Tag Archives: Tony Stewart

Top 10 Moments of 2012

25 Nov

It’s been a long, crazy season (my first following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series), capped off with a Brad Keselowski championship last weekend.

Without further ado, here are my Top 10 Most-Memorable Moments of the 2012 season…

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10.

Stephen Leicht (who??) sends a groundhog airborne during practice

June 8, 2012 at Pocono

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9.

Jimmie Johnson rocks colored afro in victory lane

June 3, 2012 at Dover

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8.

Kevin Harvick’s car dented by parachute jumper during pre-race festivities

November 4, 2012 at Texas

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7.

Dale Jr. ends 4-year, 143-race winless streak in the “Batmobile”

June 17, 2012 at Michigan

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6.

Jeff Gordon makes Clint Bowyer angry, prompting priceless YouTube spoofs such as this one:

November 11, 2012 at Phoenix

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5.

Denny Hamlin calls his victory, then delivers

September 23, 2012 at New Hampshire

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4.

After leaving race, (lunatic) Tony Stewart launches his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car

August 25, 2012 at Bristol

 

[Afterwards, Stewart said: “I learned my lesson there—I’m going to run over him every him every chance I’ve got from now until the end of the year, every chance I’ve got.”]

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3.

Brad Keselowski tweets from inside his car during the Daytona 500 jet dryer incident

February 27, 2012 at Daytona

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2.

Kurt Busch rocks the Ricky Bobby paint job

May 6, 2012 at Talladega

(Here is an article on how he got permission to use it).

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1.

Bad Brad wins championship; gives (awesome) sponsor-fueled interview afterwards

November 18, 2012 at Homestead

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When you think back on the 2012 season, are these the moments that stand out for you, as well?

[Here is a 2012 recap that the folks at the Yahoo! Sports blog “From the Marbles” came up with.]

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Race Recap: Hollywood Casino 400

23 Oct

Okay, full disclosure: I didn’t watch this past weekend’s race.  I rented “The Hunger Games” instead, and it was pretty awesome.  Best 74 cents I’ve ever spent (thank you, Redbox!!!).

I just got caught up on the race highlights, however, thanks to NASCAR‘s wonderfully produced “Race Rewind” (which as I’ve mentioned before, is a must-watch any time you miss a race).

Here’s the tweet that sent me to the Race Rewind for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas, by the way (so I knew right off the bat that Matt Kenseth won):

…and here is the NASCAR.com recap of the race.

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Matt Kenseth celebrates in Victory Lane after the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas.

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Some thoughts on the race (or more accurately, some thoughts on the Race Rewind for Kansas):

  • Did you hear the announcer say (Race Rewind, Lap 32) that they were expecting “maybe half a dozen” cautions? HA! (There were a track-record 14 on Sunday).
  • Everyone knows that Tony Stewart is a psycho, right?  RIGHT???  (See Race Rewind, Lap 74: “Feel free, at any point guys, to get your heads out of your @$$es.”)
  • Check out the Race Rewind at Lap 147 after Brad Keselowski almost hits the wall.  The dash cam has a perfectly placed Dodge logo that looks suspiciously computer-generated.  Here it is:

Check out that Dodge logo. Looks Photoshop’d.

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Here’s a question:

  • When Greg Biffle hits the wall and slides across the grass into Pit Lane (Lap 174), he was allowed to go straight to his pit box without entering Pit Lane at the beginning???

Greg Biffle takes a shortcut to his pit box on Lap 174.

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EarlyTweet of the Week” candidates:

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So, another week of the Chase down, and the Top 3 remain the same: (1) Brad Keselowski, (2) Jimmie Johnson, and (3) Denny Hamlin.

Everyone else better start making moves or one of these three will win the championship this season.

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Next Sunday, the Chase for the Sprint Cup moves to Ridgeway, Virginia, for the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway a.k.a. “The Paperclip.”

Now… we’ve already had a “Fast Relief” race name this season (The Goody’s Fast Relief 500, also at Martinsville), so couldn’t we have been a little more original, Tums??

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The Most Popular* Driver In NASCAR Is…

9 Jun

* Admittedly, Twitter isn’t the be-all, end-all of popularity contests, but it’s a pretty good indication of how popular (or influential) an athlete or celebrity is, based on their number of followers.

With that caveat in mind, here is the list of the Top 30 Most-Followed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers on Twitter:

Car # Driver Followers Twitter Handle
10 Danica Patrick 601,119 @DanicaPatrick
42 Juan Montoya 553,457 @jpmontoya
2 Brad Keselowski 267,074 @keselowski
48 Jimmie Johnson 237,856 @JimmieJohnson
29 Kevin Harvick 219,981 @KevinHarvick
24 Jeff Gordon 212,654 @JeffGordonWeb
5 Kasey Kahne 186,723 @kaseykahne
18 Kyle Busch 186,099 @KyleBusch
55 Michael Waltrip 162,150 @mw55
11 Denny Hamlin 148,580 @dennyhamlin
21 Trevor Bayne 126,872 @Tbayne21
88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 126,829 @DaleJr
109 Kenny Wallace 105,201 @Kenny_Wallace
33 Elliott Sadler 100,445 @Elliott_Sadler
17 Matt Kenseth 99,834 @mattkenseth
39 Ryan Newman 99,437 @RyanNewman39
14 Tony Stewart 99,220 @tonystewart
1 Jamie McMurray 96,965 @jamiemcmurray
56 Martin Truex Jr. 83,026 @MartinTruexJr56
55 Mark Martin 79,204 @55MarkMartin
16 Greg Biffle 77,833 @gbiffle
20 Joey Logano 77,366 @joeylogano
47 Bobby Labonte 63,573 @Bobby_Labonte
22 AJ Allmendinger 62,317 @AJDinger
55 Brian Vickers 57,647 @BrianLVickers
31 Jeff Burton 54,211 @RCR31JeffBurton
7 Robby Gordon 49,377 @RobbyGordon
34 David Ragan 43,353 @DavidRagan
78 Regan Smith 41,667 @Regan_Smith_
33 Hermie Sadler 40,646 @HermieSadler
Notes: Number of followers recorded ~ 12:00 EDT on 6/9/12… List of drivers taken from http://www.nascar.com/drivers/list/cup/dps/ (“Driver Table” tab)… Not all Twitter handles listed above have been “verified” by Twitter…

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Let’s delve into these numbers a little bit.

Danica Patrick leads the list, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, considering she recently made the cover of ESPN Magazine’s Women in Sports issue.  She’s in those pesky Go Daddy commercials on TV, and has posed for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Collection (twice).  Danica Patrick is not a driver, she’s a brand.  If it comes as a shock that she has more followers than any other NASCAR driver, you probably live under a rock.

Next is Juan Pablo Montoya.  He hasn’t had a great deal of success in the Sprint Cup Series so far (and is currently 20th in the standings), so I’m assuming his popularity is based on the fact that he used to drive in Formula One and had some success there.  He probably gets a boost in followers due to the fact that he’s Colombian and bi-lingual (he frequently tweets in Spanish).  As an sports figure with global appeal, this isn’t a huge surprise either.

Third on the list is Brad Keselowski.  Keselowski certainly got a boost in followers when he tweeted this at the Daytona 500 in February:

During the two-hour red flag, with the field stopped dead on the track, Keselowski gained 100,000 followers (going from 85,000 to 185,000).  Due to his strong performances this year, and frequent interactions with fans on Twitter, Keselowski now has more followers than five-time Cup series champion, Jimmie Johnson.

Considering his high level of success in NASCAR (and his overall likeability), I would have expected Jimmie Johnson to have more than ~237,000 followers (by comparison, Lebron James has over 4.7 million followers).  Johnson is a member of Team Hendrick (which has been called the “New York Yankees of NASCAR”) and is a lock for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Maybe the (comparatively) low follower count for Johnson is an indication of the total number of NASCAR fans on Twitter.

Kevin Harvick rounds out the Top 5, which surprised me only because I expected four-time Cup series champion Jeff Gordon to be closer to the top of this list, (although Harvick only has 7,000 more followers than Gordon).

Some final comments:

The @DaleJr Twitter account has not sent a single tweet, yet it is the 12th most-followed driver account in NASCAR.  Can you imagine if he actually tweeted from the account?  Ditto for the @tonystewart account, which has sent just one tweet (a PR one), yet has almost 100,000 followers.

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I think I’ll revisit this list at the end of the season and see which drivers have gained or lost the most followers since this point in the season.  It will be interesting to see whether winning races gives drivers a boost in followers from week to week.

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Race Recap: Coca-Cola 600

28 May

With the F1 Grand Prix at Monaco, the (IndyCar series) Indianapolis 500, and NASCAR‘s Coca-Cola 600 all happening yesterday, this past weekend is known across motorsports as “Racing’s Greatest Weekend.”

In Sunday’s late race – the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor SpeedwayKasey Kahne won his first Sprint Cup Series race as a member of Team Hendrick.

Kahne led 96 laps total, including the final 42 on the day.

Before the race, yesterday’s CBS Sunday Morning segment on Jimmie Johnson referred to Team Hendrick as the New York Yankees of NASCAR. Well, after back-to-back Sprint Cup Series victories, Team Hendrick sure seems to be back at the top of the sport.

It now seems like just a matter of time before Hendrick team members Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. make it to victory lane this season.

A few notes from yesterday:

  • The 600 is NASCAR’s longest race, but this one turned out to be the quickest 600 in history at 3 hours, 51 minutes, 14 seconds.
  • Dale Jr.’s winless streak continues… It is now up to 141 races.
  • Danica Patrick struggled in her third Sprint Cup Series race. She finished five laps down, in 30th place.

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As always, I picked up some new NASCAR knowledge this weekend thanks to Twitter, and the announcers on FOX. Here’s a summary:

  • According to DW (during the broadcast), NASCAR’s cars don’t have speedometers, but it sounds like they do have tachometers:
  • I always wondered how teams make adjustments during pit stops. Here are some explanations:
  • Yahoo!’s NASCAR blog is called “From The Marbles.” I never knew why until today, when I read the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. In the article on IndyCar driver JR Hildebrand, they mentioned the small pieces of rubber from tires that build up as debris on the track. These pieces of debris are known as “marbles.”

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As always, some questions came up yesterday as I was watching. If you can answer them, help me out in the comments section below or tweet @NASCARneophyte.

Brad Keselowski bumped into Tony Stewart on pit road, which caused Stewart to have to spin his car around in order to get to his pit box. Two questions:

1. Are the spotters really tasked with directing drivers while on pit road??

2. I’m assuming (since Stewart did a burnout/spin-o-rama to get to his pit box), that these cars don’t have a reverse gear?

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Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series will move to Delaware for the “FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks.” What a mouthful.

And finally… Happy Memorial Day! Thanks to all who serve, or have served.

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Race Recap: Capital City 400

29 Apr

[Note: I was at the race yesterday, but I’ll recap my first NASCAR experience separately]…

After running in the top 10 for most of the day, Kyle Busch overtook race leader Tony Stewart during a pit stop on lap 388 of 400 and never looked back on his way to grabbing the checkered flag under the lights at Richmond International Raceway.

Incredibly, it was Ky. Busch’s fourth-straight victory(!) in the Richmond spring race. (The guy dominates short tracks).

Earlier this week, when I wrote my race preview, the race was still without a sponsor. Well, at some point this week since then, the Richmond race was sponsored and given a name: “The Capital City 400 Presented by Virginia Is For Lovers.” What a mouthful.

I’m not entirely sure about this, but I think the last-minute sponsorship helps explain why the trophy above is so hideous. It looks like it was designed by a five-year-old.

Anyway, congrats to Kyle Busch on his first win of the season. I’m sure he doesn’t mind the hideous trophy and was just happy to add it to his trophy case.

I’ll post a full recap of my first NASCAR race experience soon. (Spoiler: drunk college girls dancing on top of pickup trucks are involved).

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If you’re already looking ahead, the Sprint Cup Series will stop in Alabama next weekend for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

May The Luck Be With You

10 Apr

It took me about seven races, but I think I’ve finally figured out my main issue with NASCAR, and it comes down to this:

The fastest car and the best pit crew on race day generally does not win the race.

NASCAR, more often than not, I’ve learned, comes down to luck.

Here are just a few examples of the role luck (both good and bad) has played so far this season:

  • A few weeks ago at Bristol, Jeff Gordon ran in the top 5 for much of the day until a freak encounter with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. resulted in Gordon’s left rear tire exploding, leading to a 35th place finish.
  • The next weekend at Fontana, Tony Stewart won the race because he happened to be leading when the race was called (because of rain). That’s not to say that Stewart didn’t have a good car that day, but I think it’s a good illustration of the role that luck plays in certain victories. Had Stewart chosen to pit with the rest of the field, someone else likely would have been leading when the race was called.
  • On April 1st at Martinsville, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson ran 1-2 for almost the whole race (they led a combined 440 laps on the day). Then, a caution flag with less than 5 laps remaining caused a green-white-checkered finish. During the first overtime restart, Gordon and Johnson were both involved in a wreck that led to a second restart, and the race was eventually won by Ryan Newman (pictured above).

After dominating the race, Gordon and Johnson each finished outside the top 10 at Martinsville, which led to this comment from Gordon on their team radio:

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As a Sprint Cup viewer, I find it frustrating that the driver with the fastest average lap time (ignoring caution laps) and the quickest pit stops isn’t necessarily going to win the race.

I think of it like this. Have you ever been go-karting before? In go-karting, there are no pit stops, so that confounding variable is removed. If you grant that all go-karts are the same (same top speed), that means that the driver with the quickest average lap time during the race always ends up being the winner.

In NASCAR, that isn’t the case.

You don’t have to be the fastest driver out there on race day, you just have to have the best luck.

At Martinsville, the luck belonged to Newman. Next weekend, it will probably belong to someone else. And that person likely will not have dominated the race for most of the day.

Race Recap: Rain-Shortened Auto Club 400

26 Mar

So… full disclosure:

Yesterday I fell asleep while watching a NASCAR race for the first time.

No, it wasn’t because of the drone of the engines. And no, I didn’t fall asleep because watching cars turn left for 3 hours is a boring way to spend an afternoon (it’s actually not that bad)…

Why I fell asleep really doesn’t matter, but I woke up just as the race was called and Tony Stewart was declared the winner – since he was leading when they called it – at Fontana.

Again, it seems luck played a huge role in this one, as other drivers went to pit road, thinking the race would continue for several more laps, and Stewart stayed out, thinking the race would be called soon due to the rain. As it turned out, he guessed right, and he earned his second Sprint Cup victory of the season because of it.

There's that pesky Coke again...

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Here’s the two most important/craziest things you (and I) missed during the race:

  • The guy who puts gas in Jeff Gordon’s car during pit stops got dragged down pit road when the gas tank got stuck to the car… which caused Gordon to earn a penalty of some sort (it sounds like they said a “stop-and-go“?).

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As always, I picked up some new NASCAR knowledge during the limited time I was awake yesterday during the race:

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Some questions also came up during the race yesterday, and today as I was looking back on the race. If you can answer them, help me out in the comments section below.

1). They showed Mark Martin on the in-car cam on FOX, and from how hard his head was shaking back and forth, it’s hard for me to believe these guys don’t have really bad headaches when they get out of their cars. Are they just accustomed to the vibrations after (presumably) so many years of driving?

2) What is a “stop-and-go” penalty?

3a). What’s the deal with “start-and-park” teams?

3b). Who in their right mind would sponsor a driver they know is going to quit after ~10 laps?

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Regardless of how you feel about the quality of Stewart’s victory in the rain-shortened race (here is how I think it must have felt), it was Stewart’s third win in his last six Sprint Cup races, which continues to blow my mind.

Congrats, “Smoke.”