Before Saturday's big race, fans find lots to see and do at Kentucky Speedway

ngray@herald-leader.comJune 27, 2014 

Tyler Megna, 15, and his father, John Megna, 48, of Alpharetta, Ga., have been to nine NASCAR race tracks together, but Friday was their first time at Kentucky Speedway. They were going to enjoy every minute they could together.

"How could you not want to watch this in person?" John Megna said while watching the second practice of the day. "(Kentucky Speedway) is a wonderful facility, and I love watching those drivers try to navigate the bumps (in Turns 3 and 4). We both love it."

The father and son follow all of NASCAR's top series and made the drive to watch every race at the track this weekend.

"I'm tired of watching (Kyle Busch) do that," Tyler Megna, a Chase Elliott fan, said regarding Busch's win on Thursday that continued a perfect streak this season in the Camping World Truck Series.

Dan Hilbun, 48, and Lauren Reynolds, 21, of Cincinnati were also at the track during the early practices. Hilbun is especially excited to absorb all the racing he can this weekend — he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012 and underwent a bone-marrow transplant.

"But I'm good now," Hilbun said, smiling.

Hilbun, a Brad Keselowski fan, received tickets to the weekend's races from his wife as a present for his recovery along with his birthday.

His wife and other family members will join Hilbun and Reynolds on the third row on Saturday night. This weekend will be Reynolds' first exposure to live racing.

After the Sprint Cup Series' first practice, her first impressions could be summed up as "loud. Very, very loud."

Hilbun reminded Reynolds that their third-row seats on Saturday would get them as close to the race cars as they could get without actually being on the track. She rolled her eyes.

They were sitting in the shade between practice sessions, where they met Charlene Schweitzer, 69, of Cold Springs, Ky., who said her favorite part of being at the race track is meeting new people.

"Anyone can sit and watch the races at home," Schweitzer said. "I love coming and meeting new friends, like these people right here. You can't get that at home."

Nick Buscher, 12, and Dave Buscher, 54, of Cincinnati, have been coming to Kentucky Speedway ever since "Nick knew racing," Dave Buscher said.

And Dave's grandson certainly knows racing. His favorite driver is Jeff Gordon, and he watches tapes of races from Gordon's heyday in the 1990s.

In between practice sessions, Nick Buscher rattled off drivers from the Nationwide and Camping World Trucks Series, mentioning that he is not a fan of Kyle Busch in either of those series, but he is a fan of Ryan Blaney.

"He's not a ball-and-stick kid, that's for sure," Dave Buscher said about his grandson.

The Buscher family usually comes out to the track in droves. "It was 10 of us last year," Dave Buscher said.

But work obligations left only the grandfather and his grandson Friday. Nick and Dave Buscher almost could go to the track Friday. Their van broke down Thursday, and they did not get home until very late Thursday, well past Nick's bedtime.

"But Nick was up at 8 a.m., ready to go to the track," Dave Buscher said. "Those are the kinds of memories you'll always remember. He still has the itch to come here with me, and I love that."

Nick Gray: (859) 231-1330. Twitter: @ngray_63.

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