Shuttle pilot taking TMS flag into space
Space shuttle pilot Doug Hurley will take a piece of Texas Motor Speedway into space.
Hurley was presented a TMS flag Saturday, which he plans to carry with him on the final space shuttle mission this summer. Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to close out the 30-year shuttle program.
A season-ticket holder at Texas Motor Speedway since 2005, Hurley said he planned to bring the flag back to the track when he comes back for the November Sprint Cup race.
Hurley introduced the top 10 drivers to the crowd Saturday night before the Samsung Mobile 500, the second time he has taken part in prerace activities.
In November 2009, four months after guiding Shuttle Endeavour in space, Hurley drove a pace car at Texas that he drove off a Chinook helicopter that landed on the infield.
Hurley, who travels about 17,500 mph in space, has driven stock cars at a driving school run at the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked Texas track, though he wasn't sure just how fast he got.
''I went pretty fast,'' Hurley said. ''Driving a car, however fast I went, was incredible.''
DOWNWIND CARL: When Carl Edwards isn't driving on the race track, he can often be found flying one of his planes.
In the small Texas town of Dimmit, Edwards earned quite a nickname not long after getting his pilots' license and landing his single-engine plane for fuel.
''I landed downwind. I am landing at 60-80 mph plus 20 mph wind and I am screaming down this runway trying to stop,'' he said. ''I get to the end and there is a guy ready to take off the correct direction. I can see him look at me like, 'You idiot.' ... He is looking at me like, 'Now what are you going to do moron? You have to turn around because I can't back up.' So I turn around and taxi back.''
The other plane took off and Edwards went to get fuel when he was recognized by someone who went, ''You are NASCAR driver Carl Edwards!'' But they hadn't seen his landing, so Edwards figured he was in the clear.
About a year later, Edwards was doing an autograph session at Texas Motor Speedway when he heard somebody yell from the crowd, ''Hey, downwind!''
It was the pilot who was in the crop duster at the end of the runway when Edwards landed.
''You are terrible pilot,'' Edwards said, relaying what the other pilot said. ''I am sure in the crop duster community around here they laugh at me as a pilot.''
TICKETS FOR TROOPS: Charlotte Motor Speedway expects to donate more than 4,000 tickets to American troops for its Memorial Day weekend race.
This is the second year of an initiative that allows fans who buy tickets for the May 29 race to purchase an additional ticket for $20 to send a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Charlotte officials said fans from all over the country have been calling in to participate since the program was launched in February.
Those buying tickets by next Friday will receive recognition in the race program and on the world's largest high-definition video board that is new at the Charlotte track, which like Texas Motor Speedway is owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Charlotte president Marcus Smith said the new 200-foot wide, 80-foot tall screen will be ready for the May 21 All-Star race at the track.
''We're still looking for the remote,'' Smith joked. ''It's been lost in the world's biggest couch. But we'll find it before the race starts.''
SPARK PLUGS: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin are the only drivers who have started all 21 Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway. ... Three Doors Down performed a prerace concert on the frontstretch. ... Track season ticket holders were treated to a prerace garage party that featured a '70s tribute band, pig races and women's roller derby.