Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie Daniel Suarez will be driving for a $1 million miracle in Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway.
If Suarez, in the No. 19 Toyota formerly driven by Columbia native Carl Edwards, wins the race, his sponsor, Stanley Black and Decker, will donate $1 million to Children’s Miracle Network through the Ace Hardware Foundation.
Suarez, the only Mexican-born driver in the series, visited the University of Kansas Hospital and presented gifts to children Thursday when Stanley donated $100,000 to CMN hospitals.
“It’s everything about these kids,” Suarez said. “When you get the opportunity to spend some time with them, you understand how fortunate we are and how important it is for us to give a little bit back.”
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Suarez will host four children he met at the hospital for Saturday’s race.
“They are super excited,” he said. “Obviously, the rest of the kids that are in the hospital, they won’t be able to be here. But they told me they were going to be watching on TV. It’s very cool for me to interact with kids like this because they will become race fans forever, and that’s something very special for me.
“Hopefully, we can have a little bit of luck and make this dream happen for a lot of kids.”
Junior’s bucket list
As his decision to retire at the end of the season sinks in, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway later this month is the one race on his bucket list he’d like to win this year.
“The 600 would be awesome,” Earnhardt said. “Charlotte is our home track, and I haven’t won a points race there, so I would like to win there. But there is a long list — any of them that we haven’t won at would be great. Any win this year would be good, but if I had to pick … winning the (Coca-Cola) 600 would mean a lot.
“I always went to that race as a little kid, so I like to win at the places where I spent tons of time at growing up and that was one of them.”
Earnhardt hasn’t won in 33 Cup starts at Charlotte. He’s also winless in 20 starts at Kansas Speedway, where he was the runner-up in the spring 2011 race.
Pot sponsor black flagged
When NASCAR talks about going green, this isn’t what it had in mind.
According to the Associated Press, driver Carl Long showed up to Kansas Speedway with the logo for Veedverks, a Colorado-based marijuana dispensary, on the hood of his No. 66 car.
NASCAR wasn’t aware of the sponsorship, and officials asked for the logo to be removed before the car made it onto the track. NASCAR rules allow for the removal of sponsors that don’t comply with corporate standards.
NASCAR officials confirmed that the logo won’t appear on Long’s car this weekend.
This is Long’s first appearance in NASCAR’s top series since 2009. Long was fined $200,000, a record at the time, for an oversized engine. Unable to afford the fine, Long was barred until NASCAR commuted it before the 2017 season.
No rubbing it in when it comes to racing
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned his first career win last week at Talladega. Stenhouse and his girlfriend, fellow NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, celebrated the career milestone. But the two don’t bust each other’s chops over what happens on the race track.
“We absolutely never mess with each other when it comes to that stuff. I think it is obviously because it means so much to us that it is a pretty crappy thing to do,” Patrick said. “Would you mess with your wife or girlfriend? I mean when it comes to golf or something I will totally mess with him but when it comes to something like this, no. We don’t talk about that at all.”
Stenhouse had an interesting week. He flew to Cleveland on Monday with Ryan Blaney to make an appearance on American Ninja Warrior.
Stenhouse and Blaney, the pole winner for Saturday’s Go Bowling 400, took their shot at the show’s notoriously difficult obstacle course.
“Last year the IndyCar guys and myself did it in Indy, which was really cool. Ryan and I were the only ones to do it in Cleveland and we had a lot of fun with it,” Stenhouse said. “I am not sure when it will air. July 27th or something. It should be fun.”
Wonderful paint scheme
Patrick’s No. 10 car features a Wonder Woman paint scheme this weekend, promoting the film that hits theaters on June 2.
“It is really neat to drive paint schemes that draws cool attention, especially from kids. I think there are probably a lot of little girls that will like this paint scheme and what it means,” Patrick said.
Patrick has made more starts on NASCAR’s premier series than any other female driver.
Home sweet home?
Clint Boyer, Jamie McMurray and the recently retired Carl Edwards can each claim Kansas Speedway as their “home” tracks.
McMurray, a native of Joplin, Mo., wants to win this weekend, mainly because it’s the next race on the schedule.
“I grew up in Missouri and that’s always going to be my hometown, but I’ve lived in North Carolina for 20 years now, or longer than that. And, that’s my home and that’s where my kids are from,” McMurray said. “I would love to win at Kansas Speedway, but I want to win there because it’s where we race this weekend, not necessarily because I grew up 200 miles south of here.”