The Monster Mile
Four weeks ago I covered the Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway, the FedEx 400. It was the second time I’d covered a race at Dover, the first coming in 2008. That first race was really a life changing experience for me. I met Rob Carr (for what we realized was the second time) there, and he introduced me to our Chief Photographer, Suchat Pederson. The next summer I would intern under Suchat at The News Journal and almost four years after that would be working with him as a full-time staffer.
Oddly enough that race was the first time the Generation 5 or, “Car of Tomorrow,” was used at Dover International Speedway. This race was the first time the Generation Six car was used, and I covered the car testing a few weeks before too.
Back in 2008, the race was pretty boring. While it was fun to shoot as a first timer, the race itself was a snoozer. A big wreck took out a ton of drivers early on and it happened on the back stretch where no shooting towers exist. From there, Kyle Busch waltzed to the finish. This race featured little to none of the carnage race fans love, but did feature an exciting final. Jimmie Johnson look like he was going to run away with the race, but after jumping the restart and getting black-flagged, it appeared Juan Pablo Montoya, or Kyle Busch, might take the win. But as the laps ticked down and ticked down, Tony Stewart inched closer and closer to the lead.
Finally, with three laps remaining, Stewart (who hadn’t done anything spectacular all race) zipped past Montoya and cruised to the win.
The finish was a little disappointing photographically. Stewart has stopped climbing the fence after he wins, and his burnout left a lot to be desired.
It took me two hours to edit, tone and submit my photos after I finally got through the crowd in victory lane. After submitting my photos, packing up and saying goodbye to the two shooters left in the media room, I hurried out to beat the incoming thunderstorm and almost ran into Stewart waiting outside the media room. He was trying to sign an autograph for a track worker, and I thought to myself “whoa, what are the odds?”
I asked Stewart if I could get a photo with him and pulled out my iPhone. As I went to take the picture, my phone (which had been trying to send photos all day, but failing with all the network congestion from 70,000 race fans doing the same) died as I tried. All my gear was taken apart and packed and I wasn’t going to keep Stewart around. I settled for a handshake and a story.
Here’s hoping for a more exciting race when the Chase comes to town.