NASCAR meets hockey at Charlotte Checkers Race Night

Kevin Harvick and son Keelan drop the puck during Thursday's Charlotte Checkers hockey game in Charlotte, N.C. 

Racing and hockey might not have a lot in common, but on Thursday and Friday of this week the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League put the stars of NASCAR center ice.

On Thursday evening, the Checkers hosted Pit Crew Night, where 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick dropped the puck and the Stewart-Haas Racing crew was on hand to enjoy the event.

Per usual, young Keelan Harvick was alongside his father for the entire event and even helped drop the puck.

For Harvick, the Checkers game was a great way for the team to spend time together before the season really kicks off in less than a month.

"I think they said 105 guys showed up from SHR to come out and participate in tonight’s event," Harvick told "That shows me it’s not only a good event to have fun with my son, but to let them and their families come out and be part of the event. When you have that much participation, you know you made a good decision."

While Harvick and son Keelan dropped the puck to kick off the night’s event, the driver’s Stewart-Haas Racing pit crew had the chance to try their skills on the ice before the game.

A few of the No. 4 over-the-wall crew put on skates and put their best hockey skills on display, including basic skating, shooting the puck, celebrating a goal, and even fighting.

They weren’t the only ones out of their element. A number of the Checkers players made the trip to Stewart-Haas Racing’s shop earlier to try their hand at pitting a Sprint Cup Series car.

Unfortunately, the Checkers came up short to the Oklahoma City Barons on Thursday, losing 3-1. Luckily for the home team, they had a rematch Friday night with even more NASCAR stars on hand.

For Friday night’s game, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Trevor Bayne, and Regan Smith were on hand for the fifth annual Race Night.

Each of the drivers had a personalized Checkers Race Night jersey with their name and car number on the back. Prior to Friday’s game, the five drivers — along with a number of other Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series drivers — signed autographs for fans in the midway at Time Warner Cable Arena.

"It’s funny, we don’t have hockey night at the racetrack, but this is cool to come out here," said Bayne. "I can tell you, they have loyal fans here. Everyone’s wearing their Checkers gear. It’s cool to see. It’s fun to meet the fans. We haven’t been able to do much this offseason, not going to the racetrack and all, so getting to do something like this is pretty fun."

Just as Harvick had done the night before, Logano helped a few young fans drop the puck to kick off the night’s actions.

The Team Penske driver is certainly at home at an ice rink.

On Thursday, Logano was part of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, N.C., taking one of his cars on the ice at the beginning of the show and taking a trip around the rink on the Zamboni ice-resurfacing machine.

While he drove the Zamboni during the figure skating event, Logano left that to the professionals during Friday night’s hockey game.

"I’m not changing professions, but I do love ice hockey a lot, and my sister is a figure skater," said Logano. "She actually choreographed the opening ceremonies for the nationals up in Greensboro. Part of the deal was we had my old race car, we wrapped it and put it in the show for the opening ceremonies.

"I enjoy it a lot," Logano added about being a big part of the annual Checkers Race Night. "I used to play the game. My parents run the Extreme Ice Center (in Indian Trail, N.C.), so I still have a connection there. I come to these games as much as I can."

The drivers were not done once the game got underway, however. During the first intermission, Logano, Newman, Biffle and Smith headed down to the ice to compete against Checkers mascot Chubby in a round of musical chairs. As expected, things got a little rowdy, with Logano using his familiarity on the ice to score the win over Newman.

Following the game, which the Charlotte won 3-2 over Oklahoma City, the Checkers auctioned off the special Race Night game-worn jerseys. The auction raised $15,800 for three charities, including the Joey Logano Foundation.

Logano’s No. 22 Race Night hockey jersey also is being auctioned off this week through the Charlotte Checkers web site to raise even more funds for the Joey Logano Foundation.