08
Jul

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When you go to a restrictor plate race the chances of seeing some spectacular racing is typically very good. Thats why the races are so popular with the fans and its also why I have gone to the past 11 restrictor plate races and will continue to go to every one for many more years. The latest stop was at the historic high banks of the Daytona International Speedway where Kyle Busch would attempt to win back to back July Daytona races after his victory the previous year.

Thursday was an easy day with just two practice sessions on tap. As I typically do I headed into the garage to look for driver head shots and any feature photos that may come about and then head out to a turn for some car shots.

Below, Jamie McMurray sits in his car prior to the opening of practice.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f2.8, 1/125th

Wwhile shooting Jeff Burton (below) out of nowhere he threw up his arms in the air and made a goofy face. I was surprised because, like a rock, Burton is not one to show much emotion. Ever.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f5.6, 1/400th

A few years ago Daytona redesigned the garage area and it was rebuilt with observation windows for the fans to get an up close view of their favorite drivers. Below, fans clamor to see and take pictures of Dale Earnhardt Jr as he puts his helmet on prior to climbing into his car.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f5.6, 1/2000th

In typical Florida fashion the sky was filled with white puffy clouds so I looked for a way to incorporate them into some shots. Below, when Earnhardt was pulling out of his garage stall I shot him with a fisheye lens.

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Nikon D700, 10.5-17mm, 500iso, f7.1, 1/5000th

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Nikon D700, 10.5-17mm, 500iso, f7.1, 1/3200th

After a few minutes in the garage area I headed out to turn four to shoot some car shots. For the summer Daytona race several cars sport special paint schemes. One of them was points leader Tony Stewart (below).

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/800th

Once again back to the puffy white cloud shot for this fisheye view as a pack of drivers race through the turn.

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Nikon D700, 10.5-17mm, 500iso, f7.1, 1/8000th

By kneeling down behind the inside guardrail in turn three you could get an interesting photo by shooting through the three inch gap between the railing. Below are a few examples.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f3.2, 1/6400th

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/4000th

After getting shots of all the cars in the turn I headed back into the garage for a few more minutes.

Below, a pissy Tony Stewart glares at a group of photographers out of the corner of his eye. A few seconds later he went off on one photographer, who was doing nothing wrong, and threw water on him. I didn’t have a good angle of it so I was unable to shoot photos which I gladly would have done. I thought it was hilarious, although thats probably because his anger wasn’t directed at me (for once).

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f5.6, 1/400th

Below, Joey Logano stands by his car as he looks out of his garage stall prior to the second practice session.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1600iso, f5.6, 1/320th

That wrapped up a short and sweat sweet day of practice.

On tap for Friday was Sprint Cup qualifying followed by the Nationwide Series race. On my way to the track I was really hoping qualifying would get rained out. The reason I wanted that is at restrictor plate tracks qualifying takes about 3 hours to do, non restrictor plate track qualifying takes half that time. The reason is that the restrictor plates make the engines not get up to speed very quick so the drivers all get a warm up lap prior to their 2 qualifying laps and on a 2.5 mile race track the extra laps add up quick.

I got my wish as a big rain storm came through the area less than an hour before qualifying was scheduled to begin.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/100th

When the heavy rain stopped I head out to pit road to shoot a few weather feature type photos.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/100th

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/250th

Since points leader Tony Stewart would end up on the pole due to rained out qualifying races being lined up by points I made sure to shoot a photo of his car sitting there by a big puddle on pit road.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/80th

A few hours later the track was once again dry and it was time for the Nationwide Series race.

At the conclusion of the national anthem a group of U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagles performed a very low fly-over of the track. With the planes being so low and me being so high on the roof it made for a sweet angle.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 800iso, f5, 1/1250th

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 800iso, f5, 1/1250th

As the field of drivers took the green flag and raced into turn one I shot a vertical frame of the cars racing with a nicely colored thunder storm off in the distance.

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

To the west, the sun dropped behind the clouds and haze.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/3200th

Daytona marked the first Nationwide race to have double file restarts (below). I really thought it was going to lead to some more crashes but the drivers did a good job with them and all went well.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/500th

The below photo was shot about 3/4 of a mile away from my position as Kyle Busch led the field entering turn three.

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

Below, smoke consumes the pit area of Michael Waltrip as he pulls out of his pit stall.

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

Below, off of turn four NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Robert Richardson Jr (23) and Chase Austin (07) crash.

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

Below, Safety personnel head to the car of NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Kerry Earnhardt after crashing.

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

In the late stages of the race I was shooting cars coming through the tri-oval when I heard a loud explosion. It was the car of Kertus Davis blowing a tire. He tried to maintain control but spun and set off a multi-car accident.

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

Along with Kertus Davis (04), the crash also collected Eric McClure (24) and Morgan Shepherd.

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

The photo position on the rooftop has electric outlets which makes it easy for me to edit on deadline. Three feet behind my position is my laptop all plugged in and on the internet so after I get a crash or something I want to transmit I am able to get it sent out within 2-3 minutes of the crash.

SUBWAY JALAPENO 250

Photo by Eric Perel

On the last lap of the race drivers Robert Richardson Jr (23) and Mike Bliss (1) tangled off of turn four and crashed below me.

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

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

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

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

Richardson Jr was able to drive off, Bliss was not so lucky. He climbed from his car uninjured….

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

…and walked across the infield grass to his pit area.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/640th

Under caution (below) Clint Bowyer took the checkered flag to win the race.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/640th

Normally the winning driver will do a burnout near the finish line. Since there were safety vehicles tending to the last lap crash there Bowyer did his burnout a 1/4 mile away towards turn four.

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

In the middle of his burnout Bowyer went behind the smoke and when he emerged from it I was lucky enough to catch a fans flash which nicely illuminated his car as well as providing some dramatic light. Too bad the damn shot isn’t in focus!

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

Below is an in focus shot (without the cool flash of course).

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

Across the infield, in victory lane, Bowyer climbed atop his car to celebrate with his crew.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 4000iso, f4, 1/400th

That was the end of the action for Friday. On to the main event!

All that was on tap for Saturday was the main race, the Coke Zero 400.

Prior to the race the rock group Buckcherry performed a concert in the infield.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f5, 1/2500th

A giant crowd of fans in the infield grass and on the banking of the track looked on.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/320th

As with the previous day the Air Force would be providing a fly-over. I was up on the roof early enough to shoot the planes as they took off from the airport behind the track.

Due to the downturn of the economy the track didn’t sell tickets for the massive backstretch grandstands hence the empty seats.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f5, 1/2500th

The below shot came out pretty cool as the pilot banked the aircraft to the side at full afterburner.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f5, 1/2000th

Below, some fans line pit road to get close to the cars…..

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/1600th

….while other fans took time to sign their names on the start/finish line.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f5, 1/400th

Prior to the race former driver Richard Petty was honored on the 25 year anniversary of his 200th and final career victory. Below, the entire field for the race was on hand to pose for a photo with the King as well as the car he won his final race with.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/500th

Below, the F-15s perform the fly-over prior to the race.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f5, 1/2000th

To the west the sun was setting through the clouds……

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/1600th

…….while to the east, the moon rose above the clouds.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/1600th

Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon led the field to the green flag.

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

Below, Kurt Busch (2) battles Tony Stewart (14) for the lead in turn three with a sea of fans on motorhomes and campers looking on.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 2000iso, f4, 1/800th

Early in the race Mark Martin (below) spun off of turn two and hit the inside wall ending any chance he had of winning the race.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/640th

Sporting a special paint scheme, Dale Earnhardt Jr (below) pits for gas and new tires.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/500th

As the race went on tires quickly became a story. The abrasive track combined with the heat made life bad on the Goodyear tires and several drivers experienced problems…..

…Such as Sam Hornish Jr (below) who blew a tire and left a trail of debris in the tri-oval.

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

Below, fans get an up close view as the field of drivers speed by on their way to turn one.

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

The first “big one” of the night would occur when drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr (88), David Reutimann (00) and David Stremme (12) tangled on the backstretch.

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

As is common with crashes at restrictor plate races the field of drivers were so bunched up that several more drivers including Clint Bowyer (33), Reed Sorenson (43), David Gilliland (71), Brian Vickers (83), and Ryan Newman (39) would end up getting involved in the accident.

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

The crowd was unhappy to see their hero Dale Earnhardt Jr was involved in the accident as he limped his car around the track and into the garage. His day was finished.

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

But on the other hand, the crowd was very happy to see that Jeff Gordon (below) was also involved to a lesser degree. While he was able to make repairs and get back on track his shot at winning was out the window.

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

Below, during a pit stop Jamie McMurray came into his pit stall too fast and slid through and took his jackman for a ride on the hood of his car.

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

Here is a closer look.

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

With the race taking place on the fourth of July all around the horizon you could see fireworks shows going off.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/400th

Below, David Ragan (6) goes for a 200mph spin down the backstretch after contact with Kurt Busch (2).

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

Below, Scott Speed grinds along the track throwing up sparks after hitting the wall exiting turn four.

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

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

While Tony Stewart dominated the race, it was Kyle Busch who would pass him and take the lead coming to the white flag.

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

The crowd who hates Busch booed loudly. I love Kyle Busch and the celebrations he provides after winning so I was happy but as is typically the case with restrictor plate races it wasn’t over till it was over.

Coming off turn four with the checkered flag in sight, Tony Stewart went to the outside for a pass attempt.

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

Kyle Busch attempted to block the pass attempt but Stewart was already alongside so they made contact and turned Busch.

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

Busch is a great driver but there was no saving it and he quickly turned sideways.

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

Stewart safely continued on to the checkered flag as Busch made hard contact with the outside wall.

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

The impact lifted his car off the ground.

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

The roof flaps did their job and kept his car from going airborne.

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

If you read my Talladega blog earlier this year you may remember I was totally screwed for the massive last lap crash because I had the big lens only and the crash was too close up. I wasn’t going to allow that to happen to me again so I quickly switched to my second body with the 80-200mm lens on it.

Just as I got the camera up to my face Kasey Kahne (9) plowed into the sliding car of Busch at full speed and lifted the car off the ground.

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

Busch, who was leading less than 5 seconds ago crossed the finish line in 18th place, Kahne no longer had steering and slid down the banking to the inside…..

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

……where he collided with the cars of A.J. Allmendinger (44) and Jeff Burton (31)……

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

…….sending them on a high speed slide through the infield grass…..

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

……and back up onto the track where several more cars collided.

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

By this point the crowd was going nuts with excitement after seeing a thrilling last lap pass and crash.

Below is a layout I made with a few photos from the crash showing where it started as well as finished from my vantage point high above the track.

daytonacrashlayout

Here is a video showing the crash.

Despite the hard hits he took, Kyle Busch climbed from his car (below) and walked away uninjured.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/640th

Instead of waiting for the ambulance to arrive he began the long walk down pit road towards the garage.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/800th

Eventually a NASCAR official caught up to him and made him stop and take a ride to the infield care center to be checked out.

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

While tow trucks began to clean up the cars, parts and pieces below…

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

….race winner Tony Stewart received congratulations from his team.

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

From my position high above the track I can usually get good shots of the race winner climbing from his car and celebrating. This time though, an overzealous confetti operator fired the confetti into the air too early so when Stewart climbed from his car to celebrate he was concealed by the confetti making for a rather lame shot.

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

After transmitting several shots I made the long walk back to the inside of the track to the media room.

I stopped in victory lane on the way to get a better winner shot as he posed for the photographers.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/320th

His crew (below) were busy as they pushed his car to the tech inspection to make sure the car conformed to NASCAR rules.

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

That closes yet another wildly exciting restrictor plate race. Just over three months till the next one in Talladega.

Can’t wait!

Here are some web clippings from the weekend:

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Posted in Daytona, Me, NASCAR, Racing, Sports   | 11 Comments

11 responses to “Kyle Busch fails to check blind spot before merging”

  1. Erica says:

    All my favorite things…. Racecars, F-15’s, and Florida.

    Awesome stuff. But really? No obligatory “feet in the sand” beach shot? I believe they have a Chili’s TO-GO stand on the beach in Daytona. Shocker you weren’t there!

  2. Guy Rhodes says:

    Mark,

    Great race! And, all those online sales you’ve shared netted you just enough cash to treat me to Chili’s the next time you’re in town, can’t wait!

  3. April Woodard says:

    Two thumbs up! All the f-15 shots are really neat.

  4. Nice work as always Moe.

  5. Zach Gray says:

    Nice set as always, Mark! How do you get the files from your remote cameras to transmit quickly? Or do you have to wait until after the race for those?

  6. I couldnt’t WAIT for you to post these pictures of the Coke 400 and of Tony’s win!! You are an awesome photographer! The BEST!! You proved once again how incredible you are- by portraying my favorite driver’s fantastic win!! I have been a fan of yours for along time- thanks to my friend Denise who introduced me to your wonderful work. I especially love how you write about each picture you publish- giving each one your own special thoughts and touch. I have shared my comments about your work on the Tony Stewart facebook website- Hope you get LOTS of hits!!! You are an incredible photographer!!! I look forward to your future posts and love all of the past ones!
    Brooks

  7. Sandra says:

    All the shots are great as usual but the F-15 pictures are fantastic. Really enjoy your blog every time.

  8. David Howton says:

    Great Work! Perfection!

  9. Ted says:

    Mark,

    Incredible photos Mark, the F-15, sunset and cloud shots are fantastic. The race photos are awesome as well. Thanks for sharing the fruits of your dream job with everyone.

  10. Curt says:

    Mark,

    Once again you provide us some fantastic images. As I’m going through them I drive my wife crazy because I keep telling her to come and see this one and then a little later again, come and see this one. Please offer an autographed version of the 3 F-15’s maybe a 18X20. That picture just is one of the most awesome aviation photos I’ve ever seen.

    Thanks again for your all the time and effort you put into your blog..

    Curt

  11. Mark,

    Just when I thought I was conquering some of the basics a friend tells me about your site and I now feel like I am back in kindergarten. I will be shooting at the brickyard 400 in a couple of weeks but I am having second thoughts about posting anything after seeing your tour de force.

    Steve

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