By the time the sun is rising over Phoenix International Raceway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage is bustling. All the teams are following their choreographed moves for pre-race set-up. The Goodyear Guys have already stacked the team tires for pickup, and there’s a certain symmetry in seeing the setup before it’s systematically disassembled by 43 tire carriers.
The crews are moving quickly, moving gear to Pit Lane for the race, fine tuning the cars, and generally perpetual motion.
In the Pit Lane, eager passengers are lined up for their VIP rides at speed around the four-turn one-mile oval track.
The Trylon still shows the results from Saturday afternoon’s Nationwide race, won by Brad Keselowski, who made an amazing pass on leader Kyle Bush to take the lead in sight of the checkered flag and win. Busch had led most of the race and probably wasn’t too happy, but none of the victory or disappointment was seen on TV. The world belonged to young Chase Elliott, and TV focused on him. who runs his father’s famous No.9 on his NAPA Chevrolet. Elliott finished fifth and won the NNS Championship, one race before the end of the season. The 18-year old son of Awesome Bill from Dawsonville is the youngest-ever winner of a top tier NASCAR championship. He just graduated from high school in May. Proud owners, Dale Earnhardt Junior, Rick Hendrick, and Kelly Earnhardt Miller, have already determined Elliot will run the NNS again next season, before moving up to Cup.
Far across from the Cup Garage are hundreds of RV’s – a city so large it now has not one, but two Safeway Supermarkets in its midst to serve the crowd.
Outside the track, law enforcement is slow to do its pre-race setup. Rows and rows of cones and traffic signs are still on multiple flat bed trucks, queued up for distribution. This slows down incoming traffic a bit as some of the grandstand sold-out crowd and hearty souls headed for Rattlesnake Hill have already shown up.