It's a beautiful summer day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, which is running the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
The temperature is climbing into the eighties with moderate humidity and a nice breeze. The skies are blue with a few scattered clouds, a far cry from Thursday's stormy weather, which caused Lightning Alerts in the area, and shutdown the Chicago airports, disrupting lots of travel plans.
The large parkland setting is filled with colourful, eager enthusiastic NASCAR fans of all types. Everywhere folks are trying to see their favourite driver, team, car, etc.
Friday's schedule is light on track, with two one-hour Practice sessions Friday afternoon. The rest of the day is filled with wide variety of meet and greet PR sessions of one kind or another.
Ken Schrader was fastest in the first Friday session with a time of 49.911/180.321 mph. Second through fifth were Robby Gordon, rookies Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin and Casey Mears.
There are 50 Cup entries for the 43 car field. Among those who don't run the full season are Chad Chaffin, Derrike Cope, Bill Elliott, Bobby Hamilton Jr, Stephen Leicht, Boris Said and Mike Skinner.
Two drivers didn't go out on track - Elliot and Hamilton Jr. Leicht was eleventh fastest of the 'irregulars.'
Meanwhile, out at nearby newly named O'Reilly Raceway Park the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series are running a one day event, followed by a Saturday one-day event for the Busch Series. Both run night races. The Trucks have 37 entries and Busch has 44 cars - in each case one unlucky driver will go home.
Both of those series will be running Sunoco unleaded race fuel for the weekend. Last weekend at Gateway International Raceway, the Busch Series successfully ran the unleaded fuel for the first time.
Having so many drivers in town allows for crossover between series. Thursday night the J.D.Byrider 100 USAC Silver Crown race was at ORP, and Cup driver Carl Edwards came in second, behind victor Bryan Tyler. Edwards is doing 'Triple Duty' this weekend, also running the Saturday night Busch race.
Truck drivers doing Double Duty are Hamilton Jr and Skinner.
Four Busch regulars are running the Cup race, Leicht, Paul Menard, Kenny Wallace and Johnny Sauter.
Nextel Cup drivers qualify Saturday morning, followed by two practice sessions.