Here’s a little known fact about me. I get seriously nervous driving to the racetrack on the first day of a NASCAR race weekend. I mean, I get butterflies and super anxious. I’ve learned that this is a good thing, because if I wasn’t worried about it then it means it’s no big deal and it doesn’t mean anything to me. If I’m nervous about it I’m doing something right.
So that was me on Friday morning driving the super short 30 minutes to Infineon Raceway from my new home in Sonoma County. I moved to the city of Cotati just to be closer to my day job and cut down on my commute expenses but in the process I received the huge bonus of saving my sanity by not having to sit in excruciating traffic leaving the track each day. It’s a beautiful thing.
When I arrived at the track I picked up my credentials and then headed straight to the media center to grab the necessary schedules. I had to park up top next to the helipad and I made the wrong decision to just walk down the hills to the garage instead of waiting for the shuttle. Luckily for me this super nice man offered me a ride in his golf cart. It was great to not have to walk the whole way, but that ride down the hill in a super open vehicle was frightening. The entire time I was mentally and physically bracing myself for the possibility of being catapulted out of it at any moment. Super fun.
The first task of the day was to attend driver press conferences.
Here were the highlights (for me at least):
— Ryan Newman doesn’t consider Tony Stewart his “boss.” When Ryan was 8-years-old he was a member of the Richard Petty Fan Club. Aww.
— Tony Stewart was having none of it, from anyone. I mean, whoa. Don’t ask him about money, or if he was ever in his high school’s marching band, or Danica Patrick. He’s having none of it! None, I say! Tony is the master of the quick, snappish response. He does it so fast you don’t even know that you’ve been smacked down. It’s like someone’s slapped you, and it takes a moment before you feel the sting. Ouch.
— David Gilliland was asked if he still talks to Tiger Woods. He doesn’t. I just think that it must be annoying to always be asked about your connection to Tiger Woods, who as we all know is about 50 times more famous than David. It’s a fun fact that he went to the same high school as him and played on the same golf team but give it up. There is no relevance today. Move on. Unfortunately I missed the majority of David’s press conference (I know, lame) but I hope that someone asked him about his awesome fans and how much support they give him. I was going to ask that but I missed my chance. Dernit.
— When asked if he uses racing simulation to prepare for road courses, Mark Martin said no. He has it all in his head. Seriously, he said that visualizing laps in his head is the same thing as using a simulator. Ha! I loved that.
And to stay on the subject of Mark Martin he was the highlight of my day. I find the fact that he is such a self-proclaimed “real simple guy” super refreshing. I think that the media in general spend a lot of time analyzing something that doesn’t need to be analyzed, like, at all. Of course he’s thrilled with the season he’s had so far. I can’t think of anyone who would be irritated with only winning 3 races, especially when there are people in the series who haven’t won a Cup race at all. Okay, I take that back, I could think of someone who might be irritated with only 3 wins, but whatever.
I loved it when he said, “I am 100% bound and determined to be happy. This has been a great success, this season. No matter what happens going forward.” Isn’t that what we all want? Just to be happy? I know it’s what I covet, it’s what I strive for every single day. I want to be content and more than just ok with what I’m doing in my life and I think that’s what Mark Martin does. If he wins great, if not, so be it. He knows that he’s tried, that he’s given it his best effort. At the end of the day he’s doing what he loves. That’s all you can ask. He’s not letting a bunch of expectations and lofty goals weigh him down.
He’s like Yoda.
Qualifying is usually my favorite day because everybody is in the garage and things are snappinin’. Yes, that’s a combination of “happening” and “snappy”. I dig it. I got some pretty cool photos and was super thankful that Brian Vickers won the pole. I can’t take Kyle Busch winning anything at this point. Sorry, I’m just being honest.
My best shots from Friday:
Denny Hamlin speaks with the media during his press conference outside his hauler at Infineon Raceway on Friday, June 19, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Kasey Kahne watches and waits during qualifying for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Friday, June 19, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Kurt Busch walks out to his car before practice for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Friday, June 19, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Prettiest car in the garage last weekend, hands down.
David Gilliland, driver of the No. 71 Adobe Road Winery Chevrolet waits for practice to start for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Friday, June 19, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Sprint Cup cars wait for practice to start for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Friday, June 19, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
My first driver photo of the entire weekend and he’s looking at me like, uh, that.
Scott Speed at Infineon Raceway on Friday, June 19, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
P.S. – KISS means Keep It Simple Stupid.