Watkins Glen

I survived my first race weekend without seeing Tony Stewart behind the wheel of the #14.  I wasn’t too thrilled about the prospect of someone else driving the #14.  But I have to say Max Papis did an excellent job this past Sunday.  He qualified 29th and throughout the day he made his way up through the field.  Granted he wasn’t tearing it up battling it out for the win, but all in all he did a great job filling in for Tony Stewart.  He finished 15th.  Thank you for your service Mr. Papis.  All of Smoke Nation appreciates you for everything you did on Sunday for the #14 team.  Speaking of Tony Stewart, it has been announced that Austin Dillion will drive the #14 at Michigan this weekend. This move didn’t surprise me in the least. For one he is sponsored by Bass Pro Shops. He has 9 cup starts with two of those being at Michigan. He finished 11th this past June at MIS. I think he will do a good job for Tony. As for the other races in the season, I think we will just have to wait and see.

Now on to the racing this past weekend at The Glen. This is the final road course for the Cup drivers this season. It was no surprise Marcos Ambrose earned the pole for the race. He was the defending race champion. In fact he was going for third win in a row at The Glen. The way the race started out it look like Marcos was going to sew up his third win. However, as we all know things can change quickly in NASCAR. It wasn’t long before Jeff Gordon’s day went from good to horrible. Jeff ended up spinning his car and crashing the #24. This crash was not what Jeff needed. It has not won a race this season and this put his chances of making the Chase this year in jeopardy. It has not been a kind 2013 for Jeff. He fell 4 spots in the standings and now sitting in 13th. He is still on the outside looking in. Right now his teammate Kasey Kahne and SHR driver Ryan Newman are right now holding on to the two wild card spots. If he doesn’t get in the top 10 and stay there, or get a win, the Chase will be without the #24.

Marcos was cruising along throughout the day until the caution came out for his teammate’s crash around lap 60. Drivers were in the middle of green flag pit stops when the caution was thrown. Kyle Busch was one of the drivers who was able to get his pit stop complete prior to the caution. Unfortunately this caution was a turning point in both the #18 and #9 teams. Marcos had to pit under the caution and when things all shook out, Kyle had the lead and Marcos was stalled back in the 12th position. This was going to be the first time in the race that Marcos would have to drive his car in dirty air. Up until that point Marcos had a fast car. But the fastest and the best car of the day doesn’t always win the race. He still had enough time in my opinion to get back to the front to challenge for the win. A few cautions here and there, and he is right there. Unfortunately the changes his pit crew made to the car didn’t help his case any. He wasn’t able to make his way up to the front. He was involved in a late race crash. Marcos ended up finishing 31st. Because of Marcos bad luck, this opened door up for Kyle Busch to take the win at The Glen. Once he got out front, he stayed there. I am sure he was hoping to see things go green for the rest of the race. His crew chief was telling Kyle to save gas and his tires. He had enough gas to get to the checkers, but not the green-white-checkers. Kyle didn’t want to see these cautions even though he would probably help with him saving gas. If the race stayed green he could keep some distance between him and those behind him. Once the cautions flew, this means the field is bunched up and he would have to play a little defense. It didn’t matter on Sunday. Kyle was textbook on his restarts. It was one of those things that it was his day. The Glen hasn’t been too kind to Kyle the last couple of years. Take last year’s race, he was battling with Marcos and Brad K for the win. He ended up spinning out in some oil that had been on the track. All Kyle had to do was hit his marks and keep Brad K. behind him. This was going to be a tall order for Kyle. Brad was able to lay the bumper to Kyle and could have spun him out for the win. According to Brad, he could have spun him, but he didn’t need any more drama. Sometimes you have to take the high road and take 2nd place. Congratulations to Kyle Busch on his win!

I have been trying to get back in the groove with all things NASCAR. It’s been a little bit easier for me since I no longer work full-time. Well, I work full-time, but my office is my home. I don’t get a paycheck and I am “on-call” 24/7, but the benefits definitely out way everything I had while working. But now that I am at home, I am going to try to get back on track with things.

There has een a little news reported today.

  • Brian Vickers has signed on to be the full-time driver for Michael Waltrip Racing beginning with the 2014 season. This comes to no surprise to anyone. I have always liked Brian Vickers. He has had a tough road the last few years in NASCAR. He had to sit out the 2010 due to blood clots. He came back to his Red Bull in 2011 only to see Red Bull close its doors at the end of the 2011 season. He has been driving part-time with MWR sharing his time with Mark Martin. I think he sealed the deal with his win at New Hampshire this year. I am glad to see Brian Vickers back in a car full-time.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya will be out of the #42 car beginning in 2014.  He has been in NASCAR since signing on with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2006.  He has had only two wins in 239 starts.  Both of these wins have been on road courses.  His highest finish in the standings has been 8th back in 2009.  I don’t know if JPM ever adjusted to racing in NASCAR.  Sometimes drivers from other series don’t always fair well in NASCAR.  Sam Hornish struggled when he first came into NASCAR leaving the Indy Series.  He has found a resurgence in Nationwide the last few years.  He is battling for the championship this year.  I am happy he is finding success in Nationwide.  With JPM, this leaves the door open for drivers who do not have a full-time gig in NASCAR.  Could this mean Ryan Newman may have a home next year in the #42 or will AJ Allmendinger find his way back to a full-time ride?  Only time will tell.  Let the silly season begin.

A few observations…

  • Fox Sports 1 launches this Saturday, August 17.  I for one am not sure how I feel about this change.  I like Speed TV.  As I mentioned in my last post, there are shows I will miss once FS1 goes live.  I caught myself watching Barrett Jackson auction last Saturday.  I got to thinking, what happens to all of us fans of Barrett Jackson?  Is FS1 going to broadcast these auctions?  I hope so.  I really like seeing all those classic cars in all their glory!  I wish I had the money to purchase some of the cars especially the ’67 Camaro I saw on the auction block last Saturday night.  It was one sweet ride.  I am going to miss Wind Tunnel with Dave DeSpain.  I DVR’d the last episode that aired last Sunday, but I haven’t been able to watch as of yet.  I think I will watch it later this evening.  Of course, I am not sure if I will get a chance to watch any of the shows once FS1 goes live since I have Dish.  Apparently DISH and Fox Sports is still in negotiation about the finance side of the deal.  So if you are on Dish, DirectTV, and/or Time Warner, there may be a delay for you in watching Fox Sports 1.
  • I kind of cringed on Sunday when I saw the Mobil 1 commercial with Tony.  When I first saw the commercial where Tony does the splits, I was creeped out, but now knowing he has a broken leg it was just weird.  Of course, if you haven’t had a chance to try soda cookies, you should give a go.  I tried it earlier this summer and you know it wasn’t all that bad.  Of course, Oreo cookies are still better with milk.
  • All this debate on whether NASCAR drivers should be allowed to race outside the series is driving me nuts.  Like my husband said, dirt racing is Tony’s golf game.  I don’t have a problem with it.  This is what makes Tony who he is.  This is part of the reason most of us like Tony Stewart.  He is a blue-collar driver.  He is a throw back to the kind of drivers I grew up watching.  I don’t know if I can see Tony not racing on during the week.  I can if maybe scaling back the amount of races he competes in, but totally cutting it out, I don’t think so scooter.

Make sure you tune in tonight for That Dang Ol’ Racing Show on Real Country 98.5 FM here in Lubbock, Texas from 6-7.  I am glad I have a way to get my NASCAR fix during the week.  I am also glad there is a forum for us NASCAR fans out here in Raiderland.  It can be tough for a NASCAR fan this time of year, especially in Texas when the talk turns to everything that is football.  Doesn’t matter if it is high school, college or professional, it’s football, football, football this time of year.  I am pumped for the start of the football season, but I am still in the midst of my NASCAR season.  I am glad to know once a week for about an hour, I can listen to something other than football talk.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Short tracks are my favorite tracks on the circuit.  You get 43 cars in a small arena fighting for the same real estate.  When you hear “going three wide” on a short track, it usually isn’t a good thing.  Short tracks make for some exciting racing, but it also can create some angry and/or hurt feelings during and after the race.  Saturday night was no different at Richmond.  It seemed the fireworks had already started on Friday night after the Nationwide race.  Nelson Piquet Jr kicked Brian Scott, as we say in our household, in the peanuts.  Then members of the RCR Nationwide crew were involved in an altercation outside the track.  Before I get into all “love fest”, I want to talk about the race

Matt Kenseth team’s came into Richmond after receiving severe penalties from NASCAR.  With these penalties, he lost the credit for his pole win.  So with that, Matt Kenseth rolled into Richmond and won the pole!  Up through roughly lap 253, the only two drivers who lead laps was Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer.  In fact at one point early on in the race five of the first 6 spots were held by Toyotas.  Kyle took the lead roughly around 253.  It looked like the Toyotas had everything dialed in to the Toyota Owners 400.  The first non-Toyota to lead during the race was Kurt Busch after the 6th caution on lap 203.  It was fun to watch the Busch brothers race at times.  They are very competitive races and want to win and Saturday was no different.  The Busch brothers are aggressive drivers.  I have seen Kyle do things with his car that leave you thinking, “Did I just see that?”  Kyle is having a good year and Kurt is having a decent year, well compared to where he was last year.  I have called both brothers out on this site for their behavior both on and off the track, but I always have given them props for their driving talents.  BUT…I was none too pleased with Kurt after Saturday night (and to be honest there were others at Richmond who were none too pleased either).

Tony was entering the race mired way down in the points and no top ten finish since the 2nd race of the season at Phoenix.  I was hoping this would a chance for Tony to get back on track as the summer stretch approaches.  He tends to get “HOT” this time of year.  So even though, he is in his worst 8 race start of his career, this Tony fan was hoping for a good result on Saturday.  To my surprise, he was mired in the 20s for a third of the race.  Every time there was a caution, I would track where he was when the yellow flag flew and what position he restarted.  Around lap 171, he reached position 17th!  I was excited.  Perhaps if he managed to get to 17th, he could get in the top 15.  After the 5th caution of the night, Tony restarted 13th!  Wow!  I can’t believe how pumped I was for Tony to be up in 13th position.  I thought maybe as the night when the #14 team had gotten something figured out with his car.  He continued to race in these positions until the proverbial black cat hit.  Tony caused a crash.  He got loose and got into Jimmie.  This put him back down to 24th.  He did come over the radio and took 100% responsibility for the crash.  At this point I thought, this evening is over.  Yes, it was at lap 328 and there was still some racing left, but with the troubles this team has had over the last several weeks I wasn’t optimistic.  I have learned you never can count out Tony Stewart.  Tony was up to 5th for the restart after the final caution of the night.  I couldn’t believe it Tony had a shot at the victory! Restarts can be tricky and this one was going to be no different. It was crazy!  All I saw were cars moving every which way to get their best shot at the win.  And like he is known to do, here comes Kevin Harvick.  With the front-runners bearing down, I really did have hope that Tony would have the chance to win.  Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be thanks to Kurt Busch.  From my viewpoint, it looked like Kurt took Tony out of the groove causing Tony to get loose.  Tony was on his way to the best finish he has had since Phoenix.  Tony finished 18th.   Tony was not happy with Kurt and made no bones about it after the race was over.  Of course, Kurt said he didn’t know what the 14 was upset about.  Really Kurt?  Of course, Tony wasn’t the only who was not happy with Mr. Busch.  I believe Matt K. was upset with him as well.  Oh by the way, Tony left without comment.

Congratulations Kevin Harvick!

Other tidbits…

  • I believe the penalties handed down to Matt Kenseth by NASCAR were harsh.  I know NASCAR are hard asses when it comes to fuel, engines and tires.  But in this case, this was a clear oversight on the people at TRD.  In fact Clint Bowyer’s engines from Richmond and Daytona had rods too close for comfort so TRD pulled them out of use.  Because of TRD’s oversight, JGR suffered the brunt of the penalties.  JGR is appealing the penalties.  Joe Gibbs said he was appealing on the severity of the penalties.  It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out.
  • Can Denny Hamlin make a run for The Chase this year?  He has been sidelined since his wreck at California.with a back injury.  It will be a long road for him.  He will have to rattle off some wins along the way, but there are those who think he can do it.  He begins his journey this week at Talladega.  He has been given the clear the start the race which will allow him to receive the driver points.  Then Brian Vickers will take over the car for the rest of the race.  He is targeting the race at Darlington (May 11) to be his first full race since California.
  • Speaking of Brian Vickers, I am glad he has been given the chance to show what he can do in a Cup car.  Like Denny, Brian knows what it is like to see someone else to drive you car.  During the 2010 season Brian had to step away from his ride due to illness.  He did not return to competition until 2011 season.  He has had a rough time the last couple of years, but I think he is back on track with his career.  He is now running full-time for JGR’s Nationwide program as well as driving for MWR.  Keep on plugging away Brian.
  • Favorite term I hear uttered during the broadcast…”roll bar motel”!  Thanks for making me almost spit Coke-Cola all over the floor Mike Joy!

Some final thoughts…I am returning to work as of tomorrow, May 1.  I was planning to start grad school and being a stay-at-home mom.  Unfortunately, grad school cost money and I don’t get a salary as a stay-at-home mom (even though it is one of the hardest jobs around), so I am headed back to the work force.  It may seem weird, but I really like working.  I like being a mom and being around for my kiddos, but being there is something I get from working in an office.  I am nervous, but excited all at the same time.  Luckily, I am returning to the same employer, Texas Tech University, however it will be in a different capacity.  What does this mean for The Park?  Absolutely nothing.  I just will have to do some of my posts late at night or very early in the morning.  Thanks for riding along with them over the years!

NASCAR Day 2008


This is the fifth anniversary of NASCAR Day.  The first NASCAR day was held in 2004.  This day is celebrated the Friday before the All-Star race.  So what is NASCAR day?  This is the one-day celebration of NASCAR spirit and the fans.  Of course for me every day is NASCAR day, but today is extra special.  It’s kind of like Mother’s Day.  We give an “extra salute” to our mom’s on that and the same can be said for NASCAR day.  Fans and businesses can participate on many different levels with NASCAR day.  The easiest way is purchase a NASCAR Day pin for $5.00.  That’s it.  How easy is that?  I am proudly wearing my pin as well as my brand new Tony Stewart shirt I received in the mail yesterday. 

NASCAR Day is also about giving back to the NASCAR Foundation and/or chartiable foundations of your

favorite drivers.  NASCAR Day supports the NASCAR Foundation which was established in 2006.  The NASCAR Foundation was created to bring together a number of charitable orgnaizations and initiatives within the NASCAR Family.  Since the first NASCAR Day in 2004, NASCAR day has raied almost $5 million for charitable initiatives for the NASCAR family. 

According to The NASCAR Foundation you can make a donation to The NASCAR Foundation or one of your favorite driver’s foundations during the 2008 NASCAR Day Telethon.  You can either call, text, or donate via their website.  You can also participate in the on-line auction to bid on some really cool NASCAR items.  It really doesn’t matter how you can give, just give.

In case you missed it last night…I did sit down last night and watch the Pit Crew Challenge of Speed TV. I know to most people it would have seemed boring, but it really wasn’t. It was nice to several of the drivers there to support the pit crews last night. I did find myself rooting for Brian Vickers pit crew. I guess becuase they are the underdogs of the competition. They were having some of the best times at the challenge and it was fairly obvious they were the team of the night. In case you missed it and Tivoed…click away from the post.