NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers are frequently filmed behind the wheel of specially prepared fast race cars, but all have appearance duty beyond their driving time for the sanction, sponsors and racetracks.
In advance of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne flew into Florida to add their national stature to area promotions a few weeks before the fireworks and green flag.
Tony Stewart fished for bass with TV fishing legend Jimmy Houston on Lake Lloyd in the infield at DIS. Later, he thrilled willing media with fast pace car rides around the 2.5-mile tri-oval track.
“It used to be you’d show up, do TV, print media, maybe something quirky,” Stewart said. “Nowadays, the tracks are finding ways to make it fun for us. To be able to come out here and fish with Jimmy Houston, that’s a cool day.”
Kasey Kahne arrived in Tampa a day before Tony went fishing in Daytona to observe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in mini-camp. Kahne took in active player drills, and after an intense practice, he tossed a football with Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman.
“I‘ve never been to any practice before,” Kahne said. “I’ve been to plenty of football games over the years, but never anything like this.”
Kahne was impressed with athletic ability he observed: “I’ve only been in the grandstands, but it’s crazy how fast everyone out there is. The biggest guys, the smallest guys—they’re all just super-fast. Impressive. I think that’s why everybody watches football.”
Stewart has had some contentious situations with the media over his NSCS years, but as he joked at DIS, he shared some sincerity about the media as well.
I would hang them out the window if I could, and give them a really close bird’s eye view of the wall. It’s fun.
I don’t hate the media like everybody thinks I do. A lot of time I know that they are better than the questions that they ask.
It’s fun to take media around too that don’t get a chance to ever do this—Give them a different perspective. Especially when you are covering the sport, where it’s nice to have that perspective, and to be the person to help give that to them.
Quarterback Josh Freeman was upbeat about his team efforts during mini-camp drills, and he shared some thoughts about Kasey Kahne, NASCAR and NFL:
That guy, what he does is amazing. The length duration and detail of the plan going into each race. That guy has been at an elite level for a long time. Says a lot about him and the type of racer he is.
It’s kind of similar to football. The level of competition is high, the best of the best. Every race for him, every week for us--it’s a new challenge. Nobody is going to roll over. It’s always going to be stiff competition.
When asked whether he would like to race in an NSCS car one day, Freeman laughed.
“Hah, I don’t know if I’d fit in a car,” he said. “No I don’t plan to, but I definitely gained an appreciation for the sport.”
These promotional days to sell more tickets to the Coke Zero 400 were enjoyed by Stewart, Kahne and many TV and print media in attendance as well.
Media members who dared to ride with Stewart were not disappointed. Some were definitely scared.
Plus, Stewart caught a few fish, and Kasey Kahne didn’t drop a single pass.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from personal interviews or official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.