This past weekend at NHMS was incredible. As a part of the Communications team, I helped manage the track's social media accounts during NASCAR weekend at the Magic Mile. Needless to say it was the best experience I've had to date at the track and one I will never forget. I was in and out of the media center, scrambling for Wi-Fi as I live-tweeted the races and snapped photographs for Instagram. To highlight it all, here are some superlatives that I would like to hand out from the weekend that was at NHMS..
Best Performance: Brad Keselowski
Whenever anyone at the track looked up at the leaderboard from Friday until Sunday, there was a high probability that Brad Keselowski was at the top. He dominated the weekend in both the Sprint Cup and the Nationwide Series. He was the fastest in the second and final (third) practices for the Camping World RV Sales 301, won the pole for the Sta-Green 200, and took home the checkered flag in both races.
A few two-tire and fuel only stops from a few of the leaders in the Sprint Cup race mired Keselowski back in traffic but within a matter a laps he would weave his way back to the front. Keselowski added to an incredible streak at Loudon, becoming the 13th different winner in the last 13 races. After the convincing show he put on Sunday, I wouldn't be surprised if Keselowski is the one to break that streak when the Sprint Cup Series returns for the SYLVANIA 300 in September.
Best Perk: The Hot Pass
Before this past weekend I couldn't have imagined rubbing elbows with Chad Knaus in the garage area as he makes his way to the drivers meeting. I couldn't have dreamed of stumbling upon The King himself, Richard Petty, during the pre-race ceremonies, or standing in victory lane as Brad Keselowski's team showered him with a lifetime's supply of Redd's Apple Ale.
As a kid at the races I was always envious of the fans down on pit road with the all-access passes. I don't mean to slight Row 36 of Section NG, but I knew my seat couldn't compare to being in the garage area. Now that I'm fortunate enough to be part of the track's media staff during race weekend, I wore the illustrious "hot pass" credentials around my neck the entire weekend. I was truly a kid in a candy store - a candy store full of 3,400 pound stock cars.
Worst Luck: Donny Lia
Donny Lia was swept up in an accident in each of the Whelen Modified Tour races at NHMS this past weekend in a very bizarre form of misfortune. In both the inaugural Whelen All-Star Shootout on Friday as well as the Sunoco 100 on Saturday, Lia was sent airborne over the hood of another car and into the outside wall in Turn 4.
On Friday, the Mystic Missile hit the front end of a spinning Patrick Emerling and was launched into the air. Driving a backup car on Saturday, courtesy of Ryan Newman, Lia's car was propelled over the front end of Rowan Pennink's machine in what was a mirror image of Friday's wreck. Thankfully, Lia was able to walk away from his mangled race car in both instances but the sheer coincidence of the two mishaps was astonishing.
Best Race: Granite State 100 (K&N Pro East)
Jesse Little's win in the Granite State 100 was nothing short of a Hollywood ending. The 17-year old Little, son of former Sprint Cup driver Chad Little, went into turn three for the final time in third position. Brandon Jones' dive-bomb move to the inside of race leader Nick Drake in the final turn led to contact. Little drove by the spinning cars of Drake and Jones en route to his first victory in the K&N Pro Series East.
If the finish itself wasn't dramatic enough, Little's first win happened to come on his mom's birthday. Little's mother shed tears of joy when she met her son in victory lane. Not to take anything away from the other winners on the weekend, but Little and his team were truly on cloud nine and it was incredible to see. For the drivers in the K&N series, Loudon is their Daytona 500. When Little dedicated his win to his teary-eyed mother in the press conference following the race there was a sense that everyone in the room was getting a bit choked up as well.
His win was a wonderful example of the kinds of moments that remind you why you became a fan of the sport in the first place. On this particular weekend the passion for the sport of NASCAR was best exemplified by one of the youngest drivers at the speedway.
NASCAR weekend was everything I had hoped for and more. The traffic on the NHMS social media pages skyrocketed and the amount of activity online made it even more rewarding to put out content that so many great fans were engaging in. There is a sense of urgency and excitement in the air when the haulers roll into town. Despite all of the sleep that was lost in the media center during the weekend, it didn't slow anyone down a bit.
I'm thankful to have been able to watch and learn from the NHMS staff, reporters, photographers and other media members who came into town for the race. My internship at NHMS continues to open doors for me and provide unforgettable experiences - it was an incredible weekend at the Magic Mile.