On the morning of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 I attended the NASCAR Tweetup held in front of Victory Lane. It was there that I met an awesome ‘Fabulous’ reader, Angela (aka @caligirl88 on Twitter). She was super nice and she totally surprised me because I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone that read my blog. Thanks again Angela for your kind words!
After checking in with Dawn, my fabulous friend who is the queen of efficient packing for NASCAR races (she also makes great cupcakes!), I headed over to the driver’s lounge for the driver’s meeting. For some reason my memory of that room was that it was much, much bigger than it actually is. Once the meeting started we were packed in there like sardines. Even some drivers and crew chiefs had to stand.
Nothing earth shattering happened in the driver’s meeting but I like being in there and knowing that I’m in there with ALL 43 drivers. It’s kinda neat. Matt Kenseth was the first driver in the room, showing up 30 minutes early, which is smart move if you want to get a seat. I find his punctuality refreshing.
Post-driver’s meeting I met up with Kristen (read her blog) and the No. 2 Miller Lite “Brew Crew” as they walked their Dodge through inspection. I don’t remember if I’ve ever talked about Kristen before, I apologize if I’m repeating myself. Anyway, back in 2007 she won the “Miller Lite Next Great Sportswriter” Contest and she got to spend a bunch of time and race weekends with Kurt Busch and the entire team doing interviews and writing. She’s been their “unofficial tool cart girl” ever since and she’s superfun to hang out with. We have an awesome time swapping gossip and chatting about this and that.
So Sunday was no different, we got to watch as some Cougar tried to hit on one of the Brew Crew dudes. This woman was a piece of work. I hope she doesn’t read blogs. Anyway, she seemed a little tipsy to me. A couple inspection stations later we saw the same woman touching a security guy. Hilarious.
Oh! So this is good, remember how I said Ron Malec probably thinks I’m some crazy person following him around? Well the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy & crew were in front of the No. 2 in line for inspection. So the entire time I’m standing with Kristen, Ron Malec is in front of us pushing the 48. I’m dead serious when I say that it was purely a coincidence and the last thing I want to be thought of is as a pit lizard. I have no desire to lick anyone’s helmet (although I’m sure that Cougar did!). I’m just an appreciator of good lookin’ dudes, so of course I took yet another photo of him (see right).
For driver intros I didn’t go behind the stage, thought it better to stay out on pit road. There cars were lined up one-by-one side by side faced out instead of in the usual two-by-two. It looked good and was a better use of space, in my opinion. I walked down to Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet because I know Lisa, who is a PR person on behalf of Office Depot. I never know where to stand on pit road for the Anthem and all that, so it’s nice to know someone and have a place to stand where you don’t feel like people are looking at you like “What is she doing here??” I don’t know that people actually think that but it’s what I think they’re thinking and it weirds me out.
Anyway, Tony’s dad, Nelson Stewart, was on hand for the day, he even walked out with Tony during driver introductions. He was at the car when Kevin Harvick stopped by specifically to talk to Nelson and give him a hug. It was a cute moment, photos of which you can see below.
After all the invocation, National Anthem and the command to start engines I walked pit road to get a spot behind the pits to watch the start of the race. Luckily, there was a spot right where I wanted to be, right behind the start/finish line. I stood on top of the little wall that sits at the back of the pits, right in front of the grandstands and got the best view of the green flag to start the race.
I hung around down there for a little bit and then headed to the media lounge tent to hang out away from the sun. I ended up meeting a French guy named Mat who was attending a NASCAR race for the first time. He was stranded outside of the garage because he lost his Hot Pass and his roommate that he came to the race with was nowhere to be found. We had an interesting time trying to talk in between the roar of the engines and me trying to understand his accent. It was fun though.
With about ten laps left I went down to Turn 11 to see what I could see and got a front row seat to Clint Bowyer’s caution-less spin out. I asked one of the photographers standing next to me if they could send me the photo and Tyler Takeda of The Madera Tribune obliged (see below). I was too busy screaming, “Ahh! Whoaaaaa!” to take a picture myself.
Clint Bowyer (33) gets turned around into the side of Elliot Sadler’s car Sunday during the Toyota Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. (photo credit: Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune)
Instead of rushing over to Victory Lane to take my usual picture of the winner driving his car in, I decided to pass through the garage. It’s an interesting place to be post-race since cars are coming in smashed up and crew members are rushing around trying to be the first team out of the track. Those guys are super fast, it’s amazing how quickly they can pack up. Maybe they can help me out the next time I have to move?
I was there when Boris Said’s crew chief Frank Stoddard yelled at Tony Stewart — as Tony was climbing out of his car — to “Come on! You fat fuck!” Tony just sort of waved him off and went into his hauler. I wasn’t quite sure I had heard him right until I locked eyes with a smiling GoDaddy.com crew member walking toward me. It was then that I knew I had heard him perfectly and rushed off to the press conference room where my cell phone was charging to send out a tweet about it. Funny stuff. (If you want the full story on what went down and caused that outburst check out the article over at SBNation.com)
Although now that I look at the photo I took in the garage just before Stoddard make his comment, I think Tony might have said something first (see below).
That’s Tony on the far right getting out of the car and that’s Frank Stoddard in front wearing the #26 Air Guard uniform.
And so that was my day at the Toyota/SaveMart 350. Photo fun time below!
Cars lined up and ready to go on pit road for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 on Sunday, June 20, 2010 at Infineon Raceway.
Eva Busch, wife of Kurt Busch, walks down pit road to her hubby’s car. If I ever reach a point where I can have an assistant at the track their entire job would be to take pictures of WAGs. Between making sure I got pictures with my cell phone for tweeting and my regular camera, I missed stuff! Grr!
In the second photo here, of Kevin Harvick greeting Tony Stewart’s dad Nelson, you can see the top of Tony’s head. He was kneeling to do something with his shoes.
The pit crew for the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevy lined up for the National Anthem.
The green flag drops for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway. My view! So cool.
Kevin Harvick. Yet another one of my “I don’t know how I got that photo” photos.
Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson
Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulls into the garage after the race. So glad he finished 11th! Now he’s 13th in points! Yay!