Monday, June 29, 2015

Racing's Home Tracks: Part 2 of a IV-part Trilogy

NASCAR's insistence everyone have a "home track" has metastasized into a full-blown epidemic.

After bringing awareness of this crisis to the masses two weeks ago, I wanted to continue with many more cringe-worthy examples.

During the recent Save Mart 300 in California, we were led to believe by PRN Radio and FoxSports1 on-air folks that at least four drivers claimed Sonoma as their home track. Though to be fair, the persistent matching of Cup drivers ... and teams ... and sponsors ... and manufacturers ... to a home track isn't limited to just PRN and FOX.

We were told Jeff Gordon began his racing career at Sonoma - despite having moved to Indiana when he was 14 years old.

The Dinger - A.J. Allmendinger - obviously claims Sonoma as his home track.

Never mind his home town of Los Gatos, California is 90 miles away.

Sophomore Cup and Target Racing driver, Kyle Larson, also claims Sonoma as his home track...allegedly.

I guess it's irrelevant his home track before making the transition to NASCAR was Calistoga Speedway.

Oh. Wait. Maybe it's Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California.

Finally, Target Racing's former driver (and current GEICO discounted participant), Casey Mears, has claimed Sonoma as his home track...

...when he wasn't claiming Auto Club Speedway in Fontana as his home track.

Mears isn't the only driver confused about his home track - nor the only Chip Ganassi Racing driver to be confused. Nashville's Fairgrounds Speedway was (and still is) indeed the home track for two-time Daytona 500 winner, Sterling Marlin. After all, he was a multi-time track champion at Nashville, made his first Cup start there, piled up tons of late model wins, helped his dad Coo Coo Marlin at the track, etc. He was able to make the transition to Cup after cutting his teeth at Nashville, and he continues to race at Nashville.

But Nashville fell off the Cup schedule after 1984. No problem. Sterling was assigned Bristol as his replacement home track. The facts of (1) his never running a weekly series at the track and (2) the 5+ hour driving distance from his home made little difference to the PR folks.

The city of Chicago was poetically labeled by Carl Sandburg as The City of the Big Shoulders. That statement needs to be true to hold aloft the legacy of all the drivers who claim Chicagoland Speedway as their home track - regardless that it isn't for any of them. (The fact Chicagoland isn't even in Chicago is a different thought altogether.)

Future NASCAR Hall of Famer (tongue deeply in cheek), Danica Patrick, is originally from Roscoe, Illinois - 2 hours from Joliet, IL. Such the sweetie, she kindly adopted Chicagoland as her home track as if it were a puppy.

Danica has long since left Roscoe, and apparently now calls Scottsdale, Arizona home. I think. Regardless, Phoenix International Raceway is now her home track - simply because she bought some real estate nearby.

Paul Menard's home track is the Milwaukee Mile in his home state of Wisconsin.

Whoa, easy there you wild and crazy guy. Milwaukee isn't on NASCAR's Cup schedule and never has been. You should know better than that. Looks like his PR team learned that factoid, and NardBurns was assigned Chicagoland as his true home track.

The roots of Venturini Motorsports go back to the 1950s. The team's drivers have been stalwarts of the ARCA circuit for decades. So where is its home track? Chicagoland of course - the track that opened in 2001.

Whew, time for a sanity break.

I've never a particularly big fan of Jamie McMurray. Haven't jeered him - I just haven't pulled for him either. Normally my response to him during driver intros is a tepid ehhh. But I may now become a Big Mc fan. Jamie recognizes just because he IS from Missouri doesn't mean Kansas Speedway is his home track. Kudos Jamie, well done.

But just because Jamie Mc gets it doesn't mean others do. Let's continue...

Yuengling, the country's oldest brewery, has only been involved with NASCAR since 2014. Yet, the beer - BEER! - has a home track.

Hell, not only is it absurd for a beer to have a home track, Yuengling isn't even the original beer sponsor at Pocono. What brand was? Oh yes: Schaefer.

Speaking of a sponsor for Ty Dillon, he let loose an eye-rolling whopper in 2014 by stating Atlanta Motor Speedway is his second home track. 

Why? Because he went to AMS as a kid and it's "so close to my house in North Carolina." The distance between Atlanta and Dillon's NC home is approximately 350 miles. Ty, you were so close in your estimate of distance...or not.

The absurdity continues with this beauty from Auto Club Speedway. They announced themselves as the home track for Rusty Wallace's driving school. That "news" was about as goofy as Rusty posing as an analyst on ESPN broadcasts and MRN Radio.

Sticking with the southern California track, ACS is always stated by the lemmings as the home track for Toyota. TRD builds engines nearby, crates them, and then ships them to North Carolina.

This news asserts Martinsville Speedway was former driver Jeff Burton's home track. Burton and his brother Ward are from South Boston, Virginia. Early in their racing careers, both ran the half-mile South Boston Speedway regularly. South Boston still hosts races today. From 1960 through 1971, 10 10 Grand National / Cup races were held at the track. Until 2000, least one Busch ... errr, Xfinity Series race each year was scheduled at South Boston. Jeff raced in eight of those events and could rightfully have called South Boston his home track - but not Martinsville.

I'll close with a Triple Crown of head-scratching, home track, hilarity courtesy of Chevrolet.

The brand has been involved with racing for decades. Drivers from coast to coast and north to south have raced a Bowtie. Yet, Chevy itself has a home track? Sure, why not. And where else would it be but Michigan International Speedway.

Wait - we talkin' NASCAR or Indy car? Indy? Oh then I'm sure Chevy meant that other Michigan track - the Raceway at Belle Isle. Yes, the track where CART hosted races beginning way back in ... well, not that far back ... in 1992.

And to reinforce Chevrolet's enduring love for its home track, it has yet a third one - the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


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