NASCAR 2013: Kyle Busch Dominates the Weekend at Fontana

NASCAR Auto Club 400

This past weekend, Sub5Zero traveled to Fontana to cover something a bit different than what we are used to. And we can’t say that we walked away disappointed. More than 80,000 fans descended upon Auto Club Speedway to cheer their favorite drivers in both the Nationwide Series’ Royal Purple 300, as well as the 5th major race of the Sprint Cup season – the Auto Club 400.

And as you can guess from the title of the article, Kyle Busch won not one, but both races this weekend. Click past the break to read more about this weekend’s races, and also a bit about Sub5Zero’s first experience at covering a NASCAR race.

NASCAR Nationwide Royal Purple

The weekend’s racing action began on Saturday with the Royal Purple 300 Nationwide Series race. For those not as familiar with NASCAR, as the Series’ “minor league”, Nationwide is where many younger drivers prove themselves, hoping to one day compete in the Sprint Cup. In some cases, drivers such as Kyle Busch compete in both Series.

Although Nationwide cars are similar to those in the Sprint Cup, there are some key differences between them.Nationwide cars are slightly shorter than Sprint Cup cars by about 5″ (105″ wheelbase), and weigh about 100 pounds less (3,200 lbs. minimum without the driver). They also have engines that are slightly less powerful than their Sprint Cup counterparts.

All cars have a 5.8L carburated V8, putting out between 650 and 700 horsepower. The car’s body and aerodynamic package is also slightly different than that of Sprint Cup. Each is built to resemble mass production cars from the various auto manufacturers (such as Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang, and Toyota Camry).

Pastrana Nationwide NASCAR

One very familiar face to Sub5Zero this weekend was that of Travis Pastrana, who is competing in his first full season of the Nationwide Series. He is currently ranked 12th in the Series after finishing 13th in the Royal Purple 300. Travis drives the #60 Mustang for Roush Racing – one of the biggest names in NASCAR. We’re excited to see what the future brings for Pastrana in NASCAR – we’re sure it will be highly successful. Is there anything this guy can’t do?

Sprint Cup Auto Club 400

The racing action continued on Sunday with the Auto Club 400. Kyle Busch qualified 4th for Sunday’s race with a speed of 187.13 mph – MUCH slower (relatively speaking) than pole-sitter Denny Hamlin who posted a speed of 187.451. Yes, that’s the world of NASCAR – where hundredths of a second are an eternity. The first 198 or so laps of the race were somewhat drama free – but that all changed in the last few laps.

Kyle Busch led a majority of the race, but lost the lead on the last restart to his teammate Hamlin. Kyle passed him back on Turn 2, but meanwhile Joey Logano came up to pass them both as the two battled. Hamlin and Logano touched, almost sending the two into a spin.

Hamlin and Logano eventually made it past Busch, with Hamlin leading the start of the final lap. The two continued side by side past Turn 2 and the back straight. On the last turn, the two touched again, this time sending Hamlin into the wall, Logano to the bottom of the track, and Kyle Busch past both of them to take the win!

Hamlin Auto Club 400

All in all, it was a thrilling weekend at Auto Club Speedway. From a photographer’s point of view this was unlike anything we ever covered. It’s difficult to put into words what it is like to shoot inches away from 40+ cars doing over 200 mph. The start of the race nearly blew us off our feet – the turbulence generated by the group of cars going by felt like we were standing behind a 747 taking off. Luckily we had filters in our lenses, as the amount of tire and other debris that follow the field of cars was incredible.

Campers on Infield

For most of us, this was our first in-person experience of the world of NASCAR. And we must admit that we finally get what makes this sport so unique and special. It’s a lot more than just a race and it’s more than just 42 cars doing 200 laps at an average speed of 170mph. It’s about the experience, the community of fans that build an entire “Motorhome City” on the infield.

After Saturday’s race, we took a walk through some of the “streets” of Motorhome City, to take in some of what NASCAR is all about. What we found was nothing short of astonishing. Campfires as far as the eye could see. Full-blown bars built from the ground up, featuring big screen TVs, pool tables, foosball tables, all just for a 3 day weekend.

Corner Worker Bil

The weekend was filled not only with NASCAR royalty, but also celebrities from other parts of the motorsport world. As we gathered what was left of our gear (complete with new dings, dents, and scratches from flying debris), we spotted a reminder of our next upcoming event – the one and only Bil Baldwin and his famous beard! We will see him in a few weeks as Formula D takes over the streets of Long Beach once again.