Sprint Cup Series News (8011)
It might feel like 2012 all over again. That doesn’t sound right, does it? How could that be? Time is just an illusion after all.
In a world in which cars are life comes one man who has prospered with a team that people could only dream about being a part of. Driving for Roger Penske, one of the most successful men in all of racing, this man has blossomed into a championship caliber driver year-in and year-out.
Brad Keselowski made an incredible run at the finish of the Geico 500 at Talladega to win the race and lock himself into the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But he has been under a lot of heat for the post-race drama created at Charlotte with Tony Stewart and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.
In the midst of all the chaos, Keselowski has now re-emerged as a championship favorite.
“It all kind of matters where we go from here with it, but certainly very proud of this past Sunday’s win,” Keselowski said in a press conference at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday. We’ve got four critical races in front of us. We’re probably going to need to win at least one of them and our heads down and focused, certainly coming here to Texas in about a week and a half to start that race weekend.”
Keselowski leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with six victories in 2014. His Team Penske teammate Joey Logano trails him by just one as the two have become a force to be reckon with on a weekly basis.
He might not be making friends in the process of winning all of these races, but it is what is rare about the 30-year-old driver. Remember, at the beginning of his career, Keselowski was racing for his family-run organization in the Camping World Truck Series. He struggled to find sponsorship, but a few decent runs helped him land a job for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s Nationwide Series team.
When Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. missed the race at Talladega, most people didn’t realize that some of the sport’s top drivers have not qualifying for a Sprint Cup Series event at one time or another. Jimmie Johnson even DNQ’d for a Nationwide Series race in 2000. Keselowski has missed a pair of events in the Nationwide Series and Truck Series, including one in 2012. But what might shock most people is that he’s missed three Cup Series events, and even did so while driving for Hendrick Motorsports at Dover in 2009.
That experience has made Keselowski the intimidating force that we now know.
“This season, and this point in time and probably throughout my career, it’s going to be racing as hard as I can race with a passion for winning,” Keselowski said on his demeanor. “It’s probably going to ruffle some feathers of people that have been in the sport longer than I have and kind of feel like this is their territory, but the alternative option of rolling over and playing dead just isn’t in my DNA and I don’t plan on ever allowing it to be.”
With a handful of races left in the season and Keselowski being on probation for a few more weeks, he’s going to be gunning for wins just as hard as ever. The intimidation factor that he brings to the sport on and off the track is one that has been missing for quite some time. There have been drivers that have intimidation in one of these two areas, yet Keselowski’s rare personality has helped breed him into a driver that is on the brink of winning his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
“Maybe sometimes I articulate it better than others, but I feel like I’m here to do one job and that’s to win races for my team. I’m not looking to make enemies, but certainly, priority number one is not making friends.”
Carsforsale.com, one of the Internet's largest and fastest growing online automotive inventory websites, is proud to congratulate Landon Cassill on his career best finish piloting the No. 40 Carsforsale.com Chevrolet SS at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway this past weekend. Cassill started in the 29thposition and stayed near the leaders for most of the race to cross the finish line in fourth place.
"We had strong runs at all of the superspeedway events this year, but what made this finish so rewarding – not only the fact that we finished fourth – but it was a total team effort," said Cassill. "This was the same car that was wrecked at Daytona in July, and we rebuilt the car in our race shop. To top off the weekend, our No. 40 Carsforsale.com SS was the highest finishing Chevrolet in the field."
"The fourth-place finish at Talladega was a true team effort across the entire Hillman Racing organization," said Mark Hillman, crew chief, No. 40 Carsforsale.com Chevrolet. "Landon has a knack for restrictor-plate racing and the Carsforsale.com Chevy ran up for the entire race."
"Carsforsale.com has had the opportunity to sponsor Landon Cassill and the Hillman racing team at two of his best finishes of the season," said Sean Coffman of Carsforsale.com. "A 12th place Daytona finish and now fourth place at Talladega brings more attention to the Carsforsale.com brand and in turn, more exposure for the inventory of our dealer network."
Carsforsale.com has been able to increase exposure for the millions of vehicles listed from over 17,000 dealers across the country as a sponsor for Landon Cassill and the Hillman racing team throughout the 2014 racing season.
David Ragan, driver of the No. 34 Wendell Scott Hall of Fame Tribute Ford, comments on racing at Martinsville Speedway:
David Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 A&W All American Food Ford, comments on racing at Martinsville Speedway:
"Martinsville is a cool track. It's tough to get a hold of and hard to make your stuff turn well there. But that's short-track racing. It's what I grew up with, racing short tracks all across California. To be out there and do it again is always fun. It's a very physical race, and it's a long race. Five hundred laps there is a long time.
It’s almost time for Halloween and, for Kyle Busch, there are memories of a time when not many things were spookier than having to make one of his semiannual visits to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
That’s because, before a three-race stretch starting in the fall of 2009, the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver who will sport a special M&M’s Halloween Fun Size paint scheme for Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 never finished better than 24th in a JGR car at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval.
Of the 23 venues that will host Sprint Cup events in 2014, Busch has won at least once at 20 of those venues in at least one of NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck. There are only three current Sprint Cup tracks – Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Martinsville – where Busch has not scored a victory in any of NASCAR’s top three series.
Despite the lack of a Martinsville grandfather clock in his trophy case, Busch has plenty of reasons for optimism this weekend, especially considering how he has been able to pick up his game at Martinsville starting in 2009.
Busch finally busted through the 24th-place barrier at NASCAR’s shortest oval with a solid fourth-place finish in the fall of 2009 and, after that, Busch started posting strong finishes at Martinsville beginning with another fourth-place run in October of that year. In his April 2011 trip to the tricky Virginia short track, Busch led a race-high 151 laps before scoring his career-best Martinsville finish of third. And, in October 2011, he led another race-high 126 laps before being collected in an accident not of his own doing late in the race. Add his new career-best Martinsville finish of second in October 2012 and a fifth in April 2013 and it seems that Busch has found his groove at the tricky paperclip-shaped short track.
Indeed, Busch feels like the M&M’s team keeps getting closer and closer to that elusive win at Martinsville with each return. Even though there is still a blank in the win column, Busch’s Martinsville resume now includes eight top-five finishes and nine top-10s in his 19 Sprint Cup starts there.
Last week’s elimination race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway had a bag full of tricks for Busch and the M&M’s team after they were collected in a midrace accident not of their own doing. The 40th-place result was not good enough to advance Busch to the Chase Eliminator round. However, Busch and team can still climb as high as fifth in the final standings, so the focus will be on the best points finish possible, with the hope of another win before the season is finished.
As the Sprint Cup Series returns to Martinsville for another Halloween weekend celebration, will it mean a trick, or a treat, for Busch this Sunday? Despite the lack of a win there, Busch has reason to believe it might finally be time to grab the ultimate treat at Martinsville – his first grandfather clock – as the season hits the homestretch for the final four races of the season.
Danica Patrick’s No. 10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet SS for Stewart Haas Racing (SHR) will look the same for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway as it did the last two weekends at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
But, in addition to the pink paint scheme designed to raise awareness for breast cancer, the car will also feature a multitude of names of those affected by the disease.
Fans who donated at least $10 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation through www.GoDaddy.com/Donate got their name or a loved one’s name on the car. Fans, SHR and GoDaddy employees, crew chief Tony Gibson’s wife Beth, and even Patrick put names on the car of people they care about who have been affected by breast cancer.
One name Patrick put on there is NASCAR.com reporter Holly Cain, who is continuing to battle breast cancer. She has interviewed Patrick many times throughout the last 10 years and both are pulling for a strong recovery.
There are hundreds of names on the car and it is a fitting way to end October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Just after driver introductions at Sunday’s race at Martinsville, Patrick will present a check to the National Breast Cancer Foundation for $50,000 on behalf of GoDaddy. It’s all part of GoDaddy’s initiative to “Put the Brakes on Breast Cancer.”
Patrick is also hoping she can run well at Martinsville for those names on the cars.
She has only three starts at the .526-mile track and did quite well there in 2013. Her first race was in April and she surprised many NASCAR observers with a solid 12th-place result – made more impressive by the fact she started 43rd after an engine change before the race.
Patrick’s impressive rookie performance bested those of some other name drivers in their Martinsville debuts, most notably her team owner Tony Stewart, who finished 20th in his first Martinsville start in 1999. Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson finished 35th in his Martinsville debut in 2002. NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace finished 15th in 1984. Dale Jarrett finished 14th in 1984. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 26th in 2000. Kyle Busch finished 39th in 2005. Matt Kenseth finished 21st in 2000. Kurt Busch finished 37th in 2000. And Fred Lorenzen finished 24th in 1956.
Patrick backed that up with a 17th-place finish in October 2013 after starting 41st in a backup car after an accident early in practice. Her two Martinsville performances were among the best in her entire rookie season.
This past March, she started an impressive 10th but faded during the race and finished 32nd.
Despite the less-than-desirable finish in her last outing, she and Gibson are hoping they can put together a good run at the short track this weekend – while remembering the good people whose names are on top of the car.
FLASR, the 4-oz. pocketsize, portable spittoon, will join NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Reed Sorenson and his No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) team as the primary sponsor partner for the Cup Series race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, from Nov. 7-9. The race will take place Sunday, Nov. 9.
"We're thrilled to team up with Reed and TBR for the launch of our all new bottle design and sizes during Phoenix race weekend," said Everett Dickson, Chief Executive Officer of FLASR. "Our product has been purposely built to use anywhere, engineered for one-handed operation. We know the NASCAR fan base and community can appreciate engineering on the go. They're going to love it."
"It means a great deal to us that FLASR will join us for Phoenix," said Sorenson. "This group of guys at TBR have been working hard on the No. 36 car all season and for someone like FLASR to join us is proof that we're doing what is needed to attract good partners. Now, it's on us to make sure we give the FLASR folks a great race."
"We're happy to welcome FLASR to our race team," said Tommy Baldwin, owner of TBR. "They're a company on the rise, just like we're a team on the rise, so we view it as a great fit."
Rising Star PR
Cole Whitt led his BK Racing teammates to the checkered flag with a 15th-place finish in the No. 26 Bad Boy Mowers Toyota Camry at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Sunday afternoon. Whitt was followed by JJ Yeley in the No. 83 Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota Camry who finished 42nd, and Alex Bowman in the No. 23 Dustless Blasting Toyota Camry who finished 43rd after being caught in "the big one."
Returning to Talladega Superspeedway for the second time this season, Whitt collected his fifth top-25 starting position of the season to roll off 22nd for Sunday's main event. Throughout the early stages of the race, the Sunoco rookie contender rode around logging laps while allowing the race to unfold. Making strategic moves while drafting through the field, Whitt avoided all of the on-track incidents to have the Bad Boy Mowers Toyota Camry in a competitive position during the closing stages of the race. Despite a pit miscue prior to the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, Whitt was able to make good moves through the field and draft up to the 15th position by the time the checkered flag waved.
"This weekend's race at Talladega Superspeedway was a lot of fun," commented Whitt. "Our Bad Boy Mowers Toyota Camry was a great racecar and we were able to come home with a great finish. We were able to put ourselves in a good position throughout the afternoon and avoid several accidents on the track. Superspeedway races can be tough because you not only need a good race car, but you also need luck to fall your way, and fortunately it did this weekend."
Yeley spent most of the afternoon competing as the highest-running BK Racing entry. With the balance of his car nearly perfect, Yeley strategically raced his way through the draft. Racing as high as the seventh position, Yeley spent most of the afternoon running inside the top 20. On lap 103, the No. 83 Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota Camry was turned sideways by another competitor while driving down the backstretch. The move triggered a 10-car crash and caused extensive damage to Yeley's Burger King / Dr Pepper machine. Unable to continue in the event, Yeley was credited with a 42nd-place result.
"Our Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota Camry was a great racecar," commented Yeley. "We were able to maneuver through the draft really well, and even logged some laps inside the top 10. Unfortunately we were involved in some contact just past the lap 100 mark, and that triggered a big pileup on the backstretch. I hate that so many cars got involved; a lot of good racecars were torn up, and we even got one of our BK Racing teammates. Sadly, those types of accidents occur a lot at superspeedway races and it's just a byproduct of the style of racing that takes place here. I'm disappointed that we weren't able to come home with a clean finish for our Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota team, but I'm thankful that everyone is okay."
After recording his career-best qualifying effort, Bowman rolled off 14th for Sunday's 500-mile race at Talladega Superspeedway. With his racecar handling exactly as he needed, Bowman was running in a race-high 11th position by lap 60. Despite spending most of the day within the top-25, Bowman was included in a 10-car pileup on the backstretch on lap 103. With extensive damage to the No. 23 Dustless Blasting Toyota Camry, Bowman was unable to continue in the event and was scored with a 43rd-place finish.
"First, I'd like to thank Dustless Blasting for coming on board with our BK Racing team this weekend," commented Bowman. "Our Toyota Camry was a great racecar, and I'm sure we could have brought home a solid finish if we were just able to avoid that pileup on the backstretch. With so many cars involved, sometimes it's just impossible to avoid being collected in those types of accidents. I'm looking forward to the final few weeks of the 2014 race season, and I'm hopeful that we'll bounce back with some solid finishes."
BK Racing PR
Michael Annett and his No. 7 Golden Corral Chevrolet SS team ran as high as third in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, but a late accident triggered by another competitor on lap 188 ended his race prematurely, registering him with a 37th-place finish.
Annett qualified a season-best 10th in the time trial session on Saturday and worked diligently to remain in the top 15 through Sunday's first pit stop on lap 38. Over the course of the next 100 laps, Annett bounced around the field in an attempt to test his car's drafting capability. He ultimately ran as high as third place and was running firmly in the top 10 with less than 60 laps to go. He spent 51 percent of his completed laps inside the top 15 and earned the 14th-best average running position (16.5) of the race.
His good run came to an abrupt end during a green-white-checkered attempt as part of a five-car accident. Just six laps from the eventual finish of the race, the damage his car suffered in the crash was irreparable. He settled for a 37th-place result.
Rising Star PR