NASCAR & ASCS in the Lone-Star state!
I didn't have a regular birthday party in 2017 like most high schoolers would; no. We partied it up, in Lone-Star Country! What's a better way to turn 17 years old, than going to the races with friends?
I invited two good friends from High School, Jeremy, and Gage to go to the races at Texas Motor Speedway during NASCAR Weekend.
My aunt/uncle Joe and Becky, were happy to drive us there, and my Grandparent's helped allot with the tickets as a late birthday gift.
We left on a Friday, and weren't back until early Monday morning!
Jeremy had gone with uncle Joe and I, to the 2016 Firestone 600 at Texas back in 2016, but this was Gage's first time going to the races with us. Jeremy knew the drill pretty well for race weekends; get up early, party all day, head to the racetrack, and party all night!
Gage caught on really quick though, so no problems there. He actually made the trip quite an interesting experience (to say the least).
We went to two races in the same weekend. We stayed at a relative's house in Garland, TX for the two nights that we were down there, and drove to the racetrack each day. As we arrived in Garland, and set our stuff down in the room, Justin (Joe's son-in-law) was watching the NASCAR Xfinity Series Race in their living room. We spent most of the afternoon watching Erik Jones dominate the race, ultimately win it. Soon as the Xfinity Series Race ended, Joe said the magic words: "Time to start thinking about heading to the track, boys".
The first event we attended, was on the Saturday Night before the NASCAR Cup Series Race the next day after in No Limits, Texas. The event, was the "Tony Stewart Presents, Texas Sprint Car Nationals" at the TMS Dirt Track. The TMS Dirt Track is adjacent to the backstretch of the NASCAR-sized speedway across the parking lot. Tony Stewart (a former NASCAR Cup Series racer) and ASCS (American Sprint Car Series) partnered up with Eddie Gossage, and Texas Motor Speedway to host an ASCS Sprint Car Series show during NASCAR weekend, to give the fans that were in town for NASCAR, a taste of dirt racing.
I had been to 3 ASCS events , and 2 World Of Outlaws series events prior to this back in Oklahoma, but this was a first-time experience for Jeremy/Gage. Sprint car racing is quite a bit different from big-league stock car racing. In the sport of stock car competition, you definitely don't hear the terms "slide-job", "sending it" into the corner, or "the cushion".
I always have a blast bringing family, friends, and especially new, first-time fans to the races with us, explaining, and letting them witness all of the ins, and outs that make it so fascinating to watch man and machine being pushed to their limits in this sport. The whole drive there, was like a trivia session about dirt racing.
They thought it was pretty interesting how the right-rear tires are bigger than the left-rears, and how the drivers steer the cars to the right, to "drift" through the corners at the speeds that they do so, making it look so easy.
In sprint car racing, believe it or not, a lot of times, the outside lane, or "the top" is the fastest way around a racetrack. The front wheels are only a guide to keep the car on course, so to speak. The throttle management/control on the part of the driver, does the work. Often, when two cars are racing side-by-side into a turn on a dirt track, the car on the inside will get a better start into the corner, because the corner is a little bit shorter, but then appear to not launch as fast up to speed for the next straight-away. Meanwhile, the outside car, will loose a little ground early in the corner, but then be able to get back to the throttle really quickly for the next straight, because of the extra grip to the racetrack on the outside. When the outside car gets that grip, they are able to get back in the throttle sooner than the car on the inside would be able to (without spinning the tires, and losing all traction), allowing them to blow on by the inside car down the straight, and make a pass.
Sometimes, the bottom lane is quickest, sometimes the top lane is quickest. It's all about the skill of the driver, what is fastest. The "groove", (or preferred running lane) changes on a dirt track allot quicker than it does on asphalt tracks. On dirt, as the track dries out, from cars running on it, it gets slower, because there is less grip. This is why they apply water, and pack-down the track in between heats to keep it somewhat similar racing conditions, in every race.
Another big difference between dirt track racing events, and NASCAR Cup Series events, is the format. NASCAR typically has Practice on a Friday morning, Qualifying on a Friday night, final practice on a Saturday morning, and then one, big, long race on Sundays.
Most dirt racing events do all of that on the same day. The TS Sprint Nationals was actually a two-day event, because of the amount of cars in the show, but we just went to the final night.
Tony Stewart was obviously there, but it was kind of surprising seeing him racing in his own event at first. None-the-less, the fans definitely weren't complaining too much. All of the ASCS National Tour racers were competing there; Sam Hefertepe Jr, Blake Hahn, Christopher Bell, and many more.
Sam Hefertepe Jr would dominate most of the A-Main, and take home the trophy in No Limits, TX on Saturday night!
Gage and Jeremy had lots of fun watching Sprint Cars tear up the dirt track, but seeing the big speedway in the distance was just killing them. They were pumped for the next day's Cup race. I wouldn't blame them. It was the biggest race of the weekend, after all.
Day 2: NASCAR Cup Series action
Traffic was allot more hectic on the second day. There were cars backed up on the interstate, and local highways around TMS for miles (literally). We had to wait a full hour on the traffic delay, before we even got parked, and headed into the grandstands. I hate to say this, but Texas is one of the worst NASCAR venues as far as traffic goes. There are very few entryways, and with all of the traffic TMS receives, it gets messy, fast. 60,000 — 70,000 vehicles are parked, and 30,000 — 40,000 fans camp on the speedway grounds for a NASCAR Cup Series race Weekend.
When you attend a NASCAR event, Pre-Race Passes are a MUST! It is such a dull experience without one! With a Pre-Race Pass, you get access to walk onto the track, and be up close to the racecars, the Pre-Race Concert, the Driver Introductions stage, and all kinds of cool stuff! You can walk right through the pits, watch the drivers meeting, meet famous motorsports figures, and get your picture taken in Sunoco Victory Lane!
Kevin Harvick (number 4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet), and Ryan Blaney (number 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford) dominated most of the race early, up until Joey Logano (Number 22 Pennzoil Ford) took command towards the ladder part of the race. With under 10 laps remaining, 7-time Champion Jimmie Johnson (Lowes number 48), made the pass, and never looked back.
Jimmie went on to win the race, and use the six-shooters in Sunoco Victory lane!
Texas is one of my favorite speedways on the NASCAR Cup circuit, and I definitely recommend this venue for first-time race-goers. To buy tickets, camping, or anything else, go to TexasMotorSpeedway.com.