A host of NASCAR drivers and personalities suited up for an out-of-the ordinary competition Wednesday, April 24, as they took part in the Second Annual Celebrity Softball Game between Dover International Speedway and Pocono Raceway at the home of the Harrisburg (Pa.) Senators.
Clint Bowyer, with support from Elliott Sadler, captained Team Dover to a dramatic 9-8 walk-off win over Team Pocono, which was led by Kevin Harvick, and also featured James Buescher and Joey Coulter. Additionally, two Miss Sprint Cups participated, playing against one another in this heated battle.
The game was part of NASCAR’s Victory Tour program to promote the May 31-June 2 race weekend at Dover, and the June 7-9 race weekend at Pocono.
Dover stormed out to an 8-2 lead on the strength of a monster two-run home run in the third inning by Sadler. Pocono began chipping away at that lead, though, capping off the comeback with a rally in the top of the eighth inning that included a grand slam homer to tie the game heading into the final half inning.
The Monster Mile, however, stormed right back with the first three batters in the bottom of the eighth reaching base on singles. With the bases loaded and no outs, Dover was able claim victory on the next at-bat as the team’s fourth straight single drove in the game-winning run from third base.
While Team Dover won the game, avenging last year’s loss to Team Pocono, Harvick said the fun of the day made those in attendance the real winners.
"It was a good show for the fans," he said. "This is by far the best [Victory Tour] appearance I’ve ever done."
Harvick and Bowyer were entertaining throughout the game, putting on a show for fans that included Bowyer kicking up dirt at an umpire and riling the crowd up with some Hulk Hogan-like gestures to his ear. Harvick noted, however, that Bowyer might have gotten a little too distracted.
"The guy didn’t show up for half the innings," Harvick joked, as Bowyer left his second base position vacant for a few innings while interacting with fans.
Rosters were rounded out by members of the media, but the real star of the day had to be NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Sadler, who had two hits, one of which was a monster home run to center field.
Sadler, who admittedly plays softball about 120 days a year, showed up "prepared" as he described it. Bowyer, however, joked that his friend’s professional approach to a friendly softball game was a tad much.
"He was wearing baseball pants! That was just uncomfortable," Bowyer said. "And he had a cup on!"
The fun didn’t end with the softball game, either, as Kevin Harvick made an encore appearance on the field later in the evening to entertain fans one more time with a stunt for charity.
When Harvick and Bowyer were meeting with the media following the game, the skies opened up and delayed the evening’s AA baseball game between the Harrisburg Senators and Reading Fightin’ Phils. As the drivers acknowledged the poor weather, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet owner Mark Butler, who is also part owner of the Senators, issued a challenge to Harvick.
If the driver agreed to run on the soaking wet tarp covering the infield, rounding the bases and sliding into each one, Butler would donate $5,000 to the Kevin Harvick Foundation. It didn’t take much to get Harvick out of his seat and down on the field, where he completed the stunt to earn the donation, pleasing the crowd one last time in the process.
With that game now behind them, Bowyer, Harvick, Sadler, Coulter and Buescher will prepare for the race weekends at the Monster Mile and The Tricky Triangle, both very different challenges on back-to-back weekends.
There’s no way to compare the two very unique tracks, Bowyer said, so when drivers go from Dover to Pocono on consecutive weekends, the ability to readjust quickly makes a big difference in having a good finish.
"That’s what’s cool about our sport. You’ve got to adapt," Bowyer said. "Going to Dover and Pocono two weekends in a row forces you to do that."
NASCAR action returns to Dover International Speedway on May 31-June 2 with the June 2 "FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks" NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the June 1 "5-hour ENERGY 200" NASCAR Nationwide Series race and the May 31 "Lucas Oil 200" NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. For tickets or more information, call 800-441-RACE or visit DoverSpeedway.com.
The following weekend, NASCAR’s top touring series heads to Long Pond, Pa., for the June 7-9 race weekend, including the "Party in the Poconos 400 Presented by Walmart" NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. For tickets and more information, call 800-722-3929 or visit PoconoRaceway.com.
Dover Motorsports PR