Race Weekend Central

Full Throttle: Enjoy Your Last Off Week of the NASCAR Season

NASCAR has the longest season in sports – 44 weeks from mid-February through early November – unless you consider golf that typically holds tournaments year round. That said, this weekend is the last time until the checkered flag falls in Homestead that the Cup Series cars will not be on the racetrack somewhere. From there, the remaining 17-week stretch will see the teams travel from Watkins Glen, N.Y. to Homestead, Fla. to Phoenix, Ariz. to Chicago, Ill, and 13 points in between. The stretch is the longest of the season without a break and will push teams and fans to their limits as they immerse themselves into the races completely.

To prepare for the long run of races, drivers are spending their off weekend doing a variety of different things. Many are going on vacation, some are hitting racetracks in different types of vehicles and others are just relaxing at home to recharge their batteries. While most of the drivers can do whatever they want during the down time, fans are most likely a little more limited in their options but there is still a great diversity to choose from.

Many Cup Series fans are race fans no matter what the type of cars. During the off weekend they’ll be heading to local short tracks to get their weekly racing fix and there are many different races taking place this weekend because the Cup Series is on hiatus. In fact, many local tracks will schedule special races on Cup off weekends because they know they have a better chance of getting fans in the door. If there is a racetrack near you this weekend you could do a lot worse than supporting local racing.

Another thing fans can do is gear up for the stretch run just like the Cup teams. Fans travel to many of the races every year in motorhomes that can range from sparse to lavish, but whatever the accoutrements the rolling home needs to be gone over before the run to Homestead. Storage compartments need to be examined and inventoried – band aids, ketchup, mustard, plastic forks and spoons, every little thing that goes into making a race weekend enjoyable needs to be in its proper place and in good supply to make it through 17 weeks.

The mechanical end of the motorhomes needs to be gone over as well – oil changed, filters cleaned or changed, fluid levels topped off, tires rotated and nuts and bolts tightened for the final drive to the finish line.

For those who aren’t going to the track every week or hitting a local venue for a different taste of racing they still need to get their affairs in order for 17 straight weeks in front of the television. No doubt the first 27 weeks of the season have caused some depletions which might have gone unnoticed. Make sure that the potato chip inventory is up to snuff, ensuring not only plain but BBQ and sour cream and onion are in ample supply. Beer stocks need to be replenished to avoid those mad dashes to the store right before the green to have enough adult beverages for everyone.

Don’t neglect the paper goods either: foam plates and plastic cups need to be in abundance to cover 17 weeks of racing and cheering from the couch or recliner. Napkins and condiments need to be secured to ensure proper flavoring and thorough cleaning after the refreshments are consumed.

The trek to the finish of the Cup season can strain the most organized of teams if the proper attention to detail is not paid in preparation for this final stretch. Fans owe it to themselves as much as the teams and crews to make sure they have all of there Is dotted and their Ts crossed before the green flag flies in Indianapolis next weekend. Here’s hoping you make it to the finish line without any hiccups.

About the author


What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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