DILLON, SADLER, PASTRANA TAKE PART -- Several NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers took part in an autograph session Friday afternoon from 1-2 p.m. on the pit road of Charlotte Motor Speedway. The event, which was open to season ticket holders, gave race fans a chance to meet some of their favorite drivers.
About half of the Dollar General 300 starting field was on hand as well as several drivers from the NASCAR NEXT generation of up-and-coming drivers. Among the Nationwide Series drivers on hand were Austin Dillon, Michael Annett, Travis Pastrana, Elliott Sadler, Johanna Long, Trevor Bayne, Jeffery Earnhardt, Robert Richardson, Dexter Stacy, Ryan Reed and Chad Hackenbracht.
Several hundred race fans started lining up more than an hour before the autograph session started. First in line was Debra Penny of Gold Hill, NC. “This is fabulous. It’s one of the things on my bucket list.” said Penny, “I want to get all of the driver’s signatures and pictures. I’m just tickled to death.”
Nationwide Series veteran Robert Richardson was the first to greet fans.
“All of these fans have their particular driver they root for any given weekend. It’s cool to get to meet a lot of them,” he said. “They have a lot of interesting stories, from being in the military or in this weekend’s case, surviving cancer. It puts a different aspect on your life in general , and what those people have been through. It gives you an appreciation for what you do and the lifestyle you lead with racing and NASCAR and you realize how fortunate we are for the friends and family we have here in this garage. Just being able to incorporate that into our fans is incredible.”
Another up-and-coming driver who loves meeting the fans and building a relationship with them is NASCAR NEXT participant Gray Gaulding.
“We know how important fans are to this sport.” said Gaulding, “It’s the fans who help us out
and let us do what we do and they support us at the merchandise trailers. If they didn’t support us, we wouldn’t be here. I can’t thank my sponsor enough for letting me come out here and do this.
“I love doing what I do, not only on the track but also being able to connect with the fans. What is really cool is them telling you their stories about the first time they met you or when they started watching you. So, it’s a lot of fun and I really do enjoy doing this kind of stuff.”
LOOKING FOR A STRONG START – Two drivers will make their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, 21-year-one year Kyle Larson will start 21st while 25-year-old Brian Scott will start 19th.
But can you name the driver who had the best finish in their first career start at Charlotte? Among those making their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at CMS were Donnie Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Berghman, Harry Gant, Janet Guthrie, Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael Waltrip.
The answer is Carl Berghman. But just who is that? Carl Berghman, a.k.a. Bugs Stevens, is a three-time NASCAR National Modified Series Champion. Stevens finished 6th in the 1970 Coca-Cola 600 in a Plymouth Superbird.
CHARGE IT – Fans are taking full advantage of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s newest green initiative, solar charging stations and Wifi hotspots.
“When I got here this morning my phone was about dead,” said Wesley Bryan of Indian Trail, N.C. “I saw this and thought, ‘Oh, this is cool.’ I’ve never seen this before. It’s a good idea. I’ve been sitting here about 10 minutes, and it’s charging great.”
The GoSol Power charging tables hold up to 16 devices and also feature Wifi hotspots for up to eight devices.
“I’m going from table to table charging my phone,” said Lynne Hollinger of Pittsburgh, Pa. “This is great. My battery dies so fast, so I just keep jumping from table to table and getting a little charge.”
The GoSol Smart Chargers are the first patio table to provide a place to charge electronic devices, all with the power of the sun. The attached solar panels generate energy that charges a built-in battery that provides both AC and USB power to a variety of devices.