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!!


  1. Sorry I missed the race. Sounds like some excitement happened. Good reports from the pits and garage as usual.

  2. Great stuff once again Kristen. It's still unbelievable how Ambrose lost that race!

    Fantastic pics and reporting from the garage and pit!

    Too bad that loud-mouthed "fan" wasn't at Talladega or some other Southern track, where the other fans would have given him some alternatives other than yelling at drivers. 99.99% of race fans are well behaved these days. Believe me, the NFL fans at their games are much worse.

    Sounds like it was a wonderful time out there. I'll have to start planning to go next year.

  3. And a good time was had by (almost) all!

    Like the song says; "Ya never know where you're goin' till ya get there..."

    I was sure Ambrose was going to hold off the evil empire and he would have, if only...

    Great story from an inside point of view.

    Thanks so much Kristen!

  4. Kristen I just had to tell you when I posted the above comment, the key word given to allow posting was, and I'm not kidding, "sycomas"! LOL

  5. AWESOME race report K!!I truly appreciate you nak for discribing the race and garage activity!! Wish I was able 2 get the inside view. lol And I envey you!! How was TR? How was Eva?
    Great pics!!
    Thanks a bunch!! ♥

  6. Hey Photo - I would try to catch the reply - it was a pretty good race with plenty of rough racing!

    Gene we would love to have you! Make it so!! Trust me we were all shocked with the call by the #47 crew chief...they didnt even need to save gas!! And trust me - with the Raiders here I know NFL fans are worse but it was painful to see nonetheless.

    Thanks Dwindy! You need to get out here too!
    and that is a great word...crack up!

    Hey DF! Thanks for coming by...I'll email you more specifics but everyone was good for the most part!

  7. Kristen, thank YOU for a great weekend! And also HUGE thank yous to Tez and RA6AN! The race report was excellent, and props to the Brew Crew for hosting us in the morning. I'll have my perspective up in the next few days.

  8. I concur with Jon...have said that in my wrap of the weekend that I just hit 'post' to, lol

  9. Hey Guys! Glad you both made it home just fine...loved that you wrote GB&U on the "romance" computer at the hotel! crack up!!

  10. Great report! Can't think of a catchy new name for the Brew Crew, other than the Two Crew. That kind of sucks, but I'm sure Roger is happy to have Penzoil in his racing empire.

    Jimmie has been working hard on his road racing, pulling extra Grand Am duty, and staying fully seated in all golf carts. Still, kind of burns to see a win handed to him like that!

  11. The new crew name is a real stumper! JJ, although annoying, has definitely earned my respect. We are witnessing history for sure and as long as I remind myself of that I am usually ok with him winning....

  12. Awesome stuff. Glad the weekend went so well. When's the next report race?

  13. Not sure Mayer...maybe Fontana but for sure PHX in Nov. Also making plans to get to to Daytona in Feb so fingers are crossed on that one!


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