Last weekend, I made the drive to the southwest tip of the Virginia triangle to Bristol Motor Speedway. Dubbed the “world’s fastest half-mile,” Bristol looks pretty majestic when driving up from the country hills of Virginia and Eastern Tennessee. We hit the ground running on Friday morning at the track, which was much busier and more crowded than the last race I attended. Despite the heat, we had more than a thousand visitors stop by the America’s Power booth to learn about the proposed EPA regulations and their potential impact on our country. It was a rewarding experience to spread the word about the work we’re doing, and the ways people can join the fight. It was also wonderful meeting retired coal miners from our member companies as well as other members of the coal community and hearing their stories. One man, who described how much coal meant to him as a worker for the railroads, hugged me at the end of our conversation and said he was thankful that a group like ACCCE stood up for the little guys in the fight. Times like those reassure me that I’m in the right place, fighting for the right cause.
During our busy afternoon, our driver Regan Smith and his pit crew came by our booth for an autograph signing. We had loud cheers in the tent as everyone was ecstatic to see the #2 driver in the Nationwide standings. Regan loves meeting his fans and they love him — we really are fortunate to have the best driver in NASCAR wear our colors proudly! Regan raced the #7 Breyer’s car that night, but it was great to see some of the pit crew walking around with our America’s Power t-shirts on before they had to change into their fire suits.
The half-mile track certainly proved to be the fastest lap I’ve ever seen. It also didn’t hurt that Dale Jr. was in our pit for the entire race! That was definitely a treat. Regan ended up finishing 5th, maintaining his position as #2 in the overall standings and currently trailing his teammate Chase Elliott by 13 points. I had such a great time meeting new people (and seeing them sport our apparel!), educating other on what we do and what we stand for, as well as staying for the race. Bristol was an absolutely fantastic experience, and I can’t wait to do it again at Chicagoland in three weeks!