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UTV Blog: kentucky

July 13, 2011, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Ultimate Tailgating Vehicle, the penultimate blog! Kentucky Speedway, located about 45 minutes south of Cincinnati and more than an hour north of Louisville, Ky., was our home this week. Outside of the track, there was not much save a couple of gas stations. There were two-lane freeways leading in and out of the track. It initially felt like the middle of nowhere. When 107,000 people descend on a one-and-a-half mile stretch, it's easy for this "nowhere" to feel like the center of the universe.

Being from Cleveland, Ohio, we both grew up thinking Cleveland was the center of the universe. Well, it's not. But, it was nice to see so many Browns fans and Indians fans. An interesting tidbit we noticed was there were a lot of fans wearing Cleveland gear. Despite Cincinnati being much closer to the race track than Cleveland, we counted twice as many Cleveland fans as we did Cincinnati fans. Cleveland sports fans are like NASCAR fans. For example, the Cleveland Browns have been to the playoffs only one time since 1999. Yet, every game is sold out and the Muni Lot, where Browns fans tailgate, is packed by 7 a.m. every Sunday. Junior fans can relate. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has not won a race in more than 100 races, yet his fans are among the most boisterous. Trust us, every city and every race is filled with people rocking Jr's No. 88. NASCAR fans have true dedication. It is not just about winning for these fans, it's about supporting their guy no matter what.

An impressive trophy for the Cornhole winner.

NASCAR people are like Cleveland people. We are working class fans that really enjoy going out and working hard for what we have. If you travel anywhere and see someone wearing your favorite driver's gear, you get excited. You might start a conversation with a random person. You might even feel like you already know each other. There must be something in the air or in the water at those race tracks because people on the outside just don't get it. Others don't get why we get to the track two days early. But, maybe it's better that way. It is nice having that connection with 100,000 people who get what you are feeling. It's all about being a fan.

Make no mistake, Kentucky has some true fans. Maybe it was because this weekend was the first Sprint Cup Series race at the Kentucky Speedway, or maybe it was because Kentucky loves tailgating and racing, but either way, this weekend may have been the craziest yet for us. On top of the normal shirts and hats, there were fans decked out with everything from painted racing nails to driver tattoos and NASCAR jewelry. One Kyle Busch fan pulled a rope on the ground that was tied around a Jeff Gordon doll. Some fans tried licking the Ultimate Tailgating Vehicle in attempts to claim it for themselves. Fans were ready to go at 8 a.m. Friday and did not let up all weekend. There was so much excitement and anticipation. We cannot wait until the next race.

Go Cleveland. Go Jr. Go Carl Edwards. Go Jimmie Johnson. Go Jeff Gordon. Go Mark Martin. Go Kyle Busch. We'll see you at the track in Loudon! Only one week left to register for the Ultimate Tailgating Vehicle.