I know I’ve used that title before but I love it.
Friday at Infineon Raceway was day one of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 festivities. It was a pretty big day for me because it held actual things for me to do. My usual shtick is to just show up and let things happen but this time I setup interviews with drivers. Since things went so well with Tony Stewart and the Inside The Actor’s Studio questions I decided to make it my “thing” for now and to get as many drivers to answer the same questions.
On my schedule for the day were one-on-one’s with David Reutimann, Regan Smith, AJ Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler. I’ll write about each of those experiences in separate posts. Stay tuned for those.
Back in the media center I sat in on press conferences for Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, and a little bit of Denny Hamlin.
Tony Stewart’s presser was, of course, by far the most entertaining of the bunch. His session was after practice and he wasn’t very happy with his car. I think that Southwest airlines should use his press conferences as the basis for one of their “Wanna Get Away???” commercials. I had this uncontrollable urge, every time someone asked something cringe-worthy to look down and start playing with my cell phone. There are always a few questions that bug Tony and after sitting in on a few of his pressers I’ve learned that Tony is a lot better when you ask him questions that are very real to him. He laid it out pretty plainly that he only cares about racing. He wasn’t in the mood to get all theoretical or philosophical about racing after having a crappy practice session. It wasn’t helping that people were asking the same questions they’ve asked year after year, my favorite being “Should there be a road course race in The Chase?” That was the one that really bugged him and got him to eventually say that he had no interest in giving his opinion on such things, he just wanted to race.
While he was getting visibly frustrated you could tell he was trying to answer these questions for real, like, you could see the struggle in his face (and tone of voice) between wanting to be amiable and just being irritated. I enjoyed it because it was free entertainment and none of it was directed at me.
At Greg Biffle’s session he was given a check for $5,000 from WileyX Eyewear for his foundation, The Greg Biffle Foundation, and their work with animals. WileyX also passed out sunglasses to the gathered media. I’m giving away the pair I received to one lucky reader. Check back for details on that later. They’re a pretty sweet pair of black sunglasses, complete with a nice case.
Jamie McMurray announced, during a TV interview, that he and wife Christy are expecting their first child this year. I found out from people on Twitter. I hope, Biffle and his wife Nicole are next in the world of NASCAR baby news.
After that I met Keri, aka PhoenyxArts, and her husband, Don. They’re super nice people and I’m so glad we got the chance to meet. Keri is an unabashed Clint Bowyer fan and I couldn’t get over her awesome #33 necklace (at left) the she made HERSELF. This woman is a super talented artist of many mediums. She makes jewelry, amongst many other things, and you should totally check out her blog. She makes custom stuff too, so if you’re looking for something special to show your allegiance to your favorite driver, email Keri!
Later I stood out on the track while drivers got in line to qualify and then headed back into the garage with fellow writer, Howard Nevens, to find the holding area for the top-3 qualifiers. We found the teams for the #48 and the #24 behind the haulers, along with a group of media people. It’s fun to be in that area and catch the drivers as they climb out of their cars. I was able to snap some pretty good pictures, and attempted to get even more shots of Jimmie Johnson’s car chief, Ron Malec. After seeing him repeatedly throughout the weekend I’m convinced he probably thinks I’m a crazy person following him, but I’m not Ron, I’m not. I’m just giving the people what they want which is more photos of you.
Anyway, it sucked that Michael Waltrip wasn’t able to get his car into the race with the special “Praying for Karson” paint scheme (the winning entry from the Toyota Sponsafier contest), but it was on display behind the grandstands so it wasn’t a complete loss. Everyone at the race that weekend still had a chance to see it.
So as we all know Kasey Kahne won the pole for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 and Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-3 starting positions for Sunday’s race.
And that was Friday.
My favorite Greg Biffle photo. Just lucky timing.
Carl Edwards reminding me that he’s married. I know Carl, I know!
Cars lined up in the post-qualifying holding area. That’s the shoulder of Kurt Busch on the left.
Kurt Busch chats it up with a TV crew after securing the 3rd position in the qualifying.
Jimmie Johnson (left) and Kurt Busch (right). I think Jimmie was cracking his knuckles or something.
Toyota/SaveMart 350 pole-sitter Kasey Kahne
(all photos credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)