20
Feb

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With the opening week of Daytona out of the way all eyes would be on the biggest race of the year, the Daytona 500. Oh and Danicas first Nationwide start. Both races would live up to the hype and then some.

(Warning, this blog will be short and to the point because I am several days behind on my work)

Wednesday before the race were two Cup Series practices. As usual I would spend both of those working the garage area.

Below, Jeff Gordon sits in his car in the garage prior to heading out on track for practice.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

The helmet and hans device for Kevin Harvick sit atop his car (below) prior to practice.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 640iso, f2.8, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

After being involved in a practice crash, a crew member for driver Derrike Cope works beneath the hood of the crumbled car, below.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Robby Gordon (below) reflects in the side of his car as he inspects his tires between practice sessions.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 640iso, f5, 1/60th, Aperture Priority

With the days Cup practices complete it was once again time to stalk Danica Patrick.

By standing near the door to her hauler I shot the below photo as she made an appearance with a quick walk to her car.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Below, much lesser known driver John Borneman III leans down to take a closer look at the side of his unsponsored race car.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

With some nice white clouds above the track I went with a wide lens to shoot a frame as Danica Patrick made her way through the garage towards the track, below.

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Nikon D700, 14-24mm, 100iso, f13, 1/250th, Manual, with SB800 Flash

While I had gotten several good photos of Danica I was still lacking some close ups so following the practice I waited near her car so I could follow her as she walked away and hopefully get some decent shots.

After a 45 minute wait for her she finally emerged from the garage where the best I was able to come up with was the below frame.

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Nikon D700, 14-24mm, 100iso, f11, 1/250th, Manual, with SB800 Flash

Below, I ruined my buddy Alex Menendez’s pic of Danica as she makes her exit from the garage. Sorry dude!

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Photo by Alex Menendez

Unlike every other NASCAR race where your starting position is determined by where you qualify, for the Daytona 500 they have two qualifying races that determine that starting order. Here are some highlights from the two qualifying races.

RACE ONE

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver A.J. Allmendinger (below) slides through his pit stall as an official gets pinned against the wall by the air hose wrapped around the car during race one of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f4, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Below, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Terry Cook spins through the tri-oval grass during race one of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Below, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Michael Waltrip (51) crashes into the inside wall coming off of turn four.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

The finish of the first 150 mile qualifying race came down to a close drag race between Jimmie Johnson (48) and Kevin Harvick (29). As you can see in the below photo, Johnson barely nipped Harvick for the win.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Below, Jimmie Johnson celebrates with his crew after winning race one of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f5.6, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

RACE TWO

Below, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr (88) leads the field during race two of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1600iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Race two didn’t have near the action race one had. One of the only incidents of the race occurred (below) when driver David Gilliland spun his Larry the Cable Guy sponsored car off turn four. “Get eh SPUN!”

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1600iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Like the first qualifying race, the second race would finish with another close side by side finish, this time with Kasey Kahne (9) barely beating Tony Stewart (14) across the finish line.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1000iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Below, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne celebrates after winning race two of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1600iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Manual

Following the race I had to make the long walk back down from the roof and across the track, I stopped on the way across the track to shoot the below photo as a nice sky made for a moody photo of the finish line.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 800iso, f2.8, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Saturday we were greeted with a nice sunny day for the NASCAR debut of Danica Patrick.

I got up to the roof nice and early as I envisioned a photo with a big crowd of media around Danica before the race. My idea was to shoot a shot from above to illustrate the circus of people around her. It actually worked out pretty well. Luckily she was wearing a neon green driving suit so it was easy to distinguish her from the mob of people surrounding her, below.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Before the race three F-5 jets performed a low fly-over above the speedway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

Nationwide races are never really too big of a deal since they are the bastard stepchild to the Sprint Cup Series. Obviously though with Danicas debut it would be one of the biggest Nationwide races I’ve ever shot. My main goal for the race was to keep an eye on Danica at all times. If she got involved in a crash it would be a very important photo to get and would undoubtedly make me some sales to various websites/publications.

Early on in the race there was a close call for her as NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Trevor Bayne (99) spun in turn one and crashed during the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway. Notice Danica Patrick in the #7 car going low to avoid the crash.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

A little while later her luck would run out.

Below, NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Colin Braun (16), Ricky Stenhouse Jr (6) and Josh Wise (61) crash off turn four heading into the tri-oval during the DRIVE4COPD 300….

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

…..instead of watching the cars crashing I kept my eye on the bright green car of Danica Patrick as she was right behind the ensuing pileup….

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

……just when it looked like Danica would get her car slowed down enough to miss the crash…..

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

…she clipped the car of Josh Wise…

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

….causing some major damage to the front of her Chevy Impala…

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

…….then she slid into the outside wall causing some more damage (I love the track security guy completely oblivious to the crash in the background as he tells a fan he can’t stand near the wall)…

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

……and finally Danica slid back into the infield grass ending her first NASCAR race.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Here is a video of the crash with several angles.

After the long cleanup from the crash we got back underway….well at least for a little bit…

On the backstretch Dale Earnhardt Jr (below) was involved in a scary crash that saw his Chevy get upside down.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

My angle for photos sucked so here is a link to a much cooler video of the tumble.

On the last lap of the race NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Kyle Busch (18) and Brad Keselowski (22) tangled and crashed in turn four.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Nobody had anything for Tony Stewart who won the race…..

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

……in victory lane Stewart celebrated the victory with his crew.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

Normally the Nationwide race is the last thing on the schedule for Saturday but due to Friday being rained out the day would be a doubleheader, concluding with the Camping World Truck Series race.

There was a three hour break between the two races which was great because it allowed me to go get my rental car out of hawk after being towed from my super secret spot in the infield. I had parked in that spot every race weekend the last few years but I guess they finally realized my car didn’t belong in the police officers parking lot! Oh well.

On to the truck race.

For the first time since Dale Earnhardt Sr died in a last lap crash of the 2001 Daytona 500 we saw a black #3 car on the high banks of a Daytona NASCAR race. Unfortunately it didn’t last long for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Austin Dillon as he crashed on the first lap (below) during the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/400th, Manual

Below, Dillon makes the hard left turn into the garage area following the crash.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/320th, Manual

As with nearly every truck race at Daytona it was a race filled with crashes.

Below, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Max Papis (9) goes low as Ricky Carmichael (4), Ron Hornaday (33) and Elliott Sadler (2) crash during the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

Driver Mario Gosselin got in on the action as he lost control in the tri-oval and spun into the inside wall, below.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

After hitting the wall his Tire Monkey truck took the smokey slide of shame through the infield.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

In the crash filled race it eventually came down to a battle of survival where NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Timothy Peters (17) took the checkered flag to win the NextEra Energy Resources 250, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/400th, Manual

Peters (below) climbed from his truck to celebrate with his crew in victory lane for only the second time in his truck series career.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 5000iso, f5.6, 1/200th, Manual

On to the last (and biggest race) of the weekend, the Daytona 500.

After a bad decision on my part to sleep in till 8am (most other photogs headed to track around 6am) I learned just how bad traffic could be heading to the track. Nearly three hours after leaving hotel I finally made it to the track with just over an hour remaining until the start of the race.

Yet somehow I still found time to pose with a crazy fan braving the 50 degree temperatures in just a tire.

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Photo by I don’t Remember

To make matters worse I had to make my way through a ridiculous crowd (below) on my way to the outside of the track for my elevated position high above the speedway.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Once in my position overlooking the track I slapped on a fisheye lens to shoot the below photo during pre-race festivities.

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Nikon D700, 10.5-17mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Country music singer Tim McGraw (below) entertains the crowd with a pre-race concert.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 320iso, f5.6, 1/640th, Manual

During the pace laps I was lucky enough to get one of the F-15 Eagles from the pre-race fly over landing in the background as drivers headed down the backstretch, below.

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Nikon D700, 600mm , 640iso, f4, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Below, with Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr pacing the field the 2010 NASCAR season got underway with the green flag.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

It didnb’t take long for the first yellow flag of the season as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Regan Smith (78), Sam Hornish Jr (77) and Brad Keselowski (12) crash during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Fast forward about an hour later when the racing came to a grinding halt due to a pothole that formed in the middle of turn two.

While the pothole was out of my view I did get the below photo of a seagull flying above the track as the field of cars sat idle on pit road.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Below, after a nearly two hour break the racing got back underway as Clint Bowyer and David Ragan led the field back to the green flag (under much cooler lighting conditions.)

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f2.8, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

As hard as it was to believe (and super annoying) the race would be halted a second time to make more repairs to the pot hole.

After about another hour of repairs the race finally would get underway, this time with sunset fading under the lights, below.

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Nikon D700, 10.5-17mm, 1250iso, f4, 1/80th, Aperture Priority

Since I am in a hurry and there were no wild crashes lets fast forward to the end where Jamie McMurray was a surprise winner.

Below, the crew of McMurray go nuts after the race.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/320th, Manual

Below, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray celebrates with a burnout after winning the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

Following his burnout, McMurray climbed from his car to celebrate.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/400th, Manual

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/400th, Manual

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/400th, Manual

After a great celebration on the track McMurray headed to victory lane where he let his emotions go with a nice celebration with his crew.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/320th, Manual

Ok that wraps up the first event of the 2010 NASCAR season.

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Posted in Daytona, Florida, Me, NASCAR, Racing, Sports   | 4 Comments

4 responses to “Daytona week 2, McMurray cashes in, Danica crashes Out”

  1. Rob says:

    Great shots, Mark. I really like how this post had a lot of “people” shots, even though you were in the thick of an auto race.

  2. Joe M. says:

    How’d you get these sick shots!?

    Joe
    http://www.joem.com

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