Sunday morning we, Heather and I, woke up at the insane hour of 5-o-clock. We had to get to the track when it opened because we wanted to get a pace car ride with Brett Bodine. It was Heather’s first time on a ride with him and it didn’t disappoint. You don’t wear a helmet and your body is thrown against the door every time we make a turn. It’s crazy and so much fun. It’s amazing that I do it considering I hate roller coasters. I think it’s because Brett is in such control and is so freaking calm. It’s like he’s just driving down the street to get groceries and not accelerating into a turn at 100 mph.

After that we killed a bunch of time in the garage before the drivers meeting started. This year they held it out in Turn 11 so that fans could attend and surround the drivers & crew chiefs. We were standing off to the side of the red carpet they laid out for the drivers to walk down in order to take photos. At one point as I was looking down at my phone when Dale Earnhardt Jr. breezed past us, almost brushing my shoulder. He completely avoided the red carpet altogether. He did the same thing on the way out.

Kurt Busch came to the meeting with his girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll. I only note this because she’s the only girlfriend or significant other I’ve ever seen attend the drivers meeting. She also walked hand-in-hand with Kurt down to qualifying. It’s interesting. They’re together A LOT during a race weekend.

When Danica Patrick came down she signed autographs for fans while one person yelled “Danica!!!! PLEASE!!!!!” as if they were being murdered and she was the only person that could help. :)

And when Kasey Kahne came through he didn’t sign anything but he got the biggest reaction from the crowd with everyone eventually chanting “Kasey! Kasey! Kasey!”

We went down to pit road after that for driver introductions. Of course, there were a ton of little things that happened in between: the awesome air show, the truly grody Nathan’s hot dog eating contest and the usual introductions of the grand marshal and other VIPs.

Before the drivers were driven around the track after being introduced to the crowd, they drove past us and we took photos. Every year at Sonoma Raceway you can bid on getting a spot in a truck with your favorite driver. The woman who got to ride with Tony Stewart had on a shirt that had “Mrs Stewart” written on the back of it with a huge no. 14. and his sponsor logos. Hard to miss. So if you ARE that woman I want ALL the details of your conversation with Mr. Stewart. That HAD to be fun & interesting. :)

For the race, we were invited to sit in the pit box for the No. 7 Pilot / Flying J Chevrolet by Michael Annett’s PR guy, Hudson, the night before. OF COURSE I accepted! I’ve never sat up top in a pit box before for any kind of race so this was a momentous occasion that I will NEVER forget.

You guys, I can’t tell you how great it was to watch the race from there. It was so much fun that I’m having a hard time trying to figure out how I can go to race now without getting to sit in a pit box. There are screens for everything, you can watch the TV broadcast and all the scoring monitors. You get a great view of pit stops from the teams nearby. And because it was hot that day the shaded canopy was a dream. I was too comfortable up there.

So I need more people to hook me up like that. The bar has been raised. :)

Post-race I took the usual photo of the winner, Carl Edwards, driving into victory lane and then attended the press conferences for the top-3 drivers. We stuck around long enough to watch Carl go back into victory lane to finish taking his hat dance photos. When Carl walked in he started telling people where to stand while he took a photo with one of his sponsors, WileyX. It was funny because he was all, “No, you stand here and you go over here.” Carl is a very organized winner. :)

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