NASCAR stars at Delaware
London Community News
Photos by Mike Maloney/London Community News/Twitter:@mdmaloneyphoto
Delaware Speedway rolled out the red carpet on Wednesday (July 18), welcoming three of NASCAR’s brightest stars to the local half-mile oval.
Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, Clint Bowyer — currently positioned seventh in the NASCAR Power Rankings — and X-Games gold medalist Travis Pastrana made the trek north of the border to take part in the APC Summer Showdown, held in support of the London Health Sciences Foundation (LHSF).
Local racing fans had a opportunity to meet with the three men in person earlier in the day, first at a VIP meet and greet and then later in the afternoon during an open autograph session.
All three drivers know what it is like to bask in the national spotlight on the NASCAR stage but for each, appearances at smaller tracks like Delaware holds a different meaning .
“You know, I grew up racing on tracks like this. So any time I get an opportunity to come check out somebody’s car, get to race a little bit and hang out with Clint and Travis, it’s just fun,” said Waltrip.
Remarking how the Delaware oval reminded him of Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, noted remarked it is events like this that let him come out and spend some time with his fans, revisit his roots and experience it all over again. “I wouldn’t do this if it didn’t make me smile.”
For Pastrana, nights at the smaller tracks are not so much about looking back as looking forward.
“I skipped a lot of steps getting to the top level of NASCAR, I really need as many Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday races to get seat time as I can,” he said.
Pastrana also pointed out at the big races it is a lot tougher to get together with other drivers and compare notes.
Here and at other small tracks, he said your able to take some time to really talk and learn from other drivers.
With guys like Bowyer and Watrip also out on the track, Pastrana pointed out that it draws the best from across the area to compete against. “It is such a great driving experience for me.”
But the one thing they all agree on is, no matter what size the track or how large a crowd — 4,000 or 40,000 — the desire to win is still the same.
“No difference, none,” said Waltrip, “I still want to win.”
A portion of the proceeds from the event are being donated to LHSF as well as the track’s 50/50 charity draw for the event.
Any winnings earned by local drivers including Jamie Cox, Matt Pritiko and Jonathan Urlin, as well as Waltrip, Bowyer, or Pastrana during the event, will also go to the foundation.
In the APC Summer Showdown feature itself, only 15 of the 29-car field managed to make it to the checkered flag . Crossing the finish line in first place was the familiar #44 driven by Urlin . Second place went to #28 Steve Robblee followed by Pastrana in third.
Neither Bowyer or Waltrip survived the evening with Bowyer getting knocked from the race in lap 22. Waltrip, who started the race from 13th place, found his evening cut short after getting involved in a multi-car pile up on lap 26.
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