William Byron failed his bid for three straight Wins, but we saw Joey Logano go Pole to Victory Lane (with some other players in the middle). Who can conquer NASCAR’s newest road course? And this is the last time we can say that, because they’ll be at a Chicago Street Race in a few months! That is then, let’s talk about the now.
Here’s what to look for:
–William Byron, remember that guy? Yeah, he snagged the Pole here on Saturday. Still seeking his first Top 10 (11th and 12th), but his teammate Chase Elliott won the inaugural race here. That’s a lot of pressure, isn’t it? He obviously knows his way around here, at least one lap at a time. Can he stretch it to a full race?
–Ross Chastain was our winner last year, getting his first career Win after coming close a number of times. Great average for him, too: 2.5 over two races. If you’re not winning, you’re finishing 4th? Sounds good to me. #1 rolls off 12th today, better than both of his previous starts.
–Alex Bowman did pretty well on the road courses last year. He finished 2nd at this race (8th in his first attempt) in 2022, and carries a 5.0 average finish at the track. With Chase Elliott out of the picture, does that help or hurt his efforts? Teammates can be a valuable asset, but on road courses (where the cars are so equal) they often become obstacles. We’ve seen it happen many times before (see: Chase Elliott / Kyle Larson, over and over again). Can Bowman rise above today?
-We’ve got some fresh faces in this race, and one of them is Jordan Taylor. He’ll be piloting the #9 car that Josh Berry has been behind recently, but he’s got the duties for the road courses. Pulling up some data, in the Weathertech SportsCar Championship, he’s had a few runs here; in four attempts (with between 38 and 52 cars per race) he’s got two Wins and a runner-up finish. His worst was 7th. That HAS to translate to NASCAR somehow, doesn’t it? Good news for us, we don’t have to wait long to find out! After a great Qualifying attempt, he’ll be starting 4th.
–Tyler Reddick is our only other driver with two Top 10s in each attempt here. Like Chastain, he was a guy who worked hard to get that first Win after finishing 2nd multiple times. Today…he’ll start 2nd! His season has not started the way he wanted to, could this be the spark the #45 team needs to get things going in the right direction?
This is where we usually showcase some delicious food that Lisa has prepared. WELP, this time we’re in Florida and are in no position to cook something up. Yesterday, however, we completed something…AMAZING. A lot of people like to Drink Around the World at Epcot. I don’t drink at all, so I Ate Around the World. I told myself I was doing to do it, and I did it. Here is what I (and Lisa) consumed;
These were our first two stops. We hit The Honey Bee-stro immediately once we worked towards the Countries and packed in some Chicken ‘n Waffles and a Honey-Peach Streusel drink. These were pretty good. I liked the cornbread (made with real corn!). Over to Canada (1 of 11), Lisa had some Beef Tips in a Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce or something like that while I ordered the first Poutine I ever ordered. I knew she’d like that (and split a lot of meals all day), but this actually tasted a lot better to me than another other Poutine I’d been around before. I know some folks like the cheese a little different; I was happy with it in the form it was.
Since there’s a sandwich in every beer, we hit the UK next (2 of 11). She got something with Sprite mixed in and I had some 0% deal. I don’t even know what it was. Tasted like every other NA beer I’d ever had.
Next was France (3 of 11), and I figured a dessert was a good approach here. I tried to mix things up. This had walnuts in it and a raspberry drizzle on top. Tasted pretty good. Molten center despite a very resilient outer crust.
I’ve never had Oxtail before, and the prospect of it kinda creeps me out. I said I’d try it, so I tried it. It was pretty good, actually. I don’t mess with rice at all, but the little meat chunks had some zip to it, which I like. Good showing, Oxtail!
Next was Morocco (4 of 11), and we were restricted to one place for walk-up food. Thankfully, this had something we’d be happy eating. I was pursuing another mission (in addition to eating at every country) and we picked up our first Passport Stamp here with the hummus. I tried them all; not for me. Kebabs were good. Lisa liked the Mimosa but it was pretty strong.
The wheels started to fall off here. We sorta split once we got to Japan (5 of 11), partially my fault. Some got in line for beer, but I was looking for good food that I’d eat. I don’t do sushi. I’m not big on rice. Didn’t feel like soup. I’ve had curry before, so the Chicken Cutlet Curry sounded good (pictured: what was left when I said “oh no, we need a picture!”). Unfortunately, I waited in the wrong line for too long, found out it was “Alcohol Only,” so I had to go get in another line. As this was happening, the rest of the group (save Lisa) was watching some American Story deal. We arrived two minutes late and couldn’t go in. So instead, we got to see Berlin perform. Yes! We saw a concert! (“Who is Berlin?”) “Take My Breath Away!” From Top Gun! Wow!
While we were listening, I ran over to Fife & Drum and got The American Dream which had cherry slush on top, vanilla ice cream in the middle, and raspberry slush on the bottom. It was decent, but it was starting to bog me down a bit. USA! USA! (6 of 11.)
Some of the group went on the Guardians of the Galaxy of the ride and we went with some other back towards the center of park. Lisa got this Hibiscus Lemonade (“it tastes like a flower!”). I didn’t have anything here.
And then the rains came.
We ducked into the aquarium to check out some manatees and other sea critters, and then picked up this Cookies ‘n Cream Mousse deal nearby (Stamp #2). It was alright. I was starting to panic looking at the time and knowing that I had FIVE MORE COUNTRIES to conquer still. In like 2 hours. WHAT.
In a panic, swept through Mexico looking to find a fragment of our group. Nothing looking good just yet / long lines. Proceeded to Norway (7 of 11), picked up a Lefse, which is a flatbread dessert roll deal. Has cinnamon and sugar inside, and sort of a paste. Wasn’t the best.
Picked up some Crab Rangoon in China (8 of 11). Had one of these, Lisa ate the other two (she’d been nibbling here and there all day, in addition to rice when available). They were decent. I liked the glaze.
Next we hopped over to the Outpost to pick up Stamp #3 in my book with a Pineapple Skewer. It had something called “taijin” sprinkled on it. One of my favorite things, especially this late in the day. It was sweet and spicy at the same time. Neat!
Stamp #4 was physically in Germany (9 of 11) so a little two-fer here! Potato Pancakes with Homemade Apple Sauce. I’ve never had potato pancakes, registered a lot like diner hashbrowns. Applesauce I’m not a fan of at all, but I powered through it. We hoofed it up to Italy (country 10 of 11) after that for some terrible Margherita Pizza (not pictured) which was roughly 1/8 of a sheet of pizza. Perfect: exactly what you want after you’ve eaten 14 things prior.
With like 30 minutes remaining before everything closed, speedwalked back down to Mexico (11 of 11!) for some Empanadas de Barbacoa. These tasted pretty good, I’d easily put them in the top few things I ate today. I scarfed one, handed off another, and went as quick as I could for my final stamp…
Grilled Street Corn, rolled in some sort of garlic butter (too thick, too garlicy!), and then rolled through spicy corn chips. This might’ve been good at 2pm, but my gosh, not a great food to tackle at 8:45 after everything else you’ve eaten all day. Returned this to Lisa and the rest of our group before going to the Pineapple Promenade to collect my prize…which was physically located very close!
Presenting my Passport, I was given Stamp #6 and some Wildflower Mix along with a treat! I don’t even know exactly what it is. Seemed like some sort of custard, but tasted like lemon ice with a strong undertone, like guava. Very strange. A cool treat to follow up all the warm foods I’d eaten recently. Great finish!
So excited to complete my self-challenged Eat Around the World mission as well as the Garden Graze Passport which I didn’t even know was a thing until I got there! All told, I ate/drank 17 different times (Lisa did everything but Mexico, she was wicked tapped long before). I was asked if I’d do it again, and if I had more time, yeah! I’d sure as heck do it again. Wow!
Coverage of the race today starts on FOX at 3:30pm, green flag scheduled for 3:49pm.