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Lenze: Drivers honor Kobe

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Everyone says the sports community is a family, regardless of which league you are in or sport you follow. When the sports world lost basketball icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, along with the seven other victims of last months horrific helicopter crash, the community lost a family member.

From the NFL to professional soccer leagues in Europe, we mourned the loss of a basketball legend and a legendary human being. Kobe Bryant was infuential to so many people in the sports community, including NASCAR.

On Sunday, the NASCAR CUP Series was at the Auto Club Speedway, located in the Los Angeles area, for the middle portion of their West Coast stretch. Several drivers and teams honored the Lakers legend with different paint schemes and decals during the race. Ryan Blaney, William Byron and Tyler Reddick all had different ways of honoring Bryant.

Ryan Blaney drove his purple and gold snake skin wrapped #12 Ford Mustang to a 19th place finish. The day started off promising for one of the rising stars of NASCAR, but Blaney had to make an unscheduled pit stop to change a flat right rear tire with three laps remaining in Sunday’s Auto Club 400. The scheme also had a logo on the back with the number two and 24 in an infinity shape sign made of snakes, as Kobe was known as the “Black Mamba.”

William Byron ran strong all day in his Kobe tribute car. The car bearing Kobes’ #24 was decked out in the purple and gold to pay homage to the future hall of famer. Byron was finished the day in 15th finishing the weekend strong.

Tyler Reddick, driving the #8 Chevy Camero for Richard Childress Racing put special decals on the car with the number eight in a cirlce with and Kobe’s name and dates on the patch. Reddick brought the car home in 11th place. Other driver wore gloves and shoes honoring Kobe and his daughter along with the other seven people who lost their lives that day. This was a very classy move by NASCAR to allow for drivers and teams to show support for a fellow competitor because sports is a family and that is a bond that stands the test of time.

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