I was gonna try to fit the entire Infineon post into one…but it was just too large and I couldn’t do that to you. I hope you will enjoy part one. Stay tuned for part 2).
After checking into our hotel, Misty and I went to Infineon Raceway Thursday for like 10 minutes- just to pick up our credentials and remind ourselves how to get there because it had been a couple years (2009 to be exact- where the first time we were there we got misguided and ended up in Petaluma). We returned bright and early Friday morning got ourselves situated in the media center- grabbed something to drink and headed out to get some pictures before things filled in. We even wandered through the area of concessions behind the grandstands at the Start/Finish line – which was kinda creepy actually since most if not all of them were still closed. We got a good look at the Infineon Hall of Fame…which honestly should be called the Wall of Fame…but that’s just semantics I guess.
Rick Hendrick, Infineon Hall Of Fame tile (Photo Credit: Misty Bethany)
I have always had a huge love of music and as I mentioned in earlier in both The Music Of Bristol Part 1 and The Music of Bristol Part 2- I have fairly eclectic tastes in music. For that reason alone I really wish they had played driver introductions in their entirety during the prerace show. I think that the choice of songs really helps highlight one of the best things about NASCAR and that is the personalities of the different drivers.
I admit that the whole twitter deal between Brian Vickers and Jimmie Johnson made the choice of introduction songs even more intriguing to me. Jimmie Johnson recently started tweeting (@JimmieJohnson) and to welcome him to the tweeting world Brian Vickers (@BrianLVickers) and he decided it would be fun to let each other and their twitter followers pick each others introduction songs. That alone right there should have made introductions more TV worthy. Apparently there was some legal reason that they couldn’t show intros (that and the time constraint on the pre-race show, I suspect). Anyway- in case you were wondering Brian Vicker’s got introduced to Shania Twain’s Man, I Feel Like A Woman and Jimmie Johnson got introduced to Sisqo’s The Thong Song.
Some songs choices that interested me were: Paul Menard picking Black Label Society’s Concrete Jungle. I don’t know if he actually likes BLS or if he just picked it because that is exactly what Bristol is…but I liked that choice. I also loved that two drivers picked Avenge Sevenfold songs (Matt Kenseth picked Nightmare and Regan Smith picked Welcome To The Family). Clint Bowyer’s choice of the Theme to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly cracked me up. And how fitting was Bill Elliott’s song choice of Devil Went Down To Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band and Bobby Labonte’s choice of God Bless Texas by Little Texas. The only driver who’s song didn’t seem to match the driver was Kasey Kahne’s choice of A Country Boy Can Survive by Hank Williams Jr. It’s not that I don’t like that song- I do. But I don’t hear Hank Williams Jr and immediately think Kasey Kahne- it just didn’t fit Kasey in my mind. If you are interested in the complete list of driver introduction songs check out this article over on sbnation. Honestly I could probably go down the entire list and muse on for a paragraph per driver- but I won’t bore you there.
Now onto Tony:
Gratuitous Tony Picture. Tony Stewart before the race at Bristol. (photo credit: borrowed without asking from the Official Tony Stewart facebook page)
Tony Stewart was introduced to his standard Bawitaba by Kid Rock. Which I guess he must REALLY like it since he always uses it. I still stand by my assertion that Tony needs to pick a new introduction song. If he needs help all he needs to do is come here (or poll his fans) because we got some great suggestions for Tony when I called for suggestions on the first post of this series! Those would be (in no particular order): Real Good Man by Tim McGraw (which happen to be suggested by winner Claudia), Rough N Ready by Trace Adkins (I love Trace Adkins), When You’re Hot You’re Hot by Jerry Reed, Sound of Madness by Shinedown, Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple (hey Tony does like classic rock), Dirt Road Anthem by Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford (suggested by our other winner Dudley- which is funny because I have been on a Colt Ford kick lately), #1 by Nelly, and Gasoline by Kicking Harold (which I had never heard before but I really like this song now that I have). All great songs to be used as introduction songs for Tony Stewart…but I still like my choice ofI Don’t Want To Stop by Ozzy Osbourne best (see The Music of Bristol Part 2) even though Tony told me in our second interview with him that he isn’t a big heavy metal guy. Now if only we convince him to pick one of our songs just to mix things up a little bit! I mean seriously Tony- I like Kid Rock too, but we have some great suggestions for you to pick from here.
Anyway congratulations go out to Claudia and Dudley who were the winners of the contest I held as part of the Music of Bristol posts. Their Goodyear Racing prizes are on their way to them!
I just wanted you all to know that the winners were picked randomly and not based on how many comments each entrant made (some people made multiple comments and that was totally fine- but they still only got one entry into the contest) or what song you picked. Basically I put your name on a post-it note (pink for the girls and white for the guys) and picked one of each out of my old 20 knit cap.
Okay- So our latest trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway was jam packed and full of fun. And I just wanted to use this space to tie everything together between the different postings Misty and I wrote regarding the weekend. (more…)
Viewership may be down, attendance may be down, but does NASCAR really think changing the rules of the game AGAIN is going to magically cure that? Seems that NASCAR’s answer to all that ails it is to change, change and change things. Apparently they have never heard Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and expecting different results. Well, in this case doing the same thing is changing the sport AGAIN. Can we not just go from one season to another without wholesale changes like this?
Some may not think that the change that has been hinted at is that big of a deal, and may even see the potential change as easier to understand, but as a diehard NASCAR fan I don’t have any issue or problem understanding the current scoring method. Most of us can indeed count past 43. I view the changes as yet one more thing to figure out as the season starts. It distracts from the racing, it distracts from the good part of the sport and frustrates me to no end.
I am also not in favor of changing the Chase format. Why, you may ask? Because in my opinion the integrity of the record books has already been compromised by instituting the Chase in the first place. There is Pre-Chase Era drivers and Championships and Chase Era drivers and Championships, NASCAR doesn’t need a third era. You simply cannot compare Richard Petty’s seven Championships to Jeff Gordon’s four because had the Chase format not been instituted Gordon would have won two additional Championships (2004 and 2007). Carl Edwards would have taken the 2008 Championship, and Jimmie wouldn’t be Mr. Five Time. As it stands there needs to be an asterisk in the books, but the damage is done, let’s move on and leave it be.
If the Chase were eliminated now or God forbid, a whole other format instituted, we will never be able to compare Championship results or have a history of the sport that makes any kind of sense. And to answer those that say, “yeah but Johnson winning all the time is boring and he has this Chase thing figured out”, I say to you, yes indeed it is and he does, but guess what like him or hate him, he has been the best in this format for the last five seasons and it is the burden of the other drivers to rise to the standard set by Johnson the 48 Team. The other 11 teams need to bring it to the track week after week and get it done. If at the end of the season, Johnson is crowned Champion again, then we know the other drivers failed. Simply changing the sport in an attempt to handicap a winner or level a playing field is ridiculous. If the others aren’t up to the challenge then they don’t deserve to win. Hamlin and Harvick came close this year proving the Chase format is not broken.
Confusion is never a good marketing strategy and changing the rules constantly is not going to draw more fans in, but it could frustrate current fans and cause them to move on to a sport they don’t have to re-learn each season. NASCAR, please, leave the drama to the drivers on the track and let the rest ride!
If you have been reading here for any length of time, you know I like love to take pictures. I really do. I have even taken a couple of online photography classes trying to better my techniques. It was in one of my classes that I decided that I do not like taking pictures of people…especially when they are posed or posing. They usually end up with monkey grins or looking like they are wearing the world’s most uncomfortable underwear. Plus, when you take a picture of a car or a horse or something, they don’t tend to bitch about having to stand still while you take just one more shot. Portraiture is just not my bag I guess. I would much rather take pictures of flowers or animals or whatnot.
However when I was at the NASCAR Champions Week celebration and festivities in Las Vegas I got some of the BEST pictures of PEOPLE that I have ever taken. That is when it dawned on me- I can take good pictures of people as long as they don’t know I am taking their picture or at the very least aren’t posing for me. So my best three photos of Champions week are:
Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson talk during a break at the 2010 Stewie Awards in Las Vegas. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)
Probably the best picture of Tony Stewart I have managed to take...because most of them manage to blur because I get nervous and move the camera. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)
Now I know that here it looks like Jimmie is posing for me but he's NOT! He is actually smiling at a little boy who is sitting on his father's shoulders behind me. The little boy kept calling out "Jimmie Johnson...Jimmie Johnson!" (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)
Now you might be wondering where on earth Clint Bowyer fits into all this, since clearly my “best” photos were NOT of Clint. Well as a result of After The Lap and The Stewies, I found out that Clint is a really funny guy. Honestly I have never really given Bowyer much thought before but he really is a funny guy and spent most of the time laughing and cutting up at both After the Lap and The Stewies. But damned if I can get a picture of the man where he doesn’t look grumpy. I present to you all my pictures of Clint Bowyer as evidence:
My very first picture of Clint Bowyer...grimacing in the garage at LVMS three years ago. Ok so maybe he was working and this is Clint's "race" face...but really he just looks annoyed. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)
So that isn’t that bad BUT he looks kind of ticked off right? Well trust me…they only get worse. Check out this picture of Clint signing autographs on the red carpet at Fan Fest:
Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer on the red carpet at Chasers for Charity Fan Fest. (photo credit: Amy K. Marbach)
See? This is NOT Clint Bowyer’s personality- I would know since I was there- he is not the grumpy gus that my camera catches…it’s my apparent inability to catch him in a flattering way. I am sad to admit that have an even worse picture of Clint from the Stewies:
Clint Bowyer at the 2010 Stewie Awards. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)
So why I can’t get a decent picture of Clint Bowyer I don’t know. It use to be that I could never get a decent picture of Tony Stewart because he would make me nervous and I would move the camera so all my pictures of the man would be blurry. But that has changed. With Bowyer it’s different…I can’t caught a flattering image of him for the life of me. I have no explanation for it really.
Also I just wanted to include a side note that while taking pictures to document NASCAR Champions Week 2010 I felt like a paparazzi, especially during the red carpet walk for Fan Fest and during the Stewies. It was kinda weird.
(or how on earth I didn’t pee my pants I am not sure).
Directly after the Victory Lap and Burnouts on Thursday was the After The Lap Q&A at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Which meant Misty and I had to jam! We left our prized burnout spot for the car before the smoke from Jeff Burton’s car had dissipated and started towards the Hard Rock. We had about half an hour and while we weren’t THAT far from the Hard Rock, traffic was backed up from the closing of Las Vegas Blvd for the Victory Lap and the lights at Las Vegas intersections? Are the longest lights I have ever experienced in my entire 30-something years of living. We get to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and basically RUN to into the Joint and grab two seats in the back near where the drivers would be entering. This event was FREE but space was limited and on a first come/first serve. So Las Vegas native Jamie Little was doing the emceeing/hosting of the event and the Chase drivers are announced- walk into the Joint from the back towards a little catwalk then onto the stage. I would have gotten some great pictures of them entering except someone was a little fogger happy at the Joint so all I got were shadowy people in a fog. I will spare you.
The drivers sat on directors chairs on-stage and were asked questions that were submitted on facebook, twitter, on video from the tracks, and even a couple from the audience. Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon were seated next to each other much like at Family Feud the day before and they talked back and forth even when it wasn’t their turn to talk- it was funny. I would love to know what they were saying. Anyway, if you follow me on twitter you might have caught my tweet from the event: I am laughing my ass off at the after the lap q&a. These guys are funny as hell!! And I truly was…laughing my butt off. Best line of the night though? Came from Tony Stewart. Let me set it up:
Someone (Clint Bowyer I think?) brought up that the drivers were all changing from their suits into their firesuits in the same room from the Luncheon early in the day to the Victory Lap in the early afternoon. Apparently Kyle Busch was wearing bright green boxers. The other drivers found that to be uproariously funny and mentioned it several times throughout the evening. Anyway- after much talk of Kyle’s green boxers, Tony gets a hold of one of the microphones and states: I don’t know what you guys over there were doing(motioning towards the drivers on the other side of the stage from him) but you were spending WAY too much time looking at each other’s junk. I nearly fell out of my chair (and I hadn’t had anything to drink so don’t think I was drunk).
In between answering the questions we learned that Jeff Gordon is afraid of needles and doesn’t have any tattoos. And Clint Bowyer? The man is hilarious! Who knew? Not me but indeed Clint Bowyer is HILARIOUS! And we all know that Tony is a great storyteller and he had a couple to tell….needless to say that watching these guys interact with each other outside of the track was great!!
Now we wanted to go to the Stewies but we weren’t sure where they were. Originally we had heard they would be at The Hard Rock as well…but then someone else in the Q&A had mentioned they were going to be at the Rio. There was no way would have time to get all the way to the RIO Q&A and happen onto the Stewies being set up right there outside in the Joint Lobby. We take a prime spot for the taping. Last year by the time we got to the Stewies it was so full of people that we were stuck way up in the balcony and could barely see. We didn’t have that problem this time. And let me just say…poor Kyle Busch’s green underwear were brought up AGAIN on the radio. Here is Misty’s awesome video of the Jeff Gordon section of the Stewies:
(Video credit: Misty Bethany)
I also got some great shots during the Stewies:
Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson talk during the commerical break at The 2010 Stewie Awards.
Tony and Clint Bowyer during to 2010 Stewie Awards.
Tony and Jeff Gordon during the 2010 Stewie Awards.
Tony and Stewie recipient Delana Harvick at the 2010 Stewie Awards.
Tony in the middle of a story at the 2010 Stewie Awards.
The Thursday of NASCAR Champions Week in Vegas was a crazy, chaotic day that had us running all over town…literally. There was the luncheon at the Bellagio (which is a beautiful hotel by the way)…where Dale Earnhardt Jr won his umpteenth favorite driver award…and more importantly- Tony Stewart won the 2010 Home Depot Humanitarian of the Year award (and yes I nearly squealed like a school girl when I found out).
Then it was the Victory Lap and Burnouts down the Las Vegas Strip. Having attended this last year- Misty and I had the perfect spot for viewing (and pictures and video) the burnouts. Also? This year rocked because all top 12 drivers did burn outs- last year just Jimmie burned out- the rest just squirreled around the turn! Anyway, we staked out our spot early. Ok, really early, because we didn’t want to worry about it getting usurped. The weather this year was warmer than last year which was great because by the time they burned out last year I was frozen solid into a Popsicle. We were so cold that by the end of it last year we were both shaking uncontrollably. This year we were prepared with layers but didn’t need to worry. So without further ado…some pictures:
Jimmie Johnson burnout on the Las Vegas Strip for the Champions Victory Lap celebration.
Denny lights them up on Las Vegas Blvd.
Smoke burns some rubber on Las Vegas Blvd.
Kyle burns out on the Las Vegas Strip.
Jeff Gordon takes his turn laying some rubber on the Las Vegas Strip.
Clint Bowyer's Las Vegas burnout.
(All photos of the burnouts are credited to ME!)
And Misty with her arms of steel took this great video of the awesome burnouts:
(Video credit: Misty Bethany who is now the chief videographer for badgroove.com)