Pit Lane/Track viewIt was a gorgeous Saturday morning at Sonoma for the first morning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice. The skies were blue, the clouds were white and puffy, the breeze was brisk and fresh, and forty Cup cars went on track in preparation for Sunday’s 24th Annual Toyota/Save Mart 350 race.

The session was relatively trouble-free.

The most local of the Northern California drivers, JEFF GORDON/No.24 Chevrolet of of nearby Vallejo was fastest. The other local lad, A.J. ALLMENDINGER/No.22 Dodge of Los Gatos CA, was third, making a sandwich out of Pole Sitter, MARCOS AMBROSE/No.9 Ford, in second place.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA/No.42 and BRAD KESELOWSKI/No.2 Dodge were fourth and fifth, respectively.

JAMIE McMURRAY/No.1 has a cool on-car camera on his rear axle. It’s mounted on the drive shaft tunnel facing rear. The view is underneath the car and pavement. Broadcast Sports Inc. is in charge of all the in-car cameras, and works with the TV broadcast production company. The liaison between the two is ANDY JEFFERS. This is the first time this particular on-car camera installation has been used in Sprint Cup. It has been used in the NASCAR Truck Series.

The only other time I’ve seen such a view was on a Formula One car for one day of practice during the March Australian Grand Prix.The TV production company was trying it out.

Eight Sprint Cup cars have in-car cameras for Sunday’s race: No.1 McMurray; No.5 KASEY KAHNE/Chevrolet; Ambrose/No.9 Ford; No.14 TONY STEWART/Chevrolet; No.16 GREG BIFFLE/Ford; No.18 KYLE BUSCH/Toyota; No.42 JUAN PABLO MONTOYA/Chevrolet; and No.56 MARTIN TRUEX, Jr/Toyota.

For the cars that have in-car cameras, it’s customary to have several placements in each car – one in the rear, one on the roof, and the shoulder camera on the roll bar. An installation takes about 20 minutes. Some teams find clever ways to incorporate the rear bumper camera into the graphics.

The choice for the in-car cameras is through a network media buy, usually an advertising package. With McMurray it is a joint venture between Coca Cola and MacDonald’s. The various in-car camera views will air during the live TV race broadcast. They also will be shown on the Jumbotrons.

There is some serious money tied up in the haulers. In the garage area, they are lined up so neatly it’s quite a visual. They all seem to have satellite dishes, and many have amazing horns. Some use air horns, and those who really want to make a statement have train horns.

ROBBY GORDON/No.7 Dodge was having a brake change after the first Saturday morning practice.

Robby GordonNo.18 rear bumper camera
Brian Vickers
Hauler Horns
Hauler Lineup