Steven B. Wilson
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Faced with a must-win scenario to keep his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship hopes alive, Brad Keselowski led his Roush Yates powered Ford Fusion to a spectacular victory.
The Redd’s Wicked Apple Ale car started the Geico 500 at Talladega near the tail end of the field. Keselowski’s day was nearly ruined early on when Jamie McMurray blew a tire and spun into the side of his door. Keselowski worked his way to the front of the field and survived two green-white-checker finishes to clinch his spot in the semifinal Eliminator Round of the chase.
“We just persevered,” Keselowski said. “We didn’t give up. I got a lot of help from my teammate Joey Logano and wow, this is just special. Everything about today is special. I want to say ‘Thank you’ to everyone that supports our team.”
This is Brad’s sixth series win of the season, third at Talladega and 16th of his career. Both Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano will advance along with Carl Edwards from Roush Fenway Racing to contend for the coveted Sprint Cup Championship.
Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney had a great run on only his second Sprint Cup start. Blaney qualified fourth and led 15 laps during the Geico 500.
The RY-45 built by Durham Racing Engines and Scott Bloomquist continue their success by collecting $50,000 Sunday at Portsmouth Raceway Park. Bloomquist started 4th in the annual Optima Batteries Dirt Track World Championship and put on a show racing for the lead with his Sweet-Bloomquist Chassis.
On lap 61, Bloomquist showed dominance by taking the lead away from Jimmy Owens in the 100 Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model event. For the remainder of the race Scott would maintain the lead and take the checkered flag continuing his winning season. This marks Bloomquist’s second DTWC victory and one of multiple crown jewel wins of the year.
“I came here very confident,” Bloomquist said Sunday after the race. “We’ve run so well every time we’ve been here. All I was hoping for was a racetrack that you could maneuver, and it turned out to be just that. Nothing was going to hold us up. I feel like we had the superior car and it was just a good night overall.”
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
Every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team knows that to come out of Talladega Superspeedway with a strong finish you need a good car and good luck. Unfortunately, Leavine Family Racing had the car but not the luck this Sunday in the Geico 500.
Driver Michael McDowell qualified the No. 95 Jordan Truck Sales Ford Fusion in sixth position for the Geico 500, giving the team an ideal starting position for the 500-mile race.
The team had a great start to the race – running in the top-10 or top-20 and moving well in the front pack of drafting race cars.
The bad luck struck on lap 60, when the No. 1 car got loose in the pack and hit the No. 95 square on the right side of the car. From there, the team had to pit multiple times under caution to repair the damage, working to stay on the lead lap and keep the car in the draft pack.
“You never know what’s going to happen at Talladega and this time, we got the bad end of the deal,” said McDowell. “It was fun running up front. Once we got into that wreck, we just had to work on getting the aerodynamics of the car back.”
The team kept the car on the track for another 65 laps, but the damage tore a right front tire and sent McDowell hard into the wall under green. The damage from that incident was too much to repair and the team had to pack up for the day.
“I was proud of the team and our driver this weekend,” said crew chief Wally Rogers. “We came out here strong – secured a great qualifying position and ran up front until that wreck. The pit crew worked hard at keeping the car on the track for the rest of the race, the damage was just too significant. We’ve got three more races left and we are certainly ready for them!”
Whether it’s before the race or during it, Martinsville Speedway prides itself on getting fans as close to the action as possible and the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot®500 on Oct. 26 will be no exception.
In an effort to give fans more access than ever before, the historic half-mile track is moving the drivers’ meeting to pit road, just inside turn four.
“Our number one goal is to make sure the fans have the best experience possible when they come to a race here,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. “They’ve grown accustomed to feeling a part of the action during the race and now, by getting a view of what goes on in the drivers’ meeting, they will feel a part of what goes on before the race as well.”
Fans who have added the Green Flag Experience to their ticket package will be able to be on the track, while the drivers’ meeting takes place.
In addition to being on pit road, the drivers’ meeting will be broadcast live on SprintVision.
The Green Flag Experience is a ticket add-on that will give fans an opportunity to attend question and answer sessions with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and David Ragan. In addition to being able to see the drivers’ meeting, Green Flag Experience holders will also have the opportunity to walk on the track and stay to get an up-close and personal view of driver introductions from the front stretch.
The Green Flag Experience can be added to any Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 race ticket for just $40, while supplies last.
Ticket prices for the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 begin at just $45.
Martinsville Speedway PR
For the 4th total time in his career, Brennan Newberry took the track for some restrictor plate racing. Superspeedway racing is one of the jewels of NASCAR but a top challenge for all competitors. After grabbing the pole at Daytona in 2013, Newberry proved to everyone that he has what it takes to be fast on the high banks and he continued to drive that point home this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The No.20 Qore-24 Chevrolet Silverado team filed into the garage bright and early on Friday morning for 120 minutes of practice and looked to execute fast laps in the draft with NTS Motorsports teammate Ron Hornaday Jr. in the No.9 and the rest of the Chevrolet drivers in the pack. Executing their blueprint throughout practice, qualifying, and the race, Newberry and crew chief Ryan McKinney showed plenty of speed and overcame every obstacle thrown their way, to rebound for a solid finish at the end of the Fred's 250 powered by Coca-Cola after they had to overtime laps in a green-white-checkered finish.
Once the track was opened for Friday's lone practice session, Newberry and McKinney headed out to join the other Chevrolet Silverados, to test their setup and see how it would work in the draft. The answer was a positive one, as the pack of Chevrolet Silverados rose to the top of the board. Turning only nine total circuits on the 2.66 mile tri-oval, Crew Chief, Ryan McKinney elected to end practice early and began preparing the truck for 3 rounds of knockout qualifying. With a lap time of 50.730, the No.20 crew ended practice in 7th and carried their speed into qualifying later that afternoon.
With the sun beating down on the massive Talladega tri-oval, Newberry would hit the track in the second group for round one qualifying, with five minutes to determine the top 24 for the 2nd round. When time expired, the No.20 Chevrolet was posted 4th, with a time of 50.841 and three total laps. As knockout style qualifying has proven to be a perpetual chess match during each round, lining up to go out for the second five minute segment, Chevrolet drivers were not able to hook up together, to get the drafting help needed to set a fast lap. When the clock had expired on the second round, the No.20 Chevrolet had earned a solid 15th place starting spot, alongside NTS teammate Ron Hornaday in the No. 9 Chevrolet.
On a hot Alabama day with clear skies, Newberry strapped in for 250 miles of high speed chess in the draft and picked his way to the front quick during the first green flag run. By lap 34, Newberry has picked his way to inside the top-10 and was running single file with the leaders, biding his time, and working with spotter Tim Fidewa and Ryan McKinney, atop the pit box, to find the right partners to keep moving up the leader board. When the caution was displayed with just over 30 laps to the finish, Newberry came to pit road to the service of his NTS Motorsports pit crew who executed perfectly during the entire event and placed the Qore-24 truck on the outside of the front row to restart in the 2nd spot.
Sticking to the plan and maintaining a spot in the top-10 throughout the later point of the race, Newberry was poised to make a run for the checkered flag when, by all account, disaster struck and threatened to end a fast and competitive weekend for the NTS Motorsports entry. On lap 83, a multi-truck crash ensued on the 'Alabama Gang Superstretch', sending Newberry through the grass at a high speed before returning to the racing surface at the entry of turn 3. With multiple trips down pit road, Crew Chief McKinney kept his crew and driver calm and collected and got the damage repaired, without every losing a lap and rejoining the field to salvage as much as they could. Newberry pulled his belts tights, pulled back on the gloves one more time, and knew he could still pick his way forward.
Restarting just inside the top-20 with only 6 laps to go, the task seemed unsurmountable to some, but NTS Motorsports and their young driver looked to bounce back. With just 3 laps remaining, Newberry had made his way up to 15th when the caution was displayed again, sending the event into overtime and a first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Taking the white flag after the restart, Newberry was racing his way forward looking for the right partners and managed to make a run to the checkered flag. Coming across the line 5-wide at the conclusion of the race, Newberry regained 9 spots in the last 7 laps to finish 11th in the Fred's 250 at Talladega. Newberry's next event with NTS Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series will be at Martinsville on Saturday, October, 25th in the No.9 Qore-24 Chevrolet Silverado.
From the Driver's Seat with Brennan Newberry: This was by far the best overall SuperSpeedway weekend I have had in my career. It was awesome that Chevrolet had a plan for all of it's bow tie teams to work together on track, and it worked flawlessly. Qualifying was completely wild and while I didn't get the starting spot I wanted, we were all very pleased with our starting position. I have to give it up to my No.20 Qore-24 pit crew, as they gained spots for me on every stop and had zero mistakes. The ENTIRE NTS Motorsports team helped me recover late in the race, after some heavy damage during a small Big One'. My crew chief, Ryan McKinney and spotter, Tim Fedewa, kept me calm all day to make sure we executed our game plan effectively. Getting the pole at Daytona last year was great, but having pure speed all weekend, running up front all day and coming home with a good finish at 'Dega trumps it all. We will keep the fun times rolling in Kernersville heading into Martinsville next week.
Atop the Pit Box with Crew Chief Ryan McKinney: I am very proud of my team after Talladega, Plate-racing can be stressful on everyone in the garage, but the fans love it. It takes an entire team to pull off a great run in Talladega and we all worked together and got it done. Our pit-crew was incredible all day long, they gained us spots after every stop and that is invaluable during any race. I have to say thank you to Bob Newberry for making sure we always have everything we need to run up front every weekend, and to the guys for working so hard back at the shop, and to Qore-24 Antimicrobial Hand Purifier for their continued support as we keep working toward our first win as a team.
NTS Motorsports PR
John Wes Townley looks to find reparation in the running of the Kroger 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway Saturday, October 25, 2014. Townley was running in the fourth place position in the spring race, on the .526-mile paperclip shaped speedway, when he was spun on the last lap relegating the Zaxby’s team to a 20th place finish.
“I’m looking forward to going back to Martinsville and getting that top-five finish I lost in the spring truck race,” John Wes Townley said. “It is a shame what happened on the last lap. We were running a solid fourth, trying to get third when I got spun. It is just disappointing and not representative of where we should have finished but that is short track racing. I know the Athenian Motorsports team has been working hard on the Martinsville truck and I’m ready to get that top finish this week, for them, in Martinsville.”
Caleb Holman was hands down the fastest chicken in the South Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway. The veteran driver won the Bojangles 250 after pulling away from fourteen year old Todd Gilliland, son of NASCAR Cup driver David Gilliland, in the final seventy-five laps of the event to take home the hardware. The visit to Edelbrock Victory Lane was his sixth trip this season in twelve events.
“I always said no one is ever 100% happy at Hickory with their car; tonight I’ll take that statement back. Tonight I was completely happy with my car in the second half of this race. It would just roll through the turns just like I wanted it too,” explained an excited Holman when talking about his Bojangles 250 win. “My guys made good adjustments throughout the day and got the car handling the way I wanted it. At the break there we just put on tires and filled it with fuel and went back racing. We didn’t make a single change and in the end it was the right call.”
Not only did Holman win the battle Saturday night, the Abingdon, Virginia driver won the war, and was awarded the 2014 X-1R Pro Cup Series champion’s trophy for the first time in his career. Holman racked up six wins, eight Mahle pole awards, and earned $68,925 throughout the season for his efforts. The newly crowned champion did so in historic fashion becoming the first driver in Pro Cup history to completely sweep the Championship Series since its inception in 2001.
“What a year this was for us. I would have never dreamed we would have had the year we did even with the lower car counts at times. I still had to beat guys like JP Morgan, Gus Dean, and Brian Keselowski on a regular basis. Not to mention nights when guys like Clay Rogers and tonight Todd Gilliland come race, so it wasn’t easy by any means,” stated Holman, reflecting on his 2014 accomplishments. “My guys have worked their tails off all season and we just got on a roll towards the end of the year. This is what I do for a living and winning a championship for everyone at Henderson Motorsports and Food Country USA was my ultimate goal. Tonight looking back I can say we as team delivered that championship to all involved with this organization and that means a lot to me as a person and a driver.”
While Holman stole the show in the end, youngster Todd Gilliland piloting a Late Model Stock Car, gave the veteran a run for his money in the first half of the event. Gilliland tracked down Holman through lapped traffic while fellow veteran Clay Rogers did the same despite starting from the sixth position. A hectic yellow flag for debris setup the opportunity for Gilliland to take the lead into the second half of the race by leading at 125 and picking up the Roush-Yates Performance Parts Halfway Leader award. Clay Rogers, Coleman Pressley, and Holman completed the top four at as the yellow flag was displayed for the competition caution.
The normally calm competition caution period stole the attention of the fans when Reid Wilson’s Bojangles Chevrolet went up in smoke while in the fifth position. Wilson, who looked impressive in his return, was forced to stop on the front stretch at the attention of fire and safety workers. Despite the heavy smoke no fire was evident, however, the expired engine ended Wilson’s night.
The action back on track as the field returned to green flag racing quickly favored Holman when he returned to a familiar position on lap 129 leading the field around the .363 facility. 125 caution free laps to close out the season let Holman open up 2.47 second gap over Gilliland as the final checkered flag waived on the 2014 season.
Clay Rogers piloting a Pro Cup machine for the JCR3 Racing team finished third, followed by a pair of Late Models driven by Steve Wallace and Alex Yontz that rounded out the top five positions. Gus Dean was the final car on the lead lap bringing his #56 Dean Custom Air Chevrolet home sixth.
The X-1R Pro Cup Series will now look toward to the future after honoring the 2014 champion at the annual awards banquet on November 15th. Stay tune to the series website at www.carsprocup.com as well as the series social media pages on Facebook (CARS Pro Cup) and Twitter (@x1rprocup) for important announcements about the 2015 season in the coming months.
X-1R Pro Cup Series PR
Brad Keselowski went from the brink of elimination to having a spot in the Eliminator Round of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Fresh off his must-needed win at Talladega, Keselowski now has his sights set on the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 26.
Keselowski, who in nine career starts owns a 13.4 average finish at Martinsville, said he knows the challenge that lies ahead at NASCAR’s smallest track.
"You know, this place is tough. It’s very, very tough," said Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup Champion. "At any given time you can have a good day spoiled by something out of the ordinary happening."
Keselowski, whose fourth place finish one year ago marked his career best at Martinsville, said he hopes to improve on those efforts and not have a repeat of his first start at the half-mile speedway.
"I still remember my first race here," he said. "I think I wrecked half-way through and I wrecked on pit road and I wrecked again on the racetrack."
Even with the ups and downs, he finished 38th in the spring, Keselowski looks at Martinsville as a special place and knows he’s in for a physical challenge.
"I think Martinsville isn’t just one of the most historic tracks, it is the most historic track in NASCAR. It goes back to the grassroots of not just NASCAR, but automobile racing," he said. "There’s lots of beating and banging. It’s kind of back to the roots, not just because of the age of the track, but because of the genre of the track, as a short track."
Keselowski said the beating and banging he referred to is a product of the unique layout of the track.
"It’s obviously a paperclip," he said. "It’s very, very small; very, very tight. It has fast straightaways and very slow corners."
The Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 race weekend kicks off on Friday with the Virginia Lottery Pole Day.
Martinsville Speedway PR
"Raymond Beadle had a brief, but prolific, career in NASCAR. A true competitor whose love of auto racing led him to ownership in a variety of motorsport disciplines, his 1989 NASCAR premier series championship with Rusty Wallace remains one of the more popular titles in the sport’s history. NASCAR offers its deepest condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time."