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.