The day started out cloudy and cold at Phoenix International Raceway for the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts Presented by Pennzoil 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It made for a beautiful sunrise with all the pink fingers of light capturing the clouds. It went from cold to chilly to warm and by noon the skies were clear and sunblock was being applied.

In the garage, the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams were queuing up in lines for various tech inspections. The first one was for each team, in order, to get back its shocks which had been charged at the NASCAR charging station and impounded overnight. They were all out in order on tables with tie wraps and seals, returned to the crews who applied stickers indicating they were approved.

There were other queues for the cars to clear technical inspections, and the paddock was crowded with long lines with crews and cars, filled in with the appropriately credentialed fans looking here and there for a glimpse of a favorite driver or team, photo ops or maybe even an autograph. There were pit tours of all kinds playing follow the leader in the garage, pits and around.

It was sensory overload everywhere, pits, garage, grandstands, camping area, everywhere.

The race cars are quite colorful with all their graphics, the crews in the latest livery depicting this weekend’s sponsor, and it is eye candy all around. One thing adding to the color is the lug nuts on the cars. Most teams paint them pink, with the explanation being given that they need to be seen quickly during a pit stop and subliminally pink is the best color. One team had pink in front and yellow on the rear wheels. That explanation was tire changer’s choice. He was color blind, but could pick out yellow. So now you know.

Another color is the openings on the rear window for changing track bar and springs, usually painted fluorescent orange and green.

The PIR crowd Friday for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race was 28,500, with a “good walkup” crowd. Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series crowd was reported as 37,500. With the good weather, doing the math means a crowd of 44,000 or more for Sunday’s race will reach the 100,000 weekend attendance the local TV news has been touting all week.

Driver Intros are at 1:15 PM local time, with the 312-lap/mile race starting at 2:30 PM. The live ABC-TV coverage begins at 1 PM local time.