NEWTON, Iowa - The third of my three NASCAR Nationwide Series races that I'm traveling to just ended, but I'm hardly done with this trip. No, it's really just getting started.
It's been a weird trip, for sure, with things going on nowhere near me that have affected my life. But I'm going to soldier on. Not that it's all been bad on this trip.
No, there's been some pretty cool things:
I had dinner at a rest stop on the side of the road in the mountains of North Carolina, all while police surrounded a car not 50 feet from me.
I got to hear Lonnie Clouse's final sermon as MRO Chaplain for the Nationwide Series. Man, I'm going to miss him. But our loss is Back2Back Ministries gain. The orphans of Monterrey, Mexico are in good hands.
I was there for the Carl Edwards vs. Brad Keselowski fiasco at Gateway International Raceway. That helped turn into the best day for NNSracing.com in its brief history. Thank you, fans, for reading my drivel.
I stayed at a really nice campground in Effingham, Ill., complete with cable TV. That may not sound like much to you, but try going a week without TV. You'll learn to appreciate it. And the owners of Camp Lakewood were truly extraordinary.
I sweated it out at O'Reilly Raceway Park, which is becoming my favorite race track in the country. St. Louis was darn hot, but Indy was hotter this summer. And I still think race fans in Indiana may be the best anywhere, and I'm from North Carolina.
I got to visit with my cousin, Don Poppen, and his wife, Cathy, and we even started a Facebook page for Poppen's Auto Service, a company that's been in my family for 75 years. And I got to watch as Don changed the oil in the Buschmobile, learning that it hadn't been changed in nearly three years.
Don, Cathy and I strolled down 119th Street in Whiting, Ind., for the 2010 Pierogi Fest. Loved it. And while I'm not crazy about pierogi, there was other food there that was fantastic.
I took my Aunt Carolyn out for dinner at Cracker Barrel, but she ended up paying!
I've now been able to see every NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway. OK, so there have been only two, but Iowa truly is a great facility, with great people and great fans. Hope they get a second Nationwide date.
Now, I'm off for a Tour de Iowa, going to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, the Field of Dreams in Dyersville and the National Farm Toy Museum in West Branch. After that, I'm headed to Nashville Superspeedway via some more stops in Illinois, including, I hope, a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives jaunt.
I sure am a lucky guy.