Wednesday, June 06, 2012

2012 Dover 400 Recap

You have the tickets, right?

What?

You have the tickets?  To get into the track?  To watch the race?

Mother, do you have the tickets?

I don't have the tickets.  I thought you got the tickets?

Me?  I thought you got the tickets?



This was the conversation between my parents and me as we were about 20 minutes outside of Dover on Sunday on our way to the 2012 Dover 400.  This has become an annual event for us, this being the 4th annual trip.  However, we had a slight communication problem.

My dad suggested we turn around and go home.  I told them to hold off a minute and let me think about it.  We didn't have tickets.  We thought.  Then we sat right down, figured it out, what NASCAR clues is all about - hey, we're really smart.  Wait - this race doesn't sell out.  At worst we'll have to sit in nose bleeds on a turn.  But that's not too bad.

My favorite driver Carl Edwards.  He obviously didn't see me.



However, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. saw me.  Click on this picture and tell me he's not looking right at me.  It's like he knew I was taking his picture.  Thanks, Dale!  By the way, one of my fraternity brothers built the custom staircase in his house.  It's beautiful.



We stopped at Subway in Smyrna (another annual tradition - get donuts and $5 footlongs).  I got on my iPhone and began trying to buy tickets online.  It didn't recognize my ID or password.  I created another ID, but this failed as it said I was already using that email address.  Arghh!  Oh, well.  Guess I'm buying tickets at the ticket window at the race.

We get to the track, park in handicapped parking, and I tell my parents to sit tight and I'll go get tickets.  I walk about a quarter way around the outside of the track, which seems like half a mile, and I find a guy standing their with an information sign.  I ask him where I can by tickets.  He points me back to whence I just came.  I finally find the ticket window and I'm 3rd in line.  Not too bad.  The guy in front of me is swaying back and forth.  He obviously had a case of Miller Lite for breakfast.  He gets to the window and practically falls through it.  The girl behind the window looks beyond Mr. Drunk and makes eye contact with me.  I start laughing hysterically.  She retains her composure.  There are several gestures pointing in either direction.  He bumps his head pulling out of the window, points in one directions, she points in another, he spins around, practically falls over, then stands there befuddled.  She makes eye-contact with me again.  I shake my head and smile.  She smiles.  Finally, Mr. Drunk staggers away.

I come to the window.  "I bet this is a really interesting job."  "Some days it's really interesting."  I tell her I need 3 seats by Pit Row.  She taps away on the computer.  "I have three seats next to that guy that was here."  "Mr. Drunk?  Well, he'll be passed out after a couple of laps. That should be fine."  "Let me see if any other seats have opened up.  Yep, here we go."  I get my seats - 3 for $65 each.  Center, row 4.  Awesome!

It's a funny thing about NASCAR tracks.  The closer you are to the track the less expensive the seats are.  Oh, that's right - it's louder, more dangerous, lots of tire speckles landing on you, and higher risk of being bashed in the head with a 90 pound tire flying over the safety barriers at 140 miles per hour.

I sprint back to the truck, grab my parents, throw both of them over my shoulders fireman-style and double-time it through the parking lot, past the truck selling new NASCAR camouflage gear, past the 45 other NASCAR gear  trucks, then hustle up the stairs to our seats.

We weren't there long before they (the NASCAR officials) prayed to Jesus, thanks God for the soldiers, damned the atheists, Jews, and Muslims, and blessed the race, then sang the National Anthem, and flung a giant flag over top our heads.  I was not able to get a reasonable picture of the Texas Air National Guard F-16's doing the fly-over.  I could see them coming and boy were they LOUD.  Almost as loud as Jeff Gordon's engine.

The race finally gets under way.  I love the roar of the first couple of laps.  Then when I can no longer hear anything and the buzzing starts, I put on the noise-cancelling headphones.  And not 9 laps later we have a major pile-up between turn 2 and 3.  Which is the other side of the track.  Which we cannot see because our seats are too low to the track.  Another reason why you need the more expensive higher seats.

Lap 9 caution flag:


Results of the crash.  "Look ma!  No trunk!"


"Look, Ma!  No front end!"  Funny story about this one.  My mom and I were listening to the Jeff Gordon channel on our NASCAR scanner.  This gives us a live feed of Jeff communicating with his pit crew and some woman who kept dropping the F-bomb.  Jeff Gordon complimented Stephen Leicht for how fast his car was.  The pit chief hammered back, "Yeah, Jeff.  He's running as fast as you with only half a car."



Here's the end of Casey Mears' day.  He actually needed a tow.  He didn't fair as well as Leicht.


As was David Gilliland, who needed a push.


And Pablo Mantoya.  How in the heck can he see where he's going???





You never know what's going to happen on pit row.  I saw a guy get hit by a car and go flying over the hood.  Of course I didn't have my camera ready, but he got right back up and went to work on the car coming in.  These guys are tough!  Here's a picture of a tire getting away from the pit crew.  This is a penalty!



The race had a few events, which is more than the other Dover 400 races that we've attended.  Carl Edwards blew a tire and kissed the wall.  Day over.  Two other guys blew engines, which resulted in a plume of white smoke resembling hot gas coming out of Martin O'Malley's mouth when he talks about moving Maryland forward.  Jeff Gordon (my mom's favorite) ran a good race keeping his lap times around 24, occasionally dipping into the high 23's.  However, he said that something was wrong and he began to fall back.  He pulled into the pits, lost 2 laps, but got his car fixed.  He made up a lot of time and ended up finishing on the lead lap in 13th place (I think).

Here's the end of Carl Edward's day.  He needed a little push off of the track.  What's black and yellow, has ten legs, and goes 4 miles per hour?  Carl Edward's car.



Carl wasn't the only one getting a push.  So did David Reutimann.




Jimmy Johnson, like him or not, owns the Dover 400.  He's won 4 of the last 7(?) and 3 of the 4 races that I've been to.  He had his car painted up for the new Madagascar movie and his pit crew wore clown wigs like Marty the Zebra wears.  Or are the guys in the pit crew a bunch of clowns anyway?




One lap to go!

Checkered flag.  Jimmy Johnson wins.


I thought this was cool.  Pull up to the wall......


and do a burnout!

 No NASCAR event is complete without some people watching.  Every fan has their favorite driver:

This handsome fella with the long flowing dark hair loves Dale Earnhardt, Jr.



 This young man in the jean shorts and tank top and tattoos likes Jeff Gordon.


Tony Stewart.

 

Here's another Tony Stewart fan, but with the high dollar official jersey AND hat.  Note the cigarette. This is comparable to football fans wearing jerseys of their favorite criminals.  I mean football players.

And did I mention that I was the only person out of 90,000 fans there that was NOT smoking?  Actually, second-hand smoking.  Ugh. Cough-cough, gag.


There are some hot NASCAR chicks, too.  I love a girl in a pink shirt and short-shorts.


 I was actually trying to get the girl in the green shirt, but instead the camera chose to focus on her bare chested boyfriend with his boxer briefs pulled up higher than his shorts.  If he was cut like Pitbull or Flo-Rida, I'd give him a break.  But he's cut like Earl down at DJ's Autocare.


This girl was kind of cute.  She was a bit older, but presented herself well, except that she's drinking Bud Light.  She's obviously had some mouth trauma and no longer has any taste buds.


It's bright, hot, and sunny in Dover.  You need a hat.  When you forget to bring a cap or cannot afford to buy a Kurt Busch hat, you improvise.  With a paper bag.  And women's sunglasses.  "I'm...too sexy for my hat. So sexy..."


 Working in the pit can get boring.  Check out this guy in black doing NASCAR yoga.  Chubby in orange ought to take some lessons.


I love watching the teamwork of the pit crew.  Imagine filling up your tank and changing all four tires in like 11 seconds?  Midas?  Jiffy Lube?  Are you listening?


 Kasey Kahne doing a burnout as he pulls out of the pit.




 And that was the 2012 Dover 400!





1 comment:

Blogger said...

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