Denny Hamlin wins the TUMS Fast Relief 500! He had to battle all day against Jimmie Johnson to do it, but he was able to pull it off at the end. I was glad to see this. Jimmie has won this race the past 4 times that it has been run. I was glad to see someone else win besides Jimmie. Martinsville has become a very difficult track to photograph in the past few years……….
There have been so many changes to the track that it has made it very difficult to really get good photography there. It is a short track to begin with, so that means that there is not room anywhere inside it. With the Teams bringing more and more equipment to the track every week, it really makes it hard to get around. Here are some of the images that I was able to capture from the race. All were shot with my Nikon D300. Like I have said before, I love this camera.
Victory Lane at Martinsville is somewhat like pulling teeth. They really do not have a Victory Lane at Martinsville, so they do it on the front stretch, which can make for a very crazy time. You have to run out on the track after the race is done, and crowd around the car. It is unsafe and stupid. Who would believe a sport of this magnitude would have something like this go one……but here it is. The shot below was taken just as Denny got out of the car. As you can see, I had a drop of Coke on the lens, but I still sent it anyway
It is what it is. If we had a decent Victory Lane, we would not have to deal with such issues.
The next shot is just your generic Victory Lane shot. Nothing special, but I did like the way the colors of the background, and the clock, and the trophy all worked together. It “fills the bill” for what the intention is. I shot it wiht a Fill Flash and moved it right afterward.
It really was a battle all day long between Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson. The following images were what I moved to US Presswire www.USPresswire.com to show this battle. These Images were all shot with my 300mm 2.8 Lens. I shot all of them from up top just walking around the grandstands. That is about all that you can do these days. It is a shame that we have to work this way. This is what I got.
With the above shot, I really wanted to catch the two competitors in front of the “Martinsville” sign……..I thought that it was important because it showed the venue and gave a sense of “place.”
This next shot was on the last restart of the race. There were less than 8 laps to go when this restart occurred. Whoever won this race off of turn 4 after the start was for sure going to win the race. It is so hard to pass at Martinsville with that little time left, you better be in the lead before that first restart lap is done if you want to win the race. Denny was able to pull it off. Here he is leading everyone off of Turn 4. He got a great restart, and at this point, no one could do anything with him. I thought that this was the shot that really told the story of the race. I thought that it was a good shot from an Editorial standpoint. I shot it with my 70mm~200mm lens. ISO 200, shutter speed 1000, and at f4.
I just liked this next shot. It is of the Penske Cars racing together. David Stremme who drives the Verison Car is just rooting his way under the MOBIL 1 Car driven by Sam Hornish, Jr. It really had no bearing on the race, I just liked it.
This next shot was one that I took to “Hedge” my bet in case Jimmie Johnson won the race. You have to do something like this, because Jimmie is always a threat to win Martinsville. Here again, I wanted to use the “Martinsville” painted on the wall to give a sense of place. I shot this at a shutter speed of 60, and used my 70mm~200mm Lens.
This next Image I shot looking back up the back stretch. This is not an easy shot. The weather conditions really have to be right to pull it off in the Fall of the year. It is a COMPLETELY backlit shot at this time of year. The only way to pull it off is to shoot it when it is cloudy. Fortunately it was cloudy at this point in the race. Not only do the conditions have to be right, but you are shoot through a break in the fence which makes it even that more difficult. I was really wanting to show how Mark Martin was working his way through traffic. It was critical for him to have a good run if he had any chance to stay in the hunt for the Championship. I thought that it got the point across.
I tried to focus my efforts on Mark Martin through out the weekend. He lost ground to Jimmie at Charlotte in the Championship Hunt, but he still had a shot at this point. I shot his car in practice, and wanted something different other than just a plain “running car” shot. I used a shutter speed of 30, zoomed while shooting with my 70mm~200mm lens, and this is what I got.
I did the same thing with the #24 Car of Jeff Gordon. Some will like it, and some will not. Here is the #24 Car.
Like I said, from and Editorial point of view, it was important to keep an eye on Mark Martin. These next Images are portraits that I shot across the course of the weekend. These are the ones that I moved to US Presswire. In the first shot below, I thought that the look on Mark’s face says it all. He realizes that he has a real “dog fight” on his hand. To say his thinking about it is an understatement.
I really don’t think that this next shot really shows anything that is really “strong”, but I just liked it so I moved it.
I caught this next shot right before the race. It is a shot of Mark Martin’s Pit Crew “Rallying” before the race. These guys are 100% behind Mark. I don’t think I have ever seen the 5 Team want a championship so bad. I shot this with my 10mm~17mm Fisheye lens. I put the camera on shutter priority at shutter speed 250, held it up, and threw a “Hail Merry.” I think that it worked.
Shooting Pit Stops at Martinsville can only be done one way………..from the outside. This speedway used to be a joy to shoot, but in the past few years, the Series has just managed to cram so much stuff in the infield, you can’t move inside of it. It is really just shameful the way it has turned out. I shot the following Pit Stops from the outside. They were both shot at an ISO of 400, and both shot at shutter speed 1000. I used my 300mm on the #24 Car, and I shot the 5 car with the 300mm with my 1.4 converter on it. I was in the grandstands somewhere, just trying to stay out of the way of Race Fans.
One cool thing about Martinsville, you really can get some nice portraits there. You are close to the cars at Qualifying, and the Garage is somewhat open, so the light is always nice there provided that it is not raining. These are some of the Favorites I have from the weekend. I LOVE Shooting Portraits. No flash was used on any of these.
I got lucky with this next shot. Jimmie was running past me (as he does with ALL of the MEDIA) and I jut pulled the camera from the hip and fired. The team was working on the Motor, and that is why he is covering his ears.
I love this next shot of David Stremme………..it just kin of shows how his career has gone at Penske Racing. He was released from the ride after this race. I shot this with my 70mm~200mm Lens, ISO 400, shutter speed 1000 @ f4.
I really like this next shot of Dale Earnhardt Jr. I shot this with my 17mm~35mm lens right before the race. I really wish the sky would have had more blue in it. I think that it would have made the whole image more dramatic.
I shot this next shot while on Pit Road before the race. NASCAR had placed the Sprint Cup Trophy on a pedestal at the head of pit road. I got down and shot up at it. If I had not done the shot in this way, there would have been people, cars, and all kinds of “clutter” around. I really wanted a “clean” shot of it, but there was SO much around it, it was hard to get anything. Plus the sky really looked “ugly” in the background……just an overcast day. I did what I could with what I had. Just wish the sky was more “dramatic”……….but you do what you can when you can.
These last 2 shots were shots that I just plain found interesting when I shot them. I shot the Haulers from the Grandstands during the race. I just like the shot. I have seen it done before by other people…..so I AM NOT the first to shoot this, but I do like it, so I shot it. It was posted to US Presswire, so let’s hope that it gets some play. The other is of Juan Pablo Montoya. The thing that I found interesting about this image is that the ignition switch is not located in the traditional spot on the dash………….I think that this image is very good from an Editorial point of view because it shows a difference in his race car as compared to others. Editor’s LOVE that kind of thing.
Well that is about it from Martinsville. Look for my next Motorsports Blog to be from the last race in Homestead/Miami. I think Jimmie is going to seal the deal again. That will be 4 in a row. Like him or not, that is truly an incredible feat in Sport. I would really like to see Mark Martin win it……but there is always next year.
Again, Thanks for reading.