2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Kobalt Tools 500 from Phoenix International Raceway – part 1

I know this post is a bit late, but as they say better late than never. After having wrapped up another NASCAR race weekend here I thought I would go ahead and post my images from the November 2011 Sprint Cup race, you see the first part of 2012 has been a bit crazy for me and I just haven’t had the time to post all the events ‘as they come’ so I’m getting around to it now.

The big theme for me this race weekend was ‘cars on track’ so my goal was to get good clean shots of as many cars on track as possible. Let’s see how I did.

12 November 2011: Jamie McMurray (1) takes hot laps during a qualifying session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 Race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

I started with qualifying and found some success shooting into the sun, not always the best option for good shots but it was giving me an interesting effect and I managed to get some great shots of a limited number of the cars/drivers in their qualifying runs.

To see more great NASCAR Sprint Cup images click on the more link below:

The way the cloudy sky and the reflections off the windshield made the images look seemed a bit different and I liked how it made the images look almost like I was using some kind of ‘selective color’ filter because the track surface went ‘all grey’ and made the brighter colors ‘pop.’

I would say that it wasn’t a total success because some of the images looked a little ‘flat’ like this shot of Kevin Harvick’s car trailing flames from the exhaust. When the lighting is right these kinds of shots can really look nice, but with these lighting conditions there just didn’t seem to be enough contrast to make the images work.

11 November 2011: Tony Stewart (14) takes hot laps during a practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 Race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

I tried shooting panning shots on a different part of the track for some of the practice sessions and was having some luck getting good shots.

I was shooting some wide-angle panning shots but the fact that the stands were very empty seemed to highlight a negative aspect of shooting a practice session. I don’t think NASCAR or any magazines will want to use an image that makes the sport look like nobody is there watching.

Maybe some tighter panning shots would be better but they still show completely empty stands so the images might be considered ‘less than perfect’ for use in promoting the sport of NASCAR racing.

13 November 2011: Matt Kenseth (17) and A J Allmendinger (43) bring the field to the starting line for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 Race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

I think this is more what NASCAR and the media would want, good clean shots of the start of the race with all the cars lined up and the green flag waving.

Matt Kenseth’s number 17 Crown Royal car was working hard to fight off Tony Stewart for a lot of the race.

Carl Edwards didn’t seem like he was pushing too hard, he has won in Phoenix before and tested well here in October so I think he was just figuring it was a long race and there was plenty of time to make his move.

After a while Tony Stewart seemed like he was pulling away and was going to take the win, but there was still a lot of racing left to do.

Jeff Gordon couldn’t work his way to the front and was mid-pack all day.

By the way Jeff, I like this paint scheme much better than your ‘drive to end hunger’ paint scheme, I know it’s for a good cause, but this one looks much better.

Tony Stewart looked strong and I was hoping he wouldn’t win just because I think Carl Edwards is a nicer person than Mr. Stewart (just my own personal experiences photographing these two drivers).

I understand Kurt Busch swears like a drunk salor on a weekend bender and I think the radio chatter from this weekend just might have gotten him fired from Roger Penske Racing.

Jimmie Johnson didn’t have much of a race car for this weekend and he too was struggling to make fast laps in Phoenix this time.

Matt Kenseth was looking good and everything was going his way, or so we all thought . . .

I kept taking pictures of Tony Stewart because I thought he was going to win and take the championship away from Carl Edwards but at this point in the race, it’s anybody’s race.

The light on the cars was getting nice as they were coming out of turn 4 so I camped out there for a while making some nice images.

I got a few interesting wide-angle panning shots from the outside of turn one but I wasn’t sure I was liking the background so I only grabbed a few of these shots.

I wanted to get a few shots of Dale Jr.’s number 88 car because they say he is the ‘most popular driver in NASCAR’ but he never seems to win any races.

I like pit shots and wanted to get a few shots of the leaders in the pits but I wasn’t at the perfect angle and the sun wasn’t giving me the colors this early in the day so I didn’t grab a lot of these kinds of shots.

Back to cars on track and shots of Tony Stewart trying to fight off the late-race attack of Carl Edwards.

I was hoping for a Carl Edwards win, but he just didn’t have the ‘hunger’ to put this one away.

Lots of fans in the stands for this busy NASCAR weekend. Stay tuned for part 2 to see how the rest of the race looked through my lens.

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