IRL observations from a NASCAR writer

My bosses require me to spend a few race weekends away from the track so I can catch my breath and rejuvenate the writing juices.

So with the first New Hampshire race off my schedule, my boss told me to go have some fun.

To fulfill the wishes of my boss, I went and had some fun – I hopped in the car, drove about five hours and went to Richmond International Raceway for the IndyCar Series race.

That is where I found out that some drivers must take weekends off, too – 102 of the 300 laps under caution and just 12 of the 26 cars running at the finish! But it was still cool to see those cars whip around the track.

Whenever there was a pass, no matter where in the field, it would force you to hold your breath because if they touched wheels, they were going hard into the fence. Even though there were 102 laps under caution, the race still was just 2 hours, 4 minutes.

A couple of other observations from someone who spends most of his time in the NASCAR garage:

• This is Danica’s series. Around the haulers, Danica Patrick easily had the most fans. At the merchandise trailer, Patrick’s drew by far the most business (OK, so it was an Andretti Green Racing merchandise hauler, but it’s most likely they were there for Danica gear).

• For those who think that Reed Sorenson might be on his way out at Chip Ganassi Racing, his T-shirts were selling for the same $22 price as those of Target-sponsored IndyCar drivers Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon.

• While the crowd (about 60,000 at $30-$35 apiece) was good for an IndyCar event, it doesn’t look like unification has given NASCAR much to worry about. I saw just as many NASCAR T-shirts on people as IndyCar shirts. One guy was decked out in a Kevin Harvick hat, a Juan Pablo Montoya T-shirt, Dale Jarrett shorts – and was carrying a Patrick merchandise bag.

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