Prelude to The Dream

Once again I have spent another June evening watching the Prelude.  If you have never caught the Prelude to the Dream, well you are missing out on some fantastic racing.  This is my fourth year of watching the event.  It is a pay per view event, however proceeds go to the charity the event benefits each year.  This year it was Feed The Children.

The Prelude is held each year at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.  Eldora is owned by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.  Each year Tony invites many of his fellow NASCAR drivers to compete in late-model cars on this dirt track in Ohio.  NASCAR car drivers are not the only ones who are invited each year either. Tony also invites drivers from NHRA and IRL.  I usually don’t compare the ball and stick sports to NASCAR because NASCAR, in my opinion, is different from ball and stick sports on many levels.  But this type of racing on dirt is like being at a minor league baseball game.  Drivers are racing for no points, but bragging rights.  This year was no different.

All the usual suspects were there this year–Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Kenny Schrader, Kenny Wallace and yes, even 5-time himself Jimmie Johnson.  This year’s drivers also included Danica Patrick.  I found this very intriguing.  This was going to be the first time she would race in this type of race car and on this type of racing service.  She didn’t do too bad for her first time on dirt.  In case you haven’t watched late-model dirt racing, you have to turn right to go left.  It felt like she was a fish out of water but at least she gave it a shot.  I still wonder why Dale Jr hasn’t tried his hand at this event.  I think they could really draw quite a crowd if Dale Jr. ran it one time.  Of course, they draw a crowd for this event becuase of the love Tony has for Eldora and this event.

I was not disappointed.  I thought it was quite funny when Tony took Darryl Waltrip around the track in his late-model car.  I swear I think DW was screaming like a little girl the whole time he was in the car.  It was pretty hilarious.   Tony knows what he was doing and I don’t believe he lifted once.  Talk about your E-ticket ride!  Another great moment prior to the race was Tony’s presentation to Dick Bergren.  He gave Dick a racing helmet he wore during his championship season last year.  In case you weren’t aware, last weekend was Dick’s last race as a report for Fox.  I will miss him.  He was one of the best!

Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer clearly had the best cars of the night.  They were going at pretty good until Clint got into the wall.  I thought Kasey Kahne was going to run away with the even after Clint was knocked out.  But even on the dirt track Kasey is snake bit.  He ran into a stranded Bobby Labonte.  I don’t know if Kasey saw him, but that was a nasty crash.  It was nasty enough to take off one of Kasey’s wheels.  I believe Kasey saw him, but due to the racing surface couldn’t stop in time.  This opened the door for Kyle Busch.  It was pretty much that way the rest of the race.  Tony was trying to get make his way towards the front, but didn’t have enough laps left.  Congratulations to Kyle Busch!

One of these days I would love to make the pilgrimage to Eldora to watch the event live.  I love watching dirt racing.  It brings me back to those Saturday nights in Amarillo when my family would head out to the dirt track.  It wasn’t a complete Saturday night until you go some of that mud in your hair that was flung from the cars on the race track.  I can still hear the sounds of the cars as the went around the track.  It brings me back to a time when I was carefree and had my future in front of me.

Thank you Tony Stewart!

Oops He Did It Again

Kurt Busch has done it again.  He has been suspended by NASCAR for his latest actions in NASCAR.  He will be suspended from all activities this weekend at Pocono.  Kurt was already on probation from NASCAR from his actions during the Darlington weekend May 12.

This latest saga began last Saturday after the Nationwide race.  Bob Pockrass, a reporter from the Sporting News caught up with Kurt.  Mr. Pockrass asked Kurt whether or not his probation status had affected his racing during the Nationwide Race.  Busch’s response, “It refrains me from beating the s*** out of you right now because you ask me stupid questions,” Busch replied. “But since I’m on probation, I suppose that’s improper to say, as well.”

My question would be with regards to this latest incident is (in my best Dr. Phil voice) “What were you thinking?”  That’s just it.  I do not think Kurt Busch was thinking on Saturday.  Could this latest incident spell doom for Kurt?  He is currently driving for Phoenix Racing which isn’t one of the top-tier teams in NASCAR.  They have a limited budget and with Kurt not being able to run this weekend in Pocono will hurt Phoenix Racing.  Kurt went on an expletive tirade against ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch at last season’s ending Homestead weekend.  His 2005 season was cut short with two races to go after he was pulled over for suspicion of drunken driving and cited for reckless driving.  He has also had several dustups with fellow drivers throughout his years in NASCAR.  the one that clearly comes to mind is his dustup with Jimmy Spencer. Of course who can forget his run in with Jimmy Spencer.

As a former champion (he won it all in 2004), I expect you to handle yourself with a little bit more professionalism on and off the track.  I can understand that drivers feel frustration when they are knocked out of race sooner than expected.  But with all the advances in media distribution (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and with everyone have a cell phone camera, you have to be mindful of your behavior at every corner.  I do not know what is going on with Kurt Busch.  I am sure he is the only one who knows why continues to do what he does.  I would like to think with this latest incident that someone from NASCAR sits down with him and gives him the “Come To Jesus” talk I believe he is needing.  I feel if he continues to head down this path of behavior, he will be out of the sport.

Just one NASCAR fan’s opinion.

New Directions

Life has changed quite a bit since March 27 (the date of my last entry).  This blog as a way to relax and well, talk about NASCAR.  Along the way I have met some incredible people who share the same passion for the sport that I have.  I spent a few years religiously dedicated to posting here in The Park.  But as we all know life has a funny way of changing your life.  Since starting the blog back in April 2005, my husband and I have adopted two wonderful boys and I lost both my parents in 2011.  I have had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows over the past 7 years.  But I am on my way to bigger and better things.

I was finally able to watch “The Definitive” which profiled Tony Stewart.  I had DVRed it back on March 1, but didn’t get a chance to watch it until today.  See that’s how crazy my life has been over the past couple of months.  It reaffirmed why I love being a Tony Stewart fan.  I like the fact that he speaks his mind and makes no apologies about it.  You want to know what he thinks about something he will tell you.  He doesn’t give you some watered down, politically correct answer.  He isn’t afraid of mixing it up on the track either.  He has this swagger that just can’t be beat.  I learned today that he had 6 DNFs his 2002 championship season.  That’s right I said 6 AND he still won the championship that year.  Of course this is the same man who man handled last year’s chase to win his third championship.  I would love to sit down with him for an hour and just talk with him.  I don’t think I would even ask him about NASCAR.  I would love to visit with him about his passion for his dirt track and his other racing endeavors.  I think that is the heart of Tony Stewart.   I am not saying he doesn’t love to race in NASCAR, but from what I have seen and read, his dirt track racing seems to be where he has the most fun.  Of course, this is just from my perspective as a fan.  It’s clearly obvious when you watch him work and race during his Prelude To The Dream event he has ever year at Eldora Speedway.  In fact, 2012 Prelude is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6.  I have ordered it every year that it has been on pay-per-view.  Since it is close to my birthday (June 15), it is one of my birthday presents from my hubby.  Of course, I would love to attend the Prelude in person, perhaps maybe next year.  Either way, I love watching it from start to finish.  It is like watching Little League baseball.  There is no racing for points and all that other stuff.  It’s just for the pure joy of racing!  So if you haven’t ordered it, get thee to your cable company and hook yourself up.

Charlotte was not kind to Tony last week.  It just wasn’t his night.  This week Tony heads into Dover sitting in 9th place in the points with 2 wins under his belt.  I am hoping he can get back on track this week.  He has two wins at Dover.  In 2011, Dover wasn’t kind to him either.  In the first race he started 27th and finished 29th.  The fall race wasn’t much better…he started 28th and finished 25th.  But as we all know the summer is usually when Tony starts lighting it up on the track.  Qualifying is Saturday with the race scheduled for a 1:30 EST start on Sunday.   Good luck Tony!

It Never Rains in Southern California…well, except for Sunday

As the song says…”it never rains in Southern California”…but on Sunday it wasn’t the case.  The clouds opened up and down came the rain.  For Tony Stewart, along with Jimmie Johnson, they were both doing the rain dance for Mother Nature as for anyone else, I am sure they wished the rain would have stopped.  For this race fan I have to admit, I didn’t see much of the race.  I have been very busy the last several weekends and I haven’t gotten a chance to watch much racing.  But maybe I should continue down this path.  Every time I do not watch, Tony has a great race this would include Vegas and California.  In both of those races he has finished first.  I know this isn’t the reason he won those races, but hey whatever works go with it.  The last time I did something similar to this routine, it was back in 2005 and we all know what happened that year.  Anyway, I am stoked Tony has two wins already in this young season.

Last week “The Morning Drive” had as one of their Fired Up Friday topics…who is your biggest surprise this season…Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, or Jeff Gordon?  Up until this past weekend, I would have said probably Carl Edwards.  I mean after he his run last season, I would have thought he would have taken the momentum and continued through this season.  But he hasn’t been lighting it up. Kasey does have high expectations because he is now in the Hendrick stable.  But as with any new job location, you have to get used to your co-workers, environment, etc.  And some of Kasey’s issues haven’t been of his own making.  So, it make take a few races or so for Kasey to catch his breath.  I will keep watching  So that leaves Jeff Gordon.  This past weekend everything that could go wrong did.  Here is how Jeff has finished in the races so far this season

  1. Daytona–40th
  2. Phoenix–8th
  3. Las Vegas–12th
  4. Bristol–35th
  5. California–26th

He is currently sitting 25th in points…151 points from 10th place.  This doesn’t mean he won’t be challenging for a Chase position, but if he wants to be there he is going to have get back to the Jeff Gordon that finished 8th in the final standings in the 2011 season.

Ok people…enough with the Jimmie Johnson/Chad Knaus drama.  The decision was made whether we all disagree with or not, build the bridge and let’s all move on.  That’s about all I have to say on the matter.

Bristol…see above about my feelings.  We have had another race since the Bristol race.  Elliott Sadler made a good point about Bristol today on Sirius Speedway.  Even if Bristol is changed, it won’t be the Bristol we all want back.  There are probably lots of factors that go into the why people were not at the race at Bristol.  But just the same…let’s move on people and talk about the upcoming race at Martinsville.  We can talk about Bristol when we go back to Bristol in August.

I listen to Sirius NASCAR radio most of the day.  People call in and talk about anything and everything.  Most of the time the people who call in stay on topic, make good points and our fun to listen to.  But dang it…I wish those select few (and we all know who you are) would think about things before calling in to voice your opinion. Here are some helpful hints for those callers.

  • Don’t tell us how many years you have been a NASCAR fan.   It doesn’t make you a better fan than me.  It just means you have been following the sport longer than I have.
  • Don’t try to be funny just to be funny.  You are not Jeff Foxworthy!
  • When the radio personality says your name and where you are calling from, that is your cue to speak.  It is not your cue to say, “Hello, am I on the air?”  If the announcer is speaking to you and not the call screener, you are on the air!
  • Stay on freakin’ topic!  If the show is about the upcoming race, don’t call and start discussing the race from two weekends ago.
  • Don’t call in and trash other shows, people, drivers, etc.  The radio personalities work in NASCAR.  They personally know many of the NASCAR drivers, spouses, etc.  You don’t and even if you do, don’t brag about it.
  • Get to the point of your call!  Don’t start with some long drawn out story that takes forever to get to the point you are trying to make.  Make your point and move along down the road.
  • And one last thing…turn down your radio!  It’s kind of exciting to get through to these shows to speak your mind.  Trust me I have been there.  But when you have the radio up so you can hear yourself, it echoes and well, it makes for a horrible listening experience for everyone.

I will get off my soap box about people who call into NASCAR radio!  I would like to thank all the personalities on the radio, you all make me laugh on a daily basis while keeping me informed about all that is NASCAR!  You guys and gals rock!

Bristol, Chad, Sirius, Peyton and Payton

There has been quite some debate on whether the racing has change since the reconfiguration of Bristol Motor Speedway.  I have to say it, I really like the old way of racing at Bristol.  I am not a fan of crashing out another driver.  I do like the beatin’ and bangin’, door to door kind of racing.  I like the bump and run unless bumper takes out the bumpee.  I don’t mind the bumper moving the driver up the track to get around him.  But I don’t want to see the other driver put into the wall.  I like the drama the old racing at Bristol brought.   I guess that is what I liked about the old style racing.  Bristol was always high on my bucket list of tracks I want to see a NASCAR race.  It was probably at number three behind Daytona and Talladega.  But for the last couple of years, Bristol has moved down on the list.  The drama that we know as Bristol is not as dramatic as in previous. I don’t know if it is a combination of the new configuration and the new car design.  Who knows, but I do not look forward to Bristol as I used to.

The type of racing at Bristol wasn’t the only topic coming out of Bristol.  If you saw the race on Sunday, you noticed there were several empty seats.  I remember when Bristol was the hottest ticket around.  You couldn’t just walk up to the ticket office the day of the race and purchase tickets for the Cup race.  They had sell outs and if there were empty seats you couldn’t tell.  But on Sunday you could tell there fewer butts in the seats.  Part of that may be due to the type of racing.  I am sure the economy has something to do with as well.  Not matter what the case it was strange to see that many empty seats at Bristol.  This fact did not go unnoticed by Bruton Smith.  He is going to look into putting Bristol back the way it was before they change things back in 2007.  According to article on, Bruton did not give permission for the progressive banking that is currently at Bristol.  Apparently the engineer gave the go ahead for the progressive banking without mentioning it to Bruton.  however all this took place, I want the old style of racing back.

The penalties handed down by NASCAR was overturned by the chief appellate officer John Middlebrook on Tuesday.  The only remnants of the punishment was the fine that was levied against Chad Knaus.  No suspensions and not points were lost.  Since the 25 points were given back to Jimmie he has moved up to 11th in points.   Should the penalties be upheld?  I don’t know any more. Mr. Hendrick must have felt his appeal would be heard and the penalties would be overturned.  I am sure Mr. Middlebrook listened to all the evidence presented at the hearing on Tuesday.  I am also sure Mr. Middlebrook did not come to his decision lightly.  However, I just wonder what he saw differently than the three panel committee that upheld NASCAR penalties?  I can’t even begin to stand in the shoes of Mr. Middlebrook.  I do not think I would want to be in his position either.  Whatever he saw on Tuesday to overturn things (with the exception of the fine), there are those of us in NASCAR Nation that find this all suspect.  Perhaps NASCAR may look at how the appeals process is designed.  Who knows?  All we can do is accept how things have been handed down and move on.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you for streaming Sirius NASCAR radio!!!  I hated the fact that I could not listen to my NASCAR radio while at work.  I do have a radio where I could take my unit from my car and put in the radio at work.  But due to the fact you must have your receiver pointed a certain direction, there was no way to list at work.  So I was thrilled beyond belief when it was announced yesterday that NASCAR radio would be streaming online beginning today!

Non-NASCAR news…In case you have been living under a rock, Manning Watch 2012 is over.  Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos this week for a cool $96 million over 5 years.  I am sad that Indianapolis could not find a way to keep Peyton.  But I am absolutely thrilled in is playing for a team I have been a fan of for a while.  So long Tebow….welcome to New York.  Since Peyton is now in Denver, Tebow was traded to the Jets.  Not a fan of Tebow.  He seems like a man with a good head on his shoulders, but as an NFL Quarterback, not so much.

From one Peyton to another…Sean Payton was suspended for a year without pay for the whole Bounty Gate brouhaha down in New Orleans.  NFL laid the hammer down this week.  Yes, other teams probably had some kind of bounty system.  But unfortunately you got your hand caught in the cookie jar after being told by the NFL to stop doing it and then lying about it.  When you get caught doing something wrong after being told not to do it and then lie about, don’t get whiney about things when you get the hammer thrown at you.  Case in point…SMU.  You broke the rules, you get punished, you continue to break the rules while on probation, and when you get the death penalty you shouldn’t be surprised.  It’s what I always stress to my children, if you get caught doing something wrong, TELL THE TRUTH!  Do not try to lie about things.  Yes, you may get punished, but the punishment may be more severe if you lie about it all.  There will be more fallout from all of this.  If Commissioner Goodell was trying to send a message to the teams, I hope they got the message.

Well…the boys are headed to California this weekend.  I am not excited about this weekend’s race.  It is not one of my favorite tracks, but that isn’t going to keep me from watching.  Go Tony!

Tony, Toys, and Tattoos

I have been trying to decide what to write about today.  I didn’t get a chance to write about the Phoenix race.  It was crazy busy last week at work and at home.  Monday after the Phoenix race I couldn’t move the left shoulder and my neck.  It hurt to even type things.  By the time things settled down, it was Thursday.  I would like to congratulate Denny Hamlin on his win at Phoenix.

Now on to Vegas.  I didn’t watch the watch.  I was out taking care of some things on a personal level and to be frank when your husband offers to hang out with the kids to let me have some “me” time, I jump at the chance.  I did follow things on Twitter.  By the time I got home from my “me” time, the race was at halfway.  At more importantly, I got to see the #14 cross the finish line and take the checkered flag.  I was wondering if it was going to happen with all the late cautions.  I know Amy over at Bad Groove was on edge.  But Tony held off long enough to get the victory.  This is the first win for Tony at Vegas.  He now only needs wins at Kentucky and Darlington to have at least one win at all the Cup tracks on the circuit.  This was also the first win for Tony’s new crew chief Steve Addington.

I was hope they would get their win before Hamlin and Grubb, but it wasn’t the case.  Some still think Tony made a mistake in firing Grubb.  I know the last thing we remember about last season was Tony’s incredible run in the Chase, so I can understand people’s viewpoints on this.  But you have to remember Tony struggled throughout the summer and was thisclose to being out of the Chase.  All I have to say to those who are skeptical about Tony’s decision…how do you like him now????

Other news

  • The 6 race suspension for Chad Knaus and Ron Malec was upheld today by the National Stock Car Appeals Panel.  Mr. Hendrick did not agree with the decision from today.  He is going to make one last appeal to John Middlebrook who is the chief appellate officer of the National Stock Car Appeals Panel.  Until he is able to hear arguments, Chad will be at Bristol this weekend.
  • My indoctrination of my sons into NASCAR.  I have been trying to get both my sons to sit and watch racing with me.  Both my sons like Tony Stewart…because, well, their mamma’s favorite driver is Tony.  I bought my youngest his first Tony Stewart car last weekend.  He hasn’t stopped playing with it since.  I also bought him an old #22 Kurt Busch hauler too.  He loves putting Tony’s car in the #22 hauler.  Hey…I will do what it takes to get them into NASCAR.  I even told them they could choose their favorite driver.  They seem to like the M&M car for the obvious reasons, but this momma is working hard to keep them cheering for Tony.

  • I got a new tattoo today. This isn’t my first tattoo.  I got one back in 2000 in honor of my 30th birthday.  I was planning to get one in honor of turning 40, but didn’t get around to things until today. I debated back and forth on what to get…I mean after all this thing was going to be a permanent part of me.  I was going to get a checkered flag with just my nickname “Trixie”, but I decided on the following.

By The Time I Get To Phoenix…

Before I get to my post about this weekend, I want to wish all my fellow Texans “Happy Texas Independence Day!”

Now on to Phoenix.  I like watching all the activities of Speedweeks when it rolls around every year.  It means that the NASCAR season is upon us.  Preparing for the Daytona 500 is a different element.  Qualifying has two parts.  You have qualifying day where the front is determined.  the other drivers that day are then sorted out into two dual races which sets the field for the 500.  The 500 is the only race on the circuit that has this type of qualifying.  Teams can’t judge where their season will end up after the 500.  I mean look where Jimmie Johnson is now sitting.  You can’t tell me he won’t be challenging for the championship come fall. 

This week begins the real start of the season.  This is wear teams begin their normal routines fo race week.  The boys are in Phoenix this weekend.  This will be the 2nd race on the new configuration. Phoenix has over the last couple been a place where drivers who have had a long winless streak have won.  Last year it was Kasey Kahne in the fall race and Jeff Gordon in spring race.  Will Phoenix have the same result this year?  Will a driver who has not seen victory lane in a while win?  Or will it be a driver from Hendrick Motorsports?  From what I can tell HMS drivers have a pretty good record at PIR. Here is what I found regarding HMS current paddock of drivers.  Jimmie has 4 wins at PIR.  Jeff and Dale have 2 wins.  While Kasey has one.  From these numbers HMS is a strong team going into PIR. 

But I wouldn’t count out the Roush drivers either.  Ford has shown how strong they are already in the season.  Matt Kenseth not only won his dual race, but the Dayton 500.  Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle qualified for the front row last week.  Greg finished 2nd and Carl finished 8th. 

As we know, I will be strongly cheering for my driver Tony Stewart.  He has not won at PIR since 1999.  He has 8 Top 5s and 11 top 10s.  I am hoping he has a good showing at PIR this week.  I was unhappy with his finish at Daytona 500 after winning his dual race and starting the 500 3rd. 

But what we know about NASCAR, each race is different and sometimes it can be a crap shoot on who is going to win.

One more thing from Daytona and this will be it.  I was planning on writing a post about the influence of social media on the sport.  The impact of social media came to the forefront on Monday night.  After Juan Pablo’s car crashed into the jet dryer Brad Keselowski  from his car snapped a picture with his phone and sent it out via Twitter.  Now this was the first time something like this occurred. During the fire delay we saw Brad tweeting from his phone while other drivers gathered around him.  During this time, the number of followers for Brad increased dramatically.  I wasn’t one of the people who joined up on Monday, I had already been following him.  But I found myself following all the action during this delay via Twitter.  Normally during a delay I have been known to flip back and forth between the delay and another program.  But Monday night I found myself glued to the television.  I also found myself becoming part of the conversation.  Some people think Brad should not have been doing this.  I didn’t have a problem with it.  He wasn’t driving his car AND tweeting.  It was only after his car was stopped that he took to his phone.  NASCAR even issued publicly Brad had not committed a violation with his tweeting on Monday.  I loved it.  Brad let us view NASCAR from an insider’s view.  A view many of us never get to experience.  Thank you Brad!  I will hold off my post on social media until next week.

Happy Race Weekend everyone!  Go Tony–bring home that win!