Okay, okay, so I wasn’t part of the team that won this year’s Capture the Crown event in Indy, but hey, you can’t win ‘em all, right? It was an epic scavenger hunt and a valiant effort from my squad, but we didn’t capture the ultimate prize – tickets to the Super Bowl (I know, I know – crazy huh?). So no repeat this year, but I did get to enjoy an amazing weekend of purple cup parties with friends, heroes, country music stars and bow season enthusiasts.

Say Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard…

This year’s NASCAR race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was another mouthful of a title, but for very good reason. Crown Royal presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com was the full official title of this year’s Brickyard 400. Samuel Deeds was awarded the naming rights to the race after beating out four other finalists in Crown Royal’s “Your Hero’s Name Here” program.

We wrote a bit about Deeds before the race, but the dude was truly taking it all in this weekend. A diehard NASCAR fan, Deeds must’ve loved every minute of dominating the Indy scene. Hats off to him for his much deserved honor.

Art Makes #BowSeason Happen

Frequent MANjr contributor, everyday angel and all-around badass Art Eddy III was not only a member of the winning Capture the Crown team (hey, I make a super good plus-one, bro!), he was also responsible for making #BowSeason a trending topic on most major social media channels. After speaking to some local NASCAR fans during the Justin Moore concert that took place at the track on Saturday night, Art discovered that hunting with a bow and arrow is not only a thing, it’s a way of life, really. So Art proceeded to toss around the term Bow Season fairly hard for the rest of the evening. And man, #BowSeason took off. It came to encompass so much more than deer huntin’ the old fashioned way. It became a rally cry. It became a legit hashtag, a lyric placement, a photo pose and oh yes, a dance move (hat tip to Tracy Pendergast for that).

You’re Welcome, Ryan Newman

One of our scavenger hunt tasks was to secure an autograph from a NASCAR driver. So I saw a driver dressed in red walking with some serious swagger and I approached him with my hot pass in hand and requested a signature. What happened next was something to be remembered, as you can see from this photo, the meeting was, in a word, special.

I clearly had some sort of impact on his racing performance, because it just so happens that shortly after meeting me, Ryan Newman set a new track record at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And then he, you know, went on to win the race the next day. Coincidence or the result of positive Stout juju? You decide.

Justin Moore Wins Me Over

I love music, but I’m not really a country fan. It just happened that way. Some people are a little bit country, some are a little bit rock and roll, and some people lean soul, funk and disco. It’s just how things shake out.

Anyway, when Justin Moore was performing this weekend, something clicked. It wasn’t necessarily the lyrics (I can’t really relate to a song like, “Guns,” for example), but the dude’s a good performer. And his band mates were cool, too. I found myself transitioning from “I’m not sure if I’m going to be into this,” to “this isn’t so bad,” to “oh damn, I’m actually singing along now,” to “let me look this guy up on Spotify while I’m chilling at the airport.” So yea, it was a pretty big swing for me musical-taste-wise.

And it didn’t hurt that the guy was super cool and approachable as well. Saturday night he showed up at our hotel bar wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers hat on. That’s all it took for me to buy him another Michelob.

Later that night I found myself talking to an older dude named Curt, a farmer and Chiefs fan from Missouri. Curt mentioned that he was a big Justin Moore fan. I said that’s cool cause Justin was sitting right across from us at the bar. Curt objected. He said he had been to like six Justin Moore concerts and that wasn’t Justin Moore. I said it’s totally him and c’mon I’ll introduce you. So I did. And Curt was super stoked about it and he got an autograph, a handshake and a big smile out of it. I saw him at the track the next day and his buddies knew all about the guy who introduced Curt to Justin Moore. Fun times!

Good People

There were too many good people on this trip to list. I mean walking into a group like that after arriving late Friday night was just overwhelmingly awesome. My teammates were all cool. The competitors were cool. Just tons of good memories. I mean who the hell orders a salad at a Steak and Shake? Who knew about Deer Fest 2013? Or that country music could be tolerated to the point of enjoyment? Who knew I’d be the key to victory for Ryan Newman? And who knew that sipping Crown Royal responsibly for an entire weekend would make for such great times?

Okay, we probably all knew about that last bit. But seriously – sipping Crown and Coke for days is a really solid way to maintain a fun vibe. I highly/responsibly recommend it.

Thanks again to our friends at Crown for another memorable race weekend at the largest sports venue in the USA. Good company, flawless weather and a well-planned event made for another successful Capture the Crown experience. I look forward to redeeming myself next year and taking back that title!

If you want to support the Crown Royal Heroes program and get a free Justin Moore song in the process, visit CrownHeroesSong.com and score your free download of Moore’s son “Heroes.” Crown Royal donated $1 for every free download leading up to the race and presented a check for $10,000 to the Armed Forces Foundation. It’s a good song so go grab it!

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