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My Trip to Dover Motor Speedway!
Cameron Delgado, Staff Writer • June 17, 2024
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My Trip to Dover Motor Speedway!

     The weekend of April 26-April 28, 2024 was a very special one in my heart. My father and I were in for three jam-packed days of NASCAR racing at Dover Motor Speedway in Dover, Delaware. The forecast was good and we were looking forward to returning to the first state. A crazy Talladega weekend may have just concluded, but our fun was just getting started.

     Friday was the first day of our vacation. It was also the date of the first race: the ARCA Menards Series General Tire 150. A small backstory going into the event: this was the ARCA Menards Series’ inaugural race at Dover in a combination race with the ARCA Menards Series East, who had been racing there for a few decades already. Thus, twenty-six cars were entered into the event, more than the fifteen that were entered the past two years. The defending race winner and the previous week’s Talladega winner, Jake Finch was not entered into the event for unknown reasons. Venturini Motorsports instead opted for sixteen-year-old driver and fellow ARCA race winner Brent Crews. It was hyping up to be one of the better ARCA races at Dover than in previous years.

     After a two-hour-plus drive and stops at McDonald’s, Wawa, the gas station, and Staples, we found ourselves in Dover’s parking lot for the first time in about a year. I was sitting with my seatbelt on in the car while my dad was unpacking from the trunk. However, with my eyes, I was able to catch some very familiar people in the parking lot. I first spotted Cup Series driver Austin Cindric rolling a suitcase toward the entrance, and then I spotted his teammate Ryan Blaney, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, walking around the parking lot! I yelled for his name, and he came right around our car. He took pictures and signed an autograph before he headed out for his autograph session at the Walmart outside of the track. We also caught 2021 Daytona 500 champion Michael McDowell on a golf cart. The parking lot provided us with some fun early on!

     Just before 1:30, we lined up for ARCA Autograph Session wristbands and had conversations with those around us in line. However, the drivers ended up coming a bit later than expected. In fact, two drivers (Andy Jankowiak and Gred Van Alst) showed up late to the session and I didn’t even notice them taking a seat. I regretted missing out on them, but I carried on. I had a fun time meeting my idols that afternoon, and some of them I had already met before at Pocono last July! I wished good luck, collected hero cards, and got my Pocono program souvenir signed.

     The race began at around six o’clock, and it was filled with action. William Sawalich and Gio Ruggiero looked to be the favorites to win, but the former was put into the wall and his hopes were dashed. Ruggiero jumped a restart and could not come back from the penalty. There was also a major crash in which the #32 of Christian Rose blew a tire, caught fire, and slammed into the outside wall off of turn four. Amber Balcaen, driver of the #22, tried to avoid the accident but slammed into the inside wall on the front stretch and broke her foot. I heard a screeching sound and I jumped as soon as I heard it! (She did not have to miss any races, luckily). Anyways, Connor Zilisch ended up grabbing his first ARCA Menards Series win after inheriting the lead in the latter stages. It was just the beginning for Trackhouse Racing’s latest young prospect.

     We woke up early the next morning for the NASCAR Xfinity Series BetRivers 200. After a delicious breakfast at Waffle House, we arrived at the track before nine and caught three drivers walking into the facility. Among them were Michael McDowell, Daniel Suarez, and Carson Hocevar. I got pictures with all of them as well as an autograph from Hocevar. Suddenly, when we headed to the fan zone for the Xfinity autograph session, the line was already huge. I thought it was not going to be that long, but it turned out to be that way. My dad and I were among the first people to miss out on wristbands, but I did not want to give up. My dad stood at Ford Display, waiting for the driver appearances scheduled while I took my chance. After a lengthy wait, I was able to snag almost everyone I saw there. Twelve drivers were scheduled to appear, but Kyle Weatherman somehow did not show up even though his unsigned hero cards did. Parker Retzlaff had also run out of hero cards from the long line, so I just wished him good luck. I was able to get autographs from Shane Van Gisbergen and Josh Williams before they had to leave as well, so I was lucky. It was well worth the wait!

     After that, I met up with my dad again and we waited for Hailie Deegan at Ford. I was so excited to meet her more than anyone else since I had been waiting five years for this moment. We did not cross paths at Pocono, so the wait had to last longer. But before that, I decided to stand in another autograph line for Richard Childress’s Xfinity Series drivers. I got pictures with both Jesse Love and Austin Hill and I got three hero cards signed by Hill. Following that, I quickly made my way back.

     At around 11:15, the time finally came. Hailie arrived and began her Q&A session. I did not have any questions in mind for her, so I just sat back and watched. It was very interesting, and she talked a lot about being a “girly girl” compared to everyone else. When she finished, she signed autographs and we took a selfie. It is now my cell phone wallpaper. I had accomplished my long dream of meeting another idol of mine!

    Following that, Cole Custer and Riley Herbst lined up for another appearance at Ford. I was able to ask Riley the question of, “How did it feel when you finally won in Vegas?” He said it was longer than anticipated, but he was very happy that he won. One fan even asked if one would wreck the other on the final lap, which was funny. I could not grab pictures with them, but I did get some more autographs.

     Promptly after, I rushed to the White Lightning Bar + Arcade for a Brennan Poole appearance. It was very small, and I asked him about how Talladega 2016 still bit him to this day. My Dad asked about the last driver that he fought, and he responded with “Ben Rhodes.” When nobody else had questions for Brennan, I got an autograph and a picture with him as usual. He was a very cool dude.

     After renewing tickets and Kyle Busch winning the Cup Series pole award, it was time for the BetRivers 200! And oh, it was not off to a good start, as Hailie got together with JJ Yeley, ending Yeley’s race and damaging her car. She would continue though, multiple laps down. RSS Racing ran into trouble, too, as Ryan Sieg and Blaine Perkins both caught fire on the back stretch. Both of their races ended there. Justin Allgaier and Cole Custer led most of the way through. Despite a lengthy red flag for a bit of rain, we got back going. There were a few more accidents, too, including one that involved seven cars off of turn four and another involving contender Austin Hill spinning on a restart. The race went into overtime, and Ryan Truex ended up holding off another part-timer in Carson Kvapil under caution to defend his crown! The final caution was caused by Justin Allgaier initiating an accident off of turn four.

     The fun did not stop there, as we headed to Grotto Pizza after the race for a Ross Chastain autograph session. The line was a bit long and slow, but we eventually went up to Ross for another autograph and picture. It was my first time ever meeting him face to face. How cool! We even went into the restaurant and purchased a pizza to bring back to our room. An A+ day for sure.

     And finally, it was time for the big dance. The Wurth 400 NASCAR Cup Series race! After parking, we made our way through the casino and found Ross Chastain again! He is everywhere. Also, like the day prior, we waited for some drivers to walk in and eventually caught Joey Logano and Corey LaJoie. Both are very good people to be around at the races.

     Next up were more hauler and Ford display trips! My first stop was at the Chase Briscoe autograph session at the Ford hauler at 10:15. It was another long line that moved rapidly, as I was able to snag him with ease and move on. After that, we went back to the display where we met Deegan, Custer, and Herbst the day prior. Ryan Preece, Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell, Todd Gilliland, and Harrison Burton were on the table for the day, but I only needed to get the first two. At Preece’s appearance, Dad asked the same question the crazy fan asked yesterday to the duo, “with Briscoe in first and you in second, will you wreck him?” Once again, very funny. Brad signed right before his stage appearance. It clashed with John Hunter Nemechek’s hauler appearance, so I decided to go on a quick excursion.

     John Hunter’s line was VERY short, so I jumped right on and got him. Right after that, I went right into the injured Erik Jones’s autograph line, which was a bit long. It was only a one-autograph-per-person gig, so I just gave him my Pocono book instead of giving him some hero cards that I packed. I wished good luck for his team as well as a speedy recovery from the wreck he suffered at Talladega just seven days ago. After this, I met up with Dad again and carried on.

     We then got inside of the track for the pre-race track pass, which required an additional fee to get into. We met plenty of sports mascots who attended and also got a photo with the trophy. In addition, I signed the start-finish line and that clip can be seen on Dover Motor Speedway’s Instagram. Just after that, we went to the place where fans would be standing to get autographs from the drivers as they made their way to driver intros. I missed Josh Berry and Justin Haley because I was standing in the wrong spot, but I started to click in once Kaz Grala came over. As usual, there were rude drivers either skipping me over or not signing anything, such as Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Bubba Wallace. I didn’t even see Martin Truex, Jr. or Christopher Bell at all, but I really liked meeting Joe Gibbs and my favorite driver growing up, Jimmie Johnson. I certainly wished that I could go back in time to witness this again at a younger age.

     After driver intros wrapped up and I missed out on catching a stuffed animal due to my filming, the Wurth 400 was a go! It was actually a bit of a boring race with really hot temperatures. Kyle Busch led early on, but Ryan Blaney was waiting in the wings. Eventually, Denny Hamlin took the lead away from them. Wrecks in the race included Todd Gilliland by himself as well as a crash involving Christopher Bell, William Byron, and Bubba Wallace. Hamlin would go on to hold off Kyle Larson and win the big race.

     Finally, it was time to head home. After finding our way out in a very short time, surprisingly, we jumped onto the highway. I read my book for school and had a safe ride. I arrived with some sunburn and ready to go back to school. Dover was the best time of the year so far, and Pocono is up this July! It’s gonna be a jam-packed NASCAR vacation season.

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