Ten different drivers embarked on a 10-city media blitz Tuesday as Day 2 of ‘Chase Across America’ kicked into high gear.
NASCAR’s second-annual cross-country media tour – in which the 12 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers visit the 10 Chase track markets, New York City and Bristol, Conn. – featured events ranging from pep rallies to baseball games, and boat tours to firefighting lessons.
Below is a rundown of each of today’s events. For more information, photos, audio and video of today’s events, visit NASCARMedia.com throughout the evening and tomorrow.
#NeverForget: Hamlin Visits National Guard On 9/11 Anniversary:In a few weeks, members of the 169th Aviation Regiment National Guard unit in Concord, N.H. will continue the freedom fight and ship off to Afghanistan. Denny Hamlin paid them a visit (and his appreciation) before that could happen. “It's an awesome day for me to be here on 9-11,” Hamlin said. “And these guys and girls are the reason we are still here because of what they do to protect our country. It's really exciting to meet with them before they are deployed for Afghanistan. It means a lot to me just to meet them today.” The troops will attend the New Hampshire race, and Hamlin, ever confident, invited them to his Victory Lane post-race celebration.
Keselowski’s On Fire:How appropriate. Brad Keselowski, on fire right now after scoring more points over the last 10 races (378) than any NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, visited a Chicago-area firehouse and tested his skills at putting out fires. Keselowski joined firefighters at Engine Co. 70 in Edison Park and took part in various firefighting skill challenges. Keselowski received a token of appreciation for his participation: an authentic firefighter’s helmet shield, which he plans to place inside his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Sunday’s race. Chicagoland Speedway kicks off the Chase this Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPN.
Kahne’s A Big Phan:Kasey Kahne, the Chase’s No. 1 Wild Card, attended the Miami Marlins-Philadelphia Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park in advance of Dover International Speedway’s Sept. 30th Chase race. As part of the festivities, Kahne will put his improv skills to the test during a 5th inning sketch with the Philly Phanatic, the Phillies’ famed mascot.
Real Men Wear (And Paint) Pink: Kevin Harvick, a world-class artist when a steering wheel’s in his hand, struggled a bit when the instrument in question was a paint brush. At Talladega Superspeedway in advance of the track’s Oct. 7 Chase race, Harvick helped paint Talladega pink in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness in October. The usually confident Harvick was anything but during the wall refurbishing portion of the day, saying speed was not his thing when it came to painting. “I’m going to get to Chicago tonight splattered in pink paint, and I’m OK with that,” Harvick said.
DJII Loves RGIII: Heading into today’s visit to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., Las Vegas sportsbooks set the over/under on Robert Griffin III (aka RGIII) mentions by Washington Redskins fanatic Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 52½. Those who bet the “over” won by lunchtime. Of course, that’s all an exaggeration, but Earnhardt did express his excitement over the Redskins’ rookie quarterback throughout his day-long visit to ESPN, which included a go-kart race against SportsCenter anchor Jay Crawford, lunch with fantasy football guru Matthew Berry and appearances on Mike and Mike, Pardon the Interruption, NFL Live and NASCAR Now.
Truex Sneaky Good: Maybe it’s an omen. Martin Truex Jr. visited Sprint’s Kansas campus to meet with media, fans and members of the Kansas and Missouri National Guard. On display: the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship trophy. Truex was the first driver to see it as the Chase opens on Sunday. Could he be the last to see it after the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway? Most consider Truex a darkhorse pick to win the title: "In a way it is good, there is less pressure on the team but it is a joke that we are being picked to finish 12th, probably the same people that said we wouldn't make the Chase." Kansas Speedway will host its Chase race on Oct. 21.
Biffle’s Got Some Added Pep In His Step: Greg Biffle, a two-time winner during the regular season, received a champion’s welcome during his trip to Martinsville Speedway in advance of the track’s Chase race on Oct. 28. Three local high schools congregated to “adopt” Biffle as their favorite driver during the Chase, holding a massive pep rally involving upwards of 600 students. Cheerleaders welcomed Biffle with this cheer:
We want a victory
Help him out
Spell it out
One more time
“It was a great program,” Biffle said. “I really enjoy getting to see the kids so excited and so pumped up. It was fun for me to come and see the No. 16 on the scoreboard and the cheers the cheerleaders have been working on and all the people in the stands…so it was a lot of fun, and a satisfying feeling. It was important for me to be able to talk to the students today.”
Bowyer’s A Homecoming King:If Clint Bowyer can free up some time, he’s got a penciled in date for the big Homecoming Dance. Seriously. Bowyer took part in a pep rally of his own involving three Texas high schools in advance of Texas Motor Speedway’s Chase race on Nov. 4. During the rally, Rachel Blum, a 10th grader at Northwest High School asked Bowyer to be her Homecoming date. He said he was busy, but did invite her to be his guest at the race in November. Befitting Texas’ reputation, the event – and its participants – were grand. At one point, Bowyer asked: “Did you see the size of some of those kids? Everything’s bigger in Texas. The high schoolers are even bigger in Texas! That kid was like 6’8, 280.”
Kenseth: The Chase’s Aquaman: Matt Kenseth can wheel an 850 horsepower, 3,500-pound stock car as well as the next guy. But maneuvering the 2,800-horspower, 90-TON United States Coast Guard Diamondback coastal patrol boat? That might pose a problem. Kenseth toured the largest and busiest Coast Guard station in the country – the United States Coast Guard District 7 base in Miami Beach during his stop on the Chase Across America media tour. There, he gave the Diamondback a spin. “Just driving it, it's always cool,” Kenseth said. “I'm always interested in anything with an engine on it and how it works. These things are really technologically advanced, and they had a lot of really neat stuff in there. I really enjoyed learning about the ship. … It has been a great experience. I learned a lot about the Coast Guard today, what they do for us, what they do for everybody. It's great to be out here on the anniversary of 9/11, and obviously the military and the Coast Guard do a lot to protect us and keep us free.” Homestead-Miami Speedway will host the season-finale on Nov. 18.
Gordon A Phoenix Son: Tuesday’s media and fan Q&A sessions in Phoenix with Jeff Gordon quickly morphed into a turn-back-the-clock retrospective. The two major topics of conversation: Gordon’s clutch performance at Richmond International Raceway that earned him a Chase spot, and his mustache. Gordon recently tweeted that if he made the Chase, he’d re-grow the same mustache he sported when he first entered NASCAR in the early 90s. “I don't know if it (bringing back the mustache) will be as hip as Johnny Depp's,” Gordon said. “Although my wife would approve if that." And on racing his way into the Chase: 'This team never gave up and showed that last Saturday night. Now we're just fired up. After Richmond, anything is possible.”
One To Go: Stewart Visits Charlotte Motor Speedway: Next Tuesday, Sept. 18, Tony Stewart will visit Charlotte Motor Speedway for a Q&A with CMS season ticket holders and Bank of America employees. The track will we announce a pre-race country music concert and a military support program with Wounded Warriors for the Bank of America 500 on Oct. 13.
Annual Chase Media Day Set For Wednesday: All 12 drivers will congregate at downtown Chicago’s House of Blues on Wednesday for the annual Chase Media Day. Media availability will run from 11:15 a.m.-1 p.m. CT. Following media availability, the 12 drivers will take part in ‘NASCAR Contenders Live’ — the ultimate fan Q&A event, sponsored by Toyota and Sprint. At the event, contenders will share their strategies on how they plan to win the ultimate prize: the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship trophy.