When I arrived at Infineon Raceway on Friday I was late. It was only 9am but it was late. The garage opened at 7am and that’s when people showed up, so the media lot was full when I arrived. I was stuck in lot 1 which is next to the helipad. It’s not a big deal (there’s an awesome shuttle that takes you right to the media center no matter where you’re parked) but it’s funny to me how 9am can be considered late for anything. Anyway, Friday was the day of press conferences for the top-12 drivers.
I didn’t have any interviews setup for the weekend, but I was going to attempt to interview Robby Gordon. I say attempt because I didn’t have a scheduled time for him, I just went to his hauler to try and find a PR person but didn’t find the right person. But, in a happy turn of events, I saw Casey Mears as I was walking back to the media center through the garage and interviewed him on the fly. Be on the lookout for that in the coming week or so.
I met up with my racing friend, Kristen (The Hot Pass), who I met at Infineon a couple years ago. She’s a blogger and an honorary member of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team. She’s also smart and super funny. We always have a great time chatting and hanging out together in the garage. Speaking of fellow women bloggers, it was great to see Amy of Amy’s Bad Groove and her BFF Misty, as well as Lindi from Skirts and Scuffs. Lady NASCAR bloggers were in full force at Infineon.
I didn’t sit in on all of the press conferences mostly because a lot of them were being held at the drivers haulers. For me it’s not useful to stand, smooshed amongst the gathered media, to hear every other word a guy is saying while engines rev in the background. So for those times I planned on just taking a picture and getting out. I got a great shot of a fluffy-haired Dale Earnhardt Jr., whom I have decided must own like 50 white t-shirts because that’s all he ever wears at the track.
During Kurt Busch’s media session, I was too busy chatting with Amanda, a supernice young woman who’s dating a member of the #22 crew, about how awesome the people watching is in the garage. I can’t remember if it was in the morning or in the afternoon that we were sitting there and all of a sudden drivers were coming out of their haulers left and right to get in their cars for practice. If you can swing it, sitting outside of a hauler is a great place to be, behind us at Mark Martin’s hauler he was chatting with Juan Pablo Montoya and then on the other side of us Matt Kenseth came out of his hauler to grab a water from the cooler. Denny Hamlin passed by us to go into Kyle Busch’s hauler. This is all happening at the same time, way too quickly for me to remember to take a picture. There’s also a part of you that says “Act like you’ve been here before” and you feel like taking a picture would be lame, so you don’t.
Anyway, I did stand in on Kyle Busch’s presser and watched Kevin Harvick, who was due up next, plop down in a chair right in front of me and almost fall over. It was one of those chairs that reclines. They’re really comfortable, I must say. Anyway, it was funny. I always think it’s fun with a driver has to wait on another driver to finish their Q&A, I often hope that the guy waiting will raise his hand and ask a question too. But considering the bad blood between Harvick and KyBu that wasn’t going to happen.
The first practice session of the weekend is always my favorite part of the weekend. I think I must have said, “But this is the best part!” to Kristen, like, way too many times, that I even said to myself “You think a lot of things are the best part.” But the first practice really is because they always roll out of their garage stalls and get in line, then they turn off their cars to wait and that’s when you can take pictures of the guys. I’ve never gotten close enough to take a picture of anyone sitting in their car ’cause I don’t want to get yelled at or something, but I like it all the same.
Qualifying was later on in the day and I went over to the media bullpen area where the top-3 cars stop after their run. I do this so that I can get photos and stuff, but I’ve decided my strategy is flawed and that I should spend half of the time on pit road getting shots of everybody there before going to the bullpen. Anywhoo, I got what I got including my usual Obligatory Ron Malec Photo.
It was also really interesting to see Carl Edwards squatting down chatting with his team members who were sitting lined up like Carl was giving a pep talk.
Brian Vickers didn’t do any interviews pre-Infineon in light of the Red Bull Racing news, but after his qualifying run he held court with the media that gathered around him. They all asked about his future and he said he’s keeping his options open.
Silly Season is upon us and I’m not someone that really thinks too much about where this person or that person is going to end up. I don’t think of the drivers as being people that are in a position of really suffering. The people that are are the the crew members, everyone who works on the cars back at the shop, and the administrative staff. Those people aren’t pulling down millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars. So I hope for their sake that the teams that make up Red Bull Racing right now can stick around in some capacity next year.
And that was Friday. Pretty tame, but Saturday was a little different.
(all photos credit: the fast and the fabulous)