2006 Fall Race
Here's the photos from today. We watched the trucks come in before we went
down to the infield cafe. Mike and Mike were doing the ESPN show with guest Tony
Dorsett (former Dallas Cowboy). We decided not to stay for qualifying because
Mom was getting too tired.
BTW, Terry Labonte's car is really cool looking. It's a deep metallic red shaded by photos spanning Terry's career. I tried to capture how awesome it looks, but the photos just don't do it justice.
We were all broke, so we opted for nothing but infield passes this time around.
The week started out pretty chaotic. Hubby serves on the advisory board of one
of the colleges in Lubbock, so he had to go to the annual meeting for that. Unfortunately,
his truck broke down on his way out of town and he had to fly back. Top that
with a bunch of scout activities, Halloween, and school and community projects
we are involved in and we were doomed from the get-go.
Mom came into town on Tuesday (a day earlier than usual) so that we could drive to Mineral Wells to check out the outlet mall there. They have TONS of NASCAR t-shirts and jackets at extremely reduced prices, and we always threaten to go, but never have the time. Unfortunately, we didn't remember that was why we told her to come a day early until the week was half over, and it was too late to go. We did manage to spend a day shopping the Half Priced Books and Movie Trading Company, but we ate some Mexican food at one of our favorite places, and it didn't sit well with us.
We got up early Friday and hit the track to watch the haulers come in. I swear, one of these days, I'm going to get the PERFECT pictures of the haulers, and then I'm never going back that early again. I thought this would be the year, but something always goes wrong. This time it was the electric scooter again.
The scooter was charged when Mom left Lubbock on Tuesday. My sister and her S.O. both checked it. We thought everything was going to be great. We were 30 minutes early for the trucks and had a great parking place. There should have been plenty of time to find a great spot for photos. But the scooter would barely move, and when we looked down at the charge, it was almost dead. It also had flats on both rear tires, which had been replaced very recently. Frustrated, we put the scooter back in the trunk and walked down into the infield. I knew this was going to be hard on Mom, she just can't walk that far any more. So she opted to take her time and walk to the infield cafe, while Stephanie and I set up just inside the infield tunnel.
We got some great pictures there. The lighting under the awnings was excellent. But I still wish they would come in at sunrise like they did the first few years. I really want to capture that photo of the haulers coming in with the beautiful Texas sunrise coming up behind them. It's an awe-inspiring sight.
Most of the haulers coming in just drive straight through and pay no mind to the fans waiting to see them. Sometimes one of them will honk for someone wearing "their" colors. We got a good laugh out of the #07 hauler. The driver wound up stopping in front of us, and he had his window down, so he shouted out, "Are you girls ?" "A little bit," we answered, to which he responded, "Me, too!" Then he stuck his bare foot out the window and said, "I just woke up and didn't have time to put my shoes on!"
We met Mom at the infield cafe. Usually one of the local rock stations is set up in there doing driver interviews on Fridays. This time it was ESPN radio with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic. We hung around, hoping they'd have some drivers come in, but they didn't. They did have former Dallas Cowboy Tony Dorsett. He sat down to eat some breakfast before his interview, and we noticed that he prayed. I was surprised by this because there are a lot of athletes (a lot of ordinary people as well) who give what I call "lip service" to being Christians, but who don't necessarily act like one off camera. It takes conviction to sit alone in a crowded restaurant and say grace before eating. You just don't see that very often, and when you do, it's not done with the same devotion and sincerity as at home. (I hope I don't have to moderate my own post for that paragraph! <VBG>) Any way, we stayed around until TD left so we could get his autograph. While we were there, ESPN photographers took our picture to put on their website. They said it would be up in a few days or so!
We hung out at the Busch garage during their practice. Then Stephanie and I went to the driver area, as they were coming in and out for interviews. We found out Dale Jr. was in the media center, so we went down there to wait for him to come out. We got some pretty close-up pictures of him, but no autograph. Some people waiting for him down the road were miffed that he wouldn't stop. They told us he and his driver were rude and that he ordered them to "Get out of the way" and "Move!" Which tells me they probably jumped in front of his cart and he couldn't leave. What did they expect? They went on and on about how they wouldn't be a fan of his any more because he was rude and ignored him and his golf-cart driver ordered them to move. I wonder if they changed their minds after they learned that he was sick all weekend?
We spent Cup practice at the garage fence next to Terry Labonte's "garage stall", which was basically an empty spot at the end of the garage where his hauler was parked (too many entries, not enough garage stalls). His paint scheme was pretty special, which I stated earlier. Everyone was coming over to look at it. I got some pictures of Dale Jarrett walking around it. He was there for a long time, studying every picture. Since he was smiling, I can only imagine that he was reliving some great memories he had with TL and also, maybe even thinking of his own eventual retirement. He's covering his ears in the photos because both the #44 and Bill Elliott's car were running and it was VERY loud.
Mom stayed in the Busch area. She's switched her Wallace loyalty to young Mr. Stephen Wallace. She had me come over and take photos of his wrecked car because her batteries died.
After practice, we went shopping along the midway. We found a stand that had some great curly fries, and then another one that had a really good philly cheese steak. Most of the cheese steak places at the track put cheddar cheese nacho sauce on their sandwiches, but in Texas, we like it with WHITE cheese, like provolone or mozzarella. This booth did it with Monterrey Jack, and it was pretty good. I still cringe every time I buy something, though. $4 is WAY too much for a Coke or bottle of water.
We didn't find a lot to buy. I guess this late in the season, they just don't restock a lot of the stuff they run out of. For example, almost all the other drivers had a long-sleeved motocross jersey. They were all identical except for the logos and colors. But there wasn't one for Dale Jr. or Dale Sr. We didn't see on for Harvick, either, but we saw people wearing them all weekend. Also, the same shirt for Tony Stewart was $50, but for Matt Kenseth, it was just $20. I found a Dale Jr. one across from the track for $30.
We also noticed there were a lot fewer trailers there than at previous races. Usually there are multiples of every driver. This year we counted only 3 Dale Jr., one Dale Sr., one Rusty Wallace (okay, he's retired, so it's good there was one there at all), and most of the other drivers there were only one or two at most. I'm almost positive there were at LEAST 6 Dale Jr. trailers in the spring and at LEAST 4 Dale Sr. ones, not counting the generalized DEI, JR Motorsports, Chevy racing, and Remington (don't recall seeing any of those except Remington).
We left right after qualifying started. Stephanie and I hiked up stairs next to the Speedway Club to see what could be seen from the hill at the South Tunnel. I was amazed at how much of the track you COULD see from outside, but of course you couldn't get close enough to see turns 1 and 2 without a ticket. We talked to the guy at the gate and he said a lot of people watch the race from that spot because they don't have a ticket and you can see more than from the infield. He went on to tell us that about 15 minutes into last year's Busch race, someone came out with a handful of tickets for him to pass out because the race hadn't sold out. So he went up to them and said, "You can't watch the race from here," and when they said "Why not?", he told them they'd be watching from the grandstands and gave them free tickets.
We knew Mom would never be able to make it up the stairs or back down through the tunnel to the infield, so we just decided to leave after that. She was looking really tired, and we could tell she was ready to go home.
(More in another post....)
Nope, there is no Day 2. We were pooped from Friday, frustrated with the scooter
( we got home and plugged it in to find it was fully charged, so it was either
just cold or we didn't have it hooked up right!), and we had a lot of errands
to run. I know Mom wanted to go to the Busch race, but there was just no way
I could pull another full day out there and she didn't want to be down there
by herself, so we didn't go.
Sunday morning, we headed out later than normal. We found a better route with less traffic, plus the handicap parking pass ensures us a good spot. We sent Mom cruising on her scooter to the North Tunnel while we hunted down a Nationwide golf cart so we didn't have to walk. Not too long after we got settled at the infield cafe, Mom called me to say she was stuck at the entrance to the tunnel without enough juice to go down in and climb the hill back out. So I flagged down a Nationwide cart and he told me they actually have a cart capable of loading a wheelchair and he'd send it for her. He dropped me off where she was, but we wound up waiting at least 45 minutes and calling the dispatcher 3 times before they came to pick her up.
Luckily there are outlets in the infield cafe, so we just plugged the cart in there and she let it charge for 30 minutes while Stephanie and I went to hunt down driver autographs and photos. I didn't get any autographs, but I think Stephanie got a few. I did get some really close photos of Carl Edwards and a few other people. Once Mom's cart was charged, she went in search of the perfect spot to watch the race. She picked an area down by the South Tunnel where we could see parts of turns 1 and 2 without anything obstructing our view.
In the mean time, it started raining off and on. At one point, it was sounding like they might postpone the race until the weekend after Thanksgiving (which would have been cool for us!), but then they started talking like they were going to start the race earlier than scheduled, in hopes they could get it all in on time. I'm not sure what they did, because we lost track of time once all the activity started.
I loved that Christy Labonte gave her dad the command to start his engine. We heard it over the PRN broadcast and thought that must have been really special.
Everyone at home got to see more of the race than we did, so I'll skip commentary on much of that until after I have time to watch the tape. I did pick up some pretty good scanner bits from the #8 car. Mom was listening to the NBC producer/director feed, and picked up an interesting bit there, too. Apparently when Biffle's went out, the NBC crew was laughing and cheering. Of course, this didn't go out over the air, but it sure makes you wonder what's up with THAT?
There was a pit some time around lap 108. Tony Eury, Jr. wanted to take a 1/2 [pound or round] out of the rear and Jr. said, "No, I got a ------- good car and I don't want them to ---- it up." He felt pretty confident they could win this race. He did tell them what a great pit they had when he came out 2nd after that.++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Then some time after the restart:
Jr: On the next pit stop, get me a bottle of water about half full with some Ty-Quil in it. Do you know what that is?
There was discussion among the crew.
Jr: It's on the Tide car
More discussion. Then someone said, "That's Triolsec....Prilosec"
Jr: I've had some bad heartburn all d----- weekend and it won't go away. I need something. I need help. (Or something like that)
He went on to say he'd been drinking a lot of Gatorade and it was making it worse.
A few laps later:
Jr: This heartburn's terrible
Tony Jr: 10-4 on the heartburn's terrible. We'll get you fixed up on the next stop. The leader's running 80, you're running 70..... [?] behind you are running 85 (?)++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
At lap 135 or so, there was a caution for debris. Before the pits opened, Jr. was saying he wanted to throw up. He said it was shaking him up.... "I drank so much ... now I want to throw up"
Then, after the pit:
Jr: That wasn't the way I wanted to do that. What the ---- did they do? Crush the pills before they put them in the water?
Tony Jr: They told us they dissolve in water
Jr: That ain't the way you're supposed to take those. They were down in the bottom of the bottle by the back stretch and it wouldn't come up the straw.
Then Jr. proceeded to chew out Tony Jr. for "delegating it to someone at the back of the pits twiddling their thumbs". And Tony Jr. apologized for not taking better care of Jr., but insisted they were just trying to find a way to take care of it without him having to get down off the pit box.
Later on, Jr. came back on with a comment about the bumps making him more sick:
"driving around in circles...bumps...shakes my guts up...got too much fluids in me"
After he scraped the wall, he said the #07 just took the air off him and he couldn't hold on to it. They came in twice under caution to do repairs. At one point, Tony Jr. told Jr. "We got some Tums here, Jun., if you want to chew on them." But Jr told them, "No I wanna work on the car. I'm alright." He never complained about being nauseous or heartburn again, but a bit later, he did say, "I want a do-over."
22 or 23 to go, Jr. wanted to pit for tires. But Tony Jr. was putting him off and said, "One more lap."
Jr: The way these guys are running, we should have pitted 20 laps ago and I could beat 'em"
Tony Jr: We're not trying to beat them Jun., we're trying to win a championship.
There was more stuff, but it was just little snippets and not all that interesting. The #8 crew all have some funny nicknames like "2 beer", "Spiffy", and "Hootie", although I haven't got a clue who's who.
I was sorry to be in the infield and miss Tony's fence climb. After the race, we wound up waiting for over two hours for the wheel chair cart to come pick mom up. We weren't real happy about that, and were even less happy when we found out there is ONLY ONE such cart available for wheelchairs. I just couldn't believe that! 250,000 people and only ONE of the carts can accommodate a wheelchair?! I think we'll all be writing letters to the speedway and to Nationwide Insurance (the company that provides the carts).
And that about wraps it up for this year. Can't wait for 2007!
I just remembered another funny scanner incident. It revolved around the caution
and the accident on the front stretch. Apparently, Junior looked up at the scoring
tower and noticed that one of the cars was still listed in the same position
as before the incident.
Jr: He spun. How can you maintain position if you're going backwards?
Then a bit later: I'm sorry I'm whining about it. I don't mean to whine.
Eury: That's okay. This is the time of year that you NEED to whine. (referring to the Chase).
I thought initially he was talking about the 17 car, but it may have been the 10. Which ever, it was promptly corrected by NASCAR.