NOTE: During the race I'm at a separate blog post. Thanks.
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Good morning from Watkins Glen International.
If you haven't seen them already, here are our stories in today's paper: a main preview and report of qualifying by me and report of qualifying by me, as well as a Nationwide race report as well as a notebook focusing on Western New York natives by Larry Ott.
We'll have a few notes here leading up to the race, when I'll do a live interactive blog. I keep notes on the race anyway -- it will be something I reference when I'm putting my story together later on.
9:21 a.m. As any race fan (or race reporter) knows, It's always great to get to the track very early on race day.
The drive up from Corning was pretty smooth -- I took an alternate route to stay away from potential backups and clogged infield roads. A house close to Corning on Route 414 was decorated with some serious Jeff Gordon material, including a birthday wish (he turned 39 on was Aug. 4). The local police, as they have for years, have divided the two-lane roads to the track into three lanes with temporary barriers -- a big help for the tens of thousands of fans making their way to the track on race day.
9:49 a.m. A shout-out to Mother Nature for what has been a fantastic weather weekend, one thing that was missing last year when the race was rained out and pushed to Monday for the first time.
11:47 a.m. Went for my annual Sunday morning walk around the infield, which was pretty great considering the weather, what seemed like a better-than-usual crowd and an infield setup that seems to improve every year. There was a time where it was quite cramped when one walked around the merchandise trailers, but the layout has improved in the last couple of years.
The Turn 10 Village -- which consists of various merchandise trailers -- had steady traffic while throngs of people made their way through paths lined with tents set up by various companies, many of them offering freebies or prizes. There was also the Speed television stage, where the network has been broadcasting all weekend, and various food options. Seemed like an improved fan-friendly experience from previous years.
I took some photos and will add them soon.
12:18 p.m. This one will be quick. I just want to thank Watkins Glen International for going to the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for its media center food this year. Yum.
I also highly recommend the Terrell's Dinosaur Bar-B-Que potato chips, although I'm not sure if the Syracuse company's chips are available in Buffalo. What can I say? Sportswriters become sportswriters for the free food.
12:21 p.m. Race time is about an hour away. The ESPN broadcast starts at 1 p.m.
1:06 p.m. The National Anthem has concluded (former American Idol guy Bo Bice, for those of you in anthem singer fantasy leagues).
1:13 p.m. Time to shift gears (heh). We've got our live blog/chat post up now.