbed, White Zombie, and Metallica.  Then of course there are my broadway show days (wicked, les mis, mamma mia), classic rock days (Heart, Zep, Sabbath) or my “whatever the heck Mr. IPOD SHUFFLE DJ picks for me” days.

Honestly it would probably depend on my mood:

If I were in a rockin’ mood I would probably pick “Fuel” by Metallica.  (Sing it with me now..”Gimme Fuel, Gimme Fire….”)

If I were in a more country state of mind- I would probably go with Toby Keith’s “How Do You Like Me Now?”

What about you? What would you pick for yourself? Or for me? Talk to me people- I know you are out there!