It all happened so fast.
Rather than being a spectator in Friday Night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte, 40-year-old Keith McGee will now get the chance to compete in the event, after a bizarre chain of events resulted in the Alaska-native scoring a major sponsorship from one of sports media’s juggernauts.
It was less than 24 hours from the time that McGee sent out a Tweet looking for a last-minute sponsor for the race and the time that McGee sent out the official announcement. That he’d be driving the No. 3 Barstool Sports | Zero Blog Thirty Chevrolet Silverado for Jordan Anderson Racing.
So, how did this all happen so fast and what does this mean for the Alaskan? McGee spoke to TobyChristie.com on Tuesday Morning to break down the events that transpired – at the time – less than 12 hours ago.
“I was sitting there watching the retweets and watching what people were commenting and then out of the blue, I noticed that Dave Portnoy – president of Barstool Sports — had retweeted it,” McGee detailed to TobyChristie.com.
In fact, McGee was so blown away by this, that just to be sure he had to double-check and make sure that this was actually the real Dave Portnoy and not just some parody account or random person with the same exact name.
It was, indeed, the real Dave Portnoy.
“He sent me a message and we went from there, and a couple of messages later, he said deal.”
That four letter, one syllable word was an enormous weight off the shoulders of McGee, who was actually originally scheduled to participate in the event with Jordan Anderson Racing, before a sponsor pulled out at the last minute.
“On Sunday, we had a sponsor pull out, and without them, there was no way of making this race,” McGee said. “I reached out and talked to Marcus [Lemonis] and his team, but they couldn’t come on-board for what I needed to make the race.”
McGee continued: “I kind of just figured, crazier things have happened on the internet, why don’t I just put this on Twitter.”
Had a main sponsor back out last minute and I’m in need of a miracle. If anyone knows any Vet friendly companies that want to come on board the only disabled Vet in NASCAR’s truck for this Memorial Day race. I sure could use the help. @Mission22 pic.twitter.com/07kloCLKWz
— Keith McGee (@keithmcgee907) May 24, 2021
The overall speed of the entire process between McGee, Anderson and Barstool Sports is a rarity in NASCAR’s top-three series these days, as often times the process of finding a sponsor, designing a paint scheme, getting it approved and getting it ready to be printed and the truck wrapped takes multiple days, if not weeks.
However, similar to team owner Jordan Anderson, McGee attempts to set himself apart from other drivers, by designing his own trucks. In fact, up until recently, McGee was working with RBR Graphics to design, print and wrap their vehicles across the Xfinity and Truck Series.
“The ability to put a rendering together really quick for a potential sponsor and giving them that visual key to look at has been really big in the success that I’ve found bringing in partners. I think it definitely fives me a leg up because I’m not relying on someone else and it’s saving me money to not have to pay a designer to come up with a rendering that, 90 out of 95 times isn’t going to get a second look.
McGee explained: “You’re trying to get your ideas and what you want to see on track and what the sponsor wants, to a kind of third party. So, for me to be able to take my idea and put it on a rendering and then just make the changes that the sponsor wants, it cuts so much time and trust me, this week, we don’t have a lot of time to make this happen to be able to pull it off, so for it to happen in a mere matter of hours was pretty remarkable.”
McGee was able to quickly put together the rendering to send back to Barstool Sports on Monday Night, which allowed the deal between the three parties to be expedited and his role as the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet Silverado restored for Friday Night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200.
The Memorial Day Weekend events at Charlotte Motor Speedway – a yearly tradition for NASCAR’s top-three series – is a weekend that holds a significant meaning for McGee, who served in the United States Air Force as a radar technician for the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) from September 11, 2001, to August 9, 2009. When McGee made his debut this year at Richmond, the 40-year-old made history twice over, by becoming the first Alaskan to race in NASCAR’s top-three series, as well as the first disabled veteran to do so.
Now, it’s important to understand that there aren’t any major corporations that are backing McGee, both himself and his manager Jesse James are working incredibly hard to pick up the sponsorship to secure additional races in NASCAR’s top-three series.
In his first two starts in the series, McGee has already had two pretty large companies jump on-board his vehicles, with Good Sam adorning the No. 33 Reaume Brothers Racing truck in his debut at Richmond, and now Barstool Sports on the No. 3 for Jordan Anderson Racing at Charlotte.
While the sponsor for his next start at Texas Motor Speedway on June 12 isn’t going to be a major corporation, it’s still going to be one that turns a lot of heads, as “The Mullet That Changed My Life”, a Facebook group of 19-thousand mullet enthusiasts, has crowdfunded enough money to sponsor McGee’s Reaume Brothers Racing entry in the Lone Star State.
Beyond Texas, McGee doesn’t have any additional events totally secured, but says that Pocono, Las Vegas, and the season-finale at Phoenix – on Veterans Day weekend — are all races that he could see himself running this season, provided the sponsorship and approval is there.
However, for the time being, McGee is focused on putting together a good weekend for the people at Barstool Sports, in hopes of potentially landing additional sponsorship from the brand in the future. With an arguable upgrade in equipment from Richmond to Charlotte, McGee is excited about the possibilities this weekend, but mentioned that it doesn’t necessarily change how he’ll approach the event.
“I think my goals are going to be the same. I’m going to go out and do the best job that I can do, regardless of the equipment that I’m in. I’ll go out and still give it my all and see where I end up, but I think it just gives me more confidence in my abilities. I’ve just got to go do good and show that I’m here for a reason and just put on a good show, hopefully make a lot of veterans proud on Friday and just have a lot of fun.”
Granted, one major component of this weekend’s event that will be different from Richmond, is the addition of a 50-minute practice session, as well as a qualifying session on Friday Afternoon, before the race. With 40 trucks entered, there will be four that are sent home without the opportunity to race, increasing the importance of putting down a top-31 qualifying time.
McGee isn’t overly concerned about the possibility of a DNQ, as he thinks Jordan Anderson Racing – 31st in 2021 NCWTS OP – has accumulated enough owner points to fall back on a provisional, should one be needed.
Regardless of how qualifying turns out, McGee is just happy to get the chance to prove himself to those who didn’t feel he was worth the risk. “I’d like to practice and go out and qualify. I think if I would go out and qualify and do really good, that’s going to be a really big statement piece for me to say, ‘There’s a lot of teams that didn’t want to give me this opportunity and here I am’.”
Author’s Note: At the conclusion of the interview on Tuesday Morning, McGee was asked to call his shot on where he would finish in Friday Night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. McGee said 21st.