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Inside Ed's Head

Race Fan on the Loose at Phoenix
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By Eddie Laub | 11/11/2014
Category: Inside Ed's Head
 


Eddie Laub on assignment for
 Race Journal Online.


After a morning “date” with my wife to Wal-Mart and Starbucks, I made it to the track and am ready to go.  I decided to start my day off with a hike, and join the common folks (haha!) in the stands for a bit.  I ran in to my sister-in-law and nephew working the concessions stands and, while that was pretty cool in itself, did they offer me a free Coke Zero??  NO!  How rude!

On a similar  note, I did find Coke Zero in the Media Center today!  Someone listened to me!!!  What's actually more likely is that it was there all the time; I just happened to look in the right fridge today.

There's also quite a bit of  Starbucks in the fridge this morning, but none of us know if it's up for grabs or if it belongs to someone specific, so we're all afraid to touch it.  Is it ESPN Starbucks? NASCAR Starbucks?  Starbucks belonging to some other all-caps-named organization?   We’re not sure, but nobody's willing to risk it.

On Friday, I submitted my article before the truck race, but during said race, I may or may not have commandeered the right front fender of Joey Coulter’s #21 truck.  Good thing the lights kept going out at the track, as no one caught me digging it out of the garbage (or not digging it out- if I don’t have it.)  I did get some cool pictures of the crew working on his truck.  It quickly became evident that they were fixing the truck just enough to load it up on the big rig for the ride home.  That’s a sad feeling. Knowing that you are done for the night, but you still have a significant amount of work to do just to be able to head home. That just stinks.

Back to Sunday, and my rather large pre-race dilemma is where am I going to be when lap 312 rolls around?  Do I plan on heading for Victory Lane, hoping to get that perfect celebration shot?  Or do I head to wherever the fight is going to be- again, hoping to get that perfect fist-throwing shot?  And odds are favoring some sort of back room brawl out in front of everyone.

GREEN FLAG!!!  The drop of the green flag has me wondering some randomness:
Why is Green associated with go?  Because both green and go start with the same letter?  Does this tradition date back to some Renaissance deal that started with jousting? Is it older than that?  And why do they call it “dropping” the green flag?  Wouldn’t dropping the green flag actually cause a Yellow flag? I get why yellow is associated with ‘caution,’ because it’s bright and grabs your attention.  That one makes sense.  But green = go?  I don’t get it.

How in the world do the concession folks expect race fans to pay $8 for a bag of kettle corn?  It smells great and all, but no thanks. That's a crazy amount of mark-up for popcorn.

How many remember when Jeff Gordon grew out his moustache? He was young, trying to look older and more mature, but it seemed odd: the mustache was out of place on his face.  It just didn’t look right.  He looked better, more natural, without it. Someone needs to pass that life lesson on to Ricky Stenhouse.

Regarding the Red Flag after the Cole Whitt/Kyle Busch/Clint Bowyer incident:  Why does Red mean…  Never mind, I won’t go into that.  Instead, I will say that was the biggest mess of cleanup I have ever seen.  They HAD to throw the red flag. There was debris all over, so the cars were slowing down to a near crawl to get through, and by the time all the cars got through, the front of the pack, even under caution speed, was bearing down on the clean up spot. It was almost comical to see the cleanup workers run out, grab one piece of debris, and then run back out of the way because the leaders were coming back around.  Why the pace car didn’t lead the cars low onto the apron of the track, and out of the way of the debris, I can’t pretend to understand, but the whole ordeal reminded me of a poorly-written Monty Python skit.  It was that silly.

The race itself wasn’t really that thrilling from the infield. I’ll watch it later and see how it was watching the on-track action.  The walking around taking pictures, however, was an absolute blast.  I know that Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski put on a show late. running up through the field, but watching the crew get out the big orange hammer and beat on the #48 to get it loaded up was so much more interesting to me.  Perhaps it’s the mechanic in me, or it’s my minimal experience as a race team member when I was in college, but I tend to find myself fascinated more by the crew member actions than those of the drivers on these weekends.

FYI: DeLana doesn’t wear a firesuit anymore, but she does wear outfits in sponsor colors.

Watching the victory lane celebration revealed to me something that I figure I already probably knew, but had never really thought about:  When the winning driver blows the rear tires during the burnout celebration, the crew has to put new tires on it so the car can be pushed to post race tech inspection. Even though I’m sure I knew this, it was a real, ‘DUH!’ moment for me. (by the way- they used ‘scuffs.’)

Why did the first issue of the post-race points results completely ignore the very existence of Matt Kenseth??  Who do you have to upset to be erased from the entire season?  As soon as I wrote this, out came the revised version and all is well in Kenseth land.  Well, except for not advancing on in the Chase.

Denny Hamlin may not have won the race, but what an amazing effort by all of that team to pull out of Phoenix with a Chase finale position.  Start on the pole, get a flat tire, lose a lap, get it back, lose another lap, and then rally to finish with a top five?  That’s almost as impressive as the severe butt-whooping that Harvick put on everyone today.  Almost.

It is now official:  We will have a first time champ for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  Hamlin, Logano, Newman, and Harvick are the four drivers still in contention as we head to Homestead next week.  That's exciting, especially for those that weren’t quite ready for Six-Time win another one just yet.  

Also interesting to me is that none of the Final Four have teammates in the Final Four.  

Oh, and just after the post-race celebrations ended, someone very official-looking came in and cleared out all the Starbucks.  It is probably best I didn’t try to sneak one. It’s bad enough I snagged a fender. If I did, I mean.

Thanks, once again, to Carol and RJO for letting me go explore my photojournalism side for another NASCAR weekend in the Valley in the Sun.  I had a great time, and hope you all enjoy my photos (found at the RJO Face Book page), and ramblings as much as I enjoy sharing them with you.  Thanks also to my beautiful bride for letting me bail on her for part of this weekend to do something that I love.

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Comments:
Bill B
11/11/2014 5:56 am (1)
Yes it was amazing how Denny Hamlin got two lucky dog passes to get back on the lead lap twice in order to make it into the chase. What an accomplishment! Thank goodness NASCAR's entitlement programs are in place.
KBTOYS
11/11/2014 11:46 am (2)
Nice. Thank-You for sharing
FlounderFerg
11/13/2014 6:36 am (3)
Finally got around to reading this. Yet another awesome article of "regular folk" watching a race from the inside. Thanks Ed!

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