I woke up at 5am in order to get to Infineon Raceway by 7am (with a quick stop at Starbucks along the way) at the latest. I wanted to make sure I got a ride around the track in the pace car with NASCAR’s Brett Bodine. You think because you’re going in the pace car it wouldn’t be intense, but you’re WRONG. I sat in the back seat and proceeded to be bounced around the my seat and fellow passenger next to me.
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When I arrived at Infineon Raceway on Friday I was late. It was only 9am but it was late. The garage opened at 7am and that’s when people showed up, so the media lot was full when I arrived. I was stuck in lot 1 which is next to the helipad. It’s not a big deal (there’s an awesome shuttle that takes you right to the media center no matter where you’re parked) but it’s funny to me how 9am can be considered late for anything. Anyway, Friday was the day of press conferences for the top-12 drivers.
Get your “awwww” face ready. A couple from Sebastopol, California (a little town in Northern California that I used to work in) got married at Infineon Raceway today. I’m all for getting married in a place that has meaning for the couple. It’s supercool. Which is another reason why I really wanna see the 10/10/10 weddings at Auto Club Speedway next month during their NASCAR race weekend.
Congrats to the happy motorcylin’ couple!
Sebastopol’s Danielle La Fave and Timothy Duffield enjoyed the ultimate day at the track on Monday – the high-speed couple tied the knot at Infineon Raceway.
The avid motorcycle riders, who met through the North Bay Sport Riders (NBSR) club and spent their first track day together at Infineon Raceway more than one year ago, returned to the track on Monday to exchange vows in the Wine Country Winner’s Circle. The couple enjoyed a morning on track during a Pacific Track Time motorcycle track day before the ceremony.
“We spent our first track day together at Infineon Raceway, which meant a lot to us. It was the first time she had ever ridden on this track, which she had always wanted to do,” said Duffield, 41, the groom.
The ceremony, which began with Duffield and LaFave riding down the aisle on their motorcycles, also included a poem, blessing and a song from friends in the NBSR. The couple traded traditional wedding attire for racing leathers, and were joined by nearly 50 fellow riders for the ceremony.
“It means the world to us to get married here. This is where our relationship started, and there’s no better place to be,” continued LaFave, 40, the bride.
(photo credit: Jennifer Imbimbo/Infineon Raceway)
One of the benefits of being unemployed is the ability to do anything anytime you want, and in my case it means that I can attend media events that occur during the day at a time when I’d normally be working. This Friday I’ll be at Infineon Raceway for Two-Wheel Thunder, a test session for motorcycle riders in the AMA Pro Road Racing Series.
It all begins at 9am and is completely free to the public. So if your schedule is open that day you should come out to Sonoma and check it out. There will also be riders from Supermoto USA and TTXGP electric motorcycle demonstrations.
This is all in advance of the West Coast Moto Jam taking place at Infineon on May 14-16. If you purchase a ticket for the West Coast Moto Jam during Two-Wheel Thunder you’ll get to take a lap around the the raceway’s road course on your motorcycle. For more info go to infineonraceway.com
In other news…
– ESPN’s Jamie Little became engaged to Cody Selman, Kyle Busch’s former go-to guy. Congrats to Jamie & Cody! Check out her ring, it’s spectacular! I saw her interviewing Danica Patrick with it on over the weekend and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Good job, Cody!
– Brian Vickers participated in a special NASCAR Tweetup at Martinsville where he competed against fans in an simulated racing challenge at the Sprint Experience.
Brian Vickers races Miss Sprint Cup and six fans from Twitter during a pre-race tweet-up at the Sprint Experience. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brian Vickers congratulates Matt Dettelbach (@mdbach on Twitter) for beating him in the simulator race at the Sprint Experience. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
– JR Motorsports has joined forces with Lifetime Television for this weekend’s Nationwide Series race at Nashville. Be on the lookout for Scott Wimmer in the No. 7 car wrapped in a special Army Wives paint scheme.
I have to applaud this effort by Lifetime to recognize NASCAR’s huge female audience and the benefit of sponsorship. I WISH more brands and companies would realize the untapped power of female racing fans. Just email NASCAR, they’ve got all the stats (or ask for a ‘Fabulous’ media kit).
Oh and one request I have for Lifetime… Why not a Project Runway car? OMG! I would LOVE that… I would buy every piece of merchandise that existed, and Michael Kors could design the car and the firesuit! Heidi Klum could be the Grand Marshal for the race. Dude, it’d be so amazingly awesome on about a million different levels. Seriously, think about it.
More details, including info on a special sweepstakes where you can win an all-expenses paid trip for four people to a NASCAR race, from the press release:
Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray stopped by San Francisco this week for a victory tour through the city, hosted by Infineon Raceway. He took a ride in a cable car and everything, and I could of been in said cable car with Jamie but I couldn’t make it. So yes, I’m as sad as you’d expect about missing out! They had ice cream sundaes too! Grrr!!
Too bad because it looks like Jamie had an awesome time in the city by the bay.
Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray hangs off the side of a cable car during his victory tour of San Francisco on February 17, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
So, omigosh, there’s news! Jeff Gordon and his wife Ingrid are expecting their second child!! Woo-hoo! Why am I this excited about a stranger’s pregnancy?? I dunno! But I hope it’s a boy ’cause that’d be adorable.
In general, aren’t you all stoked that the 2010 NASCAR season is upon us? Budweiser Shootout on Saturday! It’s all starting up again and it’s fun. Although, all the PR emails I’ve been receiving this week have been crazy, I need, like, a day to just read everything.
And speaking of media, today was NASCAR Media Day where all the drivers were attacked by about 300 members of the various media outlets from all over. NASCAR.com had this funny little video clip show of the day’s activities.
On Sunday, last weekend, at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma when I arrived at the track, again at 8am, I realized quickly that there wasn’t much to do. I sat on pit road and watched as fans and VIPs took spins around the track with professional drivers from the Jim Russell Racing School. The whole thing made me wish I owned an Audi, the car of choice for the day’s hot laps.
Eventually, I ducked into Jennifer Azzi’s press conference. As I wrote a few days before the weekend started Azzi was on hand as the race’s Grand Marshal. It was cool to see her and I must admit that I totally missed my opportunity to introduce myself and tell her what an inspiration she’d been to me as a kid. I’m shy, OK. And I have to work up what I’m going to say in my mind before I actually do it and make sure it’s not lame. There never was a perfect time, but whatever, she’s on Twitter and I plan on saying something to her at some point over there.
– On Wednesday President Barack Obama played host to NASCAR’s champions in what I can only describe as the coolest thing I’ve seen happen at the White House in really, really long time.
I loved that in his interview with ESPN President Obama stressed the importance of NASCAR and its role in helping the automotive industry. It’s a very important marketing tool and I’m so glad he took the time out from his insane schedule to support the automakers and NASCAR.
In the months and weeks leading up to the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway I spoke to my co-worker/friend Dawn about the big event. This was the third year in a row that she’d attended the NASCAR race weekend in Sonoma with a super large group of people, about 20-30 (although this year the group dwindled to 10 because of the race falling on Father’s Day). They start tailgating at 6am and don’t stop until well after the race is over, usually around 8pm.
After one day of NASCAR fun at Infineon I already have new tan lines and am seriously tired. I’m not sure when my next post will be so if you wanna know what’s going on with me as it’s happening be sure to follow me on Twitter. You can also subscribe to my Twitter RSS feed of updates if you don’t wanna join in on the Twitter fun yourself.
Let’s see if I can put into words how excited I am about the upcoming Toyota/Save Mart 350 race weekend at Infineon Raceway.
Mmm. Okay, yea I can’t. This weekend means a lot to me for reasons I can’t specifically describe to you in this post. Let’s just say that I need this opportunity, now more than ever, to be immersed in the world of NASCAR and to think of nothing else for three whole days. NASCAR is my escape. It’s funny, this weekend I watched “Into The Wild,” a film based on the true story of one man who got rid of all material possessions except for a backpack and clothes and headed to Alaska to be with nature. I also read the Vanity Fair article about Johnny Depp (on newsstands now) and learned all about how he escapes (in short, he owns islands in the Caribbean and big boat). After taking all of that in I realized that I use this blog and NASCAR as my escape from all of the trappings of “the real world.” This blog isn’t work, it’s fun.
– I’m attending the NASCAR Toyota/SaveMart 350 race weekend at Infineon Raceway, June 19th through June 21st. This is so awesome! You have no idea how badly I need that weekend. It’ll be my chance to recharge. Just thinking about standing in my favorite picture taking spot in the garage makes me giddy. I’m not sure how much posting I’ll get done during that weekend, I’ll definitely have posts after, but I do know that I’ll a Twitter fool, so be sure to follow me. Oh, and also I’m pretty sure I’m going to dinner with a bunch of fellow NASCAR bloggers that same weekend, so that’ll be really cool too.
– Double file restarts! Ok, why did it take NASCAR so long to do this? It’s built in excitement and it takes out all of that useless drama with the lapped cars trying to earn their laps back. I’m glad that we get to see the guys that are leading the race duke it out. It’s going to be good!
– Okay, so I only have two things that I’m really excited about right now but still those two things are awesome and it’s nice to have anything to be excited about in general.
On Sunday I attended my first AMA Superbike Showdown race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma as a member of the media.
As is normal for me these days I compared the entire experience to NASCAR. Motorcycle racing couldn’t be more different, from the racers to the fans it was a completely different world.
The first thing I difference was in the insane amount of dudes in attendance. It was probably 80% dudeage. I had no problem with that fact because it was insanely hot that day, in the upper 80s to lower 90s, and lots of guys with great bodies decided to walk around shirtless. Hey, it helps. And, yes, there are tons of men at NASCAR races, but there’s usually just as many women to go with them.
While the size of the crowd on hand was no where near the amount of people that would show up for NASCAR on a Sunday they were all very passionate about the sport.
I didn’t know that much about any of the drivers, except that I could recognize a few of their names, like Mat Mladin and Tommy Hayden. Hayden of course because his brother is MotoGP superstar Nicky Hayden.
Once upon a time I wrote about how I saw a documentary on Nicky that aired on MTV called “The Kentucky Kid.” It was a great glimpse inside motorcycle racing. And from that I learned about the motorcycle racing family that is the Hayden’s.
While I was waiting for the Daytona SportBike race to begin, the first of the day, I stood under a non-descript tent posted on pit road. I stood there mostly to be A.) out of the way and B.) to stay out of the sun, which didn’t help all that much because my jeans were stuck to my body, totally should have worn shorts. But I digress. So I’m standing there, checking out all of the bikes that are lined up on the grid along with various crew members and those women whose only job is to hold an umbrella, wear a ridiculous outfit and look pretty.
So I’m standing there going, ok, where are the drivers? Being the SportBike division I know no one at all, at least not visually. The most notable names to me, and I know nothing, were Jamie Hacking and Roger Hayden.
I know of Jamie Hacking because he picked his number, 88, specifically because it’s Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s. “I chose the number, style and color because of Dale Earnhart Jr.,” said Hacking. “He lives close to where I do and I thought it would be a good way to represent North Carolina. Also since our sport is now owned by the France’s, it seemed good to tie in NASCAR with motorcycle racing. I ran the No. 2 for 11 years and I’ve already moved on and really like the No. 88 better.”
Although, one big difference between the two is that one of Hacking’s sponsors is Monster Energy, and we all know Dale belongs to AMP Energy. Hmm.
Okay, so back to the pits. I’m standing there, melting and these guys start showing up one by one, all with their racing suits unzipped halfway showing off bare chests and a wee little bit of their undies. I am not kidding about that last part.
So I got to watch as Chris Peris, who rides the No. 10 Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR, put all of his gear on and zipped himself into his racing suit. He’s a very cute kid (gorgeous eyes). He’s 22 and his bio says that he’s 5’7″ which I think has to be wrong. Here’s a tip for the ladies out there from your BFF Valli, men lie about their height the way women lie about their weight. Whatever he tells you just subtract 3 inches. The only exception is if he’s really tall, like over 6’2″ and above. I am a walking truth monitor because I happen to be 5’9″ and as a woman I don’t lie when it comes to my height. It is what it is, and I don’t aspire to be taller or shorter. So having seen Mr. Peris in person there’s no way he’s 5’7″. I’d say he’s more like 5’4″.
After Chris’ arrival on the scene a couple of the other riders came into view, a couple of them were interviewed for some television show right next to me. It was then that I noticed the older gentleman standing in front of me. It was none other than Earl Hayden. The father of Nicky, Tommy and Rodger! I thought that was so cool. I loved how he had a had that listed each of his son’s names along with their racing numbers. The Hayden mother, Rose, was there too holding a green umbrella which I realized was the same color as Roger’s team. Later in the day I spied Rose holding on to a blue umbrella during Tommy’s race, blue being the main color of his racing team. Very sweet.
Watching the actual races was very interesting. Each race, of which there were three, lasted only 20 laps each. In the second race, the AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei, a couple of riders, Ricky Parker and Leandro Mercado, put on a great show playing cat and mouse for the first and second positions. It was truly exciting.
At the end of the day, and for the biggest race, Mat Mladin came out on top for the AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited. (That has to be THE longest race name ever) Benjamin Bostrom and Tommy Hayden came in second and third respectively.
I dig motorcycle racing. I think it’s crazy how incredibly fast they go and how close to the ground they get without killing themselves or skinning themselves alive. I want to do more with it, and hopefully I will someday.
All I can say is that it’s worth checking out if it comes to a town near you. The ticket prices are reasonable and you get a lot of access without having to pay extra for it.
The garage at the AMA Superbike Showdown at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, May 17, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Starting grid for the Dayonta SportBike race at the AMA Superbike Showdown at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, May 17, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
AMA Superbike Showdown at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, May 17, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Roger Hayden before the start of his race during the AMA Superbike Showdown at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, May 17, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Moto Garage Racing rider Scott Jensen at the AMA Superbike Showdown at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, May 17, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Some things you should know:
– Clint Bowyer will appear on the March 24th episode of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” Isn’t it interesting that the guy that is sponsored by Hamburger Helper is guest starring on a non-reality-reality weight-loss game show? I don’t remember HH being billed as the healthiest thing you could make for dinner.
– Carl Edwards was in New York this week to film a commercial for Claritin. During the shoot he was interviewed by Beth Stern (radio host Howard Stern’s wife) for a segment on the celebrity news TV show “Extra.” Is anyone else bored by the fact that Carl and other drivers are so boring when they talk about stuff like doing commercials? It should be fun right? But like really fun, not implied fun. It’s the same line over and over with them, “It’s really kind of fun.” Wow, definitely sounds like it. I guess I believe you? I dunno.
– Infineon Raceway gave $5,000 to the North Vallejo Little League on Thursday. Jerks broke into the league’s concessions and storage building and stole all of the uniforms, equipment and $600 worth of candy last week. The nutjobs also decided to break computers and trophies and ransack the building before leaving. Vallejo, where this burglary occurred, is the hometown of Jeff Gordon. The good news is that so far the league has received more than $13,000 from San Francisco Bay Area companies and organizations like the San Francisco Police Officers Associations and the Oakland A’s. “With these checks we really should be able to get back to business,” said the league’s President Tony Hodges. “I feel grateful. We are in a bankrupt city in a disadvantaged area. I appreciate everything that everyone has done for us to help these disadvantaged kids.”
– Jeff Burton made an appearance on the soap opera “General Hospital” and all I really want to know is if he asked them why no one ever says “Bye” before hanging up the phone. I mean, really, what’s up with that?
– Tony Stewart will be meeting fans and signing autographs as a part of the 5th Annual “Mark Martin Fan Appreciation Days” event in Batesville, Arkansas on Thursday, April 9th from 3 to 5pm CST. For more information go to http://www.markmartinfordmercury.com
– Some news for the IndyCar fans out there: Versus will air more than 130 hours of IndyCar Series coverage throughout the season with a minimum of seven hours each week the network airs a race, the most ever during a race week.
“IndyCar fans have been asking for significantly more coverage of the sport and with our new partnership with VERSUS we have responded to our fans in a way that we think they will love,” said Charlie Morgan, president and chief operating officer for IMS Productions. “With the new VERSUS schedule it will be a weekend of IndyCar programming with Qualifying coverage, expanded race day coverage, and race encores. With so many great drivers, teams and sponsors, the time is right for expanded programming.”
The network will air 12 live IndyCar Series events in 2009 beginning with live coverage of the season-opener from St. Petersburg on April 5. Each of VERSUS’ race telecasts will last a minimum of three hours and will include extended pre-race coverage. VERSUS will also air one-hour preview shows at 6 p.m. ET the day before each race which will feature qualification highlights and all of the relevant IndyCar Series stories of that weekend.
And since I’m on the topic of IndyCar I have this message to send out to all of you: If anyone is interested in paying for me to fly down to Long Beach for the 35th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach’s Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race drop me an email will ya? I would die for the chance to hang out with Keanu Reeves and Luke Wilson and give them the opportunity to realize that I am their future wife. So really you’d be doing them a favor as well.
Sunday was the IndyCar race day. Driving to the track was a considerably different experience than it is for a NASCAR race, there wasn’t any traffic. Leaving was an entirely different story. It still sucked and what should only take 45 minutes took 2 hours. But that’s the way it goes with race weekends. Although, next year I have a plan for a new route to take me home that should cut down on the time I spend in my car wanting to slit my wrists from all of the stop-and-go traffic.
Anyway, back to the track. It was firefighter appreciation day and as I walked into the paddock area the first thing I saw was this old timey fire truck with the cutest and smartest Dalmatian dog sitting on top of it. I couldn’t believe how obedient he was! He just sat there in the seat and didn’t freak out or bark at the people gathered around staring at him. There was another dog, whose breed I couldn’t tell you, that was barking a lot but the cute Dalmatian could not and would not be baited into barking back.
And then there were these big creamy-colored horses to pull the old timey fire truck. They were huge, but absolutely beautiful. They had a special moment during the pre-race festivities when they pulled the truck down the track and in front of the grandstands.
So I guess IndyCar has this reputation for being more upscale than NASCAR in terms of its fans and such. They’ve got Cristal and Izod for sponsors after all. Well I’m here to tell you that it’s all a bunch of hooey. Why is it that I saw more boobs during this race weekend than I ever have at any NASCAR race I’ve been to? And when I say that I saw boobs I’m not saying that women were flashing them, of course they weren’t but let’s just say they were on display. And why is it that I saw more fans wearing NASCAR gear than anything else? The Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans were out in full effect. Instead of trying to act all hoity-toity I think they should try to soak up some of the NASCAR marketing tactics and get some more butts in the seats.
Oh, speaking of butts in the seats, that’s exactly where they stayed when it came time to try and break the record for the most people doing the twist dance. Yea, that whole idea crashed and burned the minute the music started up. A group of people did dance but mostly everyone just watched. To make something like that work you really have to have a group that’s invested in its success ya know?
So I was totally right when I said that George Lucas would probably make an appearance at the race because Marco Andretti’s car was running the special Blockbuster/STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS paint scheme. George hung out with Marco during the pre-race festivities and then in his pit during the race. Marco’s race suit was made to look like a storm trooper uniform. I’m not a big fan of the whole codpiece detailing.
In the end, Helio Castroneves won the race, his first of the season and Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan were mathematically eliminated from the field running for the Championship with only two races left on the year. This win was a sweet one for the Team Penske guys after having their primary cars go up in smoke (literally) earlier in the week. It’s amazing they were able to come back and finish first with Helio’s Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe coming in second. Briscoe has the most awesome accent by the way. I gotta get to Australia.
Danica Patrick walks to the garage after the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County on Sunday, August 24, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Marco Andretti gets ready for a warm-up session on Sunday, August 24, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Ryan Briscoe chats with someone on pit road on Sunday, August 24, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Fans gathered around victory lane to watch the first through third place finishers receive their trophies on Sunday, August 24, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
I thought this guy looked a lot like paparazzo/ex-Britney Spears boyfriend Adnan Ghalib only cuter, but I figured he was probably just a guy from William Rast. WR is the clothing company started by Justin Timberlake and his best friend Trace Ayala. The company was the sponsor of Townsend Bell’s car.
Some dude on pit road on Sunday, August 24, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Saturday was IndyCar qualifying and the first of two IndyCar Lights races, the Carneros 100 and the Valley of the Moon 100.
For qualifying I hunkered down with $8 chili cheese fries in the lunch tent. They were absolutely delicious, although it totally didn’t help my self-esteem when the Infineon Raceway umbrella girls had to walk in with their skimpy outfits and fatless bodies while I was eating them. I got over it though because I was hungry and their job is to hold up an umbrella, so whatever.
This weekend was my introduction to the Firestone IndyCar Lights series. You should see the guys in this league. Ladies, these guys are serious hotties. They’ve got more eligible bachelors than you can shake a stick at. Yes, yes, the racing is all fine and good. But these guys are really cute. Have you seen Arie Luyendyk Jr.?? Richard Antinucci? Dillon Battistini? Raphael Matos? Logan Gomez? Dude, you need to. Get yourself to an IndyCar Lights race tout de suite! There’s only one race left this season, so uh it’s Chicagoland or wait till next year.
Okay, I’m laying it on a little thick, but not really.
Right before the IndyCar Lights race ended the apparent head of security for IndyCar barked orders to everyone in the area of the winner’s circle. I think watching him might have been more entertaining than the race itself. I have never encountered someone in NASCAR who has the same level of responsibility as this guy seemed to have. From a little Google search I gleaned that this guy is known as Security Chief Charles. His reputation and ability to corral and move the drivers along to their next destination seems to be the stuff of legend. He is pretty intimidating I must say.
So I have one funny story to share, well it’s funny to me. Not so much bust out laughing funny, but more ha-ha funny. After IndyCar qualifying concluded and Helio Castroneves received his pole award he was ushered to the media center (by Security Chief Charles of course). On his way over, he was followed by a woman yelling “Helio! Helio! Will you sign my shirt?!!?!” To which Helio responded in a loud boisterous voice, his arm up stretched with one finger pointed, “Yes! I will!” and walked right into the media center.
That tickled me. You had to be there. He eventually came out after the media press conference was done and signed the woman’s shirt.
Logan Gomez walks to the garage after finishing fifth in the Carneros 100 on Saturday, August 23, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Raphael Matos speaks with the press after finishing second in the Carneros 100 on Saturday, August 23, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Richard Antinucci speaks to the press after finishing third in the Carneros 100 on Saturday, August 23, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Helio Castroneves heads into the media center on Saturday, August 23, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Helio Castroneves leaves signs autographs on Saturday, August 23, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Marco Andretti asks Danica Patrick’s husband a quick question after qualifying on Saturday, August 23, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
And now for my IndyCar at Infineon adventure. Friday was dedicated mostly to practice for the IndyCar teams, and because of that it meant that the garage was dead. You’ve never seen a cleaner garage in your life. Things didn’t get interesting there until Sunday when the teams actually had to use it for preparation before the race.
So the really big deal was the press conference set up to unveil Firestone’s new “Magic Circle.” They’re the tires they created specifically for the top drivers who are still in the hunt for the IndyCar Championship. The tires have a white wall on the outside so that they can be easily spotted in the field during a race. Just another way the fans can keep track of the Championship contenders. Before Sunday’s race there were 4 drivers mathematically still in the hunt — Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves.
So I decided to stand outside of Victory Lane where the media had gathered for the announcement. I just wanted to try and get good shots of the drivers as they made their way over. What I didn’t know was that I managed to situate myself in the precise spot they were all going to stop their little motorcycles and scooters. Scott Dixon was the first guy to roll onto the scene right behind me. I find him to be incredibly cute and I can’t believe we’re the exact same age; he always strikes me as being a lot older. Then there was Helio who as far as I’m concerned seems to be totally over the whole Dancing with the Stars hubbub. Everyone loves to bring it up with him but he never goes into it and I can understand why. It’s been forever ago and he’s a race car driver, and that’s what he’s really about.
Finally Scott Wheldon rode up with his wife Susie on the back of his Target scooter/bike thingy. Instead of going around all the bikes where there was more room to walk, he had to walk on the inside of them causing me to try and squeeze myself against the Victory Lane fence. I think my bag hit him, but that’s what he gets.
Scott Dixon’s scooter on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Dan Wheldon and his wife Susie roll in for the ‘Magic Circles’ media event on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Helio Castroneves arrives at the ‘Magic Circles’ media event on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Scott Dixon walks in to the ‘Magic Circles’ media event on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan pose for photographers during the ‘Magic Circles’ unveiling on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
No outfit is complete without pockets!
Dan Wheldon speaks to the media on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
So apparently Ryan Newman is set to be announced as the second driver for Stewart Haas Racing. The official announcement is supposed to happen tomorrow. This is yet another one of NASCAR’s worst kept secrets. I really want someone to send me a NASCAR secret so that I can blab it to everyone.
In other news…
– I’m going to the Pepsi 500!!! I’ve got media credentials again and I’m super excited about attending this Labor Day race weekend at the Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. The Sprint Cup race falls on my birthday (August 31st) and do you know what the greatest present would be? Well, besides winning the lottery, the best present would be if one of my guys would win the race. So I’m putting David Gilliland, Travis Kvapil, Clint Bowyer, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. on notice.
– And now for some random photos that I haven’t had the chance to post before today:
Oakland A’s pitcher Brad Ziegler gets a ride to his game on Wednesday from former IndyCar driver Davey Hamilton in a two-seat IndyCar. Hamilton drove the pair to the Oakland Coliseum from downtown Oakland, the drive was a promotional event in advance of the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County at Infineon Raceway, August 22-24, 2008.
(photo credit: Chucke Walkden)
Motocross star Travis Pastrana took in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono back in June of this year. He recently won the gold medal for Rally Car racing at the Summer X Games in Los Angeles.
Travis Pastrana in Pocono, June ’08, (c) David Vaughn (Courtesy of Red Bull Racing Team)
Infineon Raceway is really turning it on this year for the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County.
– First of all an IndyCar testing session is taking place there tomorrow from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Mario Andretti, Will Power, Tomas Scheckter, Jamie Camara, Enrique Bernoldi, E.J. Viso, Oriol Servia, Vitor Meira, Marty Roth, Alex Lloyd, Ed Carpenter, AJ Foyt IV and Townsend Bell will all be on hand. Admission is free for fans!
– As I write this Oakland A’s pitcher Brad Ziegler is being driven from downtown Oakland to the Oakland Coliseum in a two-seat, street-legal IndyCar by former IndyCar driver Davey Hamilton. Ziegler is being rewarded for his 37-inning scoreless streak.
– Saturday, August 24th will be “Firefighter Appreciation Day” at Infineon Raceway, and Sonoma resident Mitch Mulas has been named Grand Marshal of the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County:
The first 10,000 race fans that enter the raceway on Sunday will receive a FREE commemorative bracelet with the inscription, “Firefighter Appreciation Day,” and the date.
– For the first time this year fans attending the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County will be able to purchase an IndyCar Platinum Pass. What is an IndyCar Platinum Pass you say?? Well, it’ll allow you to meet drivers Helio Castroneves and Graham Rahal, plus more! Read on:
Race fans will be treated to a special question-and-answer session on Sunday morning with the two drivers. This exclusive session will take place in a hospitality tent overlooking Turn 7 and is only open to Platinum Pass members. Moreover, the Platinum Pass is the only way for fans to get a garage pass, which puts race fans just steps away from all of the stars on the IndyCar Series circuit.
Castroneves (Team Penske) is a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, as well as past champion of the hit television show, Dancing with the Stars. Rahal (Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing), son of legendary driver Bobby Rahal, became the youngest winner in open-wheel history (19 years old) when he took the checkers earlier this year in St. Petersburg (Fla.).
This deluxe package costs just $195 and includes:
- Meet-and-greet with Castroneves and Rahal
- Autographed hero card from each driver
- Full-event weekend pass (your choice of seats)
- Garage Pass
- Premium Parking Pass
- Platinum Hard Card
– And as if all of that wasn’t enough Infineon is also trying to break the world record for the most people doing the Twist. Ya know, that dance your parents did when they were teenagers. They’re loosely (and I do mean loosely) tying it together with IndyCar by linking it to Helio Castroneves and his stint on “Dancing with the Stars.” It has nothing to do with racing but it’ll still be interesting to watch!
Race fans will be invited onto the race surface at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, Aug. 24, to perform a dance that best describes the most challenging road course in the country — the Twist. Participants will be required to Twist for five minutes in the style made famous by Chubby Checker in 1960. Checker will be unable to attend the event but will send a video message that will be played on the Jumbotron prior to the start of the record-breaking dance.
“I can’t be there but I wish the people a lot of luck in trying to break the record,” Checker said.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s largest Twist dance took place in Yorkshire, England, in 2004, when 1,691 high school students and staff danced to Checker’s classic hit. Infineon Raceway hopes to shatter that record on Aug. 24 right in front of the main grandstand.
I have fabulous news! I get to go to the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Grand Prix of Sonoma County on August 22-24 at Infineon Raceway. I dig the IndyCar races ’cause the atmosphere is so different from NASCAR and I’m looking forward to it mostly because I haven’t been to a race since my first one in 2006. Now that I have a better understanding of how things go down at races in general I think I’ll be able to get more good photos and have a better experience in general.
And speaking of my first IndyCar experience in 2006, it was then that Marco Andretti won his first (and so far only) race. I was glad I was there to see it in person and I hope he can do it again. This time his No. 26 IndyCar will feature a special design from Blockbuster and Lucasfilm promoting the first-ever animated feature from Lucasfilm STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS. It makes extra sense because the Lucasfilm headquarters are here in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I would expect an appearance from George Lucas himself. I have no idea if he’ll actually be there or not, I’m just sayin’.
In other news…
– Last year’s winner of the IndyCar race at Infineon, Scott Dixon made an appearance at the track this week to help promote this year’s event. He learned how to carve wood with a chainsaw and made a replica of Infineon’s special trophy:
Dixon got the rare opportunity to build his own trophy on Tuesday in the Wine Country Winner’s Circle at Infineon Raceway with the use of a chainsaw and assistance from “Chainsaw Chick” Cherie Currie. The event was held as a promotion for the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County, Aug. 22-24.
Dixon carved a replica of the raceway’s signature Champion’s Cabernet Goblet, which he toasted in 2007 after taking the checkers for his first-career win in the Sonoma Valley. The replica, which was created from a five-foot piece of redwood, was carved in high-horsepower fashion with an Echo chainsaw under the tutelage of Currie, a professional chainsaw artist. Dixon and Currie worked together to create the trophy during a 20-minute demonstration before media members and race fans.
“I think I know what I want to do after racing now. I think I found a new hobby,” said Dixon after completing the carving. “It’s something I’d never thought about doing, and Cherie was a great instructor. I’m just glad I didn’t chop the thing in half.”
All equipment was provided by Echo, a sponsor of Currie. Echo produces hand-held landscaping equipment for both the commercial and residential homeowner markets, and prides itself on setting the industry standard (www.echoincorporated.com).
“He did an amazing job, actually superb,” said Currie, who has been carving for seven years. “I told him he’s going to get the carving bug, because once you start you just want to keep doing it.”
(Photo Credit: Gary Phillips)
The final laps of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 were literally killing me. I haven’t been that engaged in a race in quite some time. The fact that David Gilliland was running up front, realistically in contention for the win was seriously blowing my mind. In the end though he didn’t come up with the win but I feel like 2nd place is just as good.
I Tivo’d the race while I was at the track and I just watched it today. David’s smile in his post race interview was priceless. He was so happy and rightly so. He proved that he could contend with the likes of Jeff Gordon and come out on top.
On Sunday during the post-race press conference with the media his happiness still shone through, albeit subdued. I’m not one for chopping up quotes so here are some of my favorite parts from the Q&A with the media.
David on what he thought when he saw Jeff behind him in his rearview mirror:
GILLILAND: It’s not a comfortable feeling, I’ll tell you that. I grew up coming here, and so I wasn’t really surprised about having him back there for sure.
GORDON: You didn’t have anything to worry about, trust me.
GILLILAND: Our car was pretty good. On the restart before the last one, I got away from Jeff a little bit going up the hill, and so that made me a little more comfortable on the second one. But it was super slick the last lap as far as challenging for the lead. It was everything I could do just to stay on the racetrack. It was wild back there. It was incredible.
GORDON: You were up there.
GILLILAND: Yeah, up there; back there. (Laughter).
David responds to a reporter asking him if he feels his team is making progress towards becoming really competitive at the “bread and butter tracks:”
GILLILAND: Absolutely. That’s why we go to the racetrack each week. We’re working hard at it. It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that. It’s a challenge each and every week, but definitely, I mean, you know, I feel like we definitely made an improvement on the mile and a half stuff. Our short track stuff has been much better than it was last year. Richmond we had the best car we had and were in the Top 10 and got involved in an accident.
Had a bit of bad luck, but definitely I feel like our performance has improved 90 percent from what it was last year. Our cars are much better and you talk to people and they say, you know, you’re just learning, experience, but you don’t really learn anything driving a car that shouldn’t even be on the racetrack.
So I’m having to relearn a lot of things this year and running up in the front with guys like Jeff Gordon, you know, you’ve got to earn that respect and that goes a long ways.
It’s just a steady process that we are chipping away at.
Jeff Gordon speaks with the press after the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway
David Gilliland speaks with the press after the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway
Crew chief Chad Knaus walks the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet through inspection at Infineon Raceway
Clint Bowyer sits on pit road before the start of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway
Boris Said takes a call at Infineon Raceway before the start of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway
Rear Tire Carrier and Car Chief Ron Malec steers the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet through inspection
There were a bunch of random things that occurred to me during the Infineon weekend and none of them deserved its own post so here they are:
– At Jeff Gordon’s press conference on Friday I was staring at him and noticed for the first time ever that he’s got grey hairs. It’s not like two, it’s like fifty. That was the precise moment when my camera decided to die so I have no proof. This all means nothing of course, but I just thought it was interesting ’cause he’s always had this boyish look to him and so you don’t associate that kind of thing, ya know, getting old, with him.
– When Oakland Raiders play-by-play announcer Greg Papa introduced Joe Nemechek as “Jerome” Nemechek pretty much everyone on pit road looked around with the same “What the???” expression on their faces. Next time it might be a good idea to get someone who actually knows NASCAR to announce the drivers. I’m just sayin’.
– Someone asked Carl Edwards “Beer or wine?” to which he replied “Neither.” This was kind of surprising to me, I mean I always figured him for a granola boy-type (and by “granola boy” I mean those guys who are all about fitness and eating healthy which can be really annoying when you’re, uhm, not) but I didn’t think he went that far. I couldn’t hear his follow-up answer so I’m not sure if he clarified his answer to say that he preferred some other alcoholic beverage entirely, but I doubt it.
– Nikki Blonsky, the young woman who played Tracy Turnblad in the 2nd movie version of Hairspray, was on hand to sing the National Anthem. I saw her as she walked up the stairs to the media center. She seemed really nice and sweet but she had on these super high, black Christian Louboutin pumps that were obviously causing her some mischief by the way she was toddling around. I know the walk caused by uncomfortable shoes, let me tell ya. Anyway, so it was funny to see her later walking around in a pair of white sneakers. Smart move Nikki.
– At the end of the day on Sunday I caught the media center shuttle van back to my parking spot. On the way there a voice came over the radio to say that Kyle Busch’s mom believed that someone from the racetrack’s staff had taken her bag. So funny! Her son wins the race and then her bag is allegedly stolen? I do hope she got her bag back, it’s a very disconcerting feeling to lose one’s purse.
– Below is a video of my view of the race. For the last 20 laps or so I watched it all go down from a landing area leading up the media center.
On Sunday before the race I walked pit road taking the usual pictures and I found the pit boxes for the No. 28 and No. 38 Yates Racing teams.
I have to say that I’ve been thinking about the guys on pit crews a lot lately, mostly because you don’t hear much about them individually or even as a group. Drivers constantly talk about how it’s a team sport and they couldn’t do it without their guys but how much do we really know about the men on these teams? And how much do they know about their fans? Unless you’re on the crew for the most popular drivers it’s hard to know who’s rooting for you or if they are at all.
On television in pre-race shows they sometimes do profiles of this crew member or that one for some special or unique story, but it’s never a consistent study of who these guys are and how they feel about their teams chances each week. I suppose it would be really hard from a PR standpoint to control all of those voices but it would be refreshing to hear them.
So with that being said I took the chance to talk to the pit crew guys — that were there — from Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland’s teams. I asked them if they ever went online to their team website to see what their fans were saying. They all said that they don’t go online and some guessed that maybe the comments were negative.
I told them that they had a bunch of fans out there that supported them 100%. So the comments from these guys surprised me and got me thinking. Since these guys don’t have time to spend online searching for what people are saying, I think that if you’re a Gilliland, Kvapil or Yates Racing fan you should send a letter to the crew members. Don’t send it to Travis or David — send it to the guys on the team. Just to be clear I’m not saying you shouldn’t write to the drivers too, you totally should, but don’t forget about the other guys that make up the team.
Crew members from the No. 28 California Highway Patrol Ford Fusion team (from left to right): Tire Runner John Horn, Catchcan Bobby Grant, and Front Tire Changer Cory DeMarco.
Crew members from the No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford Fusion team
The NASCAR experience started on Thursday. I was driving through the city I live in — Concord, California — with a friend of mine on our way to get Starbucks. There were haulers for Juan Pablo Montoya’s team at a Holiday Inn down one street and haulers for Michael Waltrip at the Crown Plaza Hotel down another. It’s really not that interesting but it gave me that extra kick of excitement about this weekend. NASCAR really was coming!
When I got to the track on Friday the temperature was in the 80s. It was definitely warm, hot even but not unbearable. That changed of course as the temps hit 107 at the end of the day when I left. Yes, I left at like 5-o-clock whilst qualifying was still going on but I have very good reasons. For one, I was literally melting, even in the shade. Second, and most important, my camera/video camera’s battery died and I didn’t have my charger with me. And third it was friggin’ hot! Since you have to wear pants in the garage area you’re totally screwed when it’s hot outside. So there I am in jeans so jealous of the fans in the paddock area behind the grandstands ’cause they’re in dresses and shorts.
Ok, so on to the good stuff. The top-12 drivers were available to the media outside of their haulers at various times before and after qualifying practice. There was only ONE driver that I wanted to see the most and that was, of course, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale’s media meet-up was scheduled for 2pm, the first one after the practice session. Before the practice session, I went saw Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, and Kevin Harvick. While watching Clint answer questions I decided to try out my video skills. To be sure, they haven’t changed much from my experiment at the testing sessions last week (as evidenced in my earlier post). Anyway, I taped Kasey, Clint and Kevin, with various levels of pretty good sound.
It amazes me that anyone can hear anyone when those cars are grumbling in the garage. This was the first time I had ever attended one of the top-12 media press sessions before. So I wasn’t sure what to expect. The writers gather around the hauler doors before the scheduled time. It’s obvious that the majority of people know each other, which is incredibly intimidating to me since I’m the newbie. The PR reps are the gatekeepers and they’re not taking any crap from anyone. Kasey Kahne’s rep totally laid the smack down on some photographer who asked if he could get an autograph from him. It’s forbidden for media to ask the drivers for autographs, not to mention stupid. Why would you need an autograph when you’re there? I mean look at where you are!
OK, so picture it… You’re me and your computer is Clint Bowyer. That’s how close I was to him. I could have asked a question but I didn’t. For one, I had nothing prepared and two the questions I would want to ask would have nothing to do with the race this weekend.
Oh! I should say that I was given a cold garage pass. I wasn’t super worried about that, as I’ve found in the past that having a cold pass isn’t the worst thing in the world and I could still access a lot of things. So I wasn’t worried. Well not until practice began and the garage went hot. Dale Jr.’s press conference was the first one after practice ended and I was afraid they wouldn’t turn off the “hot” lights until it was too late.
And that’s exactly what happened. I wasn’t able to get back into the garage until after his session was over. I was so frustrated. I couldn’t believe it, out of all of the drivers, he’s the one I was looking forward to hearing from the most and then I couldn’t get in.
My consolation prize was seeing him walk past me as I sat on the ground outside the media center. He had just excited the men’s bathroom and quickly made his way through the fans that were looking for his signature.
One thing about the media center bathrooms, that is the place to be if you want to catch a driver. Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Jack Roush and Carl Edwards all made stops at the men’s room and really that’s the only time I have ever wished I was a guy. Haha.
This photo is kinda eerie ’cause it seems like Kyle Busch is looking right at me, as if to say “What the hell are you doing?” Frrrreeaaaky.
Kasey Kahne speaks with the media at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
I looked down and happened to notice how cool Kasey’s shoes were, so I snapped a photo. I figured the Kasey Kahne fans out there would appreciate this.
Kevin Harvick speaks with the media at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Clint Bowyer speaks with the media at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
I wasn’t hearing a lot of cocky optimism from the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers on Friday at Infineon Raceway. Since they only run at two road courses each year there isn’t a lot of focus on it. They do testing and stuff but you don’t see many people working extra hard at trying to be the most amazing NASCAR road racer ever. Anyway, because so many drivers aren’t the greatest at the road thing it would have been fun (and funny) to hear someone say “Oh, yea, I got this one in the bag.”
And now for your viewing pleasure I have video that I shot of Carl Edwards chatting with the media outside his hauler on Friday. The sound isn’t the greatest and, as usual, my camera handling skills could use some work. But whatever, it is what it is.
I’ve managed to shock myself at how long it’s taken me to write something about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s win at Michigan last weekend.
I was in Los Angeles helping to celebrate Father’s Day for my brother-in-law so I wasn’t able to watch the race unfold. I saw the beginning of it before we left for lunch and then when I got back to the house I found that my mom had called me on my cell phone that I had regrettably left behind. I called her back and she asked me if I had seen it, seen Dale win. My first emotion was anger that I had missed it. I was so mad. If you follow me on Twitter you already knew that.
Of course I’m happy for him, ecstatic even, but I’m still sad that I missed it. It’s not enough for me to see the highlights after the fact. I need to watch it live. In the end though there’s nothing I can do about it. I still got to see how it ended and his reaction in victory lane and his interview with ESPN’s Marty Smith. Although, I do wish his win had been cleaner and by “cleaner” I mean that I wish there wasn’t the whole controversy over passing the pace car under yellow. I’ll still take it of course, but still, it lingers.
My mom is traveling and she saw the end of the race in a restaurant in Arkansas. She was taken aback by the crowd cheering for Dale as he won the race. Stuff like that doesn’t happen in Northern California. If you enter a restaurant and the patrons are cheering it’s either because the Giants, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders or A’s are winning. Some places will have the race on TV but it’s usually because there’s nothing else on. At any rate, I want to experience that for myself. I must get myself to Charlotte asap!
In other news….
– Kyle Busch has bowed of his attempt at running for a Championship in all three of NASCAR’s series. I think that was a good idea. After two sucky weeks I think it was the thing to do. I don’t think that’s something that I’d want any driver to do, even the ones that I don’t like. It’s too much work and it thins out your focus for the most important Championship of all, the Sprint Cup.
– Joey Logano won his first NASCAR race and he’s the youngest guy to do it in the Nationwide series. How cool is that? I was really happy for him and it was fun to see his father counting down those final laps. It’s good to see the hype pay off.
– I’m all set to go to Chicago for the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in July. I even added in an extra day to my itinerary so I could check out downtown Chicago and see Gavin Rossdale in concert at the House of Blues.
– The NASCAR race at Infineon is this week and I’m super excited. I’ll be there on Friday. The first order of business will be attending the media gatherings outside of each of the top-12 drivers haulers. Of course I’m not trying to go to all of them. I have my select group of drivers that I’m interested in hearing from the most. I’ll be posting daily during the weekend, probably when I get home each day.
– Nikki Blonsky, the young actress who starred in the latest movie version of Hairspray will be singing the national anthem for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Northern California native Guy Fieri, host of the Food Networks show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives will serve as the Grand Marshall.
– For this weekend’s race at Infineon Travis Kvapil and the No. 28 Yates Racing Ford will be sponsored by… wait for it… the California Highway Patrol! Shut up! I know! Cops are sponsoring racing. How crazy is that? I love it.
Tony Stewart climbs in his car to practice for the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kasey Kahne, winner of two of the last three races, is all smiles as he waits to qualify for the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
David Ragan is all smiles Saturday after posting the third-quickest time in the morning practice session. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Team owner Rick Hendrick congratulates Dale Earnhardt Jr. after he won the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway, ending a 76-race winless streak. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Defending race winner Carl Edwards gets ready to practice for the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The really, really young guns.
(L to R) NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Brad Coleman, Landon Cassill, Bryan Clauson, Eric McClure and Jason Leffler talk with 2,700 Nationwide associates prior to the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Nationwide is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR)
Joey Logano hoists the winner’s trophy at Kentucky Speedway as Tony Jones, Cincinnati Market Director for Meijer, looks on. Logano was the eighth different winner and eighth different pole winner at Kentucky; he was also the third consecutive series regular to win at the track. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR)
Yesterday I went to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma for the NASCAR Sprint Cup testing sessions. Let me tell you it was really cool!
First of all, it was free and you can’t beat free.
Second, everything was open. By open I mean seriously open. I parked my car in the garage area, literally next to the haulers. The garage stalls were right across from my car. When it’s a race weekend, everything is blocked off and you have to have a garage pass. There was none of that yesterday. There were no Hot or Cold garage warnings. If I had the balls to do it I totally could have walked right into someone’s garage and been like “Hey, what’s up? How’s the car handling today?”
That being said you really had to watch yourself ’cause the guys were coming in and out of the garage left and right and there was no one around with a whistle to tell you to get out of the way. Case in point a man with two kids was walking towards me in the grandstand/victory lane area completely oblivious to the grumbling race car right behind them.
I always wonder how drivers feel about having the fans right there looking at them, getting in their way, etc. It’s not like I can walk into the Chicago Bears locker room and stare at Brian Urlacher before a game, although if the NFL decides to start doing that sign me up! Just kidding. Sort of. Ok I’m not kidding.
Anyway, back to yesterday. I stood in the victory lane above pit road and realized that this was exactly where I wanted to be at that exact moment. It was so awesome to just be there, taking pictures and watching the cars drive by. There weren’t a lot of people on hand, although more started to come in as I was leaving, but all in all I probably saw less than 15 people all told — lots of grandparents, fathers and sons.
Travis Kvapil, David Ragan, J.J. Yeley, Marcos Ambrose, Sam Hornish Jr. and David Gilliland were all there to test cars in anticipation of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. J.J., David Ragan, Marcos and Travis tested in GT America stock cars provided by Pioneer Motorsports from Lake Oroville, California (outside Sacramento). David Gilliland drove a NASCAR Camping World Series West car. I seriously couldn’t tell who was who ’cause the paint schemes were not their own, except for Sam’s.
Of the drivers that were present I only saw J.J., David Gilliland and Sam outside of their cars. I got a photo of Sam on his cell phone. It was so odd trying to take a photo them. I felt like a paparazzo. You feel like you should be able to say something but you can’t.
I took some very, very bad video of a couple cars on the track. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of video taping live action events, so forgive me.
Here’s a quote from David Gilliland talking about the importance of Infineon:
“People used to think, ‘This is Sonoma, a road race. I’m not good at road races.’ But now, with the points so close, you can’t give up on one race,” said Gilliland. “You can’t have a bad race anymore and expect to be up front. It’s too competitive now, so people are starting to take it more seriously.”
Sam Hornish Jr. chatting on his cell phone during the testing session at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
This is the back of J.J. Yeley discussing stuff with his crew at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
And now the back of David Gilliland talking one of his crew members at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
More photos of the cars in my Flickr account!
And so begins the television coverage of NASCAR from the fine folks at TNT. I really wish NASCAR could just be on one channel. One. Uno. But what can ya do right?
So TNT excitedly announced their new RaceBuddy feature on NASCAR.com, I didn’t bother to check it out — at least not yet — but the image that kept jumping to mind every time they mentioned it during Sunday’s race was the doll My Buddy from the 80s. I keep singing the theme song to myself “My Buddy, My Buddy, My Buddy, My Buddy and Meeeeeee!” and then I followed it up with “Kid Sister, Kid Sister, Kid Sister, Kid Sister and Meeeeeeee!” Bonus points to you if you remember My Buddy and Kid Sister and triple quadruple points if you actually had one!
Brad Keselowski, how can you not be happy for this guy? He raced his butt off and got his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win ever and I couldn’t be more excited for him and the Navy team. You could see the genuine relief and happiness in his eyes after the race. It was just so cool that his mom and dad were there. Those are my absolutely favorite moments in sports in general. Getting to see the family that has been with these guys from the beginning and getting to see them sharing that moment when they have their first taste of success, that’s pretty awesome. It’s another one of the million reasons why I’m so anxious for the Olympics to start.
Furthermore, didn’t it suck that Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t there to be with his team for their first win? He didn’t even get to see it live on TV. DirecTV had a blackout and so for the last ten laps he had a friend relay the information to him online. Crazy.
Ok, so the Cup race at Pocono. Speaking of Dale Jr. what was up with him during his post race interview? I know that he’s not a super talkative guy after the races in general but that was less that usual. I’m sure it had to do with the heat, and it seems like all of the guys were feeling the affects of it after the race, except for Jimmie Johson who said he was totally fine. Right.
Kasey Kahne won another race and that’s great for him. I’m still miffed about the lack of attention that the Yates Racing guys have received. I want them to get a friggin’ top 5 finish so bad just so the media will have to talk about them for longer than 10 seconds.
In other news…
– Speaking of Yates Racing, both of their drivers will be here in the Bay Area tomorrow for testing at Infineon. I will be there too, taking pictures of whatever I can see. Hopefully something will be going on while I’m there, I won’t be able to stay the whole day.
– David Ragan will be on an episode of “Lawrence of America” on the Travel Channel tomorrow (June 10th) at 11pm EST. Check your local listings. “It was fun filming the show with Lawrence last fall,” said Ragan. “I think he learned a lot and it will be a great way to hopefully introduce the sport to some new fans to the sport. We had a good time at the go-kart track, but next time we’ll go the big track and see how he does.”
– There’s still plenty of time to enter the contest for a free copy of the NASCAR Full Throttle Adrenaline DVD set.
– I don’t know what it is about Brian Vickers but every time I hear him speak I’m surprised by his southern accent. It’s like I forget that he has one every time I see him. It’s cute though, I like accents. There’s no big point to this, I’m just over sharing.
Brian Vickers finished second in the Pocono 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, moving up two spots to 17th in driver standings (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Mark Martin qualified third-fastest for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, where he’s finished second six times. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Fellow Ford drivers, Jamie McMurray and David Gilliland, talk about their cars during a break in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Elliott Sadler share a laugh in the garage during Friday’s practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
As the NASCAR race weekend in Sonoma draws closer I’m getting more and more excited. It helps that on Tuesday Cup drivers David Ragan, Travis Kvapil, J.J. Yeley and Sam Hornish Jr. (along with Nationwide Series driver Marcos Ambrose) will be rolling into town to test at Infineon. The testing session (from 8:30am to 4:30pm) is open to the public, free of charge and yeah, I’m so there. Did I even need to say that?
NASCAR has been coming to the San Francisco Bay Area for twenty years now and some of the drivers expressed their thoughts on the road course:
“They have kept up with the times, as well as brought a tremendous amount of diversity to the sport. One of the things that Sonoma has done is bring a different culture, a different type of race fan, which I think is really cool. The racetrack is so unique. It’s very different, the racetrack itself is different. The grounds are different. The location is incredible.”
–Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet
“The track is definitely sentimental to me in terms of spring-boarding my career. Some of the big owners saw me win that (Southwest Series) race, and I was on ESPN that day, and in 1999 they had just changed the track configuration to use the Chute, so a lot of the big teams were watching that day. It was very exciting. We had a great Southwest Series team and ran for the championship that year and Infineon Raceway really put us on the map.”
–Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge
“What’s so special about Infineon Raceway is that it’s so difficult. I grew up racing on a three-eighth mile dirt track in Missouri. To come to a twisting, turning, uphill, downhill road course where you’re shifting gears in a 3,400-pound stock car, against guys like Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and Boris Said is a very, very tough thing. To be able to come here and win a race, I think for any driver, and I know for me would be one of the most satisfying wins in all of NASCAR.”
– Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford
“I was born in Vallejo, right down the road from Sonoma. So to be able to come out and see my family and friends, who I don’t get to see very often, and then we were able to win fairly early in my career out there, which is a lot of fun winning on the road course. And we’ve had a lot of wins since then. To go the last couple of years and have some exciting news and excitement in my personal life, which has all coincided with that race, has been very exciting. And now it gives us something to celebrate every time we come out there. This year we’ll be celebrating Ella’s first birthday when we come out there, so that will be fun.”
– Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
“Infineon Raceway is one race on the schedule that I absolutely love and look forward to coming and running. I mean, I like running the road courses, and we’ve had success out there. We ran really, really well. The people at the racetrack are always great. It’s an awesome crowd that’s very energetic and loves to see the Cup Series run there and it’s a track that I really have a lot of fun driving on so I always look forward to going there.”
– Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota
In other news…
– Did ya hear the news about Casey Mears?? He’s going to be dad! His girlfriend is pregnant with his first child. This tidbit of information was dropped in an article from the AP but Answer This has a little bit more detail. Congrats Casey!
— Clint Bowyer spoke with the media here in the Bay Area today in anticipation of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. When asked if, in this sport, it was important for fans to have someone to dislike Clint had this to say:
“It’s the same way with racing in general or any kind of sport. Everybody loves the winner until they win too much, and then they don’t like them anymore. The guys who have been very successful have seen both sides. Jeff Gordon, you either love him or hate him, but bottom line you respect him. There’s a big difference between a guy like Jeff Gordon and a guy like Kyle Busch. Kyle Busch is winning races and he’s on top, but there’s not that love-hate relationship. I think it has nothing to do with his performance on the track. People don’t respect him because of the things he does when he gets out of the race car.”
And then when asked if it’s easy for fans to find someone to boo Clint said this:
“I think it’s pretty easy. That’s what makes this sport what it is — the personalities. That’s what separates this sport from other sports is that you’re able to get so much closer to these personalities. There are a lot fewer people in this sport, there are only 43, whereas football and baseball there are hundreds. You see a lot more of the personalities of the drivers in this sport. I think it’s a good thing about our sport that it’s so fan friendly and they can get that close to the action.”
And I believe that he’s totally right on both points.
I’m so glad and excited about the fact that Danica Patrick won her first race this weekend in the Indy Racing League. It’s an awesome thing and I think it’s safe to say that we all knew it was going to happen eventually it was just a matter of when.
My overall feeling was one of sadness that I didn’t get to see it happen live. I purposely went looking for the IndyCar race on television on Saturday and what I found on ESPN with a title of IRL Racing was in actuality professional women’s billiards. At that point I gave up ’cause after the Red Sox/Yankees debacle of last week I was over searching for races.
So yea, I’m sad I didn’t get to see it happen. I have to say that as a woman I am truly proud of this moment in motorsports history. This is a big deal and it’s important, it proves once and for all that it doesn’t matter what your gender is and that at the end of the day it’s about your drive and passion for the sport.
The only thing I’m not looking forward to is the coverage that’s going to come next. Instead of asking her when she’s going to get her first win it’s going to be all about when she’s going to get her second. And even in general, this will take her to another level of celebrity in the sport and outside. So are you ready for Danica Mania 2.0?
And following that thought, check out this promotion from Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. for their IndyCar race in August:
See Danica In Sonoma with FREE Weekend Garage Pass
Danica Patrick made history with her first-ever IndyCar Series victory on Sunday, April 20. You’ll get a chance to see her first-hand when the open-wheel series visits Infineon Raceway for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County, Aug. 22-24.
For a limited time, the raceway will issue a FREE garage pass, with the purchase of a weekend race ticket to the event. Weekend tickets start at just $65. And with kids 12 and under FREE on Friday and Saturday (Aug. 22-23) and parking FREE all weekend, it’s the perfect outing for the perfect price.
You’ll get to stroll right past Patrick’s Motorola hauler and watch the race team prepare her car for the big race on Infineon’s twisting road course. You might even catch a glimpse of Patrick herself, or even get an autograph. You won’t want to miss this golden opportunity to not only see Patrick, but also other stars like Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal.
This is offer is limited, so act today by calling 800-870-RACE or link to our IndyCar ticket page.
Are you shocked? I’m not. There are worse things he could do.
And now I give you some things that you might want to know:
– If you’re a San Francisco Bay Area IndyCar fan you’ll be happy to know that Fior d’Italia Restaurant is giving $25 gift certificates to the first 40,000 fans that enter Infineon Raceway for the Motorola Indy 300, presented by Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel on Sunday, August 26. So make sure you get there early!
– NASCAR driver Ryan Newman will be a guest on the “Best Damn Sports Show Period” live from Lowe’s Motor Speedway on August 7th to announce the finalist for Kodak’s “Ink Ryan’s Ride” contest.
– Walk the track with Kurt & Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Ernie Irvan at Pocono Raceway on Saturday:
Kurt will join brother Kyle and four-time Cup champ Jeff Gordon in Saturday’s LAPS Walk with Ernie Irvan at Pocono Raceway. Irvan, Gordon and the Busch Brothers will unite with NASCAR fans, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) survivors, and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard for a walk on the racetrack to raise awareness and needed funding to conquer TBI in America. The LAPS Walk festivities will kick off at 2:15 with a Q&A session and presentation to the top fundraiser of a signed helmet to recognize his/her outstanding effort for TBI awareness and prevention. Following the Q&A session, all participants, including Irvan and Kurt & Eva, will move down to the track where they will be joined by members of the National Guard for the opening ceremonies and a walk on the racetrack. For more information, please visit www.lapswalk.org or call the Brain Injury Association at 800.772.4323.
– I find this quote from Jimmie Johnson to be very interesting indeed. It’s about the resetting of the points once the Chase kicks in for the final ten races of the season.
It certainly looks like I’ll be a big beneficiary of it (resetting the points) and with the way that it is, I’ll take that forgiveness the way the point system is structured right now and try to capitalize on it. But when you look at Jeff’s (Gordon) point situation and how strong he has been, deep down inside there is still a part of me that says, ‘Man, the guy’s had a great year and deserves to be the champion and have it re-racked with everybody on top of him again probably isn’t fair.’ But it’s the way it is. The Chase does a lot of positive things for our sport. I’m in a position where I could capitalize on a tough summer. So you deal with the situation, as it exists. Just falling back on the way racing has always been and the way we’ve all raced through the season and had every point add up to equal a champion, if Jeff doesn’t win the championship I’m sure he’ll have a lot of heartburn over it. And I think us racers, deep down inside, might not think that it’s exactly right. But it’s different racing today than it was years back.
– Greg Biffle will be running a special “Dog the Bounty Hunter” paint scheme on his No. 16 Ford Fusion at Pocono. Uhm, yea, I’ve got nothing.
– All I can say about this is that I hope either A.J. Allmendinger or Brian Vickers can make it into this race or else this visit will be kinda awkward and embarrassing. I got my fingers crossed for ‘em!
Two members of the New York Red Bulls, the MLS team that plays its home matches at Giants Stadium, will make the 90-mile journey from East Rutherford, N.J., to Pocono Raceway to absorb the sights and sounds of NASCAR racing.
Midfielder Joe Vide and midfielder/forward Clint Mathis will get a true taste of what stock-car racing is all about. They’ll hang out on the grid and in the pits, and the fleet-footed duo will meet Red Bull Racing’s two drivers for lunch Sunday morning.
If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area and are a big NHRA fan you should check out this chance to hang with some of the top NHRA drivers like Gary Scelzi and Ron Capps. The event is a charity dinner in honor of the late Eric Medlen, hosted by Infineon Raceway on Thursday, July 26th. Full details are as follows:
Race Fans Invited to ‘Eric Medlen Nitro Night at the Fior Charity Dinner’ in San Francisco
SONOMA, Calif. (July 6, 2007) — Race fans will get to rub shoulders with top drivers from the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, as well as honor the memory of the late Eric Medlen at the “Eric Medlen Nitro Night at the Fior Charity Dinner” in San Francisco on Thursday, July 26.
The sit-down dinner will feature NHRA Funny Car drivers Ron Capps (Brut Racing Dodge), Robert Hight (Auto Club Mustang) and Gary Scelzi (Mopar/Oakley Dodge) and Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan (FRAM Dragster). The gala will be hosted by long-time NHRA announcer Bob Frey and is being held in advance of the FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway, July 27-29.
The charity dinner had its debut last year, and Medlen was one of the featured guests. The native of nearby Oakdale in San Joaquin County succumbed in March to injuries sustained from an accident during a test session at Gainesville ( Fla. ). He was 33. The event has since been renamed in his honor.
“I always agree to do the charity events not for anything other than I want to help,” said Scelzi. “The money always goes to a great cause and they are also really fun events. Whenever Infineon Raceway puts on an event you know it’s going to be first-class.”
Tickets to the affair are available for purchase to the public and will include a sumptuous four-course dinner at legendary Fior d’Italia Restaurant in historic North Beach (www.fior.com), followed by a brief program with the drivers and a tribute to Medlen. Cost is $125 per person.
All proceeds benefit Speedway Children’s Charities, the charitable arm of Infineon Raceway. The Sonoma chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities has distributed more than $2.1 million to Sonoma County youth groups since 2002.
The evening will begin with a no-host cocktail reception at 6:30, followed by dinner and the program at 7:30. If interested in purchasing a ticket to this event, please email Denise Silver at [email protected] or call 707-933-3950. Only 100 seats are available, so act today.
In between trying to put together toys and eating my 6 year-old nephew’s yummy birthday cake, I tried to catch the race at Infineon this past weekend.
I don’t even want to acknowledge the fact that Juan Pablo Montoya won the race (but there ya go). He’s seriously the last person (er one of the last people) that I wanted to win this thing. It was all entirely disappointing. I saw the headline “Montoya’s win left something to be desired” and I hoped that it would talk about how insincere he sounded in victory lane, but instead it was just about the fact that he won because of fuel strategy and not skill. I’ll take what I can get.
Eventhough Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended up finishing 13th, still not getting a top 10 in Sonoma, he started third and ran up front for the majority of the race. I think every Dale Jr. fan should feel good about that. While I would love it for him to win, at this point in the year all I care about is making sure he makes it into the Chase.
Speaking of the Chase… There’s a website that is analyzing the chances of drivers making it into the NASCAR version of playoffs (the final 10 races of the season). It’s pretty cool, and kind of depressing if your favorite driver has only a 4.9% chance (Casey Mears!) of making it into the Chase. Check out SportsClubStats.com
Dale Jr. ranked 6th this year in Harris Interative’s poll: “Who is your favorite sports star?” Tiger Woods came in first for the second year in a row. The complete list is as follows:
1.) Tiger Woods
2.) Derek Jeter
3.) Michael Jordan
4.) Brett Favre
5.) LeBron James
6.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7.) Tim Duncan
8.) Peyton Manning
9.) Kobe Bryant
10.) Tom Brady
My question is how did Kobe Bryant get on that list? Eww. For the women tennis star Serena Williams came in first, followed by IndyCar driver Danica Patrick. Check out the complete poll results from Harris Interactive.
Left to right: Jeff Gordon, Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman and Jimmie Johnson pose for a photo prior to the driver’s meeting at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I walked into my local grocery store last night and saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. I did a quick double-take but it was only a cardboard cutout of him. I was seriously tempted to find the store manager to see if I could put down dibs on taking the cardboard Junior home with me. If you could live in my brain you’d be adequately entertained by some of the thoughts that run through it.
Anyway… It seems that the real Dale Jr. is feeding his love for Elvis by hosting the first night of the “Elvis Music & Movies” series at Graceland on August 13th, 2007 (that’s a Monday for those of you thinking about going). They’re going to show one of Elvis’ movies “Viva Las Vegas,” which happens to be my favorite Elvis movie. Not so much because of Elvis but more because of Ann Margaret and her song “My Rival.” I love that part, you should rent it.
So Infineon is this weekend and I’m not going to the races. This is the only race that comes to my area but I have to pass on it this year so that I can attend my youngest nephew’s birthday in La La Land (aka Los Angeles). This is how great of an aunt I am, I am sacrificing the chance to see my fave drivers up close in order to celebrate the day my nephew turns 6. Family is important to me and honestly I can get better views of this particular race by watching it on TV.
Infineon is a very fun place to watch a race, but you really have to be in shape in order to get around that place. It’s hilly and only certain locations around the track give the best views. And if you’re going to try and track down the drivers after the race for autographs, be prepared to hike up the hill to the helicopter pad.
I’m sad that I can’t go, and I’ll be extra miffed if Dale Jr. manages to pull out a top 5 finish and I wasn’t there to see it. I like this quote from him about Infineon:
“This weekend is important to me because I’m sick of hearing people say ‘oh, he can’t drive on a road course.’ We’ve been so close here before and have always come away with some sort of issue that takes away from what we can really do. I want a top-10 so bad here, I can taste it. We finished 11th two years in a row and led some laps. It broke my heart that I didn’t get to race the Corvette there in 2004 because of the crash during the morning warm-up. I was angry because it cost that team a chance to race after they had been so good to me, but also because I was really learning a lot and had improved my road racing skills.
Then, in 2005, we had a car I thought had a chance to win the Cup race but we were trying a new transmission and it locked-up on the first lap and I was in the wall. That was so disappointing – and it was even worse when we fixed the car and I went back out and was still as fast as anyone in a car that was beat-up and taped together. It was frustrating, but it was another sign that I can do this. Last year, we passed more than 15 cars on track, moved into the top-10 and then got taken out by a ringer who was driving like a madman. We tested for a day at VIR (Virginia Intl. Raceway) a few weeks back, and I think this is the weekend we get can get a finish that this team deserves.”
In other news…
– Here are the things I wish for AJ Allmendinger: 1.) He qualifies for the race at Infineon this weekend and 2.) He places somewhere in the top 10 at the very least.
– NASCAR.COM’s Duane Cross writes about Liz Allison’s soon-to-be-released book (September 7th to be exact) The Girl’s Guide to Winning a NASCAR Driver (Secrets to Grabbing His Attention and Stealing His Heart)… The book provides info on how drivers met their wives and how to grab a drivers attention. Check out the article it’s a fun read, especially the part about Kurt Busch and a horse’s behind.
– Thanks to a reader I now have a link to a photo of Marco Andretti Shirtless… Your endless Google searches can end here.
– Another Infineon bit… Wanna meet Clint Bowyer? Here’s the lowdown on how you can this Friday, June 22nd in Petaluma, Calif.
On behalf of Jack Daniel’s, Bowyer will appear on the mezzanine above the Tolay restaurant at the Sheraton Sonoma County – Petaluma Hotel on Friday, June 22 from 7-8:30 p.m. The hotel is located at 745 Baywood Drive in Petaluma. Bowyer will be on hand to greet race fans and sign autographs.
I was looking at the traffic stats for my blog and I’ve noticed a lot of searches for the terms “Marco Andretti Shirtless.” I wish I actually had some photos of Marco sans shirt, I’m sure my traffic would skyrocket.
Anywhoo… It seems that Ryan Newman is back to his old tricks again. He secured the pole for a second week, this time for Dover this weekend. Congrats to him, hopefully he can stay up there at the front until the end of the race.
I know that this blog is supposed to be all about racing and whatnot but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about a couple really great CDs that I bought recently. The first is from the band The Used. “Lies for the Liars” is their 3rd album and it is sooo great! It hasn’t been getting a lot of media attention (if any) but it should ’cause it’s great rock music. If you’ve liked any of The Used’s songs in the past you should pick this one up. Also you should grab The Almost’s “Southern Weather,” I’m listening to it this very minute and I dig it. It’s kind of emo, kind of harder rock, but in general it’s your basic alternative rock type stuff. I have a hard time categorizing certain bands; all I know is that this stuff gives me goose bumps.
Just a couple tidbits about the upcoming Infineon race on the 24th:
– Legendary ex-NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice has been named the Grand Marshal of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. “This will be a new experience for me and I’m really looking forward to it,” Rice said. “I’ve never been to a NASCAR race but I understand it is quite an experience. I’m honored to be grand marshal of the race weekend and I’m looking forward to the event.”
– Teams for Casey Mears and Clint Bowyer prepared for the race in Sonoma by testing their cars at the Virginia International Raceway this week.
I usually love the whole green, white, checkered, ending — now dubbed Overdrive — but this weekend it was pretty lame. It was very anti-climactic.
I’m not going to go into the whole Jeff Gordon-breaking-Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s-career-wins-record-fans-go-crazy debacle, except to say that I agree with tallglassofmilk in that if the Talladega fans can’t behave themselves ‘Dega should lose it’s second race. They should hand it over to Infineon, us Northern California NASCAR fans know not to throw things when we’re mad. We’d just make shirts that say things like “Anybody But Gordon” and call it day.
I’m still annoyed/upset about Casey Mears’ crash in the middle of the race. I thought he was going to make it this time and finally win one but alas it was not meant to be. He was so pissed when he jumped out of his car, seeing that emotion reminds you how much this means to these guys. It’s not just another day at the office. They go out there every race with the intention to win.
It was so very cool to see no-name drivers race upfront this weekend. Guys like Sterling Marlin, Kenny Wallace, David Ragan, Regan Smith, and David Stremme all led laps at Talladega. Congrats to them, I want to see more of that. Words cannot express how sick I am of seeing Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon winning these races.
The rest of my Sunday was filled with more racing coverage. After the NASCAR Nexel Cup race I caught the end of the IndyCar race in Kansas. Dan Wheldon was the winner and apparently there was some pit road debacle involving teammates Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan. Tony took a page from the Tony Stewart PR handbook and left the race track without commenting on the events of pit road (Danica hit his car on her way out of the pits which ultimately caused Tony to fall 8 laps down, finishing 15th for the day).
Now everyone’s attention will turn to the Indianapolis 500, the race is on May 27th but the media hype is already beginning. Oh yay, a whole month of talking about the same things over and over and over again.
In other news…
Ashley Force went up against John Force for the first time in her burgeoning Funny Car career. She beat her dad in the first round at Atlanta Dragway.
The marquee match of the day was in round one when Ashley Force beat her famous father, John, by a 4.779 to 5.783 margin in the first father-daughter Pro-level race in NHRA history.
“Today I’m a proud father,” John said. “I’ve dreamed of this day for a long time, and it makes me emotional to think it finally came true. She’s a great young driver and she’s probably gonna whip me a bunch, but I’m okay with it because she’s my baby.”
Ashley went on to win her second round match-up but lost in the semifinals to Mike Ashley. All in all still a great day for women in the NHRA, it won’t be long until she’s a Funny Car winner.
Jeff Gordon is saluted by Dale Earnhardt Jr. after winning the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Fans throw beer cans onto the track as Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Dupont Chevrolet, takes the Sunoco checkered flag to win the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29, 2007 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, poses for a photo with his wife, model Ingrid Vandebosch, in victory lane after after Gordon won the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29, 2007 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
I must confess that I missed the bulk of Saturday night’s NEXTEL Cup Series race at Phoenix because I was out looking at models of homes that I can only hope to afford at some point in my life (please!).
I managed to catch a smidgen of the race wrap-up long enough to find out that Jeff Gordon won (ew) and that Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished back in 19th, not a lap down.
On Sunday I checked my email and found a press release containing a photo of Jeff Gordon seasoning some food with renowned Bay Area chef Victor Scargle at Infineon Raceway (see below). Gordon attended the luncheon at Infineon to promote the Toyota/Save Mart 350 and his line of wine, the Jeff Gordon Collection. The media event was filled with the usual yuk-yuk jokes and adulation that’s par for the course at events of this nature.
“This is scary. Tony Stewart doesn’t scare me but this scares me,” Gordon said of preparing the meal.
“Jeff is the best at what he does on the racetrack and to come into the kitchen with an open mind like he did was great,” Scargle said. “He has the hand-eye coordination down. There’s a second career waiting for him if he needs it.”
It would have been a nice shindig to attend, only because McDreamy himself was in attendence. Yep, Patrick Dempsey of “Grey’s Anatomy” was there, apparently he was involved in the filming of a documentary about Jeff Gordon’s life that’s set to air before the Pepsi 400 in July.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon and renowned Bay Area chef Victor Scargle prepare a meal for the media on Sunday at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: Mike Doran)
No, not that Washington. Washington state.
Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Greg Biffle were in Olympia, Washington today trying to get the state’s lawmakers on the bandwagon to bring a $368 million racetrack to the area.
Washington must do this! If only for me — and I know everybody makes decisions just to make me happy — they should do this. NASCAR has been doing so much in this past decade to expand the sport beyond its southern roots, a track in the Northwest is the natural next step. Actually, a second race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma would be great too, but I’ll take what I can get.
Apparently the politicos in Washington state weren’t so excited by the idea, even with NASCAR royalty like Petty showing up on their doorstep. This is incredibly crazy! That’s like Michael Jordan going to Vermont and saying “Hey I think you should invest in a pro basketball team up here” and Vermont saying “eeh, no.”
They’ve got the money to do it and there are a million NASCAR fans like myself who would easily travel there to see the race every year. It’s the perfect excuse to finally check out Seattle, the Space Needle alone just isn’t enough for me.
Former NASCAR stars Richard Petty, center, has a laugh with Sen. Karen Keiser D-Kent, right, and Mark Blondin, machinist union president, right, after arriving at a hotel in Olympia, Wash. Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007, to attend a Washington Labor Council reception. To the right of Petty is former driver Darrell Waltrip and current driver Greg Biffle – a Vancouver, Wash., native The three are to meet with Washington State lawmakers Thursday morning in support of a $368 million racetrack proposal that has, so far, left many state lawmakers unimpressed. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Stock car racing fan Mathew Moriarty shows off the Richard Petty autograph he received on his arm Wednesday evening, Feb. 21, 2007, at the Waterstreet Cafe in downtown Olympia, Wash. Moriarty says he hopes to get the autograph permanently inked on his arm. (AP Photo/The Olympian, Toni L. Bailey)
For what feels like the fifty billionth time, but really it’s only been four, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won the the NASCAR NMPA Chex® Most Popular Driver award today at the NASCAR Myers Brothers Award Luncheon in New York City. (photo credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
All I can say is doesn’t that trophy look like they’re playing Ring Around the Rosie? Instead of giving him some big bronze trophy that’ll take up space, why not just make a box of cereal with his photo on it? It could be a special commemorative box they can hawk in supermarkets all over the country. I’d buy it, which isn’t really saying much, but still.
It should be noted that Bay Area native Jeff Gordon came in second in the voting, followed by Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and Elliott Sadler.
In local news… Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Friday, December 1st) for the 2007 Big O Tires Racing Season at Infineon Raceway. Get online and buy tickets early for the NASCAR, NHRA, AMA, and IRL race weekends.
Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calf. has announced its 2007 Big O Tires Racing Season.
The schedule is as follows…
2007 Big O Tires Racing Season Schedule
— Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown, presented by Supercuts — May 18-20
— Wine Country Classic vintage car races — June 2-3
— NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series — June 22-24
— Infineon Cougar Mountain Classic — July 5-8
— FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals — July 27-29
— Cal-Steam/KOHLER Div. 7 NHRA drag races, presented by Korbel — August 3-5
— Grand Prix of Sonoma County (IndyCar) — August 24-26
If you haven’t picked up your tickets for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend, set for Aug. 25-27, yet then I think you should mark your calendars for Thursday, August 17th. That’s the day that IndyCar