All posts in NASCAR Infineon Weekend (06/06)

10 Posts

prima donna: a temperamental, conceited person

A couple more things to talk about regarding the race weekend at Infineon. After the race was over I stuck around to watch Jeff Gordon receive his trophy and to see if I could catch another glimpse of Dale Jr.

I saw Jr. climb out of his car but I lost track of him after that. The garage area was insanely busy with teams packing up their haulers as fast as they could. You’d think that was a race too.

After the race I went to my car which happened to parked near the larger helipad area. A somewhat small group of fans were stationed there hoping to catch drivers before they jumped on a helicopter. When I arrived Boris Said, who finished 9th overall, was hanging around signing autographs and talking to fans. He was relaxed and in an obviously good mood.

A little girl with long blonde hair, who wore a red and white Dale Jr. outfit, and seemed to be about 11, wandered over to me. She was eyeing my credentials/garage pass. Since she was obviously a Jr. fan I asked her if she’d seen him, but she didn’t hear what I said, she told me that she and her mom had been at the helipad since there was about 25 laps left in the race. She was thrilled that she managed to get a ton of drivers to sign her visor, which she explained to me had been completely empty before now it was covered in black Sharpie signatures. I asked if Jr. had been by yet (I’ve got a one-track mind) but she said that she heard that he was driving out, not flying. Phooey! Foiled again! How’d she know that anyway?? At any rate, the little girl and her mom were going to wait for Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart to show up.

The prima donna arrived shortly thereafter and proceeded to ignore all of the fans that were calling out to him for autographs. Yes folks, I’m talking about Tony Stewart. Could there be a bigger tool?? It wasn’t like there were hundreds of fans out there wanting something from him. There were only a handful of kids really wanting to get his attention. But no, Tony ignored everyone except Boris Said.

I don’t dislike Tony. I’m indifferent I guess. I never really want him to win though. He seems a bit fake, or maybe just completely full of himself. Ya know I have yet to see a woman sitting on top of his pit box or standing next to him during the national anthem. Hmm. I wonder why that is. :)

Boris Said signs autographs for fans before leaving the track

Tony Stewart doesn’t. (Tony is on the right, Boris on the left with Boris’ son in the middle)

I’ve updated the [photo gallery] from the weekend at Infineon. Enjoy!

fine, Gordon wins

So the winner of the Dodge Save Mart 350 is Jeff Gordon. ugh. I so did not want him to win. But what can you do? Apparently he has another reason to celebrate today. He recently became engaged to his longtime girlfriend. I have no idea what her name is and honest I don’t really care. I’m not trying to be mean but ya know whatever. :) For those of you who care, and you all should, Junior finished (unofficially) 26th. This is exactly where he started at the beginning of the race. Looks like he’s lost a spot in the top, this bumps him down to 5th in the race for the chase.

Now for some stats…

At the end of the race there were 31 cars on the lead lap. There were 9 lead changes amongst 8 drivers. There were 7 cautions for 12 laps. Pit crew members are super buff. Seriously ladies, some of these guys are even ex-football players. Hello! That wasn’t really a stat so much as it was a very keen observation on my part. :)

All in all this was a great race weekend. Infineon is a great place to see a race. You can bring the entire family, there’s something for literally everyone to see and/or do. Plus no matter where you’re sitting around the track you’ve got a great view of any number of the turns. I wish that I could have covered more of it, but it’ll just have to wait until next year.

coming to an end… soon

So I’m thinking my little miracle isn’t going to happen. There are ten laps left and Dale Jr is in 32nd spot. That’s not so good. :)

Yet another caution flag is out, the sixth one of the day, and I’m hoping that Jeff Gordon doesn’t win. I don’t dislike him so much as I just want someone else to win. It’s much more interesting when someone who everybody isn’t talking about wins. I hope they can make these final laps interesting and give Gordon a run for his money. At least make him work for it.

pit stop

From my seat in the media center I overlook Jamie McMurray’s pit stall. Here are a few photos from my point-of-view. This is so cool.

At about the 38th lap the caution flag has come out and Ryan Newman is leading the race.

first lap: big crash!

The race has begun and stopped, only for a little bit. On the first lap there was a big pile-up involving Sterling Marlin, Tom Hubert and Ken Schrader. All three guys are ok and their cars are in the garage.

This race can be done with only two pit stops. I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that, let the caution flags fly! :)

[photo gallery]

the adrenaline is free

Yesterday a group of us from ANG Newspapers had the opportunity to take two Hot Laps around Infineon Raceway. The cars were Dodge Neon SRT-4s and were driven by professional drivers from the Jim Russell Racing School.

I knew that I was going to be taking this “lap” a couple days ago but I never stopped to think about what it would actually be like. For some reason I had this ridiculous thought that it would just be a little tour around the track, with our driver pointing out fun little factoids about each turn. Oh how wrong I was.

Earlier in the day I picked a random racing fan to join us for the Hot Lap. Steve Martini from Napa was very happy to be selected and made a great addition to our group.

So finally the time came to get into a car. After I signed a waiver and put on the helmet it dawned on me that this wasn’t going to be a leisurely drive around the track. They really meant this whole Hot Lap thing.

Check out the photo below. This is me before getting into the car, that’s Steve on the right; he sat up front with our driver Tony. Steve asked if I wanted the front seat or the back, to which I asked which was less scary. He just chuckled, and I picked the back. I figured that if I couldn’t see what was coming up next I wouldn’t freak out as much. See how my eyes are closed? That’s how I spent a big part of the laps around the track! We went 100 mph, with the other car racing us through corners.

I remembered laughing and saying “oh my god!, oh my god!” every time we’d enter a turn, go through a turn or come out of a turn. Tony purposely took us over the rumble strips (to demonstrate how the NASCAR drivers can use them to their advantage during the race to help turn the car) and I thought “Should he really be doing that???! Ahhhh!!!” as I gripped a cup holder for dear life.

While the experience was a little scary, okay, very scary, it was a lot of fun. It was great to see exactly what the NASCAR drivers see when they’re blazing around the track come race day.

kurt won the pole!

Kurt Busch is one of my least favorite drivers, second only to his brother Kyle. So I was just a little miffed that he won the pole yesterday at Infineon. I don’t like the brothers Busch because while they say all the right things in front of the media before the races they act like big babies on the track. If someone accidentally hits them they whine and sometimes, in Kyle’s case, they overreact and get fined by NASCAR.

I was standing near the winners circle watching as Kyle Busch was officially given the Bud Pole Award and there was a young woman next to me. She was on her cell phone telling someone that Kurt had won the pole. She was very, very excited about this fact. So much so that she called another person to let them know that Kurt won the pole, saying things like “I’m so happy!, Kurt won the pole!” I can’t fathom that kind of devotion, especially for Kurt Busch, but to each his own right?

After that it seemed that everyone loved Kurt too, but I was starting to see a pattern. A lot of guys were saying that Kurt was their driver, but it was because he’s taken over Rusty Wallace’s old ride, the #2 Miller Lite car, not necessarily because of Kurt himself. I’m not sure that I agree with this logic, I’m not sure that I could easily transfer my love for one driver to another just because they’re driving the same car. Take Dale Earnhardt Jr., one day he’s going to stop racing, but will I be able to root for some new guy taking over his car? For me it really depends on who that person is, if I don’t like your attitude on or off the track you’re not getting my admiration.

all a blur

I missed out on the rookies so I ventured out to the garage area instead.

Oh wait, before I get to the garage area I have to talk about digital cameras. After I missed out on the rookies and took a quick look at the garage area, I wandered up to the Save Mart Family Area near turn 1. I waited until the Nextel Cup practice session started and then attempted to take photos of cars as they whizzed by. What I ended up with was a lot of blurry, whizzy (yes, that’s not a word) photos. Once I couldn’t stand the heat (and the bugs) any longer, I came back to the Media Center. On my way back I couldn’t help but notice all of the fans with digital cameras, literally everybody and their mothers have one. Who cares about professional photographs when you can take your own?

So back to the garage, it’s a total mob scene. If I were apart of a race team I would be kind of irked about all these random people milling about. It is one of the things that makes NASCAR unique, the ability for fans to get up close and personal with their favorite drivers pretty much whenever, but then that means that people are always around. I seriously could of picked up a tire, ok, ok, I could of tried to pick up a tire if I wanted to.

Earlier this morning Larry McReynolds was in the Media Center talking to someone about a press conference scheduled for later in the day. I was so stoked to see him in person. I think he’s great. For those of you who don’t know who Larry Mac is he’s one of the commentators on FOX’s NASCAR broadcasts. He’s a former crew chief. The opportunity didn’t present itself for me to say hello, he was on his cell phone when I passed by, but I’m sure I’ll run into him again this weekend.

Crews work on their cars before Nextel Cup practice begins at Infineon Raceway.

in the thick of it

The days leading up to today have been the most insane for me. I have never been this nervous about anything before. I’ve gone on hot dates, had major surgery, spoken in front of hundreds of people but I have never, ever been this nervous. The anxiety I feel all stems from the fact that this is my first time at a race as a member of the press. I have no idea what the protocol is and I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. I take solace in the fact that there are so many friggin people here, hopefully I’ll go unnoticed and I won’t get run over by a race car.

So here I sit in the media center, staring out at turn 11 watching as cars racing in the SPEED World Challenge GT practice. FYI: I have no idea what the heck the SPEED World Challenge GT is, although after googling it I’ve pieced together that it’s people racing sports cars like Corvettes, Porsches, etc.

That’s really not what I’m interested in, I’m here for NASCAR and to see as many of the drivers as I can in person. Like right now, there’s a press conference going on for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Candidates, I think I’m going to go try to catch them.

In the meantime here is the schedule for the Infineon Raceway/NASCAR race weekend:

Friday, June 23
8:10 a.m.-9:20 a.m. Practice