On the first day Cary had a seat fitting at the shop to ensure that the seat was a comfort
After the tour, Cary sat down with J.D. Gibbs and talked for more than an hour, interrupted only once by J.D.'s father, Super Bowl-winning coach, Joe Gibbs.
J.D. made it perfectly clear to Cary that this was a real opportunity, "Cary, I tell you, much is said about the youth movement, but if you go out and turn some amazing laps, I'll put you in that ride for next year," said Gibbs. This really was no joke. After we finished speaking with J.D. he showed us around a little more of the Cup shop before wrapping up the day.
Tuesday was a travel day and when we arrived at South Boston on Wednesday Cary said, "I'm not so much nervous as I am just anxious, I just want to get out there."
One of the highlights of the week was when Cary got to meet Super Bowl-winning coach, Joe
The most Cary had seen of the track was just a glimpse of the layout on the Internet. Being a smart racer, he made a few phone calls. "Trey Mitchell, who races at South Boston, used to race at Thunderhill, so I got a hold of him to get some pointers," Cary said. "He is a local Texas guy who moved up here and he said it's a lot like my home track, where the fast groove is on the bottom."
After a night of restless sleep Cary, Kelli, and Dennis showed up at South Boston Speedway at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, which might have been the coldest day yet this winter in Virginia. It was 24 degrees outside. Needless to say, I was horribly unprepared for the cold weather, thankfully Kelli was (thanks again for the hand warmers).
J.D. Gibbs spent more than two hours speaking with Cary and showing him the Cup Shop.
As the group battled the cold weather, the cars were prepped and around 10 a.m., the engines were fired and warmed up. The racer in me started looking at the cars to get a gauge on how well they were prepared. I wanted to know if this experience was a genuine test, or if it was more of a ride-along. I quickly noticed that the cars had full data acquisition systems. JGR was going to be recording everything from shock travel data to driver input data. I was convinced that this was going to be a true test for Cary.
As Cary was getting strapped in for his test I leaned in the window and said, "You know the problem is going to be once you drive this thing, you're going to want to buy one after that."
Cary getting strapped in to the Camping World East car.
"Ha! I couldn't afford one of these," Cary laughed back. "Heck, I couldn't afford a set of tires for this car." Cary finished getting strapped in and took out to the 4/10-mile short-track. A lot of laps were spent just getting everything warm. Finally, Cary started to pick up the pace, and in a matter of time the car was up to full speed. Earlier in the morning we found out that Marc Davis, the regular driver of the car, had shown up the prior day and shook the car down. The crew let us know that Davis ran 16.0s pretty consistently the day before.
Cary turned about 15 to 20 laps in his first session and honestly looked extremely smooth. I expected to see the back end snap out a little in his early sessions because of the added horsepower of these cars. As he pulled the car in I leaned over to a crewmember and asked him how Cary did. "Ummm, he turned a two that time," was the response.
"16.2?" I asked.