Kasey Kahne Wins a Crazy Brickyard 400
Sunday I spent a long day at the track covering the Brickyard 400. Luckily I waited a bit in the morning because of the rain before I made my way there or it would have been an even longer day at the track. The race was stopped once by weather and twice by red flags making it drag well into the night. What should have been an afternoon race turned into a night race at a track with no lights. When all of the smoke cleared Kasey Kahne was the winner. It was very cool seeing a Hendrick car in Victory Lane. When I saw what was about to go down after the race I scrambled up the makeshift bleachers which constitutes victory lane to make the photo above. I love the way everything came together here. I wish I had a little more height, but I will take what I had.
Photographing in Victory Lane
With what I do I don’t often have the chance to photograph things like victory lane celebrations. The celebration Saturday was not what I was expected. Sometimes I have ideas in my head that are hard to live up to. The young kid who won seemed like he was so used to winning that he didn’t get to excited about it. You just won at Indy. Show some emotion. What Kasey Kahne won and broke a losing streak I knew that he would put on a good show in victory lane. He and his crew did not disappoint, and they gave me one of my favorite pictures of the year. I really shot this weekend like I would not do it again. Who knows when I will be in victory lane again? If this is the one shot I get at a good photo in victory lane then I am happy with it. It was also awesome to see a Hendrick car celebrate in victory lane. When I was into racing I loved Gordon and the Hendrick stable. It was cool to get to photograph some of that in victory lane.
Sunset At An Afternoon Race?
As the final red flag was underway and the cars were parked I was looking for anything to photograph. I became transfixed by these clouds forming over turn one. With the beautiful light coming through the bleachers it was an awesome sight to watch. This was one of the good things about being in victory lane for what seemed like about an hour and a half. Those clouds were fun to watch, and a great way to spend some time.
Back On Top Of The World
As the race was getting ready to start I hurried back up to my position from the day before at the start on the spotters stand above turn one. My plan at the time was to shoot the pace laps, the start of the race, and then some of the racing up until the first pit stop. When that pit stop was over I was going to head down to find some other things to photograph. Just after the first pit stop the rain really looked close. It was then that they asked everyone to evacuate the stands. I was at the highest point, and at one point just stranded up there as the line of people was not moving. As I watched the lightning get closer I made some bad jokes about the mess it would make if it hit us. Thankfully the line finally started moving, and I was able to run through the rain back to pit road. If you can get in the right spot on the that stand you can make some nice photos from up there.
Jeff Gordon Leads Much of the Brickyard 400 Again
This is not a typo. Jeff Gordon drove the pace car for the races, and he still nearly led the most laps on the day. When you count all of the laps prior to the race starting he did a great job finishing second in laps led on the day.
The Last Ride For Junior
The overwhelming story at the Brickyard was the final race in Indy for Dale Jr. It is weird how fast time flies. When I started watching racing Bill Elliot was the most popular driver every year. Dale Jr. was not even in the series. Now Dale is a veteran and by far the most popular driver, and he races for the same team as Chase Elliot who happens to be Bill’s kid. As the season moves on the end of the Dale Earnhardt Jr. era is quickly approaching. The fans want something to cheer for so badly. I had a great idea of Dale and Matt Kenseth battling it out much like they did when they headlined the Busch series in the late 90’s. On this day though it was not to be for Junior. A mishap on a restart left him with engine damage that ended his day. It was a sad way to see the start leave Indy.
Where Did Everyone Go?
When I attended my first Brickyard 400 in 1998 I was amazed at everything. The track was packed, and it was one of the hottest tickets in racing. I sat just to the right of where this shot ends for that race. Now that grandstand is closed as they can’t even fill a small portion of the stands for the race. The heat is something else for this race, but it was back then too. What has changed so much over the years? The race will move to September next year when it should be cooler. Maybe that will make a difference in the crowd size. I know that some photos would have been much better with a large crowd in them. I held off on some photos because of the lack of fans. I would love to photograph a packed house here someday.
Give Props Where They Are Due
In this photography game I will admit that I am small potatoes. It is fun to sometimes shoot among the best. At Purdue I am lucky enough to get to shoot alongside some great photographers during the school year. At some like the Brickyard I get to see some great people in action as well. One of those is Matt Kryger from the Indy Star. Matt is a phenomenal photographer that is worth a follow on social media if you don’t already do so. He makes some amazing images, and just seems to see things a little differently than most photographers do. He is also a blast to be next to on the sidelines. With him in victory circle during the delays I knew that I would not be bored. I don’t shoot a lot of racing so it was fun to share ideas and tips with so many good racing photographers over the course of the two days. Last year I was not having a good time at the Brickyard. I actually swore at the time that I would never go back. This year I had a great time, and I would love to do it again. The race moving into September and football season makes that a hard one to pencil in next year though. If this was the last one for me it was a fun one.
The Week In Photos
As you can probably tell from reading the post I had a blast photographing the races over the weekend. The races and everything leading up to them make up a huge part of my favorite photos from last week. You can check them out here.