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!

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!

In Stealth Mode

My last post here in “The Park” was back on April 4.  Quite a bit has happened since that time.  This has been the longest I have gone without posting something on the blog.  For those who have caught me on Facebook, you know that I lost my father in a car accident on April 18.  It was very sudden and I am still dealing with his passing.  I wrote about my father in a post back on August 7, 2010.  During the days after his death, I will admit I did not want to watch any kind of sports including NASCAR.  It was too painful for me.  But as I looked back on that post, I remembered how much sports was a significant part of who I was.  It helped me to close to my father even though he was no longer alive. 

I have started three different posts since that day, but did not have the strength to put my thoughts down.  Every time I tried, I found myself in tears so I just stepped away from the computer and well, pretty much let the grass and the weeds grow around “The Park”.  But I am here to tell I am back.  I am going to make a concerted effort to get back in the groove of posting my thoughts on NASCAR.

Lately I have been doing some research on my favorite sport.  I have purchased a couple of books on the history of NASCAR.  I purchased the book “Real NASCAR: White Lightening, Red Clay and Big Bill” by Daniel S. Pierce.  I am currently in the process of reading this book.  So far I have enjoyed the book.  I will probably post more on the book later.  I bought the book “Driving with The Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels and the Birth of NASCAR” by Neal Thompson last year.  I started reading it, but like I have been doing lately, put it down and forget to come back to it.  I have to basically start it again.  I don’t mind though.  Why am I so interested in the history of the sport?  Well, I don’t want to go into much detail yet, but let’s just say I am working on something that I have been wanting to do for the last year or so.  Once I get a more concrete view of things I will most definitely share things.  Either way I believe it is going to be an interesting journey for me.

Well, the boys are at Kentucky this weekend.  This will mark the first time the Nationwide & Cup teams will race at the track.  This date has been a long time coming for the speedway.  I won’t go into too many details because frankly I don’t want to rehash things, but let’s just say, in my opinion, it was an ugly.  And when you get lawyers and the courts involved, I just tend to tune things out.  Any way, the boys are now racing at Kentucky.  The qualifying for the Cup boys was rained and the starting grid was set by the speeds in the first practice session.  This was the first weekend NASCAR used the new rain out rules.  I was disappointed Michael Waltrip would not be able to race tomorrow night.  He was running a special paint scheme paying tribute to his brother NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2012 member, Darrell Waltrip.  It’s just not fair, but sometimes Mother Nature has other plans.

Well…that’s about it for now.  I am hoping Tony can grab a victory tomorrow night.  If any driver who needs a victory it’s Tony.  He is currently sitting in the 12th position and well, he doesn’t have a win this season.  I don’t want my driver out of the Chase.  Go Tony!!!

NASCAR Disclaimer

Since the Daytona 500 is only 5 days away…YES FIVE 5 DAYS AWAY!!!I thought it was time to post my annual disclaimer for all of my friends and family who are not NASCAR fans.  Which by the way, I still to this day don’t understand what their problem is, but hey what are going to do…so without further ado.

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!


The “Bermuda Triangle”

The first race at Pocono this season is in the books.  Pocono is different than the other tracks the drivers go to on the circuit.  You have three turns that are completely different from each other.  And to boot, it is 2.5 miles around the thing.  This can make for a long and at times boring race.  I wasn’t worried about missing part of the race today with my weekly yard chores. I finished the yard work and came in to enjoy the air conditioning and lo and behold Mother Nature struck at Pocono.  This isn’t unusual for Pocono.  Sometimes it could be raining on one part of the track and dry on the next.  I mean afterall it is 2.5 miles around the dang place (oh yea I did mention that before).

Congratulations to Denny Hamlin.  This marks Denny’s 4th win at Pocono in nine starts.  I would have to say Denny knows how to get around the “Triangle”.  From what I saw of the last 80 laps, it was clear who the class of the field was at Pocono.  Even with late race strategies, Denny made his way to the front of the pact along with his teammates Kyle and Joey.  At one point it looked like the JGR team was going to have three cars in the top 5 along with a former JGR driver.  But that wasn’t the case…apparently Kevin Harvick had other ideas about the ending.  Kevin, in his typical Harvick fashion, laid a bumper to Joey and well…that’s where Joey went around.  It looked he was going to keep it from spinning, but the #20 was just too much for Joey.  The fireworks didn’t end there.  Joey definitely wanted to confront Mr. Harvick about his actions.  I have to say good for you Joey.  There are times I wonder what Harvick is thinking behind that wheel.  From what I could see from the replay, this spin did not have to happen.  Of course I wasn’t behind the wheel of the #29 so who am I to say what could or could not have been done to avoid the #29 laying the bumper to the #20.  This is not the first time Harvick has done this and as I can assume it will probably won’t be the last.  Either way, it was good to see Joey stand up and take it to Harvick.  

Quote of the weekend from Joey Lagano…”I don’t know what his problem is with me but it’s probably not his fault.  His wife wears the fire suit in the family and tells him what to do.”

What was the deal with the big crash?  That looked like a crash you see at Talladega not Pocono.  When Kasey came back across the track, you knew it was going to pretty.  Mark and Greg pretty much had nowhere to go.  From the what I could tell, it looked like Kasey was trying to make a move around his teammate and AJ through a block.  A block that pushed Kasey all the way to the grass.  Grass + NASCAR car at high speed = not a good outcome (excluding the “Pass and the Grass” move).  I guess it itsn’t the year for the word teammate. 

Tony finished 3rd.  Tony needed this finish.  He hasn’t exactly been lighting it up on the race track lately.  He has moved up to 13th in the standings.  Next week is Michigan and then on to Sonoma for some road racing at Sonoma.  Tony definitely  can make up some ground and perhaps get back into the top 12 in standings.  I loved his post race interview with TNT.  He wasn’t too upset about his finish considering he won the race last year (his first in the SHR #14).  I also have to chuckle at his beard.  Perhaps Denny, along with Tony’s teammate Ryan, should have used their pull as Gillette Young Guns get Tony a new stash of razors.  And can I just say…NO TO THE MULLETT!  That’s right…JUST SAY NO!  Neither Kyle or Ryan can pull that look off…and to be honest can anyone really pull of that look?

Day O’ Racing

Happy Day O’ Racing!  It is one half over.  Congratulations to Dario Franchitti on his 2nd Indy 500 win.  That win makes Chip Ganassi the first car owner to win both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 in the same year.  Is this a sign for tonight’s Coke 600?  It would be kind of cool, but sorry Chip, I’m pulling for the #14.   I am looking forward to watching the race.  Yes, I am allowing someone outside the immediate family to be part of my Day O’ Racing, but sometimes it’s all about the sacrifices we make in life.  Speaking of sacrifices, mine pales in comparision to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  I want to say “THANK YOU” to those men and women who made that sacrifice so I could enjoy today.  I also want to say “THANK YOU” to the men and women whether you have already served or currently serving. 

Stay tuned for the second part of Day O’ Racing….

Congratulations to Kurt Busch!  This the second week in a row the #2 team has seen Victory Lane.  I was hoping Jamie would get the win for Ganassi, but that darned yellow came again.  I have to say I didn’t watch much of the Coke 600.  We had some friends over for a cookout.  We rocked it out on some Rock Band, watched a little Star Wars, and had some cake and ice cream sundaes.  Some times you just have to stop and enjoy those types of moments.  Oh no…you spin me round and round…loving that tune there Jimmie?  I love the fact that Jeff Burton got in Kyle’s face and put him in his place.  You know you have done something wrong when Jeff Burton is in your face.  Maybe some of the other veteran’s need to get in his face.  Was it a racing deal?  More than likely, but Kyle pushes the issue too much sometimes and well, there you go.  Jeff was respectful when being interviewed. He doesn’t mind Kyle being aggressive, but when it affects him,  he isn’t going to stand for it. 

Well, it has definitely been a fun Day O’ Racing.  I hope everyone else had a great day as well.  On a personal note, I have to say it always brings tears to my eyes when the fallen are honored…the 21-gun salute and then Taps.  I may not have had a family member die in the service for his country, but I awe of those who make the ultimate sacrifice.  I try to live my life the best I can so their sacrifice is not in vain.