vegas_saturday_featured-danica

danica patrick writes herself into nascar history, wax dale earnhardt stays in the shade

On Saturday morning in Las Vegas the first and only thing I scheduled to do that day was interview Jennifer Jo Cobb. She was great and it was awesome to find out that her favorite word is “Fabulous.” Smart lady!

It wasn’t long after meeting with her that qualifying began for the Nationwide Series race that was taking place later that afternoon. I did my usual routine of starting out on pit road, taking pictures of drivers, and then migrated over to the media bullpen area once cars took to the track.

It was after Trevor Bayne’s run that I saw my first duo of women wearing dresses, strapless maxi dresses to be exact. They had their sites set on Trevor and got to take a picture with him. Having seen a lot of Trevor that weekend I can honestly say that that kid never stops smiling. He seems so happy and excited and just glad to be there. He signs things and talks to everybody. So what Darrell Waltrip has been saying about Trevor since Daytona is true, but he really doesn’t need to keep bringing it up in every broadcast. :)

Post-Nationwide Series qualifying I went into the Sprint Cup Series garage for their one & only practice session of the day. I didn’t hang around that long because I felt like getting a snack in the Neon Garage. The Neon Garage is awesome. I think it’s the best garage for fans. It makes needing to get a garage pass totally not that necessary. Plus there’s always entertainment going on, pretty much every tribute band that exists plays on the main stage all day long, and there’s always random entertainers wandering around–guys on stilts, girls on roller skates and wandering showgirls in full regalia will take pictures with you.

Wax Dale EarnhardtThis year I saw something I hadn’t seen before. It was a Madame Tussauds tent that covered wax figures of the late Dale Earnhardt and country music artist/actor Tim McGraw. First, that pairing seems really random to me. Why not bring the Dale Earnhardt Jr. figure instead of Tim McGraw? Or the Richard Petty one, and then have the real Richard Petty walk up and scare people. That’d be funny. And then it just seemed kinda creepy to be taking a picture of a wax version of Dale Earnhardt. But people were totally going for it, good for them, whatever works. :)

On my way out to driver introductions for the Nationwide Series race, the Sam’s Town 300, I saw what could only be a Kid Rock impersonator. I think they had a Kid Rock tribute band performing that day. He really got me though, for a minute or two.

I made it out to the stage area and snapped shots of drivers as they left the stage. Nothing all that spectacular happened there and then I went over to pit road. I walked a bit and ended up standing sort of in between and across from Denny Hamlin and Michael Annett’s cars, closer to the pit wall than the cars, for the invocation and National Anthem.

I watched the start of the race from the pits, where I discovered that because I have a hard card I can enter the pits and stand next to the pit wall during the race. This is going to sound super snobby–and I don’t care because it’s awesome–but it’s such a cool feeling to be standing there with other people when security comes up and tells them they have to move back because they only have paper credentials and then they see my hard card and they don’t bother me. It’s friggin’ great and I highly recommend it. :)

On my way back to the media center I noticed IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani wandering around the pits with his wife, Bronte. It was neat seeing a driver from a different racing discipline at the race. Just like it was great to see NHRA’s John Force and his youngest daughter, Courtney. John Force has won the Funny Car championship 15 times! Think about that Jimmie Johnson haters, it could be WAY worse. LOL :)

Mark Martin won the race with Justin Allgaier coming in 2nd. It was a great day for Turner Motorsports. I watched the final laps from the pits just behind Jason Leffler’s pit, and it was fun to see the team’s reaction. Everyone was screaming and hugging each other and their team wasn’t even the one that won the race. You can tell how much wins matter to the entire organization.

And then there was Danica Patrick and her 4th place finish. It was history for sure, she logged the best finish by a woman in a NASCAR national series since Sara Christian placed 5th in 1949. Raise your hand if you’d heard of Sara Christian before last weekend? What was her story? I mean, it’s hard enough for women to race now, what was it like in 1949??

It seems to me that Danica doesn’t have a handle on how she feels about this whole making-history-just-because-you’re-a-girl stuff. I get the sense that she’s proud of what she’s done but doesn’t want to have it all be about being a girl. I think it’s more about just winning because she wants to be successful as a human being and it’s not about proving something for the gender. I don’t know but that’s my latest theory. :)

Next up, Sunday in Las Vegas!

Brian Scott

Brian Scott

Trevor Bayne

Trevor Bayne

Backstage at driver introductions for the Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300

Backstage at driver introductions for the Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300

Kelly Bires

Kelly Bires

Elliott Sadler

Elliott Sadler

Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards

Aric Almirola

Aric Almirola

Pit Road before the start of the Sam's Town 300

Pit road before the start of the Sam's Town 300

The pit crew for the No. 62 Pilot Flying J Coffee Toyota

The pit crew for the No. 62 Pilot Flying J Coffee Toyota. This was my view during the National Anthem & Invocation for the Sam's Town 300.

Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin

1 Comment

  1. Matty
    March 13, 2011 at 1:32 PM ·

    As far as having heard of Sara Christian, I actually have, and turns out, she was only one of three women who raced in NASCAR in 1949. Apparently it was pretty easy for a girl to get behind the wheel back then.