Sunday was another early start with all bloggers finally in attendance at the track. We made plans to meet up on pit road at the Brew Crew pit box but first I went in to the garages to say hi to the guys and get some scoop.
The crew was busy getting the car ready for inspection so I sought out some of my contacts in the garages and asked their opinion of the NASCAR drug policy. First, anyone who works on the cars can be selected for the random drug testing each week. People are randomly selected based on a number on their hard card and it can be officials, crew or team members or drivers.
When asked about the fairness of not knowing the specific substances on the banned list -- most felt it was completely fair and they know if they are concerned about some drug they are taking they can talk to NASCAR's MD to get that medication noted and "cleared." No one seemed reluctant to go to the MD to discuss their medications and many felt it was the best drug program in sports.
A random tidbit -- some were not in the least surprised by Mayfield getting caught. Hmmmmmmm.....
It was time to meet up with the bloggers at the Miller Lite pit box. RA6AN was writing good luck messages to her beloved Roush teams and IowaGirl, YeeMum and Jon464 were getting the royal tour of the pit box courtesy of Larry, the rear tire carrier. Larry is "almost famous" for his pit box tours as you will see in a video I hope to have up soon. He also admits to reading the blogs and recognized some of the bloggers in attendance! So if you write on Wednesdays and Thursdays don't be surprised if the Brew Crew knows what you said about them! Here is RA6AN trying to counteract the #2 team mojo by holding up a #6 for her favorite driver.
The bloggers headed off to collect signatures and lugnuts from the other crews and I headed back into the garage. The Brew Crew was pushing the Miller Lite Dodge past me towards the first inspection station -- putting the rear shocks back in the car -- so I caught up with them and resumed my duties as the unofficial tool car girl. While we were in line for inspection our teammate, Sam Hornish, Jr. pulled in in his rental car -- a Dodge of course!
Infineon is one of the few tracks where the driver's do not bring their motor coaches and instead stay in local resorts in wine country. As a result they are often stuck in the same traffic we are and its a hoot to see fans recognize drivers in the cars next to them.
We were making it through inspection without a hitch -- well until the final inspection stop. The Blue Deuce was rolled up onto a ramp where the templates sit to check for the yaw and length of the cars. We passed inspection and "Stretch", the general mechanic on the crew, was sitting in the window ready to steer off the ramp and down the hill to pit road. Well, it was a very tight squeeze and he couldn't react fast enough and ended up ripping the lower skirt off the car on the right hand side. OOPS!
Above is Stretch holding the piece that broke off. Not to worry, the Stretch, the car chief Jeffrey, and Steve the rear-end mechanic took the skirt off, cut a new piece of plastic to go in its place and had the car all ready to go about 15 min later. Of course the NASCAR officials were watching "closely" as Jeffrey joked about what a great diversion tactic so they could fiddle with the left side of the car. Given how well the Miller Lite Dodge handled in the race compared to practice, I would say Stretch might be onto something!
Once the car was safely out on pit road it was time to head back to the hauler for some of Cindy's tasty grub. Beef tips, rice and corn were on the menu today. While the guys dug in I admired their most recent trophy -- The Kings Cup.
The Brew Crew had won the annual go-kart race for charity beating out Denny Hamlin's team for the Cup which they proudly displayed all weekend outside the hauler. WOOT!
The guys are also in another competition...weight loss! Inspired by crew chief Pat Tryson's dramatic weight loss over the course of the 2008 season, several of the crew are battling to be the biggest loser this year. Based on their progress chart, I would say they are practicing "Yo-Yo" diets -- baby steps right?! LOL
The drivers started heading out of their haulers to driver introductions and of course one of the most popular dad's on this Father's Day race was "Big Daddy" Jeff Gordon. Here he is with Ella as everyone yelled Happy Father's Day to him.
In a rare event, the Miller Lite Dodge was lined up exactly with our pit box so Kurt had a nice shady place to hang out before having to get in the car.
Kurt filled us in on the hunting trip he was heading to in Montana on his way home from California this week...including the 3 hour donkey ride he had to take to get to the hunting spot -- Man, I wish I could get some pictures of that!!! He's plan is to hunt bear with his compound bow and arrow...let's hope he shows up for Louden!
Here is nearly the entire team lined up for the prayer and anthem...
And another moving moment -- especially for me as a "retired" National Park Police Mounted Patrol groom -- was when the Oakland Police Department motorcycles lead the field on the pace laps in honor of the four officers killed on duty earlier this year.
To our right in the pits was Elliot Sadler's team where The King had chosen to watch the race. It sure was fun watching them cheer on their teammate to the victory.
To our left in the pits was pole-sitter Brian Vickers. One very interested party in the Red Bull teams this weekend was Front Row Joe who sold his ride to Scott Speed and instead was hanging around the pits.
Some of you may remember we have a father-son team on the Miller Lite crew. Steve, the rear-end mechanic and catch can man (seen previously in my blogs eating chicken wings with me) is the father of Chris, our gas man. Chris was a good son and didn't forget to wish his dad a Happy Father's Day -- in the form of a neon sticker on his helmet that his dad could read as they were gassing the car!
Of course, you all know that Kurt was kicking booty and taking names as he drove the Blue Deuce through the field from 27th up to the lead and was in contention for certainly a top 5 finish. Finally this generated some media attention and we had the lovely Lindsey in our pits interviewing crew chief Pat Tryson.
We were all pretty excited to hear the No. 2 car was getting awesome gas mileage and we were good to go on two stops, well until Jimmie Johnson decided to try passing Kurt through the "esses" and blatantly took Kurt out as he slammed hard into the tire barrier. Apparently JJ apologized but his crew chief did not pass that message along to Kurt who headed to the pits with a badly wounded ride.
The only good news was this fired Kurt up and he drove like mad in the final 30 laps to end up with a 15th-place finish. That and I managed to snag a small part of sheet metal as a souvenir! Several of you saw me on TV as Kurt was being interviewed after the race. He was clearly disappointed in Jimmie's judgment and thought he could trust Jimmie as the two former champs usually raced clean. As soon as Kurt finished his TV interview, Johnson headed over to apologize. I didn't get too close but it was clear Jimmie was saying he lost control of his car going over the rumble strips. Not sure if Kurt *really* forgave him but he was gracious nonetheless. We might see this one come back around...
The Miller Lite racing team had the car loaded and they were all heading out to the plane for the long flight home soon after. I said my goodbyes and good lucks and hope to see them again during the Chase.
Stay tuned for some more blogs from The Bloggers Weekend at Sonoma!