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Race 17: Annual Sonoma Race Diary

Posted by Amy in General

Wow am I late with this race post- but as happens with nearly all races I attend in person- I go to the race- have a blast and then come home and slammed in the face by “reality” when I get back. Sigh. Plus I took 1800+ pictures myself,  with Misty taking an additional 650+ pictures.  I had to then weed through them and process some of them for the blog- which takes time as I am sure you can imagine! A big  thank you to all of my readers for being so patient.

Sonoma Raceway Grandstands

Sonoma Racway 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Misty and I get to Sonoma Raceway early on Friday, pick up our respective credentials, park in lot M as directed by the parking attendants (which in both Misty and I’s opinion seem to be the BEST at nearly any track we have been to thus far), shuttled to the media center- found our respective spots (schwing- right next to each other- no having to ask about swapping and BONUS we had front row window seats that looked out onto pit road and what would eventually be Greg Biffle’s pit stall) and then we headed towards the garage area before it got to crowded.

We did a walk down the length of the garages to the Sunoco gas station:

The Sunoco fueling station at Sonoma Raceway 2013 (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

During the stroll Misty caught sight of Tony Stewart’s dad Nelson relaxing in the morning sun and checking his phone:

Tony Stewart’s father, Nelson Stewart, sits outside of the Team 14 hauler on Friday morning at Sonoma Raceway- 2013. (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany).

We landed ourselves for a good portion of the morning at the technical inspection tent. I was having a great time catching cars roll out of tech:

The #5 Farmers Insurance car of Kasey Kahne gets pushed out of the technical inspection tent at Sonoma Raceway- 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach).

The #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevy is rolled out of the technical inspection tent- it was so shiny it was hard to get a decent picture of! (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach).

From initial inspection cars were then rolled from the inspection tent to the scales that are stationed right at the backside of the media center:

The crew of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy rolls the car from Technical Inspection to the scales at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

The #88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr actually rolling onto the scales:

The #88 get's weighed

The #88 National Guard Chevy of Dale Earnhardt Jr gets weighed in the garage area at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach).

Of course also on Friday are the pressers- which I love to sit in on.

Jeff Gordon and Danica Patrick had their pressers in the media center:

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon answers questions from the media on Friday at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Danica Patrick in the Media Center

Danica Patrick smiles during her media session at the Media Center at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany).

Some pressers are held in at the back of the respective team hauler during the break between practices. I don’t like these so much (but still go) because I can’t usual hear worth a dime nor can I see. I did get luck and catch a couple good ones of Jimmie Johnson however. Here is one of them:

Jimmie Johnson talks to the media

Jimmie Johnson talks to the media outside of the #48 Lowes hauler in the garages at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach).

Of course what you have to know is that I am kind of shy (I know a shocker right?) and thus I am not very pushy- so when it comes to the driver’s presser that I want to hear/photograph the most- Tony Stewart (and yes I did still want to photograph Tony even after his principalesque chastising of photographers at Las Vegas earlier in the season) this is the view I get:

Tony Stewart's media session at Sonoma Raceway

My view of Tony Stewart’s media session at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach).

I am not going to push my way into that fruckus – because I am just not a pushy person. Nor did I really have anything earth shatteringly original to ask him.  I momentarily contemplated sticking around and seeing if maybe I could weasel in after the crowd thinned out a bit- but again- I didn’t anything pressing to ask him. We had requested an interview with him and were politely declined (hey I would rather be politely declined then ignored altogether which does happen a lot sometimes) and I didn’t think it would be very polite to just stick my camera in his face especially after Vegas. So Misty and I wandered away…I am glad I did because I read the transcript of his presser later that day and it doesn’t sound like he was in the mood for fluffy questions. For instance here are a couple of quotes from the transcript:

Q: Is breaking the track record important?

Tony Stewart: Does it pay extra? Do we get anymore points or do we get a bigger trophy or do we get more prize money? If no then it doesn’t. No it doesn’t matter to me.

Q: Does the change in turn seven take some of the fun away?

Tony Stewart: What did they do? It’s news to me. I’ve been here for 15 straight years and I didn’t notice any difference when I got down to sever. I didn’t see anything. I don’t think it’s done anything.

These are just a couple of examples- but you must know that I always worry that asking him something at the track will get his dander up in a ruffle- so I tend to just stay quiet around him and shoot pictures. It’s better that way. The picture getting wasn’t any good so we wandered away.

But while on the subject of Tony Stewart specifically- I want to mention the Mobil 1 paint scheme he was running. It had a patriotic feel to it that I loved. Because of the harsh sunny lighting the pictures make the deep sparkly blue look black- but I promise you it was blue- and there were little stars at the bottom of the car. He probably wouldn’t like to hear it described as pretty…but it was very pretty and patriotic:

The Mobil 1 Chevy of Tony Stewart

The Mobil 1 Chevy of Tony Stewart- you can kind of see the metal flake blue and the stars around the splitter area as the car is being pushed through the garage area at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (photo credit: Amy K. Marbach)

I did get some cool pictures of crew member working around the garage- which is one of my favorite things to get pictures of:

Crew member works on tires

A member of the #48 Lowes crew works on tires at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (photo credit: Amy K. Marbach)

gasing up the Chevy

A crew member for the #27 machine of Paul Menard gasses up the Chevy (and yes- the Florida Georgia song is going through my head right now) at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Also on Friday I caught sight of Sammy Hagar hanging out with Jimmie Johnson. I admit it- I nearly squealed like the girl that I am. I LOVE Sammy Hagar!

Sammy Hagar! And Jimmie Johnson

Sammy Hagar and Jimmie Johnson in the garage area at Sonoma Raceway 2013. Jimmie signed the piece of paper Sammy is holding – it appears to be a title for something- what I have no idea. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Saturday was reserved for qualifying in the new group qualifying format. It seemed to go fairly smoothly. From my perspective it was like watching little mini races. Personally I think if NASCAR really wants to keep up this format for the qualifying they might want to make the road course races like little heat races- it would be more exciting because some drivers would just do a qual run and pull right back off the track.

My favorite picture from Saturday was in the early morning as the cars where lined up to go through pre-qualifying technical:

Pushing through pre qualifying inspection

A crew member for Tony Stewart’s #15 Mobil 1 Chevy (left) and Tony Stewart’s father Nelson (right) push the car into line for pre-qualifying inspection in the garages at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

The best part was Misty’s idea for a caption (which I am pretty sure she instagramed in a similar picture she took with her phone) and that was:  Really Tony Stewart? Making your dad push the car out to the qualifying grid?

After qualifying was over on Saturday – we went to the Golden Gate Bridge and walked it- you can see my pictures for that in a set over at Flickr- they are cool but I don’t want to muddy up my race post with frivolous pictures of bridges.

If there is anything you have noticed about the pictures from Friday and Saturday- it’s that the weather was sunny and warm- with a little bit of wind on Saturday (but not too much). Well on Sunday when we got to the track the weather had completely changed and was very overcast and kind of damp. We got to the track much earlier…and crews work working already on changing their set ups that morning:

Sunday morning work

Working to change the set ups on Sunday morning to chase the weather at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Working on the cars on Sunday Morning

Working on Jeff Gordon’s car on Sunday morning in the garages at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo credit: Amy K. Marbach).

We were able to walk down pit road before they let the masses of fans in- and it was nice of Kevin Harvick to want to keep his crew toasty warm during the colder than expected weather:

Kevin Harvick's pit box

Kevin Harvick’s pit box on Sunday morning at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Despite the questionable weather they did fit the race in. We watched drivers and their loved ones stroll by the media center on their way to the qualifying grid:

Jeff Gordon signs for fans in the garage

Jeff Gordon signs for fans in the garage on his way to the starting grid on Sunday morning at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Ingrid Vandebosch and Jon Edwards

Ingrid Vandebosch, wife of driver Jeff Gordon and Jon Edwards, PR to Jeff Gordon walk to the starting grid on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany)

Samantha Busch heading to the grid

Samantha Busch, wife of driver Kyle Busch, is all smiles on Sunday morning as she heads to the starting grid at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Drivers were introduced and paraded around the track in the beds of Toyota Tundra’s:

Teammates Danica Patrick and Ryan Newman

Teammates Danica Patrick and Ryan Newman ride around Sonoma Raceway on Sunday morning. (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany).

As for the race- well we know that Tony didn’t end up doing so well. Even he was disappointed in his run.  Here is the little write up I do regarding Tony Stewart each week:

Qualified: 11th

Finished: 28th

Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr

Points After Sonoma: Dropped to 15th in the standings :-(

My Mood After Sonoma: Sad Tony had a bad day- even sadder that he dropped so much in the points standings but happy to be in the media center for Martin Truex Jr’s Post-Race- he was a happy happy guy!

Victory Lane

The chaos and excitement of a post-race victory lane at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Martin Truex Jr and teamowner Michael Waltrip in the media center after their victory at Sonoma Raceway 2013. Nope these guys aren’t happy at all. LOL (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

One last victory lane picture:

Martin Truex and crew in Victory lane...still...again

Martin Truex Jr and team take another photo in victory lane at Sonoma Raceway 2013. (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany)

My absolute favorite part of the post race media session with Martin and crew? Actually happened after it was over. As Martin Truex Jr hopped off the stage, his long time girlfriend handed him her phone and the first words out of his mouth were something like: Holy Crap Mom! and then he looked at what media was left packing up and had a huge smile on his face and motioned towards the phone like yeah- I’m talking to my mom!  Adorable!

There are plenty of pictures in this post so I will post a post tomorrow with the Gratuitous Tony picture and some other favorites from Race Sonoma which is quickly becoming a favorite in my eyes!

To see many many more pictures from the Sonoma race visit our Sonoma 2013  Flicker Set- including are all those in the post plus many many more- including those I instagrammed during the weekend!

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