So, if you have been Counting Along With This olelongrooffan, you will know the Circus is in town this 4th of July weekend. I got the opportunity to party with Dale, Jr. on Wednesday and spend a bit of time with DeLana Harvick on the beach on Thursday.
Well, on Friday, after a shakey start, yeah I realized there is a hole in the radiator of the olestationbus and after crossing the big bridge, this olelongrooffan had to return to the Taj Mahal and pick up my oleragtop for today's trip out to the Daytona International Speedway.
Upon my arrival at the west end of the Speedway, I pulled up to the security dude checking parking passes. And of course, I don't have one but let's see what happens. I show him my Super Deluxe pass and he asks for my parking pass. I mention this is all I got at the Credential Office and how do I get a parking pass? He mentions to go past the security checkpoint and turn left at the end of the road and you can head up to the ticket office and get one. How much? Fifty Bucks.
Well, you Counters know exactly what this olelongrooffan did, don't you? I headed past that security checkpoint, turned left at the end of the road and pulled into the first vacant parking spot. Put the top up on my oleragtop, grabbed my (actually, it's one of the Kid's) backpack with the water bottle and snack filled cooler in it from the trunk of that oleragtop and hoofed on over to the shuttle area.
The security dude hooked me up, whether he knows it or not,and this olelongrooffan sure appreciates it.
So, when I got over to the shuttle area, I noticed GM has coughed up some new pick up trucks to tow those shuttle trailers around.
And, for the first time, so did Toyota.
Well, that shuttle rolled on through the big tunnel under turn 1 and dropped me off just outside the Fan Zone.
Due to the adventures I had with my olestationbus, by the time I arrived, the Grand Am practice and qualifying sessions were over and the track was cold so everyone could have a bit of lunch and the Nationwide guys could get ready for their qualifying session.
In the meantime, I just wandered around the Fan Zone to see what there was to be seen.
Over under the pavillions where the historic Grand Am cars are parked during the Rolex 24, I spotted this flag draped race car.A bit later I came back around and saw it is the car for America's Racing Team. I have no idea what that is all about. Another mystery, however one this olelongrooffan is not really interested in solving.
I got an image of this boy doing a mock pit stop on this Goodyear themed race car. His onlooking parents, along with this olelongrooffan, got a chuckle out of his performance. And it was pretty good, he even turned a fictitous crank at the rear window to adjust a track bar.
That kid must have watched every NASCAR race since his birth!
I then noticed the new Mustang Nationwide racecar behind that white picket fence
and said to myself, "What the h*ll are you doing out here taking images of show cars when you could be inside the garage taking images of the real thing?"
So into the garage area is where this olelongrooffan headed.
Down at the Goodyear Racing garage, I spotted these pallets full of racing rims.
One thing this olelongrooffan is curious about: The names of the race teams, and presumably the owners of these rims are painted on the inside of the rim. Once a Goodyear Eagle is mounted on these rims, how do the teams know who the owner is. I am sure someone, somewhere knows the answer but I forgot to ask.
And just for this weekend's racing, a special tribute to our troops has been added to these Goodyear Eagles, something the MotorRacingNetwork tells this olelongrooffan this is the first time that has ever happened.
Oh yeah! Doh!
I spotted, for the first time, a bunch of these grooved tires and asked the Goodyear dude and the white shirted officials in the background of this image
the reason for the grooves. One of the officials, sarcastically, commented "They are rain tires." To which this olelongrooffan replied, "Hey, I wasn't born yesterday," generating a chuckle from all four of them. It turns out, as the Goodyear dude relayed, these tires are used by the teams to do the setup of the car with reference to ride heights and axle width. They are grooved to differentiate them from race tires so they are uniform and not influenced by use during a practice or racing.
And while I was down there, of course this olelongrooffan had to get a shot of the Subway Jalapeno 300 and the Coke Zero 400 2011 Mustang Pace Cars.
And those two specks of darkness in the following image? US Air Force jets doing their own kind of practice over the Daytona International Speedway this cloudy Friday afternoon.
As I was walking around the Nationwide garages, I spotted a large contingency of Asian tourists. I thought it was interesting to see this group here at a pseudo redneck American experience. Although I had walked past them, and had seen Boris Said chatting it up with his fellow compatriots at the rear of this transporter, when I heard one of those dudes say something in a rather excited voice, I decided to turn back and see the action.
Apparently one of those dudes recognized Boris and approached him for an autograph. I would suspect that Boris Said was rather impressed this, mostly, non English speaking fan group would recognize him and he
enthusiastically provided autographs to all of them. D*mn straight, Boris!
As I continued along that row of transporters, I spotted this bird hanging on the rear of
Which was parked immediately adjacent to this one.
Sometimes sponsorship money comes real easy and then sometimes it doesn't.
Was Danica even here this weekend? As I didn't watch any of the NASCAR races, this olelongrooffan is clueless. Actually, this was the transporter for Dale Jr's #3 Wrangler Impala.
And this is the "parts available" transporter parked next to Danica's.
This is the mobile Nationwide office that thejeepjunkie and I visited many times on Saturday. Why, I am sure you Counters are asking? Well, see that dude in the jeans and the dark shirt with the white stripe? Those dudes are looking at a TV monitor, provided by Nationwide, showing the location of the rain surrounding this racetrack.
The following image, of the Nationwide garage, was shot after qualifying had been completed.
One final image of the NASCAR garages with race fans in the Fan Zone area above the garages.
After this garage tour, this olelongrooffan headed out to pit road to check out the lineup for the Nationwide qualifying grid.
I have this to say about that. International Speedway officials had opened up the pit area to pretty much anyone and it was packed. I went on down, got a quick image of Dale, Jr. and headed back to the pass regulated garage area.
Upon arrival, I spotted a group just standing around and looking at
this pair of teammate race cars.
If you followed the Nationwide race, you will know these two Roger Penske Dodge "Challengers" qualified 1-2 for the Friday nite race.
Yeah, Roger Penske, still kicking *ss and taking names, some fifty years later.
As this olelongrooffan was standing around watching the happenings, I noticed that every time a car would pull up, it would stop, the drivers would get out and a dude would pick up two batteries off this cart, walk over, remove the passenger's side window of that race car, place them inside and return with two used batteries.
Of course, this olelongrooffan had to inquire of one of the Cosworth technicians what these batteries are for? It was explained to me these batteries powered the electronics that show the "yellow arrows" on the TV broadcast showing where the race cars were in relation to each other. I asked the tech "How is Cosworth compensated?" "We actually are a subcontractor of another firm (yeah, I forget the name) who has the contract with the broadcast networks," he replied. "But this is a small aspect of Cosworth," he continued. I replied, "Yeah, I am familiar with Cosworth, all the way back to the 1976 Chevrolet Vega and beyond." He looked at me with what seemed to be a newfound respect and commented, "In all my years of explaining what I do and who I work for, no one has ever made that connection." He reached out and shook my hand and headed over to replace those batteries in yet another Nationwide race car that was entering this garage area.
Yeah, Counters, this olelongrooffan was rather flattered.
Now, if you remember the post I did about the Dale, Jr. party down at the Bandshell from mid week last week, you will remember that I didn't head up front to see him.
And this is one reason. And here are a few more.
Well, this olelongrooffan suspects that pret-near everyone reading this knows that Dale, Jr. started in the number 3 position, took the lead of that Friday night race on lap 3 in that number 3 race car and made his Daddy, looking down on the events of that night, a real Proudad. And as Jr. said, "I did it and I'm done with the number 3." Way to go Jr. and glad you were able to get that Beast of Burden off your back.
I then headed back to the Sprint Cup garages to check out those racecars going through "tech inspection".
The image below is of Kyle Busch's car going through the garage where they recheck some of the items already inspected. The team members call this the redundancy garage. This is the last stop before heading to their qualifying run.
It is pretty cool. On the number 43 car they had the left front brake disc off and were installing a NASCAR provided spacer.
When this olelongrooffan inquired to the Inspector the reason for this spacer, he started giving me a 1/2*ssed answer. One of the Petty crewman then took over and said it was required because their front end was the thickness of two spacers, one on each side, narrower than NASCAR requires and the spacers were necessary to achieve uniform, across the field, spacing between the front wheels. When I asked if they were penalized for this, the response was negative. "About 1/2 the field require them," I was told.
I know I uploaded this image for a reason but I can't remember what it was. Maybe just a shot of the "new" rear wing. When the crewmen were pushing these cars from inspection station to inspection station, one of them always, on every team, said "Don't touch the spoiler." Without exception.
This is the pavillion where the aerodynamics are checked. Incidentally, it is under this same tent that the Rolex cars are tested during the Rolex24. This is the third of four inspection areas.
The following image was taken just after that Burger King car had come out of the garage where the engines and restrictor plates are checked. Once outside, the engine was fired up and the inspector, in the white shirt, waved that wand he is holding around the running engine and then it was shut down. Once that racecar left, I inquired what he was checking. In his unmistakable North Carolina accented voice he replied, "Son, we are checking to make sure there are no air intakes coming from any place on the engine or carburetor as that adds more power to the car." I asked if he often found any and if the teams were penalized? "Today I found one on a team I won't disclose and they fixed it without penalty but if they still had it the second time around, it's to the back of the pack for them."
Here the FedEx team is taping up the cowl vent after inspection. Evidentally, this shield needs to be removed for some inspection in that garage as every team did the same task upon exit from that garage. The car is not allowed beyond this point without that duct tape in place.
Nice gas cap, Denny.
Also at this phase of inspection, a fuel bottle's nozzle is inserted into the fill area and a bar is inserted into the 1" pipe just above the "taillight" to make sure the catch can will be operable. This is actually the first stop.
It is in this garage the spring and track bars are inspected. This is the second inspection area.
And below, Joe Nemachek's team is placing duct tape over the air intake holes prior to their qualifying run. These cars are on pit road and that truck on the track in the background has a jet blower attached blowing debris away from the wall so the series of jet blowers just behind it could come by and blow that debris to the infield.
Oh yeah! Where Am I Today?
Just an image of part of the Sprint Cup field lined up anticipating their qualifying run.
Then the qualifying itself.
I got to see Juan Pablo's run and entry into the garage area for reinspection after that run.
The drivers pull their cars in, exit them for a SPEEDTV interview and the crew takes their car over to the redundancy garage for a quick reinspection.
This olelongrooffan was watching the goings on and noticed a couple number 42 crew members walk by, one with a jack and the other with a tire and a battery operated impact wrench. Well, this olelongrooffan probably doesn't need to mention that those boys were followed into that restricted area, even to this Super Deluxe Pass bearing olelongrooffan.
As we walked around the corner, there was the 42 with a flat right rear tire. It seems Juan Pablo had run over something out on the track and punctured his tire. You can see the hole a few inches to the right of above the "R" in the image below. When they had finished changing that tire, I asked one of the crew members what he thought had caused it. "Probably a bolt or something. You wouldn't believe all the crap out there." The inspector examining that tire was the same one who explained the operation of the wand to me earlier. He made sure I got a good image of the hole prior to telling this olelongrooffan that I was in a restricted area. As I looked up at him, he gave me a wink and gestured for me to exit the area.
In the following image, Jimmy Johnson was mouthing off something to Jamie MacMurray. It must have been funny as both of them cracked up laughing.
This is the dude who let me spend some time with his wife on the beach the other day, after his qualifying run.
And after qualifying was complete, the racecars were put to bed under the covers as this is an impound race meaning no further work could be done to those racecars until the first lap of the Coke Zero 400 the next day.
Well, this olelongrooffan decided to head over to the remote Grand Am garage area and take a look about. On the way, I spotted the Lil Big Brown Truck.
And over at the Grand Am garage area.
At the Rolex 24, the Daytona Prototype cars are in the Sprint Cup garage area
while the Grand Touring cars are in the Nationwide garages.
And, unlike NASCAR, Pirelli, not Goodyear, is the tire provider for this series.
Apparently, the Grand Am series teams have the ability to work under a tent and that is why they are relagated to this parking lot in the infield, adjacent to the fenced in driver's motorcoach area.
The #70 is the team that won the GT class last year and the one who was so nice to the Kid a few years ago.
The image below captures the Stevenson Camaros we got to see in action on Saturday.
These guys were measuring the ride height on the number 31 Corvette. Boris Said was to be behind the wheel of this one on Saturday. And like Johnny Carson, More To Come.
Chip Ganassi's 01 DP.
And the Porsche Pace Cars provided by Brumos Porsche for the Brumos 250.
And one of my favorite magazines, Grassroots Motorsports, was represented on the Sahlen's Mazda #42 RX8.
Later I spotted the 01 with driver Memo Rojas during a photo op.
This dude, the owner of the #31 Corvette seen a couple images back was shaving those slicks with a blow torch and putty knife to remove a few laps of pebbles from them.
On the way out, I stopped by my ticket benefactors shop to say thanks but the dude was not around. I'll have to head back on Saturday.
So I headed back to the Fan Zone, picked up the shuttle and hitched a ride back out to the illegally parked oleragtop.
As this olelongrooffan was strolling through the campground, I decided to get a few images of the campsites for you Counters Out There.
I would say the owner of the following "pusher" is an Earnhardt fan, both Big and Little "E"
And this one is a veteran of numerous Daytona International Speedway events. The Speedway gives one ticket per event for placement on the windshield of your camper. This one has at least fifteen. At $530 per pop, you do the math.
This is something you don't see at the Rolex 24. It's too dang cold in February.
I do like this custom tag. So, this olelongrooffan got back to my oleragtop,
spotted my windshield and wondered if they were going to get Sprint qualifying in this Friday evening? Well Counters, that does it for Fast Friday, stay tuned for Super Saturday and remember to