Pre-race Grid LockThe clouds parted and the sun shone in time for Driver Intros and all the Pre-Race Pomp and Circumstance at Phoenix International Raceway for the 24th Annual Kobalt Tools 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race. It had been iffy all morning with the stop and go with the rain drops.

The track dried, out came the sun glasses and sunblock, and the gridded cars were engulfed in fans.

During the Driver Intros, the biggest cheers went for the perennial fave, DALE EARNHARDT Jr/No.88 Retro Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet. And to no one’s surprise, the biggest jeers and boos were reserved for Rowdy himself, the Shrub aka KYLE BUSCH/No.18 Interstate Batteries Toyota.

While the cars were lining up and getting settled, the crews were busy sprinkling sodas on their pit box share of pit road, to make the surface as sticky as possible, so they wouldn’t slip and slide while servicing their car. After all the rain the race track was as green as it could be, and drivers were saying they were a bit concerned about the first hundred slick laps.

Then, it was time for those magic words – uttered this time by Mexican driver ADRIAN FERNANDES – “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.”

While the race cars are being schlepped around the garage and onto pit lane, the crews protect the hood intake with what is known as a cowl cover. This little low-tech piece is another way for the team to brand itself. Many of the cars have a cowl cover displaying a logo or link to the sponsor

Cowl Cover - Jamie McMurray No.1 Chevrolet

Cowl Cover - Jeff Burton No.31 Caterpillar Chevrolet

Cowl Cover - Brad Keselowski No.2 Miller Lite Dodge

Cowl Cover - Juan Pablo Montoya No.42 Target Chevrolet

Cowl Cover - David Reutimann No.00 Tums Toyota

Cowl Cover - Joey Logano No.20 Home Depot Toyota

Cowl Cover - Red Bull Racing Toyota

Cowl Cover - Andy Lally No.71 TRG Ford

Cowl Cover - Tony Stewart/No.14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet

Cowl Cover