1. They call it “cookie cutter” for a reason – Sorry guys, but that just wasn’t a very exciting race. Tony Stewart got out front with a fuel-only pit stop and was never challenged in the closing laps after holding off a single pass attempt by Matt Kenseth. There were several long green-flag runs and not a lot of lead changes, unless you count the ones achieved through pit cycles, and most of the attrition was due to single-car incidents. The only good news to report: the race didn’t last that long.
2. He took the words right outta my mouth – Stewart said that team owner Joe Gibbs had to break away from his vacation to referee the feud between Stewart and teammate Denny Hamlin. Tony described it as Gibbs “coming to babysit his two kids.” Hey, that’s just what I was thinking. Of course, Stewart is 10 years older than Hamlin and, as the senior driver at JGR, shouldn’t really need a babysitter – should he? But wouldn’t you have loved to be a fly on the wall in that meeting? Like always, Tony’s keeping it interesting.
3. And thanks also, Tony – For helping prove me right. A few weeks ago in this column, I noted that Tony had (at that time) six top-10 finishes in seven races; also, I predicted that he was starting to hit his summertime stride. Well, after finishing 38th at Daytona after the wreck with Hamlin, Stewart came back strong for the win today and moved up one spot in the points to sixth. OK, it didn’t take rocket science to make that prediction, but still.
4. Note to Kyle Busch – If you think you’ve been thrown under the bus by your teammates, you’re entitled to that opinion. But airing all your dirty laundry in public is not helping your reputation, and when asked if this concerned you, you said, “My perception has been horrible since I came into this sport, so it doesn’t really even matter any more.” That’s a very cynical attitude for someone so young. There are many examples of drivers out there who were once hated and ended up being loved – and vice versa. The bottom line is clear – if you want to be liked, it can be achieved. But you have to want it, and you have to be willing to work for it.
5. Busch, Take Two – On the other hand, if Kyle Busch is trying to get fired from Hendrick Motorsports, as seems to be the case, there are indications tonight that he might get his wish sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.
6. Raganomics – Have you seen that Discount Tire commercial with David Ragan, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle? It’s a spoof of the classic Mean Joe Green commercial, but instead of offering a jersey-like souvenir to a young admirer, Ragan tosses a tire at him. The tire circles around and lands behind the kid, who promptly turns around and kicks it. “I think he just wanted an autograph,” deadpans Edwards. It’s pretty cute.
7. I’m Thinkin’ Arby’s – Speaking of commercials, when Kenseth pitted around lap 60 with a vibration, did you have a picture flash through your mind of Kenseth on pit road shaking a box of those new Popcorn Chicken Shakers?
8. Who knew – that the group Hanson of Mmmbop infamy could do such a nice job with the national anthem? The harmonies were quite good and I loved the fact that all three young men had their hands over their hearts, as it should be.
9. Plans for the off weekend? – Most NASCAR fans dread the prospect of a weekend without racing… but most drivers and teams relish it. When Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost his power steering during the race and had to manhandle his car around the track, he joked that he needed to start working out. Asked if that’s how he would spend the off weekend, Junior replied, “No. I’m gonna sit on the porch and drink some cold beers.” And you know he will, too.
10. As D.W. said – What else can be done in light of last week’s horrible plane crash tragedy except, “pray and pray and pray.” Along with the loss of Dr. Bruce Kennedy and Michael Klemm from the NASCAR family, three civilians were killed on the ground, civilians which included a mother, her son, and a little 4-year-old girl. All the families affected need to be remembered in our thoughts and prayers.