Normally every Thursday or Friday during the long Sprint Cup season, NASCAR drivers are getting aboard private jets to get to the next racetrack to practice before the weekend race goes to the green flag.
Not this week.
The next Sprint Cup Series race is July 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
This week, Sprint Cup drivers have no green flag to greet them unless they choose to race Nationwide Race at Chicagoland, Camping World Truck Series at Eldora Speedway or a local short track of their choice.
Brian Vickers won the Sprint Cup last weekend in Loudon, N.H., but he won’t get a week off for his efforts. Vickers will be in the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing for the Nationwide race in Chicago.
Ryan Newman will take to the high dirt banks of Eldora in the Camping World Truck Series for Turner Scott Motorsports.
David Ragan will return to his short track dirt roots at Oglethorpe Speedway Park in Pooler, Ga.
Not many NSCS drivers will disclose their off-week plans, but some have shared hints on Twitter that include fishing, golfing, island vacations and more. They deserve time off and privacy. Certainly more details will be public when they are back getting ready for the Brickyard.
Actually, the glow and energy of the historic track at Indianapolis probably weighs on driver’s minds even in downtime, but getting away is mental refreshment as well.
So as fans ponder the lack of NSCS racing this weekend, some Cup drivers shared their thoughts coming out of last week in New Hampshire. Perhaps their words will comfort staunch supporters of Sprint Cup racing.
Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Newman and Ragan released comments before this special weekend.
Johnson and family are known to go far during off weeks, like to Europe, but sometimes home is cool too. Johnson talked after Loudon.
“All in all a great day for the Lowe’s team and just very proud of the effort these guys put in week in and week out,” Johnson said. “We are all going to enjoy this off-week and then come back and get ready to go to Indy.”
Gordon prefers his New York City time, as it’s a good place to not be noticed. New Yorkers are often too busy to wonder about celebrities. Gordon mentioned the importance of this week.
“Everybody, no matter whether you’re leading the points or running where we are in the points or 30th in the points,” Gordon said. “Everybody has to take moments to step away and relax a little bit and regroup. And so, this off-weekend will be good for everybody.”
Busch appears to be looking forward to some time off as well.
“We certainly have great race cars,” Busch said. “We just got to keep knocking these out. It’s good to get an off week, rebound a little bit, go to Indy and start our last 18 weeks.”
Harvick may be moving to Stewart-Haas Racing next year, but he remains focused on his last year with Richard Childress Racing. His shared words after Loudon.
"We struggled terribly,” Harvick said. “We were able to make something out of it, but we've got a lot of work to do before we come back."
Almirola and team continue to improve. His No. 43 came in fifth at Loudon.
“We came back down pit road and took four tires when everybody else stayed out,” Almirola said. “That was a great pit call by Todd Parrott and all these guys on this Smithfield Ford Fusion did a great job, and that is nice. It is a great way to go into the off weekend.”
Vickers is fresh off a Loudon win, but he appears more than ready for his next challenge this week.
“It’s a great track and a great city,” Vickers said. “Chicago is right in America’s Heartland. The track is a little bit outside of the city but close enough to make a visit to the city. Tracks always evolve and change, so I am excited to get back there.”
Newman will race on Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway dirt.
"This race is going to be something really special in NASCAR's history,” Newman said. “I've always enjoyed racing in the Truck Series and to be able to get back and race on dirt with a truck, I think everyone will be in for a special treat.”
Ragan is off. but he will be behind the wheel looking for a fun win.
“It's an off weekend but I'm going racing," Ragan said. "It's kind of a vacation to go back home and see all the family. Doing events like this is relaxing, it's fun. You don't have a lot of pressure like we do on the regular Cup weekend.”
Busch commented on this rare time off and may have summed it up best.
“I think it’s a good time to get a little bit re-energized,” Busch said.
Perhaps fans need a little breather too before the excitement the Brickyard roars to life.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.