Following a post-race late-night flight from Delaware, NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer peeled into the Save Mart parking lot on Folsom Boulevard on Monday afternoon - in a 13-foot-tall motorized shopping cart.
"I've done a lot of promotions at supermarkets, but this is my first time in Sacramento - and first time driving a giant shopping cart," Bowyer said. "That shopping cart ought to be a must in every red-neck garage. It's not exactly the best-handling thing in the world, but it's super-cool - and fast, too."
Third in the current Sprint Cup standings, Bowyer came to Sacramento to promote this month's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. The road course will host its 25th Sprint Cup race June 23.
Driving his No. 15 Toyota, Bowyer is Sonoma's defending champion. For his whirlwind promotional schedule, he could use some help from his sponsor, 5-Hour Energy drink.
"We're between Dover (Delaware) and Pocono (in Pennsylvania) on Sunday," Bowyer noted with a smile. "So, we squeezed in Sacramento before I swing home to Kansas. All I can say is somebody needs to look at a globe before they book appearances."
More than 100 NASCAR fans turned up Monday to meet Bowyer. Of course, he raced - through the supermarket aisles. He left the giant cart outside, but took part in a grocery dash against longtime fan Dennis Kurrell.
Kurrell, a custom home electronics designer in Auburn, has attended every Sprint Cup race at Sonoma.
"Something like this just blows my mind," Kurrell said of racing Bowyer. "Clint is a great guy and one of my favorite drivers.
"I love NASCAR, I love Sonoma," Kurrell added. "It's wonderful there. It's my playland."
Even on foot, Bowyer made the supermarket dash look like his playland. With a grocery list of "race weekend staples," he sprinted through the store, snagging soda, chips, charcoal and sausage. Bowyer completed his shopping - including checkout - in 1 minute 49 seconds, besting Kurrell by half a minute.
"When I drove the Cherrios (sponsored) car (for General Mills), I used to do this kind of thing a lot," Bowyer said. "Poor Dennis; I've had more experience. That always gives you a competitive edge."
Bowyer's race almost derailed for what he thought was fan interference. But among the items on his shopping list was "sign an autograph."
"I've got to apologize," Bowyer said. "It was a like a crash on the racetrack; you don't mean to, but it happens. He was all dressed up in a Clint Bowyer hat, shirt and everything - he was even holding a bottle of 5-Hour Energy - and I ran right over him. Then, I realized I was supposed to sign - and he comes sprinting after me!
"That's the one thing I learned on this visit to Sacramento," Bowyer added with a grin. "You've got to be aggressive or you'll get run over - even in the supermarket."
Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.