BROOKLYN, Mich. — NASCAR's FireKeepers Casino 400 is happening Sunday, and fans are starting to come in now to enjoy the weekend’s festivities like Pete and his brother Charlie Owens, who are from Indiana and have been coming here for 25 years.
“We’ve met a lot of neat people over the years with the same interests,” Pete Owens said. “People from Illinois that come here every time with us. So, everybody meets here for the same reason. Friends from Green Bay, Wisconsin. We got friends from Minnesota that just party and come on down.”
A big theme from the drivers? On Sunday, it’s going to be fast.
“Michigan is fast. High banks. You got to constantly be working on the car to be able keep that throttle pedal down. The person that can run wide open the longest is usually in pretty good shape,” driver Austin Dillon said.
“I think it’s good racing. It’s high speed. There’s kind of a mixture of Speedway racing with the draft, and I’ve got a good feel for the track, and I’m confident when I show up there, it’s just to hopefully be our weekend that the result really shows,” driver and Austin’s brother Ty Dillon said.
By day, Morgen Baird is a staffing agency recruiter, but the Jackson resident also has a need for speed. Now for the seventh consecutive year, he will be competing in Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series.
“My dad and grandpa both work at Ford and Roush,” he said. “My grandpa was an engineer at Ford for over 30 years. My father has always been into race cars, Mustangs, stuff like that. I mean, when I was growing up, NASCAR was what was on TV. So, I took a liking to that.”
He’s honoring the three Jackson County men who passed away at last year’s Faster Horses music festival – Dawson Brown, Kole Sova and Richie Mays, Jr. – with a decal on his car. This is the second year he’s paid tribute to keep their legacies alive.
“Some of those events can make you think big picture as far as when things aren’t going right in your life. Some people would do a lot to get those boys back. It’s a small gesture, but I’m happy to do it,” he said. “I’m really proud to represent the young men, and I’ll be happy to run it every time I run out there as long as I have permission from the family.”
Experience Jackson has partnered with both Baird and Ryan Vargas. Vargas will be driving car number six on Sunday during the FireKeepers Casino 400.
The race weekend will include a scavenger hunt through the Experience Jackson app, where visitors can check in targets located throughout the fan plaza for a chance to win a $2,500 prize package for 2023.
“Our team has had a great relationship with the folks at Experience Jackson, and they partnered with us last year on a smaller scale,” Vargas said. “This year they jumped on board in a big way with a beautiful paint scheme on our race car this weekend for the race, and it’s super special to partner with a local group in their main market. I think that’s a big thing.”
Tune in Sunday as we will have coverage from FOX 47 Sports reporter Thomas Cook at Michigan International Speedway.
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