Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fontana Garage Report - Race Day

Early start for today but you couldn't really say it was "bright"...after a downpour last night and threatening skies this morning, the only clear thing was that weather was going to be a factor.   The first couple of people I ran into in the garage were our Daytona 500 champ talking with Jeff Burton who was on his way to do "story time" for kids at the track.

I always love race day because not only do I get to hang with my favorite mechanics but I also got to catch up with the guys on the pit crew.   The Penske pit crews all flew out yesterday and are flying back tonight whereas the all the mechanics are going straight to Vegas after meeting a 6 car hauler and switching out the team cars.    This is a new plan in attempt to save money - taking bets on who in the Brew Crew gets into the most trouble in Vegas! 

Another far less popular change in the garage and at Penske is the absence of the BBQ's in front of the team haulers.   Apparently there has been some concern regarding food safety issues (what? solvents, gas, and toxic fumes are not a good marinade?) and fire safety concerns (seems to me the BBQ is the least of their worries...) so NASCAR has started to discourage BBQing at the haulers.   Now the guys have to trek all the way across the garage to a catering hauler AKA "the Garlic Garage" to get some grub.    This change is particularly crappy for the Brew Crew - not only is Cindy one of the best cooks in the garage - she was also just about to be featured with the new NASCAR chef and now won't get that well deserved press.   Plus, no more hot dog machine in the hauler.   Boo!

From one Cindy to another -  Got a chance to meet one of Kurt's biggest fans and the mastermind behind Kurt Busch Nation (   Meeting up with fellow bloggers and fans is one of the coolest things about going to the races - great to meet you girl!    

After hanging with Cinde in the pits, I followed the Blue Deuce through inspection and got a chance to get to know Dave Hansen, our new shock guy, better.   He is a really great guy - with a food phobia at the track anyway...he refuses to eat anything out of the Garlic Garage and survives solely on snacks and power bars!   He had some interesting insights on Toyota (remember he came from Logano's team).  He said they share everything between all Toyota teams - absolutely transparent across the board except for some proprietary engine info primarily at Gibbs.   So when Toyota teams test every Toyota team gets that information as well as data from NW and Trucks.   Seems like a huge advantage but apparently it is so much information the teams have yet to figure out how to streamline and use it most effectively.   He said they are working on that now and once they do - they will be a force.    Might explain how MWR got up to speed so quickly and he said when Red Bull came into the sport Gibbs was essentially told to tell them everything...might be the only way to compete against the HMS/SHR powerhouse.  Which bodes poorly for the lonely Penske Dodges in the long run.
While hanging in inspection we also had a reunion of sorts - its "10-4" Pat Tryson visiting his old mates...
And not to be out done...Addington found his old crew a little later on pit road...
NASCAR is just one big incestuous family!   Speaking of family - how cute is Matt Kenseth with his daughter, Kaylin!  There will be lots more pictures like this one come next year...

I snapped these pictures as the drivers headed to their "bus" to go to driver introductions.  Apparently, the infield was too wet and muddy for them to walk thru.  Got the funny picture of the day here - not sure what is up with Bobby Labonte and the tongues??   The guy in the back is a crack up!

I headed out to pit road and caught up with Kurt at the car with Eva.   She is super excited because she got herself a beautiful new horse in February - an Andalusian from Europe that she is hoping to show in Dressage soon.  His name is Lorro and you can almost see Kurt's eyes glazing over as she talks horses...LOL!
The race got underway and we had a surprise guest in our pit - "Lil Gator" was in the house!    I won't bore you with deets from the race itself since you have all been there - seen that - or slept through it anyway!   I will challenge you to figure out what is unique in this video of one of our pit stops.  Watch closely as to who is the odd duck working on the front of the car.   Did you catch it? 
Video to be added asap - You Tube still processing! 

Clearly the race was long but our guys passed the time on their home made "tire couch" in their "man cave"  - with the rains we had to protect the glue on the lugs from getting wet.   They look comfy eh??
 And of course I had to get an updated version of Travis eating something in the pits...last time it was Tasty Cakes (still not sure what those are exactly) this time roast "beast" sandwich.
The Brew Crew should be very proud of their efforts today - coming back from what seemed like some bad adjustments at mid race to finish a solid 6th.  Kurt and Steve seemed to be on the same wavelength making calls on when to pit and what to do to the car and finally the crew seemed to be able to catch up after a brutal Speedweeks losing two cars so early on.    I didn't bother seeing JJ in Victory Lane - seen it too many times.  Instead headed to the hauler and caught the Blue Deuce heading for the heavens...

Thanks to the entire Miller Lite team for hosting me again this weekend - hope to catch you again in Phoenix!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fontana - Sat Garage Report

Greetings from cold, windy and slightly rainy Southern California.   I got to the track early today since I still had to get my credentials and wanted to catch NW qualifying and got to see a rare sight - an empty Cup garage.   The big guns didn't have to start until 9:30a today.
I headed to the NW garage and found the #22 Penske team going thru inspection.   Of course nearly everyone was milling about the No 7 hauler...well almost everyone...Front Row Joe was out and about checking out his competition. 
I stuck around long enough to snap a pic of the Driving Diva herself as she headed out to qualify but the media mob was just completely over the top about 2 minutes later so I headed over to the Cup garage to see some talent instead.

I got a warm welcome from my NASCAR friends and of course the Brew Crew.   There are a few new faces, as you know, Luke the shock guy is now with Pat Tryson on the #56 team and we now have Dave, who came to us from the #20 team.   
Our  superb rear end mechanic, Steve, is no longer doing the Catch Can duties on Sundays.  He was bummed about the change but said NASCAR is moving towards a different fueling system that will no longer require the catch can (they have started using it already in the truck series) and they will likely implement it next year.   Steve would have liked to finish out the "job" especially because his son, Chris, is our gas man but is glad he is still a traveling mechanic.

Of course the biggest change is the addition of Steve Addington...who I might add is way taller in person!  I didn't get a chance to meet Steve formally today but the crew says they are very impressed so far.   Rumor has it Steve and the team started gel-in' at Daytona during a particularly festive Super Bowl party.  

Kurt was also elusive today and was all business as they worked the Blue Deuce over today during both practices trying to get it fast and comfortable.   Unfortunately, Kurt barely found the wall again (he tagged in quals yesterday) and "Stretch" and our fab guys had some extra work to do...oops!

Perhaps the intensity was high in the No 2 garage because The Captain was here - on a special day in fact! One that he told me I am not supposed to tell anyone about - but it usually involves cake...

Here Mr. Penske is predicting the winner of the Auto Club 500 for me...Mr. Penske spent a ton of time in our garage reviewing the performance of the car with Steve and Kurt.  He also spent a good deal of time chatting with our neighbor Jeff Gordon.  Talk about a power couple!   I think with 5 teams now competing, Penske is putting more focus on NASCAR and it is great to see him in the garage.

I spent most of today wandering around soaking in the sights and sounds just happy to be back in the garages.  After downloading my pictures of the day, I seem to have a ton of driver shots.    How 'bout we start with "FIND THE DRIVER!"  in the next few...
All I can say is my dad never dressed so least he won't embarrass Ella Sophia! 
Do you see the garage ghost with only 2!!! photographers around? The rest are following his NW driver.

And here is the "Oh-my-Gawd-its-a-MIRACLE-Not-Only-is-hell-Freezing-but-so-is-California" picture of the day...That pumpkin shaped man in black is ACTUALLY signing autographs!!  I kid because I care...

Here are a few more driver pics just for fun...
Your Daytona 500 Champ looking up at his crew chief like a little kid in trouble for some reason.

 An "arty" shot for my good friend "RA6AN"...
The obligatory porta potty shot...sorry Colin!

And finally, a fan favorite with the best hair in NASCAR...
I finished my day tailgating with Luke and his family, friends and some of his crew buddies - thanks for a delicious meal and great company!   Will be hitting the track early tomorrow so off to bed with dreams of Victory Lane dancing in my head.

Monday, February 8, 2010

V8 Isn't Just For Breakfast Anymore!

Road Rules are the Pits

I haven’t seen much written about the two new pit road rules that NASCAR has introduced for 2010 so thought I would pass them along. 

The first new rule states a driver can no longer speed down pit road to avoid being lapped.  For example, your favorite driver cannot sit in their pits getting repairs for as long as possible then hit the after burners to beat the pace car out and end up on the tail end of the field.  Nope now if they do, they will be put a lap down.  

I like this one as it should add to some strategy and keep those on pit road just a bit safer.   It could result in more lapped cars out there and might effect the quality of repair work done putting even more pressure on those pit crews.  

The second rule change fixes the situation when a driver crosses the pit-road commitment line under green but then the yellow comes out before the driver hits the pit-road entrance line.  Now, the driver can continue down the closed pit road be put back in line where the car was when it entered pit road.
This one seems like a no-brainer and takes away just a little bit of that bad racing luck. 

Please keep in mind, however, that these are NASCAR rules so the likelihood they are actually enforced consistently is ??

A Word on Bump Drafting…

The “Powers That Be” have also announced they will punish bump drafting no more and it is up to the drivers to self police out on the track.   I dunno about you, but I think there was plenty of bump drafting last year with no less than five NASCAR babies on the way!

Cousin Carl will be the first changing diapers with his first baby girl due during the Vegas race weekend.   ESad will follow in March with his first son.    Then we have the holy trinity of babies –The Champ with his first, Big Daddy with his second, and Mr. Juanderful with his third - all due this summer.   
If you need a sleeper Daytona 500 fantasy racing pick, I would pick from one of these expert bump drafters if I were you…

Speaking of fantasy leagues – if you haven’t joined KLV’s NASCAR NUTS on Yahoo Sports time is running short!  Group ID is #15288 and the password is “lugnut”.

Ok, I Am So Totally Getting This!

Since I never did get my Dale Jr GPS last year (and as a result still have a perfect record finding my parking spot!) I think I will have to put the SoundRacerV8 on my wish list. 

My little Nissan Sentra so needs this gadget!  Now if they would only make it in Dale Jr or Miller Lite colors…

Bloggers Unite Sonoma 2010

Sounds like there is interest in doing another blogger race meet up at Sonoma again this year.   RA6AN and I will definitely be going and would love to invite the rest of you to join us for the June 20th weekend.    Anyone interested leave a comment and we can start planning early!   

Hold On To Your Lugs!

And finally, no lugnut will be safe as I am heading to Fontana for the Cup race in a few weeks with the Miller Lite team.    Any questions for the Brew Crew, Kurt or others in the garages feel free to ask below and I will do my best to get some answers!   I am really looking forward to meeting Steve Addington – he just seems like a kick in the pants!