Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Tire for Daytona

Jayski broke this story yesterday so I will assume it is okay for me to finally discuss it and post pics.

Goodyear is rolling out a new tire for Daytona in all NASCAR series- no it is not a new compound or size - it is just made with a lot of pride and heart.    As you can see, they are "Supporting Our Troops" and will be rolling out all kinds of cool promotions along with the tire - including tires signed by drivers that you can bid on and proceeds will go to the troops and their families as well as ways to interact with the troops overseas NASCAR style.   Go to starting July 2nd for more details.

Also look for your favorite Penske and RCR drivers promoting the cause during the  Daytona races this weekend.   They did a great job nailing their lines while filming the commercials at Sonoma although none of them seemed to keen on the make up!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sonoma Race Day

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!  Race day at Infineon Raceway brought an early and busy start to the day with the race starting a good two hours earlier than before.   I asked the Brew Crew if the earlier start time affected their schedule and they said no, not really, that if they had the extra two hours they would have just wasted it!  =)    

The over the wall guys had the pit box set up bright and early and I found these two bloggers ready to switch over to root for Kurt rather than Harvick and Ambrose today...(ha!)
I had a good long chat with the pit crew while they were prepping the five sets of tires we had this weekend and unfortunately found them more than a little somber about losing the Miller Lite sponsorship and changing over to Penzoil.   Some of our over the wall guys have been with the Miller Lite car since Rusty's early days and have worked their entire career on the Miller Lite Dodge.   Despite being pretty bummed about the change they all quickly added they would rather lose the sponsor than their driver and reassured me they will still be the elite team at Penske.  My "Brew Crew" will need a new catchy name next year...suggestions welcome!

After hanging out with the pit crew I headed back to the garage to see if the guys were ready to push the car through inspection.   They were pretty late leaving and still had to "run the car" one more time because of something to do with a possible leak in the oil transfer case?   Here is a great example of "don't try this at home" - our rear end mechanic, Steve, is under the car with a flashlight while Darin, our engine guy, is "driving" it with the rear end held up by three jacks.  The rear wheels are spinning God knows how fast right above Steve's head.   These crews do not get enough credit for how hard they work and how dangerous it really is.
We headed out through inspection shortly after and I actually had to help push the car around - which is comical since I can barely move the thing - while the guys switched out to grab some food.   Valli, the NASCAR citizen blogger of hung out with us in the inspection line and had a good laugh as the crew was attacked by a (possibly drunk?) Cougar.

We were so late starting inspection and then unfortunately had problems again at the last station so we wer one of the last cars out.   It was good for me though....Billy, our interior mechanic had to get suited up and go get the gas so he left me in charge of the tool cart again.   By the time we made it through the final inspection spot there were only four guys and me left pushing the car all they way out to our third starting spot on the grid.   And do any of my fellow bloggers there get a picture of this!?  No...they were all too busy watching driver intros!

By the time I got to the pits, the National Anthem was just about to be played.  Gave the guys high fives all around and hunkered down for the race.    I won't bother recapping the action since you all know what happened.  Addington had Kurt on the perfect pit strategy right there with Ambrose and JJ and we were looking to get at least a top 5 finish.   We had great pit stops all is a shot of the crew in action.

And for you Smoke fans...
And for you Yeley fans...
But seriously, kudos to Yeley and his team - they pitted that car with three over the wall guys - the gas/catch can man, a tire carrier and tire changer.  Took them a LONG time to pit the car each stop but they finished the race.  It was a little painful to watch - I almost wanted to go help them!

Of course this race day blog would not be complete without a picture of Travis eating something!  Nutter Butters is his snack of choice today...

Mid-race things were humming along for our team and Larry, our rear tire carrier was chillin' before things got crazy...
And crazy they did just a few minutes was just about now that the big wreck that red flagged the race occurred and Hamlin peeled into the garage smoking his tire so much that he actually set off the sprinklers in the media center!   Our pit was right in front of the media center and the alarms were going off and water was leaking out of the sprinkler pipes on to our extra equipment.  Never a dull moment!

I headed into the garage to see the carnage first hand.  The #56 was destroyed as was the team.  Mikey was there lamenting the wreck as it pulled into the garage on the back of the truck.

Not to be outdone - Poor Sam wrecked his back-up car in this mess and the #77 crew was back to work fixing the primary car that now didn't look so bad to get Sam back out on the track.   Sam must be hating road courses by now after this wreck and the huge hit he took at Watkins Glen a few races back.  Ouch.

We all know how this one ends - Ambrose got some very bad advice from his crew chief and Big Daddy pretty much took out everyone in his path including Kurt with only two to go.   Kurt had some choice words for Gordon over the radio especially since we are now two for two with HMS taking us out at Somoma.    With Ambrose out of the picture - JJ pretty much cruised to a win.  As annoying as it is, have to give him props for stepping up his game on the road course. 
I didn't bother to watch the Victory Lane celebration instead hoofed it out to our hauler and said my goodbyes to the guys.   Kurt was understandably still quite pissed and left fast - so fast that there was not security ready at the gates where the drivers catch golf cart rides to the helipad.   One truly obnoxious fan got in Kurt's face yelling at him about how much he sucked and Kurt nearly (and probably should have) clocked him.

So a request to my fellow fans - no matter how much you dislike a driver please respect them because that was truly an ugly display of unsporting conduct by that fan.   Boo the drivers from the stands all you want but when you have contact with a driver the best rule is if you have nothing nice to say, then don't say anything at all.  Encounters like that make the drivers a lot less inclined to visit with fans and to sign autographs.
Thanks for a great weekend Tez, RA6AN, and Jon464!  We all know who the real race winner was...Aussie Aussie Aussie...oi! oi! doh!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sonoma Qual & Practice Garage Report

[Ok, this blog might not be as brilliant "as usual" since I have three famous bloggers watching me write this over my about pressure! TEZ says maybe this blog will more brilliant than before and is wrapped up in his boxing Kangaroo flag...JON464 thought he found gas mileage notes on the table next to us at dinner and is polishing his Harvick Crocs and RA6AN is too busy drooling over an old ESPN magazine cover to pay any attention to us....]

Ah, Sonoma, "I feel the need, the need for speed"..."Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus"...whoops too many movie quotes but seriously pop quiz...what is wrong with this picture?
Notice anything missing??  Like a big blue hauler in between the #11 and #17 haulers?   Unfortunately, the race weekend got off to a rough start for the Blue Deuce.  Our hauler apparently broke the "turbo bearing" in the engine in the Nevada desert and had to be towed (can you imagine the size of the tow truck!?!?) to Vegas. For a short time there was a real scare that the #2 car(s) would not make it to the track.   Luckily Stump and Cindy are crack mechanics and fixed it up but the delay put them pulling into the garage at 2 AM Friday.   Of course, all the other haulers were already lined up so we got to pull in at the very, VERY end of the line-past all the start and parkers and right next to JJ Yeley.   
The worst part of it all is that they had to unload the hauler at 2 AM pretty much by themselves so when the crew got to the garage at 7AM the car was actually in the garage ready to start the inspection process.   Oh and a thing about the garage...NASCAR didn't change our garage stall so our car and all of our equipment are in garage stall 5, and to repeat, hauler spot 43.  Not only has the Brew Crew lost significant weight running back and forth already this weekend but Kurt fans are getting unprecedented access to autographs from him as he makes the long, long trek.  

I was privy to a rare sight in the is not often you see drivers getting make up!  What a cool job eh?

I cannot say quite yet what exactly this Goodyear commercial featuring Sam, Kurt, as well as Harvick, Bowyer and Burton is about but it sure was fun watching them play TV star for a little bit.   They both did a great job with their lines but had to do them over and over for the perfect cut and splice.

The "product" will be announced by Goodyear at the Daytona race in July but you can say you heard a rumor about a new product here first...and once it is announced I'll post the rest of the pictures I do have.   I will say it is a very cool idea.    While we will have to wait a bit longer - one thing that all of the drivers could not wait to do was to get rid of that makeup!

Right after filming the commercial Kurt was back in front of the camera (maybe he should have left his make up on?) for Speed Vision.   They were filming messages from the drivers to their fathers and/or all the fathers to be played on the JumboTron on Sunday.

 Keeping up with the theme of rare garage experiences - not often you get to see a Swede...
Nor is it very common to have your sponsor incorporate their logo into your that is brand loyalty!
Notice the belt...Ummmm, I'm lovin' it!

Fun moment on pit road right before Kurt went out to qualify - some good ole fashioned trash-talking between old teammates...

Kurt laid down a lightening fast lap in qualifying picking up nearly a second over practice and kept himself in front of the media.  Here he is being interviewed by Dodge PR and in the background you can see Kurt's PR guy keeping his eyes on the rest of the qualifiers on his Sprint Fan View.  Oh and our hauler, yeah so far down its still not in the picture!
Saturday was a quick but eventful day.  It started with Luke - our favorite shock specialist now on the #56 car - getting Marcos Ambrose to sign Tez's boxing Kangaroo flag for him.  Apparently, Marcos wrapped himself up in it and said how much he wanted to go visit home...wish I was there with a camera but greatly appreciate Luke for making Tez practically pee his pants!

The only wreck in practice today was unfortunately my beloved Sammy.   He smashed the car up real good and all three Penske teams pulled together to get the back up out and the wrecked car safe enough to haul back home. 
Being a good teammate was definitely the theme of the day - as you all know Brad Keslowski was in Wisconsin racing the NW right about the time practice was starting at Sonoma.    Hmmm, yet the 12 car was mysteriously out on the track...
BK can give a hearty thanks to KB for shaking down his car in both practice and Happy Hour and better hope the Blue Deuce is strong since we missed out on half of our practice time as KB ran between the cars....literally!
As it is already 10:45pm and I have a 6 am wake up call, I will leave you with one parting shot of the day...the mastermind at work on top of yes, yes a porta potty....

More to come....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Phoenix Race Report

I could have stuck with the "spoiled" theme for this race day blog but instead we will go with Snake Bit.  Meet the Brew Crew's team mascot for the weekend...
The guys freaked out a good number of fans and competitors with this little rattler - none better than a crewman on the #20 team - I thought he was going to hit his head on the top of the garage when he found it under Logano's car. Unfortunately, ultimately the joke was on us tonight. Sigh.

A few technical updates learned as we slogged thru inspection yet again today -- we made it thru weight and height sticks no problem this time but still got stuck again in the final inspection station with the car being too wide. Took out the wheel spacers again - but so did JJ so we thought we were in good company at least. This meant that Billy had to run back to the hauler again for tools making me the tool cart girl out to the grid again!

Anyway back to the tidbits. So yes Tez, very astute observation that the spoiler is vertical unlike the previous one and it's specs are finalized by NASCAR. It bolts directly to the lip of the decklid and NASCAR provides special bolts with numbers on them to show it has been approved. The part that will change is above -- the fin along the left side of the rear window and deck lid. For Phoenix and the previous races the fin has been 2.5 inches but for Texas they will increase it to 3.5 inches but the height of the spoiler will not change. Make sense?

While we were going thru inspection, Travis, our rear tire changer was busy modifying his helmet for the night race.   His five dollar fix had nothing on the jack man for the 20 team.   The entire inside lip of his helmet was lit up with LED lights - he looked like he belonged in Vegas.   Travis scoffed at that helmet - easily costing Gibbs upwards of $300 -- because we know you've got to be good, not just flashy!

For once I was actually standing in a good spot for driver intro's and got to high five a few and get some good close ups.    I only got the top 15 or so and here are some of the best shots and blogger favs...
                                                    Lookin' like he owns the place...

A smile!  Clearly not looking at me...

What is up with his haircut??

What happened to my goofy, fun always happy Junebug? 
Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi! Oi! Oi!

And the only shot I got of Kurt today...

So back to being snake bit.  Our race was over on lap 15 when Kurt slid up into Kasey as they were racing to avoid going a lap down early and our night was over.   We pitted about 4x and were able to stay on the lead lap in between fixes but the front end was destroyed.

They couldn't get the fenders off the wheels and had to use some ingenuity to create a tool to pull the sheet metal away.   Larry, Dave and Travis got some random metal bits from the war wagon, used a saw and hammer and rigged up this little contraption (above).  They then attached it to the larger crow bar and we were back in business.   They were able to get the tires changed and the car adjusted and somewhat driveable.   Unfortunately we stayed out too long trying to get into Lucky Dog position and Kurt blew a tire.  It was shredded by the damage a bunch of wire from inside the tire got wrapped all around the duct work and brakes ripping them up.  The guys did their best to pull it away but they ended up having to saw it off as well as replace half the splitter and we lost 8 laps in the process. 
                               (you might be able to see some of the wire off to the top right...)

It made me realize how dangerous their work can be.   Travis was completely under a jacked up car with his head under a red hot wheel and his arms up under the car pulling off broken bits.  Larry and Dave both hurt their hands trying to pull that wire out and they were all exhausted after 10 stops in a row.   Darin our engine tuner and car chief, Jeffrey made several appearances over the wall to help fix the car and Addington was off his box investigating the tires and damage often.  Was bummed to see the broadcast of the race - the guys really did some great patchwork but none of it was on TV - you would think they might actually show some of the "team work" involved but no.  Here are a few shots from the pits...
In the second picture above you might be able to see that silver bar along side the car.  The crew held these on both sides to re-align the wheels for Kurt.

We had an extra man over the wall to help with the bug problem and I just thought this was an extra cool shot of Stretch getting the tear off off!

And here is part of the collection of tools used to fix the Blue Deuce!  Oy our pit was a mess.

We were pitted between Joe Nemechek and Max Papis and it was amazing to see the pits of the start and park/underfunded teams.   We probably had 15 sets of tires - they had two.   They had incomplete pit crews, four guys total in their pit box as far as I counted and Papis went to the garage to get service,  he was only in his pit once.   That is racing on the barest of bones.   But it did afford me two good spots to watch the race since no one was in those pits next to us about half way thru the race!  LOL

Ok, pop quiz...what is different about these tires?

Well you might have noticed the wheels are not our Miller Lite yellow.  As soon as Kurt was out of the race we gave away all of our "stickers" to the 77 and 12 teams and took the scuffs from the 12.  The crew had to re-prep the scuffs and re-glue the lugs so they were a busy bunch on Saturday night. 

Another change mid-race was our rear tire changer.   Travis was sent to the 12 team to change tires after their guy got sick.    He came to our pit since our stops didn't really matter anymore.  Mostly he sat by a trash can waiting to throw up...but held it together!  LOL

We thought for sure the late caution was going to hand JJ the win.  Newman winning seemed to go over well with the fans.   He almost nailed a few of the photographers when he hit the inside track wall doing his burnouts....

And look-ie who I ran into heading to Victory Lane...for being the winning owner I've got to say he didn't look to happy at the time.  Maybe it was me...

And finally, it wouldn't be a Phoenix race report without me hiding behind a cactus in Victory least it wasn't JJ but one day I would really love it to be Kurt and the Brew Crew!!

Thanks for reading!  Next garage report hopefully coming to you from Sonoma...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Phoenix Friday Garage Report

A spoiler can be defined in many ways...yes we have a "new" (old) addition to the car that is looking mighty slapped welded together for the moment as NASCAR fine tunes the specs.   Didn't realize how much I disliked the wing until it was gone. 
Then we have Superman who is spoiling the entire we see JJ and super evil genius Knaus passing the secret "black portfolio" on the way to their team meeting in the 24 hauler after qualifying.   I am pretty sure Chad was passing it to Jimmie so he wouldn't have to share its contents with the other crew chiefs with the hope that the drivers wouldn't make head or tails of the jibberish within.  Forget lugs (and cookies), we have a new target - get on the storyline SpeedBeagle!

And finally we have just plain spoiled rotten - as in my dad spent lots of money so I can race cars - but yet somehow is in the top 12 in points.  

Oops!  Didn't mean to put that picture of Junior in there (BTW talk about spoiling a beautiful face - ugh that beard is worse in person!)

No no no, I was talking about Mr. Menard.

Enough spoilage?   Moving I was working on my psychological voodoo trying to perfect "getting in the drivers heads."  Naturally, I had to try my stuff out on Smoke first.   I stood for much of the practices right behind Kurt's garage stall, which just happened to be the spot that Smoke would see in his rear view mirror as he backed out of his stall a few garages down.   After getting a mirror full of that pumpkin-headed Miller Lite girl starring him down for nearly 3 hours he finally succumbed - as Smoke pulled out for his final run in Happy Hour he smacked Bowyer's tool cart with his right front fender sending the tool cart skidding off nearly ramming some photographers and bashing in his fender.  I am no Yoda, but I might be onto something!   Sadly, I have no pictures of the crash so I'll just give you one of Jabba the Hutt instead.
Here we have Da Biff playing the role of Obi Wan as he counsels young Luke (aka Kasey) on how best to lay down a fast lap in the desert.

Speaking of Dancing with the Star Wars - nope, sorry no Helio, I am still waiting to Mambo with him but instead I had a lovely exchange with our 3rd place qualifer, Sam Hornish who was quite pleased with his quick step today.   Interesting to note, some have speculated that the engine and mechanical problems the 77 team has had this year could be due to over-revving the engine in the pits.  Its an IRL thing apparently and hard to unlearn. 
Someone who is not going to be dancing anytime soon is last week's winner  and someone who I hope you did not pick on your Fantasy team this week.  The Hamster is clearly hobbled - Casey Mears traded off with him several times in practice but Denny qualified the #11.  Seems he was none too pleased with is effort as he came screaming into the garages and fishtailed it into his garage stall stopping on a dime in the nick of time.  Shockingly no one bothered him for autographs as he limped his way to his hauler.

And in honor of Kurt Busch Nation - finally your Kurt and Brew crew updates for the day!   First, atta'boys went all around for their recent efforts.  In response on how best to represent in the stands - wear Miller Lite gear, drink Miller Lite, have fun and cheer loud!  
Kurt was in good spirits today.  The car was fast in race trim and we knew we would have to pass some cars after pulling the 2nd qualifying spot.   Kurt and Eva spent their off weekend in St. Lucia while I believe Steve Addington was in St. Thomas.   So they are coming into this race weekend relaxed and ready to go. 

Unfortunately, we had a few problems getting through inspection so we were really late getting out to the grid today.  Above is the team pow-wow deciding how best to make adjustments on the width of the car in order to pass.   Billy had to run back to the garages so I was the unofficial tool cart girl again pulling it all the way down pit road.  We were so late that Kurt jumped in the car after the final inspection spot and got pushed out to the grid.  It was a little frantic to get the car ready to go but all in all they were pleased with the effort.  
Word on the street is that Roger will be in attendance on race day and last but not least a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Stump - our  hauler driver who turns 57 today.   Being soaked with Miller Lite in Victory Lane is better than cake right?