Goopy Grooves, Michigan, NASCAR Married Series, Kids Free, Dale Jr. Update and BUBBA to VIR
Bristol’s Goopy Grooves
After a week at Bristol Motor Speedway and having watched all (4) Races there; all I have to say is Bristol’s Grooves are back! NASCAR Fans are very picky about any changes made to a Track’s racing surface and are let their thoughts be clearly known. When we all heard there had been changes made to the Lower Groove I have to admit even I was worried. Over the years and a few other changes the track had become one dimensional and all the drivers and racing was in the upper area or groove of the race track. This makes it nearly impossible to pass and thus less exciting racing for fans at the “Last Great Coloseum” and at home watching their TVs.
The motto etched in my heart by the late great Jeff Byrd who ran Bristol Motor Speedway is “Exceed Expectations”. That’s what Bristol did with this track modification and, the racing was the best in years and years. Working with NASCAR and Drivers such as Dale Jr., Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski and others. What they came up with was using a very sticky substance that they sprayed about 24" wide along the lowest groove of the race track in the corners. They then used a tire dragging machine to apply even more Goodyear racing rubber to the track. The result was a grip zone so to speak that drivers could use to make the lower groove work. To you Mr. Bristol Goopy Groove Man I Salute You!
Rookie Ben Kennedy the Grandson of the late Great Bill France got his 1st Victory at the UNOH 200 in the Camping World Truck Series and Austin Dillon the Grandson of Owner Richard Childress won the Food City 300 in the Xfinity Series. Am I seeing a pattern here? The Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Races had a handful of rain delays and was run during the day late on Sunday but it was no disappointment. With some of the best multi-groove racing in years Kevin Harvick took his #4 Busch Beer car to Victory Lane. It had been 36 years since Busch Beer had a car in the Winner’s Circle and I can only imagine they swatted a few cold ones down after America’s Night Race. Bristol as always you Exceeded my Expectations!
Pure Michigan 400
Michigan International Speedway is a 2.0 Mile D-Shaped oval with big banking which makes for some very fast track speeds and racing. Joey Logano won the Spring Race at an average speed of 134 mph but, Matt Kenseth won the Fall Race at 143 mph and both started from the pole position. With the NASCAR Chase quickly approaching it’s make or break time for teams to Win and or Point their way in to The Chase. The boy on the bubble is Chase Elliott the driver of Jeff Gordon’s iconic #24. He has to get a win and lucky for him he is very good at Michigan. In fact has the Highest Driver Rating among his peers just ahead of Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson. Look for some fast and probably heated racing this weekend in Michigan and look for the #24 in Victory Lane.
“2 State 400" — NASCAR Married Series
In no time flat I went from being a spectator at Bristol Motor Speedway to behind the seat in the 2 State 400 in the NASCAR Married Series. What is the NASCAR Married Series you ask? Well, it’s much like regular NASCAR in that it’s high stress action packed driving. The differences are that this was a long Road Course and also in regular NASCAR your Spotter is a Teammate located at the Top of the Stadium Stands. In NASCAR Married your Spotter is your Wife and she’s sitting right next to you in the Car! Needless to say I drove like the wind as fast as legally allowable to get to the Finish Line. Just kidding Honey I love you
NASCAR: Bring the Kids Free!
Starting in 2017 Kids ages 12 and under will get Free Tickets to Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Races with accompanying adult. This is a great idea because as we know the demographics of NASCAR fans is aging and attracting young fans is a must. For NASCAR this is just a great and now even more affordable way for families to spend time together. Plus I have noticed over the years the increased efforts to have Kid oriented activities at the Race Tracks. NASCAR is a Family Sport from the top to the bottom and Kids are a part of every family.
NASCAR has also launched an APP just for kids [of all ages] called ACCELERATION NATION that has Race Themed Games and lots of fun ways to learn about NASCAR. Parents can download the APP at the App Store and Google Play.
Don’t forget to Tweet photos of the kids enjoying NASCAR and include the Hashtag #KidsDriveNASCAR. Lots of these great photos are showing up on TV during the main broadcast and other NASCAR related Shows.
Update: Dale Jr.’s Concussion Issues
This piece each week is one of the hardest to report on for me because I have suffered and still do from long lasting effects of Brain Trauma. It’s very real to me and so when I listen to Dale talk I look at his eyes. One of my lasting effects is anxiety and fear and see that in his eyes when is face to face with reporters doing interviews. Sports Medicine is just beginning to understand the short and long term effects of Concussions and Brain Trauma so there is no set path or timeline for his healing.
It’s reported he will still be out of the car for two more races and that Alex Bowman will fill in at Michigan and Jeff Gordon at Darlington. The biggest question on everyone’s mind and I get asked this every single day from race fans is “When is Dale coming back?”. I don’t know. The Doctors and even Dale does not know. From what we have seen he is working hard every single day on his balance and focus but at best that can repair the damage done before. But, as we all know in racing Hits, Wrecks and Crashes are common events.
There are many unanswered questions I’m sure Dale is asking himself about where this is all going and what the out come will be. He is a young man with a beautiful Fiancé and they have to have plans of little baby Junior Jr.s running around at some point. Real life trumps racing in my humble opinion. Personally I’d just like to see the boy healthy and live a great long and full life. Dale I now you are reading this so let it be known. You don’t owe me anything. If you race again great and if you don’t it’s OK with me too. Get well soon June Bug!
BUBBA at VIR: Tuck in Yer Redneck
This coming weekend I am heading South to Virginia International Raceway to represent my good friends at BUBBA Burger. Andy Stenson, VP Marketing has invited myself and my beautiful wife Michele to the 2016 Michelin GT Challenge. VIR is a beautiful 3.25 mile Road Course and we have All Access & VIP Passes for Pit Road and Garages, The Padock and Luxury Suites. There will be fast Mazdas, Porsches, Farraris and Lamborghinis and that just in the Parking Lot!
This type of Racing is more upscale than I am use to in NASCAR and more like the Kentucky Derby. I figured I needed to bring my A Game so I contact trusted friend Drew Bedard of Bristol Motor Speedway who is like a mentor to me. He gave me the best advice and I’ll dress like Johnny Cash! All in Black.
Upscale SportsCar racing is new to me and I am excited to see the WeatherTech SportsCar Series, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, Porsche GT3 USA Cup Challenge and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Races. Look for stories and photos from this even next week. Thanks BUBBA Burger! “You’ll never bite a better burger than a BUBBA!”