CONCORD, N.C. — A nearly 10-hour rain delay Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway saw NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers come out in full force as they sought to pass the time prior to getting on track for the Drive for the Cure 300.
With nothing racing-related to do, the garage area, haulers and motorhomes were a-bustle with activity.
JD Motorsports drivers Garrett Smithley and Harrison Rhodes “were napping” for part of the afternoon, but were milling around outside their haulers by the time Race Chaser Online caught up to them.
“I actually slept for like two hours,” Smithley grinned. “It’s been a long day, man. We’re all just out here now, ready to race.”
Rhodes was in agreement with his teammate’s sentiment, also still well pleased at his N.C. State Wolfpack’s 39-25 football victory over the Louisville Cardinals from Thursday night.
“Didn’t get to catch a ton of football throughout the day, but we’re still happy from the score the other night,” the NCSU Business alumni said. “We’ve waited this long, so the way I see it, we just need to do it at this point. I’m ready to put our JD Motorsports Chevrolet on track, definitely.”
Joe Gibbs Racing young gun Matt Tifft was in football mode for a portion of the afternoon, but spent some of his time gaming with his crew members as well.
“I played Dirt Trackin’ with the pit crew … we were racing each other for a bit,” Tifft laughed. “Watched Northwestern getting clobbered by somebody (Penn State) … then watched Clemson clobber somebody (Wake Forest). Neither game was pretty, I know that much (laughter).”
Richard Childress Racing rookie Daniel Hemric took time during the delay to spend time with the fans and sign autographs for several of the younger kids in the garage area.
One young fan had a toy air gun on hand, which Hemric borrowed long enough to autograph before handing it back, signature scrawled along the side in a moment that will no doubt become a special memory down the road.
And then there was the third JD Motorsports driver, Ross Chastain, who told Race Chaser Online that he had one strategy and one strategy only as he relaxed during the afternoon:
“I ate a lot of food!” he laughed. “It was fantastic.”
— While drivers hung around waiting for Saturday to produce drier conditions at the 1.5-mile quad-oval, there were several persistent fans who stuck around all the way to the bitter end as well, determined to see racing action.
One of those was former Bandolero and Legends car driver Carson Hudson, who made the two-hour trip southwest from Hillsborough, N.C. to take in a NASCAR race day for the first time since Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Martinsville Speedway in 2014.
“Man, we came a while to see this deal, and we’re hanging on for the green flag,” Hudson told Race Chaser Online. “I’ve sat through some of these delays at home before. It’s more fun to be here in person, taking it all in.”
The Drive for the Cure 300 finally took the green flag at 8:31 p.m., under the Charlotte lights.
— Both of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice sessions scheduled for Saturday were washed out due to the persistent rain storm that plagued much of the day.
In addition, with a threat of rain looming for Sunday as well, the start time for the Bank of America 500 has been shifted up a full hour. Green flag conditions will drop at 1:10 p.m. ET, as the first race in the Round of 12 gets underway.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]
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