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Valli from The Fast And The Fabulous gave us a challenge to list what we pack to a race. Instead of just throwing mine into her comments section I decided to make a full-blown entry about it.

The first thing you need to know about me is that I am a notorious overpacker.  I can be gone for two days and feel the need to take with me half of my wardrobe.  I know I am an overpacker and I can’t help myself.  So what I take to a race is just one of those plastic backpacks that everyone takes. All tracks I have been to so far don’t seem to have an issue with them (of course mine is a Tony Stewart one). I usually end up bringing way too much stuff to a track too but here is a list of everything I manage to stuff into my little plastic backpack:

  • Sweatshirt
  • poncho (what if it rains?)
  • Sunscreen (somewhere between spf 50 and 100 and its reapplied several times)
  • Chapstick or lipbalm with spf in it.
  • Hat
  • CellPhone (why I dunno…it’s not like I could hear it ring if I wanted to).
  • Keys (especially important if I am the driver)
  • At least one digital camera..sometimes two.
  • At least one spare chip and one spare battery for the camera. Sometimes an extra camera lense.
  • Digital camera brush and cloth for dusty conditions.
  • wallet (and everything that goes with one of those including id and money)
  • Advil
  • bandaids
  • Hand Sanitizer (both gel and wipe form)
  • extra set of contacts
  • contact lens drops
  • my glasses
  • face wipes
  • A sharpie
  • A pen
  • a note pad (you never know when you need to write something down)
  • gum
  • Those little crystal light packets to add in water
  • A big bottle of water

That’s all jammed in one of those little plastic driver backpacks.  How I do it I don’t know. Maybe next race I go to I will take a picture of it all stuffed in the poor little thing.

Another exciting finish thanks to the new double file restart rule.

Tony qualified and started 32nd in Saturday night’s race.  But once that green flag dropped Tony was on a mission to move forward and that is exactly what he did nearly immediately.  It didn’t take him long to work his way up to the top 15 and then to the top 10- where he stayed around 7th place most of the evening. He seemed to be struggling a bit with the handling of the car into the turns judging by his hotpass audio.  Crew chief Darian Grubb continuously took stabs at adjusting the car to make it work more for Stewart with adjustments to air pressure and trackbar. The race at Chicagoland was actually fairly incident free…the first two cautions of the race thrown for track debris.  Team Office Depot/Old Spice seemed to be working their way towards a solid top 10 possiby even a top 5 finish.

Then there was the bad pit stop and things just seemed to go downhill for a bit.  First there was the pitstop- under caution where Tony took off from the pits two lugnuts short of a full load.  Crew Chief Darian Grubb calls him back in almost immediately- reminding him to be calm about it. Tony may have been mad but if he was I didn’t hear it.   Then during the next caution, after pitting, Tony either cuts down a tire on debris or thinks he cuts down a tire and comes back in to the pits again.  During that last 60 laps he must have pitted 4 or 5 times, luckily all of them were during cautions and he fell no lower than 17th. Each time Stewart and Grubb discussed changes to the car that Tony needed to be able to push through the field.

Tony was determined though and didn’t let a frustrating night get the best of him and continued to push forward through the pack with the help of his spotter.  Before the last restart Tony and Darian had one of my favorite exchanges of the night with Darian telling Tony that it “aint been pretty.” and Tony telling Darian that was true but “he wasn’t done yet.” And how true that was because Tony ended up pushing forward into 4th, retaining his points lead over second place Jeff Gordon.  The race winner was Mark Martin. Teammate Ryan Newman finished 6th to help Stewart-Haas racing land another double top ten for the team.

NOTES on CHICAGOLAND:

  • How cool that Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon were able to finish 1-2 and how great for the fan to get that money! Wish it was me!
  • Boy Jeff Burton doesn’t like the double file restarts…but I do. Of course they have been working to Tony’s advantage so far.
  • I decided that I didn’t much care for the back-to-school paint scheme Tony was running- with the exception of the part of the car that looked like a composition book. I think it would have been cooler to make the whole car look like the book and then maybe have it look like a kid scribbled on it… instead of the crayons on the front and the pens on the side.  Plus I just don’t like the white base to the car.  But that is just me.
  • Speaking of alternate paint schemes…should it be called a paint scheme or a wrap scheme…since technically they wrapped the car?
  • Being alone and watching a race doesn’t stop me from talking to the tv. Or yelling things like “WATCH OUT!” like Tony can here me (regarding when Paul Menard nearly spun into his right side. Tony’s reaction was a nice calm “Wow that was about as close as I wanna get tonight.” Me I was all “WATCH OUT!!!”
  • I really could just slap whoever sits there at DirecTV central with their finger on the censor button where it comes to Tony’s radio feed. I know I have harped on this before…but I really wanted to know what he and Darian said at the end of the race but all I got to hear was something like “Damn….win them and lose them as a team.” I know that there was stuff inbetween.
  • I know that you know I love the commercials.  Did  you catch the new ending to the Toyota Autograph Seeker commercial…when the little flying robot comes back with Kyle Busch and he just kind of moans? It made me laugh.
  • Speaking of the commericals…I also noticed a new version of the old spice commercial that had the girl who in previous versions was “from russia” presenting tony with a big ole turkey leg- which he bites into and then proceeds to say “Thanks Old Spice” complete with mouthful. All I could do is shake my head. At least it wasn’t as disturbing as last week’s Burger King commercial that had Tony and the King (who you all know gives me the creeps) swapping spots in the car so Tony can enjoy himself a Double Whopper (I still can’t find that commercial on youtube or anything or I would post it for your pleasure)…that was just creepy. I wish Tony had just run over the King or something.

Next weekend is an off weekend. The next NASCAR race is on July 26th at Indianapolis Motorspeedway.

All I can say is wow. I was able to catch most of Kyle’s press conference, along with snippets of Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and all of Tony Stewart’s today thanks to live streaming video (gotta love the internet!!) And wow.

I heard Tony’s statement yesterday (I think it was yesterday) about him talking to Kyle about the incident and that they were on the “same page” regarding the last lap incident at Daytona (don’t know what I am talking about? Click here for video of the last 5 laps). I don’t necessarily know what that page is- but there must be a pretty darn big page break in the middle of it.

Frankly, I was kind of surprised yesterday when Tony made it sound like it was pretty much water under the bridge, these things happen let’s get on with Chicago kind of thing (that wasn’t exactly what Tony said mind you but that is the impression I got)  because Saturday night…Kyle LOOKED pissed. And frankly- he probably WAS pissed- especially being in the heat of the moment on a hot evening.

Well today during the media session with Kyle- not only did he look pissed but he sounded pissed.  Kyle was asked what could be done about incidents like the one that happened on Saturday at Daytona and he said that “If the second place car purposely dumps the first place car- NASCAR should black flag them and they should definitely not be called the race winner.” Then he was asked by the same reporter (I believe it was Dustin Long) to clarify- did he believe that he was dumped on Saturday to which Kyle definitely responded with an emphatic affirmative.

Fast forward through the media sessions a bit- other drivers have come and gone including Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne- both of whom were asked about their views on the incident and both of whom said they did not believe the incident was on purpose.   Tony comes out for his session and starts off by stating straight away that he’s not going to say anything any different than what he said previously- he has spoke with Kyle and they are on the same page.  Someone immediately brings up that he probably didn’t hear what Kyle said earlier and he tells them he read the transcript he knows what he said- his statement still stands. The media in the room were mostly respectful in that they didn’t go where clearly Tony didn’t want to go…except for one guy who wanted to ask about Kyle’s stance that in a situation like that a black flag should be given to which Tony answered “I am not going to bite on your lure.”  I can’t really blame him. He clearly stated at the beginning of the session that he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

Now I don’t know what the “same page” is Tony was talking about because  seems that Tony is in a different chapter of the book than Kyle is.  Does it surprise me? No. Kyle is a young, very aggressive driver. I have been to a race and heard half the track boo the guy. He had a hot season last year. This year he is struggling a little bit (in comparison to last year).  It was obvious by hearing Kyle talk today (I am speaking of his comments about Stewart-Haas Racing’s affiliation with Hendrick Motorsports) that he is still a little bitter about being let go from Hendrick Motorsports (and I bet after Kyle’s season last year Rick Hendrick might have been wondering if he made the right move there).

Kyle doesn’t have a yellow stripe on his bumper but he is only 24 years old.  I personally think that the younger you are the more likely you are to lash out. The more likely you are to try to fight EVERY battle. I think of where I was when I was 24 years old compared to where I am now personally- I was different. I was more aggressive (where know I tend to refine passive-agressiveness into an art).  Best I can figure it, at that age I had just hired on at my job in a permanent basis and just thinking about my attitude towards difficulties on my commute has changed  (got to carry the whole cars theme here)…I now don’t get as angry. Someone cuts me off- most days now I will just mutter under my breath and carry on with myself (notice I said MOST days…not ALL). Back then…I would have made sure the driver knew I felt I was “wronged” somehow.  People change (I like to think mostly for the better) as they get older.

If you were to compare Kyle to a book, Kyle is still in the preface (and Joey Logano- in case you are wondering- he has barely made it to the Title Page). Tony is probably about a a quarter to a third of the way into the story (I have to say this – cuz Tony’s only a couple years older than me). It’s not too far into the story that Tony doesn’t understand where Kyle is…but he understands a little bit more of the plot.

I actually REALLY like Kyle…and honestly had he won Daytona- I would have been a little disappointed that Tony didn’t win (I am, after all a Tony fan first and foremost) but I would have been glad for Kyle.  (I did get to see Kyle win in Vegas this year- and let me tell you that rocked! Seeing him win at his hometown track was awesome).  I am still of the stance that this was “one of those racing deals.” I don’t think Kyle expected Tony to be pulled up to his right rear quarter panel as far as he did when he moved right for the block any more than  Tony expected Kyle to move up on him.  These cars are moving extremely fast and you have to remember the drivers have limited vision in the car (various factors do play into this including lack of side view mirrors and safety restraints- which Kyle and Kasey and Joey should all be very thankful for seeing as they all took hard hits and walked away to play another day).

So last weekend Tony was driving a new paint scheme (the BK paints scheme was mostly white with blue and orange) and won at Daytona at night. This weekend Tony is running a special “Back To School” Office Depot paint scheme (mostly white with lots of other colors) for a race Saturday night at Chicagoland.  Hmmm maybe he will win again.

I found a picture of the car- so be prepared to look for it (not that you can miss it- it will probably be the most colorful car out there):

My favorite part is the part at the top that looks like a composition book. And of course the writing implements because I LOVE pens and the sort!! Anyway…the car will be hard to miss don’t you think?

This might be old news to some of you and I meant to mention it a couple days ago but I wanted to tell you that Tony Stewart will be featured on CNBC’s “Inside Track: Refueling the Business of NASCAR.”  The hour long program, hosted by CNBC Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell will go one-on-one with the chairman and CEO Brian Friance to discuss how he plans to weather the storm. The program will also take viewers inside the garage of driver-turned-owner Tony Stewart.

“Inside Track” will premiere on CNBC on Thursday July 9th at 9:00pm EST (check local listings…for DirecTV users this CNBC is channel 355).

I have had my DVR set for nearly a week…forgive me for giving you all such short notice!

Just some random thoughts I have been thinking about but too lazy to pull into individual posts…some NASCAR-related, some not…so put on your wading boots:

  • It was probably the night of July 2nd or July 3rd, but I had the strangest dream. I dreamed I was in NY with my friend and the Statue Of Liberty was alive and walking around crushing things like Godzilla.  Of course I have never been to NY so in my dream NY looked like San Francisco….it was disturbing.
  • Fireworks: For the first time in many many moons, my town decided to allow “safe and sane” fireworks which is kind of cool right? Well it’s also my 15 month old nephew’s first experience with fireworks. So I purposely didn’t go outside with the family to watch / worry about someone losing a finger. Why? Cuz they freak me out and I didn’t want him to be a big scaredy cat like his aunt.  Reports were that he was very mesmerized by them and not scared at all.  I saw the pictures – they were pretty!
  • I did however take part in the post fireworks family smores tradition. It is tradition that on the forth my dad builds a little fire in the camping weber and we toast (or is it roast? I dunno I usually just stick mine in and wait for em to catch on fire then blow them out and they are perfectly charred just the way I like em) marshmallows and make smores. Unfortunately my nephew was asleep by then…so no sticky marshmallow mess for him.
  • I have decided that I don’t like the races on tv with “limited” commercial interruptions cuz even though they put the commercial on I can still see the track and mostly I am like WHAT IS GOING ON? Plus I worry if I wander from the room I will miss something. I don’t know WHY I feel this way because I am use to this on HOT PASS but when the national broadcast is like that I feel stressed.
  • TC at TheNascarInsiders is making a fairly bold prediction stating that Tony will win the 2009 Sprint Cup Championship…what do you think? I love the sound of it. I really do BUT it’s a little early. Although he is HOT right now. I don’t wanna jinks him!

Well I guess I didn’t have as much to expound upon as I thought I did.

Originally I planned to write this entry right after the race on Saturday night, so I could get it up and published and enjoy my rare Sunday.  I like writing out my thoughts about the races but I definitely don’t like lagging behind a day or three to publish them. However, with a finish like that? I decided I needed to time to digest exactly what happened.

Let’s start with the beginning of the race.  Tony had the pole since qualifying was rained out and he is the points leader.  This week I honestly didn’t pay too much attention to practice like I usually do so I don’t even know where he was there. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t even until Friday afternoon that I remembered that Tony was running his Burger King paint scheme.  This had him and his crew leaving behind the usual Red  for a mostly white and blue car (the firesuits on the other hand were a gorgeous BLUE color! I loved them- and don’t get me started about Tony’s helmet!)  I am glad Tony spent so much time at the front of the field on Saturday frankly, because I don’t think I could have found him mixed in.  Seeing Tony in a mostly white car…did not compute.

Because of Tony’s starting postion they were able to pick any pitstall they wanted. The team picked the box closest to the exit of pitroad and Team OfficeDepot/OldSpice Burger King were on the ball!  Let me tell you that every pit stop whether it be  green flag or caution stops, that team had Tony coming out of the pits first all night long. It’s not like the crew weren’t adjusting on the car for Tony too…because they threw all kinds of changes at that car including trackbar and wedge.  They were just on top of it.

Between awesome pit stops and good adjustments on the car I don’t think I saw Tony scored any lower than 5th position the whole night and that was just one of those drafting deals where Tony got bumped out of the draft early in the race and couldn’t fall back in line until he was 5th. He quickly moved himself back up. Tony also led the most laps so gets a bonus point for that too (something he was swapping back and forth with Denny Hamlin most of the race).

Now to the white flag lap. Kyle got around Tony for the lead. Tony was able to hook up with Jimmie Johnson for a little drafting help. Tony gets a run on Kyle and looks to pass him. Kyle moves over to block him (as he should have done).  Tony again gets a run on Kyle and moves to the outside to pass him. Too late Kyle tries to block (as he should have done) thus tony clips him and kyle is then completely out of control and smacks the wall hard. Then in something extremely reminiscent of Talladega- Kasey Kahne gets into Kyle HARD. Lifting Kyle into the air (again- thanks to the roof flaps Kyle didn’t sail too far up) and Kyle smacks Kasey Kahne square in the windshield.  It was a hard hit for both of them:

Kyle takes a ride...

This then caused a major pile up just yards from the start-finish line.

Again, like in Talladega, neither driver did anything wrong. You wouldn’t want a driver to pull over and not throw a block when someone is trying to pass him. You also wouldn’t want a driver who was just content to run around behind someone and be ok with second place.  No one is at fault.  It’s “one of those racin’ deals”.  I said that after Talladega and I say it again after Daytona.  The most important thing was that no one was hurt really…just a big bunch of torn up race cars and probably some bruised egos and sad hearts.

I was kind of sad for Tony because it was very obvious he did not like the outcome.  He did not go into that lap wanting to wreck Kyle or cause mass havoc. Tony was very…calm when he came in after the winning his second points race (third race all around including the all-star race) this season with his new team.  I watched him on hot pass pull all the way around and usually he’s talking on the radio and cheering in the car. He did none of that. He was very tame in the car.  It was probably one of THE tamest victory lane celebrations I have ever seen. And he apologized afterwards by saying “if it was my fault I am sorry” but seriously it wasn’t is fault (or Kyles).

Was Kyle mad? Probably. Wouldn’t you be? I would be- especially in the heat of the moment.

More Notes on Daytona II:

  • Ok, the new Coke/Coke Zero brand manager NASCAR commericial? FUNNY. “Are you a NASCAR driver or a NAS-SCARED driver?” Oh that cracks me up.  As does Jeff Burton taking off after the guys.
  • The Tony Stewart/ Burger King Commercials? Eeek. First one was bad enough- I have nightmares where someone pops up in the backseat of my car. Let alone the king- who is creepy anyway. But the one where Tony and the King “swap” spots in the car? That one was just way beyond. Unfortunately they aren’t on youtube yet so I can’t share them with you and show you all that is WRONG with that!
  • Because of the finish- there are lots of articles out there about the big accident and there probably will be all week. But the first bullet in this one is absolutely ridiculous: 1. Tony Stewart will never lift off the throttle on the final lap. DUMB! Why? Because why would ANY DRIVER lift off the throttle?  That would be one fired driver!
  • My favorite saying of the race though? Wally Dallenbach gets credit for this one: Never second guess your butt.

Next weekend we are racing under the lights on Saturday night at CHICAGO!

Our last installment of the Road Course Adventure had us never making it to the track on Saturday. Well not past the parking gate anyway. I am warning you right now that this is a LONG post (filled with lots of pictures) as Sunday was A LONG day.  If you are on dialup though I don’t want to kill your ability to see my site so continue on to read the adventure of Sunday at the Races….

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