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08/01/2013 - 11:41am

By Craig Rybczynski - A trip to dinner put Ian Llord face-to-face with NASCAR legend Tony Stewart. While having a bacon and blue burger at the Burger Barn in Six Nations Tuesday evening, the Rochester Knighthawks defenseman bumped into the man racing fans call “Smoke”.

“I was going to watch the races. We were taking my dad there for his birthday,” said Llord. “I ran into Curt (Styres) and said hello, and he asked me to come over to talk to Tony. So I went over and talked to him about his track in Ohio. He owns a track there and just put the NASCAR trucks on the dirt. It was nice to have something to talk to him about. He was super nice.”

Stewart was eating dinner with Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres and sprint car driver Glenn Styres. Stewart has raced sprint cars at Ohsweken Speedway, which has been owned by the Styres brothers, for the past three years. The three-time NASCAR Champion has become quite the lacrosse fan and on February 2nd he was a special guest of the Rochester Knighthawks at The Blue Cross Arena. Three months later, Rochester defeated the Washington Stealth 11-10 in the NLL Championship Game to repeat as league champions.

On Tuesday, Stewart was trying to do something that the Knighthawks will embark on this season: Three-peating. The Columbus, Indiana native entered the Six Nations Showdown as the two-time defending champion.

“Smoke” finished with the second fastest qualifying time and placed fifth in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car A-Main Feature. It was another exciting day at the speedway for the Llord family. Ian grew up watching dirt track racing at Merrittville Speedway, which was close to his home on border of St. Catharines and Jordan, Ontario. He spent many weekends at the track near Thorold, Ontario with his father, Christopher; brother, Dylan and great uncle.

“I love racing,” he said. “We always used to go and watch at Merrittville Speedway, which is a clay track like Ohsweken and they do modifieds. It’s pretty exciting.”

The trip to Ohsweken Speedway was the perfect birthday gift for his dad. Ian, his brother and four sisters treated their father to an evening of racing that included the World of Outlaws event. It was “Guys Night Out” as Ian, Dylan, and four others accompanied Christopher to Ohsweken for the races.

“We all pitched in and got him the tickets. He watched sprint cars all the time with his uncle,” said Ian Llord. “He was excited to go and it was a change of pace for him.”

When asked who is favorite driver was, Ian gave a very diplomatic answer.

“I should say Curt Styres,” he said of the Knighthawks owner, who advanced to the Affordable Towing & Recovery Thunder Stock division A-Main Tuesday night.

“It was my first time seeing him race,” said Llord. “I have seen his brother race before. It was pretty cool. I didn’t know Curt did that. I thought it was only his brother that raced.”

Llord has become accustomed to seeing Curt in lacrosse mode with the Knighthawks. It was Styres that convinced Llord to attend the Open Tryouts in October, which led to a contract with the 2012 NLL Champions. The seven-year NLL pro ended his first season in Rochester with the second Champion’s Cup of his career. For Llord, the whole experience was something he will never forget.

“I was lucky to win one my first couple of years in the league. I think this one has meant a lot more because I was so young and I was just there for the ride. I did my part, but I felt this time I had more of an impact,” he said. “I think it meant a little more with Curt flying my wife and son in. Everybody else had family there and I got along with everyone really well on the team. As you get older, it means a little more.”

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