• sonoma-friday-jimmie-johnson

    Jimmie Johnson chats with a woman at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-jimmie-johnson-sammy-hagar

    Sammy Hagar smiles for the camera (even though I didn't ask him to!) at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-juan-pablo-montoya-jacques-villenueve

    Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villenueve chat at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-clint-bowyer

    Clint Bowyer, standing next to @CheckrdPhoenyx, heckles Matt Kenseth during his press conference at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-practice-garage

    Cars roll out of the garage for the first practice session of the day at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

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    Richard Petty at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-denny-hamlin

    Denny Hamlin at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-no14

    The No. 14 team move their car around in the garage at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-joey-logano

    Joey Logano chats with a dude at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-drew-blickensderfer

    Drew Blickensderfer, crew chief for the No 9 Stanley Black & Decker Ford Fusion driven by Marcos Ambrose, watches practice at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-jj-yeley

    JJ Yeley goes over notes during practice at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-tony-stewart

    Tony Stewart at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-brad-keselowski

    Brad Keselowski at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

  • sonoma-friday-ron-malec

    Ron Malec! at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

sonoma friday: cougar hits on brad keselowski while daughter watches

First, I apologize for taking so long to write about Sonoma. Life, work, blah, blah, blah.

I arrived at the track on Friday and immediately met up with my friend Kristen in the media parking hill (everything at Sonoma Raceway is on a hill). I’ve told you about Kristen before, she’s got an “in” with the No. 22 Penske team and she’s one of my absolute favorite people to hang out with at a race.

The first driver I saw on Friday morning was Jimmie Johnson, he was talking to a fan or maybe it was a woman who had a connection to his team or something, I’m not entirely sure, but it made me wonder how many conversations drivers have with fans that they just do out of kindness. Just think of all the stories they’ve heard about so-and-so and that car they wrecked or that friend of a friend’s nephew who raced with him when he was coming up through the ranks. That’s a LOT of stories, people. :)

Anyway, Jimmie was filming something with Sammy Hagar, which I found out from Clint Bowyer’s Twitter account was a music video.

Since they changed the qualifying deal this year all the teams were doing that day was practice and the drivers had their media availability sessions. Although the top-10 drivers didn’t all do them, for some reason. I only saw Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon. Clint came in at the end of Matt’s session and sort of heckled him, which was great because Clint Bowyer always makes anything better when he walks into a room. Seriously, the guy is a character.

Being in the garage for the first time this year gave me completely conflicting feelings. On Friday, I was sort of over it, maybe even thinking that I might be over writing about NASCAR altogether. Then on Saturday I felt better about it, because I interviewed a couple drivers and ESPN’s Marty Smith hugged me because he’s the NICEST person in the garage (more on that in the next post). By Sunday, I was all-in again, I still wasn’t sure how I was going to continue this thing but I got so many great shots and felt more like myself that I thought I couldn’t stop doing this.

Case in point, after practice was over I was standing in the garage talking to Kristen and a NASCAR official when we saw Brad Keselowski signing autographs for a couple of fans. It was a woman (maybe in her late 40s) with her teenage daughter (or maybe she was older? I’m not 100% sure, but she was YOUNG). We overheard the woman ASKING BRAD OUT for drinks! I said out loud “Did I just hear that??” Like, okay, I give the woman props for asking him at all but with your daughter right there?? Really?? I don’t know how Brad feels about cougars but that was very entertaining. :)

At the end of the day there was the usual media reception event inside of victory lane, just outside the entrance to the garage. Sonoma Raceway does it every year and it’s great, complete with wine and cheese. We were there for a little while and were about to leave when I spotted Ron Malec exiting the garage with a few other crew guys from the No. 48 team. One of my top priorities for ANY race weekend is to get the usual Obligatory Ron Malec Photo, and all day I couldn’t quite get a good shot of him. So I ran after him, calling his name and he stopped. I told him that I write a blog and how I always have to get his photo and the fans love it, blah, blah, blah. So he let me take his photo and it’s great. :) Here’s the thing I’ve realized, I’m so nervous about talking to him or guys like him (look for the Kasey Kahne story in the next post) that I never leave it open for them to say anything back. So I have no idea if he thinks I’m completely nuts (probably) or just a normal well-intentioned blogger trying to come up with creative content (please think that Ron because I am).

The things I do for you guys! Ok, ok, I do it for me, too.

:)

8 Comments

  1. Kristen
    June 30, 2013 at 7:06 PM ·

    Ah just love reliving it! Can’t wait to see what you say about Sat and I am SO bummed to have missed Sunday…ah well…NC beckons you now that you have the fever again! =)

  2. Melody
    June 30, 2013 at 7:17 PM ·

    Thoroughly entertaining, Valli!!! As always. Please don’t ever stop the Obligatory Ran Malec pictures! It’s a great personal tradition you have started, and he is SO cute. And it’s good to hear Marty Smith is a nice person, because he writes to much good stuff.

    Keep it coming!

  3. June 30, 2013 at 8:00 PM ·

    What? What? You saved the Kasey story for the NEXT post??? Way to make a girl wait!!! :D

  4. June 30, 2013 at 8:29 PM ·

    I agree with Melody! I didn’t happen to see Malec this year, so I always enjoy the pics!!

  5. July 1, 2013 at 10:26 AM ·

    Great post and pictures! Can’t wait for the KK post. :) Also, if you are unable to go to a race can one of us be a contributor to the blog and use your press pass. I may be going to Texas this fall and would love to fill in for you.

  6. Sumer
    July 1, 2013 at 3:18 PM ·

    Oh, how I love your stories Vali! I completely agree about Marty Smith. He has always been super friendly every time I have been around him. Glad you had a good time!

  7. Judi
    July 1, 2013 at 7:30 PM ·

    Love this post! I’m 43 and I’d go out with Brad in a second! I think he’s cute. :)

  8. Amy
    July 11, 2013 at 4:49 PM ·

    Thanks for the ron malec picture!