STEWART LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING RAGAN: Tony Stewart said that when he heard David Ragan had paid $5,750 to ride along with him during Sunday's parade lap, he laughed out loud.
"I think it's hilarious; it's great," Stewart said. "He could have saved a little money by just picking up the phone and calling me, but at least it's for a good cause."
Ragan won the ride during Thursday night's Speedway Children's Charities auction, which benefited both the Speedway Children's Charity and the Ryan Newman Foundation.
ON ACOUSTIC GUITAR, MIKE SKINNER: To pass the time during Friday's weather, Mike Skinner said he hung out with his crew, watched TV ... and played the acoustic guitar?
"I wouldn't say I play, but I've had it since 2000," Skinner said modestly.
Skinner received his first guitar from Ronnie Dunn of Brooks and Dunn, and he said he's been playing ever since. His favorite songs include country ditties from Gary Allan and, of course, Brooks and Dunn.
"If I get my audience drunk enough, I sound pretty good," Skinner joked.
MAD MAX MISSING BIGGEST FAN: "Mad" Max Papis, the 2004 Grand Am Road Racing Champion, has a chance to win the IROC championship today. But he'll be attempting that feat without his biggest fan present.
His wife, Tatiana, will miss her first race because of the death of her grandmother. She is back in Brazil this weekend with family, but she will do her best to keep up with Papis' day.
"She told me she's going to call Jimmie Johnson's wife every three minutes to get an update," Papis said. "I feel like a piece of me is missing with her not here."
Papis said that Tatiana even made it to the Watkins Glen race, where he was competing in the Busch Series, only three weeks after giving birth to their son, Marco. At the mention of his son's name, the proud father's face lights up.
"Everything changes, but all for the better," Papis said. "He's funny. You can already tell racing is in his blood. My wife is the daughter of Emmo (former Formula One and Indianapolis 500 champion Emerson Fittipaldi) and she called me yesterday to say they had little Marco in Emerson's Formula One car that won the world championship. And he didn't want to get out."
Papis cringes as he says this, seeming to infer that he hopes his son won't get into such a dangerous sport. After a moment's consideration, he says, "No, that's not it; I wouldn't mind, but I don't want to impose it on him. That's why his room is covered in soccer balls and golf balls. I want him to do what he chooses."
Still, don't be surprised if Marco Papis is one day challenging for an IROC title of his own.