By Ryan Reed, NASCAR XFINITY Series Driver
The anticipation leading up to Bristol race week has been stronger than ever since the new XFINITY Dash 4 Cash format was announced in February. Bristol has always been a dream for those of us that grew up short track racing, but the heat race format really takes us back to our roots. Not to mention – $100,000 is on the line, a possible Chase berth and the potential for a $1,000,000 total payout in Indy if we were to win the Dash 4 Cash at all events and finish first at Indy.
I think we will see a lot of guys play it safe in qualifying and the heat races. If you wreck your car in one of the heats, it will be near impossible to turn it around for the main event. Aside from the money, this could mean major shakeups in the points standings. I think we will see some torn up equipment – I just hope it isn’t ours!
Bristol is also a big weekend for our team because we do a lot of activities to promote diabetes awareness in Bristol. For the second year in a row, I will carry a Diabetes Alert Sticker on the c-post of our car. It’s a pretty cool program the state of Tennessee and Wellmont Health System have for people living with diabetes. People with diabetes can actually get this sticker with doctor’s approval to display on their own car to alert a police officer that they live with diabetes. That way, if they are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, the officer will know to check to see if the individual is instead having difficulty with his or her diabetes. We will also be promoting Wellmont’s efforts to have children tested for diabetes and participate in a program that helps them manage it successfully. It’s awesome to see what this community is doing to reach people living with diabetes or those that are at-risk and is a great reflection of our Drive to Stop Diabetes program.
I’m also looking forward to meeting fans at Bristol’s Food City night on Friday, taking some pictures with the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association show car, and letting fans know how they can be a part of my paint scheme in Phoenix later in the year. We will actually have fans submit answers to how or why they drive their health using this year’s campaign theme, #IDriveMyHealth. Their submissions will later form a word jumble to be used on my Phoenix car.
Looking back on Texas, I was really happy with the speed we had all weekend but we just missed it with the adjustments in-race. We had a really good qualifying effort and started 10th but I felt like we were playing catch up and could never get ahead of what the car was doing. We finished 14th which isn’t terrible but isn’t what we need. Our 1.5 mile program has improved so much and is taking shape on the Cup-side too, so we will continue working.
Off the track, I have been doing a lot of cycling – road and mountain. I also climbed Grandfather Mountain, which is just outside of Charlotte, last week. The more endurance I can build outside of the car, the more it helps me in the race.