Pocono Happy Hour: Anatomy of a Race Practice
The old adage that practice makes perfect holds true even for the highest level of NASCAR drivers.
At Pocono Raceway, the best in the sport had their opportunity to practice during "Happy Hour," the final session for fine tuning their cars before The Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 Presented by Target will run on Sunday at the "Tricky Triangle."
The following slides show the anatomy of a race practice, from the frenzied activities under the hood to everything in between until that practice session comes to a close.
Getting in the Race Car
One of the biggest challenges during the practice session is just getting into the car.
Here, Kyle Busch climbs aboard his No. 18 M&M Pretzel Toyota in spite of all the action by the pit crew still going on under and around his race vehicle.
Driver In, But Still Fine Tuning
Just because the driver is finally settled into the car does not mean that he is ready to take the track for the Happy Hour practice session.
Here, Jimmie Johnson waits patiently in his car for all of the activity to cease so he can finally back his car out of the garage and take his No. 48 Lowe's machine out on the track.
Conferring and Consultation During Practice
There is also a great deal of consulting and conferring that goes on as drivers ready for Cup practice.
Here drivers Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton have a few words before jumping aboard and heading out for Happy Hour.
With Cars on the Track, the Garage Gets Empty
Once all of the engines have roared to life and the cars are out on the track, the garage area becomes a bit empty, at least of the activity of the cars and drivers.
Crews take a moment to catch their collective breaths and get ready for the next time their cars and drivers return to the garage for tuning and adjustments.
A Small Respite
With the cars out on the track, the crew members take just a moment in the garage area for a bit of respite and relaxation.
Here Kevin Harvick's crew takes a moment to find a seat and rest and relax until their race car and driver returns to the garage area.
Running Also Occurs Off the Track
During any practice session or Happy Hour, there is a great deal of running involved. Crew members and crew chiefs spend quite a bit of time running back and forth from the track to the garage area.
Max Papis' crew members are getting their exercise running back to their garage stalls to make the necessary adjustments needed to get their driver back on the track even faster than before.
Alternate Means of Transportation
For some crew members, like crew chief Bootie Barker, alternate means of transportation are a necessity in the garage area during practice and Happy Hour.
Barker definitely outpaced many of the crew members as he moved back and forth between the track and garage taking care of his driver.
Practice is often high tech. Chad Knaus uses this technology to track his driver Jimmie Johnson's stats out on the race track at Pocono Raceway.
NASCAR's Version of the iPad
One of Kevin Harvick's crew uses his own version of the iPad to track his driver's progress during the Happy Hour session in preparation of the Pocono race.
Driver Post-It Notes
Even four-time champions like Jimmie Johnson need that occasional Post-It Note reminder during race practice.
This one reminds Johnson to take care of his brake ducts.
Fans Enjoy the Practice View
At Pocono Raceway, fans can also enjoy Happy Hour with a "front row" view of the drivers coming and going in and out of the garage.
Practice Ends, Garage Closes but Flag Still Flies
After the practice ends, the crews cover up their pit boxes and head out of the track. But the flag still flies and will continue to fly until the National Anthem is sung to officially kick off the race.