Saturday morning, with my iPod blasting The Civil Wars (don’t get me started, their song “To Whom It May Concern” perfectly explains the state of my love life right now), I headed to the track. Well, I should say that I was headed to Starbucks. Now here’s the weird thing about that area around Kansas Speedway which has everything from a full on mall to Target, Hooters, a movie theater, Chipotle, Red Lobster, the LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, a baseball field, and a bunch of other restaurants — there’s no standalone Starbucks. The only Starbucks is tucked inside Target and we all know that the Starbucks inside of any other store is not a REAL Starbucks. If I can’t use my Starbucks card there it’s not a real Starbucks.
But I digress, on to the Speedway. I got there at the end of Nationwide Series qualifying, which is not when I wanted to get there but I had to deal with an ant attack in my hotel bathroom. That really slowed me down. Anyway, I got there in time to see Carl Edwards secure the pole position and then proceed to sign autographs for all of the fans lined up at the fence just behind him. He was there for a while, until all of the cars had made their qualifying run after him, signing stuff. I thought that was pretty cool of him to do.
And since I’m already talking about the fans, let me tell you that there were a LOT of them on hand that weekend. From the front door of the media center to the entrance to the Cup garage there were barriers lined up on either side of the walkway. Fans would line the walkway at all times of the day, and especially on Sunday, in hopes of a driver walking by. It was kind of weird walking through everyone like you were on a catwalk or something.
In a lot of ways Kansas Speedway reminded me a lot of Chicagoland Speedway in the way it’s laid out. It hit me like deja vu when I left the track for the first time Friday night with the grassy slopes on the either side of the tunnel. Plus, the media center is in the middle of the infield with the Nationwide Series garage on one side and the Sprint Cup Series on the opposite side. There’s a little touch of Las Vegas in it because in the middle behind the media center is large open area where fans can hang out, check out inspections, and watch the race on Sprint Vision.
So back to that day, I went into the Cup garage for the start of the first practice session of the day for a few minutes. Then it was time for me to meet up with Hunt Brothers Pizza reps Melissa & Chris, and the PR rep for KHI, Jill, and head over to the Harvick’s motorcoach to interview DeLana. When we entered the motorcoach I distinctly remember noting how it smelled. Why? Because it smelled like I was in a spa. It smelled really good, like there were scented candles burning somewhere but I didn’t see any of them. I was nervous, but DeLana was so incredibly nice and totally made me feel comfortable and welcome in her space. Oh and Lo, the Harvick’s famous cutie-puhtootie little Chihuahua was there, she greeted us by barking for awhile. But it was a really cute bark. She went back to her nap while I interviewed DeLana. I can’t wait for you guys to read it, in addition to asking my own questions I also did the Inside the Actor’s Studio questions with her (bonus interview!).
Post-interview I went back into the Cup garage for practice and attempted to take pictures but couldn’t get a good angle.
Then it was time for driver introductions for the Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300.
On pit road for the Invocation & National Anthem I stood with the Hunt Brothers Pizza group.
And then the race began. Unfortunately the No. 4 didn’t make it to Victory Lane but the team definitely fought hard for their 6th place finish.
I sat in on the post-race press conference with the top-3 finishers. The most interesting parts were when Carl Edwards said that he felt that Brad Keselowski (The guy that won the race) was trying to get him black-flagged on a restart by lifting before they got to the start/finish line so that Carl would get there first, which is, of course, a no-no. Carl thought it was silly since Brad had such a good car that day he didn’t need to fall back on those “tricks.” So when Brad walked in at the end of Carl & Elliott’s presser, Carl made a beeline straight for him and talked to him about the stuff that went on that day. I couldn’t hear exactly what was said, but judging from the looks on the faces of the people around them it was probably pretty bold. And when Brad was asked about it during his presser, he didn’t know what Carl was talking about.
With more than 6,000 locations in 28 states, Hunt Brothers® Pizza is the nation’s largest brand of made-to-order pizza in the convenience store industry.
So you can find HBP in mom & pop convenience stores, gas station marts, and as the official pizza of the NHL’s Nashville Predators (The company is based out of Nashville, Tennessee). Unfortunately they don’t have any outlets here in California so I hadn’t had their pizza until Saturday night. I found a location right outside the track at a gas station and bought a pepperoni pizza with thick crust and extra cheese. And you guys, I was worried about not liking it because, hello, I was going to have to write about it, but I LOVED it. That pizza was so friggin’ good. Fifty times better than Dominoes or Pizza Hut. It was delicious. I seriously hope they secure some locations in the Bay Area some time soon. And I’m not just saying this ’cause they brought me to the race. I SWEAR that their pizza is yummy.
And because of their sponsorship of a NASCAR team they’ve raised their brand recognition amongst consumers, people like you and me and they’ve seen it make a difference in sales. It’s also helped generate new business leads in terms of signing on more retailers to put a HBP outlet in their store or property. And I think that’s the really cool part about NASCAR sponsorship: seeing results! I’m a firm believer in the power of marketing to NASCAR fans and it’s so great to see a company using it to their advantage.
HBP gave me some suhweet swag to give away, including autographed hats from Kevin Harvick & Elliott Sadler, so please take a minute and enter the contest.
Next up: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday at Kansas