After a nearly two month break from covering NASCAR it was finally time to get back to the track as the series made their first of two visits to my hometown of Phoenix. I am way behind on work so I almost didn’t post this blog so with that in mind there won’t be near as much of the background story like I typically do….sorry!

Coming into the weekend the big story of the event was Denny Hamlin who just over a week earlier had gotten surgery for a torn ACL. With all other sports the athlete would be out for several months but Hamlin wasn’t gonna have any of that so he was back out at the track limping around and driving his car.

Below, Denny Hamlin in the garage prior to the opening practice session.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 800iso, f4.5, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Below, a NASCAR fan watches qualifying from the roof of an infield motor home as Mark Martin is shown on a giant TV screen making his qualifying lap.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

Jimmie Johnson gives pointers to teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr about how to not suck at NASCAR racing, below. Hopefully Jr was listening!


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

Below, NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Michael Annett (15) spins during the Bashas Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

As is frequently the case, the Nationwide race would be dominated by Kyle Busch, who celebrates his victory with a burnout, below.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

After grabbing the checkered flag (below)…….


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

…….it was time for the victory lane celebration.

First up is my wide angle view of the moment…..


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/320th, Manual

…….and now here is my tight vertical view from my other camera, below.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/250th, Manual

That wraps up the Nationwide race, on to the Cup race!

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon (below) spends time with daughter Ella Sofia Gordon prior to the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

The race would begin in the late afternoon with sun lighting the track (below) but would eventually finish under the lights.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Tony Stewart drives down the backstretch early in the race, below.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Aperture Priority

Not long into the race, going through turn two Kurt Busch (below) would lose control of his Miller Light car and slide down the track making slight contact with Denny Hamlin…..


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f8, 1/400th, Aperture Priority

……Hamlin made it through the accident while Busch slid backwards down the track.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th, Aperture Priority

From pit road I shot the subsequent restart (below) with start and park driver Terry Cook heading down pit lane as Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kyle Busch race into turn one.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Below, I shot even wider to get more sky as Juan Pablo Montoya (42) led Matt Kenseth (17) down the straight away.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

After a quick transmit of some images I made my way to the outside of the track to work some different angles.

Just outside the tunnel on the outside I shot the below frame with a giant sea of fans walking around behind the main grandstands.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th, Aperture Priority

As the sun dipped lower in the sky it started providing some pretty cool light for photos such as the below shot with a group of cars being side lit by the sun.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Manual

A NASCAR Sprint Cup Series official looks over the action fro outside of turn three during the race, below.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Shooting directly into the sun at the exit of turn two I was able to produce a nice clean silhouette (below) as drivers raced down the backstretch.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/8000th, Manual

By holding my camera out through the turn two photo hole I got an up close look as Casey Mears (90) tailed the car of Greg Biffle off the turn.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 800iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Rays of light poke through the turn two grandstands as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman (below) leads a line of drivers down the backstretch during the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f5.6, 1/8000th, Manual

Seven minutes later with the sun a bit lower it produced a completely different effect as Jimmie Johnson led a line of cars down the backstretch, below.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Below, last years race winner Mark Martin leads cars down the backstretch.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 800iso, f4.5, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Just after sunset a car laid down some oil around the track. Below, safety personnel spread oil drying powder down the track.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

As the field continued around the track under caution a jet drier blew the powder off the track resulting in a rather unique image for me (below) with Jeff Gordon leading a group of cars through what appeared to be a sinister fog.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Once the race got back under green I was bored so I messed around with random stuff such as the below slow shutter speed shot of Jeff Burton (31) leading a long line of cars down the backstretch.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f4, 1/30th, Aperture Priority

After several minutes with slow shutter speed shots I threw a star filter on the camera to see what kind of images I could produce.

Ryan Newman, below, races turn turn three in the later stages of the race.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 800iso, f4, 1/320th, Aperture Priority, with Star Filter

With the race drawing towards a close it was time for me to get back to the inside to shoot the finish and victory lane. On the walk back I stopped to shoot the below photo of David Gilliland as he led Matt Kenseth through turn four.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

Due to a late race caution that mixed the field up, Ryan Newman was able to come out of nowhere at the end and win the race, his first victory in 77 races.

Below, Newman celebrates the win with a burnout.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

In the below photo from fellow photographer Nick Doan you can see me on the right getting an up close look as Newman celebrates.


Photo by Nick Doan

Here is my view as the rear end of Newmans car slide along the wall literally a foot from me….


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

We shall bring this blog to an end with a few photos from victory lane as Ryan Newman was all smiles with his first win as a driver for Stewart Haas Racing.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/250th, Manual


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/250th, Manual


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









Posted in Me, NASCAR, P.I.R., Racing, Sports   | 5 Comments

5 responses to “NASCAR Drivers Duel in the Arizona Desert”

  1. Rj Dollen says:

    Very cool. Love the shot of the little girl and the driver.

  2. Max Lopatin says:

    Wow, great job Mark! Nice to see your pictures published on different sites.

  3. Fantastic NASCAR coverage! Each day when I view your blog, it is like being in school! Thanks for sharing your work, each day gets better and better!

  4. You do a great job of letting us into your work world of photography. You are my favorite blog. I fell as though I have tagged along with you on the assignment. Wonderful blog Mark.


  5. Mark who do you shoot for? I notice your photos show up in various pubs. Do you shoot for a media group?


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