My (Fantasy) Fantasy Team

In the world of sports, fans tend to join the game of creating fantasy teams and winning points for prizes. I decided to jump on the fantasy sport bandwagon, and if there is one thing I learned, it is picking teams based on who you like does not always get you anywhere.

If I could pick a team based on my favorite NASCAR drivers, it probably would not fare me too well when it came to ranks (at least, not yet… one day this team will be on fire). As we get ready to pick our team for Pocono weekend, it had me thinking, if I had a dream team, who would it be?

  1. Chase Elliott (#24) – As the new driver for the 24 car, Elliott had some pretty big shoes to fill following Jeff Gordon. While he has not had a win in the Cup series just yet, he has had quite a lot of top ten finishes and continues to show how much talent he has. Also – my favorite number is 24, so it was just fate that he would become on of my favorites.
  2. Ryan Blaney (#21) – This one, I will admit I picked more because of how much I like watching Blaney present himself. His interviews, the podcast (Glass Case of Emotion, check it out!), and how he represents Wood Brothers Racing just makes him someone I wish I could be friends with. Another one who is itching for a Cup win, it is only a matter of time before luck starts to work with him, I know it.
  3. Martin Truex Jr. (#78) – As a Jersey Girl, I feel like it is necessary to root for Truex Jr. Luckily, his racing does not fail at backing me up with this decision. Truex Jr. continues to prove to be a dominant driver, especially after winning two stages at the AAA400 at Dover this past weekend.
  4. Kyle Larson (#42) – If you want someone who is really entertaining to watch race, I feel like Larson is a great pick for that. He races hard, and seems to be willing to go for just about anything. Plus, he likes to race dirt tracks too, which are pretty awesome too, so that is another win in my book.
  5. Kevin Harvick (#4) – Would it be wrong to say one of my favorite things about Harvick is how adorable his son is? Actually scratch that – his whole family is pretty adorable. But that aside, Harvick is a phenomenal racer who also earns us free Bloomin’ Onions at Outback Steakhouse if he finishes in the top ten, everyone benefits from Harvick having a good race!

As I figured out my five… I realized I was about to put drivers who no longer race on my list too. Those included: Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon. Also, Alex Bowman because he dominated as a fill-in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. last season. Oh, and my absolute favorite (who sadly is retiring this year) Dale Jr because it was thanks to him that I really ever became a racing fan.

Chaos in Richmond

It has taken me this long to fully embrace the amount of fun that I had two weekends ago… or perhaps I just did not want to accept the fact that it was over just yet.

What kind of chaos was in Richmond you ask? The kind where cars make left turns at REALLY FAST speeds of course! Yes, I adventured down to Richmond, Virginia for race weekend, and it was fun from the minute we started our road trip.

My best friend and I (or my NASCAR rookie as I like to call her) left Jersey Friday night to be ready for the Xfinity race that took place on Saturday afternoon. A 7 a.m. wake-up time had us at the track by 9 a.m. (okay, we were a little slow on Saturday) to go explore the grounds of Richmond International Speedway. Driver Q&A’s, Fanatic gear, a lot of free stuff, and of course, the Joe Gibbs mascots were also in attendance! We made it inside the track just in time to see the final Cup practice before watching Kyle Larson win the checkered flag in the Xfinity race. It was a busy day full of sightseeing and planning our missions to be accomplished on Sunday.

Sunday morning rolled around and we were at the track by a bright and sunny 8 a.m. where we, and a lot of other fellow fans were ready to take on the Virginia heat. The day consisted of some Monster Energy fun, track-side access (including signing the Start/Finish line, exploring Matt Tift’s hauler, meeting Austin Dillion’s pit crew, and exploring Pit Road), Chase U, and a crazy race!

While we did not get to actually meet Chase Elliott at Chase U (probably for the better, I would have forgotten my name) we did get a quick Q&A with him, in which he mentioned that no, he does not know who will be driving the 88 car next season. After hanging with Chase and Hooters, it was time to watch some short-track racing which for some reason, seemed to have all the action happen right in front of our section. By the way, JR Nation was NOT happy with Jimmie Johnson that day, and where I was sitting, that was obvious.

Come Monday morning when I was back home in Jersey, I was hungry for more racing. While watching Talladega from my couch was nowhere near the same as it would have been being there personally, it was still a heck of a show! Makes me miss Richmond a little more, and has me looking forward to whatever race I attend next!

The Great American Race

Over the weekend, I pretty much dedicated my nights to a very important event: opening weekend of NASCAR! Sure, majority of people watch just the Daytona 500 on Sunday and call it done – but I decided that if I was going to be a true racing fan, I would give those other guys a shot too. The outcome? I was not disappointed.

You probably remember me talking about my Dover trips last year (Jersey Girls Take on Dover), and how I kind of knew some things about the sport, but I could not tell you much besides some drivers and car numbers. Well this year, I decided to jump right in and become a real fan… even if that requires me to hog the television for hours 🙂

Where I work, I have a few customers who are big racing fans, and one in particular who would constantly come in and give me a rundown of what had happened at all three races, including the latest drama, and even their qualifying and practices. It was pretty overwhelming figuring I pretty much would just keep up with the Cup series and pay attention to only a handful of drivers. Another customer actually attends Daytona and Homestead every year (jealousy is at an all-time high) and last time even brought me back a Chase Elliott shirt since we share him as a driver! I’m still waiting to see what he brings back from last week, he told me it would be a surprise. Being around these customers only made me want to watch racing more to really understand what exactly I was missing out on.

If you watched any of the races over the weekend, it can easily be summed up as CRAZY! The trucks were insane, and constantly wrecking. The Xfinity race had a 90 minute delay, which benefited me because it was while I was still at work, and only had a very small number of cars still out come the final lap. Also – both of those winners were really young – 18 and 23 years old, respectively. So, it was only right to assume that a youngin’ such as Chase Elliott or Ryan Blaney would win the Daytona 500, right? Think again.

Sunday’s race was overwhelming no matter what driver you were rooting for. In the end, only FIVE of the 40 cars came out unscathed by a wreck. For the last 20 laps, it seemed like Chase Elliott was guaranteed his first Cup win… until he, and many others ran out of gas on those final laps. Ultimately, Kurt Busch ended up taking home the win for the weekend, and pretty much well deserved too. Makes me excited for next weekend at Atlanta though, because Elliott is just itching for a win, and something tells me that he is very close to achieving it.

So, that was my weekend summed up in a nutshell. And it will be my weekends for the 40 weeks or so as the season gets underway. Now, the countdown to green, begins!

 

Jersey Girls Take on Dover

I know NASCAR is not for everyone, but I will continue to suggest that everyone experiences a live race once in their life. Don’t judge it til you try it kind of deal.

Ever since I was little, there was always someone in my family who kept up with the races; grandma, my uncles, grandpa… there were a handful who had me watching as a young girl, and gave me drivers who I called my favorites. I did not really understand it then… and I stopped watching for a while. But here I am, two races at Dover International Speedway under my belt, and I can honestly say I am now OBSESSED.

For anyone who is a fan, or doesn’t live under a rock… I can tell you the exact event that made me stop watching the races for a while. It was February 18, 2001 during the Daytona 500 race. No, I wasn’t there personally. I was watching from my television at home when I witnessed Dale Earnhardt‘s fatal crash. It was a race with Bill Elliott (Shout out to his son, Chase who’s rookie season in the Sprint Cup has him driving the #24) on the pole, and ended with Michael Waltrip winning the race, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. coming in second. It was that race, that pretty much scarred me from watching the races anymore.

While I would occasionally catch a race here and there, and would still keep up on certain drivers (Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon were my guys!) I never really got back into it. And then, 2016 happened.

I suppose it was all thanks to my one friend who was big into racing. He kind of rubbed off on me, and I took it with stride. It was also thanks to my uncle who conveniently had an extra ticket to the Spring race that I quickly jumped at the opportunity to take. It was then, coming home smelling like fuel and being covered in rubber that I realized that this was something I could keep up with. The thrill was too good to pass up… and a few months later I found myself doing the exact same thing with my best friend at the Fall race (where I also corrupted her and created another racing monster).

October 2, 2016 was full of fun. We were lucky enough to have a double header Sunday thanks to the rain that hit the day before. Country artist, Easton Corbin was doing a pre-race concert that we got to go see and actually meet him. Then come Sprint race time, we watched Jersey native Martin Truex Jr. DOMINATE the track, while our boy Chase Elliott came in third! Overall, it was an awesome Sunday adventure, and I gained a new racing buddy in the process. Now, we look forward to the 2017 races at Dover, and we anxiously cheer on Chase Elliott in his fight for the Chase!