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Chase Race 9: The Annual Phoenix Roadtrip

Posted by Amy in General | NASCAR

As I mentioned I was gone to Phoenix last weekend- for the race and other fun with Misty.  It’s a trip we’ve made at least once a year since…what? 2009? Anyway- this year’s annual 1700+ mile road trip was fun as it always is.  I drove 500 miles from here (central coast of California) to Vegas and spent the night with Misty and Ronald her adorable dachshund puppy. Now what you need to know about Ronald is that he is an excited pee-er. So when he is excited he pees and luckily for me he finds me very exciting. So when I am about 20 minutes out or so- Misty usually tries to take him for a walk hoping to alleviate any possible peeing (on me) marathons when I get there.  Anyway, I turn into Misty’s neighborhood to see Misty and little Ronald walking up one of the nearby streets. I stopped and said hello and little Ronnie of course wanted to race the car- let me tell you he put his little legs and heart into trying- but he is a mini-doxie and as the shortest legs I have ever seen on a puppy. I beat them to her house so I was waiting for her to turn the corner and as I watched Misty (the ardent Jeff Gordon fan) walk up her little street I noticed something. Let me show you a picture and see if you notice it too:

Misty when I arrived

Misty in her yard when I arrived at her place in Vegas. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Yeah the JEFF GORDON fan is wearing a Tony Stewart shirt (while flashing the 24) because even she misses Tony Stewart on track!  She even has a #SmokeWillRise decal for her car.  She has also said on multiple occasions that SHE MISSES Tony’s competitiveness on the track. I am noting this because next season WHEN Tony returns- I will need the photographic proof of this moment as she is cursing Tony for being in front of Jeff Gordon!  After all Misty’s favorite saying is that you can “never keep Stewart down” when it comes to a race.

The next morning we threw her luggage into the HHR and proceeded from Vegas to Phoenix and we were off through the expansive Arizona desert. There are a couple of towns outside of Vegas and when you are first in Arizona (Kingman- I am looking at you and your Cracker Barrel) and then there is miles and miles and MILES and hours and hours of NOTHING but desert. Oh except for the road side table- I can’t forget the special roadside table (not a rest stop with a bathroom or vending machine- nope just a covered table And a trash basin..and lots of room to park off highway).

Roadside Table

The imfamous Roadside Table somewhere between Kingman and Wickenburg in Arizona. (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany).

Also somewhere between Kingman and Wickenburg Arizona on the way to Phoenix the HHR parked near a Joshua tree. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach).

On Thursday we decided to walk to dinner at the P.F. Changs in Scottsdale but decided when we got there that it it was too early for dinner so we did some pre-shopping / scouting at the Fashion Square mall- and then evntually sat down to dinner. Now mind you the restaurant/mall was a little over a mile from our hotel to PF Changs- not a big walk by any means.  So we are sitting there towards the end of our meal and I decide to check my various social media while sitting there only to find out that Tony Stewart was doing a Bass Pro appearance nearby!! What the french toast?! And that it was happening RIGHT THEN as in it started about 10 minutes ago.  AHHHH…I honestly wanted to drop everything and rush to the car –  but we would have had to hail the waiter, settle up the bill, walk/run the mile to the car then rush over to Bass Pro to the appearance. Oh and did I mention it was rush hour (6:10) and traffic would have been a nightmare- plus we kind of had an IDEA where the Bass Pro was but I have a terrible penchant for getting lost in areas that I KNOW and have lived in for years- and the Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tempe/Mesa area has a special way of making me get REALLY lost quickly. Plus it was already pitch black dark out (I am a visual navigator) so by the time we would have FOUND the Bass Pro- Tony would have likely been LONG gone.  So Misty talked me down by telling me we didn’t have wristbands anyway which were likely given out early that morning anyway so even if by some miracle we made it to Bass Pro and Tony happened to still be there- we would have been SOL anyway.  We finished our dinner and took a leisurely walk back to the hotel- stopping here and there in shops and whatnot that caught our eye. That was our first night in Phoenix. Missed Tony Stewart…by that much. Urg.

Friday were at the track fairly early to make the most of our Pre-Race Pit Passes that we got (For FREE!) as a thank you from PIR for renewing our seats. I was excited to be at the track- not having been to a race track since June, but I definitely felt something missing as it was the first race I have attended in person since Tony’s been sidelined with his broken leg.  My pictures from the whole race weekend have an overwhelming sense of what I felt was missing.  I usually take pictures of this and that and while I take a LOT of pictures of Tony Stewart stuff I usually take lots of other driver stuff too- but not this time. Pretty much it was all 14 car with the occasional other. Sigh.

Here are some of my favorite pictures (and please note that it took great effort to cull down the 14 pictures for the post):

The Garage Area

The garage at Phoenix International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Rolling through tech

Rolling through technical inspection. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

14 in the Garage

The 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Chevy in the garage. I was playing with contrast in lightroom with this picture so that is why the red looks washed out. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Heading out to practice

The 56 Napa Toyota driven by Martin Truex Jr. heads out to practice at Phoenix Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Heading in from a practice run

(This one is probably one of my favorite pictures). Jeff Gordon leads Kyle Busch heading in from a practice run at Phoenix International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

You know how you hear about how the crews spread around cola in their pit stalls before the race so the crew members get better traction when they are running around the car? If you happen to have a pre-race pit pass you can usually walk through the stalls- and you can usually notice the sticky coating in the stalls. Well here is the spraying of cola in the pit actually occurring! I had never seen it actually happening before:

Spraying down the pit stall for the crew

Spraying the pit stall down with cola for traction for crew members running around the car at Phoenix Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach).

Traction Sprayer Thingy

Look what I spied in the #14 pit box on Sunday morning. The Traction Sprayer thingy. I wouldn’t have even known what it was for if I hadn’t witnessed the above picture. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach).

Gluing on the lugnuts

Gluing on the lugnuts on Sunday morning at Phoenix Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

My funny pit road picture:

Pretty sure this isn't Krissie

Pretty sure this isn’t Krissie sitting in Krissie’s Chair in the 39 Quicken Loans pit at Phoenix Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach).

As for the race itself?  The races in Phoenix are always listed as being in Kilometers instead of miles and the only reason I can figure for it is that the Avocare 500 sounds more impressive than the Avocare 312. I don’t know why but that BOTHERS the dickens out of me. The racing action didn’t disappoint at Phoenix- and I really don’t think it ever does. I LOVE that place.  I thought there was some good close racing.  I will say that Jimmie Johnson made two GREAT saves.  And Reutimann took a heck of hard hit in his crash- I could hear his car hit the wall- and I was sitting closer to the start/finish line then not.

Race winner was Kevin Harvick.  Jimmie Johnson capitalized on Matt Kenseth’s misfortune and now has a sizeable 28 point lead over him Championship points standings going into the final race of the season.  Kevin Harvick is third in the standings 34 points behind Johnson.  Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr round out the top five in the points.

Notes about Phoenix:

1. I spent a good amount of time at the Team Chevy booth- and am pretty sure I know what my next vehicle will be…so thank you to Team Chevy for letting me crawl all over that sucker…twice and also having the vehicle in the color I was hoping for so I could see them together.

2. There is THIS PICTURE that Misty took at the race and captioned with: Wow Amy. Get tired of waiting for Smoke to rise?? I HAVE to explain…it was at the Goodyear racing area (you can see the Goodyear tire version of plinko in the background) anyway- Dale’s standee had a speaker and a button and I was cuddled up to it because it’s LOUD at a race track even on Friday so I couldn’t hear what he was talking about.

Amy tries to hear what Flat Dale has to say...

Amy tries to hear what Flat Dale has to say… (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany)

*** Disclaimer: You may also notice that I am decked out in driver gear (#SmokeWillRise) which I do NOT do when I am attending a race as media. I was NOT at Phoenix as media (our credential applications were denied because they had received too many requests to accommodate) so I wasn’t going to not fly my Tony Stewart colors loud and proud! I am after all a fan and I am pretty sure you all know that since neither Misty nor I try to hide our driver preferences.***

No Gratuitous Tony pictures because I didn’t make his appearance…not that I am bitter about that or anything ;-) . But here are some #SmokeWillRise pictures from Sunday morning at Phoenix:

#SmokeWillRise

#SmokeWillRise on the #14 pit box on Sunday morning at Phoenix Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach).

#SmokeWillRise over the 14 door on Sunday Morning.

#SmokeWillRise over the 14 door on Sunday morning at Phoenix Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach).

You can find more pictures of the race in Phoenix in my Avocare 500 2013 photo album on flickr.

Last race of the season is Homestead-Miami on Sunday- then we enter the “off season” (for us not for the teams) until next year. #SmokeWillRise #The14in2014

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