If you have been reading BadGroove for awhile you know that I go to the NASCAR race in VEGAS every year. It was the track I took in my first NASCAR race at (the same holds true for Misty because I drug her to that first NASCAR race- and a fan was born). Of course it helps that Misty lives in nearby Henderson and lets me stay with her while we are having our racecation fun. Anyway, fair warning- I took a LOT of pictures while in Vegas. Most at the track were taken on my “real” camera (I used a Canon 20D with a 300mm lens) but some on my iPhone as well. If you followed along on twitter or happen to be my Facebook friend- you were subjected to lots of my iphone pictures over the course of my trip. So don’t be surprised but I am not going to just post pictures here- but I will more than likely direct you to Flickr sets (yes multiple ones) so you can see all the race time FUN we had in Vegas.
So I drove into Vegas on Wednesday- it takes me a good 8 hours to get there…I got a tour of Misty’s rockin’ new house (it’s AWESOME- her room? Is HUGE) out by Lake Las Vegas in Henderson. On Thursday Misty had to work a part day…so I hung out with her at her job- which was kind of cool- to see her in action at her job. Then on a lark we decided to drive out to the Speedway to pick up our credentials for Friday-Sunday. If we knew about the Thursday test in Vegas we both forgot and were SURPRISED when we got there. We picked up our credentials and then walked into the speedway because HELLO CARS WERE ON TRACK!!! Fans could watch the test free and even get into the NEON GARAGE FREE which I think was a SMART thing to do. Of course I didn’t have my “real” camera with me because I didn’t think about it- I am not use to being at the track on a Thursday. It was fun though watching the cars practice and zip in and out of the garage.
There was even a driver Q&A in the Neon Garage with drivers Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Mark Martin (Casey Mears was also suppose to be there but he was MIA for some reason that was never explained). So Misty and I decided to stick around for that- it was fun watching all the fans gather around the stage for the Q&A and wait. Mark Martin arrived early to the Q&A and spent a lot of time with fans out in the Neon Garage signing autographs and taking pictures. That was great to see that fan interaction and let me tell you the fans ate it up.
Friday brought with it rain. The cars NEVER saw the track on Friday.
Fans with access milled around the Neon Garage area watching crews work on cars hoping to catch sight of their favorite drivers nearing the autograph windows or sought shelter under the eves of the Neon Garage or under the grandstands. Misty and I milled around between pressers just to get out of the media center and stretch our legs a bit. Especially since there was a long gap between the Jeff Gordon presser and the next one which was to be Tony Stewart. Then we got word that Jimmie Johnson would be doing an impromptu presser at his hauler – so we rushed down to the garage area for that.
Unfortunately we were late-ish to the party and stuck behind lots of (much taller) media members so I did my best to snap a picture or two. Misty and I then milled up the row of transporters just to see what we could see and caught sight of Jeff Gordon meeting with some fans outside of his transporter:
It wasn’t long after that that we made our way BACK to the media center (because it was threatening to lightning!) to find out that Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Tony Stewart’s media availabilities had all been moved up…and who could blame them really. It was pretty obvious by the rain, ominous clouds and report of snow in nearby Henderson, NV that it wasn’t like that the cars would see any on track action and a lot of the drivers had appearances that evening (including Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman who were appearing together at a charity poker tournament at the MGM Grand).
Then came time for Tony’s availability and before I dive into that can of worms, I have to share two very separate things with you. First- my regular readers know that I am a Tony Stewart fan but what they don’t necessarily know is that I am extremely shy in “real” life. Second is that to “get” what I am talking about in a minute you must be familiar with this commercial for Snickers with Joe Pesci (link takes you to the commercial on YouTube). Okay- so for those who have never been in a media center at a NASCAR track- pretty much a driver sits at one end on a little stage and the media sit in chairs. To ask a question a media person raises their hand- a mic is brought to them and they say their name, affiliation and their question and then the driver answers it and then it is moved on to the next person. The Tony Stewart fan in me knows Tony has been known to be snarky to the media and accepts this as a general truth about Tony (although I must say that when Misty and I have interviewed him in the past for this site- he has never been anything but COMPLETELY pleasant, downright cordial and thoughtful with his answers). So anyway, I was THIS CLOSE to just bucking up and raising my hand after he was introduced to ask a question because heck I have interviewed him before so it couldn’t POSSIBLY go wrong right? Anyway I had this question which I thought was pretty good at the time and I was getting up the “nerve” to raise my hand when he answered the question about if he knew what caused Danica and Ryan’s tire failures at Phoenix and he answered with “they lost air.” Well you can bet my confidence flew right out the window and into the rain. So instead I picked up my camera and shot some pictures of him giving his media since I knew Misty was recording it and if I wanted to quote him I could pull the quotes from her recording. Then Tony kind of got snarky with the photographers because “17 shutters went off when I moved my arm- what is so exciting about that?” so I set my camera down and didn’t dare point it in his direction the rest of the day despite the fact that I just happened to be eating dinner that night in the same casino as his and Ryan Newman’s charity poker tournament. Anyway, back to the FUNNY part of this little tale: at some point after Tony had left the media center but before we left the track or maybe it was WHILE we were leaving the track I don’t remember exactly- Misty leaned over to me and asked me if maybe Tony needed a Snicker’s bar because he was grumpy and thus maybe hungry? Oh that made me giggle because of the commercial I mentioned above.
So Saturday was the best day for photos at the track! Why? Because the lighting was better since it wasn’t so cloudy or drippy- plus I wasn’t sent running to the media center for fear of lightning strikes (yes I am a huge chicken when it comes to thunder and lightning- just ask Misty)! I spent a good part of my day trying to catch some perfect shots in the Neon Garage and other places around the track. Plus I do love watching the cars zip in and out during practice and the crews hustling to make changes on them- although granted most of the time I don’t know WHAT they are necessarily doing but I do love it. I think I might have even seen a rear gear for Jeff Gordon’s car!
Because I was in the garage most of the day on Saturday I didn’t really know how Tony Stewart was doing in practice…well not until he came in between practices, got out of the car and looked at his damaged splitter with a NOT SO PLEASED look on his face:
By the way- that is NOT the not-so-pleased-look on his face in this picture- I didn’t capture that one- thankfully. Even Misty could tell his practice wasn’t going so well by his countenance. Luckily his race on Sunday ended up a little better. While Tony started 9th because qualifying was rained out on Friday so the field was set by points- he quickly started falling further and further back until he was a lap down (wait don’t fear race fans- it gets better- really it does). He spent a majority of the race on the lap as the crew worked to make all kinds of changes to the car. Well sometime MUST have worked because he eventually worked his way into Lucky Dog position and ended up getting a lap back. Once that happened there was no stopping him. He worked hard and worked his way up to an 11th place finish which moved him up to 18th in the Sprint Cup points standings. Race winner was birthday boy Matt Kenseth who celebrated by hoisting that big wrench trophy up in victory lane!
So now I am going to present to you my THREE favorite pictures of the weekend. It was REALLY hard for me to pick because you all know I LOVE taking pictures:
What no pictures of people? I actually don’t like taking pictures of people because to me they never seem to come out as good as my pictures of “things”. IF I was forced to pick my two favorite pictures of people it would be these:
Feel free to peruse my different photo albums from Vegas and let me know which pictures are your favorites either on Flickr or in the comments. The links to the photo albums are:
Here to hoping that we see #GoTonyGo do well at Bristol this weekend!
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