Prerace Party Pleases Season Ticket Holders and Campers
Visits from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) drivers Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch dropped the curtain on the inaugural season ticket holder party at Kentucky Speedway Saturday afternoon.
Thousands of race fans attended the garage-area party an afternoon of food, drink, games and race talk before touring the infield.
"We wanted to show our appreciation for our season ticket holders, and the timing for this event was perfect. There is a lot of sun, a lot of heat out there today, so the Nationwide Garage offers a nice break for our loyal fans," Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said. "This is the first year for the party, and I think is something that is going to grow and get better every year. We want season ticket holders to know they have special privileges, and they get to go places a lot of people don't usually get to go."
Jeff Montgomery brought his four children from Hebron, Ky., for the party to set the stage for tonight's Quaker State 400. Montgomery sported the Jeff Gordon No. 24 hat while his 9-year-old daughter, Caroline donned the No. 14 of Tony Stewart. It was clearly a family together, yet still divided, at least for a few hours of NSCS racing.
"This is our first year. I love this party; it's great, a good time for all. The kids are loving it," Jeff said. "But we don't talk during races, we can't. The whole family doesn't talk until it's over. With my other two kids, we have Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, so we don't talk during the race."
Allen Fuller has been coming from Cincinnati to Kentucky Speedway since the track opened in 2000.
"We are season ticket holders and our kids are, too. I had trouble finding NASCAR on TV when I was a little kid. I watched everything but NASCAR, but I love it now," Fuller said.
Kyler Harvey, 12, of Williamstown, Ky., does not have trouble tuning in to NASCAR on television. He said TV was the vehicle that introduced him to NASCAR vehicles, particularly Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 machine.
"I have liked Junior since I was 3. Dad (James Harvey) turned on the TV and I just kept watching it. My favorite part of the race is when Junior is in the lead," Kyler said.
Debbie Casey was part of a six-person group from Cincinnati spending their second NASCAR season at Kentucky Speedway.
"We've been here since Thursday. We're also a camping season ticket holder. We enjoy it. It's nice to come to something and enjoy some music and hear the drivers. It's very nice," Casey said.
The crowd around the soundstage swelled as Biffle, Burton and Busch made their appearances.
Biffle, who enters tonight's Quaker State 400 second in the NSCS points race, was asked if his lofty position would influence his approach to the second half of the season.
"It plays a little bit into how we race, but we still need to knock off those top-5s for the next couple weeks to be pretty secure," Biffle said. "We want to win races to get seeded into the Chase. It seems like we're a third- to seventh-place car here. The 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) cars have got something figured out right now. They're very fast. They were fast in Michigan and they are fast again here."
Burton said the recent trend of green-flag racing puts a different light on prerace strategizing.
"We didn't see green-flag runs the way we see them today, and that makes a huge difference in how you call the race and the strategy of the race," Burton said. "The pass-along rule and the lucky dog rule — all of those things have made strategy different, too. The best you can have is to make sure you have a fast racecar. If you have a fast racecar, all of the other stuff becomes a whole lot easier." Busch fielded questions ranging from hot weather to heroes.
"There's a lot of them, one of them being my dad, growing-up years watching him win races and championships. When I really started watching and paying attention to racing, the guy that got me interested in NASCAR was Jeff Gordon," Busch said. "I'd say that was a pretty good choice.".
Story by Jeff Hibbs