"There's two things in this sport-- You gotta have a fast car to win and you gotta have a car that'll finish the race", said Scott Miller, crew chief for driver Jeff Burton. Nearby, hardcore fans transformed the field into Nascar nation, camping out in R.V.'s. But the biggest buzz happens before the race begins... behind the stands. It's called the Fanzone, and it's spread out over 24 acres. The area includes the Sprint Simulator. The video simulation gave fans an adrenalin rush, with realistic maneuvering to help drive home the thrill of racing. Then a stroll down the midway offered a variety of vendors... some selling official racing merchandise... others, savory fare from eateries, including Wolfgang Puck's Apex.
But this all-day, pre-race festival featured an especially popular attraction where families popped in for a special photo op. At the Sea Lion booth, the star of that display swam over to fans on cue, posing for a picture, while offering a kiss on the cheek. "It's very exciting. The kids love it. We bring them here because they want to see all the racers and the animals", said Dan Dismang. His 6 year old son Blake said the kiss reminded him of those he gets from his mother. 100,000 people were expected on Sunday alone, which represents a hefty boost to the economy. The president of the speedway, Gillian Zucker estimates the event will pump more than $200 million dollars from the three day event.