At Infineon Raceway, pole position doesn't come easily — even for the fans.
Around noon Thursday, Crissy Lee and her friends were sitting pretty at the head of a snaking line of RVs, trailers and campers waiting to enter Cougar Mountain Campground on the racetrack's west side.
If you get a prime camping spot, you can see across the Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge, Lee said, explaining why they'd been waiting in line since 3 a.m. There was no question the ordeal was worth it, she said.
NASCAR Infineon Highlights
Kyle Busch celebrates his victory at Infineon Raceway after the Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma in 2008. It was Busch's fifth win of the 2008 NASCAR season. Kent Porter / The Press Democra
On Wednesday June 17, 2009, Eighty-one year old Hershel McGriff tooled around Infineon Raceway in a Toyota Prius. McGriff has had enough of retirement. The Hall of Fame driver, and a NASCAR top 50, will make his return behind the wheel at Infineon Raceway for the Bennett Lane Winery 200, on Saturday, June 20. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2009
Joe Castarella, right, and Gino Caprara put the finishing touches on infield banners at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. The workers from United Striping 101 of Petaluma prepared part of the track for the 2008 Toyota / Save Mart 350 race. Kent Porter / The Press Democra
Race day arrived at Infineon Raceway as fans toured the pit area prior to the Toyota / Save Mart 350 in Sonoma in 2008. Kent Porter/ The Press Democrat
Cars are inspected prior to the Toyota / Save Mart 350 in 2008. Kent Porter / The Press Democra
Jeff Gordon does a burnout in 2006 after winning his fifth Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. Kent Porter / The Press Democra
A truck-sized portrait of Dale Earnhardt Sr. stands before his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., during driver introductions before the start of the 2007 race at Sonoma. The legendary NASCAR driver, who died in 2001, won at the track in 1995. Junior finished 13th in 2007. Kent Porter/ The Press Democrat
n the final lap of the Bennett Lane Winery 200 at Infineon Raceway in 2009, Joe Logano was rear ended by Patrick Long on turn 11, causing Logano, the race leader, to spin out. NASCAR ruled that interference had taken place, pushing Long to 23 and Logano to 17th. Kent Porter/ The Press Democrat
"From the end of one trip, we're already planning the next," said Lee, a physical therapy assistant who lives in Fresno.
That die-hard spirit was as common as flags fluttering with the names of NASCAR drivers Thursday as fans began to pour into Infineon ahead of this weekend's main event - the Toyota/Save Mart 350.
The event, which features two races and an air show, is expected to draw tens of thousands of spectators to the southern tip of Sonoma County this weekend; track officials decline to give specific attendance figures.
Jeff Harshman of Fairfield said he has only missed two NASCAR races at Infineon since his mom won tickets on the radio to the first such race in 1989.
Even when his daughter went into labor with his first grandchild the night before the race seven years ago, he still attended the race figuring she wouldn't deliver until Monday. He won his gamble and the baby held off until after the checkered flag was waved.
His wife, Karen, said she skipped that particular race, but said she's just as much a fan as her husband, and not just of the racing.
Out in the baking heat of the 50 Acres Campground, an RV-magnet across Highway 121 from the track, people just strike up conversations with each other, she said.