Blake Harris is yet another example of the reality that today’s NASCAR isn’t Richard Petty’s NASCAR.
The 28-year-old from Maypearl is home for the AAA Texas 500 this weekend. It’s his 10th year in the business, now working as the car chief for the team of Chase competitor Martin Truex Jr.
What makes him especially unique is that he’s just as much in tune with the sounds of music as he is a stock car engine. The salutatorian of his Maypearl high school class, he bypassed traditional academia for the racing pastures of North Carolina.
Harris was a good student and a race-car driver, having cut his teeth on the Saturday night tracks around Dallas and Fort Worth.
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“I was getting toward the end of my senior year, and my dad was like, ‘OK, what school are you going to? What are you going to do?’ I said I didn’t know. And he said, ‘Where do you want to be in five years?’ I wanted to be in North Carolina working on a race team.
“And he said, ‘why, then, would you stay here and go to school?’ ”
So off to NASCAR Nation he went and some racing schools that helped him get his foot in the door.
“I learn stuff every day in this sport,” said Harris, whose career goal is the job of crew chief. “There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t learn or see something new.”
Much like his teammates learned about him one night during dinner in Denver, where he now lives. One announced that he had heard that Harris could play the piano, and as luck would have it, the restaurant featured a piano.
“I went out and sat down and played a little Chopsticks like I had no idea how to play and then started playing a bunch of stuff. They were, like, “what!?”
He said it
“I’ve been way too busy to not sleep at night. I’ve been beat just about every day of the week. I honestly don’t have a lot of time to think about it. We all want to win the championship. We’ve done a good job of putting ourselves in good position to have a shot at it. Whatever happens, happens. I can only do what I can do.”
— Trucks series leader Erik Jones, who is competing in all three races this week, when asked if, as Matt Crafton was when he was trying to close his first series title two years ago, he was so burdened with anxiety that he couldn’t sleep.
The longest of long shots for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 might be Justin Allgaier, who will start in the very back of the field. Allgaier, 29, has one top-10 finish in two full seasons in Sprint Cup. That came earlier this season at Bristol.
His drives the aptly named … No. 51 Texas Lottery Chevrolet.