Friday afternoon was the first practice session for the Sprint Cup cars. I have to say that the sound of raw American V8 power is quite enjoyable. After practice was qualifying where each driver gets just one hot lap to put in their best time. If they make a mistake, there is no chance for a re-do... [read more]

Watching the drivers hustle these heavy powerful cars around the road course is quite exciting. The cars slide around a lot getting sideways under acceleration out the corners. Greg Biffle, a native of my hometown of Vancouver, WA is seen here leaping over the curbing on the outside of turn 4. The drivers come over the hill through turn 3 and then a steep hard braking zone before they smash the cars over the inside curbing and get up on two wheels. Then they run wide and jump over the outside curbing and use as much of the paved runoff area as possible.

The fans were out in force throughout the weekend. Here is a serious Kevin Harvick fan all decked out in the appropriate uniform. As a photographer, colors like these are what I live for.

I don’t quite understand how they get the trucks so tightly packed but somehow they do.

Fences, fences, fences…and more fences. This is what I was constantly having to work around, or most of the time having to work through for the whole weekend. It was a constant challenge trying to find locations with the least fencing in the way.

When I arrived at the track I couldn’t really believe how many people there was. The amount of motor-homes was astonishing as well. It would be great if the other American sports car and open wheel series could draw this many fans.

When the race started, polesitter Kasey Kahne led into the first corner, however by the end of the first lap Jimmy Johnson had already taken the lead. Kahne continued to fade down the field while Johnson started to pull away from the pack. Not to far was the Australian Marcos Ambrose who had been fastest in all of the practice sessions.

Farther down in the pack Montoya was having a steady run, working his way slowly up the field. Battling with Jeff Gordon for a while and then later Scott Speed, the Columbian had a solid run as could be expected on a road course from the former F1 driver.

Watching the cars from across the track, you could really get a feel for how much speed these guys were carrying through the esses on the backside of the course. These cars fly!

RedBull DTM driver Mattias Ekstrom flew out to have a taste of NASCAR and is the first Swede to ever start a race in the series. Having only driven a cup car once before in a test, this was quite a big challenge and was not in contention for a win. Here he is seen diving to the inside of Scott Speed in the second RedBull Toyota.

There was no doubt going to be some accidents, which led to yellow flags, which then led to double file restarts. These add to the excitement of the race by bunching the pack together for the restart. Here a number of cars are pictured through the NASCAR “chute” which connects turn 4 to turn 7.

Another angle of the same area of track on a different restart. It’s quite a site to see this many cars running so close together.

During the caution periods the teams took the time to pit the cars for fuel and new tires. At first the pits look calm as the crews waits for their cars to arrive…

…but then it turns into a complete jungle of color, motion, and noise. Although different pit strategies saw the leading cars get shuffled to the back at different times during the race, it was really just the two car fight between Ambrose and Johnson.

Ambrose was able to take the lead from Johnson and was on course to his first ever Sprint Cup win since moving over from the Australian V8 Supercar series a few years ago. The Aussie was able to hold off Johnson for a couple of the late race restarts and he looked sure to take the victory. However, trying to save fuel, he slowed down too much on one of the yellow flag pace laps. For this NASCAR gave him a penalty for not maintaining reasonable speed and was dropped down six places. This gave way for the double J of Jimmy Johnson to take his first road course win and his 51st career win.

Another brilliant California sunset signaled the end of the day which had brought heartbreak for some and joy for others.

Photo/Editorial: Camden Thrasher


  1. NASCAR on TV is extremely boring. But seeing the events in person brings on a whole different kind of excitement. It's a great time.

  2. great write up and amazing photos! Although NASCAR is not very exciting on TV, i do agree that seeing, hearing and feeling it in person gives you a whole new perspective on the sport.

  3. nice post...thx. I like watching the nascar boys trying to work a road circuit. Be interesting to try to watch them run a city circuit some day...

  4. >>(...) for this NASCAR gave him a penalty to allow an American victory<< nice goin' guys! ;-)
    seriously, is this an attempt to drive NASCAR cars round corners? Will this be regular or is it just an experiment? Are the cars modified anyhow (other than obvious suspension setups etc.) or are they the very same that just go round in circles(!)? I know these questions sound obvious but this stuff is big news to me.

  5. TK,

    NASCAR has had two road-course races a year (Infieon and Watkins Glen) since the early 90's if I'm not mistaken. I believe the cars are the same, they just get tweaked in the garage to have track specific gearing, spring dampening, ect. as they do every week.

  6. They´ve run atleast one roadcourse each season since the first season. And yes they are modified for this but then again they have ten different chassis for ten types of ovals too.

  7. i had no idea, thx. this (the roadcourse) amends my image of NASCAR somewhat. is this the ultimate motoring event to see in the US than?