I wasn't planning to go up to Infineon for the Toyota Save Mart 350, but then Dale Jr called and gave me a job wrenching on his garage crew, so I had to go:
Obviously I'm joking about the crew job, but it was odd to see my last name on a uniform like that and I really was supposed to have the weekend off. But through a scheduling snafu I found myself shooting, not wrenching.
I went up for practice on Friday to get some headshots, singles, and other pictures that would be impossible to get on race day:
Traffic at Infineon on NASCAR raceday is absurd, so getting there about 3 hours early is necessary. There's not much to shoot, so I shot the tech inspections and he Patriot Jet Team performance:
I started above turn 2 to get some overall shots, and then walked from turn to turn until I made my way back to the pits:
On a narrow track with lots of turns like Infineon, stock cars will trade paint. In the words of the immortal Harry Hogge in Days of Thunder:
No, no, he didn't slam you, he didn't bump you, he didn't nudge you... he *rubbed* you. And rubbin, son, is racin'.
All of this rubbin' leads to trips to the garage during the race, something that costs laps in the race:
In-race repairs are not the precise kind of work that goes into designing the cars in the first place. Usually the crew is banging sheet metal with a mallet, or duct taping parts of the body together. Once you take a car into the garage, the object is just to be running when the race finishes, not to win style points, hence Brian Vickers' Red Bull Toyota sporting tape and massive fender damage:
Despite the presence of road course specialists and NASCAR regulars with lots of experience on road courses, Kurt Busch dominated the race, leading 76 of the 110 laps for an impressive and surprising victory:
The winner's circle after a NASCAR race is quite a scene. Busch, who is sponsored by Shell, carried the checkered flag with a Sunoco logo on it. He then drank a Coke, the traditional goblet of red wine (the race is in wine country) before spraying champagne all over himself and his crew. Then he and his crew posed for pictures wearing at least 5 sets of hats of his major sponsors. There was also a confetti blaster and squabbling photographers jockeying for position.
I'll be back at Infineon next month for NHRA drag racing, one of my favorite things to shoot.