Daylight savings time kind of screwed me up while in Las Vegas and I guess that's why I'm up so late right now. I've gained 3 hours? Well sort of. LVMS was undergoing a major facelift the day after last year's Cup race. The entire infield was knocked down with the exception of one building. The banking on the track raised from 12 degrees to 20 degrees in the corners and the backstretch was raised as well. What does this all mean. Higher speeds and basically a totally new race track. I was able to attend all 3 days of this year's event. On Friday the Cup qualifying was on. To speak of raising the bar. LVMS has done just that. With the creation of the new Neon Garage a new experience has been created for race fans. I hear that next year's event will be $100.00 for all 3 days but in it's debut the Neon Garage was going for the price of $100.00 per day. Perhaps the best day to get in was on qualifying day and that's just what we did. You see, you get access to a view of the teams like never before. All of the team's garage's were built with the fan in mind giving a view like no other at any track on the circuit. You can look directly into the garage area of any driver you want either on ground level or on an upper level. A good analogy would be that in the situation where medical students are able to observe an operation in progress from up above. You're there looking right at the cars, crew chiefs, crews, drivers as they work on the car and discuss changes to the car. It's almost surreal. There was a harsh glare and I'm a awful photographer so I appologize in advance for such poor photography. I hope to get better pics from a couple of friends who were with me with better cameras and better skill. It was a zoo. I had the feeling that the teams were perhaps not liking the new surrounding with fans being given this type of access close up. Cameras flashing and people yelling, yes basically a zoo atmosphere. Then again it's Las Vegas so this seems fitting in some way but I do sympathize with the teams as it must be difficult to conduct business while tons of fans are trying to get your attention and pics of you. Qualifying day was the best day to get in because you got to see the teams work on their cars, get them onto the track, return for more adjustments and repeat! In my first pic above I caught Jimmie saying hi to the crowd outside his garage's window. This was indeed a rarity though. Most drivers didn't exit their cars perhaps to avoid the zoo that was surrounding them. I know I'm biased here but in total truthfullness, Jimmie Johnson is the nicest guy. He was great when I met him last year and signed my t-shirt and I shook his hand wishing him luck on the race the next day. He wasn't standoffish and really personal and nice. Some pics are from the ground level access while some are from the overhead view of the garages. Again I apologize for my poor photography skills and lack of it. 😛 It was difficult to get good pics of my other favorite driver (and reason that I watch NASCAR) Jeff Gordon as his crew was always in the way of a good pic (hahah, you see us bothersome fans who only care about a good picture :P) but I did manage a few. I didn't upload all of the pics as some I shot at 6.1 mp for printing. The ones here are shot in 0.8 because anything bigger would take me an eternity with my slow prehistoric pc (which I love though, and that explains why I'm still using it 🙂 ) Jeff Gordon had a cool green Nicorette paint scheme for this race as he did last year. Next are a few pics of inside the Neon Garage with it's cool big screen and some pics of cars on the backstretch during practice prior to qualifying. It was really amazing that you could watch all of this with the Neon Garage pass. Again I'll stress that it's probably best to check out this new feature on qualifying day. I also got some shots of a great view between some garages where you can see the cars pull out to head onto the track as well as see them return to their respective garages after a practice session out on the track. The last 4 pics are from race day on Sunday but perhaps my camera or more likely me, am not up to action photography. Again I hope to get much better pics from a couple of friends who were taking pictures too. I did record a video of Jimmie's qualifying laps on Friday and a restart. I accidentally erased my recording of the start of the race. Doh! Last year I betted with my heart (see an earlier post) and Jimmie Johnson raced to a thrilling victory passing Matt Kenseth on the outside on the last lap right in front of us. He then had the back to back wins at this track. But with this year's changes to the track I was a bit hesitant (shame on me) and bet $120.00 on Johnson to win with 7-1 odds. His odds went up after he qualified way back in 23rd position from 6-1 to 7-1. I placed the bet on Saturday. I also put $50.00 on his teammate Kyle Busch after seeing him run strong in the Busch race earlier. One thing I can say about the weather this year. It was hot! And sunny. Quite the contrast from last year's freezing temperatures. My Jimmie Johnson jacket never left the suitcase this year. The higher temperatures also made the track much more slick and the uncertainty of the new surface affected every team this year. Jeff Gordon led the most laps and he was fast! For awhile I felt guilt and dumb that I hadn't placed the bet on him. But Johnson really showed his and his team's strength as they persevered through a penalty inflicted after a tire got away from his crew during a pit stop sending him back to 25th position. Here's where they shined. Getting back to the from under green flag conditions. He was passing cars in impressive fashion getting back to the front. However he couldn't seem to run down Jeff Gordon who was pulling away from everyone as the laps wound down. A late caution however brought the field back to Gordon and in a thrilling pass involving Jeff Burton, Gordon and Johnson then ensued. Johnson was now in the lead but another late caution brought Gordon right back to his bumper. The butterflies were stirring in my stomach for all of these last laps. It was amazing. My 2 favorite drivers fighting for the win! It just doesn't get better than this for me. Of course my money was on Johnson so I had to wish him the win. Fingers crossed literally at both of the last restarts after the cautions I stood watching. Johnson was able to hold off teammate Jeff Gordon and win his 3rd consecutive race at LVMS! To win 3 in a row. Simply amazing! When I placed the bet on Saturday I joked to my friends with me that it was a donation to the casino. How can he win 3 in a row? I was just betting with my heart again. Had I bet with my brain I would've lost. I had a couple of other drivers in mind. But how can I root for a driver that I don't even like just because of a bet? I guess that's where my dilemna is. I have to go with the heart. The Kyle Busch bet was with my brain and that didn't go so well. Follow your heart? It worked out great 2 years in a row. The bet covered the trip entirely including all of the merchandise I bought and I came home with more money than I left with. I will try to save it for next year's race but that's easier said than done. 😛

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About MorningBerryz

Lover and free spirit who's interests in Japanese culture and the like are insatiable. I am of pure Japanese/Okinawan descent, love my cats, sleep and am a bit naughty at times :).
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1 Response to LVMS!

  1. paul.thomas says:

    Can't say I'm a big motor sports fan, I occasionally attempt to watch a bit of F1, but I think 30mins has been my max. Although I have managed to watch Days of Thunder all the way through, lol.I think the F1 season is starting up soon, but don't quote me on it, only reason I say that is, I read an article on Honda's new car…no adverts!!…I think you can pay money and have you name put on it, which is really nice idea.But like most things I would imagine being there to watch is a lot more exciting than watching it on TV and especially if you've got some bets on.Looks like you had a great time and well done on your winnings…remind me next year to ask who your putting your money on ;p


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