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34 • February 15-28,

34 • February 15-28, 2018 Features Writer says NASCAR drivers can learn from Fernando Alonso’s grace Recruiting Area Terminals Jenna Fryer AP AUTO RACING WRITER DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Fernando Alonso doesn’t like every aspect of his job but understands professionals have obligations they must meet. For the two-time Formula One world champion it meant daily press briefings during his stints in the Indianapolis 500 and the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He flew to North Carolina to promote the sports car race, made a video at NASCAR’s request for Jimmie Johnson, participated in autograph sessions at both events and signed autographs for fans in the garage. “You understand there are some obligations when you accept a job, and you try to enjoy those obligations, even if it’s not your favorite part of your job,” Alonso said after yet another visit to Daytona’s media center. Then he explained that fans had sent him photos of the scoring tower at Indianapolis when it showed him leading the race. When he led two laps in the Rolex over the weekend, fans sent him similar pictures. “I think those moments, they pay off whatever obligations you have to do,” he said. There’s a debate in NASCAR, started recently by Kyle Busch, over the way the series is marketing its drivers. The current push is behind a crop of young, fresh faces who should captain the sport for the next two decades. That irks Busch because he didn’t receive the same marketing support early in his career, and he believes some of NASCAR’s attention b Garcia from page 33 b ally short attention span so you’ve got to really wake them up.” For the fifth time, Garcia drove about 2,700 miles, including driving in a 10-day convoy, as part of the annual Wreaths Across America event, where truckers and individuals travel to Arlington National Cemetery near Washington or to more than 1,000 cemeteries across the country and abroad to lay wreaths on the graves of military personnel. It took place December 16. “We have a lot of the Gold Star families with us and they drive the other vehicles and cars with us. We give rides to the wives and some of the family members. I think what really touched me was one of the wives with us … had two kids when her husband was shot down, and just hearing her story and realizing how tough it was for them — it was during the Vietnam War,” he said. “It makes you appreciate what these guys do to keep our freedoms. It makes you think twice about the cost of it.” Outside of trucking, Garcia has competed for 30 years in the Natural Athlete Strength Association in powerlifting, earning numerous championships. Through the association, he trains young men in high school on how to lift weights safely and Garcia really enjoys it. “I like doing it because it teaches them if you work hard at something, you can achieve great things; at the same time, it gets them should be placed on the veterans. It’s a fair point, but one that likely annoyed NASCAR brass. Why? Because Busch is part of a generation of drivers that grew far too entitled to remember how the sport grew to its current heights. The drivers in the Hall of Fame right now used to sit in chairs outside their haulers chatting with anyone who stopped. They leaned against stacks of tires to talk business, they killed time hanging out with NASCAR’s competition officials in the at-track office. Then came the private planes and motorhomes and golf carts. Drivers now ride carts out of the gated motorhome lot at Charlotte Motor Speedway and through the fan zone to get to the grid. They don’t walk through the crowd and sign autographs. They go from Point A to Point B and don’t want anything impeding their trip. Track owners complain the drivers don’t want to do enough to help promote races, journalists argue they don’t get enough access to drivers. Both are correct: NASCAR drivers simply have not been as accessible as they need to be for a sport that is losing fans at an alarming rate. In defense of the drivers, though, their schedules are stretched thin. But much of that is taken by sponsor requirements — fulfilling the obligations set by the people who pay their bills — and team dealings. When they are finished, the race to the airport is almost as exciting as the Daytona 500. 8 strong at the sport,” he said. His own personal accomplishments include a 550-pound squat, benching 410 and “my best deadlift is 575,” he said. “I like competing in this association because they test to make sure no one uses steroids.” The need to give back is something that stirs deep in Garcia’s soul and is rooted in his Christian faith. He earned an associate degree in theology 25 years ago and is an elder at the nondenominational Legacy Church. “I wasn’t even thinking of going into the ministry as far as preaching. I always wanted to know more about the Bible so I went to school to find out more. I just really liked it because it was history and it was very interesting,” he said. The church has four campuses and his is the only campus that’s mobile. He helps bring a trailer of equipment to his town of Rio Rancho to set up for two full services, including a live band and a streaming of the service when it starts at one of the other campuses. It takes 40 minutes to set up and another 30 to break down, not including the services. Garcia said he relies on the strength of God every day, no matter where he travels, to live out his faith. “I’m able to listen to the Bible when I’m on the road and I of course pray for protection,” Garcia said. “I’m a true believer that you live out your faith in the way you treat other people. I try to help people. … I try to help other drivers.” 8 Features February 15-28, 2018 • 35 EXPERIENCE THE ENTIRE TRUCKING INDUSTRY MARCH 22-24, 2018 LOUISVILLE, KY The Mid-America Trucking Show is the largest annual heavy-duty trucking event in the world. With over 1,000,000 sq. ft. of exhibits and events, you will discover the newest industry products, experience hands-on demonstrations, talk with product experts and engineers, and participate in educational seminars and special events. MATS will improve your career and grow your business, so make plans now to join 70,000+ industry peers at MATS 2018. For a full list of exhibitors, schedule of events, and to register to attend, please visit MATSAd10.375x11.34.indd 1 1/15/18 5:03 PM