Monday, October 12, 2009

Twittering To the "Pepsi 500"
NASCAR Sprint Cup Race

NASCAR Race Mom (NRM) was taking a work break and checking in with her online twitter friends on Tuesday, when @PettyDrivingExp tweeted the trivia question “In what year did Richard Petty win his first Daytona 500?” The first five people to direct message with the correct answer would win four tickets to the NASCAR Cup race in Fontana, California.

The Auto Club Speedway is just an hour and a half from my home. I rushed to answer the trivia question. Within five minutes, @PettyDrivingExp congratulated me on my correct answer of 1964! NRM was going to the Pepsi 500!

We had just visited the Auto Club Speedway in July. My husband participated in the Richard Petty Rookie Experience there. You can read about that adventure at You’re Part Of The Petty Family Now. (Paul went around the track at 130 MPH; the NASCAR drivers were reaching 170 MPH.)

Race day could not arrive quickly enough for me. @PettyDrivingExp fed-ex’d us the tickets and parking pass in plenty of time. Auto Club Speedway sits on a five hundred and sixty-eight (568) acre site and seats 92,000 fans. The California weather proved perfect for race day; sunny and warm. The first thing we noticed upon arrival was the availability of parking close to the Speedway. The lots were not full.

We found our seats, Jesse McCartney performed the national anthem and Kelsey Grammer gave the command to “Start Your Engines.” The magnitude of the crowd was disheartening; the speedway was only at seventy-five percent of its capacity. Was this race a victim of the weakened economy?

What the crowd lacked in volume did not lessen the mass’ enthusiasm. NASCAR passion was everywhere. Since eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson is a local boy, it was not a surprise that his race gear (i.e. hats; jackets; cushions . . . . ) dominated the fan base. Every time the number 48 took the lead, the crowd cheers would crescendo.

The earliest part of the race found my two favorites battling each other for position. NRM was able to meet both Jamie McMurray and David Reutimann this year. They were both very fan friendly. Consequently, NRM has been cheering for them all year! It was awesome being able to watch them battle each other. Unfortunately, on lap 56 the number 26 had a tire let go. Jamie McMurray scraped the wall hard and brought out the first of seven cautions. His vehicle was not completive after the incident.

The 00 of Reutimann worked well on the long runs, but infuriatingly gave up precious ground on every restart. After the disappointing disqualification of his off-pole starting position, Reutimann’s eighteenth place finish had to be a double frustration.

Of course no driver could be more frustrated than Dale Earnhardt Jr. After racing in the top-ten for most of the race, his luck, or lack thereof found him entangled in the “big one.” The Pepsi 500 was red-flagged on Lap 245 due to the amount of debris the crash generated. This big wreck occured when Elliot Sadler got into the back of Dale Jr. and spun him in front of the field. Drivers involved include Dale Earnhardt Jr., Elliot Sadler, Kasey Kahne. A.J. Allmendinger, Reed Sorenson, Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Burton, Brian Vickers, and Matt Kenseth.

The racing was fun, but not as stimulating as the NASCAR Camping World Series West short track competition NASCAR Race Mom has grown accustomed to. At the Auto Club Speedway, the on-track action was mostly limited to the start and restarts. After ten laps, the field would be very strung out, and the leader would easily pull away from the field. However, the green flag pit stops were masterpieces to study!

Jimmie Johnson won the Pepsi 500 at Fontana. Jeff Gordon, Juan Montoya, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five. @PettyDrivingExp promised to do more trivia contests in the future; be sure you follow them and get in on the fun!

If you are not familiar with Twitter click on Twitter Cheat Sheet.


  • All four RPM cars were involved in a Multi-car wreck with six laps to go.
  • Jimmie Johnson defeated Jeff Gordon by 1.603 seconds.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five
  • Johnson now holds a slim 12 point lead over teammate Mark Martin
  • Johnson recorded his fifth victory of 2009 and 45th of his career
  • The win was Johnson’s fourth at Auto Club Speedway
  • The race featured 29 lead changes among nine drivers
  • There was eight cautions for 30 laps
  • The race lasted just short of 3.5 hours
  • Race attendance was estimated at 70,000
  • Next race is Saturday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.


HotfootLori said...

What a wonderful recap! So glad you won and were able to go :)

Unknown said...

WAY TO GO 'Z'! Forget the 2nd place last month, YOU WON! I'm jealous!
You sound as surprised about the CROWD as we were! Wonder if the DATE CHANGE also had something to do with it.
NOW, did you sign any autographs yet???? ;-)

Katie said...

Good job - I just wanted to let you know I think your writing is awesome. You wrote so eloquently I actually pictured myself at the race!

NASCAR Race Mom said...

Thanks everyone! Husband & I had an awesome time!