IP Race Report Sonoma - LONG - Printable Version
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IP Race Report Sonoma - LONG - hellsbells - 06-25-2012 11:41 AM
Had a blast at the race yesterday at Sonoma! Forgot how loud the cars were, and how awesome they look in person. The layout of the track and surrounding areas (pit/garage/amenities) definitely made this a different experience than Charlotte or other ovals. Less noisy, and better access to drivers, garage and pits.
We were sitting at Turn 2 (after they leave the Start/Finish Line, turn left go up the hill then turn right) and saw them coming up the first hill into the first right turn. Pretty cool spot, but then could only see turn 7 far away, and the straight away down the back towards pit entrance before turn 11. I think that next time I will try to get seats at Turn 4 - seems like a better bet. The Grandstand would be better for the Start/Finish line and pits, but would miss too much of the rest of the track.
View from our seats:
Because of the layout (not an enclosed arena style track) the noise was not nearly as bad. Scanners were $30 for the basic set (scanner w/headphones) - but we decided to go with the FanView set - Buddy deal was $80 for 2 complete sets. It was pretty cool to have in car video available, also could look up any driver's stats at any point (lap times, etc.). Most of the video on there was also being broadcast on the big screen right in front of us, and didn't want to spend much time looking at the video in front of me, so next time would probably just stick with the basic scanner. My friend used his credit card, so I don't know if it would have held $ on my debit card.
Pre-race - We got to the track about 4 hours before the start and wandered around a bit. Didn't end up getting the pit-passes. Cost was high and with the layout of this track - you can get extremely close to the pits anyway. You can stand at the fence behind pit road and you are only 10 feet away from the pit box - can literally hear the pit crew talking. I think at other tracks like Charlotte I would probably pay for these passes.
Also, we found the gate where all the drivers entered to the garage area. Since Sonoma is so far away, most drivers did not bring their Motor Coaches and stayed in local hotels. They all came in (walking or by car) to the garage/hauler area through this gate and we saw almost all of them come by - I didn't get any AUs, but didn't ask - many people around me got some there. This gate is also right next to the NASCAR hauler (the one where drivers go after the race when they act like a Kurt Busch on the track) and the pre-race tech inspection. Mike Helton was there most of the time and signed some auto's.
View from the gate near Tech Inspection (white tent with the 95 going in is where they inspect the cars pre-race):
Again, since Sonoma is so far from NASCAR Central in NC, there weren't as many Merchandise haulers and Sponsor tents set up - kind of a drag as I like checking out the sponsor tents before a race. Saw some people walking around carrying used race tires and found out that Goodyear guys were just handing them over the fence to people - by the time I got over there they were out I think that these were the tires from practice and Qualifying. Talked to the Goodyear guy and I guess they do this every year. I think that this is another feature of the unique Sonoma layout that the parking lot backs right up to the Goodyear garage area with only a temporary chain link fence. I think that at Charlotte and other tracks it would be harder to get close to the Goodyear garage. Next year I know where I am going first in the day!!! I want a race tire to put in my garage
You probably saw the race - so don't need to go into that except to say that the long caution-free start to the race was interesting in person as the cautions allow us to relax for a few minutes. With the field spread out on a road course, there was constant action in front of us and we wanted to watch and focus on it that when the caution finally came out - we were relieved!
Carl started out bad, then got pretty good for awhile, then messed up the alignment at the end and ended the day pretty poorly. MWR cars were pretty dominant all day as well as HMS cars. The 2 that stood out in person were the 55 Vickers and the 5 Kahne - they always were riding someone's tail making moves - unfortunately Kahne had trouble at the end.
Sorry for the (extremely) long post, but just wanted to share the experience.
RE: IP Race Report Sonoma - LONG - shelbysaleen - 06-25-2012 12:28 PM
great reporting. sounds like you had a wonderfull time.
RE: IP Race Report Sonoma - LONG - minitracer - 06-26-2012 01:33 AM
Cool! I have only been to NH so its cool to hear about other tracks. Only a few weeks till NH I'm broke but plan on trying to make the race.
RE: IP Race Report Sonoma - LONG - spazmatastic - 06-26-2012 02:06 AM
Sounds like you had a GREAT time there! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed watching it on TV and I'm sure it was better in person.
Although, I have to say that the lack of cautions led to pee-breaks I didn't want to take, but no longer had a choice.
RE: IP Race Report Sonoma - LONG - alstott9adams - 06-26-2012 08:17 AM
Look like u had a good time one of my favorite tracks
RE: IP Race Report Sonoma - LONG - dunnere - 06-26-2012 03:47 PM
Great report...I love to see details like that, just to get a feel for what goes on.
I am quite certain you would have had an even better time if Smoke could have tracked down Bowyer...lol. I thought the green/white/checker was in the 14's favor, but the 15 was just to good.
And I must say, I do not like Kurt Busch, but he was pretty good Sunday.