Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sonoma Race Report - VICTORY!

AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!  I just spent 2 hours writing this blog and when I went to post stupid Blogger said there was a conflict and when I hit the back button it was gone.  CRAP!

Ok guess we will try we go...and this time I will copy it before I try to post!  Dang IT!

Hey Tez! I think you have some of this confetti!
It will be impossible for me to even articulate the absolute amazing experience it was to win at my home track in such dominant fashion.  So I wont even try (again!) but do want to thank Kurt and the entire #22 crew for sharing a crazy fun race weekend with me!

Sunday started with me and Tez hitting up Starbucks yet again and getting to the track when the garage opened.  Tez hung about while I got the schedule for the day and we met up a short while later at Jeff Gluck's tweet up.  Word on the street was "Maaaacus" was going to make an appearance so I texted Tez the super secret squirrel password (Sonoma) to get past security and met him in Victory Circle.
Gotta say Gluck was a bit of a disappointment - the subject of Kurt's girlfriend came up in the tweet up and he asked how he could possibly ask about her in Kurt's media time.  I said that probably wasn't the appropriate venue to ask in and he agreed.  Well, not sure how many of you saw his article yesterday about Kurt's girlfriend - so he wrote about it by pretending to be high and might and not write about it.  LAME!  Anyway, we did meet some fellow tweeters and Tez got more quality time with Maaaacus (see his blog for pics!) and when Gluck asked everyone for their picks for the winner this week for the record I TOTALLY called it!  =)

After the tweet up I headed back to the garage to try to finish up my interviews with the pit crew.  They were coming up with some really funny stuff for what car part they would be...I hope to have the updated crew blog done by the end of the week!
The pits were open to the fans and RA6AN, Tez and CR were busy writing good luck messages on their favorite drivers pit walls.   I found two of my favorite people wandering on pit lane...Rex and Brandon who are like family to me and who I lived with for nearly 10 years before getting married.   It was their first race ever so I gave them the tour of our super swank pit box and managed to get them out on pit road by the cars as well, thanks to Tony, on of my buddies who is an official.
We Tony the Troublemaker wanted to make sure they were getting the full experience so he grabbed some poor girl out of the crowd and asked her to take a picture with a somewhat shocked Brandon...apparently this is what you do at a NASCAR race? 
Tony also grabbed a girl for CR and Tez but I'll leave it up to them to post that since I don't want anyone getting in trouble...LOL

I had to get back in the garages to follow the car through inspection and do my informal job as the cutest tool bag girl on the circuit!  This time we made it through inspection without problem.  Thanks to Tez and CR who stuck around to get some pictures of me following the guys pushing the car out on to pit lane.
I had a bit of downtime once the car was ready to go so I grabbed some food and hung out with our guests at the hauler.   We had quite a few visitors this weekend - several winemakers, a bigwig from Shell who came out from Houston along with the two women who star in the commercial with Kurt (the ones who wear the lab coat), also guys from Lennox and a family from Magellan.   While we were chatting I couldn't help but snap a picture of Kurt's "beer cozy"...
If you read my previous posts you'll recall a public service announcement about sensible shoes.  Well Kurt wasn't going to be in 6 inch platforms today but I am sure with all the shifting, braking and gassing he appreciated his extra padding.  

The #6 crew Man Cave - but they said girls are allowed so you are all set Melissa!
I headed out to pit road for the pre-race festivities and got a good spot in the corner of the pit box to watch the action.   Not much to see except turn 11 but with Kurt leading the whole race it didn't make too much difference!  With Addington's aggressive call for the race there wasn't that many opportunities to catch our crew in action.
But the Red Bull team sure was busy...
And shortly there after the other teams around us were dealing with problems as well...
Sigh.  He just hates Sonoma...
And so Junyer had to pack up and leave early knowing he couldn't compete for my attentions with Kurt dominating the way he was...bubye.
Junyer's empty pit stall was the perfect spot to watch the safety workers try to extract Smoke from the tires...
While our crew had stellar stops all day, by far the fastest stop was when Dave H had to do a quick tire refill on the tire cart when Stevo had a flat...those air hoses attached to the box are quite handy!
The laps were winding down and we were getting cautiously excited.  The guys were so amazingly calm and reminded me there was plenty that could go wrong yet.  They were monitoring several other team radios and watching for any trickery with tires but the cautions didn't come and we were sitting pretty!   Here is Kurt coming around on our final restart...
This is about when I started bouncing up and down while I was standing on a tire trying to burn off some of my adrenaline...the white flag flew and the guys were up and ready to party!
And the celebration begins...
I had really hoped Kurt would try the backwards Victory Lap but it would have taken forever!
The beer begins to fly!
And the celebratin' begins!   Here is my "Where's Waldo" picture...see if you can spot me!
On left in front row in between fire fighters in the white helmets 
And then it was time to get soaked in Champagne!
And finally time for the hat dance...
While I was not on stage for the hat dance I did manage to snag one of the Sprint caps they are wearing in this picture and have Addington and Kurt sign it as well as a very cool black Infineon winners circle hat!  woot!   Kurt then went off and did his Winner's media time and the post race show so I decided to follow the guys and the car going back through inspection.
It was really quite special to see how many crew guys from the other teams congratulated our guys for the dominating win - NASCAR really is a big family.   We even got a special congrats from this guy in the red shirt...
My astute readers will definitely recognize those *cough* sexy legs...

We finished up inspection and the guys started tearing down the car so they could load it up in the NASCAR hauler for them to take back to the tech center to do the full winner's tear down.  Kurt was still not back yet from Victory Lane so I headed back over to find him still doing the hat dance for all the sponsors.   TR guessed he probably had about 40 hats and photos to take.  I was feeling particularly ballsy with all the excitement so I asked TR if he thought Kurt would take a picture with me in Victory Lane and he said he thought he would...and wha'la!  How cool is that!?!!
I am waiting on the "official" photographers shot of this but gotta thank TR for not only getting me up there but also for snapping this!

I am sure you all caught the fancy hand blown glass chalice that Kurt was drinking from in Victory Lane with the Reserve Estate Zinfandel in it.   Well after he got zipped in a golf cart to yet more interviews he dropped it off with the crew and they were kind enough to share the spoils of victory with me!  (Probably cuz I made them beef jerky...)
I am now two for two getting in to the winners circle at the races I have gone I guess that means Kurt wins Phoenix in Nov??!!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Infineon Raceway Hot Lap!

Join me on a hot lap racing my fellow fans around Infineon Raceway!

George, one of our very capable transport drivers on the #22 team was sweet enough to give me and some of the other guests of the crew passes for a hot lap around the racetrack given to them by the track in their "gift basket" for hauling those race cars across the country. 

We lined up after the Legends race and the subsequent track grass fire was finally put out and saw four Toyota Camry's out on the track.  I figured "phfff!" this isn't going to be worth missing the NW race for!   Then they brought out the helmets...

I was in the 3rd group to go around the track so had the pleasure of watching the first few go - I have a new respect for Camry's!   These professional drivers were on it - pedal to the metal, squealing tires, smoking them around the turns and catching air over the rumble strips all while racing side-by-side.  

I apologize to the two older gentlemen stuck with me in the car whose videos I ruined with my giggling and back seat racing...

Tighten those belts one last time....

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sonoma Race Report 2011 - Saturday


Today was a somewhat “lazy” day in the garages with only the two Cup practices in the morning made all the more serene by walking to the track through a field of grazing sheep…only in San Francisco! 

I beat most of the drivers to the garage and got a kick out of JJ being told by the officials he couldn’t park where he wanted to…not sure why but it was funny.

I nosed in on pit stall selections for a bit and then went to check out the car.  We were pretty much good to go and put up some fast laps in the first practice.   After the initial practice, Kurt and Brad had a team powwow in the #22 hauler.  

Clearly whatever Kurt told Brad worked as Bad Brad came away with the trophy – literally!   Apparently Sonoma is awarding prizes for being fastest in practice to up the competition.   Not only did he get some hardware, he also got a lovely case of wine specially made for Infineon by Shelby...

To understand the odd the phenomenon…(BK beating out KB in practice) we called in the expert Mythbuster!  

 Yet another job for the Mythbuster…hmmmm…cigarette butt on a tire, who could it be.    ADDINGTON!!

After practice the plan was to head out and watch the NW race with my blogger buddies but George, our hauler driver, managed to get me a pass for a hot lap around the track.  I figured, meh, a hot lap with a "professional" driver in a Toyota Camry how good could this be?  Then they brought out the helmets...Well I was glad I stayed!    There were four cars on the track RACING AND PASSING around the track, what a hoot!   I was giggling and freaking out about not being on the preferred line going into the turns.  The poor older guys stuck in the car with me were probably displeased I ruined their videos.     Here's our fearless "professional" driver...who by the way brought us home 4th out of four but we were grinning like banshees!

 (The video of the entire lap is too big to upload to YouTube on the hotel internet but I will post as soon as I can...) 

Okay!  Off to bed for an early start tomorrow. I plan on being in the garages when they open at 7a to finish off the questions with the pit crew and soak it all up!

Sonoma Race Report 2011 - Friday

Cheers from wine country!   Another weekend of perfect weather and good times with my fellow bloggers – Tez, RA6AN and CR Racing.   Here’s the scoop from Friday and Saturday at the track…

The best part of my race weekend is coming into the garages for the first time and getting big hugs and hellos from my crew and my friends in the garage.   Unfortunately, the 22 crew went through some changes in the last month and one of my fav’s “The Dream Maker” Dave Winston is no longer the race engineer.  He is apparently still employed by Penske for the moment but replacing Dave at the track are Steve Reis and Jonathan Hassler.  I am working on an updated crew blog for the #22 so look for more on them coming soon. 

Speaking of the engineering department, I also learned that Dave Demvicki (sp!?!) a long time Penske engineer has assumed the “got to guy” role replacing the new student Tom German with Travis Geisler and Mike Nelson in management roles under him.  The two race engineers report into Mike and Travis.  This weekend Travis is covering the NASCAR race while Mike is covering IRL.

After getting the scoop on our crew changes I tagged along to Kurt’s media time. 

As usual, Kurt was the utmost professional answering the same questions over and over about road course racing.    Speaking of questions…KBNation tweeted asking me to ask Kurt how many times he shifts during a lap at Infineon.   He went through every gear shift in every turn as we mentally went through the course and we came up with 13 – but he quickly said that was a bad number so we landed on 12!   12”ish” shifts per lap, 110 laps = repetitive stress injury.

While Kurt is definitely a driver to watch at the road courses, no trip to the garage at Infineon would be complete without a Boris Said spotting…

Friday was indeed a marathon day in the garages…we started with qualifying practice.  The drivers lined up early and then most of them got out of the cars.  Here is Kurt climbing back in.
While Kurt was busy building up to nailing the fastest lap in practice in the last two min of practice I found my friend and official “NASCAR Citizen Blogger” Valli getting ready for Smoke’s media time.   If you don’t follow her already you should!   Find her fantastic blog at

I also found “Punchy” and tried my best to get a shot of the infamous watch he took off but alas, all I could zoom in on was his big ring.

I also headed over to our Penske teammate’s garage stall to check out Miller Lite’s latest witty slogan on the back of Brad’s car.   They have a new one every week so look for it!

Of course, I had to tag along through inspection and used the time to interview the crew for my blog and get to know the new guys.   Billy even let me pull that tool box around and feel special again…along the way Jeffrey, our car chief, couldn’t help but pose for this photo op…with cardboard girls…since his run-in with the drunk pit lizard last year he’s taking the safe route this year.

Now for a little “I Spy”…cue ZZ Top please...

And those *cough* sexy legs belong to…(of course this is way too easy for Speedbeagle!) 

Pretty sure I got stink eye again from him for taking this picture but he has to know there is just no where to hide from the pumpkin-headed blogger with weird hair.   

Speaking fellow bloggers managed to catch me (thanks!!) doing my informal job as the tool bag girl as we headed through inspection.

So all was fine and dandy through inspection since we were going out last we let lots of other teams skip ahead of us in line until the very last inspection station where the officials deemed the Pennzoil Dodge a fraction of an inch too long on the left side.  So the guys had to pull over and fix it…and then go back through the height sticks and weight inspection stations again as well as the last one.

Kurt headed out to the car to qualify with his new girlfriend, Patricia, who is the President of the Armed Forces Foundation and has a particular interest in vets with Traumatic Brain Injury.  She and I talked “shop” briefly and look forward to being resources to each other in caring for our troops.
Our fearless leader was a solitary figure as he took in the lap times of our biggest competition near the end of pit road…
While TR and I took a break on the pit wall…

 And last but not least on this long race day – a public service announcement to all the girls out there who continue to insist on wearing fashionable as opposed to sensible shoes!   Victim #1  - meet Amanda girlfriend of Darin our engine guy…

Well Amanda decided to walk to turn 7 and back…(not a terribly good idea)…but she is pretty dang resourceful!   After desperately looking for flip flops to buy with no luck Ms. McGuyver bought a beer cozy and cut it in half and wah’la now she is gel’in.

Trust me ladies – its much easier to just wear the sensible shoes…

I met up with RA6AN and Tez behind the Trackside stage where they were patiently waiting for Marcos Ambrose to finish his interview…he did and went right up to Tez (who smartly hung his Aussie flag on the fence) and had a proper chat with his fellow countryman.    Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!