a wall of crew chiefs

Cars lined up before the start of practice on Saturday, June 19, 2010 at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Saturday is always my favorite day in the garage because it’s all about practice and we haven’t reached the max level of wandering people that will be around come Sunday.

Something I hadn’t realized about the garage at Infineon is how perfect it is before the cars roll out for the first practice session of the day. Infineon’s garage stalls are all in one long row. You walk a straight line and you get to see everyone. This is especially eerie when all the drivers are sitting in their cars with their visors up just waiting for the call to drive out to the track.

It’s the only time when they’re basically a captive audience. You could jump out in front of their cars and do a little dance or hold up a big sign saying whatever you want and they have to watch because they can’t go anywhere. I didn’t do a little dance, I just tried to take pictures but I recommend that if you’re going to get a garage pass make sure it’s on a day when the guys are practicing. It’s the best time.

At one point I went down to the pit area behind the garage, next to turn 11 and found a wall of crew chiefs. Because a portion of the garage stalls overlook the track, and there are windows, crew chiefs pop their heads out to check on their drivers. At each window there was a different crew chief, from Alan Gustafson to Steve Addington to Todd Berrier to Steve LeTarte to Chad Knaus. It made me wish I had one of those panoramic cameras to capture them all in one shot. Click here for a great picture of Chad Knaus that looks like he’s sitting on top of a port-a-pottie.

Casey MearsOn Friday and Saturday I spied Casey Mears (at right) walking around the garage. I thought it was sort of odd that Casey made it out to Sonoma for the weekend considering he’d been released from Red Bull Racing earlier that week. I felt bad for him, honestly. It just seemed awkward, but I guess you stick around so that people don’t forget about you? Whatever, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed about Casey and it’s the fact that he’s a total cutie.

After the two Cup Series practice sessions were over and people left, it was time for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race, the Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200. I watched driver intros, the invocation and the National Anthem from a very empty pit road. The K&N Pro Series races always have a different, much more grassroots feeling to them. One driver was introduced and a group of people, clearly friends & family of the guy, cheered for him like crazy. It’s a heartwarming feeling, it’s fun getting to see the beginnings of a person’s career. You can tell that a lot of those guys were just proud to be in the race and anything else that happened would be gravy.

Boris Said Jr.I headed down to the front row to watch the cars roll out on the track. It was there that I saw Boris Said’s adorable 6-year-old son Boris Jr. (at left) sitting on the pit wall. Boris Jr. would wave at his father and Boris Sr. would wave back from inside his car in the second starting position. So cute, you guys!

Richard Childress came down and spoke to pole-sitter Jason Bowles before his window net went up. Then the guys got the call to start their engines. I watched a portion of the race from behind the start/finish line where I ate my free sample of Perky Jerky, the first ever caffeinated beef jerky. It’s pretty tasty, except for a faint aftertaste.

After David Gilliland’s unfortunate luck with a transmission problem, Canadian Andrew Ranger, in the No. 35 Waste Management Chevy, won the race. I was really excited for David, he was leading the race, things looked great and then the transmission broke. That sucked, I can’t tell you how much. I really wanted him or Boris Said to win. It’s been far too long for both of them.

Anywho, in the post-race presser I discovered that Andrew Ranger sounds like a male Celine Dion, which makes sense because they’re both French Canadian’s from Quebec. To see what I mean, go here to hear Andrew. I doubt he could hit Celine’s notes though.

:)


Mattias Ekstrom with Claire B. Lang

Mattias Ekstrom with Sirius Satellite Radio’s Claire B. Lang

Steve LeTarte

Crew chiefs Todd Berrier, I think, second from the left and Steve LeTarte on the far right

Crew chief Greg Erwin

Crew chief Greg Erwin on the right.

NASCAR K&N Pro Series West

(left) The No. 5 Happy Daze RV Sacramento Chevrolet driven by Jonathan Hale, and (right) the No. 15 S&S Fence Chevrolet driven by Jack Sellers

Boris Said and Boris Said Jr.

Boris Said Jr. and Boris Said (in the blue car)

Andrew Ranger

Andrew Ranger makes his way to Victory Lane

Andrew Ranger

Andrew Ranger

1 Comment

  1. June 23, 2010 at 1:13 PM ·

    This was the first time in 4 years that I haven’t been to Infineon on Saturday. I felt like I was missing out on something not being there for the practices. Honestly the practice times on Saturday are my favorite of the weekend.

    Love the shots of the crew chiefs and porta potties. I was at Infineon earlier this year for the 24 Hours of LeMons race (yes, LEMONS!)… we could pretty much wander around everywhere on the grounds (except the race track), INCLUDING the garage area. Just had to stay out of the way of the cars coming in & out. I stood in the garage and looked out over the track from that vantage point. Great view I’ve never seen before. That, and getting to stand directly behind turn 11 where you could see the cars driving down the chute to go to the garage area.

    Haha the Captcha is 1972 Eastwood… good stuff! The Clint Eastwood movie that came out in 1972 was Joe Kidd. No relevance, just a weird little tidbit of trivia for you. :)