Special Report: NASCAR Through The Eyes Of An Aspiring Journalist

EDITOR’S NOTE: In an effort to assist aspiring journalists to pursue their dreams of covering motorsports, Kickin’ the Tires is proud to provide the following first-person column from Campbell Donovan, who attended last week’s race at Pocono Raceway as a fully-accredited member of the NASCAR media.

Campbell Donovan, Motorsports Journalist

Last weekend’s Overton 400 was the first NASCAR race I covered as a journalist and the first race I ever attended. I was able to get an up-close look at all the hard work that goes into driving a stock car.

One of the many things I did was attend pre-race press conferences on Saturday. I was able to speak to Dale Earnhardt Jr. who was preparing for his last race at The Tricky Triangle as he nears his retirement. The man who drives the No. 88 car reflected on his past achievements and experiences at Pocono Raceway. I asked him about what he is going to miss most about racing at the track.

“This track offers so much character, everything about this place is a change of pace and making the transition of the next chapter of my life,” says Earnhardt.

He stated he is going to miss how unique the track is and terrifying the Tunnel Turn is. He also explained what fans can expect from him when he will be in the broadcast booth next year. “I’m not going to attack anybody. I didn’t like getting attacked when I was a race car driver and I certainly wouldn’t want to do that to any of my peers,” he said.

While there was a lot going on ahead of Sunday’s race, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was taking place. It was a bad day for Kyle Busch, who was leading after winning the first two stages. Suddenly, at the end of Stage 2, he was hit by another truck and spun out, resulting in his early exit from the race.

The winner of the truck race was Christopher Bell and I had the opportunity to interview him at Victory Lane. He said he was disappointed last year when his truck crashed and this year he felt great and awesome that he came out on top.

“My crew chief Ryan Fugle did a great job with the equipment to make adjustments. I got inside of Nemechek and was able to get ahead of the other drivers. This place is very tricky and my crew were (sic) able to make changes between stages.”

I also got to go take a ride in the pace car. It was fun and amazing. How fast the car goes when you make each turn. And when the speed changes from 110 mph to 55 mph in an instant, it was crazy.

Going to pit road and seeing the different tools and equipment used by the pit crew in making sure the tires are good to go for the race. Learning about each special part of the car and how it works and is useful for the race was interesting. I got to see the cars being weighed during inspection before qualifying.

Got to experience the driver/crew chief meeting before the race. All of the racing rules were mentioned and displayed on a video-board and one of the directors explained how long the race is going to be with the stages.

During the race, I stood inches away from Earnhardt Jr.’s pit crew as they worked on his car during pit stops. It was amazing how fast the pit crew does their job to make sure Dale Jr. gets back on the track quickly.

Kyle Busch won his first race of 2017 and also got his victory at Pocono Raceway.

“We made fast and very quick changes,” he said. “My crew chief Adam Stevens made good calls during the race and got ahead of many drivers with speed.”

The weekend was a very fun and amazing experience. Seeing drivers Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick and Brad Keselowski was great and I learned so much about the sport. Plus, I met great fans, along with NASCAR officials and crew team members.

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