As far as TV-watching holidays go, I think you’d have to put Father’s Day pretty high on the list, right?
Thanksgiving is your obvious No. 1, followed by New Year’s Day and Christmas (yep, in that order), and possibly a little bit of Memorial Day (certainly for racing fans) mixed in.
But, coming from someone who just watched four hours of final round US Open coverage on Sunday … Father’s Day absolutely belongs in the conversation.
Which brings me to my point (yes, we’re finally here!): maybe pick another summer weekend to give the Cup guys off?
I missed racing. You missed it. Heck, even the Cup guys (kind of) couldn’t stay away!
“To be able to come down here and watch is fun,” Chase Elliott told Racing America’s Matt Weaver after making the trip from Dawsonville to Pensacola to watch father Bill run the SRX Series opener Saturday night.
“You don’t always get these opportunities, and typically my weekends are busy, so I appreciate that. I wanna see him do well and he enjoys this.”
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Ryan Newman returns to racing, finally having fun
No Cup race, no problem. Tony Stewart, Ray Evernham, Bill Elliott, Helio Castroneves, Michael Waltrip and…Ryan Newman! … were here to save us this past weekend.
Yup. Stewart’s second season of the Superstar Racing Experience went green on Saturday, giving us our annual dose (well, at least since last year) of summer nostalgia.
Chase was in attendance to watch his daddy, who finished ninth out of the 15 drivers in the main event.
Side note: Awesome Bill is now 66 and just ran a summertime race in Florida. For those wondering, there was a nearly statewide heat advisory in these parts of the weekend.
Anyway… Mikey Waltrip brought up the rear, Stewart — last summer’s champion — finished 10th, Bobby Labonte finished fifth and Rocket Man Ryan Newman brought ‘er home third.
How’s that for a leaderboard!?
“After all I’ve been through the last year, year and a half, with cars that are not so fun to drive — let’s put it that way — to come out here with as equally as prepared a car as possible and have some fun … was pretty special,” said Newman, who last won a Cup race back in 2017.
“These guys are the best of the best.”
Helio Castroneves pays his way to SRX race
Speaking of that …
The four-time Indy 500 champ won the season-opener in dominant fashion even though he wasn’t in the original starting lineup!
That’s right. Helio paid his way down to Pensacola, got a car, advanced to the main event and then won the whole darn thing.
“I bought my own ticket, I got everything ready to go, and when I was on the plane I asked Ashely (SRX director of operations) what time I should be to the track, she’s like, ‘oh, you’re not supposed to be here,’ Castroneves told Weaver.
“I was like, ‘I’m already on the plane,’ she’s like, ‘hold on.’ I landed, it’s like, ‘I got a car for you and everything else.’ So all of a sudden I get here and everyone’s like, ‘what are you doing here?'”
Will Helio Castroneves run the Daytona 500? ‘Make it happen’
So, let’s bring this back to the Cup Series (yep, there was a point to all the rambling!).
Helio’s win at Pensacola, allegedly, means the iconic racer also solidified a ride for … the Daytona 500.
Yup. The Daytona 500!
According to Castroneves, SRX CEO Don Hawk bet him before the season that if he won a race, Hawk would get him a Cup Series car for this February’s Daytona 500.
“I was like, ‘Deal,'” Helio said of the offer. “Now, he has to make it happen on his end.”
No, Castroneves has never raced in NASCAR. I do, however, hear that some guys named Foyt and Andretti—fellow Indy 500 winners—have had success at Daytona, though.
Maybe he’d do well!
Dale Earnhardt Jr. says flying commercial is some ‘wild (expletive)’
For those wondering (and I highly recommend tuning in for at least the main event), SRX heads to South Boston on Saturday for its second race of the season.
As for the Cup fellas, they’re back in action at Nashville after a much-needed Sunday off.
And yes, the folks over at NBC will have the action for the rest of the way. That means we get Dale Jr. in our living rooms for the next four months, and while I’ll always prefer Mike Joy (Go Emerson!), Rick Allen ain’t too shabby, either.
Speaking of Junior… on our way out, let’s do our weekly scan of his Twitter to see if anything interesting is going on.
“Man flying commercial this week was some wild (expletive),” Junior tweeted over the weekend. “It was like they were challenging me to solve a complex riddle with a bit of choose your own adventure thrown in. Good times.”
See, like my old baseball coach used to say…we all put our pants on the same way.