As it's now obvious to my fellow Tony Stewart fans and myself, something has went decidedly wacky (and uncharacteristically subpar) really since the bizarre 'shoulda/coulda/woulda' won controversy that was the Kansas Speedway race last month. Today, God help us, The Orange Army entered The Pep Boys Auto 500 in Atlanta, 4th in points (249 back behind the leader) and with a strong hope for victory, normally at a track that has historically been good for the team. Tonight, post-Atlanta, we've fallen back to 5th place in the points (322 points behind, with only 3 races to go before a champion is crowned), after barely surviving today for a 30th place finish. It was a woefully long day, and one filled with tension, frayed nerves, and raw emotion...three things becoming all too common for us these days. For highlights of the massacre, click here. (Highlights from ESPN, one of the networks that has down an abysmal job of production of the races this year, for what it's worth.)
It's just not been the same for the #20 team since Kansas (see video link below), and it's been a roller coaster ever since...mostly down, as the points now show. To say we Home Depot® and Tony Stewart fans are depressed is a major understatement. Not too long ago, we could at least touch victory, if not outright taste it. Alas, certainly not tonight.
The fiasco at Kansas from September 30, complete with all the confounding NASCAR® rules glory (video from YouTube, as usual):
So, five weeks ago, Smoke & Company were still in strong contention for the Championship. Now, after two so-so weeks which were then followed by three very problematic weeks (to put it mildly), we're now out of contention for all intents and purposes (unless something mathematically wondrous happens and Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson both implode somehow...which has less favourable odds than yours truly winning the Powerball lottery). I know I'm one of many Stewart's and Zippy's ("Zippy" being the very level-headed crew chief of Stewart, Greg Zipadelli, fondly referred to as "Saint Zippy") fans who openly wonders just how the hell did this all happen, with this quality caliber of team, on these race tracks, and this damn quickly.
(All together now...drink. It will make you feel better when watching the sports recap on the news.)
So, while all of us #20 fans are off finding and/or finishing off liquor of some sort to go heal what ails us (or at least until reality sets in, whichever comes first), we're also all hoping Our Boys have a 'coming to God' meeting with management, friends, family, everybody and anybody...and immediately. Championship or no Championship this season, it's time to hang on for dear life, breathe deep and restructure for next season...and, please, dear Lord, finally stop the free fall from continuing any further.