saturday at infineon: dale jr. thought of a way to scare me

On Saturday I forgot my cell phone at home, and my camera’s battery died, like, 15 minutes after I arrived at Infineon Raceway.

It was really weird to not have my cell phone or camera on me all day. It was annoying that I couldn’t take any photos or tweet out updates on the fly. I realized that those devices also served as security blankets. They were these things that proved I had “something to do” while I was in the garage. I wasn’t just wandering. I had to take pictures and constantly check my phone for updates–that gave me purpose. So without a purpose I felt like a nerd, just standing around. And I was worried that without the photos that I usually snapped throughout the day I wouldn’t have anything to remind me of what happened.

I had one saving grace in that I had my laptop in my car so I brought into the media center and actually got some writing done. That was the only reason why I posted my recap of Wednesday & Thursday that same day. Normally you’d be reading that right now instead of this. So something good came out of my lack of mobile technology.

While I felt odd not having my blankies, I felt free at the same time. It was great to not have to carry anything around.

So for the second practice session of the day I hung out in the garage gabbing with Kristen about this and that. We were posted in front of the stall for Kurt Busch and the #22 team, but next to him were Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. If my memory serves me and the pictures that I took on Friday are correct, in the stall to the left of Kurt’s, his brother Kyle and Dale Jr. were side by side.

The cars were out for practice, each of them coming in and out for various changes.

So Kristen and I were standing there talking about whatever, leaning against a cluster of stacked tires when I was looking down and saw a car ALMOST touch our feet. I screamed. I NEVER scream. I’m not a screamer. If anything I’m a cryer (as you’ll find out when I write about Sunday). What I mean is that if something crazy happens in front of me I’ll gasp, but I don’t scream. I usually stay pretty calm, but this was insane. Kristen and I were both shocked. The culprit was Dale Earnhardt Jr in his #88. He had been in and out of the garage before and there was no need for him to make such a wide turn into his stall. Matt Kenseth had a harder turn and he never got close to us. And we weren’t standing in the way either, we were far enough back so that cars could pull out of their stalls and not back into us.

So we decided that Dale Jr. was trying to flirt with us. I’m SURE that’s NOT what he was trying to do but it’s still fun to think that he was. I WISH I could print out the image of that moment and show it to you. Imagine his tire being INCHES away from your toes. Crazy! We waited to see what would happen the next time he had to return to the garage, but when he did it was disappointing, some old guys were in the way and he didn’t come anywhere near us. I have a secret mean dream that I’ll see someone get hit by a car in the garage but I don’t want it to be me. :)

Mythbuster Tory BelleciBefore the disappointing non-swipe by Dale Jr. we noticed Rutledge Wood walk by us with some guests. I quickly identified one of them as Tory Belleci from the Discovery Channel show Mythbusters. It’s one of my favorite shows, mostly because they film here in the SF Bay Area and sometimes in Alameda where I live. I hesitated to say anything to him but with some encouragement from Kristen (who knows how I need to psych myself up to introduce myself to ANYONE) I went over and said, “hello.” He was really nice and cool. It was great to meet him in person. And luckily, while we were chatting Kristen snapped a picture of him (right). Yay! Wikipedia says he’s 40, but he doesn’t look 40 does he? You know that moment in the movie Dirty Dancing where Baby tells Johnny “I carried a watermelon”? That’s what it felt like for me talking to Tory. I was wracking my brain for something smart to say, or to come up with some AWESOME myth about NASCAR he could bust, but alas, I came up short and told him how much I loved the christmas tree myth they busted in some episode from years ago. Laaaame. Still he was cool, so I appreciated that. :)

And for the record, “I carried a watermelon” is the perfect way to imagine me when you read my interviews with drivers. I want to sound cool, and make them feel comfortable with me and be their BFF, but I have no idea what to say. So I usually say nothing, I just thank them and get out. :)

After the final practice was the start of the K&N Pro Series West race. I went out to pit road for the festivities and made sure to clap for any driver that was from Northern California. In the media center they were having a contest, if you picked the top 3 finishers (in order) correctly you’d win a Panasonic point & shoot camera. My trifecta went like this:
1.) David Gilliand
2.) Joey Logano
3.) Paulie Harraka

I didn’t win, obviously, since Joey Logano won, David came in second and Paulie finished 12th, but there was a point in time when I was REALLY hopeful. They were all in the top-3 just in the wrong order, but it wasn’t meant to be. Still I was stoked for David to finish 2nd.

And THAT was Saturday. :) Up next, Sunday at Infineon.

(Left to right) Kasey Kahne listens to No. 83 crew chief Ryan Pemberton and driver Brian Vickers during a Red Bull Racing garage powwow during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Saturday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. (Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

(Left to right) Kasey Kahne listens to No. 83 crew chief Ryan Pemberton and driver Brian Vickers during a Red Bull Racing garage powwow during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Saturday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. (Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Juan Pablo Montoya shares a laugh with No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Saturday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. (Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Juan Pablo Montoya shares a laugh with No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Saturday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. (Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

David Gilliland leads Paulie Harraka at Infineon.(Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)

David Gilliland leads Paulie Harraka at Infineon.(Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Joey Logano celebrates his win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.(Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Joey Logano celebrates his win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.(Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)

3 Comments

  1. Kristen
    June 29, 2011 at 3:46 PM ·

    I forgot to blog about Dale nearly clipping us! That was scary and cool all at the same time…he was definitely flirting! Thats my story and I am sticking too it!!

    Can’t wait to read about Sunday…I am working on mine now too

  2. Steve Puma
    June 29, 2011 at 4:42 PM ·

    Valli: Great article! It was fun meeting you at Infineon, this weekend. Your blog is really off-the-hook! I love it. The design, the writing, everything.

  3. June 30, 2011 at 1:30 PM ·

    Dale Jr was just making sure you were paying attention. And he was probably flirting. ;-)

    Tory is awesome. And hot. Let’s not forget hot.