Okay, so finally I’m telling you about my Sunday at last weekend’s Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway.
Saturday night I came home with a mighty impressive suntan/sunburn and you would think that would lead me to make sure I bring a hat and a put sunscreen on the next day, but that didn’t happen. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t think to do either of those things. I’ve been to many races and I’ve never had a sunburn like the one I’m still dealing with to this day. I’ve been wearing a hat for the majority of the week to cover up my peeling forehead. Was that TMI (too much information)?
Anywhoo. Sunday morning I arrived at the track and spent a lot of time in the garage taking pictures of cars as they rolled from one inspection point to another. Things were pretty rudimentary until it was time for the race to begin.
Something curious happened right before driver introductions. There was a sectioned off path for the drivers to take to get backstage and handful of drivers didn’t use it. I watched as Juan Pablo Montoya and David Reutimann walked by with little fanfare. And then came Dale Earnhardt Jr. It was like moths to a flame or ants to sugar or 12-year-old girls running after the Jonas brothers. It was crazy.
This is curious because Dale usually takes the most secret path to get anywhere so that he can avoid as many people as possible. Of course he’s good to fans just like everyone is, but if you were the most popular driver in NASCAR you’d hide too. Anyway, Dale didn’t take the sectioned off path and walked straight through the huge crowd of fans with pre-race pit passes. It was the coolest thing I’d seen in quite sometime. As he moved, the crowd moved. I thought for sure he wouldn’t make it outta there alive, or at least with his firesuit still on.
I watched driver introductions from pit road. I was irked at myself for not having my camera ready in time to capture the super mega hotness that was Carl Edwards and Dale Jr. on top of the same truck. The celebrity eye candy at Infineon is never something I think about, but this year Tom Cruise was on hand with his wife Katie Holmes and their daughter Suri. They showed them on Sprint Vision and I was pretty surprised. I guess I shouldn’t be since Tom is friends with Rick Hendrick and I saw his son Connor hanging with Rick at the Auto Club 500 in Fontana earlier this year. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the Cruise family up close. I heard that they watched the race from a luxury box in the grandstands.
That was a very smart move on their part. If you were in the sun it was very, very warm but if you were in the shade it was super cold.
I watched the race from a variety of locations, but my absolute favorite spot was down at the end of pit road at Turn 11. I witnessed Sam Hornish Jr. & David Gilliland’s accident and while I hated it for both of them it was really cool to be that close.
The double-file restarts were delicious and added so much to the race. It could have been a snoozer but those restarts raised the drama level significantly. I caught the last laps from the media center and I was so incredibly happy that Kasey Kahne was able to hold off Tony Stewart.
I rushed down the stairs to make sure I got a shot of Kasey entering Victory Lane (got a great one if I do say so myself, above left), and then to watch a little bit of the celebration. The air was thick with the scent of Budweiser.
I headed over to the first floor of the media center for the customary post-race press conferences. Marcos Ambrose was very funny and memorable with his thoughts on the race and how he can never get to close to Kasey because there are always girls around him.
Later Kasey answered questions alongside his crew chief, Kenny Francis, and Richard Petty.
I guess my overall impression of Kasey is that he’s quietly confident. He seems sure of himself but he’s not flashy or extreme in any one area. All I could think the entire time was “Please don’t look at me, my face is probably the same color as your firesuit right now.” Which didn’t work, as you’ll see in the photo below, he looked dead at me. Really not my best moment.
When it was all over I headed up to my car, which was parked near the helicopter pad. I sat on some tires and watched as Tony Stewart rode up, bypassed fans and jumped into a waiting helicopter. Although he did wave as they took off.
I can tell you exactly what Jeff Gordon was thinking at this moment in time. He was wondering where the closest bathroom was because right after this picture was taken he hopped the pit wall and went straight into a Port-A-Pottie.
Jeff Gordon signs an autograph for a fan before the start of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, June 21, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
A member of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice team prepares for the start of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, June 21, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
The No. 18 M&M’s team listens to the invocation before the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, June 21, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Sam Hornish Jr. attempts to walk to his pit stall after an incident on the track took him out of the race during the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, June 21, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Turn 11 during the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, June 21, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Chandra Johnson, Jimmie Johnson’s wife, takes a break from watching the action during the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, June 21, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Kasey Kahne and Richard Petty address the media after winning the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, June 21, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
It was Father’s Day afterall. awww.
A father & son after the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, June 21, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)