Drivers touch on the NCAA Final Four buzz
April 05, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
FORT WORTH, Texas -- High speed meets the hard court for what many consider the ultimate sports combo with NASCAR’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway Monday and the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four at AT&T Stadium, a half-hour away Saturday and Monday nights.
Not only are fans benefiting by the proximity, but there is a lot of crossover in the NASCAR garage area.
One NASCAR driver holds a vested interest in both. Camping World Truck Series driver Ben Kennedy is the only national competitor currently attending one of the four schools, top-ranked University of Florida.
“It’s really cool,’’ said Kennedy, who will graduate in May. “Obviously college basketball is really big and NASCAR is as well.
“Realistically, you could have come in Friday and gone to the Nationwide race, drive 30 minutes and go to the game the next day. I wish I were there watching those Gators win.’’
Perhaps he could have gotten a ticket from Sprint Cup Series points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., who said Friday he had planned to attend the basketball tournament but had a last minute change in plans. He said he’ll still be watching.
“I have Florida winning my bracket, so I’m kind of pulling for them I suppose,’’ Earnhardt said.
From the hoops side, a major tournament sponsor is renting the speedway for a corporate event Monday morning and a group of the country’s athletic directors were at the track catching Sprint Cup qualifying Saturday afternoon.
And then again, there are those in the garage who are completely focused on the task at hand.
“I don’t really care about any other sport too much," said Team Penske's Joey Logano. “I’m here to race and win a race. Whatever they want to do shooting hoops they can keep on going with that. They don’t need me there.
"I’m focused in on trying to win a race. I feel like if I leave the race track I get distracted and if I don’t run well, that’s gonna be the reason why so I’m not gonna give myself an opportunity to have an excuse.”