June 16, 2012
By Donalde z Smith
NASCAR Race Mom has heard complaints that Father’s Day was invented by a greeting card company to boost sales of their product. However, one day a year to honor your Dad seems a paltry tribute to a parent who sacrificed to place their kids first and lovingly nurture them to adulthood.
Fatherhood in the NASCAR arena takes an even more predominant spotlight. In my own experience, my husband Paul’s love, support, and guidance proved to be an enormous influence in my son, Moses racing passion and achievement.
As a youngster, when Moses was not studying to keep his grades acceptable, he and his father would be preparing for a race weekend, traveling to a track, or racing. Paul’s example instilled a work ethic that still serves Moses today*.
A more famous NASCAR Dad had hoped to start off his Father’s Day celebration off a bit early. The new NASCAR Sprint Cup Points leader, Matt Kenseth and his nineteen-year-old son Ross, were working towards racing the Swiss Colony Howie Lettow Memorial 150** together last Tuesday. Unfortunately, Ross missed the show after failing to qualify in timed sessions and a last-chance race.
Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Sprint Cup Series Champion, also struggled, but managed a top-ten finish.
Photo Mike Gatzke/Iowa Speedway
Chase Elliott and Lance McGrew in Victory Lane
“We started the race and I thought it was going to be all right,” said the Roush Fenway driver. “After about the second or third restart, it just wouldn’t go. We kind of struggled for a couple of days, but it was fun racing up there with them guys. At least we got to mix it up with them a little bit. There’s eighty cars here and there’s a really good lot of quality cars here. We just never quite got our car perfect. These guys race these things all the time. We just never quite had it.”
Ross Kenseth is attending Clemson University. He won nine times in 2011 and has one victory in 2012. (Orange Blossom Special at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C., in April)
There were several father and son combinations among the eighty participants at the ASA Midwest Tour race at the Milwaukee Mile.
John Hunter Nemechek, who celebrated his fifteenth birthday the day before, posted the fastest qualifying time before finishing 23rd. “Our main goal was to make the show and we did that,” Nemechek, who recorded a time of 29.004 seconds on the one-mile oval, said before the race.
John is the son of NASCAR veteran Joe Nemechek. “I am happy he’s able to enjoy the experience and comes here and race with some of the best drivers ever,” said Joe Nemechek, a four-time NASCAR Cup race winner. “He’s wheeling the tar out of that thing.”
Another famous NASCAR son, Chase Elliott made his presence known at the star studded ASA Midwest Tour event. Elliott is second generation wheel man; his father, Bill, is a former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion (1988). After six races, which includes one win, Chase sits on top of the K&N Pro Series East point standings.
In the Swiss Colony Howie Lettow Memorial 150, sixteen-year-old Elliott was on the move, picking up two spots in the final eight laps. “I felt like we had the car to beat tonight, I just didn’t put us in the right positions, and that’s just something I’ve got to improve on and do better at,” Elliott said.
Photo by Donalde z. Smith
Moses and Father Paul Prepping The Car at Evergreen
Travis Sauter won the race. Excitingly, Elliott took the second spot from NASCAR Truck Series regular and Travis’ uncle, Johnny Sauter, with a move down the inside beneath the white flag.
This Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 marks the final race of Spring 2012. Coincidentally, this race also falls on Father’s Day.
The Quicken Loans 400 also marks the four-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in 2008. Despite his point standing position of second, Earnhardt Jr. remained winless for 143 races.
"You know, my daddy, he meant a lot to me," said Earnhardt of his late, seven-time champion father Dale Earnhardt Sr. following his Michigan win four years ago.
NASCAR Race Mom joins the Junior Nation in the hopes that Dale Jr. can break his winless streak with a spectacular win this Father’s Day.
Last but by no means least -- a Happy NASCAR Father’s Day to all.
* Last year, Moses place third in the K&N Pro Series West Championship standings. He was also voted Most Popular Driver for four consecutive years. Moses acquired the manufacturing rights to the Formula Mazda in September of 2009. Additionally, he is the coordinator of the Southwest Formula Car Challenge Series and Southwest Formula Mazda; a Pro Mazda parts dealer, prep shop, and race team.
** A portion of the proceeds from the race will benefit the MACC Fund, a Milwaukee-based childhood cancer research organization, and also honors Watertown native and legendary ASA crew chief Howie Lettow. Lettow, who died of cancer in 2010, worked with Mark Martin, David Stremme, and Jimmie Johnson.
If you would like to learn more about Donalde z Smith, please check out her web site at NASCAR Race Mom.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.