30
Nov

For the fifth straight year I found myself in Miami in late Novemember to shoot the NASCAR championship race. As with the previous four years all eyes would be on Jimmie Johnson as he was in a position to win his fifth consecutive Sprint Cup championship. This time however he would enter the final race second in the points, behind Denny Hamlin, and not far behind those two was Kevin Harvick who also had a realistic shot at hoisting the trophy.

The race weekend would be all about covering the three championship contenders as they would battle it out.

Below, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11) races high above Paul Menard (98) past the numbers painted on the wall of second and third place in the points Jimmie Johnson (48) and Kevin Harvick (29) during practice for the Ford 400 at Homestead Miami Speedway.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/640th, Manual

The media circus surrounding Jimmie Johnson made it more difficult than usual to shoot him, especially when he would climb from the car and run right to his hauler to hide, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f9, 1/250th, Manual with SB900 Flash

Below, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson walks away from his car following a solid qualifying run for the Ford 400.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f11, 1/250th, Manual

Along with the Sprint Cup race the weekend also would include the final Camping World Truck Series race as well as the final Nationwide Series race in which both championships had already been clinched.

As with numerous other races this season it would be the Kyle Busch show.

Below, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Kyle Busch leads the field during the Ford 200 at Homestead Miami Speedway.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Busch would easily win the race and celebrate with a smokey burnout followed by collecting the checkered flag, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Instead of shooting Kyle Busch in victory lane (I have countless victory lane shots of him anyways!) I headed to championship victory lane to shoot Todd Bodine celebrating his second career truck championship, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

The most fun celebration shots almost always include champagne.

Below, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Todd Bodine (center) celebrates with champagne alongside wife Janet Bodine as the 2010 series champion following the Ford 200 at Homestead Miami Speedway.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Saturday would be a busy day of some Sprint Cup practice followed by the Nationwide Series race.

Below, Denny Hamlin sits in his car as he waits to head out on track for practice.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/320th, Aperture Priority

Jimmie Johnson (below) hangs out in his garage stall during the first practice.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

Walking around looking for shots to take I noticed the cars reflecting in the infield press box as they pulled out onto the track. I set up there for about five minutes and got the below frame of Johnson as he pulled onto the track.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f5.6, 1/320th, Aperture Priority

Time for the Nationwide race.

Danica Patrick has had a rather bland first year in her transformation to stock cars but she still is popular in the media so I was sure to get some good shots of her since clients love Danica.

Below, Danica Patrick walks across the stage during driver introductions.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 100iso, f4.5, 1/800th, Manual

Danica Patrick, below, races in traffic during the Ford 300.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

The race would begin in the late afternoon and work its way through sunset and into darkness. I love races like that because it gives you lots of different looks to the photos.

Below, 2010 champion Brad Keselowski races down the backstretch as the sun sets behind.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/2000th, Manual

Below, Danica Patrick races down the backstretch under ominous skies.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1000iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

As a full moon rises over the track (below) drives head through turn two during the Ford 300.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/400th, Manual

Midway through the race I headed from the outside of the track to the infield. While walking out of the tunnel I noticed the pace car sitting on the end up pit road in the shadows with the brake lights on. By exposing for the lit track I was able to get a semi cool shot of the pace car silhouetted, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

After the race it was to championship victory lane to shoto Brad Keselowski celebrating a championship (below) that he clinched two weeks ago.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Below, Keselowskis girlfriend (for the weekend at least) dumps beer on his head as they celebrate.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

I will take the high road on the below photo, feel free to insert your own caption to the shot…..

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

And now we have arrived at the last day of the 2010 NASCAR season.

Below, a detailed view of the NASCAR championship trophy as it sits on display on pit road prior to the race.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5.6, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

The car of Bill Elliott is pushed down pit road to its spot on the grid for the Ford 400, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

While killing time walking around the garage before the race I noticed a large crowd in a corner so of course my inquisitive ass headed over to investigate.

What I found was rock singer Bret Michaels hanging out, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

Michaels was on hand to sing the National Anthem and to give the “gentleman start your engines” command.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/400th, Aperture Priority

Below, Jimmie Johnson gets a good look at the championship trophy during driver introductions.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/640th, Manual

After all 43 drivers had been introduced, the three drivers with a shot at the championship (from left) Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick posed with the trophy for the photographers and fans, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/640th, Manual

A rather calm looking Kevin Harvick (below) looks out over the crowd prior to the race.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f13, 1/250th, Manual with SB800 Flash

Normally I shoot the championship race from the outside of the track the full race but since the race was a 1pm start instead of the usual 3pm start I wouldn’t have cool sunset light to work with. With that in mind I decided to take a different route and spend half the race on the inside of the track.

Below, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers race down the front stretch as they take the green flag to begin the Ford 400 at Homestead Miami Speedway.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

Right after I shot the start shot I ran into the media room to transmit a few photos. While in there editing points leader Denny Hamlin would have problems and spin down the backstretch. I quickly grabbed my cameras and ran to Hamlins pit still to shoot him pitting, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5, 1/800th, Manual

After transmitting the pit stop I made the long trek to the outside of the track to shoot some different angles.

Below, Bill Elliott races through turn two during the Ford 400.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Manual

Kurt Busch (below) shows how to not drive through turn two as he scrapes the outside wall.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 320iso, f5, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

A “photographer” shoots a photo of Paul Menard with his point and shoot camera in the middle stages of the race, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 320iso, f5, 1/800th, Manual

Midway through the race the championship was still close.

Below, Jimmie Johnson (48) races alongside Kevin Harvick (29).

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

During a caution I shot the below frame of a NASCAR official waving the yellow flag through the outside catch fence.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f3.2, 1/1000th, Manual

For the finish of the race I headed back to the inside of the track.

Below, Carl Edwards takes the checkered flag to win the Ford 400.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual

But the real winner would be Jimmie Johnson who clinched an unprecedented fifth straight championship.

Below, the pit crew for Jimmie Johnson celebrate the championship as Johnson takes a slow lap in front of the fans.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Then it was time for a burnout for the champ…

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Carl Edwards gives a thumbs up after winning the race, below.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

In championship victory lane Johnson climbed from his car to celebrate, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 800iso, f4.5, 1/1000th, Manual

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 800iso, f4.5, 1/2000th, Manual

After a few minutes of celebration and interviews they took Johnson to a stage off the side of the track to film some TV spots as well as do interviews.

I liked the below shot of Johnson having to read from a sign to remember to thank the fans.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 1000iso, f5.6, 1/640th, Manual

Even Johnsons daughter Genevieve Marie Johnson was unhappy to see him win yet another championship as she cried during the celebration. Dont feel bad kid, we were all crying inside….

Nikon D700, 400mm, 1000iso, f5, 1/400th, Manual

Time for champagne!

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 800iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

Below, crew chief Chad Knaus (left) sprays champagne on driver Jimmie Johnson (right) as they celebrate winning their fifth consecutive NASCAR championship following the Ford 400 at Homestead Miami Speedway.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 800iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

Below, Johnson enjoys a slice of pizza. With that 5 million dollar check behind him he could buy a ton of pizza!

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

And my 2010 NASCAR season comes to an end with the below shot of Jimmie Johnson celebrating with his five trophies.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Couldn’t resist having my photo with all five trophies. Thanks to Michael DiNovo for the shot!

While it would have been cool to see a new champion I am smart enough to realize that we are all witnessing greatness so its pretty cool to know that 10-20 years from now I will be able to look back on all the cool shots I have gotten of Jimmie Johnson as he went from a no name off road racer to the greatest NASCAR driver in history.

Here are some clips from the weekend.


 
Posted in Florida, NASCAR, Racing, Sports   | 2 Comments

2 responses to “Jimmie Johnson solidifies himself as one of all time Greats”

  1. Jim says:

    Mark,
    As usual you shot the Pro shots everyone expects of you. Keep up the fantastic work. I love seeing what can be done by the best.
    Regards,
    Jim

  2. John Drummond says:

    I can’t decide who’s the bigger douche – JJ or Brett Michaels

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