Thursday, October 6, 2011

NASCAR stars race at Elko Speedway

NASCAR does not hold a top series event in Minnesota, but with General Mills, 3M, Best Buy and Great Clips all sponsoring top level drivers in the sport, they come to race in our great state anyway.

Thursday night NASCAR Cup stars: Greg Biffle, Trevor Bayne, AJ Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose along with Nationwide driver Jason Leffler and former Truck series "rookie of the year" Erik Darnell all raced a 30 lap exibition race in Great North Legends cars.
The King Richard Petty (photo above) was in attendace and signed autographs he had the longest line by far, and he signed for everybody with his trademark smile the entire time.  When someone asked if he was racing tonight, he said "I brought two drivers with me for that."
NASCAR owner Jack Roush (photo above) was asked by a fan to autograph their custom Roush Ford F-150 pickup, the crowd laughed and Jack said he would.  Well, he DID, he walked right out to the parking lot and signed his name on the dash of the passenger side.  The man's wife then quickly replied, "I guess I'm not putting my feet up on the dash any more."  
18 cars competed in the 30 lap exibition race, former I-94 Raceway driver "Showtime" Tyler Sjoman (photo above) from Alexandria MN started eigth row inside and slowly worked his way up front for the win follwed by Michael Ostdiek and Kyle Hansen. 

Marcos Ambrose looked the fastest of the NASCAR guys, he was in second place with 10 laps remaining, but then got shuffled back and finished 6th.  Trevor Bayne looked good on the track, staying with the top group and finishing fourth, he jumped out of the car and said "this is the most fun I have had in a long time."

AJ Allmendinger finished 8th and Greg Biffle stayed out of trouble near the back of the pack, it was his first time in a Legends car and he didn't know what gear to race in, the first segment he was slow in fifth, but shifted to fourth in the final segment and was much better.
Ms. Sprint Cup Kim Coon (with Jason above) was the Emcee of the event and kept the program moving smoothly.
The "Bounty Hunter" monster truck (photo above) did an exibition show for the crowd, including a cyclone and a couple nice slap wheelies.
This event is named MN Motorsports teams give back, money raised during this charity event went to the Minnesota Millitary Family Foundation.  Many millitary members were on hand to enjoy the festivities at Elko Speedway. 

I was impressed with the NASCAR drivers and their interaction with fans and our local drivers.  I saw Richard Petty, AJ Allmendinger and Greg Biffle walk through the pits after the races to talk with the local drivers, take pictures and sign their race cars.  Even during the pressures of a long season, these drivers seemed to enjoy themselves and give back at the same time.

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