Stewart Haas Racing and Michigan

I was going to write about Sunday’s race in the first part of the post, but with everything going on with SHR I thought I would lead with it this week.  On sunday night while pursuing Twitter looking for more information about the race, I saw it.  I saw there was a possibility that Kurt Busch might become a 4th team member of SHR.  Yesterday it was somewhat quite on Twitter and Facebook with this story.  All that I have seen is Kurt Busch has an offer on the table.  I am not sure how I feel about this possibility.  Kurt Bush has been having a good year running for Furniture Row Racing.  He had another good finish on Sunday with a 3rd place finish.  Kurt is currently sitting in 9th place in the standings.  There are only three races left until the Chase begins (Bristol, Atlanta, and Richmond).  I think he will make the Chase unless he completely implodes in the next three races.  Kurt only is on a one year contract with FRR and it will expire at the end of the 2013 season.  But Kurt Busch at SHR I just don’t know.  Can you imagine Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick AND Kurt Busch.  These four drivers are never at a loss for words when it comes to dealing with the media.  Kurt Busch, just like Danica, is polarizing.  Everything I have read, people really hate this move or really like this move, there is no middle ground.  I for one have never been a Kurt Busch fan.  Of course I am not a Ryan Newman fan either.  There have been those who wonder if you can find room, money, and sponsorship for Kurt Busch to be with SHR in 2014, why couldn’t you find the same for Ryan Newman?  I am by no means an expect on this matter.  I only see what is reported regarding this matter.  Maybe Tony wanted to go in a different direction with his team.  I mean he is investing his money into the team along with Gene Haas. To quote the Godfather, it’s not personal, it’s business.  There is more to Stewart Haas Racing than just the drivers, he has crew members and other staff members that depend on the success of SHR.  I am positive the decision to let Ryan go wasn’t easy, but in life you have to make tough decisions.  On paper, both Ryan and Kurt have roughly the same numbers.  They both started racing in Cup in 2000, with Kurt going full-time in 2001 and Newman full-time in 2002.  Kurt does have a championship under his belt back in 2004.  Note he was the first driver to win a championship under the Chase format.  Of course, there is more deciding which driver drives for which particular team every year.  Sometimes it is about what is best for the team, or what the driver whats, or lately, sponsorship.  I guess we will all have to wait to see how this all shakes down for SHR.

In other news coming out of SHR, it was announced yesterday that Tony Stewart will be out the rest of the season and Mark Martin will take over driving duties for the rest of the season.  Mark will begin his driving duties in the #14 starting with Bristol on Saturday night.  The only race that Mark will not race is Talladega where Austin Dillion will once again to the helm of the #14.  This gives Brian Vickers the opportunity to get into the #55 earlier than expected.  I think this is a good move for Tony.  The team will have consistency with one driver the rest of the season.  Even this late in Mark’s career he is competitive.  I think he would have won the race on Sunday if he hadn’t of run out of gas.  Both drivers have a deep respect for each other.  Several years ago Mark Martin said Tony Stewart was one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR.  I am happy with this choice.  Besides this will sort of force my hubby to cheer for the #14 each week.    I know Mark will give it his best when he gets behind the wheel of the #14.  I am thankful SHR is going with one driver (other than Talladega) for the rest of the season instead of the “insert driver here” every week.  If someone out there is questioning this decision all you have to see is what Tony Stewart said about mark Martin… “Mark is someone I’ve looked up to my entire career and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”  That right there says it all for those naysayers out there.

I was going to write about the race in another post, but with That Dang Ol’ Racing Show broadcast looming tonight, I wanted to get things posted before then.  This would be week two without Tony in the #14.  Austin Dillion was tagged to drive for the #14 team for the race.  He qualified 27th and finished 14th.  Thank you Mr. Dillion for your support.  See ya at Talladega.  Now on to the race.  Joey Lagano was on fire during the weekend.  He set a track record and grabbed the pole for the Pure Michigan 400.  I was watching practice (which I rarely do) and in an interview with Brad K. he thought his teammate was going to be the man to beat over the weekend.  I was wondering if the race was going to be a long race by the way it started out.  There were 3 quick cautions which started with Clint Bowyer’s spin on lap 1.  The next two, I was wondering if I jinxed.  Every time I would go into my kitchen, caution.  Let’s just say I was banned from the kitchen until commercial.  Despite the early cautions, the race started to settle down.  If you were watching the race, you know that Jimmie Johnson crashed in the last practice session and had to use a back up car that was slated to be used for Chicago (the first race in the Chase).  And as you know, since you were watching the race, ESPN was keeping track of Jimmie’s progress towards the front.  Yes, ESPN I got it.  Jimmie was starting in the back and he was going to make his way to the front.  But you don’t have to make it your goal to let us know every chance you got.  For those who don’t know, Jimmie made his way to the front in 45 laps and was able to lead a lap prior to the start of the first green flag pit stops.  Jimmie’s day however was short-lived.  He was out of the race around lap 58 with a blown engine.  For you Jimmie fans out there, this didn’t affect his Chase chances on any level since he is leading the points right now and has already punched his ticket for the Chase.

Turn 2 was not kind to several drivers throughout the day.  Several drivers ended up spinning out or hitting the wall.  Turn 2 got Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse, and the ever popular Kyle Busch.  Dale Earnhardt had a decent day, leading laps and looked like he was to give himself a chance to win the race.  Dale’s day went south around lap 135 when he hit the wall and sustained heavy damage.  This was the 2nd car from HMS that had a bad day.  Dale finished 36th and lost one spot in the standings.  He is now sitting in 7th spot.   So have  no fear Junior nation, your driver is still ok.  My husband was trying to convince me to pick the #88 for my race pick contest.  He seems to do pretty good at Michigan, but my gut said no.  He is just like picking Ohio State in the NCAA basketball tournament.  Looks good on paper, seems like a sure thing, but in the end all you get is heartache.  And Sunday was just an example of that.

Joey Lagano was the man of the weekend.  He was poised to take the win after Mark Martin ran out of gas with three laps to go.  Mark Martin had nothing to lose with his gamble.  He wasn’t fighting for a spot in the Chase or trying to keep his spot in the Chase.  So why not gamble on fuel mileage, unfortunately the gamble didn’t pay off for Mark.  Mark finished 27th.   When Mark ran out of gas, there was Joey passing him for the lead.  This would mark Joey’s first win since moving over to Penske this season.  This win snapped a 44 race winless streak for Joey.  More importantly for Joey, this put him back in the race for a wild card spot.  He moved up 3 spots to 13th in the standings just 7 points behind Martin Truex who has the last wild card spot.  This wild card race is getting pretty interesting especially now that Tony Stewart is out for the season.  Once again, I think this will all come down to Richmond to see who grabs the two wild card spots.  If Kasey stays out of the top 10, he will have a secure spot since he has two wins.  Of course this could all change, if one of those sitting around him in standings with one win gets a win in the next three races.  man I am going to love the next three weeks!

Few thoughts…

  • I am beginning to find myself cheering for Clint Bowyer each week.  The more and more I watch him in interviews and watch on the race track, he is the type of driver I could get behind.  I would love to hang out with Clint maybe go fishing and have a few beers with.  And if you can hang with the Duck Dynasty crew and get what Duck Dynasty is all about, then you are good people in my book!
  • For those living under a rock, Speed TV is no longer on the air.  It is now Fox Sports 1.  I am going to give Fox Sports 1 a chance.  When ESPN started back in the day, I am sure they weren’t lighting it up on a daily basis.  They have had a few years to fine tune their programming.  Race Day has been pared down to one hour.  I may be in the minority on this, but I am glad it is now down to one hour.  In years past, Race Day would air right up until race broadcast time.  For example, if the race broadcast pre race show began at noon, Race Day would end at noon.  I would then switch over to the race and watch that pre-race show.  Sunday, Race Day ended an hour prior to ESPN’s pre-race show.   Some were upset by this change, but for me I just rolled with the flow.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya is out of the #42 at the end of the season.   Silly season is in full swing folks!  Let the rumors and half-truths begin!  Launch the black helicopters and drones!  Kyle Larson’s name has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Juan in the #42.  This would be a WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, move!!! Kyle is in his rookie season in the Nationwide Series.  Prior to this weekend’s race at Mid-Ohio, he has only 21 starts under his belt in Nationwide and was sitting in 8th spot.  He does have 2 starts in Trucks with one win and a 2nd place finish at Eldora.  I think Kyle needs to get more experience in NASCAR before being thrown into the shark tank.  AJ Allmendinger’s name has been kicked around for a possible replacement as well as Ryan Newman.  Either one would be a better choice than Kyle Larson into the seat.
  • Speaking of JPM, saw an interesting story on ESPN.com.  Michael Andretti would love for JPM to come race for his race team.  But as with NASCAR, it is all about sponsorship.  If Andretti can find sponsorship, could Juan be headed back to Indy Racing?  It would be interesting to see how that all shakes out.
  • Brad K. was going to gamble for the win on Sunday, but wasn’t going to be really close on fuel.  Points racing is not what drivers like to do, they want to race for the win, but sometimes IT IS about the big picture.  Brad and his team decided he needed to come down to get gas and finish the race without the win.  By the way, Brad finished 12th.  I am sure it wasn’t what he wanted, but it kept him in Chase contention.  If he would have run out of gas, he would have definitely finished further on back.
  • If you haven’t seen the show Duck Dynasty, what are you waiting for?  This is one of better shows on television at the present time.  Yes, it is a reality show, but not like all those other ones out there.  The Robertson family is funny!  Yes, they are rednecks and at times I wonder about Uncle Si, but in the end they are all about family and God.   They sit down to dinner with each other and you see them pray.  There’s nothing preachy about it at all.  It is one of the few shows I can watch with everyone in my family.  I don’t have to worry about language or other things my two children will pick up.  It’s tough finding shows that I can sit down and watch with my kids.  Gone are the days of Dukes of Hazzard, Full House, Little House on the Prairie.  Now we have shows like Dance Moms, Honey Boo-Boo, and the Real Housewives.  Don’t get me wrong, I know there are those of you out there who watch these shows, but there aren’t the kind of shows I can sit down and watch with my kids.   So if you haven’t watched Duck Dynasty, stop on over at A&E and watch!
  • Non-NASCAR related–my youngest son loves to watch the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the Disney Channel.  It is a pretty decent show for the younger crowd.  Kids can learn things from watching the show.   It’s not on the same level as Phineas and Ferb, but it is still a decent show for kiddos.  However, if I hear the phrase “oh tooldles” or see the “hot dog dance” one more time, I think you will have to lock myself up for the rest of the summer!  Of course both boys will start school come Monday, August 26.  My oldest will be in the 4th grade while my youngest will be starting Pre-K!  To all parents out there, not much longer…6 days!

Don’t forget about tonight’s broadcast of That Dang Ol’ Racing Show on Real Country 98.5 FM here in Lubbock, Texas from 6-7.  I was all prepared for last week’s show.  I had to make a run to Barnes and Noble with my other half so he could get his fantasy football magazines.  I had cell phone in hand and yes, that was me in B&N with ear buds on.  To be clear, it was just one ear bud and not both.  But due to technical difficulties and things beyond my control, the show was postponed to Wednesday.  Wednesday’s show was scratched as well.  And so here we are this week.  The delay for the 2nd broadcast  hasn’t deterred me in the least.  I will be tuning in tonight to listen to the discussion and maybe I might just call in!

Since the news came there would be a local racing show, it has jump started me back into my blog.  It does help that I am a stay-at-home mom.  I can keep better track of things and maybe provide a little more in-depth analysis here in The Park.  I have been providing my take on NASCAR for several years now.  It has allowed me to meet fellow NASCAR fans across the US.  Even though I don’t know them on a personal level, I feel connected to them because we are part of the NASCAR Nation.  I have always maintained The Park as a place for discussion and debate.  I welcome it.  The words I type here are my opinions and my viewpoints.  They may not always agree with the majority of those of you out there, but that’s what makes things fun!  If we all agreed, it would be boring.  I know what I am talking about.  I research things using NASCAR.com, ESPN, Fox Sports and yes, Twitter and Facebook.  I even read other’s blogs who provide other insight.  I try to be entertaining for those who stop by to read my posts.  I am not too concerned whether or not my readers comment (even though secretly I wish someone would), I am just hoping I can get more readers and maybe, just maybe someone might notice my work.  For those who stop by thanks for your support and for those first timers, WELCOME!  Have a great day!

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