FORT WORTH, Texas – A large banner on the broadcast center at Texas Motor Speedway loudly touts the “New Kids on the Track,” an homage to the 20-somethings who will propel the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series into the future.
Pictured on the banner are likenesses of Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, William Byron and Alex Bowman, who collectively make up more than 15 percent of a typical Cup series starting field.
Clearly, the slogan derives from the Boston-based boy band New Kids on the Block, whose first incarnation was active during the 1980s and 1990s. That being the case, most of the “New Kids on the Track” weren’t around during the band’s heyday.
“We were actually just talking about it in the hauler, and I don’t know the New Kids on the Block,” Jones said after Friday’s opening practice for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the 1.5-mile track (2 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). “I was born in 1996, and the last year they were a group was 1995.
“They asked me what New Kids on the Block was, and I was like ‘Man, I’ve got to be honest with you, I have no idea.’”
Jones said he liked the banner, but not as much as the small one hung on the railing beside it, citing three-time winner Kevin Harvick’s pointing out that the average age of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winners this season is 38.5, with the hashtag “old guys rule.”
“I liked the sign they put next to it better,” Jones said. “At first I thought Harvick actually put it there. I was like ‘That’s pretty funny,’ but then I realized the track did it.”
And for the record, the New Kids on the Block has reunited and has toured periodically since 2013. Donnie Wahlberg, perhaps the best-known member of the group, is now 48 years old.