Allmendinger all dinged up at Dega

The past two weeks I have been busy shooting drag racing and while I have had fun (excluding my 10k loss) I really didn’t get much as far as wild action so I was a very happy guy to know the next stop on my schedule would be NASCAR on the craziest track on the circuit, Talladega!

Normally I would fly out to Birmingham, AL on Thursday so I could be at the track to shoot all the on track stuff on Friday but this race I decided to pull the rockstar card and skip practice and just fly in for the race days of Saturday (truck race) and Sunday (cup race).

When I arrived at the track Saturday I got to work shooting various driver shots during qualifying.

Below, I laid down on the ground a few feet from Mark Martin to get some low angles of him as he sat on the ground waiting to qualify. The terrible backgrounds ruined the shot however.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with SB-900 Flash

Following his qualifying run Ryan Newman (below) took a little time to film a segment for a TV show.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with SB-900 Flash

After Jimmie Johnson made his qualifying run I shot him as he was being interviewed and noticed a plane flying in the background towing a sign for a local strip club, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual with SB-900 Flash

Below, Johnson would be mobbed by a large crowd of autograph seeking friends as he headed back to his hauler, presumably to change and go to Cheetahs.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f9, 1/250th, Manual with SB-900 Flash

Kasey Kahne shows off his spiffy new Red Bull uniform after his recent release from Richard Petty Motorsports, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f10, 1/250th, Manual with SB-900 Flash

Ok time for one of the more entertaining races of the season, the Camping World Truck Series race.

Below, the field of 35 truck drivers head through the tri-oval about to get the green flag.

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

The race started late in the afternoon which produced nice shadows as Ron Hornaday (below) led the field.

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

Jeffery Earnhardt would bring out a caution as he spun heading into turn one, below.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

With it being Halloween weekend a few crazy fans were in the crowd in random costumes. I am quite fond of the below fan who was dressed up as a “Dega Girl.”

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

Please note the thong as well as the tramp stamp tattoo. This guy did his research to perfection!

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

With the late start to the race shadows quickly would consume large portions of the track while other parts were brightly lit by the sun. This causes all sorts of issues for us photographers since the exposures are dramatically different between the sun and the shade. The best way to combat that is by shooting in aperture priority. Essentially that is a mode which allows the cameras metering system to recognize the light and adjust the exposure accordingly.

The below two shots of Max Papis spinning are a perfect example.

In the first photo he is in the shade and the exposure is perfect…

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f5.6, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

…..then as soon as he slides into the sunlit area the camera instantly changes exposures for the bright light. Since the exposure is for the sunlit area it makes the shaded area completely black.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

I believe the below t-shirt is a Talladega best seller because I saw numerous people wearing it.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

I know way too much about NASCAR and the drivers so I was pretty surprised to hear a name I had never heard of leading a good portion of the race.

Below, Chris Fontaine (bottom right) leads the field through the tri-oval late in the race.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f6.3, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

With less than five laps remaining all hell would break loose heading into turn one, below.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

The spot the crash occurred in was one of my weakest spots on the track to shoot because the field was racing away from me so any crash would kick up a bunch of smoke which ruined my pics.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

When I shoot a big crash like this I usually follow the largest group of crashing cars and hope the action takes place in that area but of course there is some luck involved to be following the right crashing car. In this case I failed as just at the edge of my frame Ron Hornaday would go airborne and flip over.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

As soon as I noticed the upside down truck out of the corner of my eye I quickly changed over to follow Hornaday. He was sliding through a sunlit portion of the track so my aperture priority metering exposed for the bright and made a dramatic looking photo with the shadows becoming black as well as the rising tire smoke adding to the photo.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

As his truck slid further towards turn one I stayed locked on him in case the truck caught an edge and began flipping.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

As soon as Hornadays truck hit the banking it began a slow series of barrel rolls.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

Hornaday would be fine after the incident, the truck on the other hand would not be in such good shape, below.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

Here is a video of the crash.

After a red flag to clean up the accident scene the race would get back to green for a photo finish with Kyle Busch (left) narrowly beating Aric Almirola to the checkered flag, below.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1250iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Below, Kyle Busch celebrates with a burnout after winning the Mountain Dew 250 at the Talladega Superspeedway.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1250iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Kyle Busch stands on his truck to celebrate in victory lane.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1250iso, f5.6, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

While Kyle is my favorite driver in NASCAR I don’t see myself ever being as much of a fan as the below guy!

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

During the long walk back to the infield media center I stopped to shoot the below frame showing skid marks everywhere from the big crash as well as from Kyles burnout.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1000iso, f3.5, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

That wraps up Saturday, time for the main event!

All week leading up to the race the media had been hyping up the race as the “wild card” in the chase where a bad day by any of the top three contenders (Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick) could spell the end to their championship run. With that in mind I would be keeping an eye on those three to ensure if something happened to them that I would have photos.

Below, Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Bowyer lead the field to the green flag to begin the AMP Energy Juice 500.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Plenty of empty seats available for purchase….

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 320iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Prior to the race one of my good buddies made a deal with me that if Dale Earnhardt Jr won the race that he would buy me a new laptop. So for this race I would be a huge Dale Jr fan!

Below, Dale Jr quickly got out to the lead and would lead several laps.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Im sure my buddy was starting to get nervous but of course in typical Dale Earnhardt Jr fashion he would be involved in a wreck and would pull his battered Chevy into the garage (below) eliminating the new laptop I was practically typing on already!

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f6.3, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

As I mentioned earlier, I was vigilant on keeping an eye on the top three in points. In the later stages of the race Kevin Harvick (29) would be involved in a crash with Marcos Ambrose (47) on the backstretch, below.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f6.3, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Below, Harvick pits to repair the damage from the wreck.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f6.3, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Normally any body damage on a fast track liek this would mess up the cars aerodynamics enough to make it impossible to contend but somehow the battered car of Harvick would make its way back to the lead in the final laps, below.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f6.3, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

For the most part the drivers ran a pretty calm race without too much drama. Once there was under 20 laps to go though that went out the window and the cars began running three and four wide throughout the entire field, below.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Below, Denny Hamlin leads a large pack of racers through the tri-oval.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

All day the “Big One” had yet to occur and it almost looked like the race would be void of a big crash. Then the field took the white flag and calamity broke out when David Gilliland (37), Scott Speed (82), Kurt Busch (2) and A.J. Allmendinger (43) would get together setting off a wild crash, below, in which Allmendinger would go airborne in his Ford Fusion.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

The below frame from the sequence more than made my weekend a great one.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

After the flip he slid on his side down to the inside wall where he made heavy contact…..

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

…..before rolling a few more times down the track.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Allmendinger would be fine following the crash.

Here is video of the spectacular crash.

Lost in the confusion of the wild crash was who had won the race.

Since the crash happened after the leaders took the white flag the race would be over and whoever leading at the time of the accident would be the winner. The problem was that Kevin Harvick and teammate Clint Bowyer were side by side at the time of the crash so it would take NASCAR officials several minutes to review the footage to determine who was ahead.

Both Harvick and Bowyer would drive to the finish line to wait for the final verdict of who was the winner.

Instead of waiting to hear the results from NASCAR Bowyer took it upon himself to start celebrating with burnouts….

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f7.1, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f7.1, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

…..as Harvick sat parked waiting on the decision.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

It turned out that Bowyer was indeed ahead by a few inches so he was named the race winner with Harvick finishing second.

Bowyer would drive over to Harvick and the drivers would shake hands, below.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f7.1, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Below, Clint Bowyer celebrates in victory lane after his win.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f7.1, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Here are a few webclips…

One Response to “Allmendinger all dinged up at Dega”

  1. Laney5569 says:

    wow i love this photos!! :O

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