The previous year's event brought traffic snarls that are now legend in the race management world. It was great to see that all of those issues had been well resolved for 2012. The Kentucky State Police were tweeting the traffic conditions, and the interstates remained clear of back-ups and moved freely all the way through the race for fans both coming and going. Perhaps those bugs are worked-out for good.
All walks of life were roasting in the sun together in the bleachers, and lounging in the shade under the grandstands. Most had arrived early with expectations of waiting in the traffic that never materialized. They were all a little sunburned, and perhaps a little inebriated, but they were all eager to cheer on their favorite driver.
And that includes the very excited lady in the picture at the top of the post. She jumped from her seat and cheered for her driver, Jimmie Johnson, each and every time his car passed turn four. She personified the fans at the Quaker State 400, and of NASCAR in general. They're a bit rough around the edges, but fans through and through.
With only a few minor cautions to speak of, all 267 laps were completed without incident. The pit strategies were the keys to the event as this track tends to keep the cars single-file. Very few rubs were made and leaders tended to lead for many laps at a time.
It was a technical race, so fans expecting bang-up, side-by-side action may have been a bit disappointed. The timing of the cautions, and pit road choices made the difference on Saturday night.
Brad Keselowski, driving a back-up car after some issues during qualifying drove his #2 Miller Lite hot rod to victory lane in Sparta. Kasey Kahne was second and Denny Hamlin third.
Brad didn't disappoint with the now mandatory roasting of the tires. A celebration which proves difficult to photograph.
Another gallery of the sights of the day is below. Many "through the fence" shots, helicopters, fans, cars and anything else NASCAR on the grounds! Take a look...