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Even when they make history because of it, both Kenzie Ruston and Mackena Bell are hesitant to play what they both refer to as “the girl card.”
Ruston became the first woman to finish in the top-five of a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race in the 27-year history of the series when she finished third at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway in early April. The very next week, Ruston finished fifth in the series' inaugural visit to Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.
Not to be outdone, Bell – in her second go-round with Rev Racing – finished fifth at Richmond International Raceway three weeks ago.
In 26 previous K&N Pro Series seasons, no woman had finished in the top-five of a race. In the last three consecutive races, no top-five has failed to have a female driver show up by race's end.
“To finish third in my second race was unbelievable,” said Ruston, a rookie from El Reno, Okla., driving for Turner Scott Motorsports. “I never thought that would even be possible. Honestly, I was hoping for some top-10s in the first few races. It's crazy.
“It's an honor to be the first woman to finish in the top-five in one of these races. That's awesome, but I'm really here to be just another racer. I try not to hold the girl thing up too much.”
Bell made her first K&N Pro Series appearance with Rev Racing back in 2010, but returned to Late Model competition after only a handful of races. That time back in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Hickory Motor Speedway paid dividends in terms of on-track results this time around at the touring series level.
“It's hard to pull the female card – but this is a good ol' boy sport,” said Bell, a native of Carson City, Nev. “On top of that, I'm down here and everybody is from here and we're going to all these Southern places. I'm not from anything like that. I think you have prove you can do it. I don't think I was taken very seriously at first.
“This program [at Rev Racing] has developed with people that care about this place and developing the sport. I'm not sure that's how it was before. Now, it's completely different. It's an organization that cares about us as people and wants us to succeed, and I think it's obviously showing.”
At NASCAR's national levels, it is virtually impossible to ignore the phenomena that is Danica Patrick. She commands media attention both on and off the track, and her GoDaddy ads rotate through NASCAR television broadcasts at a pace nearly as rapid as her history-making pole-winning run for this year's Daytona 500.
Patrick has long been the nation's most high-profile female racer, both during her time in IndyCar and in NASCAR.
But despite the tall shadow cast by the petite Patrick, up-and-coming women don't try and avoid the topic of Danica. In fact, they embrace it.
“You're always going to be compared to Danica. Everybody thinks she's the best female racer out there and that's OK,” Ruston said. “I just want to be better than Danica, really.
“You're going to get compared to her. I just want to show she's not the best out there – there are plenty of women who are as good as her or better. I want to be the best I can be, but I want to be one who can win races and have top-fives.”
Similarly, Bell has fought to make her way to where she is now, and she's happy to help encourage other young women to do the same.
“I think it's important with our whole program here [at Rev Racing],” Bell said. “We have other drivers in the series, even an 11-year-old running Bandeleros this year. It's important to show her that if she runs well, does well in school, all those other things you have to do, she could be the next Danica Patrick.”
Though Patrick's ascension to the sport's highest levels and the Drive For Diversity program have played roles in creating better opportunities for women in stock car racing, the road to the top is by no means a straight line yet.
Ruston believes that while it might be easier to succeed as a woman in today's NASCAR, barriers still exist.
“I don't think they will ever disappear,” said Ruston, who sits seventh in the K&N Pro Series East standings through four races. “This sport that we're in has always been male-dominated. When you get girls that come in and set goals for themselves, you're always going to have to battle that. Hopefully, what I do on the track can start to change that.”
Mike Greci, the competition director at Turner Scott Motorsports, has had a hand in developing up-and-coming talent like Martin Truex Jr., Trevor Bayne, Travis Pastrana and Danica. He believes Ruston is the real deal.
“The first day I met Kenzie, I said, 'That girl is going to be pretty good,'” Greci said. “She did really well the first time out at Bristol (finishing 11th), and she's confident. She presents herself the right way and approaches things the right way.”
Confidence is key for any aspiring race car driver. Letting self-doubt or insecurity behind the wheel creep in can be a career-killer.
Bell said it was incredibly difficult to walk away from the K&N Pro Series in 2010, but she held firm to the belief that it was the move that would best benefit her career.
“This is a very tough sport,” Bell said. “If you let people walk all over you, they will. Three years of taking a step back, that was hard to do. I really felt like I had failed. My confidence wasn't back to normal until I started putting things together in the Late Model.
“My confidence is the best it's ever been now – and that shows on and off the race track. There's so much talent in this series nowadays. There's people and kids doing the same thing that we're doing. With Kenzie and I and the whole female situation, the biggest thing to remember is that these are dreams – not just hobbies – for people in our shoes. We're working hard to make it happen.”
And the history books are there to back that up.
NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader has officially filed his ARCA Racing Series entry for the Akona 250 presented by Federated Car Care at Elko Speedway coming Saturday night June 1.
"We went up there last year to watch the ARCA race, and it was killing me that I wasn't in it," Schrader said.
"But what a great show. All kinds of green flag racing - really, really good racing. We had a good car last year (with Tom Hessert driving) but we got crashed on the last lap. If our car makes it through Toledo this weekend (May 19), it'll be the car we'll take to Elko. If not, we'll pull another one out of the shop. Either way, I'm definitely racing at Elko, and I'm really looking forward to it."
With 80-plus races on his 2013 schedule, the 57-year-old Fenton, Missouri veteran driver has already raced in more than 20 races this season, and it's not even summer yet.
"Been racing the dirt modified quite a bit already."
In fact, Schrader has already raced his dirt modified at Elko a few years back, when track officials created a dirt surface over the asphalt.
"We raced up there a few years ago, but that was on the dirt. Either way, it's a great little track. I like it either way."
The Akona 250 at Elko will mark Schrader's 62nd career ARCA start.
"It's going to be a busy year, and a better one too because we have more ARCA races on our schedule this year."
Schrader is slated to race in four ARCA Racing Series events in 2013 to also include the Menards 200 at Toledo Speedway (May 19), the event at Elko, the Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Car Care at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds (mile-dirt) on Labor Day, September 2, and the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Salem Speedway on September 14.
In addition, Schrader's season includes 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races with team owner Frank Stoddard in the No. 32 FAS Lane Racing Ford, and at least two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events at Eldora Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg for Schrader, who spends most of his time behind the wheel of his Federated Auto Parts modified playing on dirt bullrings across America, coast to coast. But it's more than just a play in the clay - it's about crossing the finish line first, which he's already done, winning twice this season at Volusia Speedway Park and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And that's not all. Schrader won on the final night of the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment at Volusia in February, and was crowned 2013 Speedweeks Gator Champion.
"It felt pretty good," said Schrader, who became the only driver to win the Gator Championship and the overall points total in the same year. "It's the second time we won the championship down there; we worked pretty hard at it. It feels awesome."
During Schrader's ARCA tenure, which reaches back to 1981, he has 15 career ARCA wins.
"One of the things I really like about ARCA is that it gives me a chance to play with these Cup type cars, and be competitive, and have lots of fun.
"Looking at Elko last year, one of the things I liked about it is that it's got multiple grooves for a little track, and you can pass on the outside if you need to, which is real helpful on a tight little short-track.
"But it's more than that; I'm just a really big fan of the ARCA Series, and I really enjoy being part of it. We're looking forward to running at DuQuoin and Salem later this year too. I'm just a real fan of a series that runs all those different types of places."
His ARCA triumphs are a stark reminder of his versatile driving skills, with wins at Toledo, the Topeka, Kansas road course, the Indiana State Fairgrounds mile-dirt, the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile-dirt, DuQuoin, the Hagerstown Speedway half-mile dirt, Nashville Superspeedway, and other short tracks at Salem, South Boston Speedway, and Anderson Speedway.
In 60 career ARCA starts, he's logged 39 top-fives and 47 top-10s overall, with 15 Menards Pole Awards presented by Ansell. Through it all, he's led an impressive 2,063 laps in 34 races.
Schrader was also the 1999 ARCA Racing Series car owner champion with Bill Baird driving, and a back-to-back car owner winner at Daytona with Mike Wallace and Andy Hillenburg.
His NASCAR career includes four Sprint Cup Series wins at Charlotte, Dover, Talladega, and Atlanta, two wins in the Bud Shootout at Daytona, three poles in the Daytona 500, and eight top-10 Cup championship points finishes.
Prior to his stock car career, Schrader first made a name for himself in USAC where he earned the USAC Silver Crown Series championship in 1982 and the USAC Sprint Car championship in 1983. He has 33 career USAC victories overall in Silver Crown, Sprints and Midgets.
Raceday at Elko starts with ARCA Racing Series practice from 2-2:45 p.m., with final practice following from 3:15-4. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell starts at 5:30 with the Akona 250 set to take the green flag at 8.
ARCA Racing PR
Dates Set For NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards And NASCAR Night Of Champions Touring Series AwardsWritten by Steven B. Wilson
NASCAR announced today the postseason awards dates for the annual NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards and the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Series Awards, set for Dec. 13 and 14 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame / Charlotte Convention Center.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards will take place Friday, Dec. 13. Among those honored will be the 2013 national champion, as well as track champions from 55 tracks across the United States and Canada, state and provincial champions and top rookies.
On the following evening, NASCAR’s touring series champions will be recognized at the traditional NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards. Set for Saturday, Dec. 14, honorees will include the champions from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1, Mexico’s NASCAR Toyota Series and Euro-Racecar NASCAR Touring Series.
“Holding our two NASCAR Home Tracks awards ceremonies at the NASCAR Hall of Fame is the perfect setting to recognize the soul of NASCAR,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of regional and touring series. “Celebrating the young talent whose passion build this sport over these two events are highlights each year.”
Both the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards and the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Series Awards will be streamed live on NASCARHomeTracks.com.
NASCAR previously announced the date for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards (Dec. 6 at Wynn Las Vegas) and the NASCAR Nationwide-NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards (Nov. 18 at Loews Miami Beach).
Former short-track ace Dick Trickle died Thursday at age 71 from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Lincoln County (N.C.) Sheriff's Department.
Trickle was active in NASCAR racing for more than 30 years. He was winless in 303 Sprint Cup Series starts but collected two victories in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the first coming on Easter weekend in 1997 at Hickory Motor Speedway, where the Wisconsin native took the lead from Randy LaJoie with 22 laps left and held on for the win.
When Trickle won his second and final race on September 5, 1998, at Darlington Raceway, he was 56 years, 10 months and eight days old, the oldest race winner in NASCAR's three national series.
Trickle's body was found near his pickup truck in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City, N.C. The Lincoln County Communications Center received a call at around noon Wednesday, from a man -- apparently Trickle -- who said there would be a dead body, and it would be his.
Communications center workers tried to return the call, but no one answered, according to the sheriff's department. The body was found by the first emergency units dispatched to the scene.
Reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski heard about Trickle's death en route to the unveiling of his "Fan Mosaic" paint scheme for Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
"Dick Trickle's one of those guys who was a part of the sport in a number of ways and meant a lot to the local short-track racers," Keselowski said. "Kind of like the Midwest style of racing, which was track by track when NASCAR was more of a regional Southern sport, before it had developed to the national platform it is now.
"He was the superstar of that style, of that genre and era. It's very sad to see him go, and obviously difficult with the way it went."
Trickle, who won well over 1,000 short-track features in his career, ran his last NASCAR race in 2002. He had lived in Lincoln County since the early 1990s.
NASCAR's Chairman and CEO, Brian France, issued the following statement regarding Trickle's passing.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Dick Trickle on his passing today. Dick was a legend in the short-track racing community, particularly in his home state of Wisconsin, and he was a true fan favorite. Personalities like Dick Trickle helped shape our sport. He will be missed."
Bally Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: BYI), a leader in slots, video machines, casino-management, interactive applications, and networked and server-based systems for the global gaming industry, today announced Virtual Racing™ NASCAR® will make its New Jersey debut at the Golden Nugget Atlantic City May 16-19.
Bally’s Elite Bonusing Suite™ Virtual Racing promotional tool has already been a huge hit creating floor-wide excitement on casino floors across America, driving coin-in, carded play, new players’ club signups, and tremendous excitement. Now – for the first time in Atlantic City – Virtual Racing will feature a NASCAR-themed car racing promotion that lets players at any slot machine on the casino floor actually choose their favorite driver and cheer him across the finish line.
Players will select one of eight famous NASCAR drivers: Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin or Martin Truex Jr. from the touch-screen on the iVIEW™ or iVIEW Display Manager (DM) player-user-interface on each of Golden Nugget Atlantic City’s slot or video-poker machines.
Qualified players who select the winning driver will split a guaranteed prize pool of $50,000 in bonus credits daily during the promotion.
The Golden Nugget Atlantic City will host daily races at 2 p.m., 5 p.m., 8 p.m., and 11 p.m. The virtual-racing events are available on all of the casino’s gaming machines – without interrupting game play.
“At the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, we aim to give players a thoroughly exciting gaming experience and we are doing that once again as the first casino in the city to offer the excitement of floor-wide Virtual Racing NASCAR events,” said Golden Nugget Atlantic City Executive Vice President and General Manager Tom Pohlman. “It’s going to be a great few days for our players as they compete to win while enjoying the thrill of America’s No. 1 spectator sport.”
The Golden Nugget Atlantic City is also using EBS to add excitement across their iVIEW network using player-centric, real-time interactive promotions such as Virtual Racing™, U-Spin Bonusing™, and DM Tournaments™.
“We are honored to continue our partnership with the world-class Golden Nugget Atlantic City,” said Bally Technologies’ President and Chief Executive Officer Ramesh Srinivasan. “Being the first casino in Atlantic City to offer Virtual Racing NASCAR will help them continue to build casino excitement and player loyalty.”
Bally's Technologies PR
Lance to Sponsor NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Concert Featuring Double Platinum-Selling Country Artist Josh TurnerWritten by Steven B. Wilson
Country music singer, songwriter and two-time GRAMMY nominee, Josh Turner, will perform a pre-race concert presented by Lance® sandwich crackers on Saturday, May 18, before the green flag waves on the 29th annual NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The 90-minute concert will take place in the infield between Turns 1 and 2. Admission to the show is free with the purchase of a ticket to the All-Star Race. The Lance® Snack Patrol vehicle will do a lap around the track prior to the concert and will be on-site in the Fan Zone throughout the event with samples of new Lance® Xtra Fulls™ sandwich crackers, giveaways and interactive activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Lance®, America’s number one sandwich cracker, is sponsoring the pre-race concert as part of its 100th Anniversary celebrations, which include product launches, special promotions and a promise to continue giving consumers “more of what they love.”
Lance Snacks PR
Film and television star Michael Pena, who has a leading role in the upcoming 3D animated motion picture event "Turbo," will serve as the honorary starter of the 97th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 26.
Pena will wave the green flag to start the field of 33 drivers in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." The 97th Indianapolis 500 starts at noon (ET) and will be televised live on ABC.
In "Turbo," Pena portrays Tito, an entrepreneur who enters a super-fast snail in the Indy 500. The film races into theaters everywhere July 17. From DreamWorks Animation, and released by 20th Century Fox, the film's titular hero is an ordinary garden snail whose dream to race in the Indianapolis 500 comes true.
Ryan Reynolds is the voice of Turbo. The film also stars Paul Giamatti, Luis Guzmán, Bill Hader, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz, Snoop Dogg, a.k.a. Snoop Lion, and Samuel L. Jackson.
"The anticipation surrounding the national release of 'Turbo' continues to grow, and that excitement will build even more when Michael Pena waves the green flag to start the 97th Indianapolis 500," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief executive officer. "Michael will understand first-hand why all roads lead to Indy on Memorial Day weekend and why Turbo dreamed of competing in the world's greatest race."
Chicago native Pena has appeared in numerous motion pictures and television shows in the last decade, including in the Academy Award Best Picture-winning films "Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash." He also appeared in the Oscar-nominated film "Babel."
Pena's most recent film role came in the 2013 picture "Gangster Squad," which also starred Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte and Josh Brolin. Pena co-starred with Jake Gyllenhaal in the 2012 film "End of Watch."
Other major films in which Pena has appeared include "Tower Heist," "The Lincoln Lawyer" and "The Lucky Ones" and "World Trade Center."
Pena's most prominent television role came while playing Detective Armando Renta on the acclaimed, award-winning FX series "The Shield." He also has played prominent roles in series such as "Eastbound & Down" on HBO and "Felicity" on the WB Television Network.
For more information about "Turbo," visit www.turbomovie.com.
A respected independent research firm has confirmed the value that professional sports sponsorships provide the National Guard in recruiting and retaining high-quality soldiers.
Alan Newman Research of Richmond, Va., found that 90 percent of Army National Guard soldiers who enlisted or re-enlisted since 2007 were exposed to the Guard through recruiting or retention materials featuring NASCAR cars and/or drivers.
Of those who enlisted or re-enlisted during that time period, 85 percent agree that professional sports are beneficial to attracting and retaining good soldiers.
The survey also found that racing fans are an especially receptive group for the Army National Guard. NASCAR enthusiasts aged 18 to 34 — the Guard's target recruiting audience — are twice as likely to consider a military career than nonfans.
The Army National Guard turned to professional sports sponsorships in 2007 when traditional, more expensive recruiting efforts were failing to attract enough quality applicants. The force has since seen a surge in recruiting with some units having to turn away potential enlistees.
The new research also shows the general public overwhelmingly supports such efforts. Eighty-three percent believe that the military should be able to promote career opportunities where each component believes a receptive audience can be found.
The study was a joint effort by the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS) and the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). Respondents included thousands of Americans, including more than 1,300 Guard soldiers and airmen.
"Our recruiting figures strongly suggested that our relationships with NASCAR and other professional sports played a key role in what has been a historic surge in Army National Guard recruiting," said retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., the NGAUS president. "Now we have further proof, and it comes from our soldiers themselves."
"For years the National Guard has used professional sports sponsorships to reach qualified potential recruits," said Al Garver, executive director of EANGUS. "While we have known for years that it is effective, we now have even more empirical evidence of just how effective such sports sponsorships are for recruiting enlisted members of the National Guard."
A white paper on this new research study is available on the NGAUS website at www.ngaus.org.
National Guard Association of the U.S. PR
Race fans from around the world are converging on Concord, North Carolina for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and next week's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Godfather Motorsports will welcome them with a special Open House celebration on Thursday, May 23 from 11 am to 1 pm at the team's shop on 124 Talbert Point Road in Mooresville.
Driver Jerick Johnson, team owner Dave Moody and the entire Godfather Motorsports team will be on hand to greet fans, sign autographs and hand out complimentary samples of KOMA Unwind Relaxation Drink. The No. 30 KOMA Unwind Chevrolet will be on display, and official Godfather Motorsports Fan Gear will also be on sale.
"It's a great opportunity to say `thank you' to all the fans who support Godfather Motorsports, KOMA Unwind and SiriusXM Speedway all season long," said Moody. "We've had a number of radio listeners ask about touring our shop while they're in town, and I think it's a great idea. Fans are welcome to drop by anytime, but we'll throw open the doors for an official Open House next Thursday from 11 am to 1 pm. I'm sure we'll see some familiar faces, and a lot of new ones, as well."
The following night, Friday, May 24, fans are invited to cheer on the No. 30 KOMA Unwind Chevrolet when it competes in a special Pro All Stars Series event at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, NC, with a post-time of 7 pm.
140 BUZZ PR