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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Chase for the Championship race, good for Stewart-Haas Racing


Tony Stewart, NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Sp...Image via WikipediaOverall, I'd say the first race of the Chase for the Championship was great for Stewart-Haas Racing. Tony Stewart is to be congratulated for a great run. He started way in the back, but it didn't take him long to make his way forward.

As for Ryan Newman, he turned lemons into lemonade. Normally, that would be a good thing, instead of settling for lemonade, Newman could have had champagne. He finished 8th after running out of gas on the last lap. It was a gamble, and he lost. He could have won the first race in the Chase for the Championship. But that's the way it goes sometimes. Newman has to be proud of his performance in the rain-delayed race Monday. He drove a phenomenal race, hovering at the front of the field the entire day. Who knows what would have happened had he not run out of gas at the end? Perhaps it is best that he didn't have to race the boss man for the win. As nice as it would have been to see Ryan win it, seeing Tony win it was just about as good.

I'm glad they finally got the race in, even though it was a day late. Tony probably would not have done so well on Sunday, since he said he had a migraine headache. All is well for Stewart-Haas Racing fans.

Chicagoland Speedway logoImage via WikipediaI always have nostalgic feelings when the race is held at Chicagoland Speedway.

I watched Chicagoland Speedway being built. It was just a few miles from where I used to live and work as a reporter for a local paper. There is no doubt that if I still lived and worked there, that I would be at the track covering the rain, and then interviewing Tony Stewart afterward. I'm sure there would also be a generous number of photos of the #39 car as well.

When the track was being built, I remember thinking that it was massive; it rose like a monolith on the flat, fertile land. In those days I didn't understand. I had very limited knowledge of racing. I knew nothing about NASCAR or drivers' personalities, or the speeds at which the cars are driven. I had no idea that this huge endeavor would add to the billion-dollar industry that is NASCAR. I had heard names like Richard Petty and Davey Allison, but knew nothing of who they were.

I recall meeting one of the track promoters at a local gathering, though I can't remember her name. She was very interested to learn that I worked for a newspaper, as she was obviously trying to publicize the track's activities. She offered to show me around the completed race track. And she said to call her if I was interested in press credentials, or if there was anything else she could do for me.

My how things have changed. Somewhere around 2004, I had my NASCAR awakening. My son, Chris introduced me to the sport and to Ryan Newman, his favorite driver. My adoration for Newman and his driving prowess may have even surpassed that of my son. It didn't take long before I was completely obsessed, like so many others who worship at the oval altar of concrete and asphalt, banked turns, three-wide racing and photo finishes nearly every weekend. Friends and family know not to call me on race day.

Retired now, home is in Arkansas, not Illinois. I love living here, in the beautiful 'Natural State.' I'm not homesick for Illinois, but it sure would be nice to be there, if just for race day.
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