NASCAR drivers staying busy during off week
So where did you spend your summer vacation?
With an off-week in the Sprint Cup schedule coming after Saturday night's Chicagoland race, it’s not surprising that drivers are making the most of their free time.
While Jimmie Johnson returns to baby duty, his wife Chandra gave birth earlier this week, and Juan Pablo Montoya is on baby watch, his wife Connie is due this month, for many other NASCAR competitors it’s just going to be about boys and their cars.
Kurt Busch is off to Italy to drive Ferraris. Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch roll straight from Chicagoland Speedway to Slinger Super Speedway in Wisconsin to race Super Late Models in the 31st Annual Miller Lite Slinger Nationals. Qualifying on “The World’s Fastest quarter-mile Oval” for the 200-lap feature begins at 3 p.m. Dick Trickle will be the Grand Marshall.
For Kenseth, racing at Slinger is an opportunity to defend his title. Kenseth has won four of the last five Nationals and is the only driver to win the event five times. Sunday will mark the first time Matt and his son Ross compete against each other at the track.
“I have had a chance to race against Ross a couple of times now and I really enjoy watching him race,” Kenseth said. “It will be fun this weekend for sure and fun to see how he reacts to that race track because he doesn’t have a lot of experience there. It should be a good time.”
Kyle Busch’s week kicks off at Slinger — where he’s hoping to end Kesneth’s streak. But Busch will forego additional stock car action at Gateway on Friday and Saturday. Brian Ickler will drive Busch’s truck series entry while Brad Coleman is scheduled to drive the Nationwide Series car.
“I’m going up to Slinger to run my Super Late Model,“ Busch said. “I’m looking forward to it. I was there last year and we didn’t get to race because it got rained out and I had prior commitments the day after, so hopefully this year we can get it all in and have a good run. And keep Matt Kenseth out of Victory Lane.
“Then I go to the ESPY awards on Tuesday night. After that, I’m going on vacation, so I won’t be in a car next weekend.”
Fellow Cup driver Brad Keselowski will be running the double at Gateway, and then jet off for Oxford Plains, ME, to race in the historic Oxford 250.
Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne and Dave Blaney will compete in the Kings Royal weekend July 16 and 17 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
“Kasey and I are going to run 360 (cubic inch engine winged sprint cars) at Eldora next weekend and Dave is actually going to run the King’s Royal so that’s pretty cool that he’s back in a 410,” Stewart said. “That’s where he made his name so it’s going to be cool to see him get back in one and run at Eldora again.”
But it's Regan Smith who is likely to have the least fun of all NASCAR drivers during the break. Smith will have surgery on his wrist, which he broke at Sonoma, on Monday.
"It's no big deal," Smith said Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway. "It's minor surgery."