Tony Stewart

Before I start with my  post, please remember, what I say here are my opinions, my words.   I always invite comments to my posts, but if you are coming here to be judgmental, to troll, or to be downright nasty,  YOU ARE NOT WELCOME!  All I ask is to keep an open mind.  You don’t have to agree with me, but you can respect what I or others have to say.

I haven’t been vocal about the tragic accident that took Kevin Ward Jr.’s life.  Here  what I posted back on August 12 on Bad Groove.

“I haven’t been vocal about all of this on Facebook or elsewhere.  One I am still in shock about this past weekend’s events.  The more stories I see about it, the angrier I get.  I am angry with media outlets who have no clue about what they are talking about.  They want to vilify Tony Stewart.   All they show are the angry outbursts of this man. I don’t have blinders on when it come to Tony.  He has a history of anger management issues.  You can’t judge who he is as a person by those snippets.  We have all had times where we have blown up in the heat of the moment.  Those are just a fraction of what Tony Stewart is as a person.  He is a loving and caring person with one of the biggest hearts around.  Last year I read an article about the crash that left him with a broken leg.  He made a last-minute decision to turn his car to avoid hitting another competitor.  A move that cost Tony a broken leg, but saved that man’s life.  That’s why when I hear people say he turned intentionally to hit Mr. Ward, I just get angrier and angrier.

People have asked the question should Tony Stewart be racing at these dirt tracks? My answer is yes (please note, my initial post said no, I hit submit, before I could edit it).  Tony is a racer.  Dirt racing is his passion.  It’s his baby.  How can you ask someone to give up something they love, something that is part of who he is.  I am sure Tony is asking himself these very same questions.

I can’t even begin to understand what Tony is going through at this point in time.  Yes, he was behind the wheel of his race car when he struck a fellow driver which resulted in the death of Kevin Ward Jr.  That will always be with Tony.  He will always wonder if I had this or that, would it have made a difference.  I don’t know and we will probably never know.  This incident has not only changed Tony in a profound way, but the whole racing community 

All I ask from people who know me, as well as you (Amy from Bad Groove), take the time to ask questions.  Ask me about Tony Stewart the person.  Ask me about what happened.  Ask me about my loyalty to Tony Stewart.  I will try to help you understand so you can feel compassion for a man who is devastated and heartbroken.  This is not a time to judge.  Even thought I do not know Tony Stewart personally, my heart aches for him.  One last thing, Dale Jarrett is a class act.  We should all take a page from his book.”

That was pretty much the only time I have commented about the tragic incident involving Tony Stewart until today.

I just finished watching the press conference during my lunch hour.  This would be the first time since the accident we would see Tony Stewart.  Before he even said a word, I could tell he was still shaken up about the events from that night.  You don’t have to be a race fan to know this accident has greatly affected him and will for a long time.  I don’t know where he found the strength to sit in front of the media and speak from the heart.  I am sure there will be those who will criticize him for not answering questions about, but I didn’t want him to.  The investigation is still open and as he said, he is respecting the process of everything.  If that sticks in your craw then so be it.  His remarks were genuine.  They didn’t seem forced, contrite, or arrogant.  I believe he is truly sorry for what happened.

Some of you may ask how can I be objective, you ARE, after all, a Tony Stewart fan.  I have tried to remain objective–trying to understand and respect everyone’s viewpoints.  However, it has been difficult. Part of it has to do with those who don’t even understand the sport of NASCAR.  Frankly most people don’t care and won’t take the time to learn.  Ask someone who doesn’t follow the sport what NASCAR is all about.  You get the usual, “all they do is go in circles” or “all they do is make left turns”.  NASCAR is just full of ignorant rednecks.  Of course my personal favorite is, “you just love to watch because of the wrecks”.   That’s fine–it’s their opinion.  I have been known on occasion to rant about my love for NASCAR here in The Park.   I am a NASCAR fan and a Tony Stewart fan! I will never apologize for it. I have been following Tony in NASCAR since about 2006.  I chose Tony Stewart.  He is the driver I cheer for each week during NASCAR season. I have shelled sums of my own money to buy souvenirs and autographed items. And some special people out there have shelled out money as well to buy me Tony Stewart gifts.   I will continue to support Tony Stewart.  I will continue to watch him race every year in NASCAR until he, dare I say it, retires.

I believe it is time for Tony to return to racing.  He needs it to continue the healing process.  Grief has no time-table.  It has not set pattern.  We all grieve differently.   I still grieve for both my parents who I lost in 2011.  The pain of that loss will never leave me, but I have learned to cope in order to live my life.  I believe that is what Tony is trying to do this weekend.

I leave you with words from Tony Stewart (spoken today at his press conference)…”This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one has to experience in their life.”

2014 Season

I can believe the start of the 2014 season is upon us.  There are so many story lines that have come out of the off-season.  It has been one of the busiest off-seasons I have seen in a few years.   Here are some story lines coming into the 2014 season.

The Chase–new changes are here! 16 drivers, a win gets you in the Chase if you are in the top 30 in points, eliminator rounds in the last 10 races and a 4 car shoot out at Miami.  Not sure what to think about the changes, I will just have to wait and see

Qualifying–You will have three rounds at 1.25 miles or longer and 2 rounds at tracks less 1.25 miles.  Round 1 = 25 minutes to post qualifying time-after which the 24 registering the fastest will advance to 2nd round. Those not advancing to Round 2 will be sorted based on 1st round times in descending order. Round 2 = 10 minutes to qualify, 12 fastest in this round will move onto the final round, those not advancing will earn positions 13-24 based on time.  Final round = 5 minutes, fastest times from this session will determine 1-12 positions.  There will be a 5-minute break between each round where teams can make adjustments.  They will not be allowed to jack the vehicle or raise the hood and once the car enters the garage, it will no longer be permitted to return to the track for additional qualifying attempts. Of course is you are at tracks 1.25 or less, drivers will only have two rounds to get things done.  Did you get all that?

Jimmie Johnson–Will he or won’t he get to that magic mountain of 7 championships this season?  I haven’t heard much chatter about it, but it is still early in the season.  But I am sure somewhere down the line, it will be mentioned.

Stewart Haas Racing–I think this is the team that you need to watch our for in 2014 (of course I am a little biased).  SHR went from a three-car team to a four car team.  SHR added new drivers Kevin Harvick (who replaced the departing Ryan Newman who is now in over at Richard Childress Racing) and Kurt Busch driving the #41.  Danica Patrick will be starting her 2nd year in Cup.  But all eyes I think will be on Smoke, aka, Tony Stewart.  More about my thoughts on Tony later.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.:  I am interested to see how Dale Jr. will fare this year.  It was announced that his crew chief, Steve Letarte, will be leaving at the end of the season to join NBC when they take over the final part of the NASCAR season next year.  I am sure the good folks over at Hendrick Motor Sports have started looking at who will replace Letarte.  Letarte has done good things for Junior since becoming his crew chief.  I don’t cringe every time Dale is interviewed.  He looks more relaxed and upbeat.  Steve Letarte will be missed, but I am looking forward to him in the broadcast booth next year.

The #3–It is time.  It has been 13  years since the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr.  Richard Childress has been very respectful about bringing back this iconic and revered number iconic back to the Cup level.  Dale Sr.’s legacy to me is more than just the number.  That’s what I focus on when I look back at his career.  Is Richard Petty’s legacy diminished because someone else drives the #43?  I know there are some small faction who would like to not see the #3 back on the track and that is ok.  But I am excited to see it back on the track and I think Mr. Dillon will do the #3 proud.  Note to those crazy loons who wear the aluminum hats–there is no conspiracy with the #3.  Are you kidding me?  You know how many people you would have to involve to pull off that kind of thing?  You guys need to stop drinking that “special Kool-aid”.  If you really want to scream NASCAR is on the take and fixed, how come Junior hasn’t won a championship or for that matter multiple championships?  RCR has always had fast cars at the restrictor plate tracks.  So take your aluminum hats and black helicopters and go back to figuring out something more important, like why do hot dog packages come in packs of 10 and buns in packs of 8!

Sprint Unlimited–I liked the racing even after the 9 car crash that took out some of the major players in the race.  There was side by side racing.  Denny clearly had the car to beat it seemed.  He won all three segments and stood in victory lane for the first time in the Unlimited since he won the thing back in his rookie year.  Of course, the weirdest part of the night was when the pace car caught fire!  You heard me, the pace car caught fire!  I mean two years it was a jet dryer up in flames!  At one point, I was waiting for the mayhem guy from the All State commercials to pop out!

Thank goodness this race occurred AFTER Valentine’s Day.  It looked like Danica Patrick was going to make it thorough the big crash, but only to be hit by her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  It never saw her.  I would have loved to been a fly on the wall in that trailer home to hear the conversation.

I’m telling ya, it had to be the full moon that was hovering over the race track.  That would explain so much!

Tony Stewart–It has been a long off-season for us Tony fans.  I mean, we haven’t seen our driver in a car since August.  I for one am pumped to see Tony back in his #14!  He seems very upbeat about getting the 2014 season underway.  That was clearly evident on Saturday night.  He looked great out there.  It was if he had never been gone.  But my excitement was short-lived thanks to that 9-car pile up courtesy of Matt Kenseth. Saw this quote on Twitter from Tony, “I’ve waited for 7 months to race, I damn sure wasn’t going to sit there and ride around.”.  Now that’s the Tony I love!  I am hoping 2014 is the year of #14.  I want to see him win the Daytona 500 this year.  Of course if he does all those crazy conspiracy loons will come out of the lead line caves screaming CONSPIRACY!  But you know what, let them cry all they want.  Just like Dale Sr., he has won everything he can at Daytona.  He knows how to get around the place.  But that just goes to show you how tough winning the Daytona 500 can be.  Some of NASCAR’s best drivers, have never one a the 500.

Hope that has caught you up to speed for Daytona.  Now here are a few house keeping things I need to take care of.  If you are in Raiderland or listening outside the boundaries of Raiderland, check at That Dang Ol’ Show.  You can listen to the show on Monday nights from 6:00-8:00 pm on The Red Dirt Rebel (105.3).  If the wind is blowing just right and the sun is setting in the west, you might just hear me call in and talk a little racing.  Plus, you might learn a thing or two in the process.

And finally….since there are only 5 days until Daytona (February 23, 2014)…I need to put the disclaimer out there for everyone.

Attention to all of my family, friends, co-workers and complete strangers, NASCAR season is upon us.  I will NOT be available for family functions, outings, or get-togethers on Sundays.  If there is an event on said Sunday, you will have to understand they must be held prior to the start of the race or after the race.  If you must schedule things during the raced be aware I may not attend your function or request that I have access to a television set.  This also applies to races that are held occasionally on Saturday nights.  If you wish to spend time with me, you must understand the topic of conversation will be predominately about the upcoming race, the previous Sunday’s race, Tony Stewart, or anything in general about NASCAR.  This is the time of the year all projects are put aside unless they involve a NASCAR related event.  Please don’t be offended if I ignore you on Sunday or the occasional Saturday…it’s nothing personal…IT’S NASCAR!