An empty Gatorade Victoy Lane at the Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, July 11, 2008I’m still processing this weekend, working on posts and I just uploaded a buttload of photos. But I wanted to put up something for now. I’m trying to go in chronological order, to keep things straight for you and for me. As soon as I post this I’m off to downtown Chicago for some sightseeing. But first here’s what happened Friday morning.

Friday started out really good. Traffic was a breeze compared to Thursday and I had a Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte from Starbucks to help ease me into the morning. I left at 9, so that I could be at the credentials trailer exactly at 10 when they opened. It worked out perfectly.

I have to give huge props to the Chicagoland Speedway staff for making it so incredibly easy to get in and out of the track. I’m getting ahead of myself a bit but when I left the track it only took me ten minutes to get out and onto empty city streets. If you have an infield parking sticker they give you another thingy to hang from your window so that you can take this one particular road to get in and out the track. Ingenious! I think Infineon and Las Vegas should figure out a way to do this, build a whole new road if you have to! It’d be worth it.

Anyway, back to the morning. I was stoked to learn that I was getting a hot garage pass. Suhweet. It’s a total crap shoot on what you’re gonna get. After that I headed to the media center where I quickly realized it was insanely early in the race day. People camping in the infield were in line for the portable showers. Neither the Nationwide nor Sprint Cup garages were open. The place was empty. The fans hadn’t been let in to the main gates yet either.

I checked out the media center, took pictures of the emptiness around me and then just hung out for a while. I picked up a schedule and some other random press releases — including the transcript of Tony Stewart’s press conference regarding his move to Haas CNC Racing, now Stewart Haas Racing; I hate that logo by the way. I’m not a big fan of the font.

At two in the afternoon I was set to meet up with Andy from ESPN’s communications team to take a tour of their production facilities. I had some time before all that so I walked around and over (and under) to the grandstands. I checked out the usual fan stuff like the merchandise haulers and all of the interactive attractions. Really it’s all the same, but I caught the performance of the band that later performed the National Anthem for the Dollar General 300. If anyone knows or remembers their name from the telecast post a comment. They were a pretty good country band. I saw them in the credential trailer earlier in the day and let’s just say I have a soft spot for rockers with long hair. 🙂

After listening to a few songs I headed back to the media center to take the ESPN production tour, more on that in the next post.