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I have had three different topics for posts floating around my brain- some of them since the end of last week but just have not had the patience to actually sit down with them and write them out.  I am worried if I don’t do it soon they will go **poof** the way many of my best ideas do when I don’t give them the attention they deserve or need. But these are topics that I REALLY want to discuss here- so I am going to do them right here in this post even though they aren’t related really except that they are all NASCAR related. So bear with me.

I am going to start off with pit crew members: In the last two races there have been at least two incidents of crew members being hit on pit road.  In Richmond, Tony ended up flipping the tire carrier (Dwayne Moore)for David Reutimann’s 00 team, and just this past weekend at Louden, Clint Pittman a rear tire changer for Casey Mear’s had his foot fractured when run over (by Denny Hamlin if memory serves me correctly) on pitroad. He will be out the rest of the season. Now I know I have talked about how I am completely fascinated with pit crews. My friend and I were talking about the “controlled” chaos of the ballet that is a pitstop. I know that probably doesn’t sound very manly to describe a pitstop as a ballet- but that is exactly what it is.  It is extremely choreographed however when things things go wrong sometimes they go very very wrong as in the case with the two crew members getting hit lately.  Dwayne Moore, tire carrier recently clipped by Tony Stewart, suggests in an article on NASCAR.COM  that when a driver clips a crewman that the driver should be penalized. I really don’t know if I agree with that or not- in both cases recently- I don’t think that the drivers saw the crew members until after the damage had been done. It appeared to me that both were coming around from car when the car the crew members were working on were canted in their pitbox so that the rear was obscuring the view of the crew member.  I don’t know if there is anything more that can be done- but I don’t necessarily think that penalizing drivers is the answer. Of course then again it’s not my butt out there with these 3400 lb cars zooming in and out within inches of me either.

Now onto Sponsors: Within the last two days two major sponsors have pulled sponsorships from their teams for next season: Jack Daniels (currently sponsor’s Casey Mear’s 07) and Jim Beam (current sponsor of Robby Gordon’s 7). These are just the latest in some sponsors pulling out of our sport. However, I was thinking this would probably be the perfect opportunity for a sponsor to come into the sport.  How about an Apple sponsored car? Or Itunes? Or…(and you know the guys would be completely unimpressed by this one) but how about a Dooney & Bourke car (can you imagine the paint schemes on that sucker? Wicked cool).  Maybe a GOOGLE car? or a Kraft car? (I could go on and on so I will stop here).

And, finally, banquet tickets: NASCAR announced a little over a week ago that they would be allocating 300 banquet tickets for the top 12 teams to give away to fans. I was so excited when they announced that they would be moving the banquet to Las Vegas this year – because I can totally go- the awards banquet is actually on one of my furlough days so technically I wouldn’t even need much time off. However, it’s getting my hands on two tickets that is going to be the trick.  I REALLY want to go so you can bet I am going to be keeping my eyes open at the websites of all 12 teams hoping to luck into something.  What’s a girl got to do to get two tickets to the banquet anyway? Can you imagine the tweets from that event? I really want to be there live and in the flesh and not watching it again this year on my TV thinking damn it would be fun to be there!  I want to be in that 25% of the audience that is fans! If you see any opportunities you let me know!

UPDATED TO ADD PENALTY POINTS: NASCAR announced today that the number 18  Joe Gibbs Racing driven by Kyle Busch was penalized 25 owner points, 25 driver points an the crew chief, Steve Addington, was penalized $25,000 and placed on probabtion until the end of the year for failing post race inspection after the race at Louden. The car was in violation of 12-4-I (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-12.8 1B (the height of the car at the left front fender did not meet the required specification; too low in post-race inspection) of the 2009 NASCAR rule book. What that means in English? Is that the left front was too low. They were also cited for 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing).

Well folks, here we are- the CHASE is on.  Who will win? Well you all know I want Tony to win of course and Ryan Newman to be a very close second.  I also want the chase to be close this year- I want it to come down to at least Phoenix- but Homestead would be better.  I want it close and fast and fun!

I wish I had caught qualifying or happened to actually dvr it. Tony qualified 2nd- which is a totally awesome qualifying effort for him. I was totally stoked when I saw that he had qualified that well.

I had forgotten how stressful it can be to watch a chase race….Where is my driver? Who’s in front of my driver? Who’s behind my driver.  Wait is that my driver blowing up…no just Kasey Kahne, I can relax.  It’s stressful. I can say this…Tony’s car seemed pretty good for the most part.  He led some laps. The pit crew seemed to struggle a little bit- but we are talking tenths of a second differences between his pit stops and those of the then leader Juan Pablo Montoya.

Then something went wrong- a loose axle cap.  The team came in the next round of pit stops and fixed it but of course it ate up a bunch of spots. Luckily though, they didn’t get a lap down and thanks to Tony driving past people and a two tire stop Tony was able to make his way up to 14th position before the end of the race (under a yellow/checker because of an accident by AJ Allmendinger at the start finish line).

Overall the race could have went a lot better- however it could have been a lot worse…

After CHASE RACE ONE Tony Stewart is in 6th position in the chase, 74 points behind Chase leader Mark Martin, who won the race at Louden. Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman finished seventh at the race and climbed to 7th in the chase standings.

So am I the only one who has noticed that there is a fairly “new” trend in naming the pit crews? I like it. I think it gives the pit crew’s personality! The first moniker for a pit crew i heard was for Matt Kenseth’s KILLER BEES. Fitting. They usually are (were) wearing yellow and black. Bees are fast and sting and I tend to avoid them since I am afraid of them. Then just this year Biffle and 3M held a contest to name his pit crew. They came up with The Pit Bulls. Another fitting one…but I think it would also work for any of Red Bull driver’s crews…

My favorite however, has to be one I just learned about today…and that is the Home Depot team. They apparently are marketing themselves as Logano’s Paisanos. I don’t know why but I LOVE IT. They even have themselves an AWESOME shirt (click on shirt to go to ordering site it Joegibbsracing.com):

I mean what’s not to love? The name even rhymes.  Personally I think the shirt is freaking awesome!!!

However I think Tony’s pit crew needs a name- mostly because I am TIRED of typing TEAM Office Depot/Old Spice over and over.  It’s tiring frankly and I don’t like slashes.  I can NOT think of a good name for them to save my life.  NOR can I think of a good for any team…(I think Kyle’s team needs a name too).  I kinda came up with a name for Ryan’s pit crew…but it’s kinda lame.  So …any ideas people? I know you are a creative bunch…give it to me.

(By the way- my name for Ryan’s pit crew? Newman’s Soldiers? I told you it was kinda lame.)

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

****

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.