Sunday morning at Texas Motor Speedway started with a chill in the air. I’m talking about the 50 degree temps with gusty winds, not the tension in the race for the chase. Ominous clouds lurked overhead, as I picked up my AAA Texas 500 race credentials. I shivered once or twice, before my adrenaline turned up the heat!
This wasn’t my first NASCAR race, but it was my first trip to Texas Motor Speedway. We started with a tour of the garages, where race crews tightened bolts and fine tuned Chevrolets, Fords, and Toyotas. Kyle Larson was outside his trailer posing for a few photos. Yes, I’m still kicking myself for not asking him to autograph his hero card for my NASCAR obsessed four year old. I blame it on my “is this really happening” state of mind.
Seriously, pinch me. Was I really standing in the AAA Texas 500 driver’s meeting, watching Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and others, enter the tent? Like, for real? I was totally living every NASCAR fan’s dream. And then…it got even better. My fellow blogger and photographer for the day, Kathy Penney, and I were standing in the VIP section behind the scenes of the driver introductions.
Our cameras and cell phones were in overdrive as we snapped picture after picture.I was thrilled when Ryan Newman looked down and smiled for me. Even Dale Jr. was trying to give me the perfect shot. Standing on the other side of the wall, was giving me goosebumps. I was rubbing elbows with NASCAR drivers, team owners, and celebrities. Sunday was life in the fast lane at the AAA Texas 500.
There’s nothing like standing in the pits, right behind the crew, when the green flag is waved. I could feel the rumble of the engines. You might have the best TV money can buy, but there’s nothing like being at a live NASCAR race in the pits. I watched the emotions on the pit crew’s faces as their driver’s took the lead, or made a costly mistake. I felt the tension level rise, in the seconds before the cars pitted, and the air get lighter after a successful stop.
Even when I was in the media center, surrounded by journalists writing stories, or editing photos, you could feel the emotions. Much quieter than a sports bar, there were still reactions as tires rolled off, and engines smoked. A few times I was editing photos, and I’d hear someone react, to look up and see drama on the race track.
But, I know, what you really want to ask: where were you when the fight between Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski broke out? Bad news my friends, I was in a prime spot inside the Winner’s Circle waiting for Jimmie Johnson to come roaring in, to claim his trophy. I’m not complaining. I’m actually kind of glad I wasn’t down there in the brawl, being pulled and pushed like Jamie Little with ESPN. One, because it was kind of hairy, and two, I got video of Jimmie Johnson driving into Victory Lane.
AAA Texas 500 Winner Jimmie Johnson
While Brad and Jeff were nursing their wounds, I was watching the three time AAA Texas 500 winner celebrate with his team on Victory Lane.
Jimmie Johnson won the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway for the third straight year and now has four-career NSCS wins at the 1.5-mile track.
Congrats to Jimmie (the fastest NASCAR racer according to my NASCAR obsessed 4 year old) on his AAA Texas 500 victory! A big thank you to NASCAR for giving me the ultimate fan experience!
So, tell me, what do you think of the new points system and who is your favorite driver?
This post has been submitted to a NASCAR sponsored program.