Thursday, July 2, 2009

Seeing Joey Logano win the Lenox Tools 301 in person at New Hampshire was perfect.

Photo taken by me (Brian Vermette) from my seat in the Laconia Grandstand of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday June 28, 2009 for the Lenox Tools 301 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of #39-Ryan Newman, #26-Jamie McMurray, #20-Joey Logano racing coming off of turn 4 on to the front straightaway.

With a $39 ticket (in the Laconia Grandstand), a headset, a scanner, a small cooler inside a small duffle bag, food and more, this past weekend I attended what I would classify as my first NASCAR Cup Series race. I have been visiting what is now New Hampshire Motor Speedway up in Loudon, NH since 1999 and in that time I have taken in the Friday practice and qualifying, plus a race, a Saturday with practice, qualifying and most likely two race and twice taken in the Sunday Cup Series race, but from the media aspect (with media credentials).

However in doing all of this, I never could afford the Sunday Cup race in the grandstands until this past Sunday when both my father and I (yes a fellow blogger) bought two $39 Speed Zone tickets (regularly $70) in the Laconia grandstands and took in the Lenox Tools 301.

So in this Part 2 of 3, I will talk about taking in the NASCAR experience with the Lenox Tools 301 race itself after taking NASCAR RaceDay live on SPEED (which was in Part 1).

After attending the NASCAR RaceDay live on SPEED, we still had about an hour and a half before drop of the green flag. Unfortunately for everyone that day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, rain was not only in the forecast, but mist was in the air most of the day.

I have to say, I liked the fact that NHMS put in a few more giant screens, but it was hard to see the screen from my seat fully considering it was so far away, but nice touch. One part of the pre-show I was looking forward to was seeing truckasaurus eat a car or two, but watching it on the giant screen isn’t the same, the activities was down in turn 1, but in the middle of turn 3 and 4 where I was.

I love watching a good NASCAR race on television, however there is nothing like watching the race live in person and armed with a headset and scanner, it’s amazing what you can pick up and see right from your seat. Of course you can’t see everything, but the action going into turn 3 and coming off of turn 4 is always an action packed spot and sometimes it was, not to mention that I could also see the entrance to pit road as well and that was a tricky spot for some.

In sitting in the grandstands just before the race began, I was really thinking about a few things, for example:

1. This race would be first more of a race to halfway. I was really looking for halfway at least on Sunday, reason being is that once the race goes past halfway and the rains came, the race would be called. Monday’s (and I think Tuesday’s) forecast was calling for rain, so you can were I am going with that thought.

2. What role would double-file restarts play in this race?

3. What would this race be like once halfway came – the race to the checkered flag?

This race played out just like I thought it would as it would be a race to halfway. In watching the race unfold right before my very eyes on the racetrack, I was listening mainly to the TNT broadcast, but unlike the race fans at home, there really are no commercials, instead it’s a live mike, you can hear the producers, the broadcast guys in the booth and the people on pit road and I have to say, it’s a fast pace with a person calling out what’s next from who’s in the booth and Larry Mac at the cutaway car to the pit reporters and it can change in an instant even while they are talking.

What a good race though, although it is interesting and yet hard to follow everybody while sitting in the grandstands, lap count yes, leader yes, top 7 yes, the rest of the field no. I will say that I need a better scanner, I tried my Radio Shack one and that didn’t work well, so I was forced to my ProScan from years ago, it worked but I needed more.

When Dale Jr. was up in 3rd, you could hear the crowd cheering on their driver, of course some of the same could be said for Tony Stewart leading too. One aspect I loved was the double-file restarts, they made a difference in my opinion in the racing and the results.

The battles between Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch were priceless, what a sight to see them first on the big screen battling into turn 1 and off turn 2 side-by-side, down the back straightaway and right into turn 3. Even at one point, Jimmie Johnson tried to get involved and did. Tony Stewart moving his way to the lead was cool too.

However with every advantage comes a disadvantage when Dale Jr. didn’t get going on one of the restarts that caused a huge pack up behind him and with an impassionate Kyle Busch, fans saw a huge wreck going into turn 1. I did read that Kyle Busch did admit guilt, but I don’t think Martin Truex Jr., the driver he turned around and wrecked didn’t take it well, of course I didn’t think he would neither.

The first part of the race had your usual cautions including Jamie McMurray getting tagged by Kevin Harvick, but what a long green flag run. Personally a caution would have helped get me up to speed and give the broadcast team something to talk about, let alone catch their breath, however once past halfway, the race was on in my opinion, one part due to the different strategies, but more due to rain in the air and area.

Anyway, towards the end of the race, Joey Logano had stayed out, lead laps while saving fuel was a nice sight to see considering he got two lucky dogs and spun right in the front of me on to pit road due to a flat rear tire, good save. I believe that Joey and Zippy are working very well together and it doesn’t surprise me when he did stay out, what a strategy move that paid off in a big way. By the times the rains came again, even I called the race as being over, but when NASCAR called the race and that Joey Logano had won, you could hear the cheers from the track and the fans not only in the grandstands, but where I was under the grandstands trying to make my way to exit, but before I left due to rain, I wanted to know who won.

What a huge win and well deserved win for Joey Logano who became the youngest driver to win a NASCAR Sprint cup Series race at 19 years, 25 days old, his crew chief Ziipy and the entire #20 team, hats off to JGR and a win is a win unless a driver either wrecks another driver to win or they do something illegal.

As for our adventure home including our 2 hours trying to leave New Hampshire Motor Speedway, that deserves part 3 of this series, but hint, hint, what a ride home and a nightmare to boot.

(Joey Logano photo credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)