BRISTOL, TN. (March 23, 2009)– Rocky Thompson of Oak Ridge, Tenn., has been to the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol almost as many times as NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip. This past Sunday marked Thompson’s 23rd-straight race at the half-mile track. But this time, he got to experience the event in a special way as he was selected by NAPA’s Atlantic Region to be the Honorary Pit Crew Member of Michael Waltrip’s NAPA AUTO PARTS race team during Sunday’s running of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Thompson is no stranger to the garage area thanks to NAPA. He has had the opportunity on three other occasions to get up close and personal with his favorite team – the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS race team. This time however, he was joined by his cousin Mike Thompson to take part in NAPA’s new program for valued customers and clients at select NASCAR Sprint Cup races.
“In the past, I got to come into the garage, but it was kind of limited,” said Thompson. “This Honorary Pit Crew program has been fantastic! It has been great. Everyone on the NAPA team has been great to us.”
The Thompsons enjoyed breakfast in the NAPA Race Day Experience where Rocky was presented with an autographed NAPA AUTO PARTS crew shirt and hat from driver Michael Waltrip. Then the Thompsons were escorted down to the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage where they toured the NAPA hauler and ate lunch with the team. During the pre-race festivities, they joined Waltrip on the Bristol front stretch to support him as he started up a top fuel dragster for the first time in an effort to help promote the upcoming NHRA race at the drag strip. From there, they watched driver introductions and stood on the grid with Waltrip and the NAPA team for the singing of the National Anthem. Instead of going to their grandstand seats to watch the race, the Thompsons chose to truly be a part of the team by being on the pit box and in the pits for the duration of the event.
A highlight for Rocky was when he saw the decal on the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota that had his name on it. “It was the first thing I had to do this morning,” smiled Thompson. “I wanted to see that NAPA car. It was so cool to see my name on it. I have called everyone I know. I hope they watch the race so they can see my name of the car! I even TiVo’d the race at the house.”
Thompson, 40, who owns Thompson Tire and Service Center in Oak Ridge which is about 135 miles from Bristol is proud of his shop and staff. It boasts eight bays and four technicians. “I only use and sell NAPA AUTO PARTS,” stressed Thompson. “NAPA by far has the best parts on the market. I’ve used AutoZone, Advance, O’Reilly and over the years I got tired of using with inferior parts. I have used NAPA exclusively for five years and they treat me really well.”
This season at NASCAR Sprint Cup events where NAPA is hosting its popular Race Day Experience, a guest will be chosen based on different criteria determined by the NAPA management from that region. The Honorary Pit Crew Member program is being offered at Phoenix International Raceway (April 18), Talladega Superspeedway (April 26), Charlotte All-Star Race (May 16), Dover International Speedway (May 31), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (June 28), Chicagoland Speedway (July 11), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 26), Watkins Glen International (August 9), Michigan International Speedway (August 16), Bristol Motor Speedway (August 22), Atlanta Motor Speedway (September 6), Richmond International Raceway (September 12), Kansas Speedway (October 4), Texas Motor Speedway (November 8) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (November 22).