Steven B. Wilson
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Strong track position and some late-race restart expertise helped NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Michael Annett finish 21st in his first career series start Sunday night at the 1.5-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway.
After qualifying 25th, Annett kept a steady pace in his Pilot Flying J / St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Chevrolet SS while fighting a loose-handling condition that also saw the car over rotating in the center of turns. A caution on lap 39 allowed Annett's Tommy Baldwin Racing crew to make adjustments in the track bar and in the tires' air pressures. With the handling more neutralized, Annett began experimenting with different lines around the track, eventually settling on one that allowed him to pull away from marquee competitors.
A pair of closely placed pit stops on laps 117 and 130 kept Annett in 25th after crew chief Kevin Manion adjusted air pressures in anticipation of cooler track temperatures as nighttime skies emerged. Though the splitter on Annett's Chevrolet SS was hitting the track, he felt comfortable with the handling.
The driver's only real adversity came on lap 150, when one of Annett's contact lenses fell out of his eye. Though not a race-ending occurrence, the rookie completed the rest of the race with just one contact lens. It didn't affect his driving ability, as he passed his way to 23rd place and gained another spot, to 22nd, following a pit stop on lap 297.
The conclusion of the race was interrupted by two accidents across the final 10 laps. For Annett, the caution flags gave him opportunities to gain more positions. After getting shuffled to 24th, the final restart of the race provided a boost for the rookie, who overtook three competitors in the final two laps to finish 21st.
MICHAEL ANNETT QUOTE:
"Our speedway program has improved all year long, and tonight was a result of that. The car was certainly fast and those last few cautions let us pick off a few more positions on restarts. I'm proud of the TBR guys for their effort this weekend. It was a solid night for all of us."
Rising Star PR
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), experienced an up-and-down day in Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Busch entered the race looking for his fourth Sprint Cup Series win at the 1.54-mile oval. It appeared for the first half of the race that he was on his way to accomplishing his goal, before a right-rear tire failure on lap 170 saw his black-and-red machine suffer heavy damage to the right side. Despite the setback, Busch and his Daniel Knost-led team’s never-quit attitude afforded Busch the opportunity to contend for a top-five finish in the late stages of the event.
Even with a handling condition that made his Haas Automation Chevrolet tight into the track’s corners and loose on exit, Busch was able to steadily advance from his 22nd starting position. Consistently running lap times faster than the race leaders, the No. 41 first cracked the top-10 on lap 85. Busch advanced to the seventh position following a caution period on lap 116, then made a daring move on the ensuing restart to pick off four competitors and advance to the third spot. Busch was able to keep that momentum going, and he overtook Matt Kenseth for the race lead on lap 136. He would hold the spot for 22 laps before dropping back to the third position.
As Knost informed Busch that he was moments away from making a scheduled green-flag pit stop, the Las Vegas native keyed his radio to inform the team that he’d lost his right-rear tire. Busch made contact with the outside retaining wall as a result, but he was able to drive the car to pit road without incurring any additional damage.
The team brought Busch to pit road several times to fix the damage, and their diligent efforts were rewarded as they were able to keep Busch on the lead lap. The 36-year-old driver continued to keep his Haas Automation team informed of handling issues and additional repairs that would be required, and he steadily progressed toward the front of the field despite the heavy damage sustained.
Busch worked his way up to seventh with just 15 laps remaining and appeared on his way to claiming that position in the final running order; however, an incident just before the initial white flag was thrown brought out the caution, setting up a green-white-checkered finish. On the first overtime attempt, a multicar incident proved unavoidable for Busch, causing heavy left-side damage to his Haas Automation Chevrolet. Knost, spotter Rick Carelli and Busch discussed their options and agreed that the No. 41 machine would be fine for two laps. They stayed on the racetrack for the second attempt at the finish, where Busch was forced to race in a four-wide battle for position for the entire two-lap shootout. When the checkered flag waved, he had fallen back to the 13th position.
In his first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start, Cameron Hayley proved he had the skills and determination to conquer the 2.459-mile Canadian road course in the No. 32 Cabinets by Hayley Chevrolet Silverado. A Calgary, Alberta native, Hayley used both practice sessions to familiarize himself with the 10-turn course and was able to claim a top-10 starting position in his first attempt in one of NASCAR's top-three series. Hayley utilized his previous road course experience to maintain his top-10 position once the green flag waved and focused on racing the racetrack without pressure until green-flag pit stops began to cycle through. Working with two-time NCWTS Championship-winning crew chief Mike Hillman Jr., Hayley brought the Cabinets by Hayley Chevy to pit road on lap 14 for four tires and fuel before rejoining the field in the 11th position. The 18-year-old rookie driver quickly settled in behind NCWTS veteran Matt Crafton as a long green-flag run continued, ultimately hoping to learn everything he could from the experienced driver. By the halfway point, Hayley had wheeled the No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports truck to the eighth position and communicated to Hillman that his Chevy was lacking rear grip off. With competitors on different pit strategies, Hayley climbed up to the fourth position before Hillman called him in for another green-flag pit stop with 24 laps to go, this time giving Hayley four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment to improve the truck's handling. Shortly after, the first caution flag of the event waved with 16 laps to go. With a full tank of gas that could make it until the end, Hayley remained on track and restarted in the ninth position when racing resumed. The second and final full-course caution arose with 10 laps to go. Following an aggressive restart, Hayley was shuffled back two positions, putting him just outside the top 10 for the final eight-lap shootout to the finish line. The No. 32 Cabinets by Hayley truck held strong and despite a solid effort to regain track position, Hayley settled for a strong 11th-place finish in his NCWTS debut.
Cameron Hayley on his Truck Series Debut:
"This entire experience has been a lot of fun and I'm so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to make my Truck Series debut in Canada; a place that will always be my home. I was able to test with my Turner Scott Motorsports team a few weeks ago and it was really helpful in my transition from the [NASCAR] K&N [Pro] Series [East] to the trucks. We had a really good qualifying run. Scoring a spot in the top 10 in my first start was such an awesome feeling. I made a few mistakes out there today and it really contributed to my position at the end. Overall, I'm a little disappointed because I wanted to get Hillman and the guys a better finish, but this was a great learning experience and I'm so thankful for the support from Turner Scott Motorsports and Cabinets by Hayley. I can't wait to get back behind the wheel of this thing."
- Richard Childress Racing teammates Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon finished seventh, 18th and 24th, respectively.
- Newman ranks ninth in the Sprint Cup Series championship point standings, trailing current leader Jeff Gordon by 125 points, while Menard ranks 14th and Dillon ranks 15th.
- Kasey Kahne earned his first victory of the 2014 season and was followed to the finish line by Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards.
- The next Sprint Cup Series race is the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 6 which is scheduled to be televised live on ESPN beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio, channel 90.
Austin Dillon Finishes 24th in the No. 3 Dow Chevrolet at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Austin Dillon earned a 24th-place finish in the No. 3 Dow Chevrolet at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday evening after starting the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event from the 13th position. The Richard Childress Racing driver noted a lack of forward drive from the start of the event, an issue the 24-year-old driver struggled with throughout the course of the race. He fell one lap down during a long, green-flag run during the first half of the race. A pit stop on lap 175 under caution provided the Gil Martin-led team an opportunity to make a big swing at the handling issues that Dillon was facing. Restarting 22nd on lap 179, Dillon put himself in position to earn the "Lucky Dog" to get back on the lead lap, but cautions did not fall in his favor. On lap 259 the caution flag was displayed as Dillon came down pit road, pinning him another lap down. He earned one lap back by taking the wave around following a lap-323 caution, and restarted 21st as the field took the green flag for an exciting finale that extended the race past it's advertised distance. However, with several teams opting to pit for tires while the RCR team gambled to stay out on old rubber, Dillon lost track position on the last lap and ultimately finished 24th.
Start - 13th Finish - 24th Laps Led - 0 Points - 15th
"We just can't catch a break this year. It's been rough the last few weeks, but this team is resilient and I want to thank Gil Martin and everyone on this No. 3 team for working so hard. We've got a lot of racing to go."
Paul Menard Finishes 18th in the No. 27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Paul Menard drove Richard Childress Racing's No. 27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet SS to an 18th-place finish in Sunday night's 335-lap event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The RCR driver started 33rd and slowly made his way up through the field and was scored in the 16th position by lap 122. Menard radioed to crew chief Slugger Labbe that he needed "drive off" the corners throughout the event. The Duracell/Menards Chevrolet team visited pit road nine times to fine tune the team's Chevrolet. Menard gained 31 spots throughout the night and raced as high as the second position before ultimately finishing in 18th place. Next up for the No. 27 team is Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway.
Start - 33rd Finish - 18th Laps Led - 0 Points - 14th
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
"Our Duracell/Menards Chevy was pretty good tonight. What we lacked most was "drive off" but the handling was overall pretty good. This was definitely not the finish we were hoping for, but we will give it one more go at Richmond."
Newman Closes in on Chase Berth With Seventh-Place Finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Ryan Newman drove Richard Childress Racing's No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS to a seventh-place finish in Sunday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The South Bend, Ind., driver started fourth and in the first 100 laps of 335, battled a tight in and loose off the corners condition. Crew chief Luke Lambert used a series of pit stops under caution to enable Newman to maintain a top-10 spot by the halfway mark. Then, just 20 laps later, the No. 31 drove into the top five with times as fast as the leaders. With less than 70 laps to go, the caution flag flew while Newman was on pit road. It caused the Cat team to go a lap down and scored in 19th position. Relief came on lap 296 when the caution flag waved. Newman raced back onto the lead lap and in contention of earning back all the track position lost on the previous run. When the race restarted with 24 circuits remaining, the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy was in 10th position before another yellow flag waved on lap 324. The race went into overtime with Newman in 11th. However on the restart, several cars made contact to set up a second green-white-checkered finish. The final green flag waved with Newman lined up eighth and when all was said and done, he recorded the team's ninth top-10 of the season with a seventh-place finish. Next week, the No. 31 team heads to Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night in hopes of clinching a spot in The Chase for the Championship. Earlier this season at Richmond, Newman drove to a hard-fought, eighth-place finish.
Start - 4th Finish - 7th Laps Led - 0 Points - 9th
"It was a really good rebound for the Caterpillar race team. We put on a set of tires that made our car way too loose. It cost us pretty big there because we were better than the No. 5 car and several other cars. Fortunately, we were able to rebound. It was a good day, just not the day we needed it to be. I like Richmond, but right now I am not sure what we need to do to lock ourselves in. We are close, it should be a lot of fun."
Start - 29th Finish -25th Laps Led - 0 Points - N/A
TY DILLON QUOTE:
Making his first career start in any series on a road course, 18-year-old Erik Jones started third and finished third in Sunday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont. Posting consistent laps throughout the day, Jones took the final restart from the third position with eight laps remaining, but got loose through off the exit of Turn 10 on the first green-flag lap and instead of challenging Ryan Blaney and German Quiroga for the win in the closing laps, was forced to hold off Gray Gaulding to bring home the podium finish.
"We had a really good ToyotaCare Tundra and ran up front all day -- can't complain about that," said Jones, who tallied his fourth top-three finish across 12 career Truck Series starts. "We all want to bring home the win, but we were able to get this team a good solid third-place finish and get back on track in the owner's points. I felt like we could run with German (Quiroga) and Ryan (Blaney) and I was trying to plan my move before that last restart, but I'm not sure if our air pressures were too low or what, it just wouldn't go and at that point it was a challenge to hold off Gray (Gaulding)."
Not only did Jones start third and finish third, he posted the third fastest lap in both rounds of Saturday evening's knockout qualifying session. The Michigan native registered a lap of 81.410 seconds at 108.738 mph in the first round and 81.015 seconds at 109.269 mph in the final round.
After the green flag waved Sunday afternoon, Jones ran third for the first seven laps and advanced up to second on lap 8 when the leader made his first scheduled pit stop. Crew chief Eric Phillips summoned his young driver to pit road on lap 12, where the over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop with an air pressure adjustment.
With teams on varying pit strategies, Jones was scored in the fifth position on lap 20. He communicated that the adjustments during the first stop had made his ToyotaCare Tundra "tight through the Esses." On lap 30, he had returned to the third position, running behind Blaney - who was on a one-stop strategy and hadn't visited pit road yet - and fellow teenager Cole Custer.
The No. 51 team surrendered the second position on lap 38 to make their final stop of the day. After getting four fresh tires, a full tank of fuel and another air pressure adjustment, Jones returned to the track scored in the fourth position on lap 40.
Jones was running third when a one-truck spin brought out the second and final caution on lap 54. The ToyotaCare Tundra was lined up in the second row on the inside lane for the restart with eight laps remaining and was able to stay in line with the top-two trucks all the way up until he got loose in Turn 10. The Michigan native continued to be loose the next couple laps as he battled side-by-side with Gaulding, but was able to hold him off over the closing laps to bring home the third-place finish.
Blaney picked up his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2014 and the third of his career. Quiroga finished 0.049 seconds behind him in the runner-up position. Jones, Gaulding and Andrew Ranger rounded out the top-five finishers.
Jones clocked consistent laps throughout the event, spending all 64 laps inside the top 15 and his Average Running Position of 3.828 ranked second best. His Green Flag Speed of 106.467 and Driver Rating of 116.2 both ranked third best.
The 14th race of the 2014 season featured two cautions for a total of six laps. There were eight lead changes among seven drivers. The No. 51 remained fourth in the Owner's point standings and are currently 16 points behind the series leading No. 98 team.
Kyle Busch returns to the wheel of the No. 51 Dollar General Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway on Friday, Sept. 12. Live coverage of the Chicagoland 225 will air on Fox Sports 1 beginning with the Truck Series Setup Show at 8 p.m. ET.
Timothy Peters and the No. 17 team traveled north of the border this weekend as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series made its second visit to the Bowmanville, Ontario-based road course, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Showing speed during the two practice sessions on Saturday morning, Peters qualified the Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra in the ninth position. The team returned on Sunday confident they had a quality machine that could move to the front. In the early laps following the green flag, varying pit strategy was evident up and down pit road. After climbing to the seventh spot, crew chief Marcus Richmond called Peters in for a fuel-only, green-flag pit stop on lap 12. Peters was forced to return to pit road the following lap to serve a penalty and the team opted to also put on four new Goodyear tires while there. Back in the 21st position but on the lead lap, Peters retained his rhythm, turning fast laps around the 2.459-mile facility. He slowly and patiently climbed through the field and moved into the 13th spot before the field cycled through their final green-flag pit stops. Late race cautions gave the veteran driver the opportunity to regain additional positions, and he battled his way back to tenth, where he took the checkered flag.
Start - 9
Finish - 10
Driver Points Position - 8
Laps Led - 0
Timothy Peters Quote:
"We had a great Toyota Tundra here (at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) this weekend. The guys did a great job putting this truck together, and it showed. Unfortunately we had an issue on pit road that set us back a little, but we were able to rebound like a championship caliber team does for a top-10 finish. I am really proud of everyone's effort today, and look forward to coming back here next year."
Germán Quiroga finished second at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday, August 31, in what is the second-closest finish in all three of NASCAR's national series at a road course, with a 0.05 second margin of victory. The No. 77 OtterBox Toyota Tundra team was the group to beat all weekend after leading the first practice and finishing second in the final practice. The team advanced to the final round of knock-out qualifying, where they secured a fourth-place starting position for the NASCAR 250 with a lap time of 81.057 seconds. The Mexico City native is no stranger to road course racing, having started his motorsports career making left and right turns, which gave him plenty of confidence for the start of the race on Sunday afternoon. The racing was competitive from the moment the green flag was displayed, and the No. 77 team battled within the top-five positions throughout the first half of the race. During the first pit stop of the day crew chief Butch Hylton called for fuel only, which allowed Quiroga to take the top spot once the leader came to pit road. He remained in the top three for the remainder of the 64-lap event, leading a total of eight circuits. Quiroga battled side-by-side for the lead coming to the checkered flag, taking home the runner-up position for what was one of the most exiting finishes of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. This marks Quiroga's ninth top-10 finish in 2014 and second runner up finish. He currently sits fifth in driver points in the fight for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship, 11 points behind fourth place.
Start - 4
Finish - 2
Driver Point Position - 5
Laps Led - 8
Germán Quiroga Quote:
"Everybody at Red Horse Racing did a fantastic job to put together a winning truck for me and we came home second; it hurts. We've come so close so many times but we just have to keep on trying. We can't come any closer than we did today. That was a great finish. I tried to pass him without wrecking and we just came up short. I have to thank OtterBox and NET10 Wireless for all of their support. Hopefully I can get that first win for them and for my team soon!"
Ben Kennedy and the No. 31 Heater.com team overcame an early pit-road penalty in the Rookie of the Year contender's first road course event in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). After serving a pass-thru penalty on lap 16, Kennedy appeared to be on his way to a top-10 finish in his debut at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. However, a flat tire in the closing laps dashed those chances, ultimately resulting in a 15th-place finish in the Chevrolet Silverado 250.
After making it to the final round of knockout qualifying, Kennedy took the green flag from the 12th position and advanced into the top 10 by lap 13. With pit strategies varying within the field, green-flag stops began early, and Kennedy brought his Heater.com Chevy to pit road under green on lap 15 from the seventh spot. A quick stop for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment appeared to keep Kennedy's charge to the front on track, however, the No. 31 team was penalized for a crew member going over the wall too soon. Forced to serve a pass-thru penalty, Kennedy remained on the lead lap but was now mired in the 20th position. Despite fighting a tight race truck, Kennedy resumed his fight to the front, taking over the 11th position by the time he made his second scheduled pit stop of the event. With four fresh tires and enough fuel to make it to the end, Kennedy was running solid lap times when the caution flag was displayed for the first time on lap 48. As the last truck on the lead lap, Kennedy didn't have anything to lose by visiting pit road, and crew chief Michael Shelton called his driver into the pits for a splash of fuel, a tear off and an addition of tape to the nose. Scored 14th when the race went back to green with eight laps to go, Kennedy was once again creeping into the top 10 when he keyed the radio to state that he had a right-rear tire going down. Forced to visit pit road under green for right-side tires, Kennedy once again remained on the lead lap, crossing the finish line in 15th.
Ben Kennedy on Canadian Tire Motorsports Park:
"We had another rough day today; we really need to break this bad-luck streak. The Heater.com team prepared a really great truck and we were pretty solid out there toward the end. We would have had at least a top 10 if that tire hadn't gone down. Regardless, this was a really fun race; the fans here are incredible and this was a very fun track to drive."
Jamie Dick held on to his Viva Auto Group Chevrolet to pass the finish line in 27th place in the Great Clips 300. The Viva Motorsports team rolled into Atlanta looking to capitalize on the momentum they have built over the summer, but the slippery fast racetrack proved to be a lot to handle. After struggling to find the right balance in practice, crew chief Mark Setzer decided to regroup and put in a new setup for the race. That proved to be the right decision as driver, Jamie Dick was able to gain a few spots at the drop of the green flag. An extended caution due to rain in the middle of the race allowed the team to take a gamble and stretch the fuel and the tires on the No. 55 Chevy Camaro through the final segment of the race. That strategic call made the racecar a handful to drive, but gave the advantage of improved track position. Jamie Dick was able to bring the car home in 27th position.
"We never got the handle quite right with our racecar. The lack of grip at Atlanta can be quite tricky and we never found the right combination all weekend," said Jamie Dick. "But we raced the race properly. We used a little strategy and executed our pit stops and that kept us in the fight all night."
Viva Motorsports PR