Finally, I’m sitting down to write the first of many posts about my weekend at the Auto Club Speedway for the Pepsi 500.
Friday was the usual routine of top-12 drivers press conferences. I was in a majority of them and some seriously interesting stuff went down. Okay, so it was only during Juan Pablo Montoya’s session that I had one of those Southwest commercial “Wanna Get Away??” moments. And I wasn’t even the one who caused the weirdness.
There were a lot of people from the Spanish media in attendance, covering Juan Pablo in particular. One guy decided that this was the time to air his grievances, apparently he’s never heard of Festivus, but whatever. So Juan is answering the usual questions and then this guy starts in with saying how they’ve (the Spanish media) gone through “a lot with you” and he launches into this long drawn out thing which amounted to the fact that Juan or Juan’s people never granted this man an interview with him. This guy wanted answers. And it was clear from the way he was saying stuff that he had never been able to get the whole reasoning for why he’d never been approved for an interview with Juan before and felt that this was the only way he was going to get an answer. It was aaaaaawkkkkkkkwaaaaaaaaaaard, to say the least.
I think Juan handled the whole thing really well. He didn’t get super pissed or anything. He actually seemed very “whatever” about it. The guy tried to go back and forth with Juan but was eventually cut-off, and they moved on to another questioner. Good times, good times.
Other notables from the press sessions:
— When Tony Stewart was asked if he thought the new standardized race start times would affect his ability to get home at a regular time he simply said: “I don’t have anybody to go home to so it’s not a big deal for me, unfortunately.” Aaaaaaaaawww! I actually felt a pang of sadness for him, for like 5 seconds. I’m sure there are plenty of ladies out there that are more than willing to be waiting at home for Tony. hehe.
— Brian Vickers had a cool idea that I really like. He was of the opinion that instead of having tracks that have 2 races, maybe there should be 30 races at 30 different tracks. I think that’d make things very interesting, and it’d be fun — for drivers and fans.
— How did I not fall asleep during Jimmie Johnson & Kurt Busch’s meetings? I’m just kidding.
— Carl Edwards showed up without his crutches. He’s hot even when he’s hobbling around. Apparently he just forgot them at home, it wasn’t intentional, but the doctor’s said he’d be ok if he just walked on his heel.
Friday was also qualifying. I hung out in the garage in the area the top-3 cars park while the find out if their times will hold up against the rest of the field or not. The best part was when Max Papis, a “go-or-go-home” driver rolled in after qualifying high enough to make the race on Sunday. He was so excited, pumping his fists in his car as it rolled to a stop. He got out of the car with the biggest smile and was hugging everyone. I’ve never seen a person that excited about qualifying for a race before in my life. It was really, really refreshing. It reminds you that there are people who are just glad to be there, and apart of it all, period.
Cars get ready to roll out for practice on Friday, October 9, 2009 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
I have no idea why he’s looking at me like that.
Max Papis after qualifying for the Pepsi 500 on Friday, October 9, 2009 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Casey Mears gets ready to go out for practice on Friday, October 9, 2009 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
This is one of the greatest photos I’ve ever taken. Please take notice of Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray in the top-left side of this image. They were walking by (After leaving the men’s room together. They went in together too, so it should be noted that it’s not only women who go to the bathroom in pairs) as Carl Edwards unvieled his car for next year’s Nationwide Series for which Copart would be the sponsor for 16 races. He kept doing this Superman move to show off the Copart logo on his undies. I love how Casey and Jamie are looking like “What’s Carl up to now???”
Carl Edwards unveils his Copart sponsorship for 16 races in next year’s Nationwide Series (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)