Matt Kenseth Barnstorms Carolinas to Thank Troops, Fans Ahead of Bank of America 500
NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Challenger Matt Kenseth barnstormed across the Carolinas Tuesday to thank members of the U.S. Armed Forces and greet fans in three of NASCAR's strongest markets ahead of the Oct. 10 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
As part of NASCAR's Chase Across North America, a jet-setting Kenseth crisscrossed the Carolinas with Charlotte Motor Speedway President and General Manager Marcus Smith and Performance Racing Network President Doug Rice on a multi-city tour that kicked off in Charlotte, North Carolina before hitting Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina and Greensboro, North Carolina, two of the strongest NASCAR television markets in the country.
In Charlotte, Kenseth and Smith greeted more than two dozen military men and women, thanking them for their service and noting how much NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway does to honor fans with entertaining pre-race festivities and intense racing on the track. Charles Bowman, Charlotte and North Carolina president of Bank of America, outlined the bank's Express Your Thanks campaign to show its support of the U.S. Armed Services, which will include a special Stand and Salute moment for all fans in attendance and those watching the Bank of America 500 on NBC.
"We always like to do things bigger and better in Charlotte and one of the things we're known for is our pre-race show," Smith said. "Country music star Hunter Hayes is coming to the speedway to give us a great concert. And the Wallenda family is back. Nik Wallenda's wife, Erendira, is going to perform an aerial acrobatic show from a helicopter. She'll perform 150 feet above the speedway hanging by her toes."
And the action-packed pre-race fun is just the beginning. As Kenseth knows well, the drama on the track is expected to be just as intense throughout the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs.
"Charlotte Motor Speedway always puts on a great show for the fans," the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said. "I hope this year I can stay out front and avoid all that drama on the track."
Kenseth was involved in a late-race incident with fellow Chase driver Brad Keselowski during last year's Bank of America 500 that boiled over into the garage area after the race. The tension, drivers have since said, is a result of NASCAR's elimination-style Chase format, implemented in 2014.
"After last year's race, I heard a couple of drivers say, 'You know it's intense when Matt Kenseth is getting in a fight,'" Smith said. "That's the kind of excitement we're looking forward to bringing to fans when the only Saturday night race in the Chase returns at the Bank of America 500."
Following the Charlotte stop, Kenseth and the speedway officials made their way to Greenville, South Carolina and Greensboro, North Carolina to get fans revved up for the upcoming Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the Bank of America 500.
"I'm looking forward to getting the Chase kicked off and getting back to Charlotte," Kenseth told the crowd gathered in Greenville. "I've always really loved Charlotte Motor Speedway. I made my first XFINITY Series start there way back in '96 - won my first Cup race there, the Coca-Cola 600, and have some great memories there. I hope to make a lot more. It's a great race track and one I always enjoy going to, for sure."
During the final two stops on the barnstorm tour, Smith also presented representatives from each city with "Super Fan City Award" on behalf of the speedway. Greenville-Spartanburg (1) and Greensboro (2) rank as the top two television markets for NASCAR viewership, according to year-to-date Nielsen Company ratings through the 25th race of the season (Darlington).
NASCAR's playoffs — the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup — is a 10-race culmination to the season that crowns a battle-tested champion. Starting with a 16-driver field, four drivers will be eliminated after every three races, setting up a "winner take all" championship showdown at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 22 (3 p.m. ET on NBC). The top finisher among the Championship 4 in Miami will win the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Fans can catch all the action surrounding the only Saturday night race in the Chase, including Bojangles' Pole Night on Oct. 8, the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive for the Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina on Oct. 9 and the Bank of America 500 on Oct. 10 with weekend packages starting at just $99.