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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.

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.