A trio of Turner Motorsports drivers visited Zoo Atlanta on Thursday to promote the upcoming NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
While there, drivers Reed Sorenson, Jason Leffler and Justin Allgaier painted with Kelly, a resident elephant at the zoo. Kelly paints as part of her many different enrichment activities provided by the zoo. Each party painted their own design, with the favorite selected by the cheers of the on looking crowd. Despite the drivers' best attempts, Kelly won easily.
All of the driver's paintings will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to support Speedway Children's Charities.
For Sorenson, a Peachtree City native, coming back to AMS is a homecoming.
"I'm looking forward to it," Sorenson said. "It's always good to come back to the hometown to race. Fortunately it's sponsored by one of our team sponsors in Great Clips, so it's pretty cool to be a part of that, and come out here a little bit early and enjoy the zoo a little bit. I'm looking forward to coming back here in a few weeks.
"Anytime a race car driver gets to come back to their hometown and race, it means a lot. I look forward to coming back here and trying to get into victory lane."
Sorenson is currently locked in a tight battle for the points championship, just three markers out of first. With 13 races left, the intensity is picking up.
"It's going to be tough," Sorenson said. "There's still five or six of us that are going to be able to win this thing. There's still a lot of racing to go, and each race is just as important as the next. And hopefully we can come to Atlanta in a few weeks and be able to get a good run in front of the hometown fans, and maybe a win."
With Great Clips being the title sponsor of the Great Clips 300, there is an added prestige in the event for Leffler, driver of the No. 38 Great Clips Chevrolet.
"Coming to Atlanta is awesome," Leffler said. "It's a drivers' track, and the fact that it's the Great Clips 300 and Great Clips is our primary sponsor. They have been a big supporter of our race team and me in my career. So there's no better race to win than the Great Clips 300. Especially at Atlanta, I love that track. There are so many different grooves of racing. It's a lot of fun."
Leffler notes that a good run at AMS can propel you to strong results for the remainder of 2011.
"Labor Day weekend is kind of the mark of the last quarter of the season," Leffler said. "You want to run good there. It just builds momentum like any other place, but you want to finish the season off strong and it helps all throughout the off-season."
Allgaier, who currently sits fourth in the point standings, should have a good run at Atlanta. With his dirt track background, AMS fits his driving style perfectly.
"I'm super pumped to come to Atlanta," Allgaier said. "It's a great facility. It's probably one of the race tracks that we go to that doesn't have a ton of grip, which is great for me coming from a dirt background. To go there under the lights, to be slipping and sliding around, and to have the speeds that we carry, it's just going to be an amazing weekend. We're all going to have a lot of fun, and looking forward to it."
NASCAR night racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway this Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-4. Tickets for the AdvoCare 500 start at $39 and $19 for students. Children 12 and under admitted free for the Great Clips 300 and the Atlanta 200 with an adult ticket. For more information, call the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (877) 9-AMS-TIX, (770) 946-4211 or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.