Thursday, March 27, 2014

Auto Club 400

This race was not what I was expecting but it was still such a blast.

My dad ended up surprising me with pit passes (that he got for free!) and I was totally stoked to wander among the seemingly endless pit boxes for the first time. Of course, I took a ridiculous amount of pictures (and then I wonder why my laptop is running out of memory). I even signed Denny's pit wall!

Unfortunately, my favorite driver out of all my favorite drivers missed the race due to a piece of medal in his eye, so he never saw my handiwork on his wall but he's okay and that's all that matters.

Dad and I stayed in the infield for driver introductions because I wanted to get pictures with my 21x zoom camera, which was the best idea I had all day since I picked the best spot. Kyle pulled a prank on the fans and came out during intros when they announced Dale Earnhardt, Jr. It was hilarious. Due to my laughing, I wasn't able to get a good picture of him.

I was all set and ready to go by the time Denny's name rolled around and there was no Denny. They didn't hesitate and moved right on to the next person. Everyone, including myself, was confused. It's very uncommon for a driver to miss driver introductions. We didn't find out that he would miss the race due to - at that time - an illness. I was not happy.

I had brought my new race scanner with me, hoping to listen to Hamlin's radio the whole time but alas, that plan went out the window. On top of that, I thought it was going to be a real bummer of a race because Johnson and Gordon had led most of it.

I was listening to Kyle Busch's radio the whole day and it did not sound like he had a good car at all. His crew chief would have his team fix something and Kyle would tell them it did nothing for him. Kyle even suggested something at one point but even he turned around and changed his mind. Though for having a bad car, he wasn't ever to far behind.

Then a miracle happened. Johnson blew a tire and that put Gordon in the lead, leaving Kyle in third. They all pitted for tires, though some guys like Tony Stewart, took only two. Somehow, I knew that four tires, like Kyle took was going to be the key to winning the race.

Sure enough, the race went green and Kyle blew through the cars in front of him in no time. I was practically pulling my dad's arm out of its socket from my excitement. Kyle won the race and I screamed like a maniac. Dad just looked at me like I wasn't his daughter and that I was, in fact, some crazy person sitting next to him.

I was surprised to hear so many cheers when Kyle came to the start/finish line to get the checkered flag from the official. Not as many boos as I would have thought. Maybe people are actually starting to like him more? Not that it matters to KB. He once said that he doesn't care about the boos, all he cares about is that people are making noise for him.

It was a good day, even though it wasn't day I had planned for. I hadn't been to the track in six years and both times, something happened to Denny before the end of the race (in 2008, he blew a tire). Perhaps next year I can go again and finally see Hamlin do some real racing.

- Jay