PIR Trylon

The scoring trylon at Phoenix International Raceway is finally working, which will be helpful for the sold-out crowd at the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race. This is the 49th year for the desert one-mile oval race track.

The weather keeps changing. It won’t be the predicted scorching hot 88 degrees F, for sure. The clouds are playing hide and seek with the sun and blue skies.

The temperatures are mild – mid seventies – and there’s but a gentle breeze … so far.

The Pre-Race Ceremonies are completed, and after Driver Introductions, it seemed to my overly deaf ears that the loudest reactions was for Pole Sitter JIMMIE JOHNSON/No.48 Lowes/Kobalt Chevrolet, and it was mostly positive. His car owner, and Hendrick teammate, JEFF GORDON/No.24 Axalta Chevrolet, and perennial Most Favorite Driver-DALE EARNHARDT Jr/No.88 National Guard Chevrolet also got a good shout out. By far the most polarizing driver, KYLE BUSH/No.18 M&M’s Toyota, got his usual rousing batch of boos, and proud of it.

Kyle Busch & Dale Earnhardt Jr
Kyle Busch & Dale Earnhardt Jr
Clint Bowyer & Jeff Gordon
Clint Bowyer & Jeff Gordon

Interestingly after the Introductions were some of the driver pairings to ride around the course for the fans.One was Kyle Busch and Earnhardt, and another was that of CLINT BOWYER in No.15 5-Hour Energy Toyota and Gordon. Must have been an interesting conversation for the two because of the much-publicized dust-up between the two at last year’s fall Phoenix race, which culminated in Bowyer running the 100+ yard dash from Pit Lane into the Garage to (try and) beat up on Gordon. It was a melee, and has been on highlights reels ever since, especially this weekend where it seemed at times to be on an endless loop on the Media Center monitors.

Looking like two relaxed Happy Campers were two veterans who may or may not be around next year in one capacity or another – JEFF BURTON/No.31 Caterpillar Chevrolet and MARK MARTIN/No.14 Stewart-Hass Chevrolet.

Burton has reached the milestone of running one thousand career NASCAR races, which puts him in rare company. The 46-year old driver is only the sixth driver to reach this level.

Martin is finishing out the 2013 season with the Stewart-Hass Chevrolet team, filling in for team owner/driver, TONY STEWART, who is recuperating with two broken legs suffered in a non-NASCAR race. Stewart, aka ‘Smoke’ is laid up at home watching daytime TV.

Jeff Burton & Mark Martin
Jeff Burton and Mark Martin

Smoke Will Rise hashtag