Coca-Cola 600 Pit Note #2
Special Olympics Day at the Races – As a part of the Windstream Pole Night activities at Charlotte Motor Speedway, more than 600 Special Olympics athletes will be on hand for the 24th Annual Special Olympics Day at the Races. The Special Olympics athletes will watch the racing activities and each receive a gift bag containing T-shirts, 1/64th-scale race cars, decals and koozies. North Carolina Air National Guard reps will be at their hospitality tent to greet each Olympian. The event has grown from around 50 guests. Promotion in Motion – a Harrisburg, N.C. public relations firm – has worked with Special Olympics to provide more than 10,000 athletes from Mecklenburg, Gaston, Union and Cabarrus counties a night of fun, food and racing. This year the event has added athletes from South Carolina and Virginia.
Kimi, The Veteran – It’s the second week of his NASCAR career, and former Formula 1 Champion Kimi Raikkonen is already talking like a veteran. After finishing 15th in last weekend’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200, Raikkonen is attempting his second NASCAR race in a week during Saturday’s Top Gear 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
“(I learned) quite a bit (last weekend),” Raikkonen said. “Destroyed the car a little bit hitting the walls quite a few times. I had no idea what I should do. OK, I know how to do restarts, but I didn’t know exactly how it goes. It’s much easier now, the second time.”
Elliott Sadler cautioned against assuming Raikkonen’s ride through the NASCAR ranks would be a smooth one. “Kimi’s gonna see how hard this is,” Sadler said. “I think he’s got a pretty steep learning curve. Can he do it? Yeah. He’s in good equipment; he’s a good driver. Hopefully he’ll run a couple more races and bring a little more international flavor to NASCAR.”
Raikkonen has also expressed an interest in running a future NASCAR Sprint Cup race, preferably on a road course. “It would be nice to go and do it,” Raikkonen said. “But I don’t know if it is going to happen or not. We’ll see if I come back or not.”
According to Kyle Busch, the answer is “not” – that is, unless Raikkonen ponies up pretty quickly.
Originally quoted as saying Raikkonen would run three to five races with him, Busch said Thursday that this weekend will be the “last hurrah.”
“What’s changed is the payment schedule,” Busch said. “The contract states we’re supposed to receive so much, and we have not. It’s either up to Kimi or up to the people who run the financial side of things. We’ve had no discussions about Cup stuff at all.”
Quotable – Elliott Sadler was uncensored, honest and witty during his media availability Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He started off by asking earnestly in a slow southern drawl, “Is mah accent like Kimi’s? Heard he was in here before me.” He then dove right into how much nicer life is being competitive in the NASCAR Nationwide Series than a back marker in Sprint Cup.
“I’ve had the most fun this year than I’ve had since I drove the 38 for Robert Yates,” Sadler said. “I think in one of the preseason interviews somebody asked me how much pressure this is, being a preseason favorite. This is not pressure, this is fun. Pressure is showing up with a knife to a gunfight like I have for the last three years.”
In addition to running the Top Gear 300 Saturday, Sadler will be on standby for Paul Menard, who injured his foot this week.