Atlanta Motor Speedway Pit Notes 3 - March 5, 2010 SCOUTING JEFF GORDON: Paul Oenick isn't a writer -- that was his wife Karen's job. But since she died of cancer two years ago, Oenick has found himself doing a lot of things he wouldn't ...
Atlanta Motor Speedway Pit Notes 3 - March 5, 2010
SCOUTING JEFF GORDON: Paul Oenick isn't a writer -- that was his wife Karen's job. But since she died of cancer two years ago, Oenick has found himself doing a lot of things he wouldn't normally do. And when he received a message about submitting his Scout to be considered for a special event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he initially ignored it. But something made him open the message back up and respond to it.
"That was all Karen," Oenick said.
But the words were all Paul's. He had simply written that his 11-year-old son, Jared, had been through a lot. Diagnosed as an infant with polycystic kidney disease, Jared underwent a kidney transplant just months before losing his mom. As Paul said in his quickly written note, a little something special would mean a lot to young Jared.
The Boy Scouts agreed, and today Jared Oenick and seven other deserving Cub Scouts met Jeff Gordon, got his autograph and hung out with him for about 30 minutes in the Atlanta Motor Speedway infield.
Gordon, who last year received Scouting's prestigious Silver Buffalo award, was on hand Friday to help the Scouts race their Pinewood Derby cars and to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Scouting.
"This is one of the coolest things that's ever happened to me," Jared said. "Jeff Gordon is my favorite race car driver. I have a racing video game and he's on the front of it."
It was also pretty cool for Paul Oenick, who was thrilled to see Jared and his brother with gigantic smiles.
"It made me feel so proud to see Jared standing next to Jeff Gordon; he's what a scout should be, and he's keeping up his positive attitude," Paul said. "He and his brother, they're helping me through all of this."
WHAT ABOUT THE TIRES? The big question mark for most drivers heading into this weekend's Kobalt Tools 500 remains the tires. After repeated complaints about tire wear in Atlanta, Goodyear has brought another combination for Sunday's race.
"Goodyear's hardest job is to figure out what makes the best race," Burton said. "When you have 40 drivers, you have 40 opinions. For me, I like a tire that makes good grip and keeps a fair amount of grip during the run."
Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr. and Sam Hornish spent two January days testing for Goodyear at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and all of them agreed that the new tire should offer better grip -- and in turn, much better racing -- than in recent memory.
"Goodyear brought a tire that will be an improvement over what we had last fall," Martin said Friday. "The cool weather is going to be favorable for the cars' handling, and this multi-groove race track makes for a lot of fun."