Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tony! Toni! Toné?

Photo rights of NASCAR.com

Sundays Pocono 500 could not have been any more exciting. Tony Stewart was able to conserve enough fuel to clench his first race as a team owner in a NSCS points win. I don't care if you hate Tony Stewart, this victory was one for the record books. If you are a true NASCAR fan, you should have gotten chill bumps when that checkered flag was waved.

I found myself cheering for Tony on Sunday and was asked if Tony was my favorite driver? No was my answer, since I don't have a "favorite driver". Darlynn and I both fans of NASCAR and we cheer for races. Good races. This Sunday (especially being Pocono) was a great race.

For those of you who don't know our past, we are life long Daytona Beach Natives. Darlynn and I have gone to more races than a crazed fan could dream of and it started in our childhood. Dar has been going to races since she was a sparkle in her fathers eye and her Uncle still has their family seats. Meanwhile, I spent every Daytona 500 & Firecracker 400 in the old Police Compound w/ my best friend and her father until they changed it. Whether we liked it or not, NASCAR was in our future. Fast forward many years later and here we are. Collectively as Adults, we have been to almost every track on the East Coast.

So before I talk about the success of Stewart Haas, I have to bring up something. As I rarely mention, I spent a small time with a race team a few years ago. I watched the greatest victory of NASCAR slip out of our hands, by .02 seconds. While being rushed into Victory Lane, I watched the victory result in a second place finish. The ending result? Even with the ridiculous amount of money that was injected into this team in such a short amount of time, they didn't make it.

This brings me to Stewart Haas Racing. When Tony Stewart jumped in and saved Haas CNC Racing last year, I was a little apprehensive. I have always admired Tony Stewart as a driver. I also have tremendous respect for Ryan Newman. Teamed up, they are a force to be reckoned with. Since they are a brand new team, I thought it would be a year or more until they saw their way into Victory Lane. While both being great drivers, they were presented obstacles with new crew chiefs, new teams, new cars....I can go on all day. I watched these struggles first hand with the above mentioned team and it wasn't easy.

I never thought I would be saying these statistics halfway through the season. Tony Stewart is currently 1st in point standings. Ryan Newman is currently 4th in point standings. Tony has 1 points victory (1 non-point victory), 7 top 5's and 10 top 10's. While Ryan hasn't seen victory lane yet this season, he has 1 pole, 5 top 5's and 8 top 10's.

Well, they made me a believer and I will be cheering for Stewart Haas racing the rest of this season. Although they have great resources and great drivers, they are still underdogs, thriving past all the expectations everyone had for them. Hopefully they will bring the spirit back into the sport of NASCAR!

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