Pinty’s Wingman Weekend in Bristol Contest Winner, Todd Aitchison, gives us an insider’s look into Bristol Motor Speedway Weekend in this guest blog post. Read on for Todd’s weekend highlights and what it was really like to be the Wingman Weekend Winner at Bristol! This is part one of a two-part series.
Day 1: Thursday August 16th – Travel Day & Truck Race
Curtis and I began our experience with a great travel day with Krista and Dan from TSN. We got lunch at Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Whiskey River in the Charlotte Airport. I ordered the Brisket Grilled Cheese with tater tots, and a Jack Daniels – it was fantastic!
When we arrived at our hotel in Bristol, we were greeted by epic welcome gifts in our room. The various snacks and waters certainly came in handy over the weekend, when we’d return to our room after late night adventures around the area!
Once we finally got to Bristol Motor Speedway, we marveled at the size of the Last Great Coliseum.
Curtis and I officially kicked off our Epic Wingman Weekend in the Pinty’s Suite, watching the UNOH200 Truck Race. The best moment was when, with four laps to go, my driver in the Suite Pool (Johnny Sauter) was running second to TSN’s Dan O’Toole’s pool driver (John Hunter Nemechek), and suddenly John Hunter wobbles coming out of Turn 1 and slides up the track, allowing Sauter to get by on the bottom. Nemechek got it going again but was unable to catch up and Sauter held him off for the win, giving me the Pool Win of $160 USD! Turns out his motor was going and he lost power just briefly and that was all Sauter needed to get by him. Dan wasn’t impressed…I was thrilled! Haha.
All of us in the Pinty’s Suite had gotten to know each other and by having a pool, you tend to get into the race more – even if you’re a more casual fan – so we were all yelling and cheering when a truck spun. It was a blast. Curtis and I added our signatures to the Pinty’s Wall of Fame and enjoyed only the finest Pinty’s chicken wings!
Day 2: Friday August 17th – Pinty’s Xfinity & Cup Qualifying followed by Food City 300 Xfinity Race
I was beyond excited for the day – especially after how much fun Curtis and I had yesterday. We started Day 2 with Caesars and traditional Southern breakfast near our hotel.
After we fueled up, we met with Pinty’s Vice President, Tony Spiteri. Tony had a lot of surprises up his sleeve for the day – and it really turned out to be more epic than I could have imagined! First, we were whisked away to the track in golf carts. Along the way, we ran into seven time champion Jimmie Johnson.
Once we arrived to the track, I was led to the front stretch flag stand where I had the honour of waving the green flag for the Xfinity Pole Qualifying session. The sensation of walking right along the track wall by the catch fence was so cool because of course this is an area you never get during a race. I remember that it was incredibly hot and humid that day. Krista from TSN, Curtis and I waited under a pop-up tent, and we each went through three bottles of water.
The thrill of being in the flag stand as the Xfinity cars roared underneath was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. From the flag stand you literally hang over the high groove of the track and are staring at the whole facility. It’s amazing! Every time a car raced by, my credentials on my lanyard went flying. I was very glad that my Pinty’s hat was snug.
Once qualifying was over, we were off to Victory Lane to present Xfinity Pole Winner, Kyle Busch, with the Pinty’s Pole Award. After that, presentation of the Monster Energy Pinty’s Pole Award to Kyle Larson. This was somewhat surreal. The thing I’ll remember most about this part of the weekend is the feeling of standing there and looking out at a mob of photographers all saying “look here Kyle,” and the snapping sounds of all the cameras. It gave me a sense of all the media stuff that the drivers must do and how they’ve got to perfect their stance, smile and handshake.
After Xfinity qualifying, we walked the red carpet into the Xfinity Food City 300 Drivers Meeting. It was even better than I could have thought it would feel. We were welcomed at the door by officials, and onlookers watching us, thinking “Oh I wonder who those guys are?!” Haha! It felt really neat to walk the red carpet until I caught my shoe on a wrinkle in the carpet and almost tripped…Curtis and I laughed about that grand entrance!
The Drivers Meeting was an unforgettable moment. It was so cool to watch all the drivers and crew chiefs arrive, including Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, and of course Joey Logano. It was interesting to watch the official video and hear the rules and regulations for the specific track. The ultimate was at the end of the meeting, when Tony introduced me and Curtis to NASCAR Chairman Mike Helton and acting CEO Jim France.
After the meeting, we wound down the day with the Food City 300. Like yesterday, our Pool kept things extra interesting, as we all had different drivers to root for. I ended up with Logano in the Xfinity car. We watched the first part of the race from the Old Smoky Roof at Turn 4. After we chilled out there for a while, Curtis and I headed back to the Pinty’s Suite for some food and beverage. It was a great place to just try to calm down from all the excitement we’d seen already that day. All in all, another great race, watching from the best seat in the house with delicious food and drink, and great people!
Another day for the books that I would think impossible to top. Clearly I underestimated the folks at Pinty’s because Saturday was still to come!
Stay tuned for the second part of Todd’s Bristol Motor Speedway Weekend Journal for an exclusive look at the end of this epic race weekend – coming soon!