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    Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, and team owner Roger Penske celebrate in Champions Victory Lane after winning the series championship and finishing in fifteenth place for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2012 in Homestead, Florida. (Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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    (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Tony Stewart (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Arepas (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Greg Biffle & Casey Mears (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Clint Bowyer (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Sam Hornish Jr. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Trying out the panorama feature on my iPhone (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Ryan and Brooklyn Newman (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Miller Lite ready!! (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Clint Bowyer (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Joey Logano (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Crew members of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, driven by Brad Keselowski, celebrate after winning the series championship and finishing in fifteenth place for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2012 in Homestead, Florida. (Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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    Ingrid Vandebosch kisses her husband Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont 20 Years Celebratory Chevrolet, in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2012 in Homestead, Florida. (Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

homestead: penske persistence pays off (say that ten times fast) and other stuff

I was going to write a whole paragraph about how traveling sucked but I figured what’s the point. You guys have been there, you know what I was dealing with on my flights from San Francisco to Charlotte and then on to Miami. Although I have to say I have NEVER been on a flight so full of babies & toddlers as I did that Saturday. It was crazy and it made me vow that if I ever have kids I’m not flying anywhere with them until they’re adults. :)

When I arrived in Miami I felt the humidity and immediately wished that someone would come up with a full body spray that keeps you from feeling sweaty & gross all day.

That night I went to dinner with Lora, Anthony, Kelly and Todd from Quicken Loans, my hosts for the weekend. They’re a great group of supernice people.

I was at the race track for one day so I’m running through it list style.

– The strangest thing about the day was that I didn’t see Ron Malec once and so I didn’t get my “Obligatory Ron Malec Photo” which is just horrible. I apologize. :)

– I forgot to charge my camera when I got into my hotel room the night before so I had to take pictures with my cell phone. But I think because of that I took WAY less photos than I normally do, so again apologies.

– I interviewed Ryan Newman outside his motorcoach. It was during our conversation that I realized EXACTLY why he and Tony Stewart are such good friends. You’ll have to wait till I post the interview to understand it too. :)

– In the little lake thingy next to Newman’s motorcoach were two guys using some water powered hover packs. It was pretty cool and looked like a lot of fun. There was a young guy and an old guy. When the old guy came around he yelled “hello!” and then said “See old guys can still get it up!” Ugh. :/

– While walking through the driver’s motor coach lot we saw Jamie McMurray driving a golf cart with his little son, Carter, in the seat next to him and IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves driving through in a big ol’ SUV.

– The race at Homestead-Miami was Office Depot’s last race with Tony Stewart as his primary sponsor. It was a bittersweet day for the Office Depot marketing & PR team. I’ve gotten to know many of them over the years and it’s ENTIRELY because of them that I’ve been able to interview Tony and present him with the Hottest Driver Tourney trophy last year. They’re a group of ridiculously NICE & super talented people. I was really, really hoping Tony would make it victory lane for them one last time but it wasn’t meant to be.

– I got to stop by Tony’s hospitality event with Office Depot where he held a Q&A session. There was a little boy there who had the most intricately designed mohawk I’ve ever seen. One side was red, the other blue and they both had been spray painted to look like tire treads. It was really cool. I was hoping Tony would notice him and he did saying that he thought his hair was “awesome.” The kid became super shy and had to be coaxed up to the front to meet Tony and take a picture with him. Really cute stuff.

– While walking through the area behind the grandstands, Lora and I split an “arepa.” Arepas consist of two sweet corn cakes that are grilled together with mozzarella cheese. The corn cake part was good but the cheese didn’t make much sense to us. We didn’t finish it.

– The pit road at Homestead-Miami is really freaking long. It felt like I walked two miles just to get from one end to the other. Holy crap it’s long, you guys! And to make it worse it’s narrow. I really think they need to widen it, there’s plenty of room to do so. In my next life I’d like to be a person who designs race tracks but from the perspective of a blogger that has to walk through it all day. There would be luxurious bathrooms for women (with seat covers, why are there no seat covers in certain states??) where you could buy deodorant (for reapplication throughout the day when it’s insanely humid), Starbucks stores in the infield, random lounge locations that have couches & comfy chairs with big screen TVs so you can give your feet a break and still watch the race, and a free cell phone recharging station.

Clint Bowyer looks good with a scruffy beard.

– I heard some pretty adorable stories about Sam Hornish Jr. For Halloween his oldest daughter, Addison, wanted to be a Barbie princess so to complete her outfit Sam built her a carriage from SCRATCH. How awesome is that?? And the year before when she wanted to be a doughnut they couldn’t find anymore costumes in stores so Sam SEWED her a costume himself. Uhm, hello, that is awesome! A man that’s not afraid to get on a sewing machine to make his daughter happy is tops in my book. Apparently Matt Kenseth told him to knock it off ’cause he was making the rest of them look bad. :)

Kurt Busch likes to make out with his girlfriend backstage at driver intros. Ok, so they weren’t making out making out, but they were kissing and that’s enough to call it out since no one else does that, like, ever.

– I went down to the pits with about 20-something laps to go and I happened to be standing next to Jimmie Johnson’s pit where two of the engineers were still sitting in the empty pit box while the team tried to get the car back out on the track back in the garage. It was sad seeing it so empty like that.

– But, of course, I was super stoked that Brad Keselowski won the Championship. I was actually more excited for Roger Penske in finally obtaining his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship as an owner. Only took 23 years.

Overall I had a great time at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was great to see & feel what a final race of the season is like. I can’t wait for Daytona!

Thanks again to Quicken Loans who made this all possible. Definitely follow them on Twitter & Facebook for the latest information on their team and the awesome contests they’ve got going on.

(Make sure you’re reading this on The Fast and the Fabulous so you can view the accompanying photo gallery)

3 Comments

  1. November 26, 2012 at 1:29 PM ·

    Valli,

    1. <3 it!
    2. So jealous!
    3. You are right about the scruffy beard! Cute!
    4. Have you ever thought about having contributors to the site? Even just pictures and a partial write up and you fill in the rest? I was given last minute tickets to Texas and thought if I had press credentials I would have loved to get pictures for your site. Just an idea to maybe have more personal photos of more races until you get sponsored to be at each track! :) My husband and I would like to make one race a year, maybe I could help you out with some pics if we go to one next year?
    5. Unfortunately I'm going to Vegas this weekend right after Champions week. :( Too bad I couldn't schedule it differently.

  2. Ella
    November 27, 2012 at 12:20 PM ·

    As always, you personalize the race for your readers. I love it! Makes me feel more a part of the race. Thanks!!!!

  3. Dawn
    November 28, 2012 at 3:28 PM ·

    I like Kate’s idea of your readers being able to post some pics! I went to the Daytona summer race and got a few pretty good shots including a few of Ron Malec. Ofcourse it’s easier when you have a 20x zoom on the camera. Thanks for all your great posts and pictures! Are you going to Vegas for Champions Week?