In the Fast Lane motorsports column: If the Coca-Cola 600 was a Beatles song, it would be "A Hard Day's Night."
If the Coca-Cola 600 was a Beatles song, it would be "A Hard Day's Night."
The 600-mile race, the longest on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, begins in late afternoon and runs far into the evening.
"Running the Coca-Cola 600 is a long day's work," said Caterpillar-sponsored driver Jeff Burton. "It's the longest race of the year and it starts late in the day, so those two things make it harder. Waiting to start the race is emotionally hard."
Burton said all the different race start times play havoc with drivers' eating and sleeping schedules, but this one is especially hard.
"Then you add 600 miles of racing on top of that," he said. "It's a perfect storm of stuff going on that makes this race a challenge. Don't get me wrong - there are no excuses. You have to be physically ready no matter what."
Burton has won the 600 twice, in 1999 and 2001, and won the fall race at Charlotte last year.
"We were fast and could make stuff happen," he said. "We need to do the same thing this weekend, but make it last an extra 100 miles."
Brian Long is the general manager at Hoerr Racing Products in Peoria, Ill., but he's also had a pretty nice racing record this month.
Long won twice in the SCCA GT1 class at Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit. He also was on pole for both races and set the track record in his class in the most recent event last weekend, running a lap of one minute, 6.98 seconds on the 1.95-mile road course.
Long has been racing 10 years, the same length of time he's been general manager at HRP, and is able to use his time at the racetrack in multiple ways.
"I use the racing to promote the company," he said. "And I sell parts to all my competitors."
It also doesn't hurt to have the boss, and former IMSA champion, Irv Hoerr around for advice.
"He has definitely helped," said Long. "I definitely have a lot of resources."
Long's next big race is the June Sprints at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Force open house
Many fans who travel to Indianapolis for the 500 follow other types of racing, too, and might enjoy this side trip.
John Force Racing East, the Midwest headquarters of the Funny Car team, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT Saturday as part of the third annual Brownsburg Motorsports Network Open House.
Brownsburg, Ind., which is 10 miles west of Indianapolis on Interstate 74, is headquarters to a number of drag racing shops.
Fans visiting the Force complex can see cars on display as well as visit the machine shop, fab shop and paint shop. Force's souvenir trailer also will be on site.
Fans will not be able to see the Eric Medlen Tribute Room yet, as it is still under construction. It is scheduled to be finished in time for the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend.
Flooding has affected many businesses in the last two weeks, and Peoria Speedway is another victim. Check out the photos of the track at http://peoriaspeedway.webs.com from last Saturday to see why events at the speedway this weekend have been cancelled.
Water had receded enough by Wednesday that owner Sherrie Hamilton said they could get in on the concession-stand side and begin cleanup there.
"We plan on reopening on the 30th," said Hamilton. "We thought we could do it this Saturday but it's just too much."
It's been 10 years since the track has flooded like this, though it used to be a regular occurrence.
"I guess that's the only good thing," Hamilton said.
Sarah Fisher will appear on "The Price Is Right" on Friday.
She'll present a showcase that will include a trip to this year's Indianapolis 500. ... Jeff Gordon underwent a facet block procedure on Monday to help alleviate the back pain he's been having.
Jane Miller is the Peoria Journal Star motorsports columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.