Monday, July 03, 2006

Tony Time!

Two out of three really ain’t bad. Or, if we count the “accidental” victory celebration amidst the fans, three out of four is pretty darn good.
A win at the Daytona Road Course in IROC and the Firecracker 400 win were both celebrated by a tired, yet elated Tony Stewart this past weekend. The victory celebration after the 400 could be considered a victory in itself for Smoke, because (a) tired as he was, he made it to the top of the flag stand, (b) he did something no big league driver has ever done before by venturing into the “mosh pit,” and (c) he made it out of the mosh pit in one piece. Yes, that part of the celebration may have been a mistake--Tony said that he thought he was going to a gate that would take him back trackside--but no other driver has even thought of it. While the NASCAR officials waited impatiently in Victory Lane, and the appreciative fans chanted "To-o-o-ny," Stewart's crew retrieved him from the flagstand and escorted back to the track. Still, he exchanged high fives with the fans who lined his route. Very impressive.
The Fireracker, aka Pepsi 400 was impressive in itself. For a while we got to watch Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, arguably two of the best drivers in the NASCAR Cup series, race wheel to wheel and nose to tail. Stewart artfully protected his lead every time he got it, which was often. Polesitter Boris Said, the Cinderella Story of the race, lead after the final restart, but Tony, with some help from Kyle Busch, retook the lead with three laps left in the race. The most serious threat came near the end of the race, when the notorious Busch Brothers teamed up in the last two laps. There was a caution on the final lap, but even so, neither the other drivers nor the fans would have contested that Stewart could have been passed at the point. A great tribute to Stewart's #20 Home Depot team is that at no time during the entire race did Smoke ask for adjustments to the car.
Tony Stewart fans have a reason to be happy. So great is the competition at the NASCAR Nextel Cup, that any victory for any fan's fanorite driver is like winning the World Series or the Super Bowl. It is an exceptionally good feeling, no matter who your driver is, when your driver wins. With Chicagoland, the Brickyard, and another Pocono race in the next three weeks, all tracks where Tony "Smoke" Stewart has had much success, we Smoke fans are entering "The Tony Zone." It looks like we could be happy for a while.
I have a serious correction to make. I reported in a previous post that Jeff Gordon had tied the late Dale Earnhardt in Cup victories, but I had miscounted the number of Gordon wins. Dale Earnhardt had 76 carreer Cup wins, while Sonoma gave Gordon his 74th. I regret that my error may have caused some domestic arguments. The moral is, don't take what you read here, or on any other blog, too seriously.

1 comment:

Babs said...

That was awesome what they showed on "Victory Lane" that we couldn't see on FOX. The crowd chanting "Tony, Tony, Tony."
Ward sounded like he has a deal in the works... I hope it works out! We need Ward!
Hope you have a great 4th!