Danica Patrick, Jeff Gordon, Knoxville native Trevor Bayne stops in East Tennessee

11:54 PM, Aug 22, 2013   |    comments
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  • Danica Patrick greets fans at The Island in Pigeon Forge.
  • Jeff Gordon volunteers at a mobile food pantry in the Tri Cities Area.
  • Knoxville Native Trevor Bayne greets fans before taking to the track in Bulls Gap.

(WBIR - Pigeon Forge) It's a big weekend for racing fans. But before NASCAR's superstars take to the tracks, several made stops in East Tennessee Thursday.

NASCAR driver Danica Patrick parked her race car at The Island in Pigeon Forge and spent a couple of hours with some of her biggest fans.

"It's always fun to do an event near a race track because you get a lot of fans who are excited about the weekend. I met a lot of them. And I met a lot of them wearing my t-shirt and I really appreciate that," she said.

Hundreds of Patrick's fans lined up and one by one walked onto the stage to have the racing superstar sign posters, toy cars, and even dollar bills.

"She autographed all of our memorabilia. My 10-year-old daughter is super, super excited. She is really, really nice and I'd like to take her home. I could tuck her into my back pocket. She's super friendly," said Aimee Talbot of Toronto, Canada.

"She's really cool. You get to see a different side of her. Obviously, a lot more ladylike than you'd think. She even made a joke about it," said Scott Wilk of Sevierville.

Patrick's appearance was just one of a few by well-known drivers in East Tennessee.

Veteran racer Jeff Gordon took time Thursday to help the less fortunate. He volunteered at a mobile food pantry in the Tri-Cities Area.

Meanwhile Thursday night, Knoxville native Trevor Bayne got ready for Saturday by doing some racing, though it was on a dirt track in Bulls Gap.

But Patrick's fans say they're rooting for her as she prepares to race in Bristol.

"She an awesome driver. She's just getting started. She had her first year in the nationwide last year and now she's in the cup series. She's got a ways to go and got a lot of learning to do, but she's coming along very well," said Justin Manning of Sevierville.

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