Sunday, February 26, 2012

Race Day for the 2012 Daytona 500

Danica Patrick and Juan Pablo Montoya run during final Sprint Cup practice Saturday
Greetings from the media center at Daytona International Speedway. I arrived Friday afternoon following a 997 mile drive from Indy and a stopover in Macon, Georgia Thursday night. The racing has been chaotic to say the least with the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide races turning out to be wreckfests which produced first time Daytona winner:  John King and James Buescher respectively. The biggest news was Danica Patrick's pole position for yesterday's Nationwide race but she got crashed out after only 50 laps by her teammate and she was not happy about it at all. She will make her first Sprint Cup start today. That is, if the race gets runs, as the weather forecast is ominous and sprinkles are already falling with a little more than two hours before the green flag is supposed to fly.

Honorary Starter John Cerna tackles a SPEED interview race morning
If the race gets delayed, then I am looking at a situation similar to Atlanta last Labor Day weekend, but there's nothing I can do about it. The trip here has been quite surreal:  one day I'm in Indy teaching and the next I'm in central Florida shooting the truck race. On the way down I was reminded of a trip we made to Florida when I was a kid, when Dad said we had crossed the state line and I stuck my hand out the window and refuted his statement "because it didn't feel any warmer." Friday weather was gorgeous but yesterday and today not what you would expect from Daytona, but still a far sight better than back home today.

I passed 206,000 miles on my 1999 Acura Integra on the trip down, somewhere around Horse Cave, Kentucky and will top 207K on the way back. Since I've been here, I've seen license plates from as far away as Quebec, Canada and had a wonderful conversation with another photographer from Toronto here in the media center this morning. I like driving but something has to be done about sign pollution on I-75 in Georgia! And I was surprised to see a huge rebel flag flying at a convenience store on I-75 in north Florida, but I guess that's just a reminder that I am in the deep south after all. It still seems odd to me.

I've also been shooting video on my little Canon the whole trip and will be posting a video recap once I get time back in Indy. I've made it to the beach twice, shot some good pictures (although nothing which AP needed - so far) and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here for the second year in a row. As I posted on Twitter earlier today, we need "Big Bill" France and Tony Hulman to get together today and keep the rain away so the race can be run - and have it go the full 500 miles. I am headed north after the race is over today so I hope I don't have to be like a Grateful Dead fan asking for a miracle. Meanwhile, I'll make the best of the day and enjoy every minute. Here's a few pictures from yesterday's final Sprint Cup practice. I hope everyone has a safe day. Let the bump drafting begin and let's go racing!

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