All posts in NASCAR Infineon Weekend (06/10)

4 Posts

a frenchman, a cougar and some very strong words

Fans at Infineon Raceway before the start of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 on Sunday, June 20, 2010 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)On the morning of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 I attended the NASCAR Tweetup held in front of Victory Lane. It was there that I met an awesome ‘Fabulous’ reader, Angela (aka @caligirl88 on Twitter). She was super nice and she totally surprised me because I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone that read my blog. Thanks again Angela for your kind words!

After checking in with Dawn, my fabulous friend who is the queen of efficient packing for NASCAR races (she also makes great cupcakes!), I headed over to the driver’s lounge for the driver’s meeting. For some reason my memory of that room was that it was much, much bigger than it actually is. Once the meeting started we were packed in there like sardines. Even some drivers and crew chiefs had to stand.

Nothing earth shattering happened in the driver’s meeting but I like being in there and knowing that I’m in there with ALL 43 drivers. It’s kinda neat. Matt Kenseth was the first driver in the room, showing up 30 minutes early, which is smart move if you want to get a seat. I find his punctuality refreshing. :)

Post-driver’s meeting I met up with Kristen (read her blog) and the No. 2 Miller Lite “Brew Crew” as they walked their Dodge through inspection. I don’t remember if I’ve ever talked about Kristen before, I apologize if I’m repeating myself. Anyway, back in 2007 she won the “Miller Lite Next Great Sportswriter” Contest and she got to spend a bunch of time and race weekends with Kurt Busch and the entire team doing interviews and writing. She’s been their “unofficial tool cart girl” ever since and she’s superfun to hang out with. We have an awesome time swapping gossip and chatting about this and that.

So Sunday was no different, we got to watch as some Cougar tried to hit on one of the Brew Crew dudes. This woman was a piece of work. I hope she doesn’t read blogs. Anyway, she seemed a little tipsy to me. A couple inspection stations later we saw the same woman touching a security guy. Hilarious.

Ron Malec (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Oh! So this is good, remember how I said Ron Malec probably thinks I’m some crazy person following him around? Well the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy & crew were in front of the No. 2 in line for inspection. So the entire time I’m standing with Kristen, Ron Malec is in front of us pushing the 48. I’m dead serious when I say that it was purely a coincidence and the last thing I want to be thought of is as a pit lizard. I have no desire to lick anyone’s helmet (although I’m sure that Cougar did!). I’m just an appreciator of good lookin’ dudes, so of course I took yet another photo of him (see right).

For driver intros I didn’t go behind the stage, thought it better to stay out on pit road. There cars were lined up one-by-one side by side faced out instead of in the usual two-by-two. It looked good and was a better use of space, in my opinion. I walked down to Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet because I know Lisa, who is a PR person on behalf of Office Depot. I never know where to stand on pit road for the Anthem and all that, so it’s nice to know someone and have a place to stand where you don’t feel like people are looking at you like “What is she doing here??” I don’t know that people actually think that but it’s what I think they’re thinking and it weirds me out. :)
Tony Stewart
Anyway, Tony’s dad, Nelson Stewart, was on hand for the day, he even walked out with Tony during driver introductions. He was at the car when Kevin Harvick stopped by specifically to talk to Nelson and give him a hug. It was a cute moment, photos of which you can see below.

After all the invocation, National Anthem and the command to start engines I walked pit road to get a spot behind the pits to watch the start of the race. Luckily, there was a spot right where I wanted to be, right behind the start/finish line. I stood on top of the little wall that sits at the back of the pits, right in front of the grandstands and got the best view of the green flag to start the race.

I hung around down there for a little bit and then headed to the media lounge tent to hang out away from the sun. I ended up meeting a French guy named Mat who was attending a NASCAR race for the first time. He was stranded outside of the garage because he lost his Hot Pass and his roommate that he came to the race with was nowhere to be found. We had an interesting time trying to talk in between the roar of the engines and me trying to understand his accent. It was fun though.

With about ten laps left I went down to Turn 11 to see what I could see and got a front row seat to Clint Bowyer’s caution-less spin out. I asked one of the photographers standing next to me if they could send me the photo and Tyler Takeda of The Madera Tribune obliged (see below). I was too busy screaming, “Ahh! Whoaaaaa!” to take a picture myself.
:)


Clint Bowyer (33) gets turned around into the side of Elliot Sadler's car Sunday during the Toyota Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. (photo credit: Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune)
Clint Bowyer (33) gets turned around into the side of Elliot Sadler’s car Sunday during the Toyota Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. (photo credit: Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune)

Instead of rushing over to Victory Lane to take my usual picture of the winner driving his car in, I decided to pass through the garage. It’s an interesting place to be post-race since cars are coming in smashed up and crew members are rushing around trying to be the first team out of the track. Those guys are super fast, it’s amazing how quickly they can pack up. Maybe they can help me out the next time I have to move?

I was there when Boris Said’s crew chief Frank Stoddard yelled at Tony Stewart — as Tony was climbing out of his car — to “Come on! You fat fuck!” Tony just sort of waved him off and went into his hauler. I wasn’t quite sure I had heard him right until I locked eyes with a smiling GoDaddy.com crew member walking toward me. It was then that I knew I had heard him perfectly and rushed off to the press conference room where my cell phone was charging to send out a tweet about it. Funny stuff. (If you want the full story on what went down and caused that outburst check out the article over at SBNation.com)

Although now that I look at the photo I took in the garage just before Stoddard make his comment, I think Tony might have said something first (see below).


Inside the garage - Frank Stoddard and Tony Stewart - Sunday, June 20, 2010
That’s Tony on the far right getting out of the car and that’s Frank Stoddard in front wearing the #26 Air Guard uniform.

And so that was my day at the Toyota/SaveMart 350. Photo fun time below!


Cars lined up for the start for the Toyota/SaveMart 350
Cars lined up and ready to go on pit road for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 on Sunday, June 20, 2010 at Infineon Raceway.

Eva Busch
Eva Busch, wife of Kurt Busch, walks down pit road to her hubby’s car. If I ever reach a point where I can have an assistant at the track their entire job would be to take pictures of WAGs. Between making sure I got pictures with my cell phone for tweeting and my regular camera, I missed stuff! Grr!

Kevin Harvick and Nelson Stewart, Tony's dad

Kevin Harvick and Nelson Stewart, Tony's dad
In the second photo here, of Kevin Harvick greeting Tony Stewart’s dad Nelson, you can see the top of Tony’s head. He was kneeling to do something with his shoes.

The No. 39 Haas Automation pit crew
The pit crew for the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevy lined up for the National Anthem.

The green flag drops for the Toyota/SaveMart 350
The green flag drops for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway. My view! So cool.

Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick. Yet another one of my “I don’t know how I got that photo” photos. :)

Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson
Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulls into the garage after the race. So glad he finished 11th! Now he’s 13th in points! Yay!

a wall of crew chiefs

Cars lined up before the start of practice on Saturday, June 19, 2010 at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Saturday is always my favorite day in the garage because it’s all about practice and we haven’t reached the max level of wandering people that will be around come Sunday.

Something I hadn’t realized about the garage at Infineon is how perfect it is before the cars roll out for the first practice session of the day. Infineon’s garage stalls are all in one long row. You walk a straight line and you get to see everyone. This is especially eerie when all the drivers are sitting in their cars with their visors up just waiting for the call to drive out to the track.

It’s the only time when they’re basically a captive audience. You could jump out in front of their cars and do a little dance or hold up a big sign saying whatever you want and they have to watch because they can’t go anywhere. I didn’t do a little dance, I just tried to take pictures but I recommend that if you’re going to get a garage pass make sure it’s on a day when the guys are practicing. It’s the best time.

to infineon and beyond…

No. 83 Red Bull Toyota at Infineon Raceway on Friday, June 18, 2010 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)I know I’ve used that title before but I love it. :)

Friday at Infineon Raceway was day one of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 festivities. It was a pretty big day for me because it held actual things for me to do. My usual shtick is to just show up and let things happen but this time I setup interviews with drivers. Since things went so well with Tony Stewart and the Inside The Actor’s Studio questions I decided to make it my “thing” for now and to get as many drivers to answer the same questions.

On my schedule for the day were one-on-one’s with David Reutimann, Regan Smith, AJ Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler. I’ll write about each of those experiences in separate posts. Stay tuned for those.

Back in the media center I sat in on press conferences for Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, and a little bit of Denny Hamlin.

Tony Stewart’s presser was, of course, by far the most entertaining of the bunch. His session was after practice and he wasn’t very happy with his car. I think that Southwest airlines should use his press conferences as the basis for one of their “Wanna Get Away???” commercials. I had this uncontrollable urge, every time someone asked something cringe-worthy to look down and start playing with my cell phone. There are always a few questions that bug Tony and after sitting in on a few of his pressers I’ve learned that Tony is a lot better when you ask him questions that are very real to him. He laid it out pretty plainly that he only cares about racing. He wasn’t in the mood to get all theoretical or philosophical about racing after having a crappy practice session. It wasn’t helping that people were asking the same questions they’ve asked year after year, my favorite being “Should there be a road course race in The Chase?” That was the one that really bugged him and got him to eventually say that he had no interest in giving his opinion on such things, he just wanted to race.

where the rubber meets the grass: experiencing major league baseball as a nascar blogger

AT&T Park - Stay off the grass sign (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)The facts as I knew them before I arrived at AT&T Park last night:

1.) There was to be a group media session with Kurt Busch and David Ragan an hour before the game started.

2.) Kurt and David were going to take a lap around the field at some point in between innings with the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota showcar rumbling behind them.

3.) David and Kurt were going to lead the crowd in “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch.

4.) It was NASCAR Night at the San Francisco Giants vs Baltimore Orioles game

I parked at one of the piers just down from the ballpark and walked superfast to the place where my credentials were waiting. This was my first time attending a Major League Baseball game as a credentialed member of the media. I got to go because of Infineon Raceway and the fact that it was “NASCAR Night.”