Kentucky Speedway has rapidly been moving up my list of favorite tracks. The setup of the infield, ease of traffic moving in and out of the track and in general being very fan friendly - it's no real wonder why that's the case. I was privileged to be one of the people at the races this weekend, even seeing it from a different perspective than I had before. And given that, there are some things that presented themselves to my attention that anyone watching at home would have easily missed.
To start off with, there was a little bit of change on the #19 TriStar Motorsports Nationwide series team. Tim Andrews (son of respected crew chief Paul Andrews; most recently has worked on the Cunningham Motorsports ARCA team) has taken over the job as car chief for Mike Bliss. It's great to see him working back in the NASCAR garage again! Whether or not it leads to being behind the wheel again, it's clear his focus in the right place.
Similarily, Danny Efland is working as an engineer alongside crew chief Nick Harrison on Richard Childress Racing's #33 Nationwide entry. He's held that position within the team since January and seems to be enjoying the experience he is getting while working with a Cup-level organization.
Steve Arpin was at the track for what might be one of only a few weekends he will be with the NASCAR guys this year. He was acting as spotter for Mason Mingus in Thursday night's Truck race. He's been racing, quite successfully, in Global RallyCross this season, so having him around for a couple days was great to see.
For anyone who kept up with the race weekend at home, the Kentucky schedule probably didn't feel as spread out. But for the teams at the track, there wound up being a lot of down time for each series. One big reason for this was there were simply less NASCAR officials around to put the cars and trucks through inspection. It was a pretty big topic of conversation in the garage areas among. Between layoffs and some officials moving on to other things, it made for long days--and nights--for both officials and teams.
One of the best things about NASCAR is the camaraderie between the drivers. With so many young drivers all moving into the series, oftentimes they will hang out together. A lot of the things they do wind up on their Twitter accounts, making it easier for us to get to know each of them. I enjoyed watching them interact in the garage as the group of Matt DiBenedetto, Tanner Berryhill and Ryan Ellis were often hanging out. At one point on Friday, I even saw Matt and Tanner over visiting with Alex Bowman in the Cup series garage.
One thing I'm sure no one missed was how Ryan Sieg retaliated against Jeremy Clements. That is somewhat ironic as Ryan had filled in a couple races for the team last year. Jeremy was obviously none too happy about getting spun out like that and it did enough damage to the car that they were unable to hang onto the great position they'd had themselves in. It will be interesting watching how they race each other moving forward, but one thing I do know is that Jeremy will handle himself with class (as he did in not putting Ryan back in the wall later).
Viewing the Doppler radar for the Kentucky area on Saturday morning did not look too promising. But after the rain moved through in the afternoon, thankfully everything was fine. However, what you may not have realized was that a huge shower moved over the track shortly before 4 pm local time. Reports are that the garage area was temporarily flooded after 3 inches of rain fell! As I wasn't staying for the Cup race, I'd actually left less than half an hour before and was not there, but I could well believe it. The track sits down in a little valley with stands on one side and surrounded by a hill on all others, so there's not much room for water to run off.
Also, we all probably could not have avoided seeing the picture of Brad Keselowski's sliced hand in Victory Lane (as much as we afterwards might wish we could). However, he was not the first person that weekend the infield care center medics stitched up over the weekend. One of Eric McClure's crew members also received attention to his hand after some work on the car went very awry. He was generally okay but with stitches and a heavily bandaged hand, NASCAR did not allow him to fill his job as jackman for the car. It did not hamper his being able to keep up with the tires going on and coming off of the car during the race though.
I really want to say a big thank you to Kentucky Speedway for another great weekend at the track. I've rarely experienced traffic flow in and out so easily or being directed so well. That is a huge relief for them, I'm sure, after the nightmare they experienced a few years ago at their first Sprint Cup race. Also, their manner of transportation to get people from one place to another works satisfactorily. Well done in handling all of that, Kentucky!
Opinions expressed in blogs are those of the individual bloggers and do not necessarily represent the views of racing-reference.info.