I wasn't even planning on going to this race after Mom told me she wasn't coming, but someone showed up in hubby's office with a stack of 20 tickets for the truck race. I was really looking forward to some down-time at the house,but how could we say no? Since the tickets were free and the budget's a little tight these days, we made a pact to make it a totally FREE racew weekend. The goal was to enjoy ourselves at the track without spending one dime. It was actually a lot of fun to hold ourselves to it.
We couldn't find anyone to go with us, even with free tickets, so it was just Mark and me. We stopped at Taco Bell on the way to the track. Not my first choice of dinner, but it will do in a pinch. Hubby was running late from work but we managed to get over to the track and were just parking during driver introductions. Got inside and found our seats before the invocation and national anthem. We brought in coolers of water, soda, and beer so we had no need to buy anything at the track.
We saw lots of silly people in silly Halloween costumes. That was kind of fun.
The race was pretty good. At first, we thought it might turn into a wreck-fest, but we were glad to see it settle down. It was interesting to watch both Todd Bodine and Ron Hornaday come up from so far back. There were a few exciting passes. We had the scanners set to MRN (or is it PRN?) all night, so we didn't catch any good scanner talk. Ron Hornaday really deserved the win.
I really didn't think I was going to go to this race. I just wasn't all that interested. I have watched maybe two races all year, and I don't think Mark has watched one at all. We've just sort of lost interest. They've made so many changes to the sport that I barely recognize it any more. It's just not all that thrilling to watch cookie cutter drivers in cookie cutter cars go 'round and 'round a cookie cutter track. In fact, the only reason I've even kept up with it at all is because I'm a moderator for the RASN-M Usenet Newsgroup and I play a little driver picks game online. But on Friday afternoon, Mark called me to ask if I wanted to go to the Cup race, too. He had 6 free tickets from someone at work (working at the ad agency does have its perks!); I just couldn't say no.
Of course, Todd and Stephanie were our first choice to invite -- they're long time fans, and Stephanie's been to more races with me than Mark has. We gave the other two tickets to Rob and his daughter Sarah (mom, Cathy, stayed home). Neither one of them had ever been to a NASCAR race, so it was fun to initiate a newbie into all that is NASCAR Race Week. Of course, we left some of the hardcore stuff like infield passes for another day....
Without Mamasita there, we didn't have to be there at the crack of dawn. We didn't even leave the house until 10 AM, and we found a good parking spot about half way up the unpaved area. We set up our awning and stuff there, relaxed for a while, and then had a bit of breakfast before we headed for the Midway. On our way up, we noticed there were still tons of parking spaces further up, so we didn't have to settle for one so far back. We'll have to remember that for next time.
Rob and Sarah had never been to any kind of NASCAR race, so we took them down the Midway for the NASCAR shopping experience. It did make me miss coming out to the track on Thursday or Friday. The lines were incredibly long and it didn't look like they had any deeply discounted sales like they have had in the past. No matter, Rob and Sarah had fun picking out a Jeff Gordon hat for Sarah anyway. And then Todd and Stephanie stopped at the Dale Junior trailer to get Todd a hat and some other things as well. Mark and I kept to our vow to not spend a single dime a the track, so we didn't buy anything at all. Truth be told, I really didn't see much of anything that I wanted. It all just looked like the same old shit.
When we got the tickets, we looked at the row and section numbers, and we thought we were going to be sitting in Turn One with some individual fold down seats. We always try to buy tickets in the sections with fold-down seats. The bench seats were built with nothing more than the bottom dollar in mind -- add two extra seats on each bench and you can sell thousands more tickets. Apparently, they also figured that replacing the fold-down chairs with benches in the turns would net them even more money, so guess where we wound up.... Fortunately, almost all of the other seats around us were empty. There was a full row behind us, and two or three people on the end of our row, but below us was almost empty. There two guys in the row below us, but they moved to an empty row below them to give us more room. A couple of men with two young boys came later, but they left before the race was half over. I dumped my gear on the bench below me and eventually Stephanie moved down there, too, because the guy behind her had his cooler shoved up behind her seat and she couldn't lean back.
The race could have been really interesting, but I really think all the changes NASCAR has made to the cars makes them boring. Once the race gets going, it's just 'round and 'round. There's no real racing involved. At least this one was more interesting thatn some. I think this is the first one in a long time where I didn't fall asleep during the race. Of course, that may have something to do with not having to get up at 3 AM, too. I tried to get some scanner talk, but they talk faster than I can write, and I miss a lot. I keep thinking maybe I should learn short hand. Or figure out a way to record their conversations....Hmmmm......
Dale Junior's car was giving him fits all day. There was a lot of discussion about that. Then it got silent for a long time, when suddenly Tony Eury, Jr. said something to Dale Jr (sorry, I didn't catch what he said).
Dale Jr: You scared the shit out of me, talking to me when I'm going into the corner after a long silence! I feel like I'm going to hit the wall every time I go into the corner. (Shortly after that, on lap 202 or so, he did brush the wall).
Junior also complained about the track blowers. They were running up high and Junior said they shouldn't be up there because they were blowing stuff into the racing groove. He said they should stop blowing and just drive around and pick up debris. Apparently, one of the debris problems was the windshield tear-offs. On lap 249, Junior said:
Dale Jr: Take a look at my grill. I just ran over a tear-off. There's tear-offs everywhere. (He complained about the tear-offs several more times throughout the race.)
The next incident occured after the wreck around Lap 263. Junior was mad at his spotter (TJ) for not calling the wreck quicker. TJ said he was watching the corner and didn't see the wreck at first, to which Junior berated him with some statements like, "Why are you watching the corner?"
Dale Jr: ...massive wreck! They're gonna fight, them two...they're gonna fist fight.
Dale Jr: They was banging into each other for three corners
Junior seemed to think it was intentional on the part of the 38 car. I haven't seen the replay, but it happened right in front of him. He said they had been beating and banging on each other for quite some time and that the 42 car pulled away from the 38 to get away from it before something happened. He said the 38 then pulled all the way across the track to hit the 42 in the rear corner. He said that from his point of view it was a severe and intentional offense, enough to be "banned".
I won't pretend I wasn't disappointed in the outcome of the race. Betting on fuel mileage was a huge gamble for Dale Junior's team that would have paid off big if it had worked out. Unfortunately, Tony Eury, Jr. waiting too long to tell Dale Jr. to drive conservatively, and the gas ran out on the back stretch with just a few laps to go. Everything might have been okay except for the snafu in the pits. Junior managed to baby his car around to the pits, but by the time he got to his stall, his car had already died. The crew gave him a good push, but it didn't start. It seemed like an eternity watching him coast to a stop on pit road with the crew still standing in their pit stall just watching him! After a few seconds, Tony Eury, Jr. shouted at them, "Well go after him, don't just stand there!" So they had to push the car back into the pit stall and get it started before he could take off again. That was all it took to put him down. So "Cousin" Carl Edwards won, and I did get to see his backflip this time, because we were at an angle to see it from the side. I didn't bother to take a picture, though, because there's no way my ancient camera could zoom in close enough to see what was going on.
On our way back to the truck, we stopped so that Rob could get a t-shirt for himself. Then Mark made up some tasty hamburgers and we laughed at all the drunks acting like idiots. The ride home was short and uneventful. And best of all, we didn't give Bruton Smith any of our money!