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Sunday, April 18, 2010
It's not a total washout for NASCAR fans

By Randy Jennings/Special contributor

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Bell Lopez of Dalhart was stepping out of a friend's travel bus to check ribs on the grill at the time Sunday's racing doubleheader was postponed.

After two days of camping in the Texas Motor Speedway infield, Lopez and her friends had seen over two and a half inches of rain, but no NASCAR racing.

Yet she hardly sounded disappointed.

"I've always been a die-hard fan and this is my first time to be at a race,'' Lopez said. "I've had a great time, walking around, talking to everybody. We're staying for Monday.''

Kenney Boilek was another soggy but understanding camper on the other end of the infield. The Alabama resident attends a couple of NASCAR races every year. He's attending his fourth at TMS.

"I came to one here that was colder, but none that were wetter,'' Boilek said.

Like Lopez, he is staying to see how it turns out on Monday.

"When you plan to go to something like this you have to be aware that it might take until Monday,'' he said.

Monday rescheduling info: Fans denied weekend racing by rain can get their fill Monday if the encouraging weather forecast holds true. First up will be the Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at 11 a.m. (CT) followed by the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 Nationwide Series event at 4 p.m. Gates will open at 9 a.m.

Fans holding tickets for either race over the weekend will be allowed to attend both events Monday. Doubleheader tickets, starting at $91, will be available at the TMS ticket office. For additional ticket information, call 817-215-8500.

Pace car driver Modano confident: With a Sunday morning practice run under his belt, celebrity pace car driver Mike Modano said he was reasonably confident he could get the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro to 45 mph and hold it.

The Dallas Stars' all-time leading scorer joked he was a little worried about being bumped by Tony Stewart, the Samsung Mobile 500 pole sitter.

TMS president Eddie Gossage said the pace car honors seemed fitting for the man he called the "face of hockey in Texas.''

Modano said he was allowed to get the pace car up to about 90 mph during his practice session on the wet track.

As far as future hockey plans, whether it be playing another season or possibly getting involved with the Stars as a part-owner, the 39-year-old Modano said it was too early to make a call.

"I'll have to wait and see if I can muster up one more year," he said. "I kind of like the idea of owner, but then you get blamed a lot, too.''

Olympian denied chance to display gold medal: With no race and, therefore, no pace lap, San Antonio native Justin Olsen was denied a chance to show off his Olympic four-man bobsled gold medal.

Olsen was scheduled to ride in a pace truck and give fans a look at the medal hanging around his neck.

Olsen's ties with TMS go back to the earliest days of the track when his father, Brad, was a regular infield camper for race weekends.

"It's a little colder in my event,'' said Olsen, who turned 23 on Friday. "If it was sunny, we wouldn't have a race.''

Dryers were ready: Even if Sunday's drizzle had stopped, the jet dryers used by TMS require a minimum of 2½ hours to do their job. And the job isn't cheap. The dryers operate for 50 minutes on a tank of jet fuel, and a tank holds 175 gallons. TMS has 20,000 gallons available.

Notes: Another victim of Sunday's rain was a prerace concert by 1970s rock star Peter Frampton. … After 1.83 inches of rain Saturday, more than half an inch fell Sunday. … Native Texan Bobby Labonte, who qualified 41st, is driving the No. 71 Texans for Rick Perry Chevrolet Impala in the Samsung Mobile 500.