Sprint Cup Series News (7560)
A big goose egg sits next to Matt Kenseth’s name in the win column a year removed from a season when he posted a career-best seven wins on his way to a runner-up finish in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. That’s the bad news.
The good news: Kenseth has raced well, posting eight top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 23 starts this season.
Barring disaster, he should qualify for the Chase. Kenseth currently ranks 13th on the Chase grid, 58 points ahead of the Chase Grid bubble. Still, at this point, only a win can lock him in. Kenseth has so many points that a victory at Bristol would catapult him to the No. 8 spot in the Chase standings, ahead of all the one-win drivers. It would also give him three bonus points for the “Challenger Round” of the Chase.
“No, because you get the most points to win,” said Kenseth, when asked whether he thinks about not taking the chance to win due to his high points total. “I don’t ever know why you wouldn’t want to win. I get asked those questions all the time and people always look at me like I’m being smart, but it’s true.”
Kenseth heads to Bristol for the IRWIN Tools Night Race on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET on ABC) with the mission of capturing that elusive victory – and a repeat win in the prestigious race. He captured the checkered flag in this event last year and has won at the half-mile track two other times.
“I always look forward to going to Bristol because I think that the racing has always been pretty good there,” Kenseth said. “The last three races at Bristol, our No. 20 team has run really well even though we got wrecked out of two of those races and won the third.”
Kasey Kahne finds himself in a similar situation as Kenseth. The No. 5 Chevrolet driver notched one of his two victories at Bristol last season, but has yet to find victory lane in 2013. Unlike Kenseth, Kahne lurks outside the Chase in 17th, trailing Biffle by nine points for the final spot. He too can control his destiny by winning, guaranteeing himself a slot in the Chase, but otherwise, he would have to hope for other fringe drivers to falter.
Kahne’s victory last season is his lone triumph at Bristol, but he does claim five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes at the high-banked short track.
"I’m really excited to go to Bristol,” Kahne said. “Every time we race at Bristol, I look forward to it. We’ve ran really well there for a while now.”
Ryan Truex, driver of the No. 83 Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota Camry, has been medically cleared to return to previous racing activities.
Truex was involved in a single-car crash during Saturday practice at this past weekend's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. JJ Yeley substituted for Truex and finished 30th in last Sunday's race.
BK Racing PR
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol (TN) Motor Speedway is being broadcast live nationally by ABC on Saturday night, Aug. 23, but viewing will be affected in 15 markets due to NFL preseason games airing on local ABC affiliates.
In all 15 markets where the race telecast is being preempted, NASCAR fans who are satellite TV subscribers will be able to watch the race on ESPN alternate channels (DirecTV – channel 209-1; DISH – channel 145). For cable subscribers, the race will air on alternate channels in 11 of the 15 markets.
The telecast begins with NASCAR Countdown at 7 p.m. ET and the race’s green flag is scheduled for 7:43 p.m. The affected markets:
Austin, Texas – race telecast on digital cable: Time Warner channels 811 and 1240, Suddenlink channel 721, AT&T Channel 3024.
Charlotte, N.C. – race telecast on WAXN TV64. Available on Time Warner channel 1230, Charter channel 703, Compas channel 16, Comporium channel 110. WSOC-TV will join race in progress after football game ends.
Casper, Wyo. – only available to satellite TV subscribers
Cheyenne, Wyo. – only available to satellite TV subscribers
Duluth, Minn. – race telecast on digital cable: Charter channel 398, Mediacom channel 113.
Harrisburg, Pa. – race telecast on digital cable: Comcast channel 246, Verizon channel 461, Blue Ridge Cable channel 152, Kuhn channel 67, Nittany Media 228.
Houston – race telecast on digital cable: Comcast channels 315 and 685.
Louisville, Ky. – race telecast on digital cable: Comcast channel 432, Time Warner channel 207.
Nashville, Tenn. – race telecast on digital cable: Comcast channel 245, Charter channel 136.
St. Joseph, Mo. – only available to satellite TV subscribers
San Antonio, Tex. – only available to satellite TV subscribers
Sioux Falls, S.D. – race telecast on digital cable: Mid-Continent channels 596 and 614. (Also DISH channel 36).
Tulsa, Okla. – race telecast on digital cable: Cox channel 131.
Washington, D.C. – race telecast on digital cable: Comcast channel 205, Cox channel 806, Verizon FiOS channel 467.
Weslaco, Tex. – race telecast on digital cable: Time Warner channel 877.
In Milwaukee, Little Rock, Ark., Jonesboro, Ark., Fort Smith, Ark., and Tyler, Texas, the local ABC affiliates will not air NASCAR Countdown due to airing local newscasts but all will join ABC for the race telecast at 7:30 p.m. ET.
NASCAR announced today it has elevated the responsibilities of Steve Phelps and Steve O’Donnell with both assuming leadership roles in NASCAR’s Charlotte region offices effective immediately. The moves are designed to balance the company’s senior leadership across NASCAR’s various offices and accelerate the implementation of several key growth initiatives.
For the second consecutive year, Michael Waltrip Racing and Peak Performance teamed up to find what they hope to be the next best driver. In last year’s contest, Patrick Staropoli, a man that is attempting to finish medical school after graduating from Harvard University, won it all and earned a chance at racing for Bill McAnally Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
This year’s story is a little different.
Christian PaHud, 21, took home the crown in the competition. PaHud, a rather unknown Late Model racer from Ohio is set to race for McAnally with sponsorship from Peak in a K&N Pro Series West race on Oct. 11 at All American Speedway as a teammate to MWR co-owner Michael Waltrip. Edging out 17 other drivers in the competition, he used his experience on and off the track to show he deserves a chance just like Staropoli.
Since he was a child, the Dayton-native has always been racing. With a family history of competition for wins in a race car, it was only natural for PaHud to get into the seat of one. Throughout the three-day competition, all 18 contestants work on a short track, a road course, a speedway, car control, a dirt track, endurance racing along with marketability.
In an exclusive interview with Speedway Digest, PaHud walks us through his journey in the contest, what the future is like for him, how he got to this point and more.
- What was running through your mind when they told you that you had won the contest?
At first, there wasn’t really much going through my mind. There wasn’t much really to think until I look at my parent’s faces and saw the reaction on their faces. It was just kind of a blank mind. Everything we worked for and have done over the past few years has finally come together. It is working out for the best and hopefully I can use this opportunity to prove that I deserve to be here and I can do what I can do.
- What did it mean for them to see you win the whole thing?
It meant the world to them. We put so much into it. We have taken food off of the table just to get race track at times just so we have that shot to do better on a weekend. It just means so much to me that they have followed me and backed me to this point. They give me a drive to show what I can do and show I have what it takes and show what we have done when we come together.
- What did you learn while working with Michael Waltrip, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, Jeff Burton and Danica Patrick?
All the contestants and everybody talked about how much fun it was for everybody around to have Clint and everybody else around to help out as much as possible, as much as they could. Learning from them was definitely an experience; learning from Danica during the whole press releases and commercial shoots and Clint helping me out on my line. Everything on and off the track; it was just really cool to have that experience to be able to move on to do other racing stuff knowing that they were there to help you and give you what they could
- How did you first find out about the contest?
My cousin gave me a call when he heard about it on the internet. I actually watched it last year and saw they were doing it again this year, and I thought, whether we made it or not, it would be a good opportunity to put my name out there. Making it into the show was accomplishment alone, let alone winning it.
- Going into it, did you think you were going to win it?
At first, it was mainly an exposure thing. There were some great names in the competition, and the more I thought of it and the closer it came time to do it – I thought: why just go into it with the thought of that it’s good exposure? Let’s go out and win this. It worked out for the better. Somehow, we ended up winning it.
- If you didn’t win the contest, what were you going to do?
This wasn’t really a make or break opportunity for me. We were doing all of the stuff on our own and racing as a family. I wasn’t going to end my racing career just because I didn’t win, but it helps me in my racing career either way. It shows millions (of people) that I have what it takes. Even if nothing comes of it past this one race, I’ll still go back to racing as a family and do my own thing.
- Has all of this attention been over whelming for you?
Not necessarily. I’m one of those people that doesn’t like to sit still for very long and I don’t like to hang around and do nothing. Now I actually have a reason to get up and do stuff. I like doing press conferences, radio interviews and phone calls. That kind of keeps me calm and relaxed; getting me ready for the next race to come. It is helping the time pass before my first K&N race, so that way it won’t seem like it takes forever to get here.
- Do you feel like without this chance, you might not have received a chance to race in a NASCAR sanctioned division?
It is kind of debatable. You don’t know what may come and what might not come. At the point in my life that I’m at now, it probably wouldn’t have come in the near future. It definitely helps me to run a NASCAR sanctioned event and get the chance to race in the K&N Series to show what I can do.
- How does your background in racing help prepare you for the next step in your career?
I have raced a little bit of everything. I raced go-karts for 11 years and Legends cars and Late Models. Going from one car to another is hard to do. I guess you can say that going back and forth from car to car is a big step either way. It will help me when it gets time to get into a K&N car. I’ve gone from car to car so much that I’ll be able to pick it up and take over to do what I need to do to get the most out of the car as possible.
- What do you feel like you need to prove when you go out on track?
I really don’t think I have to prove a lot. I don’t know if there are things that really need to be proved. Patrick already showed that this competition really isn’t a joke. This is a racing competition; it’s not just a TV show. He kind of made a little impression on me to do well. Again, I don’t feel that I have to prove that I can do it. Everything will work out sooner or later.
- You see what this contest has done for Patrick Staropoli with the win earlier this year. What can you learn from what he has done on the track?
We have talked quite a bit about what is going to happen in the future and what is going to happen out in California before the race. It is good knowing that I can call him when I need to and talk to him about what is going to happen.
- What’s your ultimate goal for the foreseeable future?
It would be nice to go out and win this race and then maybe make a few more K&N starts here and there if we can. If not, I’d be perfectly fine coming back home and racing with my family.
Tony Stewart has decided not to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event this weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Veteran driver Jeff Burton, a winner of 21 Sprint Cup races, will pilot the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing in place of Stewart for the second straight week. Burton subbed for Stewart last weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Burton has 40 Sprint Cup starts at Bristol, which includes a victory in the 2008 Food City 500.
This driver change pertains only to Bristol. Stewart’s plans for upcoming Sprint Cup races have yet to be determined.
When Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Jimmy John’s team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) unloads its Chevrolet SS for Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, there is one goal in mind: winning to secure bonus points for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship and, as far as results go, nothing else matters.
Under the new Chase format, the top-15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races will earn a spot in the Chase. The 16th position will go to the points leader following the Sept. 6 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway if that driver does not have a victory. Each win counts for three additional bonus points to help seed the drivers for the first round of the playoffs.
Harvick clinched his Chase berth with a second-place finish Aug. 3 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. With just three regular-season races remaining before the start of the Chase Sept. 14 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, Harvick knows that regular-season points no longer matter. Winning is the only way to capture additional bonus points for when the Chase field is seeded following Richmond.
The Bakersfield, California native has reason to believe that winning on Saturday night is possible. He was in command of the March race at Bristol, having led 28 consecutive laps before misfortune struck. With just 50 laps remaining, a broken oil line knocked him from the lead and into the turn one wall. Despite a “Freaky Fast” car that day, Harvick finished 39th after the No. 4 Chevrolet was unrepairable.
Harvick does have wins at Bristol in each of NASCAR’s top three touring series. He won the Food City 500 Sprint Cup race in April 2005 by leading 109 laps and finishing 4.652 seconds ahead of runner-up Elliott Sadler. He also has five Nationwide Series wins – August 2000 when he won from the pole position and led 241 laps; August 2001 starting second and leading 85 laps; March 2003 starting 11th and leading 97 laps; April 2005 starting 38th and leading 76 laps; and March 2009 starting 13th and leading 46 laps. His lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Bristol came in August 2011, when he started sixth and led 103 of 200 laps en route to the win.
Harvick is doing double duty this weekend at Bristol and will get additional seat time behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in Friday night’s Nationwide Series event. Harvick already has two Nationwide Series wins driving for JR Motorsports in 2014 with wins at Richmond in April and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in June.
Harvick will pilot SHR Chassis No. 4-850 Saturday night. If recent history is any indication, he will likely be starting up front. Chassis No. 4-850 has started in the top-five in all three of its previous events this season and scored a runner-up finish in the Sprint All-Star Race in May, as well as seventh-place finish at Kentucky in June.
According to Harvick, it is all about bonus points and, as far as results go, nothing else matters.
Not only is it one of the most anticipated races of the season for NASCAR race fans, but Leavine Family Racing and Michael McDowell, driver of the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Ford Fusion, are also eager to return to Bristol Motor Speedway for the IRWIN Tools Night Race this Saturday, Aug. 23.
McDowell and the No. 95 team had a very strong run during the spring Bristol race that ended abruptly in an accident. After two rain delay periods, McDowell had climbed his way up to the Top-15 when an on-track accident occurred causing heavy damage to the No. 95 and relegating the team to a 37th place finish.
“We had a great run going towards the end of the spring race at Bristol,” said McDowell. “The car was running well and we were on the lead lap in the Top-15 when we got caught up in an accident. We’ve had some great runs this summer and with the continued work of the team and having Thrivent Financial join us this weekend, I’m really looking forward to returning to Bristol and securing a strong finish for our team.”
McDowell’s No. 95 Ford Fusion will have a new paint scheme this weekend – a white and red scheme featuring Thrivent Financial, a new sponsor for LFR and the organization’s first time in NASCAR. Leavine Family Racing recently created a time-lapsed video that documented the transition to the new paint scheme. Fans can have their pictures taken with the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Ford Fusion at the Food City Race Night on Thursday, August 21. The car will be on display starting at 1:00 p.m. and McDowell will participate in a driver autograph session from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
A Bristol tradition, drivers get to choose their entrance song for driver introductions during the pre-race ceremony. In honor of the new sponsorship, McDowell has chosen “Thrive” by Casting Crowns. McDowell will have an extended role in the Bristol Motor Speedway ceremonies and will give the invocation prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
As part of its sponsorship with the team, Thrivent Financial is running a #DrivenToThrive sweepstakes and giving away McDowell’s Thrivent firesuit and pieces of the No. 95 race car to fans who enter to win at www.thrivent.com/driventothrive. For each entry, Thrivent will donate $1 to support wounded veterans through the Operation Heal Our Patriots program. Thrivent will donate up to $10,000 as part of this initiative and its mission to live life generously.
“The level of involvement that Thrivent Financial has brought to their first sponsorship in NASCAR has been tremendous,” said Jeremy Lange, vice president of marketing and partnerships for Leavine Family Racing. “We’re excited about the activations they’ve put forth to engage the fans and extend their brand awareness to the NASCAR fan base. Our organization is proud to have opened that door and excited to be a part of helping the Thrivent team reach a broader group of Christians in the process.”
Thrivent is a not-for-profit, Fortune 500 financial services membership organization of Christians, with approximately 2.4 million members and over 100 years of experience. Thrivent Financial, based in Minneapolis (domiciled in Appleton, Wis.), offers a broad range of products and services – including life insurance, annuities and mutual funds – along with guidance from financial representatives nationwide.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pulls into Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. The “Colosseum,” as the .533-mile high-banked concrete oval is nicknamed, has produced some epic battles and post-event fireworks.
With three races to go before the field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is set, Clint Bowyer knows every point counts. The No. 15 5-hour ENERGY team has been knocking off consistent finishes. In the past six races, Bowyer has scored four top-10 finishes.
The Brian Pattie led team knows that being consistent is what’s needed to keep a foothold on a spot in the Chase. With top-15 finishes in the last five races at Bristol, Bowyer knows that keeping his eye on the prize is what’s needed to reward this 5-hour ENERGY Toyota team with a spot in the post season.
What’s Bristol like?
“It reminds me of the movie Gladiator. You know someone’s going to agitate you. You walk in and the fans are right on you. It’s an incredible atmosphere.”
Crew Chief Brian Pattie:
What do you have to do to have a good run at Bristol?
“Well it goes without saying that track position is key. It should be a good race. Tires seem like they fall off at the end and that will make for an exciting finish. Strategy is kind of out of the window because everyone is on the same strategy now. Instead of two people or even 10 people on the same strategy, everyone is. So now, it goes back to having a good car. And we’ve had good cars at Bristol with the exception of the spring race. Clint likes the track. We’re looking for another good run this weekend.”
Are you going for wins or consistent finishes these next few weekends trying to make the Chase?
“We go to the track every weekend looking to win. That doesn’t change. But we’re not going to be stupid. If we have a chance to win we will go for it, of course, but we aren’t going to do something to jeopardize a good finish. We just need to stay focused on what we need to do to get a finish and if a win is in reach we will go for it.”