04
Mar

Last week I was shooting a boring race in overcast weather in California, this weekend I found myself in sunny Las Vegas shooting NASCAR on the much more exciting Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Although anything would have been better than last weekend, Vegas would prove to be a great weekend with lots of cool photos.

As with every Friday at NASCAR it would be spent shooting shots in the garage area as well as headshots during qualifying.

The garage area at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was redesigned about 4 years ago and is one of the nicest most spacious garages in NASCAR.

Joey Logano drives through the garage area during practice.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 250iso, f2.8, 1/2500th

Matt Kenseth the winner of the previous two races of the season points at a computer screen in the garage area…..

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 1250iso, f2.8, 1/500th

….as fans peek through a small window trying to catch a glimpse of their favorite drivers.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 1250iso, f2.8, 1/800th

With Dale Earnhardt Jr struggling so far this season a lot of people have been blaming his crew chief Tony Eury Jr for the teams struggles so I was happy to get a shot of the two together. (when he is fired this photo will be used later)

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 1600iso, f4, 1/200th

For qualifying there was some very nice light that made for good photos.

The light was so nice that driver Elliott Sadler was doing a little shooting.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/1600th

Ryan Newman strikes his best model pose as he climbs into his car.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm with 1.7 convertor, 400iso, f6.3, 1/1250th

Kyle Busch was running a little late getting to his car so he sprinted down pit road towards his car.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm with 1.7 convertor, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2500th

After many years with a clean shaven face Jimmie Johnson has gone with the scruffy look. I am glad he has because now clients have to buy all these new photos of him instead of simply using older photos.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/640th

Kyle Busch made a very nice lap and qualified on the pole. When he pulled off the track he was greeted by crew chief Steve Addington where they spent a few minutes discussing the car.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/400th

Then it was time for the obligatory TV interview. I noticed him reflecting in the lens of the camera so I worked to incorporate it into a shot. It would have come out much better had another photographer not stayed in front of me for a good 30 seconds trying to get a shot. (side note: when you are shooting with multiple photographers around you, quickly go for your shot then move so others get a chance.)

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/160th

Kyles brother Kurt Busch made his qualifying run and ended up second. I underexposed by several stops to try and get a black frame with just the highlights of the car visable.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/3200th

Kurt climbed from his car and congratulated his brother as they talked for a few seconds.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/1000th

At the conclusion of qualifying I headed over to victory lane to shoot Kyle Busch being awarded the pole award. At the same time we were waiting for Kyles arrival there was a wedding going on in there. I am all for people being in love and getting married but at a NASCAR race? Seriously? Whatever makes you happy I guess.

Anyways when Kyle finally arrived he saw the wedding and told the media “watch this” and ran over there and acted as the best man. While I am still not sure if he was doing it to make fun of them or if it was really a genuine gesture, the couple loved it and it without a doubt made it a very memorable moment.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 800iso, f4.5, 1/640th

With a Dale Earnhardt and Elvis banner behind them, Damon Landry kissed his new wife Heather to the cheers of Kyle Busch and the assortment of media.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 800iso, f4.5, 1/400th

Kyle Busch congratulated the happy couple before heading off to do his pole award photo.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 800iso, f4.5, 1/400th

Saturday was the Nationwide race, the Sam’s Town 300. It was only a 300 mile race but by the end of the day it felt like 500 miles.

The race got off to a smashing start as about 10 laps in Kyle Busch (18) raced pole sitter Scott Speed (99) too hard and both crashed hard into the turn four wall.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 800iso, f8, 1/2000th

Driver Greg Biffle (16) barely made it by the accident below. (that would be important later)

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 800iso, f8, 1/2000th

David Ragan loses control and spins harmlessly through the infield grass.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 800iso, f8, 1/1600th

During one of the many cautions in the race good friend Dustin Snipes and I found time to pose for a horribly lame photo.

Photo by Steve Barry

Below, Michael Annett climbs from his car after crashing into the turn one wall.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 800iso, f6.7, 1/1000th

After the clean up the green flag was once again waved to the field.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 800iso, f6.7, 1/3200th

A few minutes later the caution would once again come out as Carl Edwards lost a tire while racing down the backstretch.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 800iso, f6.7, 1/4000th

While racing for the lead Jeff Burton (29) and Kevin Harvick (33) crashed in turn four.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 1000iso, f6.7, 1/5000th

After that crash I figured I had gotten enough crashes so I caught a golf cart ride back to the inside of the track to transmit some photos and get ready to shoot the finish and Victory Lane.

While riding back inside the track I noticed this very patriotic fan walking down the road. He reminds me of the self defense instructor from the movie Napoleon Dynamite!

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 1000iso, f6.7, 1/1250th

Back inside I spent a few seconds trying to produce an interesting feature photo of cars reflecting off the media center glass. (It didn’t work well at all)

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 1000iso, f6.3, 1/1250th

The race continued to have crash after crash resulting in it beginning to get dark as evident by the below photo of fans watching from the roof I had just been on earlier.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 1000iso, f6.3, 1/6400th

In a battle of survival of the demolition derby it was Greg Biffle who ended up winning the race.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 1000iso, f4, 1/1600th

Ok on to Sunday.

For the first time in the last 3 weeks we were greeted with sun and no chance of rain on raceday (thank god!)

To kill some time before the start of the race I went into the garage to shoot a few half assed feature photos.

The car driven by Joey Logano goes through tech inspection prior to lining up on the track.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 640iso, f4.5, 1/500th

Crew members for Kevin Harvick lean against their toolbox in the garage as they wait for race time to approach.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 640iso, f4.5, 1/640th

About an hour prior to the race I headed up to the roof to get a spot for the race.

While killing time I noticed former baseball player and hall of famer Pete Rose hanging out with a very top heavy female companion who seemed to really be enjoying her time with the hit king of baseball.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 320iso, f4.5, 1/6400th

Before the start of the race the US Airforce Thunderbirds performed a fly over.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 320iso, f4.5, 1/6400th

With the drivers lined trackside the command was given, “gentlemen start your engines”

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 400iso, f4, 1/4000th

The Thunderbirds made one more pass near the track.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 320iso, f4.5, 1/3200th

While Kyle Busch had won the pole position he did an engine change so he was forced to start from the back of the field. If he had any hopes of winning he would have to come from the back to the front.

Jimmie Johnson moved up to the pole position as he and Kurt Busch led the field to the green flag.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/3200th

Two laps into the race Brad Keselowski lost control and spun in turn one.

Nikon D3, 600mm with a 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 400iso, f6.7, 1/1600th

A few laps later Matt Kenseth, who had won the previous two races, blew his engine and slowly made the left turn into the garage area ending his day with a 43rd place finish.

Nikon D3, 600mm with a 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 400iso, f6.7, 1/2000th

Below you can see me standing ready for anything as the cars race by.

Photo by Gary Eller

David Ragan would be the next Roush Racing car to suffer engine problems as his car blew up in a cloud of smoke in turn four.

Nikon D3, 600mm with a 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 400iso, f6.7, 1/2000th

I noticed a cool spot on top of the roof where you could shoot the cars with fans in the foreground providing a nice layer to the shot.

Below Greg Biffle races through the tri-oval.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 640iso, f4.5, 1/8000th

A pretty full crowd of fans watch the race from the main grandstand.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 400iso, f4, 1/4000th

As the race progressed the light began to get better for photos.

Below Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon race three wide into turn one.

Nikon D3, 600mm with a 1.7 convertor (1000mm), 640iso, f6.7, 1/500th

There is some killer light pockets in turn two so I decided to leave the roof and head down low to see what I could come up with. On my way off the roof I noticed nice shadows on the fans beneath the main grandstand so I quickly stopped to fire off a frame.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/5000th

After about a half mile walk I was on the outside of turn two to take advantage of the light pockets.

Below is a wide version to show how the light pockets were caused by the advertising billboards blocking the sun from hitting the track.

Here is a tighter view showing how clean it looks and the interesting light patterns this spot gives.

Now all that we are missing is race cars. Below Kyle Busch leads the field through turn two.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/1250th

After shooting as many different drivers as I could from that spot I moved further down track and noticed if I shot the pic at the right time I could get a big glare off the window of the cars. While many people might be annoyed by the glare, I like it because it gives a unique feel to the shots that you don’t see everyday.

Below Greg Biffle races through turn two.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/1250th

Jeff Gordon leads teammate Jimmie Johnson through turn two.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/1250th

As I left that spot I stopped to shoot a photo with all the fans on motorhomes in the infield watching the race as Jeff Burton raced by in the background.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/8000th

Now it was time for the long walk back to the inside of the track through the cross over tunnel.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/8000th

Once inside the track I stopped in the middle of the road and waited for the field to race by.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 250iso, f2.8, 1/1600th

I probably could have done the shot better but my flash card was filled and I was too lazy to search through my backpack for an empty card so I headed to the media room to transmit some images.

After I finished transmitting images I headed on pit road to wait for the finish.

Paul Menard climbs from his car after crashing.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm with 1.7 convertor, 1600iso, f4.8, 1/640th

Dale Earnhardt Jr is framed by NASCAR officials in my way as he comes in for a pit stop.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm with 1.7 convertor, 1600iso, f4.8, 1/640th

Pop singer Nick Lachey watches the action from Jimmie Johnsons pit box.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm with 1.7 convertor, 1600iso, f4.8, 1/400th

With a rash of late cautions it allowed the sun to dip down behind the main grandstands.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f2.8, 1/8000th

In the end Kyle Busch completed the first to last to first comeback to win the race in his hometown. In typical Kyle Busch fashion he did a great burnout along with a great on track celebration.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm with 1.7 convertor, 2000iso, f4.8, 1/500th

I shot another shot with my wide lens to get more of the crowd and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway logos.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f2.8, 1/400th

As he always does, Busch grabbed the checkered flag and waved it as he headed back to his car to head to victory lane.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm with 1.7 convertor, 2500iso, f4.8, 1/640th

After that shot I ran into victory lane and got set up with a camera in each hand, a wide angle camera and a tight camera, to shoot Busch as he climbed from his car to celebrate.

Wide shot:

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1000iso, f3.5, 1/500th

Tight shot:

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 1000iso, f4.5, 1/200th

While still standing on the car Busch was handed a champion weight belt to hold up as well.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 1000iso, f4.5, 1/200th

From there I ran as fast as I could from victory lane to the second floor of the media center to transmit the burnout and victory lane shots. By leaving right after the initial celebration it allows me to beat all the other wire services which leads to more image sales (especially web sales).

After moving about 8 photos I ran back to victory lane to shoot a few more celebration shots.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 1000iso, f4.5, 1/200th

My last shot of the weekend was Kyle as he drank from a large bottle of champagne.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/400th

And with that my busy weekend came to an end. I was very happy with the weekend.

Next stop is nostalgia drag racing in Bakersfield, CA!

Below are some web clips from the weekend.

picture-72

picture-19

picture-37

20091210_mjr_su5_016




 
Posted in Las Vegas, Me, NASCAR, Racing, Sports   | 6 Comments

6 responses to “Kyle Busch goes from First to Last to First”

  1. Hey man,

    Great photos! I love the little captions ESPN comes up with for your feature stuff. “Fast Overpass” haha.

    Nice photos again!

  2. Jase says:

    Hey Mark, been lurking and reading your blog for a while now – love the photos and the settings and stories you dish out too 🙂

    One question that I keep thinking is… what settings do you use? as it all happens so quick right… do you shoot Aperture or shutter priority or full manual? Auto ISO? etc.

    thanks for your cool photos and inspiration – love motorsport!

    Cheers, Jase

  3. Kinrads says:

    What the hell is a LICK POCKET ??

  4. max says:

    Hey Mark,

    again awesome shots

    I had one quick question. How do you shoot with both cameras during the victory celebration? pocket wizards? like how do you hit it both shutter things if both cameras are right handed haha

    -Max

  5. Darren B says:

    I also am curious about how you shoot regarding settings, Aperture, shutter or other program settings or full manual? along with picking your iso. GREAT PHOTOS FROM THIS RACE!

    Thanks
    Darren

Leave a Reply

Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!