I woke up early Sunday morning to clear skies and no rain. When rain is a possibility during a race weekend I’ve taken the stance of not talking about it. At least not in the negative. You don’t know for sure what the weather is going to do, so why stand on negative side of the fence and go on an on about how it’s going to rain and we’re not going to get the race in, blah, blah, blah. I’d just rather not and deal with what’s actually happening.
So because it was clear and lovely I proceeded to Starbucks with the understanding that the race day would proceed in a normal fashion. I got on line and noticed that Matt Kenseth was standing in front of me. I debated taking a picture and decided against it, thought I should play it cool. After I ordered he was the only other person standing in the pick up area and for some reason I felt compelled to talk to him. So I asked him if he thought we were going to get the race in that day. He noted that it looked great outside and we’ll just have to see. I wasn’t expecting some amazing answer, I just wanted to make conversation, ’cause I’m a nerd and I think part of me wanted to see if he’d remember me, the girl with the weird name (that he made fun of) that asked him those questions that one time in Vegas. And he didn’t.
So that was fun. I wasn’t disappointed, just thought I’d try that out.
Anyway, I got to the track and remembered that pace car rides should be happening soon so I went down to pit road. I was one of the first to go along with Claire B. Lang, which is apparently becoming some sort of tradition. The German writer was in the backseat with me and he used the wrong seat belt buckle, he used mine, and I couldn’t tell him to fix it because Claire was recording, and my belt buckle wouldn’t lock with the wrong seat, SO I had to hold the seat belt across my body like it was locked. We only did two laps and only the second one was at full speed, so I wasn’t really in any danger.
I finally noticed a difference in between tracks. At Las Vegas the transition from the track to pit road is abrupt and jarring, but at Auto Club Speedway it’s super smooth. So take that info and do with it what you will, ya know, the next time you’re in a Cup race.
I wandered the garage, waiting for Heather to arrive, and walked in to the new “Frontrunners Garage.” It’s a new feature added for fans, where you can walk into the middle of one of the Sprint Cup Series garages, stand on a platform and look down at the crews working on their cars. I’m kind of sad I didn’t get in there until Sunday because there’s nothing really blocking you from talking to or seeing the drivers & their crew. There’s no glass like at Las Vegas. Here you’re close and within easy chatting distance. Not that I think any of the crew guys would really want you to bug them like that, but it’s still cool to know that you could.
The No. 99 Subway team put up a homemade sign on top of their equipment that said “Don’t Feed The Animals!” and then someone added a smaller hand written sign that said “Throw Money.” Of course, people did throw money but it was just change.
Once Heather arrived, I had to show her the signs and then we went to the Nationwide Series garage where they were holding the drivers meeting.
We got a spot to stand behind all of the drivers in the back. Fans were invited to the meeting as well and they were treated to a short Q&A with Dale Earnhardt Jr. The best thing that happened at the driver’s meeting was that actor Vince Vaughn showed up, the worst thing was that I didn’t get to run into him because I totally would have gushed to him about how much I LOVE & ADORE the movie “Swingers.”
Post drivers meeting we ran into David Gilliland and wished him the best for the day’s race. Then we went over to Auto Club Speedway’s Tweet Suite. They invited 20 of their most loyal Twitter followers out to the race with grandstand tickets and access to a suite in the infield. They were visited throughout the day by various people including track president Gillian Zucker, Miss Sprint Cup and, dun, dun, duuhhh… Me! I talked about being a NASCAR blogger and what I “do” when I’m at the track. It was fun and I really loved that ACS decided to reward their followers in that way. ACS is ALWAYS coming up with new, fun and inventive ways to reward their local fans.
Right after leaving the suite we went down to the backstage area at driver introductions. The sun was still out in full force, it was even warm enough for me to take off my hoodie while we took pictures of drivers.
The skies darkened up while we were on pit road for the National Anthem and invocation. We went up to the press box for a while, but went down to the pits once the race reached almost halfway. We met up with Katie and her husband, Jamie, in doing so we officially reunited the Converse Crew. I don’t know why I get a kick out of that so much but I think it’s because I love my Chuck Taylor’s so much, it’s even better when you’re in a group.
So we had a front row seat as the race was brought to halt with the rain, and we watched as driver after driver left their cars and headed to the garage. I’ve never seen so many obviously pissed off drivers in my life, at least not in person. We stood around questioning whether or not they would call the race or try to get it in the next day. I wanted it to be called because I knew I wouldn’t be able to be there the next day so I’d rather have a rainy winner than miss a dry one.
Once the word came down that the race had been called I went back to the garage to the meeting room for the press conference with the 2nd & 3rd place finishers, which happened to be Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch. Once they were done I walked as fast as I could back to the makeshift Victory Lane under the suites, where the garage entrance/exit was located, to take a picture. Then I went right back to the meeting room and waited for 5 years for Tony Stewart to show up. It seriously felt that long. That guy is never in a hurry to get ANYWHERE.
Every time I see Tony in press conferences and interviews it just makes me more and more curious about his love life. This may sound crazy but I am OBSESSED with his love life and I have no idea why. I just feel like there’s a really good opportunity there to talk to him in depth about what he’s looking for in a woman. I find him fascinating in that way, because he eludes to it in almost every interview he has, always saying something like “Well it’s not like I have anyone to rush home to.” The only thing better would be if I could be his matchmaker and set him up on dates. That would be SO FUN. Let’s hope that this year I get the chance and the cojones to ask Tony about this stuff.
So that was my weekend, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. I can’t wait to get to my next race. It’s not going to be Texas as I had hoped, my next planned race will be Charlotte in May.